The Senior Squirrel Saturday, Nov 17 2007 

Last night at work, I have to admit there was a point where I was getting annoyed with myself.  It was buried under getting annoyed with Phonology, Phonetics, French history and whatever else was annoying me (and believe me, that was plenty).  There was a point, where I kept talking and talking, and I could feel my voice getting tenser and tenser (and thus higher and higher).  I’m a nervous talker, in that the more jittery I am, the more crap comes out of my mouth.  The effect would best be described as being a human squirrel.  In the back of my mind, a small voice (which fortunately, has always given me good advice, even if I don’t always take it) said, “for the love of God, shut up.”  Sadly, I may not have heeded that voice in time, as I have the distinct impression that I was talking too much.

I really didn’t think too deeply about it on the way home last night, I merely felt, in the back of my mind, that I was behaving in a way that was almost a parody of my ordinarily tolerable characteristics (quick-witted, raconteur, etc.).  I had other fish to fry, if I may get all cliché-y.

This morning, after the third day in a row of early-morning potty-mouth (BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP! “Shit.”), I got ready to go to work, as I always do on Fridays.  In transit (bus epiphany alert), I realized that I was merely cracking under the stress – I could only take so much, before my personality started to show the signs of strain.  Of course, the damage has already been done.  I suppose I could send a mass e-mail to everyone who had to deal with my acute case of nerviness (as opposed to my chronic case of nerdiness), but that would merely draw more attention to my weird behavior.  The truth is that I suspect people (if they thought about it at all) just thought I seemed a little “off” the past few days.

Now that I’ve identified the problem, I hope I can tackle it in a proactive fashion.  Because I’ve got another 4 weeks to go, and I don’t want to relapse into squirrel-like behavior.  I may end up in a diorama at a funeral home, and that’s not very dignified.

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The sticky residue of bad dreams Wednesday, Feb 21 2007 

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I have a problem with bad dreams.  It isn’t so much that I have them more frequently than others, or that I’m subject to night terrors; I’m not even talking about nightmares, per se.  It seems that my bad dreams leave a sort of malaise that clings to me the rest of the day.  I don’t often remember my dreams – I wonder if those unexplainable, undefinable moods I get in from time to time are merely hangovers from unpleasant dreams I can never remember.  In today’s case, it was a bad dream.  What it was wasn’t important – dreams don’t fare well in the retelling – but it had to do with my broken marriage.  I’ve never been married before; I’ve historically been fairly tepid on the whole notion, until recently.  However, my last relationship changed my mind on that.  I found myself wanting to get married, to have kids (difficult while working toward a Ph.D., but certainly doable), to start a life with this man.  But, in one of those ironic kicks in the pants that make literature shiver with delight, he did not.  So, we broke up recently.  Clearly, one doesn’t need to be a mental health professional to parse these dream.

I haven’t been handling this with the dignity and aplomb I pretend I have.  I cry a lot, and I have a constant lump in my throat that feels roughly like I have tried to swallow a horse pill, but failed.  I’m easily distracted, and while my work hasn’t suffered, it could if I let myself wallow.  So I keep trying to swallow down that lump, and try not to think about it.  Needless to say (although I will say it), everything reminds me of what I’m not trying to think about.  Being at school tends to make me feel more isolated, since I’m at a completely different emotional stage than most of my fellow students.  Not that breaking up and feeling like crap is one demographic’s exclusive province, but that breaking up now has a certain significance it did not 10 or 15 years ago.

When you’re in your twenties and you break up with someone, after the initial “this sucks” portion of the grieving process, you still have the sense that life is still just around the corner.  Now, in my thirties, I get the feeling that there are decisions in my life that I may never be able to undo.  Maybe I won’t find someone else I’ll want to make that kind of commitment to.  Lord knows it took me long enough to find one man.  The fact is, I don’t want to be married and have kids to complete some sort of societal destiny.  It was always conditional – I wanted to get married and have children because I wanted them with him.  The cliché is that time heals all wounds; but ultimately, do I have that time to spare?  Quite frankly, I can’t help but feel that I’m all done with the pursuit of finding someone I want to make a life with.  Spoiled?  Childish?  I won’t argue with you if you make that case; but if I can’t even get through the day without crying a little, I’m going to make a wild guess and say that romantic optimism should not be left to me.

I guess my subconscious gets the final word for now.  Damn me and my subsconscious.  Needy bitches.

Now to finish with the procrastination and write that paper for my Modern French Lit class.  I’m writing about a novella, Ourika.  Ourika is saved from a life of slavery in Senegal, raised in the upper eschelons of French society, and wastes away to her death in a convent, once she realizes that she is destined to be alone, due to divisions of race and class.  Makes me sound like a bit of a whiner, no?  Maybe Ourika should kick my ass.  Although, considering the progress I’ve made on this paper so far, maybe she has already.