My afternoon, as I mentioned in the previous entry, was simply quite stupid. I ran out of groceries and so I had to go to Sainsbury's after lunch to buy food. To be more precise, however, what clinched my decision to go food shopping was the fact that I was one cup of coffee away from running out of coffee - which clearly would have been utterly disastrous. So I went to Marks & Spencer to get coffee and picked up a box of cereal and fresh pasta at the same time...and forgetting to buy mifen (vermicelli in English?). This really shouldn't be surprising anymore, the way I always forget to buy something when I go to the supermarket.
I went to Sainsbury's but couldn't buy everything that I wanted because the grocery bags would've been too heavy, so I got half the stuff on my list (I actually made a list, for once) and left out the milk for the fucking retarded reason that my stupid mini-fridge would have no space for an extra carton of milk. Thankfully there was enough left in the existing carton for two cups of coffee, so it wasn't entirely dire. But it was still stupid.
On the subject of my mini fridge: I think it is going to be the case now that I will spend at least 10 minutes every few days trying to arrange everything so that things fit in the tiny fridge (think hotel mini bars - that's more or less the size of my fridge, and it's the total volume that I have to store my food because there is no fridge in the tiny kitchen). Today, after my second trip to Sainsbury's on which I bought the milk and a box of tofu, I spent at least 10 minutes taking out the things that are already in there and trying to put the new things in and failing and having to do it over and over again, and finally succeeding after I took out my Chinese cough medicine and the bag of spinach. I don't even know if I need to refridgerate spinach. In any event, I will cook the damn thing tomorrow and save myself the trouble of figuring this thing out.
Anyway, back to my stupid Friday afternoon. So the college carpenter finally came and affixed my mirror to the wall and installed a little ring thing for my hand towel. Before I continue, I must first declare that I am extremely anal retentive about shoes and having shoes indoors. I never wear my shoes in my room and it really bugs me when people do that, but obviously I couldn't tell him (or the housekeeper who comes in every Monday to clean the bathroom) to remove his shoes. The plan, then, was to vacuum the floor when he was finished.
But guess what? The hoover which presumably was for the students living on this particular floor, usually kept in the kitchen, had disappeared. Apparently the housekeeper used it in the morning but did not put it back in its original position.
My OCD about shoes and room was so intense that I was really fucking bothered by this. I mean, I was almost raging over the missing vacuum cleaner. How was I supposed to clean my floor, right? I searched every conceivable space in the building that it could've been kept, but I simply couldn't find it. I spent so much energy being annoyed that I drove myself into a bad mood for no reason, really.
In the end, I borrowed the hoover from the MCR, lugging it up three flights of stairs. Lovely. If the hoover doesn't reappear on Monday, I'm gonna be quite annoyed all over again because the housekeeper is coming in and I'm gonna need to clean the floor when she's done.
Can someone cure me of this silliness? But oh my god, how do people wear their shoes in the room? All the dirt, the germs, the shit from the roads and pavements outside...ew.
So that was my stupid Friday afternoon. I tried to read my paper but failed. It was just shitty and I couldn't deal with cringing every other sentence as it was too tiring for my face, so I gave up and read through the answers that I prepared for possible viva questions. That was more interesting than the paper, but not by much.
Friday evening, though, was great. It was one of the best BA formals because Raffael was there! I also really enjoyed talking to his friend from his LLM at Yale, Dominik (not with a 'c'!), who was really funny.
I actually wore a pencil dress. It was a new dress from ASOS (though not branded ASOS) that I got for 38 pounds. Before last night, I pretty much never wore pencil dresses except to work; I tended to prefer dresses with a full skirt. But I thought, I have a pretty good figure, so why not show it off? The only issue with the dress is that it is really figure-hugging and so it represents my chest for what it is: non-existent. Hence, I wore a padded bra.
It was so uncomfortable. The metal underwire dug into my sternum and there was this constant presence of something pressing my boobs together; and the best part was, it didn't even give me a cleavage. I think my constant exercising is making my boobs shrink even more. This has really depressed me recently but I'm trying not to let it bother me too much.
Anyway. Dinner was also surprisingly quite tasty though the portion was a bit small. The appetiser was some kind of smoked potato thing and the vegetarian main was this cheese with potato thing with a green puree. It was actually nice. The dessert was not too bad too, some kind of berry-flavoured panna cotta.
We sat with Arthur and some others from college. They spent a lot of time talking about European politics. I say 'they' because I really have no views on these things, not least because I'm not well-informed for the simple reason that politics in general bore me; that is, I have no views except 'anyone right-wing is bad', such as Marie Le Pen. So there. The discussion about Habermas was quite interesting though.
After dinner, we went to post-drinks, hung around until everyone got kicked out, had a good time talking, then went to the Varsity hotel bar. Raffie wanted to go to the Maypole but it's a gross pub in my opinion, and because he's nice, he accommodated my snobbishness and suggested the Varsity. It was a great choice because I really like this one cocktail there; it's creamy and it's like a dessert in a cup, so it's perfect.
We stayed till about midnight when, again, we were kicked out when the bar was closing. Conversation was good. The thing about hanging out with PhD students is that they (we) tend to start talking intellectual. I rather enjoy this aspect of my PhD life, actually.
So that was Friday.
Saturday, 15 October 2016:
I played tennis with Jay at 8.35am, after dragging myself out of bed semi-fresh from six hours of sleep. We started sluggish, as usual, but got better towards the end. I really need to change my overgrip; it's all soft and gross now, soaked up too much sweat which dried and dessicated the texture of the overgrip. It was quite uncomfortable holding my racquet because of that. I was also annoyed at my backhand, but what's new? Why can't I ever have a session when I hit the backhand perfectly every single time? Because hitting a perfect backhand feels a million times better than hitting a perfect forehand.
After lunch, I went to Fitzbillies where I frantically read through the rest of the paper that I didn't read on Friday ahead of my meeting with Tom. There was a queue, which was annoying; but what was more annoying was that Gross Guy and some girl entered the cafe shortly after I did and bloody stood behind me. Gross Guy was directly behind me. I think the girl wasn't the Greek girl that he was hitting on (who actually has a boyfriend) because they spoke English. How interesting, isn't it? He's so fucking gross.
I pretended not to know that he was there. Maybe it would have been more in-your-face - maybe I should've been more in-his-face about my hostility - if I had turned back, looked at him, and looked away again with no perfunctory upward curl of the lips, no acknowledgement of his presence. But I know myself: I am non-confrontational, which means I ignore people and get all passive aggressive. I wouldn't have been able to stop the perfunctory upward curl of the lips, a gesture so meaningless and empty and reactionary but which he doesn't even deserve.
Anyway. I was really sleepy from tennis and the lack of sleep, so I ordered chocolate cake and a flat white, hoping to be jolted awake by the combined powers of caffeine and sugar rush. Matt was making the coffee and after I put down my things on a table, I went up to him and asked really nicely if he could make my coffee extra strong, forgetting that maybe I needed to pay extra. But he just said okay and made it in a latte cup:
How pretty, right?
My paper was really gross. God, I can't begin to put into words how much I hate reading my own writing, especially this shitty stilted academic style that I have. I hate it. I forced myself to read it, didn't bother with the conclusion, and headed over to Tom's college when it was time.
What can I say about Tom and the questions that he asked? To say that he is really smart is an understatement. I still don't understand the first point that he made, that communitarianism by definition prioritises the community over the individual; but almost everything else that he said was just so sharp and so clever. Now I wish I'd asked him to read my paper before I submitted it because there are so many things that I could've written differently. He made so many good points, which I will digest tomorrow, so suffice it to say for now that it was a very productive session.
I did have a blonde moment though. He questioned what I wrote in the paper about how communitarianism risks collapsing into total relativism if we subscribe to the communitarian argument that we can only derive principles of justice from the shared understandings of a society or a community. He said how relativism is meta-ethical while communitarianism is ethical, something along those lines, etc., and I honestly did not follow what he was saying, not even after he said it at least twice. In my mind I was thinking, 'I get that he's a philosopher but I'm not! I don't know what he's talking about! I wasn't trying to allude to the idea of relativism in philosophy! The point that I was making is a lot less complicated and simpler than that!'
So guess what I said?
'That is a very fine distinction.'
It was a stupid attempt at a joke. But there was nothing funny about the discussion. He said, 'Is it?'
I wanted to die.
Actually, every time he questioned me on certain things, I pretty much wanted to die. I find it so hard to come up with halfway-intelligible (let alone intelligent) answers on the spot like that, especially when he asked things that I hadn't even thought about. But I think our discussion about constitutive communities was rather thought-provoking, as was his comment about how this inclusiveness thing I have risks collapsing into liberal individualism.
I am too tired to phrase this properly but the point is, he said really great things, things that made me think, and I am a bit less freaked out about the viva. But I forgot to ask him what he thought about the paper. I shall do that at some point.
So after that, I met Raff, John and Dominik for punting. IT WAS GREAT! It was so great that it deserves a proper entry, to be written when I am not falling asleep. Punting is so fun when I'm not the one doing the actual punting!