A Growing Light at the End of the Tunnel

It’s been a while since I added a new post, but now that my second semester (Hilary Term) is over, I have a little more time to bring you up to speed. Since my last post, I completed an 8,200 word essay — the longest thing I have ever written — comparing 15th century maritime exploration and presenting an analysis on the related transference of religious and ideological authority. I’m glad it is done and I am now able to focus all my efforts on my final semester (Trinity Term) Master’s dissertation.

Today as I write this, the UK is slowly, very slowly, emerging from lock down in five week increments. Pubs and non-essential services are still closed, but we are now able to gather in larger groups outside. Primary and secondary schools are back in session and vaccinations here are speeding along. Thanks to the time change and spring flowers, we all seem to be slowly emerging from our winter, COVID cocoons. The days are still long and lonely, but there is a brightening light at the end of the tunnel and if everything goes according to plan over the next five weeks, I will get my shot, or jab, and all of us will be able to enjoy outside seating at local pubs and restaurants again.

I am still surprised some mornings when I wake up and realize that I am in Oxford and not Philadelphia. I forget that I don’t have employment, a house, or the pile of things I sold or gave away. The last moments of the day are still the hardest because that is when I am alone with my thoughts, depression, worries, and unfulfilled hopes and plans before I struggle to fall asleep. To hug my family, to kiss my boyfriend, or even to shake another person’s hand are still unreachable for me, which is why I am the most at peace when I can turn my mind off for a few hours and rest for the night. I keep busy with my research, I exercise three mornings a week, and I try to keep busy throughout the day.

As one day blurs into the next, I cannot help but think about how the little things, the things I took for granted, bring me joy. A walk with a classmate. Freshly laundered sheets. Zoom or Facebook video chats with friends, family, and those I love. A surprise piece of mail. Or the sounds of real life (i.e. kids playing, a toe-tapping song on the radio of a passing car, or birds chirping — but not too early). I have been here for nearly seven months, so I’ve got about five months left. My plan was to go from Oxford into a PhD program in the United States or the United Kingdom, but I was not accepted into any of the programs I applied for (my god that was hard to write). So, I’ll have a year to regroup and then I will apply for entry into a 2022 PhD program. I started reaching for my goal to teach and research as a college professor about five years ago, and like the riverboat gambler who has pushed in all his chips, I’m planning to stay at the table as long as it takes.

Please stay well, please stay happy and healthy, and please keep pushing yourself — I tell myself “Come one Cameron, push, push, push” all the time. We are all walking on an emotional knife’s edge these days, so keep looking forward, take your time, and stay sure footed so we can happily be back together soon.

Keeping it Small

A few weeks ago I found a little door glued to a wall on Queens Lane, and since my last post, I discovered some of Oxford’s smallest inhabitants. I realize that these are just little figures glued to a door, but it really makes me smile when I discover more of this micro-gorilla art.

Where the Dinosaurs Walked

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is a monstrous building just down the street from St. Cross College. It was established in 1860, and unfortunately has been closed because of the pandemic. Its website notes that the museum houses the “world’s first scientifically described dinosaur – Megalosaurus bucklandiiand the world-famous Oxford Dodo, the only soft tissue remains of the extinct dodo.” Outside the museum are two interesting features. The first, is a plaque noting dinosaur footprints. I read, and am not sure if this is true or not, that the castings were made from footprints that were found on site. If that is the case, that would be the most convenient archeological dig site, just out the front door of the museum, ever. And the second, is a monument commemorating the famous origin of species debate.

The Things Cameron Has Seen Walking Around

This is not a doctored image, this building actually has a giant, fiberglass great white shark sticking out of its roof. It’s my understanding that it has been there for a while and is the creation of a local artist who was forced by the Headington town council to either remove the shark or take occupancy of the flat. So, he turned it into an Airbnb.

About a mile or so from my flat is the Thames River and the Iffley Lock, it is a popular and peaceful walk with a meadow on one side and the river, appropriately filled with narrow boats, on the other.

See, I’m not the only one who wrestles with the epic challenge of drying clothes. I took this picture of my neighbor’s backyard from my flat’s window.

Even the geese, with some pep in their step, are getting excited about spring.

Ahhhh, so this is what he or she does on the side. I would think the creator of the known universe would not need scaffolding, but, as they say, safety first.

I’m not entirely certain what I stumbled across, or its legality, but from what I could figure out this was a pop-up fish stand. I was walking home around 8 p.m. and this white van — fully equipped with scales, fencing, coolers, lights, bags, and product — was selling seafood to a rather long line of customers.

Best chalk decorated parking spot in Oxfordshire.

The horse patrols are out, which is a sure sign that spring is here and the COVID numbers are beginning to become more and more under control.

This gent camped out in front of St. Cross College for an impromptu fire juggling demonstration.

When did Kellogg change the name from Frosted Flakes to Frosties?

There are several taxis that call my neighborhood home and this is why they always look like they just came off the showroom floor.

Venice? No. Oxford.

One of Oxford’s many hidden paths and walkways. This was taken directly off of the Christ Church Meadow.

This pedestrian bridge just struck me as wonderfully ornate and very English, ya, it’s pretty cool.