2014-03-21 18.13.432014-03-21 18.15.21

2014-03-22 12.59.58


Three pictures! This must be an occasion! And it is. And I promise these are all related.

The first picture is of a bit-of-path almost halfway down my usual path home along the Marston bike path. It’s one of two diverging bits that persuade cyclists to go one way and pedestrians to go the other. This is the part for the pedestrians. Which I usually ignore. But this day was special. I had just had a meeting with my supervisor and needed to sort things out in my head. So, I decided to NOT meet my friends and moan about my progress to them and instead headed home early. I thought a nice, leisurely walk that wasn’t powered by ‘You’re taking a lot longer today’ or ‘You are going to be late if you keep this pace’ or ‘Let’s beat the current record, shall we?’, might help things along.

And that’s what I did. This marked my second walk home since I’ve been back (have been here for longer, but usually felt too much of a mushroom and would take the bus) and I wanted to make it count. And there I was, strolling along, looking up at the trees, regretting forgetting my lip balm at home, letting serious commuters zoom by me on bikes, feeling sad and alone, the usual things. I decide to step off my usual route and onto the first path photographed. Then I take things further (adventure! excitement!) and walk off to the left towards the water, which features a solid bench, looking over the water and some signs like ‘Deep Water’ and admonitions against swimming. I sit there for a bit. Admiring the solidness of the bench and consider sitting here more often. Maybe with a thermos of tea. And jeans that make it easier to cross my legs in, without cutting off circulation to my feet. So I take the second picture. There’s also an angry looking swan off to my right, giving me the side-eye. Go away swan, I’m having a moment.

I spend another two to three minutes here, and then head back. A gentleman stands at the usual end of the path, engaged in conversation. Swan doesn’t move while I pass within a foot of it. I worry for my calves. Make it safely pass dangerous murder-beast and on to comfort of well-trodden path. I think there’s a new crack in the stone since when I was last here.

Now the reason this post is called what it is, is because I was quite stressed when I got on to it. Meeting my supervisor is usually a three day ordeal. I don’t meet her as often as compared to my other friends, and that’s fine with me. It fits into my history and experience of other supervisors who I don’t meet very often. She’s very lovely and a FABULOUS academic. But, I always seem to forget the stress of meeting her. Day one involves great stress over how to phrase an email that just needs to say. ‘Hello, I’m back and need to check in so I can be sure I haven’t mucked things up too much’, which is followed by refreshes of my inbox just to make sure my browser isn’t acting up and not receiving emails (while I get email alerts and newsletters). Once she’s replied with a time and day, there’s the dreaded countdown to the day. And then the day of the meeting, I can’t do anything else. I felt very accomplished at turning up at lunch.

After lunch, with about 4 hours left between meeting her, I experienced the worst crushing depression I have had since I’ve been back (It’s barely been three days, so not very impressive). The expected, obsessive thoughts of ‘my friends have new friends, if I die, nobody will notice it until two lunches from now’. A change of scenery was in order, so I went to my department, only 2 flights of stairs from the meeting!! Another cup of tea was imbibed while reading articles on lifehacker and inc.com. Further depression on how ineffective I am at lifehacks and have accomplished nothing really (besides lunch).

Meeting happens! It is well, but presents overwhelming stress-block of ‘Organizing The Field Notes and Recordings’ within the context of ‘See, my friends stopped doing fun things the moment I’m back’.

And that is what I was dealing with on this walk. I consider going back to doing my paper-cuts, which I’m very fond of. It’s one of the most relaxing activities I do. Meet a friend on the way back!! Get lovely advice on PhD and ‘How to Travel to Marston’. Feel a bit happier. Consider catching up with the week’s TV episodes.

When I get home, a bit saner than when I started, I decide on model airplanes as ‘relaxing activity’. And that is how I end up at picture number 3. The collection has gotten a lot bigger since yesterday. Now there’re about 50 planes. I may need help. But they are AMAZING. And they are courtesy of the brilliant Kyong Lee. Do check out his work. And if anyone in the general vicinity of Oxford would like a paper airplane, please do drop me a line. I can’t really keep all of them.

So there you have it. A great deal of obsession, insecurity and a reminder to organize the results of fieldwork led to a rejuvenating walk along a path that I was starting to (heavens forbid) take for granted, an excellent view of water, the consideration of a potential tea-drinking-and-introspecting bench, resulted in a dangerous number of paper airplanes. Yet another example of how paths can mean different things for different moods.

Who’d have thunk it?

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