Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rewind: The Summer of Dissertating

If you've been around this blog for a while you are familiar with my non-chronological (Or should that be unchronological? Or nonconsecutive? According to Yahoo! Answers, chronological has no antonym because it is a noun. Discuss. (I am off-roading. Apologies.)) documentation of events.  Again, I'm taking it back in order to catch you up.  Although there are far too many entertaining tales from the past year that went undocumented in this blog to recount, I figure I should at least endeavor to tell you a little about my summer and the events surrounding the task of dissertation writing, a time of trials and tribulations and, more importantly, borderline debauchery.

However, the summer started much before the disso.  I would say my summer began with a trip to France where I visited my dear friend Jesse, a kindred spirit whom I first met in India while doing my yoga training.  We seriously must have been sisters in a previous life since from day one we easily snuggled into one another's company, conversing about everything and also feeling comfortable in our silences as we walked the hills around the retreat.

me and Jessie in India stopping for some chai

Jesse has the most gorgeous home in Salayrac about a two hour drive from Rodez (don't feel shame if you do not know these locations for neither did I until I began booking  flights).  Jesse's most pleasant country home was undergoing the last stages of a total make-over. Before it was not completely weatherproofed and mainly used as a summer getaway, but it is now fit for year-round habitation, with all the windows and cracks sealed.  Rooms that were originally used for cattle and hay have been transformed into bedrooms with en suites, as has the attic and all the walls have been insulated, painted and dramatic lighting installed throughout. I still have not seen the completely finished product, but I'm sure it is the most divine French country home you can imagine. Jessie has a great eye for design and decor as you would expect from a professional food presenter.

When we were not supervising the builders or dreaming of decorating, we were on the road, visiting tiny villages and bustling markets around Salayrac.

And even when we were supervising and dreaming, marketing and travelling, we were basically always eating, and I tell you that was the right choice. Although I put on a few pounds during my week in France, I maintain that it was worth every calorie.

My mouth waters just thinking of the cheeses...and the bread...and the CHEEEEEEESE.  What I wouldn't give for just one bite of the most creamy, melt-in-your-mouth fabulous goat cheese. And please do not even get me started on the pâté .  The PATE!!!!!!!!  (excuse me, I am clearly not able to write about such pleasantries without going completely insane)

Moving on.  Following my frolic in France (more pictures can be found on facebook, if you do that sort of thing), I came back to Uganda for 6 weeks. I did manage to post a blog or two during that time, so I'll now fast forward a bit to my return to the UK and the period in which I got 'serious about writing my dissertation'.

As my year in the UK was punctuated by several longish getaways and because I have a group of amazing friends, I have had more than my fair share of going away and welcome back parties. Therefore it was only fitting that upon my arrival, Gina hosted an evening of food and wine in my honor.  The hangover was not exactly the start I had anticipated for my 'serious writing', but needless to say, it set the tone for the entire dissertation writing process.

After only a brief stint of 'serious writing' in Manchester, highlighted with several sunny days spent on grassy knolls with plastic cups and Spar wine, a mini-vacation was in order.  Edinburgh hosts the world's largest festival, taking over every park, theatre, and venue in the city and filling the streets with performers, food vendors, drunks, and a fountains of fliers advertising all the drama, opera, musicals, and transvestite, vegan, gothic comedians you can shake a stick at. I was fortunate enough to see the latter, as well as the group that the Gap Yah guy is in, this amazing acapella group Out of the Blue, as well as several others. The best part was hanging out with Kath and Luke, formerly of Kampala, but now of Edinburgh and their darling twinlets who are getting so big and provide endless entertainment, for example:

Caleb: I don't want to wear this shirt.
Kath: Its a fine shirt, Caleb.
Caleb: It doesn't match.
Kath: It does match.

Caleb: I did a wee in the plants section of the garden.
Miriam: I'm not a little boy any more.

And these are just a few!

Then it was back to Manchester for some VERY SERIOUS WRITING, but we did have to pause briefly in order to celebrate the birth of the baby of the bunch, Shagwell.

And then Other Lives showed up in Manchester - my world's colliding - and of course, I had to take a night off to see them.

They were incredible. Everyone loved them. (Did you know I used to date him?!?!?!)

Also, Courtny's mom came to town and we had enchilada night and then Gina's parents were in town so we had gin and tonic night...

And then there was a period when we all started going crazy due to all the SO EFFING SERIOUSLY WE MIGHT ALL FAIL IF WE DON'T ACTUALLY DO SOME WRITING period, which was very dark and luckily there are not photos to document this time in my life.

Then, out of nowhere, it was basically the hand-in date, and we had all miraculously managed to finish our dissertations.  So of course, celebration was called for in the form of pub quizzes, boogieing and cheese night. It looked a little something like this:

(I know you won't believe me, but I did not go through and select the most horrendous photos for these collages. I really tried to pick some of the 'better' shots, but this is all there was to work with!)

You may have guest what's next. My going away party, but isn't it so necessary?

I still can not believe that it is all over. Not just the dissertation writing, but the entire year of Mastering. Where did it go? I didn't even have the thing in focus as it flew by.  If I am honest, when I signed up for this course, I didn't think it would impact my life in so many ways. I merely thought it would give me the opportunity to tick a box on application forms and therefore allow me to have more rewarding, possibly better paying jobs (oh, the irony).  While it has not provided me with that YET, it has giving me so much more (could this post get any cheesier (double entendre)).

First of all, it turns out that it actually taught me some stuffs.  I may have started this year slightly naively thinking that I had all the answers to international development since I spent 4 years in Africa. Talk about a wake up call. I knew nothing and I now know a little more than that, but I still basically know nothing.  That is one thing I learned this year.

Secondly, I did not see myself making so many friends.  Many of whom I can't imagine going through the year without, nor imagine my future without them in it.  I feel so fortunate to have had an opportunity to meet these talented, hilarious, passionate and fun people.

In addition, this year has given me the chance to hang out with Phil's family more.  I also cannot fathom how I would've managed moving to a foreign city where I had nothing or even moving back to Uganda, without the assistance of Ann and Peter, providing storage, extra suitcases, rides to and from the airport, and so much more.  While I wish we had spent even more time together, I am grateful for the shopping trips, playing Wii with Phil's niece and nephews, spending a girls night out at Aunt Val's and many other moments that would have never existed without my year in Manchester.

IN CONCLUSION, this post, like the last (pee to the ess, if you are reading this and thinking 'finally an update', its actually my second post this week, so be sure to read the first below!), has gone on far too long.  I hope I have given you a glimpse into my summer of dissertating, although this account is fairly heavy on the party and does not adequately portray the INTENSE WRITING. I promise, I did some.

1 comment:

  1. I love love love love the new posts! You're such a funny writer. By the way, how's the job hunt going? Yek yek =)

    Actually, I'm so happy it didn't work out yet - counting down the days! *