Tag Archives: Brasenose College Library

Day 40 in the UK Brings Me Home

Lower red arrow shows where I stayed in "Staircase 14" - Amsterdam Quod. Other labels were added because I mentioned them in my posts.

Day 40 was 30 hours long.  At least it felt as if there had been 24 hours + the 6 hours time difference between Oklahoma and England.  And that’s putting things mildly.

On Sunday morning I left a city 75 minutes northeast of London and by Sunday evening landed on a very familiar Will Rogers World airport tarmac, right in the heart of Oklahoma.  The time in-between those two events is a bit of a blur.  Here are a few things I remember…

As I sit and write this entry my shoulders tell me this:

1) Suitcase = 61 pounds.  The service person at the desk “…let it slide.  After all, it’s not THAT much over 50 pounds.”  [Really? Cool!]

2) Laptop = 6 pounds.  I know.  Please, no lectures.  I realize there are sleaker models.

3) New bag = 7 pounds, crammed full.  If the top had included a magnet clasp, the prospect of carrying that much clutter scooped in the last minute from my dorm room vanity would have been dismal.  A zipper top is a thing of beauty.

4) Casebook, statues and handbook = 9 pounds, stacked neatly in a paper bag with handles.  In the morning the bag had gleamed in its spotless, wrinkle free state.  In the evening, the bag was hardly recognizable.  Smudges, rips, one handle barely fastened.  However, I got my books back.  Good thing – they were 300 dollars.  Young parents attending college must weigh this decision frequently: “Books? Or that child we wanted to have?”

Total poundage drug through three airports? 83 pounds.  Sometimes at a dead run.  Other times as a slow crawl.  Never gracefully.

And as I wrote those words, “dead run” another thing came to mind.  The magical beauty of an Express Connection bright orange sticker.

Like a Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka, only it's an Orange Ticket from American!

This little adhesive label allows the bearer to bypass thousands of people standing in line to get through customs and check-in counters because you happen to have been on a plane that arrived dangerously near the departure time of your connecting flight.  Amazing – – leave one plane, go through customs, retrieve 61 pound suitcase, re-check it into another counter, ride the train to a different terminal, run like anything (with no regard for how you look to others at this point), and get to the connecting flight with 11 minutes to spare.  Never mind that it needed repairs and didn’t leave for another hour or more.  The magic of the orange badge had already been experienced.

My very special library card

When I got home and started emptying 83 pounds onto the middle of the living room floor, a small white card fluttered down from my laptop bag and underneath the coffee table.  I stooped to pick it up, flipped it over, and saw that it was Brasenose College Library Card.

I’m not a big “souvenir” person.  I don’t appreciate clutter for all the nostalgia it might contain, and I don’t do scrapbooks.  For those of you who know Kelsey Sweger, she can attest to the fact that after a four-hour tutelage (and she IS a scrapbooking master), I have given up the notion of ever embracing the hobby.  As I instinctively raised my arm to toss it into the trash pile, however, I hesitated.

I couldn’t do it.  Maybe I’ll keep it.  I guess I can have two souvenirs…my handbag AND my Library Card.  And my memories. And this travel journal I’ve been keeping for 40 days.

Yep, that should do it.  I completed my 40th day by sitting in the living room, way past my bedtime, talking to my husband, daughters and their boyfriends.  I passed out travel gifts, listened to their stories about “how to jailbreak the iPhone 4,” what the girls did in Ecuador, and how Mick managed three yards at once while two sets of neighbors and I were gone.  It was a perfect finish to my 40th day.

But as I composed this post one day past day 40, I didn’t have closure.  One more thing needed to be done.

I lifted the top of my flatbed scanner, took the Library Card, and walked across my office floor.  I looked around and decided it needed to be protected.  Lifting the glass front to my antique 4-stack barrister shelves, I put it on the top row in the center, leaning against the back of the shelf.

I closed the lid and I was done.  Tomorrow I return to work with my handbag in tow.

My fingers found the light switch as I continued to study the placement of the card on the shelf.  “Well Done,” I thought to myself.  And I turned off the light.

Day 39: Sniff, Swirl, Sip, Swish & Swallow. Breathe. Analyze.

I am, to this day, a “Frasier” fan.  The affected antics of two psychiatrist brothers raving about their less-than-stellar chocolate shavings atop their cappuccino cracks me up.  The show’s writers blended a well-developed group of characters and scripting with the perfect mix of snobbery, culture, uncomfortable situations and physical comedy.

Take, for example, the ongoing desires of Niles and Frasier to become “Corkmaster” of their wine-tasting club.  Watching their over-the-top “sniff, swirl, sip, swish and swallow” routine always sent me into helpless giggles (while wrestling with an uncomfortable anxiety – could they really be that ridiculous?).

So…I was watching a British couple decked out in their after-five attire walk down the sidewalk last night, her white feathered headband bobbing to and fro, and I thought of Frasier, Niles and their perpetual “dressing up” for occasions…and then the aforementioned wine-tasting episode as I noticed the couple was entering a posh hotel – a massive picture window view of diners eating and drinking inside. “Yes,” I thought.  “There is my Day 39 inspiration.  Perfect.”

Bag purchased on my last day in Oxford. One of my "final three" tasks to complete.

Sniff – When I arrived in England I was completely disoriented. I had to breathe in the culture and test the question of whether or not to embrace my new adventure.  The aroma of London was promising enough, so I raised the glass of my 40 Day Trek to chin level and pressed on.

Swirl – The nice thing about swirling your drink is that you are in control of the velocity, therefore having some influence of the blending process as you prepare for partaking.  I took my time, met with those who were important to me, my research and my energies, and agreed that this was a good thing.  Not too much, not too little; a manageable schedule with appropriate velocity.  I swirled, ramping up my culture intake, and went on to Oxford.

Sip – A gentle taste of things to come was helped immensely by the staff at Oxford.  “Here, my love, let me take your bags.”  “There you are now, dear, new fresh towels.”  “Oh no, you can’t find the bus in that direction.  You’d best turn ‘round and head the opposite way.  That’s right.  All better now.”  Sip too hard, your wine goes straight to your windpipe.  Sip too softly, and you annoy those around you with a horrible noise [aka – too many questions of too many people].  Read the Law Conference Manual, ask for directions occasionally, go to class, take advantage of what’s around you…and your drink is appropriately consumed.  Nice.  Very nice.

Swish – The purpose of swishing is so that you leave no cultural taste-bud unstimulated.  You fill every nook and cranny within your head, in this case, with aromatic information of the grape, vintage and year you’ve chosen to drink.  “Oxford, Summer, 2010,”she requested, “One bottle please.”  Included in this swishing were day trips, special lectures, events, studying, cramming and taking exams.  The final and most intense swish was accomplished through my Family Law final – a culmination of excellent lectures, incredible reading load, and an exhaustively complex three hour test that took us through marriage, divorce, child custody, international jurisdiction and the utilization of the Hague Treaty on child abduction.  Wait for it……[*gulp*].

Tea and freshly baked Scones. #2 of my final three tasks to complete. Yummmm.

Swallow – on the evening of Day 39 the wine trickled down my gullet as I walked the streets of Oxford one final time.  I had three things to accomplish on the journey.  1) Purchase a souvenir handbag for myself I have been eying the entire stay; 2) Pay a visit to an establishment rumored to serve the best baked-when-ordered scones and tea in town.  The spread did indeed live up to the recommendations; and, 3) say goodbye to Oxford.  As I walked down Queen’s Lane that last evening, the warm afterburn of my drink in my throat turned to emotion-filled pressure…the kind you feel before a cry begins. I was going to miss this place.  I’m glad I came.  And, I was glad to be going home.

Breathe – On the first breath taken after a drink, the “finish” is revealed.  Rustic flavors of ancient walls and scholars, berries from the bushes, cherries from the trees, and apples from the garden of knowledge filled my head and sinuses.  The finish was a good one; in the economy of payoffs vs. investment, I deemed my drink a winner.  I am the Corkmaster of my own journey, so the Frasiers can continue to argue all they wish.  I’ll be enjoying my wine for years to come.

Analyze – This category is still a work in progress.  As the information from my 40 days in the UK settles, gets categorized and utilized as needed, I may think about it differently than I do now.  Right now, my analysis is that I’m terribly grateful to my family and my place of employment for supporting my decision to come.

As I ended my evening walk, I metaphorically put the cork back into my bottle for safe keeping.  It was time to pack, time to rest, and time to think about returning home.

Oxford, Summer, 2010.

An excellent wine, a bountiful year, and if I were placing the value for the market listing, I would put “Sorry – unavailable.  Upon examination, owner renders a ‘priceless’ judgment and refuses to sell.”


Day 37: Reckoning Day, and the Brasenose Library Book Kitty

Critically discuss that the European Union (EU) has evolved into a “U.S. of Europe.”  Critically discuss the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.  Are human rights adequately protected under EU Law? There is a democratic deficit in Europe: affirmative or negative?  Critically discuss the EU Parliament, the EU High Courts, the EU Commission…

Points, sub-points, counterpoints, caveats. Write, write, shake my hand from to relieve the pain of an ergonomically incorrect pen grip, and begin again.

For two days I had been preparing responses to these questions and now it was just a matter of cramming in every word possible within the allotted time.  For a brief moment while I was rubbing the joints in my hand I said a short prayer of thanks for the Brasenose library.  The venue exudes an air of getting down to business and prepping for exams.  My mind then flashed to the stuffed cat I saw curled on top of a stack of ancient volumes, and I diverted that thought as quickly as possible.

While I understand that stuffing a dearly beloved cat might be a positive thing, in remembrance of the feline soul and all that it gave the library over the years, all I could think was, “Icky!” (See 19th Century stuffed pets.)

Back to the exam.  I haven’t used a “blue book” since my undergraduate years.  I filled mine full save one page, stopped writing, leaned back in my chair and breathed in slowly.  Then out.  Done.  One down, one to go.

And in case you are now bandying about the answers to the questions in the first paragraph to entertain yourself, just let me know when I get home.  I’ll meet you at the pub and we’ll have ourselves a robust dialogue.

I’d love too, in fact.  Just let me know.