17 December 2009

Queen's College Cambridge Sucks

That's right. You heard me.

Let me set the story. Here I am, singularly glad and happy to be going back to school, starting a PhD, and at Cambridge no less! I get all my paperwork in on time. When the University sends me something, I return it within 24 hours. And after researching Colleges, I put you down as my first choice. I got my formal offer from the University, I believe dated November 10th. The only thing left was to get my College membership and I would be sorted and ready to start!

So you got my paperwork somewhere around then.

One week passed.

Two weeks passed.

I called the Graduate Studies Office, they said it takes time.

Three weeks passed.

Four weeks passed.

I called the Graduate Studies Office again. They expressed alarm that you had held my paperwork for so long and said they would chase it up.

Five weeks passed.

I call again, now concerned. It's a week before people leave for Christmas. My adviser needs to know my start dates. My industrial partner needs to know my start dates. My funding is held up because I don't have a College. I can't get a rail pass (because of how my PhD is set up, I'll need to commute between London and Cambridge and on my student stipend, that rail pass will be a necessity). I can do NOTHING because I don't have a College and my application is not finalized.

So Monday I talk to Graduate Studies and finally get someone who is willing to put me on hold while they call you, Queen's College, to see what the hell is going on and why you've had my paperwork for over a month. The woman comes back to tell me that oh, you didn't realize that I was for a January start, so you just put my paperwork to the side and ignored it. Oh, and on top of that? You weren't offering me a place after keeping my papers all that time! She assured me that my papers were being sent back and I should call Thursday (today) to follow up with my second choice College since time was now so short.

So I called today.

Would you believe... no I know, you won't believe.... Queen's College hasn't sent my fucking paperwork back yet?! I know! It's very hard to believe, isn't it? I mean who would do such a thing? It's just internal mail for chrissake. And you found out that you had royally (no pun intended) fucked up on Monday and it's now Thursday and NEXT WEEK is Christmas. What the hell??

So the woman at the Graduate Studies Office was somewhat apologetic but apparently there's very little they can do when a College fucks up. In fact, there seems to be little recourse at all for when Colleges do wrong. She says to me, well you know, your application can get sent to up to five Colleges and usually we give them three to four weeks. Well that's just not possible now is it? No, it isn't because Queen's College fucked up.

So I call my second choice College directly, I mean, why wait? And I ask them if they have any places left for the Lent term (seeing as how while Queen's was sitting on my papers, other, responsible Colleges were making offers to other students) and I'm sure you see where this is going, but no, my second choice College is full now. So no good.

Now apparently, Queen's was going to 'reconsider' my application today, or that's what they told the woman at the Graduate Studies Office- but I just checked my online self service page this evening and it says Queens did not accept me. WHAT THE HELL??? Do you think I'm actually going to be offered a College place in a single day, ie, tomorrow?? You screwed up so I get screwed? That is NOT fair. And what was so wrong with me anyway? I don't need accommodation. I'm fully funded. What would it matter to you at all?? The LEAST you could do after fucking up was to try and make amends. But nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

You suck. You suck. You suck. You suck.

And you turned what was otherwise a lot of excitement and glee about going back to school into a huge fucking headache and misery. I realize there is nothing I can do, so I just hope this post gets googled and you get outed as being the hugely irresponsible organization that you obviously are.

Shame on you Queen's College. You suck.

12 December 2009


I suppose in part it's the time of year when family weighs heavily on the mind. I recognize that my thoughts of what family mean to me are probably not traditional, or typical. Though every family has their own unique quirks and skeletons in the closet. My musing on this subject was brought up by a request from a friend for people to talk about their fathers. This makes me think of many things.

It's hard for me to envision my family as a cohesive thing, mostly because it isn't. As an only child, my sense of family is limited to my interactions with my parents mostly, and a select extended group of grandmothers, aunts, and uncles. But both of my parents chose to live in a city away from their relatives, even though in very different ways, they both grew up with a much stronger and cohesive sense of family and location. Both of my parents had siblings- my father, two brothers, and my mother, a sister. Both of my parents lived in areas surrounded by aunts and uncles and cousins and relatives. Each has a strong memory of a family home or foundation. A matriarch or a patriarch.

I grew up with none of these things. On top of which, when we would visit with cousins, on either side, there were no children of age to me. So I was in a strange family void. Contemporary cousins to me were generally much older, and later, when they had children, those children were much younger. So there was no camaraderie in that sense.

So on to my own family. Parents who argued, who separated when I was six and divorced when I was seven. I don't remember a happy home, but I know that mostly I stayed out of things. Stayed on my own. I wasn't a child who craved attention. I suppose as an only child, I got used to entertaining myself. And I was fairly compliant. If I was told to go here or go there, I went. It never occurred to me to argue or disagree with such things.

But in saying this, I do not want to suggest that I idealized my parents. In fact, I think I learned much earlier than most that my parents were simply people. With their own flaws and foibles. My father in particular behaved poorly when I was younger. In his quest to 'get back at' my mother, for what, in retrospect, I'm not actually sure. He saw nothing wrong with using me as a tool and in fact told me as much once, when I was 13.

My mother was in some ways no different and still to this day will get angry and upset just thinking that I have given some token of affection to my father that I have not afforded her. It's all a competition. And that's wrong too.

My parents are complex. And flawed.

And yet, both of my parents love me very very much in their own ways. This is the one thread that has held my version of my family together. Because as flawed as my parents are, as I am, we all love each other and care about each other and it is this bond that is my version of family. No matter how that bond is expressed, or how annoyed we get with each other, or even if we don't understand each other. We are bound to each other in a way that is steady and firm and dependable.

I live far away from both of my parents now. And part of me is afraid of that day, when one and then the other will be gone. Afraid because I don't know how I'll handle such a thing. I don't know who will be there to support me at the time. Part of me is afraid of that extra dimension of being truly alone.

Maybe you don't really miss something until you actually don't have it anymore. That makes me sad. I fear that on some level that's my future, but the complexities of every day life don't leave much alternative. On the other hand, often most things look better through the glasses of history. We're all just people you know? Even our parents.

05 December 2009

Around the Corner

Well, the flatmate and girlfriend moved out today. It briefly stirred up for me bad feelings about the entire situation and I recognize that no matter what, I am much better with them just gone. My home means so much to me in terms of the place it serves in my psyche, that it is really not acceptable to have strife in it. So while I'm actually a bit stressed that I've yet to find a replacement flatmate, I feel confident that this will be sorted by some time in January and it's really all just money and it's okay. Really, it's okay.

Work is rushing to its inevitable conclusion and then school starts. I've said this here right? About how I finally got accepted into the PhD I applied for at Cambridge? I can't be bothered to go back and read what I've actually written about it. The only thing I'm now waiting for is what College I've been assigned to, and then I can try to sort out things like getting council tax exemption and student rail cards and the like. But I can't do any of that until I have my College because it's all through them. In the meantime, I'm supposed to start January 5th or 12th or somewhere around there and time is getting a bit short if you consider the holiday season stuck in the middle. Still, it's all going to happen, it's just a matter of how messy it all happens, but it will happen.

Speaking of leaving work, that's a bit of a humdrum. I don't like leaving things. So even though this time it's of my own accord, and I'm not really 'there' like I was 'there' (read: an employee) before, I feel sad about the leaving that will happen. That things just go on without you when you aren't there any more. That something you were a part of suddenly you are not. I don't really like that. I guess it makes me feel transient and replaceable. Which, to be fair, everyone sort of is, but it's not nice to feel that way.

In two weeks I go to the States which should be interesting. It's really not on my thoughts at all at the moment, although there are a lot of things I'd like to do when I'm there. I'll only be in NY for this trip as my mom got me the ticket and I'm only going for a week.

I don't know. It's not that I'm particularly depressed but I feel a bit lost at the moment, and somewhat overwhelmed. And there's always that overriding issue that okay, some things in my life are really going well, but then other things seem at a total standstill or loss. I haven't talked to Heathrow about officially ending our agreement but that's because I don't feel that I need to like I did before. It doesn't change things. We aren't really talking at all. I don't think we are mad at each other, it's just how it is. But I'm feeling very much alone. Maybe spurned by an inordinate amount of people I know having babies. I just have this sense that it's not the way my life is going to go. Not because I never wanted a relationship and family but because it just isn't going to happen for me. That makes me very sad on a certain level. But also incredibly frustrated because it's not something I think I can change in any meaningful way. And I don't want to feel like I have a lesser life because of it. But it does make me feel a bit left out of some wider picture of life. Sitting on the sideline or something. Being passed over. That's not so nice.

I think I'll actually feel better once it's January and things are underway. There just seems to be so much going on right now, and then nothing going on right now. And I'm feeling particularly and keenly alone at the moment. But... it'll pass.