REPORT A PROBLEM
Time is a funny thing. We seem to be under the delusion that time continuously marches forward. But it doesnít feel like it moves forward. It moves backwards and in circles, and somehow ends up back where it started, but in a different way. Yesterday encroaches on today, as a comfortingly familiar friend or an unpleasant reminder. Tomorrow looms threateningly until it has passed and becomes something other than what we expected. Then it becomes part of Yesterday, a dream for a future that doesnít exist, which now resides in the past, but makes it presence known in the present.
Iím trying so hard to get back into writing. Yesterday I picked up an anthology of short stories. I flipped through the pages and read the blurbs about each author, doubting Iíd ever see my name in one of those spaces.
I fear Iíll always be a foolish amateur, scribbling away and writing nothing of value. Itís hard enough to carve out time to write. When I do find the time, I feel discouraged and so I write nothing. Or nothing important. Instead I write about myself, when I really want to write about something so much bigger than me.
Lately, Iíve been afflicted with a sudden loss of focus. It happened in that important job interview three weeks ago. I was trying to focus, trying to stay on track. Then, without warning, the world faded back into focus and I realized that I had no idea what had been said for the last minute or so. It happened again today in class. Itís happening too frequently.
What disturbs me most is that I donít know if this is a recent problem, or if it has been an affliction all my life and I have just now begun to notice.
Head aching just a bit, mind wandering, sorting through problems, looking for solutions, thinking of projects yet to be completed. Listen to the music, dance to the beat, letting it drive out any semblance of doubt. Itís not really as hard as it seems, just keep on walking, keep on breathing, keep on thinking, and seeing and singing a catchy tune. Keep on trying, continue believing. The headaches and the worries wonít last. Canít stop to look for direction and still keep the doubt away. Just keep walking, and youíll reach the destination you never knew you were always seeking.
Thereís too much to learn. How can I be expected to teach when I donít know enough?
Every time I learn something, there is so much more that I donít know. I feel like I have mastered one tiny square, but the whole ocean just keeps expanding.
Iíve spent all term studying one Victorian novel, and I still know so little. What if a student asks me about workersí rights and unions in Victorian England? Or divorce laws? I wonít know the answers, although I know about literary genre, education, and the Victorian circus.
Itís just too much. Too much.
Iím so tired. The problem is that my exhausted mind hasnít caught up with the rest of me. Itís running mental circles, disabling the ability to focus.
Did you know that lab rats die after being deprived of sleep for two to three weeks? I donít know if the same timeline holds true for humans. Iím not experiencing visual or auditory hallucinations yet, so apparently Iím still okay. I have, however, lost the ability to spell, and I forgot what day of the week it was three days ago. Or was it four days ago? I ever can keep track.
I wonder if rejection ever gets any easier. The worst part is that, despite how it always feels, rejection is rarely personal. Itís usually arbitrary Ė more about them than you. Itís not what you did or said that caused the rejection, itís how they perceived it, or maybe itís their personal problems.
If this sounds like a rationalization, thatís probably because it is.
Iím not even sure I can define the word rejection. Itís a decision which you have limited control over. They say no for their own subjective reasons.
Or at least, thatís what I try to tell myself.
With yesterdayís disappointment and a morning shift at work, I should have known this would be a lousy day. Eleven oíclock found me crying in the break room.
Iím not irrational. I know that this lost opportunity is just one little set-back. I can pick myself up and keep going. And I will.
But work today was a problem. Four years of reliability and hard work for little pay, though I have more education than many of the full-timers who are paid more. I think Iíve earned the right to some respect, not snippy comments and micromanagement from lazy coworkers.
Iím tired of empty platitudes.
Frustrated, I turn to the best psychoanalyst I know: my cat, Runt-boy.
Why is he named Runt-boy, you ask? Because when he came to me, he was the smallest of the litter. Scrawny, with bones poking out in all directions.
He was also brave, stubborn, and affectionate. The most out-going of the bunch. Heís a silly critter, and a bit fickle. But heís come a long way from the skinny runt.
Iím sure thereís a lesson in that, but Iím not ready to deal with it just yet. Instead, I enjoy my companionís contented purring.
These past few days have really been hell. Right now, I know Iím a bit depressed. And I have good reason, right? I just lost a terrific job opportunity. Finals are next week, so stress is a fact of life. My relationship with my ex-best friend slash roommate continues to deteriorate. Iím reevaluating many of my relationships while dealing with grad school trauma. I have a lot on my mind. Itís understandable. I should cut myself some slack. Iím not giving up. Just a bit down in the dumps. Having a minor pity party. It will pass. I has to
I was intensely proud of myself yesterday. A classmate was given one of the teaching positions that I was denied. He was so excited, apparently expecting that I would have been hired as well, that we could celebrate our mutual success. He looked genuinely shocked when I told him my bad news.
ďThatís great,Ē I congratulated him, sounding happy because I truly was. He looked a bit guilty as he thanked me.
Iím jealous by nature. I often envy my friendsí successes. But I was truly happy for him, with no jealousy involved. And Iím proud of myself for that.
I am so tired of this project. It has to be done by tomorrow. So much for me sleeping tonight. Just over an hour until midnight. The project
get done. I have two sections left. And a conclusion. Do I need a conclusion? Iím going to be dead on my feet tomorrow. So tired of stupid project. I wish I had a magic wand and could make it disappear. How does the saying go? If wishes were fishesÖ I would have drowned by now. Actually, I donít know how the real saying goes. But I guess my version works.
Sometimes I feel so young. Iím sitting in a bar (which, for me, is unusual in and of itself) talking with fellow students, who Iíd like to consider friends. Iím the only one who isnít drinking (I wouldnít even know what to order if I wanted to drink), and as if thatís not enough, their conversation reminds just how little I know. One talks about living in France, one talks about St. Patrickís Day celebrations in Ireland. They talk about previous jobs and experiences, and maybe itís just the lack of sleep, but I feel so young, inexperienced and inadequate.
I woke up this morning feeling like the world was ready to attack me. So much has happened in the past two months, so many thwarted opportunities and sudden changes. I wanted nothing more than to bury my head in my pillow and sleep. I tried. I tried really. But it just wasnít happening.
So I got up. I scheduled the next meeting with my research partner. I contacted both of my employers and laid down my schedule. One by one, I ticked off issues. There are still more to deal with, but Iím going to revel in my proactivity.
I fantasize about being in control of my life. In these dreams, I firmly tell my boss ďI quit,Ē before walking out the door. I walk up to an employer and calmly explain why I am perfectly suited for the job and they would be foolish not to hire me while they still can. In these fantasies, I look firmly into my friendís eyes and say ďIím tired of you taking advantage of me, and Iím tired of your pity parties.Ē
In my fantasies, I am calm, assertive, and most importantly fearless.
I wish I could live in those fantasies.
I think that each of us are contained in a bubble. If we let anyone get too close, push past the surface, breach the oily exterior of our bubble, then we might just burst, consumed in flames of our own pain and rejection. The bubble must remain impenetrable or it will cease to exist.
But what if we arenít bubbles? What if we are webs, intricately interwoven to form connections, threads reaching across open space and bridging gaps.
Or what if we need disruption? What if we need to let the bubble burst in order to learn how to feel?
It seems that I was wrong,
Ďcause you said that I would never find myself alone again.
It seems that youíre wrong,
Ďcause I said that we would always stand together Ďtil the end.
Iíd thought that we were different
from the other fish in the sea,
but the truth is
we never even wanted the same things.
Now weíre just running in circles,
and hurting the same way,
Ďcause we made the same old mistakes again.
And weíll never find out
how different our lives could be,
if only we could make this thing work
between you and me.
Iím finding myself with a serious case of procrastination. Itís not so much that Iím lazy. Itís just that Iím not terribly excited about what Iím doing right now. Even when I am excited, my mind still wanders to more interesting things and I find myself unfocused for several hours on end. Then I find myself wondering if anything Iím doing even matters at all and the next thing I know Iím wallowing in frustrated self-pity over something or another. Sometimes I wish I could be coldly logical and suppress my feelings. Then maybe then I would get something done.
I flip through old photos
and can hardly believe,
the smiles and the laughter
that were between you and me.
We thought we could have it all,
and we thought weíd never change.
But how could we know
that lifeís not a fairy tale
or some Friday night TV show?
Now Iím chasing some dreams
that seem just a bit dimmer
than what we once thought to reach.
But you and me,
weíve gone different ways,
and no matter what I say,
you just donít see
that the path that Iím on,
doesnít have room
for both you and me.
As a child, you always heard stories about brave heroes and noble quests, characters who courageously face dangers, fears, and endless challenges. They always persevere, they always stand up for their beliefs, and they always prevail in the end.
No one told you that life is more difficult, more frightening. They didnít tell you that itís harder to be brave when you donít know for sure how it will end. They didnít tell you that sometimes the smallest steps are just as difficult as the longest journeys, or that fear will never disappear just because you try to be brave.
Why do I write? Why do I spend my time doing this? Why do I always spend my time longing to write, and then procrastinate out of fear of writing something stupidÖ or worse yet, writing something that might be decent only to find out that no one cares. Itís odd, because writing should be a personal thing. At least, thatís what I tell myself. But itís so wrapped up in audience and the ever present worry: ďwill they like it?Ē Who cares if they donít? That doesnít mean anything. Nothing at all. So just suck it up and write!
I didnít want to get out of bed this morning. Sometimes it hits me so hard that I simply canít function, canít pull myself together.
I told you that the world was too frightening, too stressful, too
. You wouldnít fix it, even when I asked you to. You said I needed to get out of the house, get some exercise and fresh air, spend time with people. I didnít want to, but you asked me to do it anyway. And you were right. I would be angry with you for that, if you hadnít said that you loved me.
They say that opposites attract. Fire and Water. Warm heat and chilling cold. Love and hate. I doubt thatís what they meant, but itís true nonetheless. Fear and desire mix with happiness and despair. Itís never enough, and yet itís too much, too intense, too risky. Weíre caught in some kind of limbo. Purgatory. So close, yet still so far away. The world is black and white. It only looks gray because we cannot distinguish between the extremes that are pulling us apart. We see gray because it hurts too much to see the stark contrast of hope and pain.
Itís amazing how good it feels to spend time with friends. I am a complete introvert, and consider myself to be somewhat socially unskilled, perhaps a bit antisocial. But today was wonderful. One minor disagreement (of which I had no part, though I also failed to play peacemaker as I could have), but other than that, fun was had by all. Whatís more, I spent over eight hours with a bunch of my girlfriends and never once wanted to run away, never once felt threatened or inferior. I felt comfortable, relaxed, and content. For me, that was a real accomplishment.
and singing out loud,
driving sixty miles an hour
with the windows down.
Beaming sun and wind tossed hair,
with a breeze blowing through me
like Iím not even there.
How do we hold on
to what we canít even define?
ĎCause Iím moving along
and the dayís just fine,
but how do we know
where tomorrow will begin?
And what if I find myself,
ready to give up again?
The world passes by
as Iím cruising on down,
but Iím trying hard,
and living like Iím free,
because I wonít give up
on things that are unseen.
Why were we made this way?
Balls of emotion,
capable of so much
pain and grief,
joy and wonder.
Full of life,
whether we want to be or not.
The intensity is overwhelming,
enough to blind,
to paralyze or empower,
to give wings and provide flight.
Burning white fire of pure emotion,
swirling in patterns we canít even
It seems debilitating,
a weakness to be suppressed and
But if thatís true,
than why were we made this way?
Full of potential
able to love and hate
with passion and compassion
in the same instant.
Seriously, how long does it take for my department to decide on the TA appointments for spring term? Call me crazy, but I thought that such decisions should be made, oh, I donít know, maybe before spring term starts.
Welcome to academia. Nothing gets done in a timely manner. I guess I should get used to it. But itís still inconsiderate, and surprisingly unprofessional. Most significantly, itís driving me crazy! I canít make plans, or tell my boss when I can work. I canít prepare if I donít know what class Iím assisting with. So Iím left feeling woefully unprepared.
It turns out that the department completely forgot about the TA positions for spring term. Is that supposed to make me feel better? How do they offer you a job (a small, mostly insignificant job, but a job nonetheless) and then forget it ever happened? They apologized of course, blamed it on miscommunication. But I still feel somewhatÖ what? Unimportant? Microscopically small? Forgettable? Itís a wonderful way to cap off my spring break. I spend my days (including my entire weekend) working a menial, low-wage job, then get sick, then am conveniently forgotten. Which does nothing to boost my self-esteem.
Maybe itís an illusion, a mirage,
a projection that wavers,
glimmering just out of reach.
An aura that twists the air,
bending and shaping the spaces in between,
convincing others to see
only what you want them to.
Could I bottle it,
spray it on like a perfume,
hiding behind a smile and a
The charm, the allure, the magic
that attracts and supports.
Itís a mask, a veil.
And on the inside,
but no one can ever see.
Thatís not how things are supposed to be.
Honesty is a vulnerability,
that cannot be believed.
I told my dad that this next term (which starts tomorrow!) is taking me so far outside of my comfort zone that I might need a GPS and an off-road jeep to find my way back.
He just laughed and said that we have to do uncomfortable things because itís the only way we can grow.
I think growing is overrated.
I donít like feeling uncertain, or uncomfortable, or unprepared. I feel like itís somehow my fault. Except itís not. Itís life. I canít always be prepared. Certainty is not assured. So, I just have to make my best effort.
Stepping back on the not-so-merry-go-round again. Is this a sick cycle carousel or the ride of my life? We keep on spinning, and planning, and fighting to keep believing. Itís crazy and dizzying, but we keep on going.
Todayís a new day, a new week, a new season. A fresh start. Does such a thing really exist? I hope so. I want to shed the old baggage, and move on feeling new and refreshed.
How do we persevere? Through hope and determination, tenacity and faith.
There is something admirable about giving everything you have, even if you donít always succeed.
The Tip Jar