Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Piggy in the Middle

Or, "The Woeful Life of the Trans-Continental Academe"

Its amazing the things that I manage to feel sorry for myself about. Today it is that I damn near finished my AHRC application (for doctoral funding) only to find that I am actually not eligible. And for once this misunderstanding is not entirely due to my own laziness (like, 'Oops, totally missed the deadline!'), but rather my ability for wishful thinking. See, the AHRC likes British students. Real ones, that were born here, or who have lived here for many years for proper reasons. What they do not like is Americans who come over here to do degrees and take a long time in order to draw out their visas and take advantage of free birth-control pills on the NHS, steal away British men, and practise fakey, Madonna-style Anglo-American accents.* I convinced myself that I fell into a nice, safe residency eligibility-- to apply you must have been resident in the UK for three years or more. I have lived here for 3 and 1/2 years. What I ignored was the bit where it says you must be resident for three years for some good reason, like having been born here, or having a parent who was, or having been working a good job, or being a refugee. It does not count if you have been living here on a student visa and count yourself as a 'political refugee' from the Bush administration.

This shouldn't be a problem, because one would assume that some funding body in the States would offer poor American ex-patriot wastrels some sort of funding. Except they don't. The Marshall Scholarship (oh, yes, the eviler cousin of the Marshall Plan) is the big one for Americans doing post-grads abroad, but I fail on pretty much every count there: they want newcomers to the UK, first-time grad-students, and (the one that really rankles) I am TOO OLD. Oh yes. Your programme must begin on or before your 25th birthday.

Which brings me to the thing I was complaining about before I realised how terribly mistreated I am in terms of public funding: being forced to look my impending (biological, not mental) maturity in its beady little eye. This was pointed out to me when I called my sister earlier this week to tell her that an adored friend from High School and her boyfriend were visiting and had just gotten engaged. My sister immediately remarked: 'Damn, Dev, your friends are dropping like flies! You're so old!' Now, I don't mind being old-- I quite like that I am now elderly enough to rent a car, and I never, ever do that faux-girlie thing and cringe when people ask how old I turned on my birthday**-- but I do mind that all this nuptuality seems to require some sort of forced maturity, if not on my part, at least on that of my friends.

And mostly that reminds me of the fact that I am not really an adult in any way, which is quite scary, and that since I won't finish my PhD for another three years, I won't become an adult any time soon. I think eventually my friends will realise this, and I will no longer be asked to be a bridesmaid anymore, but a flower girl, instead. I look terrible with floral wreaths on my head.


*By the way, I am proud of my fake accent. It is mostly inadvertent, but when it does appear it is apparently extremely posh, and even regionalised to a place I have never been, Buckinghamshire. Because I have never been there I can pretend that it is entirely full of rolling green hills, thatched cottages, free-range livestock, and ponies.
** This might, maybe be a little, tiny bit because I am rather proud that I have gotten this far without anyone trying to kill me for being obnoxious and negative like, ALL THE TIME.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not Just For Christmas, Dammit!

This morning I got an email that was annoying. Not from an annoying person-- it was from a lovely person, who I like very much, and who was doing a good deed. But it was about a social matter that gets my knickers all in a twist on a fairly regular basis. The email basically said this:
"Hey everybody-
Anyone interested in a wonderful cat? She's absolutely lovely, affectionate, and very friendly, but a co-worker had a baby, so they can't keep her anymore. I hope we can find her a great new home."
Below was the original email from the cat's owner, who has had a baby and who is now afraid that the cat (who likes the baby, who thinks the baby is nice, who does not scratch or maul the baby) is GOING TO SLEEP ON THE BABY'S FACE AND SUFFOCATE IT IN THE NIGHT.

Now, first off, this has never happened. This is what cranky old ladies who hate cats say to terrify their daughters-in-law into getting rid of the cat so they can visit Precious Son and Precious Grandchild without being annoyed by a feline presence. The same women would probably try to convince Precious Son that the child's mother would do the same thing, except society has nixed this one already. Cats (even my sister's, who is pretty hard-core in his affection) do not sleep on your air passages in such a way that you die. This is not comfortable for the cat, so they simply won't do it. Selfish beings, selfish reasoning. The baby is warm, so if you leave your child unattended on the sofa or bed (??!!), the cat is likely to curl up nearby. The cat is not going to curl up on a baby's big lump of a skull and think , 'Golly its comfy to have this child's chin poking into my squishy cat-liver.'

But that isn't the real problem. The problem is that people seem to see their pets as some sort of temporary child-replacement, dispensible as soon as the real thing comes along. And it happens all the time. What I don't get is that people seem to have all the patience in the world for older siblings who want to get rid of the baby (I believe a friend had an incident where her older sister tried to dispose of her infant self by flushing her down the toilet a la Goldie), but as soon as the family pet (adored for the last 10 years and used as a baby substitute) is cranky that Baby has taken all the attention/his favourite toy/is eating his food, he gets kicked to the curb. Why don't they get the same opportunities to adjust to the new addition to the family? (Actually, because they have a more limited capacity for understanding than small children-- at least for the most part-- they should actually get more time)

Anyway, the point is that if I catch any of you trying to give away your damn pets after spawning, you can bet your sweet ass that you will get one hell of a verbal battering from me. Also, if you can possibly come up with some sort of explanation of this for me that doesn't involve 'But its a HUMAN!', that might also help stem the tide of rage.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Moral Dilemma

Okay, not so much moral. More sartorial, but perhaps it is a question about sartorial morality. Sort of like yesterday. And don't even TRY to judge me for talking about shoes two days in a row. I turned in my first chapter today, so I deserve a prize, and I am getting money back on my taxes, so I can afford them. I'll try to cook something disasterous this weekend and make up for all the talk of shoes later.

So, there are two pairs of ballet flats (Keith, you can pretend they are loafers, as 'ballet flats' probably won't mean much to you and will keep you from giving your opinion). Do you buy the black leather, which are simple and sophisticated, and go with lots of stuff? OR, do you buy the leopard ones, which have the same classic line and exceptional craftsmanship, but are way more fabulous? I guess the choice is this: Audrey Hepburn, or Elizabeth Taylor? (Both in their heyday, please-- we will have no talk of necrophilia or friends of Jackson here)

Let me know...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Benedictus

I'm always a little uncertain why I get so annoyed by the Vatican. Sure, I was raised Catholic, but really in the most minimal way (at least by my parents; the Catholic school and my rabid grnadmothers' small moments of involvement can probably be blamed for any residual guilt/repression/fetishism I still call my own). And I can't say that I have thought of myself as a 'Catholic' or gone to Mass without cringing in at least a decade. And yet, I am still annoyed and disappointed with the Pope, like, ALL THE TIME. First, it was because he is an absolute psycho, homophobe, book-burner, and generalyl Not Terribly Nice Man. Then, it was when I saw him wearing red Prada loafers. Now, I don't know if y'all are familiar with Prada pricing, because I really am not terribly, but on ebay them shiny red zapatos will set you back $200. And that's NOW, when they are totally last season. Il Papa bought his when they first came out in the fall, and I have a funny feeling that he didn't get them discounted. Not that they don't look jazzy with the whole Pope outift, because they do, but honestly? JC wore hemp sandals. And I don't think the Catholics of the world are putting money in the poor box so God's Rottweiler can have awesome footwear.

And now, he has an iPod. Seriously. Unless his new nano has a direct channel to the WORD OF GOD I feel like the Big Guy's Representative on Earth has totally missed the point of Christianity (along with the entire Bible Belt, with their Walmart and their SUVs, and whatnot, but I think that's a rant for another day). I think I remember somewhere in those vows being something about poverty. Now, popes have had trouble with this for years, and a lot of them don't seem to have really gotten on board with the whole celibacy thing, either (though not in recent years, that I know of-- more on that later if I can dig up Baby Pope stories). But there was never, ever a vow that said, 'Priest, Monk, Pope-- thou shalt work extra hard to be cool, and have all the latest fashion trends and keep on the forefront of technology.' Please. It's one thing to live in the lap of luxury and drink hot cocoa out of a golden cup designed by Michaelangelo and sleep in a room decorated by 15th-century Flemish tapestries. That's just old school avarice and self-indulgence, the foundations on which Catholicism was built. But Prada shoes? An iPod? What's next, a chihuahua in a pink rhinestone collar?

(And look, I wrote! No more tumbleweeds for you, Lulu-- if you are still speaking to me, after writing an email that I never responded to about my lack of writing about a month ago...)

Oh, and today I finished the first chapter of my thesis. It is NOT about the Pope.