Spent the weekend not doing a lot. Which was kind of nice. I was evil and didn’t make it to Bonnie’s 2nd birthday. Looking like a skinky freak makes me anti social and I went and washed my car instead, which wasn’t very nice of me, but made me feel better and I’m sure Bonnie didn’t notice my absence. It’s the waiting that is doing me in, I can’t stand it. Have been tidying my study to try and get myself back on track. If the house is revalued at some hideous price on Tuesday at least I can go into depression in a room that doesn’t get mistaken for a brothel. Naturally I have succumbed to retail-therapy and tried to soothe my angst with a new top and skirt. That didn’t work, so then I bought two punnets of seedlings to add to last weeks and planted them all in the front garden this afternoon.

In case you were wondering which loser it is that actually buys the half dead plants that K-Mart put on the ‘specials’ trolley. Hi. It’s me. I wish I had a digital camera because then I could have taken a photo of the poor limp little things. I have dosed them liberally with Gro-Plus and put them in wet soil mulched with pea straw. I just sent M to look at them before and he couldn’t believe the transformation!! They look so perky! It only took them about four hours! They would make an awesome before and after shot.

One majorly positive piece of news filtered through to me on Friday. I finally (after waaaay too much agitating on my own behalf) got on to my tutor. A short telling of the story that led to this news is in order. Two or more months ago I get a call from my tutor saying that university regulations have changed. I don’t get to finish my masters at the end of February like they’d told me, no, the new regime demands that I have to complete more subjects to be able to gain my masters degree (I’m sure the regulations were always there – they just didn’t know about them). Great. So my tutor says that she’ll put some information in the mail for me which will make it all crystal clear and that I should then call her to discuss any issues I might have. I get nothing in the mail. I get nothing in the mail for the next three weeks. I call. I email. I call her mobile. I call her at home. Nothing.

Finally I take to calling her desk every couple of days to try and raise my odds. It works. She can’t believe I haven’t recieved anything, it must be Cathy’s fault, she’ll sort out the situation immediately. (Cathy hates me since I harrassed her and my tutor for a weekly online chat, which was finally set up in such an unusable format that I was truly horrified. Here I am, doing a course that is only offered online, supposedly specialising in e-communication, and they can’t even get their shit together to sort out a decent real-time chat option? In retrospect I have no idea why I was even slightly amazed…the whole course is a screaming disaster. I wrote and suggested they use the online version of ICQ – nothing to install, and…guess what? You don’t have to manually refresh the screen every time you want to see if anyone has responded! No dice. It wasn’t allowed. And there ended any like that might have been.)

So there is still no information forthcoming. I try calling. I start freaking out thinking that I’m missing the subjects that I’m apparently supposed to be doing. My one consolation is that they did tell me that I wouldn’t be charged for the extra subjects, as the whole thing is due to their ineptitude. I decided to change tactics and send a very terse letter to the campus administration person. It’s phenomenal. I get a response from tutor and Cathy within 24 hours. I am emailed the course information which they ‘sent to the wrong address’. Unbelievable. So then I try to decipher what the hell they mean;

•Students entering the course to obtain the Master must complete 12 subjects each worth 12.5 points. The fee for each subject is $1,170.

•After negotiation, students may apply for and be granted an exemption of up to 50 points based on submission of prior publications and/or work experience.

• We will advance you 4 subject exemptions. The subjects which we will exempt are: blah blah blah. We will give you free of charge 4 subjects as ‘assessment only’. We are able to do this as the amount of writing each of you proposes to submit for Publication Folio [the thesis subject] far exceeds the assessment requirements.

• The subjects we propose for ‘assessment only’ are: blah blah blah. Adjustments will be made internally to your enrolments and no charge will be made.

Great. This is all peachy, but what the hell does ‘assessment only’ mean? I spend two and a half more weeks trying to make contact to find out. In the meantime I have ‘bought’ a house to move interstate am thinking of moving away and trying to concentrate on my work. But in the back of my head the whole time is how much study I should probably be doing, how I haven’t worked on my thesis for ages and how I’m probably supposed to be enrolled in these subjects, but aren’t. Almost two months after the first bit of news I revert to my new tactic. I call the campus administrator. She sounds sympathetic and says she’ll get on to my tutor and get her to call me straight away. In my head, ‘straight away’ means that same day or the next. No joy. Three days later I call again. She sounds horrified to hear from me and says that the tutor or Cathy will call me, at work, today. I go to lunch, unconvinced.

I get back from lunch and there is a message from Cathy on the phone. She sounds like she is sucking on a lemon. Does she give me any information or say sorry or tell me I’m welcome to call her back? Nope. She tells me to call my tutor’s mobile phone. I don’t blink for several minutes. I call my tutors mobile phone. And almost die of shock when she answers – I get a few minutes respite as she’s driving and has to pull over. Her car sounds expensively quiet – the interior is probably upholstered with the skins of former students. She sounds maternal. I question her as to what the hell I’m supposed to be doing in these ‘assessment only’ subject, bracing myself for the news that I’m a month and a half behind. She explains that ‘assessment only’ means (get this) that I am enrolled in the course in name only and don’t actually have to do a thing.

I am astounded. What kind of mickey-mouse masters am I getting?! I’m torn between feeling grateful that I can just keep plugging away at my thesis as (she says) this will go towards covering the work I won’t be doing in my other subjects (though I doubt this as I think that, at this stage, they want me to get through and get out, and I will become a Swinburne University X-File) – but I also feel kind of crap, because I want to feel like I’ve done a proper masters degree, not some weird dodgy one full of exempted and ‘assessment only’ subjects. I explain that I’m worried as I haven’t enrolled in any of the subjects because I didn’t know I had to. “No problem,” she says promptly, “I’ll enroll you today.”

I’m elated, exhausted, disappointed and weird-feeling. One of the women in my writing group recently enrolled in the equivalent masters course at RMIT and it is hardcore. I feel pretty odd about this, but kind of just want it to all be over…