A Tyre, a Party and a PhD in Perversion

So, I’m writing this blogpost before setting off for Cork for the weekend. I realise I should just go, but I’ve been putting off visiting home for quite a while now, so it seems a bigger deal than it was. By the time you read this, I’ll be on the road.

It’ll take me longer than usual to drive there. Since I punctured the tyre three weeks ago, I’ve been driving on a temporary tyre, which is fine for driving around Dublin, but it freaks out if I drive fast and it says that I shouldn’t go over 80 km per hour while using it, so I won’t be going on the motorway.

I did go to get the puncture repaired this morning. The mechanic grunted at me. He looked at my sister’s poor car, with dramatic scratches all over the body, with the bumper held on with sellotape and shook his head. He muttered something manly at me about “balance and drag” or something like that and I wanted to run away. What was he on about? Why hadn’t I brought a translator with me? I don’t speak car. He looked at me, vaguely disgusted. I showed him the punctured tyre.

It’s beyond repair. I’ll have to buy a new tyre. Now, I can’t afford a new tyre yet because I bought a lovely new jacket, which I may have mentioned before, so I’ll have to drive home slowly through villages with magical names like Skeheenarinky and Horse and Jockey. I guess it means saving on motorway tolls.

I was at a party last night. A work party. There was much talk about Connor’s new look, and my glasses got passed around for everyone to have a go. Although my One Direction bracelet continues to divide the critics, nearly everyone is being very complimentary about my new style.

I also discovered that I’m unable to say the word boobs without making elaborate hand gestures. I seem to have some kind of bosom-related-Tourette’s.

It was a great night, but I went home once all the free drink was gone because (A) I have no money (new jacket) and (B) I’m driving to Cork today.

At one stage,  I got chatting to a colleague from the West of Ireland. Now, this man isn’t much older than me, but is from a different world to me. Once, when a staff party ended up in a gay club, he asked me to explain to him what exactly it is that men do to each other in bed. After that, he pointed to a drag queen and asked “Now, you wouldn’t find that kind of thing attractive, would you? He’s dressed as a woman.” (Remember to read this in a Roscommon accent.)

I think I inspire a mixture of terror and wonder in this man.

Last night, he asked me about my PhD.

“So, what is it that you’re studying?”

“Masculinity”

“No, I know what you study in the evenings, but what are you doing your PhD in?”

“Seriously, I’m studying masculinities. I’m looking at the life stories of young men.”

“No, I know the kind of stuff you look at on the internet, but what are you actually studying?”

“Really. I’m studying the gendered identities of young Irish male undergraduates.”

“Oh. I don’t know whether to believe you or not.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“What young men are you studying?”

“You know the way I was living with 19-year-old boys last year?”

“You mentioned it once or twice.”

“Well, I’m drawing conclusions on the formation of their masculine identities based on their life stories. I interviewed them over three months, I printed off their Facebook profiles…”

“You printed off their Facebooks?”

I could see the disgust and disbelief on my colleague’s face. He genuinely didn’t know what to say. Luckily, a boxing match started at just this moment, and that ended the conversation.

My PhD has been progressing very slowly lately. I’m transcribing the interviews that I mentioned above, which isn’t as boring as it sounds, but I keep getting distracted by new glasses and breakfast rolls, and I need to get the finger out.

At least I’m no longer in hiding. My supervisor is coming back from his holidays on Monday and that’s OK with me. Before he went on holidays we were hiding from each other, to the extent that he was sending me messages via one of the other PhD students, rather than emailing or phoning me himself.

But that’s fine now. I’m trying to be a proper academic. I have two conferences lined up to go to before Christmas and I’m going to have a go at writing a few articles. I can’t burn my academic bridges completely – I know I keep saying I don’t want to be a lecturer, but you never know. There are worse things you could spend your life doing than studying boys.

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