FN 999

My Uncle Jim loved cars. In this snap, taken not long before he died in 1979, he poses in the crown jewel of his collection – the Cord. On the back of this picture he wrote “the three thoroughbreds. sp sp?” My mother was an English teacher from England, which doubtless gave him grammatical pause. My cousin Peter is behind the wheel of the convertible, and while no one is in the Benz, and you can’t tell it from this pic, I can assure you that the license plate reads “FN 999.”

As in “fucking near 1000.” I’m certain that Jim did not run that one by my mother at the time. FN 999 entered the family lexicon of questionable acronyms, meaning anything overly expensive that any reasonable person would be a fool to buy. As in: “How much did that cost you?” — “FN 999.” You get the idea. So, it is with some pride and great fondness for my supportive family, the ghost of Uncle Jim included, that I announce the completion of stage one of my journey through gradual school. I have dubbed my Major Research Project FN 29,999. As in fucking near 30,000. Words, that is. I’d actually put a higher financial price tag on this sucker in terms of the blood, stress and tears it caused. The actual working title, as much as I’d love to just call it FN 29,999, is Breaking the News by Following the Rules. You’ll have to click on the PDF to read the sub-head to know what it’s all about. I don’t expect anyone to actually read the whole damned thing, my English teacher mother from England included. But if you do, I hope at least that you won’t be bored. Many thanks to my advisor, Prof. Michiel Horn, and Prof. Marlene Shore, the only two people who were forced to read it to the bitter 98-page end. At least, I’m pretty sure they did.

In the two weeks since completing the first thing I ever wrote to include a table of contents, Kim graciously gave me the best vacation I could have asked for. We spent one fabulous week at a rented cottage where the wildlife was fantastic. We have Mel to thank for the various sightings, because she made us get out of the canoe on a few adventures.  I discovered, for example,  that bears do, in fact, shit in the woods. After the cottage interlude, we nipped up to St. Catharines to visit my Aunt Rene (Jim’s widow) and take in the sights at Niagara on the Lake. I even got a visit in with my sister and nieces at Canada’s Wonderland. And on Saturday, we topped it all off with The Master Bash when we brought together a few new friends from gradual school with other friends, and celebrated our collective accomplishment. Here’s Graeme and his girlfriend Kate, basking in the glow of his Masters in History, after a long, arduous 11-month slog. Good on you Graeme! It was a great party. And yes, there were sparklers. Even better, there were burning school-house fireworks, another Kim brainstorm. In fact, it’s all thanks to Kim. So thanks love — I couldn’t have done it without you. Now, on to round two.

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