From Gone with the Wind

So you need to travel as part of your publicly-funded research. Here’s a little of what to expect at the looneyversity and some handy hints for surviving the ticketing process.

Step 1: Write and submit a publishable essay seeking your supervisor’s approval for travel. Make sure that you have a watertight rationale which accounts for every breathing moment while you are away. Prognosticating and necromancy are useful skills.

Step 2: Swear fealty to UWS as part of Step 1. It helps if you can adopt a tone of sufferance at having to travel. Avoid any signs of wild partying at the prospect of escaping the asylum. Any hint of possible enjoyment will be taken as a criminal pathology and dealt with accordingly.

Step3: Research the airlines and routes that you want to take so that you can give these to the university nominated travel agent who will give them back to you in the form of an official looking quote. If you omit this step, you leave yourself wide open to 9 hour waits between numerous connecting flights, and your externally (publicly) funded project being charged top rates. Do not try to work out how much of your time this is costing the tax payer.

Step 3 (b) Delete the term ‘duplication of resources’ from your mental dictionary. This helps in achieving Step 3 (a).

Step 4: Check blood pressure and practice yoga breathing. Try vocalising this useful little mantra several times a day in front of your bathroom mirror: ‘In the vast pulsating oceans of life  it matters little to the evolution of intelligence that I could do this more cheaply and more efficiently’… In the vast pulsating oceans of life it matters little to the evolution of intelligence that I could do this more cheaply and more efficiently’ …

Step 5 (a): Pour yourself a large (very large) drink, and make an appointment with a good therapist (you’ll need one before this is over). In between sips of alcohol, practice the art of Zen and remember that exposure to paradox brings enlightenment. When you feel sufficiently calm (or drunk), click on the button that initiates the etan. Breathe.

Step 5 (b) Play several rounds of ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ or ‘Grand Theft Auto’. This will help condition you to the tripwires and the obstacle course of the etan combat zone. If you think this step contradicts step 5 (a) remember that accepting the double bind of the institutional paradox is part of academic success.

Step 6: Check out and work on your goodwill scorecard with your School or Research Centre’s administrative staff. You are going to use up every brownie point you have ever earned.

Step 7: Make an appointment with your bank. You’ll need to have sufficient credit on your credit card to self –fund up to 80% of your trip in advance.

Step 8: Practice the mental art of ‘paperwork ping-pong’. This involves imagining your travel application bouncing from one university  career bureaucrat to another without it raising your blood-pressure. It takes a lot of practice and endurance to achieve this step. There are few masters of this art.

Step 9: Book some annual leave to help you with the time it’s going to take you to respond to stupid questions that you’ve already answered and anticipated in your rationale and etan that no-one has bothered to read carefully.

Step 10: Practice packing and unpacking your suitcase – chances are that your application for travel will result in one state or the other.

Step 11:  Be prepared to repeat steps 1-10 several times a day. Do not attempt anything as silly as second-guessing the results of your application or practicing your conference presentation (if you’ve managed to write it before you get on the flight, that is). You’ll be tempting fate.

Bon voyage.