Undergraduate terms here are eight weeks long, and there is a widely-known concept called “week five blues”. I used to be rather scathing of the idea, but I have come to realise that actually week five can be the hardest week of term. Week five of Lent term, which is what we’re in the middle of now (weeks start on Thursdays here, don’t ask me why), is the hardest of all. Midway through the middle term of the year, during a cold and frequently grey month.
Today is actually gloriously sunny and warm enough that hats, scarves and gloves are merely optional rather than essential, but unfortunately even that can’t affect the tiredness that has permeated my entire being this week. My sleep schedule has been knocked off balance so frequently in the past two weeks that I’m not sure I can even continue to claim I have one. My “healthy habits” chart is staring accusingly at me, the “nine hours sleep” column conspiciously blank. The one night I did get to bed in time to get nine hours of sleep, I lay awake until 3am despite employing every fall-asleep tactic short of drugging myself.
There are some nice things about this week. By chance, my workload is reasonably light. One supervisor has decided not to set us any more essays this term, and the reading list for her next supervision is so short I had to check I hadn’t lost a page. My dissertation is finally coming together, and I’ve even managed to write somewhere between 800 and 1200 words (some of it will have to be scrapped after the feedback I got from my seminar last week). I had a very helpful phone call with a woman who works with prisoners and she gave me a lot of things to think about, as well as some advice about where to do more research on certain areas.
On Friday we had an interesting double-length medical law lecture with a visiting doctor who gave us the clinician’s side of the story in relation to declarations of death and Do Not Attempt Resusitation orders. There was a short but lively discussion about whether or not we would benefit from legislation which legally defined death – as it is, the matter is left entirely to clinical judgement – and I learnt a lot of things which might well be important, albeit hopefully only occasionally, in my midwifery career.
Yesterday the choir went off to Hereford for the day, to sing evensong and also to look around the town. Although Hereford is sufficiently close to my mum’s house that I recognised the shape of the landscape, I had never been before and it is a nice place full of interesting old buildings – and to my delight, people walking their dogs and children around the town. Dogs and children are both things that my life is generally lacking here. It was a long day, though; we set off at 10.30am and got back at around 11pm.
A small, musically-irrelevant triumph was managing to reattach the zipper to a cassock bag one of the boys had brought to me saying “Choir mummy, can you fix my cassock bag?”. A tiny part of me was quite flattered at the title (and I have to confess that it’s not the first time I’ve been deemed to be the “mummy” for a group of fellow students – I was “cast mummy” to a touring theatre show in the summer of my first year) and a larger part of me was determined not to be defeated by a piece of metal and some plastic teeth. For reference, if you’re attempting the same thing and can’t feed both halves of the zip into the bottom of the zipper, feed one side through, slide the zipper down to the bottom, cut slightly into the zip at the base of the other side of the zip and feed that through from the top of the zipper. Magical!
Next weekend is a long-awaited trip to the gardens of our local National Trust house, which is currently in snowdrop season and more importantly offers delicious tea and cake for which we have a voucher. My shiny new NT membership pack arrived earlier this week and I’m determined to make the most of it. Heidi, my doing-interesting-things friend from chapel, has also procured two free tickets to a book fair on Friday afternoon which sounds like it will be worth going to. It’s fortunate that I have so much free entertainment and socialising planned, because I didn’t babysit this week (they weren’t home) and therefore I’m rather broke. Thank goodness for a well-stocked freezer and food cupboards fit to burst 🙂