Thursday I hoped to write my article, but I spent it writing a post. Then raced off to long overdue session with shrink. On the way back, I bought and consumed an entire Subway footlong. And it was delicious.
I was torn between taking a nap and working on the article that was due the next day. I plumped for the nap but it didn’t work, so I got up and starting transcribing an interview.
Twenty minutes later I raced out of the house to the uni. For one, I needed to collect the key to the research students’ shared room that I scandalously hadn’t yet, because of the crazy. Also, both the courses I wanted to take were in limbo. The first one was at another university under a special government scheme and though the course was supposed to start the next day, I hadn’t heard back from that uni. Consulted a friend who is one year senior and she advised me to contact the professor teaching the course directly – I did, and happily she was supportive of me joining the course even if not formally registered for the time being, but the sense I got was that eventually, I needed to be registered. The other course was listed on the system but with no timetable. When I contacted the department, they told me there was no such course and when I insisted, they checked around and asked me to contact the professor directly. I did and he responded by asking me to meet him.
So I raced to his office, but it turned out in the intervening period he had sent me an email asking me to come in an hour, so I went to the department got my key, magnanimously helped out other clueless student (she is loopy with an underlying competitive nature, I think) find a bank and then back to the professor to discuss the mysterious course. In the midst of the discussion, I committed to sitting in on another of his courses (which sounds exactly what I need though not at my level) but wiggled out of tutoring that course as he seemed to be hinting at, and finally, after much deviations, he said I could attend the course I wanted to – which turns out to be a group of five people reading closely one work by Emmanuel Kant.
Fine by me, becuase though not exactly related to my topic – and as pointed out by my supervisor later, Kant was a horrible misogynist – it is the missing piece in my education. I came to phislosophy backward, through the post-structuralist critique of humanism, but it would be useful to see for myself the very material they were critiquing even as I buy that critique.
I now realise that academics, while intimidating are also incredibly chatty people who will just go off on tangents (kind of like yours truly) which is lovely, except when you have a meeting scheduled right when they’re yammering on about some obscure point. So after getting that professor’s okay to me joining his course-of-sorts, I had to literally run across campus, in the process of which my sandal came apart, to meet supervisor. I was 20 minutes late for the meeting.
I reserve judgement on supervisor, but so far she is friendly and supportive. When I told her about not hearing back about the course in the other university, she picked up the phone to call them and harangue them herself (but alas got a voice recording). She then ordered people in Grad School to give me copies of email to other university so I could then throw that in face of other uni. Having got her approval to my course plan, and her strict exhortation that I could not exceed the three-year funding period for the PhD (which is really an insanely short period of time), I went on my way.
Stopped off to my old office where I was welcomed with bread pudding and much-needed tape for my shoe. Then with a bag of stuff I had left there, I headed home. Managed to actually complete article because V – despite cold – entertained the kids up to bedtime.
Friday morning, I ambitiously decided to drop Benji to kindergarten. I think Benji would really prefer the helper to take him because I was late and hurried him along. But I’m glad I went because the principal stopped me and mentioned what an angel he is and so helpful (which V cynically puts down to her being a saleswoman. I don’t deny this, but I also don’t discount that what she’s saying might be true.)
Unfortunately, this mean I was 15 minutes late for the Love and Philosophy class I’m sitting in on. Again, a race to the uni becuase I was late and the queue for the bus was too late. Was a good thing I finished the article because class turned out to be two hours long, and after submitting a couple of forms to the department, I raced off the other uni to negotiate with them about my class there.
I underestimated how huge that uni is and decided to navigate the way to the grad school on foot. Not sure any other way was possible, but it was insanely hot and literally like hiking except in unsuitable clothes, shoes and bag. Was worth it thought because I was sweetly informed that I had been enrolled and they were going to send me an email that afternoon – right, after the first three-hour class was over, I guess. Heh.
I’ve realised that just taking a course involves much more effort than just signing up. One has to wrangle and negotiate and rush from pillar to post, even pitch oneself as a worthy candidate. Just for the privilege of earning three credits, and of course, learning.
Anyhoo, at least my struggle had a happy ending. I had arranged to meet with former boss for lunch and then realised I had no idea how to get to that building because of vastness of uni. Luckily met very sweet foreign student who literally walked me to building I needed to be at in the blistering heat. Lunch was pleasant and I’ve never enjoyed a Coke that much. I now know why students are so skinny – just all the running to and from classes.
The class was just what I needed. If the morning course was philosophy lite, this one was heavy duty and after this first lecture, we’re expected to make presentations ourselves of the remaining readings, which seems to be pretty much like a teacher copping out of teaching under the guise of us ‘learning from each other’ but whatever. I am being forced to read the very texts I need to read, and okay, some of the texts will be mediated by someone else, no matter how inexpertly. All the students seem really smart, and unfortunately the one doing the photocopying is a bit standoffish.
Spent the morning trying to decipher Lacan et al while watching the kids the playground. This is what they mean by ‘how can you manage a PhD and kids’? By using every spare minute, I guess, even if it is reading Lacan to the soundtrack of Mickey Mouse.