What would you call a flock of caveats? An “apology”? A “press release”? A “special message to my fans”?
I didn’t sleep well last night and that’s part of this. There was no end to the tossing and turning and limb pain and just general shifting about that I think I managed about an hour of sleep total. But this isn’t about that, thought that may be the start.
I pulled into the grocery store parking lot with tears in my eyes. It’s a short drive from my home, about a mile, and in that time I took the dismissal from my mother about my sleep issue and transformed it into a meditation on my general sense of malaise. Where had the motivation gone? By the time a slid into a spot near the carriage return, I understood and I was ready to cry.
There are two types of people in the world: those who separate the world into two types of people and those that don’t. Normally I don’t, but in that long street strewn with Trump signs and autumn flags, I changed my mind and decided to binary the crap out of this. This isn’t about Trump, though he’s part of it.
There are two types of people in the world: those that express their feelings and those that reserve their feelings. At the very least, we tend to skew one way or another, and I fall into the reserve category. This causes two problems for me: I don’t get the help I need easily and, well, the “express-os” tend to take all the air in the room, and the energy from me. No, I’m not sub-tweeting you, though that’s part of it.
I composed myself, as I do, and did the groceries, (obligatory “like the good capitalist I am” statement that recognizes I willfully take part in a disempowering scheme in order to have turkey and coffee creamer – only humanities majors are required to write this caveat). I came home. I went upstairs to my office. I did no work.
In doing no work, I had to find something to distract my brain, so I found an audiobook to listen to, giving me the illusion of production (“there’s that creeping capitalism again” disclaimer) while meh-ing myself down to meh-town. I’d first picked a book on narrative, but this isn’t about that book, though that’s part of it.
The book I settled on is Write No Matter What by Joli Jensen, all about dispelling the myths of academic writing and developing a healthy habit of scholarship. It’s great and I ended up buying a hard copy too because I found it helpful, though it didn’t actually get me to work on my writing. I did stop partway through to post the upcoming week’s work for my composition class. This isn’t about teaching, though you know the pattern by now.
What brought me to tears, to reserves, to meh, to here is the fact that I’m totally fucking lost when it comes to my PhD program. Pandemic aside, though that’s part of it, I feel like I need some hand-holding right now. Yet I also feel like the department is just waiting for me to finally flake out and quit. That’s unfair to the department, but not to my feelings, which I generally keep to myself. The colleagues I normally talk to about this are gone. I didn’t get to say good-bye. That’s not fair. That’s why I was crying this morning. I’m gonna cry again.
I am reserved and twice the age of my colleagues and there may be an assumption I know what I’m doing and part of that comes from me. I have no clue. I don’t know how to even start a discussion about my comprehensive exams. I don’t know how my language test will work now nor how I’ll pass. I don’t know what I should focus on. I don’t even feel like I have anyone to talk to about it and even if I did, I don’t know what questions to ask.
Hold up again…sorry…
When you don’t know what to do, all the problems seem huge. I know how it feels to help minimize something into workable chunks for someone else, someone who is overwhelmed and anxious. I just have a terrible time trying to do the same for me. And that pandemic, the one that’s part of this, doesn’t help me prioritize my needs, particularly when I’ve spent a lifetime being told to minimize them. This is edging into territory that I don’t want to get into right now, though that’s part of it.
I suppose I could end on an optimistic note, something you can take away with you. A life-lesson learned. A bit of advice. A quick little pep talk that says “it’s okay to fight for you, ya know.” Then we can part ways and you don’t have to worry about me because in the end I realized my problem wasn’t that big at all, really, it’s loaded with privilege, right? I mean, there are larger problems in the world I probably haven’t read the scholarship on and “fuck off with your bullshit, Karen.”
OK. You’re right. It’s fine. I’m fine.
I almost ended this there, after “I’m fine,” like some postmodern bullshit essay that wants to leave you questioning the purpose of the whole piece or some amateurish attempt to make you self-reflective about judgement and priorities and now I’m mad I’ve used bullshit (italicize that crap) twice so close together but I’m not changing it.
The fuck am I doing? I am thinking about (worrying about) the audience for this piece, knowing that I’ll put it up on Facebook (with another caveat) to be read, but generally it not being read, or if read, not reacted to, and I’m not lamenting though I am using the language of lament. I am not fishing, I am just frustrated.
I don’t know how to ask for help.
I can feel my fingernails hit the keys on my keyboard so I’m writing this in a sustained sense of the heebie jeebies. But this isn’t about that.