Little Miss Perfect...
How Basic Is Too Basic?
The (Foody) Pursuit of Happiness
10 sure signs that you're living in Studentsville...
It seems strange to me, in a world where life is ever increasingly played out in front of a computer screen, and on social
networking sites, that rules as to what constitutes cyber-decency are so few and far in between. With so many of us now appearing
to inhabit a virtual reality it seems only right that regulations regarding what is appropriate behaviour in this new and wonderful
world of the web, should be available to guide the naive. Long gone are the days of etiquette schools with young girls balancing
books on their heads and reciting rhymes of “How now brown cow” but does the technological high-jacking of our social world really
mean that all rules go out the window? In my opinion, no. Simply that we should update the rule book using our overpriced, under-achieving,
virus-riddled laptops, uploading it to co-exist with us in this tekkie wonderland, alongside porn and illegal download websites.
So here I present to you my rules of Facebook etiquette.
Statuses are one of the more fun and useful aspects of Facebook, allowing you to keep up to date with your friends and families. Despite the obvious benefits statuses are also a hot bed for Facebook faux pas. One of the most common misdemeanours is the setting of too many statuses or statuses of an exceedingly trivial nature. ‘[Insert name here] just ate a slice of toast’ DOES NOT warrant publication, I do not need to know the exact details of your culinary habits, tv-watching antics or bowel movements, thank you very much. As for frequency of statuses, as a general rule one status a day should suffice- only on a particularly interesting day is a second statuses warranted or, indeed, permitted. Just to specify- interesting events include having your leg bitten off by a shark or winning the lottery
Another status issue is the transformation of a usually witty, intelligent person into a status ‘sheep’. Times this is most likely to happen is during the X-factor season or a particularly important football game. This is all well and good but please only add to the discussion if you have an interesting/original point to make, don’t jump on the bandwagon for the sake of doing so- Christina Aguilera can’t have got that fat surely? Was the Ref really so wrong about that offside decision? The most heinous of Facebook crimes are what I like to call ‘POD’ offences- those committed by those living in ‘the love pod’, no longer aware that anything exists outside their seemingly perfect (and truly sickening) relationship. Now, I am actually in a long-term relationship, this does not however change my views on the issue. In fact if anything it strengthens them. Even when my boyfriend has done something particularly praise worthy, I do not feel the need to congratulate him in such a public manner (and he has been duly warned that I expect the same level of restraint from him). I have his number and so if I have something to say to him, I‘ll use it. My rules on this matter stem from my belief that a) Some things in life are meant to be private and b) I believe people who define themselves as nothing more than one half of a couple are, well… Boring. Sorry, but PDA’s are no more acceptable in the cyber-world than they are in reality. So to specify- Soppy statuses, lovey wall posts and kissing photos all come under this heading. Kissing photos are particularly problematic for me. The fact that you purposely took, uploaded, and shared these indicates to me some sort of voyeuristic fetish on your behalf and it is neither the time nor the place for such behaviour (Facebook being a social networking site and not a swingers forum). Please do not make me party to your sexual endeavours
The next item to make it onto my list is Facebook profile rapes or ‘Frapes’ as they have come to be known. Now, I’m all for a bit of Fraping. Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of public humilation now and then? (How else would you explain the popularity of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here) but please- keep them funny and original. Seeing ‘So and So is gay’ pop up on my feed 30 times a day has come to make poor Facebook stalking material. I know the allure of an unattended and signed-in profile is hard to resist but if you don’t have anything to say then please just leave well alone. I feel the need here to point out some of my favourite examples of frapes- A Facebook friend recently had her profile hijacked resulting in the announcing of her unexpected pregnancy. Now, I’ve seen a few of these done before but what made this a particularly successful was the lengths the Fraper went to make it look convincing. A (presumably googled) scan photo was set as the profile picture, and the status was followed by convincing comments insisting that the pregnancy was true, nominating god-parents and expressing surprise and trepidation at her forth-coming situation. The key here was commitment- it had me checking on the progress of the situation for a good few hours and so expert Fraper, I applaud you.
Also worthy of a mention here is a friend of mine who has been the most frequent and stealthy attacker of my profile, resulting in simply foul (and quite disturbing) Frapes-which to my dismay, have been very well received. So well done you. Now kindly stay away from my computer. This however, brings me on to my next point- Facebook baby talk. Great, so you’re pregnant (you and the rest of the under 21 population)- congratulations/commiserations (delete as appropriate). I understand that Facebook may be an effective way for you to announce this news to the world, and I may even bestow upon you a virtual ‘like’ as a method of cheering your ability to procreate, but as far as I’m concerned this does not justify you using Facebook to bombard me with banal and sometimes graphic details of your pregnancy. I do not wish to hear about swollen feet and chronic gas until I am unlucky enough to have to undergo the experience myself. It is quite simply, off-putting, both in terms of its effect on my own wish for children and also in the effect it has on my appetite. In fact as far as I’m concerned, you are entitled to only three statuses in reference to your impending parenthood. 1) When you announce that you do indeed have a bun in the over (rather than having just let yourself go) 2) When labour has started (simply for the reason that being in that much pain does somewhat entitle you to some virtual cheer-leading) and 3) When the little bundle of ‘joy’ has arrived. But that is it. I (and many others, I assure you) have reached our limit in relation to all thing baby related. Ironically this is the time most offenders’ behaviour worsens. Gone are the statuses about epic nights out, hangovers and other frivolity and here to stay are the those achingly dull updates about teething, night-feeds and potty training. To all of you that commit this crime, please note that the only people that interact with you on the subject are other offenders. The rest of us have either hidden you from our feed or deleted you completely. You have been warned.
My final gripe is Facebook bullies- those people that belong on the Jeremy Kyle show but who choose to play out their dramas on each other’s statuses and walls instead. Though, as a group they can be seen to be the polar opposite to the aforementioned POD people the basis of their crime is the same- a severe lack of a sense of privacy. They are more than happy to hang their virtual dirty washing out to dry in public- arguing over who slept with who, cheated on who and who is the baby’s biological father. Now, although this is technically a complaint- nobody likes a bully after all- I cant help but feel my Facebook experience would be somewhat diminished by their absence, chavvily entertaining as they are- and so it is for that reason, unlike the equally chavvy 16-year old baby-momma’s, that I do not hide or delete these virtual delinquents However, if remembering all these rules proves too difficult- as far as Facebook behaviour goes, there is only really one rule that you need to live by, and that is-
‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself’
So if you don’t enjoy reading baby-related statuses, having your feed hijacked to discuss the latest flop performance of an Xfactor wannabe or being forced to endure the sickly love proclamations of the emotionally needy then the chances are others don’t either. Keep this in mind and you and your online acquaintances will remain Facebook friends rather than Facebook enemies.
The tinsel is long gone, as are the glitter-ridden (and now alcohol stained) party dresses. With Christmas now a distant
memory, so are many of our post-party resolutions. For most of us, the quest to lose our so called Xmas belly has been long-forgotten,
turning ‘holiday weight’ into, well, just weight. That unsightly bulge can no longer be explained away as the temporary result of
festive indulgence and has instead taken its place (mostly spilling out the top of your jeans) as a permanent spare tyre; that
exercise bike (bought in the January sales in a fit of mince-pie induced shame) has become a graveyard for all of those clothes you
are now unable to fit into.
However, there are those women for whom exercise/detoxxing/eating organic is not a fad, but a way of life. Let me introduce you to… The Little Miss Perfects. An army of alien robots sent here from the outer realms of space to make us mere (fat and lazy) mortals feel inadequate; or, so I like to believe. Harmless though they are (other than to our ego's obviously) we spend our time secretly wishing exercise-resistant cellulite and premature grey-hair upon them. That’s just how we’re wired. It is of course, probably (O.K., O.K… definitely) the result of jealously. We secretly aspire to join their elite ranks, and our wish to become them followed by our ultimate failure causes resentment. Now - this is when I am supposed to tell you that our bitterness towards them, unfounded as it is, is morally wrong. However… It feels bloody good doesn’t it? The secret joy we feel when they have gained a pound or are having a sh*t hair day feels absolutely fabulous and we all know it. This reaction may not be the classiest but may be excused as a coping mechanism, a form of self presevation- and who would deny us that? And anyway, far be it from me to deny another person success. The real issue I have with this race of super-beings is not their ability to thrive at everything they do, but the smugness they do it with. Good on you if you managed to get out of bed at 7am to go for a run! But as proof that you are indeed a human being, and not an alien robot, I want to hear that waking up at such an ungodly hour left you feeling horrendous, not fresh and that exercising at such a time was torture, not invigorating.
That said, I must point out that I am in fact a hypocrite. Whilst I still regularly enjoy a glass of wine too many, fail to prepare for my seminars on time (or at all) and can often be seen sporting the panda-eye look, I have recently attempted to change my exercise habits This wasn’t a challenge as such: my previous exercise regime included reaching for the last slice of garlic bread and not much else. I have added to this not-so healthy activity Pilates, ab-tone classes, circuits and spinning (the latter I must admit has fallen by the way-side, due to the fact that it is quite simply torture on a bike). I can see my former self now, shaking her head in revulsion at this sudden burst of pro-activeness, especially as (and much to my own disgust, I assure you) I have become a right smug little madam about it. “Oh sorry, I cant come out tonight I have a Pilates class in the morning, don’t you know?” … “Oh yes, wonderful way to start the day!”. Even as I write this the urge to punch myself is over-whelming. Normally I would be the person delivering a suitably evil stare over my heavily glazed doughnut as these words were uttered, not be the person delivering them. But I can’t seem to help myself, the urge to gloat just a little bit is too irresistible. As I lose one vice, I gain another (more irritating) one. What can I say? If you can’t beat them, join them.
But dont write me off just yet. Whilst I have taken a small and tentative step to becoming one of them I am still flawed in many other weird and wonderful ways: my nail varnish is still almost always chipped; I am still constantly fighting an uphill battle to keep my room crockery and clothes-mountain free; I am the queen of procrastination (what do you think I’m doing right now?); and, even if I do wash my clothes I forget about them, leaving them to rot in the machine until I am back to square one.
And so, I will not, in the foreseeable future (or realistically ever) become a Little Miss Perfect. So whilst I must beg for forgiveness for my occasionly smug ways (and lets face it this probably won’t last forever and so perhaps I deserve my moment of glory) I can assure you I am more than lacking in other areas. While a bit of me shall always aspire to be a Little Miss Perfect what we should remember is that whilst the life of these women may appear enviable, all work and no play makes Little Miss Perfect a very dull girl. So while she has the toned body to kill for, the perfectly manicured nails and probably always knows where her keys are, we “under-achievers” have a life-time of unpredictable, messy but wonderful memories (and possibly a hefty hangover); to me, those are the most enviable assets of all. So, sod the Pilates class and let's crack open another bottle of wine.
As students we aren’t the richest of social groups, (except those of us who have access to Daddy’s credit card, perhaps).
Therefore we are forced to make decisions on when to splurge and when to save and with necessities such as course books (ok,
I lie… clothes and alcohol), eating up our budget, our diet is often the first thing to suffer.
For example, I had a housemate last year who survived solely on a diet of sausage sandwiches, though whether this was due to an over-whelming love of pig products, or an attempt to live frugally I was never sure. For those of us that wish to shop cheaply, but still desire a slightly higher level of variety than pork and more pork (and to be fair, I don’t think this is unreasonable!) then buying a supermarket’s own brands might be the way to go. Despite the substantial savings however, I have noticed that there is sometimes a stigma attached to these products. A friend of mine once looked at me with absolute horror as I picked up a Tesco value item, almost shaming me into putting it back on the shelf. So, I have to ask- is this just the result of food snobbery, or are we compromising our food standards by buying cheaper, and if so, how much?
Now, I’m not actually ashamed to admit I do, at times, buy value foods. For example, I just can’t bring myself to spend a whopping £1.95 on a bottle of Heinz Ketchup when I can get a bottle of Tesco value ketchup, exactly the same size, for 25p. That’s a whopping 8 times cheaper! (And by my calculations, almost enough to buy a pint of snakebite at Fab). Ok, so the packaging isn’t quite as nice to look at but unlike Andy Warhol I can’t say I’m too fussed about that. I checked the ingredients for nasty surprises but found nothing and after a little bit of research I found the nutritional value to be practically the same, and sometimes even slightly better. Tomato ketchup enthusiasts may argue that there is a slight taste difference, but not enough in my opinion to warrant the difference in price.
This said, I am aware that standards differ from product to product. My encounter with Tesco value sausages for example, was one of a less positive nature- appear as they did to contain more breadcrumbs than meat, to the point where I started to wonder if they could be marketed as suitable for vegetarians. And of course, any of you used to shopping at Harrods or eating only Tesco Finest may be in for a shock but we are after all, lowly students and on the whole, I have found my experience of own brand products to be happy enough. It may be a matter of trial and error but if it ultimately leaves my bank account looking happier, then it does me. The trick, I would argue, is to be vigilant in your shopping, check the nutrition of what you are buying and if it’s 10p cheaper but has got 10 times the fat then maybe it‘s time to go more middle of the road than bargain basement. If there’s little difference nutritionally or taste wise, or you think the difference isn’t worth getting in the red for, then buy basic and be proud of your thrifty ways! There is after all, enough pressure to buy designer labels. without being forced to buy designer food and buying cheap (when it doesn‘t leave you fat or mal-nourished) may be worth it if it allows you to spend more of your money on the things that matter… like those new shoes you saw in Top Shop…
Christmas is long gone (but the festive weight is not). Summer still seems a million miles away, and you have exams and essay deadlines
looming. It’s easy to see why this time of year can be depressing. But rather than grin and bear it there’s only one thing to do… eat
your way to happiness. And let’s face it, we all agree, that sounds like a top-notch plan. But where to start? Well, we’ve all seen the
articles telling us of the foods scientifically proven to boost our mood, and don’t get me wrong, I love having a scientific excuse to eat
chocolate as much as the next person. However, there are some foods that make you feel better not because they contain endorphins or the
protein ‘tryptophan’ (whatever that may be), but just because they do. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s pure gluttony or maybe it’s the only
thing that soothes your hangover Whatever it is, it works and so as far as I’m concerned these foods deserve to be acknowledged just as much
as those that come government recommended.
BBQ’d meat = Now, I’m aware that I’m stereotyping (and excuse the mild sexism), but I have never seen a man happier than when he is barbequing meat (vegetarians obviously excluded). Not only does it give them an excuse to avoid anything healthy, the closest your gonna get to a vegetable at a BBQ being a greasy fried onion afterall,?but something about the alpha malesness of cooking a big slab of animal on an open fire seems to regress them to the caveman days. And I must say, they seem perfectly content there. Jelly = Not only does it remind us of children’s parties, it can be moulded into novelty shapes, and there’s just something about the way it wobbles… Gravy = Whether it’s over your mum’s roast dinner or cheesy chips when you’re a bit worse for wear, somehow it makes everything alright. That is unless there’s not enough of it, in which case it feels like your world is falling apart. Nothing worst than a dry roast, after all. Sunny D = The name’s happy and so were we as we were drinking it by the gallon when we were young. Little did we know that it was because it was pumped full of E-numbers (with the delightful side-effect of giving you a healthy orange glow that fake-tan addicts would kill for). Cuppa Soup = Because sometimes we all need a hug in a mug.
Worthers originals = Maybe your grandad didn’t actually feed these to you at poignant moments throughout your childhood, maybe you don’t even have a grandad but somewhere along the line that advertising campaign connected Worthery goodness with the happiness receptor in your brain and voila. Space dust = How can you not like a food that literally makes it feel like there’s a party in your mouth? Egg and Soldiers = The novelty of the egg-cup, the expert cracking of the egg, the ceremony of dipping the soldiers and the need to refer to the bread as soldiers and not just bread. It all makes for a cracking good time (you knew it was coming). Porridge = On a cold morning is there anything better than a hot-steaming bowl of porridge to warm your cockles? Add a big dollop of golden syrup and the answer is probably no.
Potato Smileys = Because you can’t not be happy when you’re eating a food that is smiling back at you… Ok, so they might not contain your recommended daily allowance of vitamins and they probably won’t boost those all important serotonin levels, but these foods are guaranteed to put a smile on your face whatever the weather. So take a break from that essay, put those revision books down and get started on your own personal foody pursuit of happiness.
For those of you not in the know, the phrase guilty pleasures refers to those things in life that bring you unprecedented amounts of joy but which you are simply too ashamed to admit to for fear of judgement. Perhaps under close inspection your I-pod play list reveals a secret love of S club 7, maybe you get cheap thrills from squeezing spots, or maybe you never did get round to giving up the recorder (hey, no judgement!)… Whatever it is it’s shameful enough to warrant hiding from the general public. And let’s face it, we all have a few skeletons hiding in the closet (I speak figuratively of course, my guilty pleasure is NOT corpse storage). What sets these dirty little delights apart from our other passions is that we continue to indulge them despite their obvious lack of ‘coolness’. Even though we risk losing credibility/lad points our love burns on. And doesn’t the secretiveness of it all make it that little bit more enjoyable? Turning an embarrassing attribute into a scrumptious secret to be savoured rather than repressed. Now secret shames can vary, from involvement in embarrassing activities to the adoration of a suitable vile celebrity (anybody a Jimmy Saville lover?), with a million equally embarrassing possibilities in-between. My own guilty pleasures are numerous and infinite in variety and against my better judgements I have decided to share them with you… The first of many vices is my love for what I affectionately refer to as ‘Crap-mags’ (although to me they are anything but…) , more accurately described as ‘real-life magazines’. You’ve all seen , and probably avoided, them - those magazines featuring weird and wonderful titles such as ‘I’ve got bacon in my breast’ (and yes that is a genuine example. Intrigued now, aren’t you?!) Now, often I feel the wrath of judgement when I am caught with one of these mags (normally on those days I haven’t managed to procure a brown-paper bag normally reserved for the filthiest of porn), however, defend them I do. Yes, tacky they are and often distasteful but there is no denying that they are interesting. As opposed to the vacuous nonsense written in celeb gossip mags. Often my harshest critics are people who can be spotted nose-deep in the latest copy of Heat. A magazine that with my love of trash, I surprisingly have no interest in. I simply do not care what Cheryl Cole had in her sandwich (Full-fat mayo, you are joking? How DARE she?!) or that Jordan was seen leaving a club worse for wear after a whiff of Lambrini. If I want to see photos of drunk people I’ll just look at the contents of my memory card, thank you very much. These are after all, just ordinary people, doing ordinary mundane things- which in my opinions are made no more interesting by the fact they are z-list celebs. Yes it may be gross that a young girl is having her grandfather’s baby but there is no denying that it is interesting and proof of this is that often it is those who are the first to scoff that I later catch red-handed with my beloved crap magazines. In fact it makes me wonder if I’m so alone in this guilty pleasure after all… My second, equally trashy vice, is day-time TV- those television programmes generally deemed not good enough to go in prime time viewing slots, ranging from property development to antiques shows, I love them all! Even writing this I have the sudden urge for a cup of tea, a comfy sofa and an episode of escape to the country. In fact I can and have, quite happily planned a whole day around the day time TV schedule. If you are a daytime TV virgin (shame on you) I have compiled a list of my absolute favourite day-time programmes to allow you to dip a toe in the couch potato world... To Buy or Not to Buy Murder She Wrote Dinner Date (think Come Dine With Me with an added romantic element and wonderfully cruel rejection). Loose Women Homes Under The Hammer A Place in The Sun The Jeremy Kyle Show (yes he is a horrid self-righteous excuse for a man but I’m drawn to it nonetheless) Midsomer Murders (the willingness of the characters to live in a village with a higher murder rate than Croyden never ceases to amaze me) 60 Minute Makeover The list could go on and on… *The noticeable absence of This Morning from this list is in no way a reflection of it as a programme but more on my inability to get up before noon. Another, more x-rated, secret shame of mine is my love of nudity- I love to walk around naked. Apparently I’m a naturist at heart, who knew?! (Well, possibly my neighbours with my tendency to forget to close the curtains). If I didn’t live in shared housing I could quite happily forgo clothing altogether when at home (that I refrain from doing so is a courtesy my housemates appreciate I am sure). And to probably my weirdest guilty secret of all… Plucking my eyebrows/having them plucked. Now, I’m aware that tweezing your eyebrows is not, in itself, something to be embarrassed about- most girls (and more and more men) indulge in a spot of eyebrow grooming after all. But it also equally true to say that for most it cannot be deemed to be a pleasure either. I, however (Freak that I am) LOVE it. In fact, having my eyebrows plucked is a guilty pleasure I have to show restrain in for fear that I will end up with no eyebrows at all. I can’t explain it exactly… ok, ok, at all… but something about that little tweaking pain relaxes me. In fact it has been known to send me to sleep. (I am aware that this slightly masochistic tendency combined with my love of nudity I am coming across as slightly kinky but hey, they’re called guilty pleasure for a reason). Other, less kinky, secret pleasures of mine include; Spontaneous dance routines when listening to the radio Eating straight from the pan (as far as I’m concerned less washing up is good for the environment and so this should actually be applauded. Well done me) Reading Truelad.com, which I know goes against everything the site stands for and I’m sure there are many men reading this cursing me for my intrusion into their little bit of cyber world but I just love it. Now to avoid this being all me, me, me (partial to a bit of ego centrism though I am) I have compiled a list of guilty pleasure kindly revealed to me by friends. Ranging from a female friend admitting that she regularly indulges in a bit of ‘alone time’ with her rabbit and her favourite porn site (I should probably point out that this rabbit was of the mechanical kind- if it wasn’t I fear we would be on a whole other topic) to another friend’s slight obsession with the Royal Family. Personally I find the love of the Royals to be the more shocking of the two but this probably says more about me than it does the issue at hand. Anyway, here they are- strange yet stupendous and sure to entertain… Knitting (although now very L.A after Cameron Diaz took it up). Rod Stewart Bubble Baths (not a guilty pleasure for us girls, but this was male friend of mine). Old skool 90’s classics Girls Aloud Finding spelling mistakes in people’s work and correcting them. Vintage computer games (Rollercoaster Tycoon, The Sims etc). COD (surprisingly from a female friend). Really fatty pork crackling. Anal sex Cocky boys (one that a few of us can probably relate to, I fear) Coach Trip. Speeding. Vengaboys. Pizza and mash as a meal mixed up together. Robson Green’s extreme fishing. www.mugglenet.com- A horrendously geeky site for those who love everything Harry Potter. Fake Tan So what's the moral of it all? Well you asked for it so here it goes… Be proud of all the weird and wonderful oddities that make you, you. Personality at the end of the day is nothing more but the sum of our individual quirks. It is these things that make you interesting. So don’t hide your love of high school musical anymore (although I would argue that this over everything else I have discussed is something to be ashamed of), flaunt your oddities! Variety is the spice of life after all…
You walk past 3 smurfs, a cowboy and a full-grown man in a nappy on the walk home and don't bat an eye-lid. Non-student houses stick out like a sore thumb. They are most easily identified by the prescence of actual living shrubbery in their gardens and the absense of beer can pyramids in their front windows. During periods of cold weather your main concern isn't the possibility of slipping on black ice but frozen vomit (you may think I'm exaggerating but this happened to a friend of mine, not a nice way to start the morning. Well, not nice for them. Amusing for the rest of us? Very). There are more off-licences then there are places to do your weekly shop. Leaving you happily drunk most of the time but probably slightly malnourished. Better hope that cider counts as one of your five a day. You don't know your next-door neighbour's name but thanks to mercilessly thin walls you are fully aware of what they sound like during sex. Yes, I'm talking to you Mr Grunts-a-lot. 'Morning' rush hour isn't untill midday, anybody seen before this time is still in last nights clothes, stinking of booze and commiting the dreaded walk of shame. There is a notable absense of fine-dining establishments. There is however a broad range of places where you can pick up a fried chicken meal for under three quid (salmonella comes free of charge). On the way to 9am lectures you face an assault course of unconscious students, empty beer cans and fast-food debris (no doubt the result of someone's drunken late night stop at the aforementioned chicken eatery). The term "Hoodie" no longer refers to Adidas-clad chavs but to Rah's sporting the latest Jack Wills hooded gilet, generally going by names such as Tarquin and Beatrice. (On a personal note I would like to point out to any such people that a "gilet" is simply a bodywarmer- and giving it a french name does not and will not, change that.) There are more road signs in your front room than there is left on the roads. So they aren't the classiest of places and they're not particurlarly child-friendly, but isn't that the point? It's the last time in our lives where we can live this way, going out on a Monday night, stumbling home chicken in hand and preceding to have loud sex for all the neighbours to hear. Yes, student areas are shit-holes. But they are OUR shit-holes. And we wouldn't have it any other way. Chicken anyone? *Special recognition must go out to Miss Harri Bryant here, who helped me think of ideas so that she didn't have to work on her dissertation!*