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The Journal of a slightly depraved Mef
In which Ro has toppled over the edge and is paddling in the abyss with some soothing music... 
14th-Oct-2008 04:58 pm
susan
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.


A few nights ago, I settled down in my friend Merry's extremely large room to mock cheesy romantic comedies, (this has become a regular event with many of the lurking and odd people. It is interesting to note how many Oxford students, and in particular how many male Oxford students will deride cheesy romantic comedies but keep turning up to watch them. :) ). I was going through my naming bout at the time, as I usually do in a new place, to the irritation of everyone around me. Tilda, who is Jewish and likes religious humour, was egging me on.

RO: *pointing* Towel rack! Terrence! Washing up liquid! Willamina! Lightbulb! Lobelia!
TILDA: What about the plant in the corner?
RO:...Perpetua!
MERRY: Don't encourage her.
MERRY'S FRIDGE: *makes loud gurgling german sounding noises*
TILDA: Your fridge is a Nazi!
RO: Fritz!

And so Fritz the Nazi fridge was born. And as my new friend Gollum says whenever one of us does something particularly stupid, (like naming a fridge 'Fritz the Nazi'): we're supposed to be some of the cleverest people in the country. *headdesks*

As you can probably tell from Gollum's catchphrase, the passive air of slightly self-congratulatory elitism here is catching. I can feel myself becoming even more snobby than I already was. It's worrying, but disturbingly difficult to resist, especially when all the freshers you know at other universities are moaning about the essay they have to hand in in three weeks time when you've handed your first one in already, and are going to have to do roughly two essays a week as of this thursday. It doesn't sound too bad, but each essay means a truckload of reading, followed by days of wracking your brains, trying to come up with an independant but penetrating and poignant analysis, followed by a tutorial in which your points are at best kindly acknowledged but proven pathetically wrong, or at worst completely crushed. Alliteration is one of the side-effects. Hysterical laughter is another. I'm sure that tutorials become less one-sided and improve as you do, but I have a feeling improvement will take a while.

To urge ourselves on, my tutorial partner Paddington and I have instituted the treat system. It works like this:

RO: We've survived our first tutorial! I think we deserve a treat!
PADDINGTON: To the ice cream shop!

...Some time later...

PADDINGTON: We got up in time for our first lecture! Treat time!
RO: I know we're just conditioning ourselves, but it feels too right to stop! To the tuck shop!

...some time later...

RO: We've climbed up three whole flights of stairs!
PADDINGTON: ...
RO: *sadly* I suppose we should do more than that to deserve a treat.
PADDINGTON: Well. I did hold the door open for someone this morning, and it would be rude of me to have a treat without sharing it. *produces giant chocolate slab*
RO: ...I love you. Never leave me.
PADDINGTON: *pats Ro kindly*



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.
Comments 
14th-Oct-2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you're having a great time! I'm currently hiding in my room and working my way through a giant "BETTER FOR SHARING" bag of Doritos by my own sweet self. In a minute I will get off the computer and stare blankly at my lecture notes in an attempt to feel slightly more competant and not full of screaming panic. *whimpers* If when we meet up tomorrow (what time, by the way) you find me grabbing at you with a death grip, I hope you'll understand. (Which is not to say people aren't nice! They are! I'm just incapable of doing this.)
14th-Oct-2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
I'm currently hiding in my room and working my way through a giant "BETTER FOR SHARING" bag of Doritos by my own sweet self. In a minute I will get off the computer and stare blankly at my lecture notes in an attempt to feel slightly more competant and not full of screaming panic.

Well, everyone here keeps asking about you, I'm just a horrible horrible person who's very bad at texting. We might be meeting up for tonight for DVDs, if/when we do so, I will text you, and I would love it if you could come up and hang out with us, it was a lot of fun last time. :)

Apparently, the event tomorrow is at 8pm in St John's: http://groupspaces.com/docsoc/item/8610

I think I'm on your way, so shall we meet at my lodge at about 7.40? What do you think? :)

I'm having a good time some of the time, but an equally scary time some of the time too, so I may well be clutching you with a death grip back. (And you aren't incapable of doing this! You just need the right people to do this with! I just happened to get lucky. :S)
14th-Oct-2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
Meeting at your lodge sounds like a good idea; I'll see you there. :)

Do people at Hertford really keep asking about me? Actually, I don't even care if that's a comforting lie. DVDs sound wonderful, although tonight I have decided that I will Do Some Work, even if that's just writing out my lecture notes properly and reading some more of The Mill on the Floss. Because that is what Oxford students do.

You're not a horrible person! I'm really grateful that you're here.

We need to meet up for a Firefly thing; I was talking to another girl about it, and she wants to make me watch it also, so we can all get together. Although I fear she doesn't see Joss Whedon in quite the same light I do:

ROSIE: ...but I do watch some quite bad TV. Like Firefly.
VERITY: WHAT.
ROSIE: Well, you know, it's a bit geeky, isn't it?
VERITY: *the silence of SEETHING RAGE*

Right. Work. I think I might put the Doritos on top of my wardrobe first so I don't finish the bag. That would be a low point.
14th-Oct-2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Why did I post this as a new comment instead of a reply? Sorry.
14th-Oct-2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Don't apologise! It doesn't really make a difference, as long as you reply. :)
14th-Oct-2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
Looks like DVDs tonight isn't on after all, half of our group are off to the Union and the other half are sick in bed, so I'll be here working too, most of the time. But we'll definitely meet up tomorrow! And you are coming to the next dvd/ice cream night we have, work permitting. :)

Yes, people at Hertford are asking about you! It was Emma, (or Merry, as she will henceforth be known online, but please don't tell her what her nickname in my online journal is :D), who said to me last night, "What about Verity who was here on the first night? Why don't you invite her along?" - which was when I texted you about ice cream.

I am a horrible person. :) I keep thinking of you during the daytime and then at night my brain turns to mush and I forget everyone. (I have done this with other people too. Bad, bad Ro. *shakes head*)

Also - OMG WUT - I feel that only caps lock can conveythe sheer horror of describing firefly as bad TV. We are going to have to cling together in this sea of lunatics, because people are clearly insane. But at least Rosie watches firefly, I guess.

If I were you, I would finish the Doritos. It sounds like people at your college are better than people at mine in general, in that they get drunk and vomit less, but it also sounds like you have less of the quirky, eccentric, slightly odd but ultimately very cool to hang out with sort, which is a shame. (But clearly means that you just have to join us instead. :D)
14th-Oct-2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
I would definitely like to come along to the next DVD/ice cream night, as long as I'm not in the throes of an essay crisis (or a "Why have a utterly failed to do anything productive?" crisis?).

People at my college do seem to be very nice, but I haven't seemed to have many proper conversations with people yet: just the surface-level stuff you do when you don't know people well. I have a feeling this is my fault. (Others are managing. There are already two freshers who are going out. How can you get into a relationship after knowing someone for less than a week? I don't even know the names of all - two - of the people on my floor.)

I know I don't watch Firefly, but I know enough from people in the know (ie, the internet) that is is NOT BAD TV. *cries*)

I finished writing up the notes from my first lecture (three more to go) coherently! Hence why I'm allowing myself a quick internet break. I am also proud of my cunning idea to put the Doritos on top of the wardrobe, as sheer laziness is stopping me going to fetch them.

And you are not at all horrible. We all just have a lot to think about right now.
14th-Oct-2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yay!

Hmm, I'm trying to think how I met my bunch. We've come with a name, by the way. We're officially the sociable anti-social lot, (because we don't go to any of the big clubbing events). I met Merry because I started asked her if she was going to go to the big clubbing event that evening when I found myself sitting next to her at a welfare talk, and she said no, and I said 'Me neither!' and we both got very excited. Everyone else seemed to follow after that - perhaps you should try asking people leading questions over Dinner? :) Sit next to someone who looks anti-social and alone?

My whole day has been a ridiculously long break, I need to get back to work, but I will see you at 7.40 tomorrow!
14th-Oct-2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Good luck with the work; see you tomorrow. :)

Nobody looks antisocial and alone any more! Although there are quite a few other people who don't really party; we just don't seem to have anything more to say to each other after that one exchange. I am awful at this.
14th-Oct-2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
It takes eleven of you (with help) to change a light bulb; and you are feeling self-congratulatory and elitist?

....ummmm....okay...........

/me revises downward her opinion of the cleverest people in the country, and starts to worry a bit.

: )

Now: What cheesy romantic comedies are these that you're watching?

We call "washing up liquid" "dishwashing liquid." You will have to come up with an alternate name in case any Americans wander by the kitchen, because otherwise the alliteration won't work.
14th-Oct-2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
I know! It's bonkers, isn't it? Gollum does mean it despairingly, (if we're some of the cleverest people in the country, the country is in serious trouble), but it often comes out sounding self-congratulatory and elitist, and I think that it does have an element of that in it. Almost everything everyone says here does - but it seems to be a coping mechanism as much as anything else. There's nothing else which could justify the massive workload and ridiculous amount of stress we subject ourselves to here, for what seems to be such little return.

I think my analysis button has just gotten stuck and is taking a while to turn itself off.

/me revises downward her opinion of the cleverest people in the country, and starts to worry a bit.

:D We've already accepted that if some of the future leaders of Britain are going to be taken from our ranks, the country really is in serious trouble.

Cheesy romantic comedies have included 'The mirror has two faces', 'Laws of Attraction', and a TV series called 'Remington Steele', (can you tell that Merry has a serious thing for Pierce Brosnan? :D).

You can call the washing up liquid Dorinda. It just wouldn't be the same without the alliteration. :)
14th-Oct-2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
REMINGTON STEELE!!!!!!! I *love* Remington Steele! It started when I was in college. I met my best college friend when we both showed up in the student lounge wanting to watch the premiere. I have the whole series on DVD.

Yes, he was definitely pretty!

16th-Oct-2008 01:03 am (UTC)
:D He really was pretty. Merry adores Remington Steele, and we both bonded over our mutual love of 'Lois & Clark: The New Adventures'.
15th-Oct-2008 03:27 am (UTC)
Treats are a necessity especially after essays!
16th-Oct-2008 01:03 am (UTC)
So I'm discovering! It's a great excuse to buy chocolate. :)
15th-Oct-2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
(dishwashing liquid?!?!)

*waves*

Nice to hear from you! :P

You know that cleverest people in the country thing? My teachers have been doing it to me for years, as grammar schools are supposed to house the top 10% or something. It must be worse at Oxford. ^_^

Also, what's wrong with having a bathtub in the office? It makes perfect sense!
17th-Oct-2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
It really is worse - but on the other hand, we're all so stressed from the workload and all the criticism in the tutorials, that unless we had a little 'you are all brilliant!' from someone we'd all go mad. So it's justified!

Also, what's wrong with having a bathtub in the office? It makes perfect sense!

It wasn't in his office, it was in the bathroom next to his office! Which, yes, I can see the sense, but I can also picture my tutor stomping his way up the corridor from office to bathroom with a towel wrapped around him, and since my tutor is about sixty, it's not a nice image. :)
17th-Oct-2008 07:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, well, a bath in a bathroom. How ridiculus. Silly me. Why couldn't I see the eccentricity of it before?
17th-Oct-2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
In the middle of college! Surrounded by offices! *runs around in circles*

This is my new response to stress by the way. Apparently though, it's a good mechanism because the running around causes endorphins to be released. Yay endorphins!

It is possible that I'm still a little high on everything, and therefore might sound a little maniacal at times. My lovely tutor, (not the bathtub one), did say that we'd be running on adrenaline all term. *bounces*

(Awesome icon, btw)
17th-Oct-2008 01:26 pm (UTC)
I feel I should respond to the self-congratulatory elitism in your post thusly:

you have two essays a week? Ha, Ha, Ha...I don't have ANY. AT ALL.

/ Sheffield smugness :p

glad you're enjoying uni, hope to chat to you online soonish :-)
17th-Oct-2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Ellie!

It's very strange, but being back in a school-type environment has made me miss everyone a lot. I keep wanting to bitch about essays with you.

you have two essays a week? Ha, Ha, Ha...I don't have ANY. AT ALL.

:P

I forgive you for having no essays, and will try to tone down the self-congratulatory elitism. It's not nice really, it's just that almost everyone here seems to practise it. :S

Yes, we must talk soon because I have things to tell you. And you have to come down and visit sometime too! :)
21st-Oct-2008 10:03 pm (UTC)


School-type environment? surely the whole point of uni is to leave school far, far behind...ah well, hope you're still having a good time.

Yes, feel free to bitch to me about essays. In fairness, I have alot of reading to do which I am not, at the moment, doing. Sigh.

Resist the self-congratulatory elitism! RESIIIIIST...

Ooh, I am intrigued by these things you have to tell me. You have to message me your address so I can write proper letters again. And yes, I shall invade Oxford at some point that is convenient for you :-)
10th-Apr-2009 01:57 am (UTC)
Your email is bouncing, and this is not the best place I am sure, but I am determined to thank every one of the conspirators who sent the amazing flowers to my graduation show :) Thank you. They were incredible!
9th-Apr-2011 02:16 am (UTC)
keep posting like this it’s really very good idea, you are awesome!

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