Today I was involved in a British farce. Well, an Irish farce, anyway. I was the Irish Basil Fawlty. The fault is all my own, of course. I put myself under such pressure, decide to do far too many things, and then they all become due at the worst possible moment.
For those of you who don’t know, I am still enrolled at the University of New England, doing a Master of Teaching by distance education. I’m studying to be a secondary school teacher, in history and English. At the start of the year, I optimistically enrolled in a full study load of 4 subjects, which I have since cut down to 1 subject. I absolutely despise the course. I don’t feel like I’m learning anything, I hardly do any work (should I be admitting this online?), and yet I still get good marks. At first that made me feel good, but now it makes me furious, especially when I think how much effort I put into my BA and I only got marginally better marks. I feel like I am paying however many thousands of dollars just to get a piece of paper. I suddenly understand all those people at uni who hated their study – they felt like they had to do it, but they didn’t see the point of it and they didn’t enjoy it. That’s how I feel now.
The subject I’m doing is ICT in Education. For my last project, I got to do a stop-motion animation, which, despite my whingeing, was actually ridiculously fun (so fun, in fact, that I am now conceiving of a stop-motion animation project in my head). I don’t know that anyone would think my animation was all that great, it just uses paper and a hungry caterpillar finger puppet, but I love it and am ridiculously proud of it. In fact, I sometimes watch it when I’m bored or before I go to bed or when I’m waiting for something to load on the internet (which is a lot these days). True story.
Today, my second assignment of the term was due. Having received, by accident, another student’s results for the last assignment in the mail with my own, I was given an idea of what you can get away with for a passing mark, which meant I was even less diligent with my work this time around. I finished it last night, but instead of saving all the files as .pdf and merging them (look at all my tech talk, I am learning stuff), I decided to leave it for today, giving me one more chance to read through the assignment before handing it in (an old uni superstition/habit of mine). With the difference in time zones, I had until 3pm today to get my assignment submitted.
But, when I got up this morning, I had already organised to speak to my brother on Skype about another project. Then, I had about 5 or 6 emails from Melbourne venues to read and reply to, because my director and I have come up with a new, insane plan, to create a show that takes place in two countries at the same time, and we want the Australian half to be part of the Melbourne Fringe, and applications are due in 12 days. Fantastic.
I then attended to my paid duties. I played with the little one for an hour, reciting with great enthusiasm, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, 5 times in a row, and then just the end of the piece, ‘Its a bear!’ about 100 times. I don’t know if my brain has atrophied because of the lack of stimulation, but I still feel that I could perform this theatrical piece professionally. All I would need is to get my kit off and cover myself in shaving cream or something and then put a wanky artist statement in the program about this piece being an exploration of the trapped mother, and her increasing insanity due to her contracting social, intellectual and cultural life and people would be thronging to come and see it. Reviewers would heap praise on me in an effort to seem relevant and cutting-edge. Cruel? Oh well.
Anyway, back to the point.
It was, by the time I dropped the little one off at preschool, 12:15pm, my assignment due at 2:59pm. The little one needs to be picked up at 3pm, so I need to leave the house at 2:50pm. I still hadn’t read through the assignment, fixed the presentation, turned the files into .pdf or merged them. So, I decided to fold some clothes and put away the washing.
At 12:45pm (or thereabouts), I went to fix my assignment. By 1pm, I was happy with the presentation but instead of converting the files and submitting them, I decided to look at Facebook. I checked some venue photos that had been sent and replied to more emails. At 1:45pm, I decided I should probably convert the files and merge them. This took a very long time, which I blamed on the slow Irish internet connection. The file wasn’t ready until 2pm. By this stage, I was starting to get a little anxious, but I still thought I had time.
It was about this time, I went outside to get some more washing off the line. Now, the family has 3 cats, and one of them has been walking around with a big, big belly the last few weeks, until we were fairly convinced she was pregnant. When I walked outside, the pregnant cat was sitting, mewing on the porch, with one of the other cat’s sitting next to it, with its paw around her neck. It was such an unusual position to find the cats in, it genuinely looked like the other cat was trying to comfort her. When I went over to check what was happening, I notice there was fluid all over her tail. Assuming she was giving birth, I directed her to her basket on the porch, and went and got the clothes. By the time I brought the clothes in, she had removed herself from her basket and was mewing in the middle of the porch again. Thinking there might be something else wrong, I decided to check whether or not she was giving birth. Looking under her tail, I could see another little tail sticking out, which was both amazing and seriously, seriously creepy. It looked like some alien life form was trying to escape.
I directed her back to her basket, and, contributing to the Sigourney Weaver-esque feel, her belly started quivering, and little feet or paws started kicking against it, giving the impression that at any moment, the belly would burst open and I’d find myself in a science fiction film.
By this time, it was 2:10pm. I ran back inside to submit my newly merged files to UNE. This didn’t happen immediately, and again, I cursed the Irish internet connection. But, changing thoughts entirely and full of excitement, I grabbed my camera and ran outside to take photos of the cat giving birth. Right there, on the porch, was a wet, tiny kitten, being licked by its mummy. I took a couple of shots, before my camera ran out of battery. Cursing again, I ran inside to try and charge it. I couldn’t find my charger. Checking my computer, I could see that the files still hadn’t been submitted. It was now 2:15pm. I had done no housework all afternoon, the cat was in the process of giving birth outside the front door, my camera was out of battery and my uni assignment was due. NOW.
|This was my day.
I ran back outside to check on the cat, and, of course, she took this opportunity to run inside the house with her new baby and hide under the stairs, behind all the things that the family thinks they should keep, but doesn’t use on a regular basis, and doesn’t have another place to keep it, like christmas decorations and methlayted spirits. The cats are not allowed in the house. SO. I pull out everything. EVERYTHING. And throw it all over the hallway floor. I have now done NO cleaning all day, and I have made the house FAR MESSIER than it was when the family left this morning. I grab a cardboard box and fill it with towels (Cate Blanchett does this in ‘Thank God He Met Lizzie’ when she meets Richard Roxburgh with a cat giving birth. That’s where I got the idea. In case you’re interested) and attempt to get the cat in the box. I do! I carry her and her baby to the laundry and put her inside. I run back to my computer to see that it is 2:25pm and the UNE website has rejected my file because it is too large (over 10MB). I re-open all my files and remove some excess pictures. I convert them to pdf and start the merge again. Of course, it takes forever, so, I try to find something else to do. Realise that I have left a bloody cat with its two bloody kittens in the laundry, where there are clothes all over the floor. Decide I should go move the clothes so they don’t get cat blood all over them. Return to laundry. Open the door, and the car comes flying out, kitten in mouth, and heads straight back into the house and under the stairs. Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. I run back into the house and clear out more stuff from under the stairs. I put the ineffective and completely inadequate box with the towels next to the cat, hoping she might forget what happened last time and go in of her own accord, then run to the computer, and see that the file has been merged. Its 10.8 MB. Its 2:35pm. SHIT.
I go back to the files, remove more photos, convert to pdf and start the merge again.
I run back to the stairs. The cat is gone. THE CAT IS GONE. Is it in the box? I grab the box. Nope, too light. I look under the stairs. I remove more stuff. Suddenly I hear mewing. The cat has squashed itself and its TWO kittens into the furthest, darkest corner. I inch closer to it, and I can see its pupils getting larger. Fear, or is it just because I’m blocking the light? I put out my hand hesitantly to try and pull the cat out, with its kittens, but she’s not having a bar of it.
I run back to the computer. Files merged. Its 2:45pm. The file is 10.3 MB.
This is when I let out my anguished scream. I go back to the documents, I remove another two pictures, I convert them to pdf, I start the merge. At 2:53pm, the file is done. It comes in at 9.3 MB. I submit the file and watch the little swirly circle that says its uploading, or thinking, or just wasting bloody time, anxiously. I have 6 minutes. The file is not uploading fast enough. The cat(s) are mewing under the stairs. 3 boxes of christmas decorations, 4 sleeping bags, 10 sleeping mats and a giant Santa Claus are strewn across the hallway. Oh, and I’m meant to be picking up the little one from pre-school. I realise that even if the file doesn’t upload in time, there’s nothing I can do about it at this point in time, once it passes the submission deadline. I’ll simply have to email my lecturer the next morning and beg forgiveness. So, instead of letting the little one sit on the kerbside for 15 minutes, whilst I stare at my computer screen and will it to upload faster, I go and pick her up.
When I get back to the house, I check the computer. The file has been submitted at 11:58pm. I go back to the stairs, and using a towel, I pull the cat and kitten(s) into the box. I take them out to the laundry. This time they stay. I sneak a peak at the little alien lifeforms, and despite looking slightly like rats, I’m totally smitten and completely fascinated. I heave a great sigh of relief. I’ve got it all done. Everything is under control, despite the mania. I can relax.
And then I head back inside and the little one is pulling at the giant Santa and demanding I put up a christmas tree and a tent and why can’t she sleep in a sleeping bag right here in the hallway and…