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friday, 21 may

i think the thing i most appreciate about my family is their general disposition toward finding themselves pleased. yesterday the weather here in DC was horrendous. horrendous. i think we got two inches of rain in 18 hours. combined with high winds, there was really no way to get from one part of campus to another without getting absolutely soaked. the original breakfast plan had been to pick up breakfast sammiches from wisey's and eat them at amanda's house. on account of the weather, though, we decided to eat at a restaurant in the student center instead. then we headed to amanda's departmental graduation reception. compared to all the miserable people marching at full clip through the pissing rain, i very much enjoyed my family giggling its way toward healey.

at tropaia yesterday, one of the valedictorians spoke about the usefulness of failure: to humility, to a healthy self-image, and to learning. it was a very very good speech. she spoke about a documentary she made in miami and cuba entitled boxers and ballerinas. interesting, no?

i'm definitely doing my best to get fat. lots of dinners. lots of lunches. no chipotle yet, though. and the beds here make me appreciate how good i have it at liddell.

wednesday, 18 may

overheard: 'you're not supposed to hold half your weight in your arse' -liddell

lots of random thoughts today. firstly, i'd like to thank everyone who came around for dinner last night. it was great to see you all.

ducks are funny birds. the other day i watched a girl duck standing on some grass quacking at a boy duck flying above. i think she was telling him to land. but ducks really aren't that good at landing on terra firma. so he sorta bit it before standing up and looking around as if to say 'i meant to do that'. he didn't, though.

today is the 25th anniversary of mt st helens' erupting, which killed fifty-seven people, but brought many more than that into the world (the ash that fell for hundreds of miles kept people indoors, and we all know what happens when people stay indoors too long). so i must thank mt st helens for helping to bring my friends brandon and bekah into the world.

today i'm having lunch with another house rhodes scholar. he's canadian. we're meeting at 12.30. i should do some work before then.

and a reminder: i'm flying to DC tomorrow early, so i won't be updating until friday.

tuesday, 17 may

overheard: 'i think feet are amazing. they're not sexual for me' -take a wild guess

four coach rides betwixt oxford and london in 3 days really takes it out of me. so today i'm hanging in oxford, taking notes on the structure of the 16th century ordnance office, printing off stuff to edit and looking up literary referrences to my liberties. oh, and having lunch at edamame. jack and i are having a few people over for dinner tonight, so i'll probably spend much of my afternoon getting ready for that. hurrah.

thursday i'm heading to DC. a week from today i'll be home in spokane, and two weeks from today i'll be in new york city. i'll finally wander back to oxford on monday of 7th week. i hope it rains a lot while i'm gone. i'd be sorely disappointed to miss out on good weather.

monday, 16 may

happy first mensiversary, B&L!
overheard: 'i think i may be a sex addict' -oriel square

i am, of course, running late. i have to make it back to london today for a day of chilling in the archvies. a proper update tomorrow. in the meanwhile, you can indulge in the second article in that new york times series on the effects of class on life in america. peace.

sunday, 15 may

overheard: 'the internet is fast, but not as easy as me' -royal china

first things first: went to dinner in london with jack and his family last night. lovely place on charlotte street called roka. and then watched an agatha christie murder mystery and fell asleep early. cat tried to steal my breath at about 6 am. it's the prettiest day ever here in england. wish it were always like this.

ok, on to the sunday new york times. three articles caught my eye immediately. the first, on liberal christians, is certainly worth reading. the other two, surprisingly enough, both mention spokane. of these, one is about homosexuality and the right. it's not frank rich's best writing, if you ask me, but it makes a good point about jim west: "Not unlike the Roy Cohn of 'Angels in America' - who describes himself as 'a heterosexual man' who has sex 'with guys' - Mr. West has said he had 'relations with adult men' but doesn't 'characterize' himself as gay. This is more than hypocrisy - it's pathology.".

the last article, which i found fascinating, is on the role of class in contemporary america. it's the first in a series of articles which i will certainly keep my eye on. and the graphs are absolutely amazing.

the issue of class in america came up last weekend over a discussion about the ins and outs of the oxford degree-granting ceremony. at american graduations, every graduand generally shakes hand with the university official dispensing the degrees. at oxford, only those receiving doctorates shake the vice-chancellor's hand. MA's are thumped on the head with a new testament and granted their degrees 'in nomine patre, et fili, et spiritu sancti'. the rest of us just bow at anyone and anything that moves in the theatre.

one of my (american) friends was bothered by the bowing, mistakenly thinking it signified our relative inferiority to the v-c. he sang the praises of america, bereft of such classism. at the time i simply pointed out that the vice chancellor both bows back and removes his academic cap and that the mutual bowing signifies mutual respect. a handshake really is a very intimate form of greeting, after all. at the same time, however, i felt the same mixture of amusement and astonishment that hits me every time someone claims (or implies) that america is a magical society that lacks a class system. the barriers may be porous and difficult to locate with precision, but they do exist. they may be more salient in the UK, but i don't think they're any more rigid.

hopefully i can get my head together enough tomorrow or tuesday to comment more on class. for now i have a ton of work to do.

saturday, 14 may

overheard: 'do slavic people all sound like they're dying to you?' -jack, of course

today is allison's 24th birthday. she's also flying home from new york today: so happy birthday and safe travels to you, my friend.

you know you spend too much time in front of microfilm when you start having dreams about microfilm readers. had one about driving a car using reader controls last night. and now i'm off to london to spend the afternoon in front of another one. ugh.

friday, 13 may

overheard: 'sino-soviet normalisation: it's fascinating and relavent' -god knows, but it's in my mobile. i must have been drunk. that doesn't narrow it down.

late update today. watched gosford park and got drunk on champagne last night with jack. that was pleasant. still don't know all the characters' names. but that's fine. i'm still reading vanity fair. damn it's long. kinda having a hankering for a little howards end, though, and not sure what to do about it. i saw a middle-aged man on broad street today wearing a 'the tombs' hat. i'll be there in a week. southwestern chicken salad, here i come. no onions or tomatoes. dressing on the side. precious doughboy.

thursday, 12 may

overheard: 'juicy buns fever' -china town

ok. a week from today i leave. so much work to do before then. must send a copy of the minories chapter to the ol' supervisor. must convince jack to let me invite some people over for dinner on tuesday. must get to the library. and go to a lecture this evening on secret puritan printing presses. ooha.

wednesday, 11 may

happy birthday, katie!
overheard: 'i'd rather not learn prison/torture arabic' -steven

sorry about the lack of updates for the past week. i can't even say i've been doing anything that interesting. i must also apologize for having missed aaron's birthday a week ago today: happy 24th, my friend. katie is joining us in our mid-20s today. and allison will follow three days hence. lots of may birthdays.

the primary reason for my long silence was my friend joe's visit. even though they may not seem very thoughtful, i have tons of trouble writing without having a little space to contemplate what's important to me on any given day. joe's timing was impeccable, though. he got to see me in a full range of funny outfits. from smart-casual to a suit to subfusc with silly hood (i was awarded my M.St. on saturday) to a dinner jacket for a dinner on monday. all in all, a fun week.

i leave a week from tomorrow for DC/Spo/NY. I'm just realising how few days i'll have to do work this term. ack. i really need to get to the bodleian like 5 minutes ago. please excuse me.

tuesday, 3 may

overheard: 'they're gonna be diving soon' -jack

i finished! i finished! but it's tuesday, so i have to get my butt out of here before my scout shows up. i had two dreams about fish not having enough water to swim in last night. what do you think that means?

if the rain stays off, i'm going to celebrate being half done writing my doctoral thesis by going to the botanic garden. and i'm definitely going to the bod to start work on the next chapter. i've written 60,000 words now, and it can't be more than 100,000 in the end. ack. spo joe gets here tonight, so i'll take tomorrow off to show him around ox. ciao.

monday, 2 may

overheard: 'jack's is bigger' -seb, to pete

nothing to say today. chapter's not done. it needs to be done. back to work. sorry.

sunday, 1 may

overheard: 'we were just having a sword fight. it's cool' -eric

great party last night. may have slept through may morning once again. and the chapter's not done yet. leave me alone. it's okay. 18 days until i get to see my family again. hurrah.

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