Dr. Fuckin’Bully.

So this was fun. My PhD advisor, who has been on ‘sabbatical’ since early June last year and who I haven’t heard boo from, is turning out to be massive bully… Uncle Fuckin’ Bully (a la Once Were Warriors style). It feels like he’s constructively attempting to get me to quit the program since he found out that I applied for special exam conditions at the end of last semester’s Latin unit… because, well, sitting still for three hours with no breaks is physically impossible for me, and even though he’s been absent forever, he’s realizing I’m more broken then he thought.

Before he took me on, I informed him that I had been in four nasty car accidents, have ongoing chronic pain issues as a result of that accident, which is why I am not in gainful full time employment, but am pursing a higher research degree instead. I did not go into depth about my medical condition – because quite frankly, it’s none of his damn business how I manage my health and the results from my Hons year and my academic references stood for my capacity to undertake PhD study. And then on Friday while I was waiting to find out if our son’s dog was going to die… I get this:

From: Dr. Fuckin’Bully
Sent: Friday, 25 January 2013 10:06 AM
To: Borys
Cc: NZ Co-Advisor; RHD Advisor; RHD Admin Office
Subject: contact and meeting
Importance: High

Dear Borys,

This is my fourth attempt to contact you over the past two weeks. As stated in my previous emails (Jan. 8, 11, and 18), it’s imperative that we meet to discuss your research progress. There’s really no excusing this prolonged period of email silence, especially given that Takashi and I have extended the deadline for your literature review to Jan. 31. As such, we expect that you are working full time towards meeting this objective. If you are away on vacation, this also complicates the situation, as no consultation was sought beforehand.

Please get in touch ASAP.

Dr. Fuckin’Bully

Wow, holy fuck! I had no idea. Went hunting for said emails feeling awful the whole time that I hadn’t replied. Checked my spam box, checked my junk mail filter, signed directly into the Uni email portal thingy in case something hadn’t been redirected and found NOTHING. And then I thought, ‘Hang on… I’ve been getting every other email from everyone else in the RHD office et al., why wouldn’t his stuff be coming though?’ At which point, I called ‘SHENANIGANS ON YOU AND YOUR FOUR EMAILS, SIR!!!’ Fucking bastard. So, why is he trying to make out like I’m some sort of recalcitrant teenager skiving out of my work?

Well, Dr. ‘I’ve-Been-Completely-Absent-And-Neglectful-While-On-Sabbatical-For-The-Last-Six-Months-And-Now-I’m-Back-I’m-Gonna-Start-Pushing-You-Around’, advisor type dude… you’re about to find out that I am not one who like this sort of crap. When you push at me – I shove back.

Sigh… sometimes I feel like my whole life is pushing shit uphill with a shovel. O_o

If it isn’t one thing it’s another. Seems like I push shit uphill all the time. So much so, I just about push shit uphill for a hobby. I push shit uphill so much, I reckon, I’ve almost turned it into an art form. Hell, sometimes, I push shit uphill just for fun. And on occasion I’ve even been known to push other people’s shit uphill because they’re not as accomplished at it as I am! Well – we is made of sterner (and stubborner) stuff than what he is probably accustomed to. And so I replied thusly:

From: Borys
Date: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Subject: Re: FW: contact and meeting
To: Dr Fuckin’Bully;
Cc: NZ Co-Advisor; RHD Advisor; RHD Admin

Dear Dr. Fuckin’Bully
Welcome back! Unfortunately, this is the first communication I have had from you since the 3rd of December, 2012. I have not been away from my email at all, and have had no problem with any other emails from the RHD office or any other UQ email addresses during this time. I have checked both my spam and junk mail filters and logged directly into the UQ email portal looking for the emails you mentioned below but have found nothing on those dates or any other. I have received no emails from yourself, from my NZ Co-Advisor or the RHD Advisor across this period.

I am distressed by your implication that I have been avoiding my email communications, and by inference my obligations. I have never been informed when to expect you back in the country, nor of the date of your anticipated return to work. Please feel free to re-forward the emails from the dates mentioned below, I would be grateful not to have missed anything. Additionally, if you ever have trouble contacting me in the future, I am always available by phone.

As per our agreement, I have been working full time across the summer period towards the literature review which is due next week. Though I am unsure if it will meet your requirements as you have provided no information regarding your expectations. I have no criteria, no direction, no advice or input regarding this document. When I mentioned this to the RHD Advisor during my meeting with him during your absence in December, he said it was ‘difficult to define expectations on a literature review’, and emphasized that I needed to ‘exercise my own judgement regarding the output’. I look forward to catching up with you soon.



Two can play at this game. I call your bluff, Sir – with the three people you Cc’d into your insulting email watching on. How dare he imply that I’ve been avoiding my responsibilities. Anyone who knows me (even a little) is aware that I’m not only fastidious and focused when I set my mind to something, I’m downright doggedly determined and obsessive compulsive! I am so task oriented, that the psychs have often said it is a character ‘flaw’ that is so overdeveloped as to be detrimental to other aspects of my life, and even my own health and sanity! Well, we will wait and see how Dr. Fuckin’Bully reacts.
Nearly an hour later…

From: Dr. Fuckin’Bully
Date: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Subject: Re: contact and meeting
To: Borys (What? didn’t want to Cc your buddies into this any more?)

If you’re around on campus, why not pop by my office after lunch, say around 2pm? Otherwise, let’s meet on Tuesday at 10am.

Dr. Fuckin’Bully

Well, how do you like that? No… ‘Here’s the copies of the missed emails you failed to answer’. No… ‘I don’t have your phone number’. No… ‘That’s not what I meant’, even.
No excuses, no explanations, no apologies. But also no continued insistence that I was deliberately ignoring him. Prick.

Sounds like it’s time to go shopping for a new advisor…

phd supervisor bullying

Farewell Puppy Guts Part II

After prying The Small Child away from Oscar at the vet on Friday night, the next ordeal came in going to Pets in Peace… a local firm who used to in the people cremating business but saw a niche need and moved into cremating beloved pets instead.

I first came to find out about them in 2009 when my own dog, Caesar who I had for 12/13 years had to be put down after an extended battle with an adrenal cancer.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make in my life… when is it time to put your suffering pet down.  Caesar to me was part of the family, we had had him for ever such a long time and he had been there through thick and thin.  He had seen me through many IVF failures and always knew when I was sitting on the kitchen floor having a cry that coming and sitting with me with his head in my lap was all he could do to help.  He just knew that bugging me for food or trying to jump all over me at those times was not what I needed and he would sit quietly with his paw on my foot just looking up at me with his big brown eyes while I had my little cry, and then dusted myself off and went on with my day.  Caesar was a very intuitive and smart little guy and saying goodbye to him was extremely difficult even as an adult and knowing it was coming for several months.

australian terrier red buttons

What I wasn’t prepared for when Caesar was ill and subsequently euthanised was the question that came directly after the barbiturates had been administered – “What do you want to do with his body?”  Umm… how the fuck should I know?  I wasn’t expecting that.  “What are my options?” ; “Well, we can dispose of him for you for a fee of around $70 or many people choose to cremate their pets these days since the City Council passed by-laws making it illegal to bury animals on suburban blocks.”  Pet cremation?  I never really thought of myself as crazy pet cremating lady… but after everything Caesar and I went through, there was no way I could let him be thrown out with the trash at the vets.  It just didn’t seem right.  🙁

So I found myself at Pets in Peace being greeted by a very solemn man who seemed to be taking this whole thing way more seriously than I was.  They said I would get a certificate of cremation, a lock of his hair, a paw print and they promised they would get all of my pets remains and only my pets remains and would madam like to choose an urn?  WTF?  “Um, I’m here because I couldn’t bring myself to throw him out with the medical trash, so… I don’t know.”  Whole experience was a little surreal actually and the whole time I was going through it I couldn’t believe I was actually paying someone to cremate my dog.  If I lived on a farm he’d have been underground already.  But they were excellent, really caring and sympathetic (perhaps too understanding and sympathetic for my needs) but I knew they were exactly what the Not So Small Child needed to say goodbye to his little best friend.

The only thing that concerned me was a few statements that The Small Child had made coming home from the vet on Friday night… relating to Oscar being cremated and being “twins” with Caesar in puppy heaven and they could look out for one another.  Now ordinarily when a kid says something like that you might think “That’s so sad, but also very sweet”.  But what went through my head was “Twins?  Twins?  Oh no, this going to become a ‘thing’, I can just feel it.”  And I was right.

We walked into the Pets in Peace reception centre and was met by a lovely woman named Melinda who was just the person we needed.  She answered all his questions about how we could take Oscar home and was very sensitive to his emotional distress.  She gave me some useful advice based on experience to help kids deal with grief and managed any unusual requests without hesitation – he asked her to have some of his own hair put in with Oscar (probably a response to their memento lock of hair thing) and also gave her some tissues with his tears to be cremated as well.  But when it came to choosing an urn… he looked at everything on display and said “None of these look like Caesar’s urn. How can they be “twins” in puppy heaven then?”  Now I know my son, and he has a bit of my OCD streak, and have been a keen observer of human nature for many years… so I came prepared – with a photograph of Caesars’s urn on my mobile phone.  Dont ask me how, but I just knew it was coming.  Melinda said that was very old stock and I asked her to check if they could try and order one or find one at another place and she said she’d see what she could do.

She popped out the back to consult a colleague and wasn’t gone long when she came back she had two urns the same style and size as Caesars, one green and one blue… the blue one beng exactly like Caesars.  Thank jeesy creesy for small mercies!  They were old stock that they were no longer selling and these were the last two left.  Predictably, The Small Child jumped on the blue one and said Oscar would be Caesar’s “twin” now when we bought them home.

pet cremation

We had gone through denial and disbelief, anger and frustration, now he was doing what a lot of people do in a crisis… attempting to control the things he could control while simultaneously trying to grapple with the things that he couldn’t control.  And I thought he was starting to come to terms with the inevitability of the situation when he threw me a curve ball, “Mum, Oscar is here isn’t he… can I see him again, please?”.  OMG.  No fucking way was I going to let him put himself through that again, when I could barely pry him away from the dog’s body the night before.  Luckily Melinda jumped in and said that “Oscar was already on his way to puppy heaven to join Caesar, and we wouldn’t want to drag him back for another sad goodbye now would we?”  I could have kissed her.  She was so wonderful with him, and it wasn’t until a little later that she mentioned she had helped her young niece through losing a pet just that week, and here she was apologising for getting tearful right along side us.

The Small Child is still going through the grieving process – still getting upset and sad at every reminder, and every time he goes to automatically feed him, or let him in to play or go to check on his water. It’s been only five days so far but he’s still on auto-pilot with some of these responsibilities that he has always taken care of for him little best friend.  And still getting angry that the entire incident has happend at all.  It’s all so unfair, you see… It’s sad to think that one day he will grow up and realize that life has nothing to do with what’s ‘fair’ and what’s not.

Tomorrow, we are supposed to go and pick up his remains in his little “twin” urn… Melinda even asked me to email the photo to them so they could try to match the fonts on the plaque etc., I think she could tell too how much he was struggling to keep it together and how the idea the two dogs would be “twins” looking after each other when he couldn’t look after Oscar anymore seemed to really mean something to him.

I haven’t had the heart to point out that Caesar and Oscar never met… Oscar having joined our family several months after Caesar passed away… and at the moment,  I’m kinda hoping he doesn’t realize that is the case.


Farewell PuppyGuts Part I

OMG. The last few days have been suffering from ‘Sploding Head Syndrome.  That is the colloquial term for it.  A shrink might call it is a massive leap on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.  This is where one or more events occur simultaneously so as to cause your stress and anxiety levels to go off the charts, resulting in tears, frustration, helplessness, sadness… this time, lots of sadness.

Huge puppy takes on neighbor's pig dog through six foot fence

On Thursday afternoon, I checked on PuppyGuts to make sure he has plenty of water (it’s been really hot lately… well until all this rain started) and then went off to the pool.  Came home, we made dinner, cleaned up after our meal, watched some TV and went to get ready for bed.  It was at this point that Mr K went to check in on PuppyGuts before bed time. And found him laying in the wet grass paralysed, convulsing and struggling to breathe.  He was also vomiting some green yuk that I thought might be bile or something.

I grabbed him, brought him inside and immediately checked him for ticks.  Found the culprit behind his right ear and got a torch and tweezers and carefully and properly removed the noxious little fucker.  All things considered it was a pretty small paralysis tick so I was hopeful we’d gotten to him fairly quickly.  Checked with a loupe to make sure the wound was clear and then grabbed the clippers and gave poor Oscar the fastest clip ever, to get to his skin to check if there was only one tick.  While I was doing this, Mr K was calling the the only 24hr vet hospital we know to see if they were able to take him.  Jumped into car, fifteen minutes later he was on the vet’s table with oxygen under his nose and a nurse swabbing his mouth out saying he’s been chewing on a toad as well!  Fark… double whammy.  Ticks and toads kill poor little guys like Oscar, who weighs in at barely 7kgs, and we have no idea how long he was affected.  🙁

They had to give him nasal O2 to get his oxygen saturation up and an IV drip for saline and some anti-tick serum but they gave him a 50-50 chance of making it, and that he was ‘touch and go’.  Not good PuppyGuts, not good. They told us if he stopped breathing they could place him under a general, intubate and put him on a ventilator (at $2500 per day!) which I absolutely did not want them to put the little guy through.  It’s really hard to make medical decision for your pets when they can’t speak up for themselves.  Went home with instructions to call in the morning to check on his condition, but that if he deteriorated, they’d call us immediately.  I left the little guy on the horrible green vet bed and said to him “You hang in there Oscar, or the Not So Small Child is going to be absolutely devastated if you don’t”.

The drive home is when the ‘what ifs’ kicked in.  What if I had checked him earlier… what if that odd noise I heard while I was busy preparing dinner was Oscar, when I thought it was the kids next door… what if… etc etc.  And ‘oh shit, how am I going to tell our son?’  😐   He was staying at his cousins for a few days and was due back first thing in the morning.  We called my Mum at midnight and asked her to let The Small Child know when he woke up that Oscar had a tick and was at the vet… I knew he would be immediately concerned but hopefully not distressed, as our previous pet Caesar, had a tick once and survived the ordeal.  By this time it was well after midnight and I knew I couldn’t take my usual drugs as I might have to drive first thing in morning.

Called the vet just after 6am – puppy sedated, breathing still laboured, they had him isolated so he didn’t get distressed by all the busy clinic goings on.  O2 levels still good but condition still ‘touch and go’… really starting to hate that expression.  The Small Child came home and was upset as expected and wanted to go see him.  Talked to my GP and several others (including the vet) who said that it would be traumatic for him to see Oscar all covered in tubes and the vets were trying to keep him calm so ‘no visitors allowed’.

Called to check in at 1:30pm – puppy’s sedation had been lightened, his O2 levels are good but his breathing still laboured. On the positive side he hasn’t deteriorated but his condition is stable but still ‘touch and go’… right, absolutely despising that expression now.  Around 4:45pm, I got a ‘blocked’ number call on my phone and sinking feeling in my stomach.  I took the call outside and answered it with apprehension.  They told me that Oscar had started to regurgitate which blocked his airway and had stopped breathing, so they intubated him (against my directives) and then his little heart failed.  They tried CPR but he didn’t rally and had passed away a few minutes ago.

I got off the phone and after a few minutes of trying to collect myself and ‘Oh fuck how am I going to tell the Small Child?’… I got ready to go back inside.  Only he came bounding out to ask me something, took one look at me and knew Oscar was dead.  He was crying inconsolably and started asking to see him because ‘maybe he’s just asleep’, ‘maybe they got it wrong’, and ‘maybe he just needs to see us’.   Oh shit.  My head was thumping almost as much as my chest as I listened to my son pour out his grief and disbelief.  I kept telling him that Oscar was gone and that he was not himself so we didn’t want to go see him.  But I could tell he didn’t believe this was happening and his enquiring and scientific little mind wasn’t going to accept something he couldn’t see.

I distracted the Small Child by sending him inside to make some phone calls to tell Grandma and BigSal know what had happend (they already knew and would offer their support and sympathy) and then contacted the vet to find out what sort of state Oscar in and let them know my son was desperately wanting to come see him, that he didn’t believe his dog was gone and I think he needed to say his goodbyes.  They called me straight back and said they would clean him up and we could come straight down to see Oscar.  And even though I didn’t want to take him to see his dead dog, I knew he had to say goodbye.

We walked in and the receptionist, who was expecting us, solemnly led us to a consulting room where they had laid Oscar out on a towel and covered him with a plush paw-printed blankie.  We stood in front of him and I checked if he was sure he wanted to see PuppyGuts like this.  ‘Yes, Mum, I have to see him.’  He pulled back the blanket and started to cry uncontrollably.  He wept and spoke to Oscar repeating over and over ‘I don’t want you to go’ and ‘how can you leave me, you’re my best friend’.  He hugged and petted Oscars poor little body and asked me more questions about how he died, how come they couldn’t save him, why didn’t the medicine work, are we sure he’s actually dead, maybe he’s in a coma…  As a parent, it was gut wrenching to see my son go through all these feelings.  After about ten minutes of pouring his heart out to Oscar about how he wished he wasn’t dead and how much he will miss him, I told him we would have to leave soon.  At which point he said he couldn’t go and that we had to take Oscar home.

Oh holy fuck.

He didn’t want to let go.  He was crying and sobbing into the dog’s fur and holding his little paw in his hand and saying he wanted to take him home. He was asking me to take photos of him with his dead puppy and while I found this morose I figured if he needed it, then that’s what I would do.  I told him that I would give him a moment to say his final goodbyes and I would be right back.  I went to the receptionist and told her my dilemma  – he won’t leave – and asked for a brochure on pet cremation to take back to the Small Child.  When I entered the room, he was punching the air and kicking and flailing and with tears coursing down his cheeks and a broken sobbing voice, he was CURSING GOD for taking his best friend away.  I thought my heart was going to break then and there.  I held him close and told him I loved him and I understood how he felt because losing Oscar is an awful, tragic, unexpected thing to happen.  He stood crying quietly in my arms until his tears became big ‘lump in your throat’ heaving chest sobs.  I told him we couldn’t take Oscar home with us but that we could have his little body cremated and bring him home in a few days.

The look on his face was one of deep sadness but there was also resignation.  He knew we weren’t going to be walking out of the vet clinic with a deceased dog.  He knew I wasn’t going to let his little body be thrown out with the medical trash.  He had a look at the brochure and he had one question for me… ‘Will they look after Oscar, Mum?’ … ‘Yes kiddo, they will look after him as though he was their very own.’  So he clung to that little brochure and I managed to get him say one final goodbye to Oscar aka PuppyGuts.

This is so exhausting, and I’m in tears even just writing and thinking about it that I will have to write the rest another day… yes, there’s more.  Much more.

Happy Australia Day

We’ve never made a big fuss of Australia Day in our house.  Don’t want to get dragged into the Discovery of the Country vs Invasion Day debate.  Don’t always go in for big parties or BBQs to mark the occasion … but always love the long weekend and an opportunity to hang out with family.

When I was a kid I think we spent plenty of Australia Day weekends hanging out at Straddie doing very Australian things – fishing, swimming in the surf, building sandcastles and going 4WDing up the beach.  I don’t really get to do a lot of these things anymore with my stupid chronic back pain which is sad because it means my son has never been fishing!

But Mr K saw this on the front page of news.com.au this morning and even though Australia has heaps of amazing wildlife, otters aren’t among them.  Love this image  🙂

Happy Australia Day however you’re spending it, I hope you’re spending it with the people that you love.

australian otters news.com.au

PS:  Otters are totally cool!


A Film By Quentin Tarrantino

As soon as you see those words appear on the screen you know exactly what you’re in for.. an unusual, innovative and creative story line, weird yet engaging characters, unpredictable plot twists and of course blood shed.  And lots of it!

hi res poster dr schultz broomhilda calvin candie

I went to see Django Unchained last night it it was easily one of the best films I have seen in months!  The casting was excellent, the script was pithy, well written, funny, yet emotive, dramatic and violent and moved along with at a rhythmic pace – action, drama, action, drama, action.  I didn’t even notice it was nearly three hours long.  It is probably  the best Tarrantino anything I’ve seen since Pulp Fiction.

The first half of the film has some genuinely funny moments in it as we are introduced to our main characters Django (the sexy Jamie Foxx) who is a presented to us as a slave with a past and eventually as a slave with a mission.  We also meet his ‘master/owner’ Dr King Schultz (played by the awesome Christoph Waltz who was so good in Inglourious Basterds), a German born bounty hunter in the American old west c.1850.  I love the high brow manner of speech and affectations of Dr Schulrz, which given his profession seem completely out of place.  But these two characters, and these two actors, work so well together they make a strange but very effective pair of misfits travelling around kicking arse and taking names… or in this case, killing folks and collecting bounties.

dr schultz costume design bounty hunters

There’s plenty of Tarantino’s signature morally ambiguity and his sometimes challenging, “I can’t look”, sadistic and torturous violence thrown in for good measure.  But it’s all so completely over the top that your enjoyment of it is somehow incongruous with the cruelty of the content… does that make sense?  I know what I mean, even if no one else does!  😛

It’s a bit of a piss take on old Westerns that turns into a revenge drama about slavery in the deep South.  It has some bizarre, almost Mel Brooks-like humour as Tarantino uses the Ku Klux Klan for some comic relief – yeah wtf?  but it works.  Django and Dr Schultz, who turns out to have a heart of gold, build themselves a neat bankroll in the flesh industry (cash for corpses) before heading off to Mississippi in search of Django’s wife, the unlikely named Broomhilda von Shaft (played by that absolutely gorgeous ball busting chick who plays Olivia Pope in Scandal… err, Kerry Washington).

kerry washington broomhilda slave wife

It turns out she belongs to a wealthy Southern gentleman, Mr Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio) who has a large plantation and an propensity for Mandingo fighting (‘my nigger can beat your nigger’ sort of thing…) which I don’t know is historically accurate.  I have to say I don’t think I’ve seen or heard the word ‘nigger’ used so frequently and flippantly since I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn!!!  **Hold Please**  Just looked it up – there are 176 uses of the word ‘nigger’ in Django Unchained and 213 mentions in Huck Finn.  He’s trying but he’s got a ways to go to catch Mark Twain!   Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, they found Broomhilda and as you can imagine things start to go rapidly pear shaped from there.  No need to speculate who’s going to die, it’s a Tarantino flick after all, so it’s more of a ‘I wonder how he’s going to kill him off!’ sort of deal.

calvin candie land master broomhilda phrenology

Other must mention performance in Django Unchained is of course Samuel L. Jackson in the role of Calvin Candie’s right hand/head house nigger, Stephen or Steve who takes on the part of the Magical Negro!  Talk about trying to cover all your literary and film genres in one hit.

stephen tarantino magical negro

Whole thing is a bit of a whirlwind, some great burlesque-like costumes and set design, Djangos costumes range from the rock-n-roll cowbow to a down right ridiculous dandified valet outfit. Dr Schultz tends to look more like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud than a stereotypical Western bounty hunter.  And there’s some ‘Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn!’… Hey sexy lady, “Rhett Butler Style!” overlaying the whole thing!

jamie foxx leonardo di caprio  calvin candie tarantino

All up I loved it… and I discovered that when you fire off lots and lots of black powder pistols in an enclosed space they sure lay down the really visceral looking carnage, but don’t leave huge plumes of smoke choking the pistolier and obstructing the view at all!   🙂