I write this sitting at my new desk in college. My new desk is smaller than last year’s. But it is infinitely superior. It is at the heart of the School of Education. I can now listen to cantankerous lecturers cursing the new photocopier, which I now know cost €6000 and doesn’t scan like the old one did. More importantly, everyone knows my name – a big leap from last year’s personless status.
I caused a commotion getting the desk. It is a former “hot-desk”, and was in a silly place right outside my supervisor’s door. We could smell each other. I moved it, under his instruction, into the opposite corner of the room, where I first had to empty a stationery cupboard, again under his instruction. Within 20 minutes, a heavily pregnant administrator came rushing at me, barking that I was a Health and Safety hazard and I was to go back to my original spot this very instant. Ten minutes later, the entire department appeared to have been informed that I was causing ructions. My supervisor, another lecturer and a different administrator, who wasn’t even a little bit pregnant, approached me with a solution. It involved moving two other people, one of whom had been at her desk for two years. They both agreed with good grace, but probably hate me now.
One of the people who ended up moving now sits next to me. I hope she doesn’t hate me, because she’s famous. Yes, famous. She’s not David Hasselhof, but she is famous. Let’s call her Epsilona. She’s famous enough to have a Wikipedia page. With SEVERAL paragraphs. She’s not famous enough for Wikipedia to know when she was born, they say she was born in 1983 or 1984. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to correct that.
Not only is she famous enough to have a Wikipedia entry, she has an IMDB page. Seriously. For the next two years, I’ll spend every working day sitting next to someone who has a frickin’ IMDB page. I’m bound to be famous by Christmas, even if only by association. So far, everything we’ve said to each other has been in some way desk-related, but that’s going to change, we’ll be best friends forever, and to be quite honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up getting invited to the next Royal Wedding. Not that I’d go. (I so would).
Things are going almost as well in my new home. It’s full of excitement. The kitchen is endlessly entertaining. The number of beer bottles on the table is beginning to wane, a little. But I’m glad I didn’t take one of the cupboards near the kitchen bin for my food, because those cupboards are now completely inaccessible due to the massive volume of empties stacked all around the bin area. I do think someone took my last egg. But it’s possible I just can’t find it – that fridge is very full and it may have been merged into a larger eggbox to make room for beer, or sausages. My flatmates mainly live on sausages, cornflakes, pasta and beer. They all have tomatoes that their mothers left here when they first arrived, but they are more or less untouched and I imagine they’ll make it to the bin soon.
The boys endlessly apologise to me for the state of the kitchen, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Who am I to deprive them of the college experience?
I still haven’t fully managed to differentiate them from each other – it’s all just a blur of Lynx and beer still.
On Monday, I met one of the boys who I hadn’t come across before (bear in mind that there are 14 of us, and that I missed orientation weekend) and he asked me if I lived in this hall. When I said I did, a light dawned in his eyes, and he said, “Are you the PhD?” “Yes”, I said, “I’m the PhD”. I don’t know why, but that conversation made me unaccountably happy. They talk about me. I AM famous.
At about midnight that night, I heard the boys hoovering, not something I’d heard happen before. The next morning there was a massive white stain on the kitchen floor. None of the other boys who were breakfasting with me knew what it was.
One of the conditions for staying in Halls is that I attend a compulsory fire safety talk. Half the houses were scheduled to go on Tuesday evening, the other half on Wednesday evening. Mine was to be on Tuesday at 8:00. I arrived at 8:03, which I wouldn’t consider late. I wasn’t allowed in. There were too many people at the fire safety talk. The fire safety talk was in contravention of fire safety regulations.
I was told to come the next day. This time, I arrived at 8:09, which is late. Again, I wasn’t allowed in. The Assistant Warden told us that they were amazed at how many people had attended. It was a compulsory event. There was a €100 fine for non-attendance. Of course everyone attended! They were surprised! And these people are responsible for the wellbeing of over 1000 young people. Including me!
Anyway, they’re arranging another talk on Tuesday, so I won’t be fined.
Having missed my second fire lecture, I went to bed early. I was awoken between midnight and 1:00 am. By a fire alarm. The first thought that went through my head was that I didn’t know what to do because I’d missed the fire safety talk. But then I realised that I do have a brain. I began to drag myself out of bed.
As I did, I heard someone shouting in German. This was surreal. It’s like I’d gone to sleep in Dublin and woken up in Fawlty Towers. One of my flatmates is German. Apparently, he’d melted something in the oven. This caused the alarm to ring. Someone else was shouting at him in English. He was answering in German. I decided to go back to bed. Everything was alright. Someone shouted through our bedroom doors that we were to open our windows and I did this and went back to sleep.
My last post was one of those Connor-hates-himself posts. And there were a few times this week when I hated myself. When I had a complete budgeting fail and ended up borrowing money from my family, and later the same week from a friend, even though I’ve promised myself never to do that again. When I arranged to meet a famously-early-rising (and very good) friend at 9:30 on Wednesday morning and woke up at 9:23 an hour away from her. And most obviously, when I was talking to my Dad on the phone before he was due to have open-heart surgery. What are you meant to say? As it turns out, they postponed the surgery, twice, so I’ll just have to have another go at it next week. As, more importantly, will he.
I didn’t feel good about myself, or about any of those things. But it has, overall, been an excellent week. I’ve had lots of exercise, partly through not being able to afford bus fares, but partly deliberately. I’ve definitely lost weight this week. I haven’t been perfect with the diet, but I’ve made an honest and relatively successful attempt at it every day. My gastro-intestinal system now totally loves me. Physically, I feel twelve times better than I did last week, though all the exercise has exhausted me somewhat. And I’ve finally started writing my thesis for my PhD. It took a year, but on Wednesday, racked with guilt from having slept in, I sat at a computer and just did it. And wrote 2000 words. Just like that. 2% of my PhD done. And it wasn’t rubbish I wrote either. It was good.
Overall, a Connor of two halves.