Saturday, March 23, 2013

ALSLA End of Term Fun, Key Lime Pie & A Sunday with a Six Year Old

Kingsley, Samatha, Sapna, Majka
As you can tell from the title, this is a bit of a mash-up post from the last couple weeks. As I finally have a half cast, my leg is healing and I have my dog back, life is beginning to slooowly come back to normal. Here's a few of the events I've hobbled my way to the past couple weeks:

ALSLA 2013!

End of Term ALSLA Fun - Lebanese Style! 

Luckily, I got my half cast just in time to attend my Week 8 meeting with my supervisor, the last day of classes (March 8th), and the ALSLA end of term dinner that evening. Also, I'd like to send out a big thank you to friends that helped me SO much while I was in college and unable to move from my room - Juliet, Dima, Sultana and Alex for bringing me food, Jeff for helping me up the stairs, Alex for coming with me as I have a near-nervous breakdown every time I go to a hospital appointment, and Anna for helping me move out of my dorm and into my house (and then ensuring that I was safe all night, had enough to take away my pain, and was able to navigate around my house on my own before leaving). How did I get lucky enough to have such wonderful friends?

Sapna and Dima
We celebrated the end of term with a Lebanese-style dinner at Al-Salaam that Dima arranged --thanks, Dima! So, we were finishing all the shared plates of delicious hummous, pita, falafel, cheese pastries, fatoush salad with pomegranate dressing (yum!), and other fantastic food, when (an hour into our meal), Dima says "and now, for two more appetizers and then the main course!"  What?! Those were APPETIZERS? The food just kept coming and coming and coming....what a delicious night! Also, though I couldn't participate because of my leg, the Lebanese dancing that Dima lead was also fantastic entertainment!        

Oh, and I should note, since I (obviously) didn't have kickboxing Friday night, I was able to attend one of the Lady Margaret Hall formal dinners with Juliet, Sultana and Alex.  I can say that their food is a bit better than regular days, but not much (at least the veggie option). The strawberry cheesecake was good, though!                     
Sultana, Juliet, Sapna - LMH formal hall

Key Lime Pie

As I am cooped up inside most of the time, my new form of entertainment is taking me back to my 12 year old self, as I am beginning to bake again. (No working out and calorific baking is a bit concerning, but it really does brighten up the week to bake a dessert). 

Anna came over on Wednesday night for a dinner of whole wheat pasta, spinach salad and an adventure of baking key lime pie. This time, unlike my first tiramisu adventure, I have an electric mixer with a whisk attachment (my Christmas present got a car ride from Kent to Oxford when my aunt and uncle came to pick me up from the hospital). Go, Gordon Ramsey! You make a heck of a blender/whisker/mixer contraption that makes whisking things a breeze (well, almost. It's still harder than you'd think). For the recipe from BBC Good Food, click here.

To PhD (& starve & still go into $200 K debt) or not to PhD...

Good news - I got accepted to the PhD (DPhil) program here at Oxford! (After a gruelling interview, I will add)

Not so good news ---I got ZERO funding. That's right, Oxford expects people to self-fund their PhDs. Our department has a total of one scholarship for ALL of the programs combined (that's 6 programs), plus a total of 3 other scholarships if you are British. 

New Plan:  So, while the UK Border Agency doesn't explicitly say it's a common route, there seems to be no objection to studying part time while you are on a full-time work visa ("Tier 2"), as long as your primary purpose for being in the UK is work. According to the immigration seminar I went to (correction: got the slides for, as I was in a full cast), as long as I get a full time job offer/contract that makes £20 000 a year or more before my student visa expires in January 2014, I can just transfer my visa to a work visa! The catch is that the employer has to be on the UKBA sponsor list.  

So the mission is to a) find a full time job in Oxford or London from a sponsored company asap and b) to convince Oxford to let me study part time while working. Why should they object, really, when they will still be making tons of money off me, just a bit at a time? And the job hunt begins!

A Sunday with a 6 Year Old

Imogen & Catherine

Catherine, one of my friends from kickboxing, came over last Sunday to help me walk Kiara (since holding an excited dog on lead and crutches at the same time seems like a recipe for disaster!)  

After spending the morning at Catherine's place and meeting her six year old daughter Imogen, we all went to the park with Kiara.  I have never met such an adorable and mature six year old --she let Catherine and I have coffee and talk, joined in the conversation at times, and at other times, was simply playing dress-up on her own and coming out to model the costumes for us.  I will say, watching a six year old's French-English code-switching when talking to me, her dad and then her mom was absolutely amazing and reminded me of our bilingualism course - next time, I will practice my French with them, though!

Imogen & Sapna

I felt so bad when Imogen met Kiara though, as puppy was excited and barking. We shut Kiara in the living room and made hot chocolate in my kitchen until she calmed down. Poor Imogen --my dog's barking really scared her!

After a few rounds of throwing and chasing the ball at the park, she warmed up to her a bit, I think. Anyway, I will be looking after Imogen for a few hours a week after school starting after that will be fun! 

Anyway, sorry for the super long post. I now have to REALLY get cracking on those wonderful exam essays. I'm bribing myself to work really hard for 6 hours with a downloaded copy of My Week With Marilyn waiting at today's finish line (ie: midnight tonight). I've saved a few recipes, and ordered a 101 Dog Tricks book to keep me entertained in between essay writing, dissertation planning and preparing for my upcoming data collection session in France the next few weeks. Now, let the linguist in me emerge and find something interesting to say about language attrition...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dear Stephanie: A Memory 2 Years Later

Dear Stephanie,

Two years ago this March, you left us for what I hope is a peaceful place.

It has taken me eight days to write this post, to form the words that could pay tribute to your life, your spirit and your soul, two years to the day. March 4th. I knew you for thirteen years, and yet I feel you know me still. Not a single day passes that my memory necklace hangs not from my neck, your photo encased in silver, remembering the Friday night coffees, countless conversations, movie nights,and dinner parties, remembering your sense of humour, your peals of laughter and your smile.

This year I've used an extended haiku style, slightly different than my past poetic tributes -  just days after your death, and one year ago, were -  to remember you.

Remembering Stephanie

Strong oak, beautiful daisy
Vibrant, lively, fun
Sadly wrenched  from youthful life.

Where spirit now resides,may
perfect peace preside;
Worlds we feign to understand

Dark, dark, ugly weeds planted
from such beauteous seeds
Now unearthed from sodden ground.

Death only memories springs.
Daisy yellow hue
Never wilts in memory.

--Sapna Sehgal, March 2013

As I sit here writing this, Stephanie, with a broken leg, I think of you and how I never once heard you complain about your disability, or even become angry at Muscular Dystrophy and how it so quickly restricted you. Here I am, in an "eight to twelve week" condition, amazed at your resilience, living life in your wheelchair. I remember how you used to reach things using the "grabber" arm (so useful!), zoom around once you had the electronic chair, and joke and laugh and smile, yet never complain. There was me - rushing, rushing, rushing - and you, peaceful, relaxed, taking one day at a time, living for now.

Life has forced me to slow down for a few weeks, to stay indoors, with my exam essays and applications waiting for me  - and I am remembering you. You would smile and tell me to chill and watch some TV or read a book. 

I miss you, Stephanie. I always will.