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The Journal of a slightly depraved Mef
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How many Oxford students does it take to change a lightbulb? Yesterday, eleven of us, several cups of tea and a very helpful scout. There have been some fun moments like that. And whilst there are swathes of people who really like drinking to wade through, (as littlered2 discovered when she wandered over to my room on the first night here), there are also awesome and slightly odd ones lurking around.

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And of course, there is the ultimate in positive behavioural conditioning: The I've-finally-finished-my-essay dance. It works like this. Sometime between the hours of 8pm and 3am, the day before your essay is due...

RO: *pokes head out of the library door into the quad*
RO: *checks that nobody is around*
RO: *fully emerges from the library into the quad and composes herself, brushing lint off one shoulder, checking one last time that the quad is deserted*
RO: *pirouettes, leaps and pliés her way across the quad, la-la-la-ing in true Sleeping Beauty style.*
PADDINGTON: *leaps out from the other side of the quad and pirouettes across to meet Ro in the middle*
FRIENDLY PORTER: *coughs and nods pointedly at the 'stay off the grass' sign*
RO & PADDINGTON: *shuffle off the grass and in the direction of the nearest source of sugar*

I do love it here so far, despite the ridiculous workload and hordes of people with livers of steel. Paddington & co. make it all a lot easier, but I can see how freshers who don't meet lovely like-minded people soon after arriving could find it difficult to be here.

In all the turbulence of freshers week, the thing that has made the biggest impression and given me the most to think about is not something particularly poignant or meaningful. It illustrates the strange melding of eccentricity and practicality here. It is simply that one of my tutors has a bathtub and a towel in the washroom outside his office. Hmm.
*zips suitcase shut with much huffing*
*sits on suitcase*
*falls off suitcase when the zip gives way and it explodes open*

I feel that British schools are failing to teach us an important life lesson: do not bounce on your suitcase, no matter how temptingly squidgy it is. It Will Not End Well. The sad thing is, the same thing happened to me in Oxford the last time I was up there for the interviews. I was trundling along with my much-bounced-on suitcase, and the zip gave way in the middle of the pavement. It shouldn't be possible for a person to get through a suitcase a year, should it?

I just thought I'd share, before picking up all my socks and starting again. Maybe if I use some of willow41z's duct tape...

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As for the upcoming essay...

LITTLE BROTHER: You're still not reading.
RO: I've decided that no one's going to do well on the first essay of term. I'm just going to have to accept failure philosophically and boost my ego by making chav jokes.
LITTLE BROTHER: I can see that you're feeling better.
RO: *happily* I think I'm growing as a person.
It's Ramadan again! My favourite time of year, though I have to admit that I'm a little glad it ends before Freshers week begins. Last year I posted a list of 10 things to expect from Ramadan. I was sitting around ignoring my Evil Reading List From Hell and emphatically not thinking about the chocolate in my drawer, when it occurred to me that I'd missed a few important things from said list, and that it was practically my duty to ignore the Evil Reading List some more, in favour of updating you all.

So, I came up with:
Four more things to expect from RamadanCollapse )

There are the nice points too, of course. Ramadan is filled with lovely, sweet, unselfish things, like family and community and friends and really good food after 8pm. It's nice to know you're not struggling to be a better person on your own. But all those things are sugary and cliched enough to be really difficult to write about, so I'm going to wander back to the Evil Reading List of Doom now.
So! Last weekend life was filled with reprobates. I felt that it deserved a journal post, and sat down to write it, when my home was suddenly invaded by adorable little demented children. They screamed. They climbed over me. They pulled my hair and poked my parrot. I think he's been scarred for life. I know I have been.

To make matters worse, my siblings have recently been possessed by an urgent need to keep me away from the internet.

Cut for very long explanation about why I'm posting this a week lateCollapse )

The upshot of this was that after I'd explained everything my siblings decided that there was probably nothing to worry about, but that they'd keep me away from my computer for a while to try and stop any potential-sexy-picture-sending, just in case. This meant that I couldn't finish my post until today, but I've managed it at last:

emerald_happy wandered down to London and we met up last-last Friday in Camden, (and I was only about fifteen minutes late, which actually isn't too bad). Camden is always fun, but it's even better when you have Emerald to wander around all the markets with. She was very good about pulling me on to the next stall when I started drooling over shiny earrings for too long.

Cut for rambling about reprobates and The Stick of InsanityCollapse )

There was lots more that happened on both days - it's always fun to hang out with reprobates - but this post seems to be long enough already. Back to the demented children, I guess. There are worrying noises emerging from my parrot's room.
disconcert myself
Coming home, I'm beginning to realise, is more or less the worst part of going away. It's not that your parents are any less tolerant, or that your room is any smaller, or that your town is any more boring, it just feels like it.

You know that things are bad when you're missing the cold showers you took over a drain in the floor, or the cockroach you nicknamed Fred. In my defence, Fred was comparatively small for a roach, (or so The Roach Slayer said), so it was a little easier to overcome the urge to shriek, "It's chasing me! Away foul demon! Away!" Fred was the first cockroach I met in India; I found him one day when I was showering. This was back when The Roach Slayer was still struggling with her inevitable roach-slaying destiny.

Ro: *emits high pitched shrieking noises*
The Roach Slayer: *poking her head around the bathroom door* I'm trying to plan lessons in here! Go and practise for karaoke night somewhere else!
Ro: There's a huge black thing in that corner and it wants to eat my face and then suck my soul out of the holes that used to be nostrils so that it can leave me a lifeless husk, doomed to wander alone -
The Roach Slayer: You weren't kidding when you said you read a lot of fantasy, huh?
Ro: Shut up. And also please kill it.
The Roach Slayer: *picking Fred up* But he's so small! Roaches actually clean up dirt, you know. They're like little recycling units on legs.
Ro: Oh my God, you're insane.
The Roach Slayer: *haughtily* I will take him away to my side of the room, but I won't kill him.
Ro: Thank you. I will humour your insanity and promise to stay by your side in hospital if you get malaria. Or a brain tumour.
The Roach Slayer: *sarcastically* What would I do without you.

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To balance out the self-pity a little: pictures! From The Roach Slayer's digital camera of awesome again.

Pictures!Collapse )
I'm going to go and gorge on books and TV. Why don't you guys tell me what I've missed? Rec new books! In some cases, let me know when you're going to be around to meet up! I need something to do around here!

And out of curiosity and a desperate urge to discuss it, have any of you read The House of Many Ways yet?
When I was a grumpy pre-teen, tramping along behind my parents at Heathrow, waiting to jet off on another family trip to such exciting places as Tunisia, (home of handcrafted leather goods, handcrafted leather goods, and even more handcrafted leather goods), I used to gaze, wide-eyed, at the gap year students and other backpackers who strolled casually around the departure lounge, drinking coffee and looking worldly and confident. For a few moments I'd wish that I was about to jet off alone somewhere, anywhere, (though I'd usually picture a place entirely free of handcrafted leather goods).

Often at this point, I'd wake up from my daydream to find that my family were already queueing at the boarding gate having conveniently forgotten me, (accidentally, so they claim to this day. How they lie.)

It therefore came as a blow to discover after my long haul flight from Canada, as I wandered around the airport at 6am in search of the tube exit, (with all the sense of direction of a drunk squirrel, and adorned with dark circles which possibly extended past the end of my nose), that not all kids view gap year students in the same light.

Ro: *in a low, zombie like monotone* I need an espresso and your largest chocolate donut.
Cheerful Server: Oh, so you're a gap year student! I can read the signs. You're the first of the day!
Ro: *snatches coffee and attempts to walk out of the cafe whilst glugging it*
Small Child: *to an elder sibling* Look, that lady who just walked into the door and spilt her drink is swearing.
Elder Sibling: *authoritatively* She's probably drunk. Or on drugs.
Ro: O.O

More Tales from CanadaCollapse )

I should be around for the next few days, but otherwise I'll see you all in a few weeks!
by ase
Over the past couple of weeks I've been forced to confront the major flaw in my gap year plans. It's that I didn't actually plan anything for the month after Paris. I believe I might have actually forgotten that the month of May exists. This is worrying enough in itself, but there is worse to come.

I gave up after a few days of making the effort to go out and traipse and decided (in a very uncharacertistic way, I'm sure you'll agree), to spend some quality time with the internet.

It can be a dark and terrifying world, online. It sucks you in slowly. First you find the site which will stream episodes of 'How I met your mother' online for you for free. It seems harmless enough, so you watch one, maybe two episodes. You realise that you don't even like the programme, but you find yourself watching more and more anyway, unable to stop.

The next thing you know, it's two in the morning and you're watching gag reels on youtube.

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1st-May-2008 10:24 am - In which there are no photos...(yet)
disconcert myself
It is strange being home again. It's a bit like being forced into clothes that don't quite fit any more. I don't think I was quite ready to come back. I said a very sniffly goodbye to my room in Paris, the cat who used to shed all over my bed, the lady at the cafe nearby who gave me cheap sandwiches, and various other friends and trailed back home yesterday.

Things began to look up on the way back home, since I was wedged into a tiny seat next to a very interesting person who offered, quite sincerely, to tell me The Funniest Joke In The World. I think it's best to say that it involved muffins and a terrible punchline, and leave it at that.

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So, I'm left planning my next trip and searching for a job. This means an interview with intimidating people in business suits today, so I shall wander off to that now.
Various happenings have been afoot recently.

As well as working for the small newspaper, (where I sadly finished last week), I also write the occasional report for a small, mostly volunteer run ethnic-type newspaper based nearby. They have a slightly cosier newsroom where I drop by when writing said reports so that I can use their phone to ring and beg comments from various report-related people and avoid the wrath of the figure of doom that is my father with the phone bill. I usually ignore the kind enquiries of the regular staff about whether I'm aware that I can work from home, no really, however long it takes. They love me really.

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Oh dear. A few days ago at work, I was sitting happily at my desk, munching surreptitiously on cherry drops and typing, when the TV monitor in the corner of the room began to flash red, important looking 'breaking news' signs at us. We all stopped working, unashamedly, to watch. First, there was a speech from Mr Bush, in which he called Iraq a 'victory' and we all snorted.

Bush: "When Americans like Spanky Gibson serve on our side, the enemy in Iraq doesn't got a chance"
Reporter 1: Did he just say 'Spanky'? Cos, y'know, if ever there was a word I didn't want to hear coming out of his mouth -
Reporter 2: "The Enemy"? Are we really in a cowboys and indians movie?
Reporter 3: I can handle bad nicknames and understand the lack of subtlety, but 'doesn't got a chance'? Bad grammar makes my teeth vibrate!
Ro: Er, that's because you're gritting them so hard. I see what you mean though, how odd that's he's the most powerful man in the wo - Reporter 3, maybe you should put that knife down. You have an odd glint of maniacal despair in your eye.

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On a completely different note, I was just Rickrolled. Wow, the internet is a strange place.
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