Sunday, February 26, 2012

The little moments

There aren't many things in my life right now that make me happy, but there are some bits worth mentioning.  They are few and far between, but that makes them stand out to me even more.
  • While walking around Ghosttown, I bumped into a student from the last semester.  She smiled when she saw me, and told me that she and a friend of hers – another one of my former students – both still talk about what a great class it was, "even though you were hard on us."  She thanked me again for a great class, and then went on her way.
  • A student I've never seen before came up to me in the dining hall during lunch and said admiringly, "You're always so well dressed, man!"  I thanked him, and said, "I have to impress my students."  He nodded and said, "Keep it up, man, keep it up!"  I suspect he took me for an over-dressed student, and didn't expect me to explain my tweedy appearance that way.  On the other hand, maybe he just appreciates a sharply dressed man.  Either way, I'll take the compliment.
  • I got a phone call from a long-standing friend and colleague, in which we discussed hir career moves and mine.  Zi has a tenure-track job, but is interviewing for another.  And I...well, you who read this blog regularly know my situation.  My friend has served on several hiring committees in recent years, and repeatedly assured me that I am a strong candidate for a job, especially if I get this manuscript finished and under contract.  That sounds kind of like obligatory pep-talking for a friend, I know, but it was still good to hear.  Certainly better to hear than my family making the same claim on the basis of zero understanding of my career.
  • I'm practically knocking on friends' and colleagues' doors nowadays to do dinner.  I've concluded that my sense of isolation here in Ghosttown is, to some degree, my own self-perpetuating creation, and I need to work harder at socializing with people who could just go home and spend time with their families.  As much as most (maybe too much?) of the conversation can be made up of my bitching about all the ways in which my life currently sucks, it's good to be able to trade off the bitching with colleagues.  It's also nice to get out of the house so I don't have to look at my own walls for a while.  Also nice to trade tips about pedagogy, grading schemes, etc.  Having dinner and drinks with colleagues = tonic.
I've been feeling pretty small and insignificant lately.  Maybe I can turn that to some musical advantage, and give myself a nudge at the same time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I am gonna stand my ground

I seem to have so few psychological resources left nowadays.  Every day now feels to me like I'm hanging by a thread.  And yet every day, I somehow make it from my bed for another day in the trenches, and make it back home again.  I don't even know how.  But I do.

I guess I just have to keep on doing this every day.  Maybe it will get easier.  Maybe not.  But I don't see any other choice. 

At least music can still inspire me a little.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Can't speak

The good feelings were short-lived.  I got yet another kind of awful news from Hometown that I wasn't expecting.  One of my cousins, a generation older than I, has been felled by a stroke.  The right side of hir body is weakened, although not paralyzed, and zi cannot speak.  No telling yet what the long-term prospects are for recovery.

It's so hard to grieve these things by myself, in a town I wish I weren't in on a good day, let alone today, with almost no one around to whom I would even mention these matters.  I want to curl up in a fetal position and have someone I love hold my head while I sob.  But there is no one like that here.  I won't even have a therapy appointment until next week.

Zi is pretty much the last one in the family I'd expect this to happen to.  Zi is zealous about watching hir diet, getting regular exercise, and living with almost Buddhist-like moderation.  We've been close since I was a baby.  We've always shared the same sense of humor, and traded terribly corny jokes with each other.

And now zi cannot speak.  And neither can I.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Maybe I'm not crazy

I had a revelatory meeting with my therapist today.  Zi tracks my weekly responses to a questionnaire about various aspects of my emotional and mental health, and today zi showed me a graphical representation of my overall state, week by week.  Basically, the graph demonstrated that, on the scale of zero to rubber room, I was only about a fourth of the way up the scale even when I felt my worst, and I've been getting steadily better since the semester began and I had hard-and-fast work to do, instead of having lots of free time all day long to fret.  I'm a lot healthier than I worried I might be.

And being a busy professional academic makes me healthier.

Dig that thought.

I'll say this for myself: as much as the details of my current position annoy me, and as much contempt as I have for Ghosttown at large, I can honestly say that I love doing my job.  And, as I can now demonstrate in my teaching evaluations, my students can see it.  Maybe, just maybe I can even make that come through in my book for my readers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Due to a canny combination of cut-and-paste from my dissertation and some fresh writing, energized by a book I started reading this morning, I ended up adding about 3,000 words to my manuscript today.  If only I could keep up such a pace every day!  I'd actually have a full working draft of the book in ten days

Just saying aloud that I could, theoretically, complete the first draft of my book manuscript within two weeks puts a very specific image in my head.  I mean, it's not gonna happen.  Too much other stuff to do, unpredictable bursts of creative inspiration, emotionally debilitating news from Hometown that could come at any moment, etc.  But still.  What a thought.

Plus, I enjoyed an hour-plus-long phone conversation with a dear friend from DOU-Town this evening.  She's one of my friends from the trench warfare of grad school: she is one of the very, very few people in this world with whom I have hung out long-term in three different countries.  There's nothing like catching up with old friends.

I actually feel okay enough about what I did today to relax with a glass of wine, and not feel obligated to try to do anything work-related tonight.  I should make a habit of this.