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The Semi-Regular Newsletter


England, September 10, 2001

Oxford by Proxy

Behind every MBA grad is a supporting spouse

the big reunion
We all suffer together
I paddle better than I punt
I paddle her around..
the jaozai experts
..and Ma & Pa cook for her

When Jingmei first started her Masters and I would join her at social functions, her classmates would ask if I was also attending Oxford. My reply would always be: Yes, by proxy. That would confuse the students long enough for me to change the subject or flee the scene, for the Oxford bunch is pretty self-important. They didn't know what I meant, but I know all their relatives did.

As anyone who's had a spouse in grad school knows, s/he doesn't attend grad school alone. Oh no, you're right there with them, and we're not talking physically. We're talking living every success, crisis, and defeat in real time with the enrolled spouse. They talk about football widows in the USA, but that ain't nuttin like being a Masters widow/er.

Lets take Labour Day weekend for example.

The week before the holiday, Jingmei found out that one of her Summer Business Project team members was MIA. He'd split from Oxford when the last exam's grades came out and he'd failed a few tests. Instead of re-sitting the exams, an amazing treat for Oxford students, he split from the program. He may have even split from himself by now, for when Jingmei tracked down his family in India (can you tell she was pissed?), they said he'd already left for Afghanistan.

Now down to three people, and a Monday deadline for the project's report approaching, Jingmei went into overdrive, working and re-working the sixty (60) page business analysis. Don't think her team was working alone though. Frantic emails and phone calls flew across the Atlantic, and yours truly was put to work.

From finding photos to go with her presentation, to researching the number of foreign students in England taking English as Second Language classes, to editing the report for grammar and style, I worked side-by-side with Jingmei, albeit via phone and email. I even enlisted my Mom for eagle eye final editing.

The real drama came when Jingmei's team tried to print out the final document. First, the laser printer was agonizingly slow, taking thirty minutes to print out the paper in color. Then, it ran out of toner, and Jingmei's teammate had to call the University IT department to fix it. Amazingly, the IT department responded quickly, and even gave the team printer credit when they ran out of money on their student printing card moments later.

With ten minutes left before the deadline, Jingmei grabbed the finish report, jumped on her bike and raced for the collection center. She was in such a rush, a bus hit her, and before the bus driver could get out to see if she was okay, Jingmei was up & off, screaming obscenities over her shoulder.

She then had to fight a huge crowd in the middle of Oxford, where the usual crazy tourist traffic mixed with locals checking out a street fair. Finally, after a sprint up several flights of stairs, Jingmei slammed down the report with one minute left.

How do I know about all that? Because Jingmei told me in painful detail, all her trials and tribulations in finishing her report, and in fact, with my twice-daily calls to her, I've heard about all the previous challenges too. From the exhaustion of pre-exam study, to the depression of post-exam failure, to the exam re-sit success, to the aggravation of lazy teams, to the stress of last-minute reports, I've listened to it all.

Well, I've tried to listen, for sometimes Jingmei gets a little carried away and then anything and everything I do becomes part of the problem. Thankfully, I'm an understanding kinda guy and never take it personally, and Jingmei always apologizes when I point out her anger miss-assignment.

Hopefully soon, this too shall pass, and we can look back on her MBA experience and laugh. Hopefully...

England, July 23, 2001

Do You Know If...

Party time! Jingmei got her Green Card! Gimme a visa! a dedicated INS employee a sweet reward ...cell phones work in the USA Embassy in London?I actually never thought about this question until 5am this morning. I don't know why, maybe because the peculiarities of cell phones don't effect me...

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England, April 6, 2001

A Small, Yet Very Confusing World

I need a spreadsheet just to keep track of my friends A Belly Button Window fan-club meeting Belly Button Window groupies Who and where was this?! Like I would know them! In traveling around the world and back again, I've met quite a few people. These locals or travelers have...

England, March 26, 2001

Is it Edinburgh, Edinburrr or Ice'nburgh?

Ya need hairy legs to wear a skirt in that weather! Too many spires This was our goal I see the light now If he could, he'd leave too! Tonight I am toasty in Jingmei's Oxford dorm room, enjoying the warmth of her room and her love, which is a...

England, January 29, 2001

ISO: The Keys to Happiness

Don't laugh too hard or milk will come out of your nose too! Ai-ya! Get a towel quick! Delicate 'W' key negotiations Now I don't often ask much of you via my updates, preferring to beg for favors more personally than this, but today I have a special problem. Last...

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England, January 20, 2001

The Bride and Groom Bubble Dash

What's a good wedding without bubbles? You see any guests over there? Now sign on the dotted line.. Watch out! Bubbles! Sean: calling Ma & Pa Of course there was cake! No cake fight this time Now that's happiness! Mr. & Mrs. Vota My wedding day really started the night...

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