Oxford / Updates

a quick (procrastinating) update

1. One of the entries on the long list of unwise (or otherwise careless) decisions I’ve made this week includes walking for twenty-five minutes to the Social Science Library, located at the other end of the bloody world, only to realize that I had left my bod (i.e. Oxford) card in the pair of jeans I wasn’t wearing. I stood irresolutely in the foyer of the library for a while and contemplated just sitting outside very sadly, but my laptop was also out of battery.

The silver lining was, however, that I got to walk through university parks in the sun on the way back, and that was, admittedly, a little lovely, though it also filled me with a mild, inexplicable longing for the sea.

Unfortunately, that blip on my schedule erased all intentions of working faithfully this afternoon, so it is now pushing four and I have barely gotten through one politics reading. This is after I spent two hours last night chilling … yes, chilling, instead of doing something useful like getting sleep or getting more sleep, and two hours the day before making dumplings.

(I ate fifteen dumplings at a go. Good times. And then I availed myself of the free-flow champagne going on at the Oxford Guild networking social. Champagne does bad, bad things to me, it seems.)

2. After a nerve-wracking hustings (during which my knees were literally trembling; I realized this halfway through my speech and went oh shit and promptly also realized that because the audience was sitting down on the floor, my knees were in their direct line of sight, and my ANXIETY was clear for all to see. I did try and will myself to stop but then I distracted myself from the speech I was delivering), the results were a bit of a balm for the stressed soul. Or something. It looks like a good JCR committee for next year, so that is very exciting.

There are many relevant thoughts to articulate regarding hustings, of course, especially in light of the study of politics for my course, and electoral methods and all that (we used the AV method!). I’m torn being noting that only three girls ran, as opposed to ten guys (though all three girls did get it) and I was the only non-German-speaking international student, with all the attendant implications about gender and race issues, and looking at it through a determinedly meritocratic lens, where substantive issues are all that matters. I don’t think I believe in (or at least I don’t want to believe in) descriptive/symbolic representation, but I do also think that a JCR committee comprising British men has a different (superficial, at least) quality about it than one that … doesn’t.

To be fair, I don’t think these were prime factors in the polling process, so these are just afterthoughts. Nevertheless, it has been a fascinating process to observe – the degree to which manifestos were consulted and discussed surprised me, though of course the dominant factor remained people’s general impressions of the candidates as they have accumulated throughout the past few months.

In addition to all the (moderately) exciting things I want to do as academic rep, I’m also appreciating the opportunity to stay engaged in the JCR for the coming year; I think it is a relatively important decision, but I doubt I would have made it in as committed a fashion next year without a definite circumscribed role.

3. I have very sporadic about my updates recently. Generally it is due to the happy fact that I’ve been … cultivating a sort of myopia; to focus on the here and now, the frenzy of Oxford terms, the late nights out, the teenage, punch-drunk (sometimes real drunk, ha) revelry – that seems to be the dominant thought of this term. At the same time it is a luxury afforded by the minimum amount of work I have this term, yet I am always, always reevaluating my priorities, and my heart lurches every so often, like a wagon. I find myself having to reset my compass every so often, to remind myself of where I am and why I am here and where I want to go. But at the same time having your eyes so firmly fixed on such elusive horizons is also a sacrifice of sorts.

But I mean to say, having absorbed people here into my daily rhythms, writing about college/Oxford events too closely seems inappropriate, or even presumptuous. There is insufficient distance. My online voice strikes me as jarringly different from my college presence – I don’t know if that is dishonesty.

In any case, this term has seemed qualitatively different from the last. In a dearly appreciated comment, A reminded me that doing things at 20 is better than doing them at 45. I am trying – so hard – to make the most of everything, but I don’t know, and have yet to decide, what things to make the most of.

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One thought on “a quick (procrastinating) update

  1. Dishonesty has little to do with the difference between a physical presence, with all that denotes, and the distanced narrator who hides inside all of us and is strikingly undistanced whenever the opportunity most suits. Don’t be wary of that distance.

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