These last few days at Staples have been by far the busiest I have ever seen there: a circumstance that made Jessica’s brief visit to Vancouver all the more welcome. It’s always pleasant to have the chance to show somebody the more interesting bits of an unfamiliar city – a role I am certainly hoping to play for more than a few friends at Oxford.
Speaking of Oxford, there is much about it that is causing me distress. Given the clear superiority of numbered lists as a way of conveying information, I shall convey them thusly:
- The accommodations manager at Wadham College cannot tell me whether I am to live in the College residence in the centre of town, as it is my strong preference to do, or in the Merifield flats about a mile out.
- The admissions officer at Wadham can’t even confirm that I have a place in the college, because they now want proof that I can pay for both years.
- The admissions officer has not responded to my repeated and increasingly panicked requests to know just what kind of proof they want.
- Finances are looking as though they will be extremely tight, even for just the first year. This makes me want to bring as much as I can along with me, but I am restricted to the amount of physical matter I can carry. This includes a bicycle, since I will be ill-equipped to purchase even a used one there.
- I need to open a bank account to transfer money into to pay the first of three installments to the college and university, but cannot do so until I arrive.
- Nobody seems able to tell me what kind of internet access, if any, I will be able to get in whichever residence I end up in.
This general collection of nervous facts combines poorly with increasingly nerve-wracking days at Staples – with three sets of customers nipping at my heels as I try to serve the requests of a fourth. Also, with the original version of the NASCA report now distributed, all manner of people are simultaneously getting back to me with suggestions for changes, ideas for how the whole document can be reorganized, and generalized demands that I carry on working on the thing. I’d rather have a few friends over to drink scotch and watch Sin City, but such are the pressing demands of life.
Tonight, I mailed off email invitations to my departure party on September 17th. I hope I managed to send them to everyone in Vancouver who I profoundly hope will attend. Since I won’t have any kind of meaningful or well-attended birthday party this year, this party will serve as a surrogate. It will also be a departure party for anyone else who is leaving soon and able to attend: as I hope will be the case for Kerrie.
Returning to the matter alluded to earlier, of Jessica’s visit: it consisted of getting vegetarian Indian food at Yogi’s, where we got enormously faster service than I did the last time I went there, followed by drinks at Subeez (becoming cliche for me these days, but definitely my favourite place downtown) and generalized wandering in the English Bay area. Aside from the single brief time when I met Frank, this was the only time I’ve met someone in person who I had only known of previously online.
This morning, I remember standing at the end of a stone breakwater at Ambleside Beach in the rain, looking out at the morning city landscape. Like looking at Kits from English Bay last night, it was a sight that filled me with preemptive nostalgia: a sense that this is a known and familiar place that it is now appropriate to leave behind. That calm certainty forms an empowering counterpoint to the specific anxieties raised by the actual mechanisms of leaving.
Anyhow, I need to go over the messages I have received about the NASCA report and determine how long, working on the nights between Staples shifts, it will take to get the urgently desired second major draft into the hands of Allen Sens. Hopefully, most of their objections will be fairly quibbling and the linguistic edit which I am very thankful to Meghan for helping to provide, will go smoothly.
PS. At work, I briefly got extremely excited about the prospect of getting a SkypeIn account. The idea behind them is that you get a phone number in an area code of your choice (for me, Vancouver) and people there can call it and be directed to your Skype account. Then, your computer rings and you answer it like a phone call. Aside from a $30 a year fee, nobody pays anything. Unfortunately, the service isn’t available in Canada; apparently, that’s because you cannot use it to call local 911, or so I was told today by a Vonage representative touting their equivalent service for $40 a month. Hopefully, that will change in the near future.