Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What doesn't kill you...

I am struggling.

Every day, it's a battle. A battle to continue writing. A battle to tackle just one more page. One more paragraph. One. More. Sentence. This paper is going to drive me mad. And if it doesn't, that doesn't matter. The next one will do it instead.

And then there are the deeper, more personal battles. Like facing the fact that, once this is done, IF this is ever done, I have to keep going right on. No break. Dissertation topic time. I thought I had a topic. I don't. If I don't have one within the next couple months, I will be the cause of major problems at an administrative level. And I can't shut the thought of dissertation topic out long enough to work steadily on this project. It's always there, in the back of my mind, screaming at me. While I sleep, eat, write, laugh, knit (shhh!!). Always there.

The struggle to pay enough attention to my husband so that he doesn't think I'm angry at him because I haven't spoken to him in hours, even when we're in the same room. It's just that speaking, conversing, takes energy. Energy that I don't have. The struggle to not snap at him, the cats, the people in other cars and on the television.

The battle to get out of bed. The battle to stay awake for more that a couple hours at a time when I do.

The struggle to not cry all the time, and not to stare at the walls or the screen for hours at a time, trying to blank out my mind so that I can concentrate.

Remembering to eat. I've given up on controlling my food for quality. Pop-Tarts and Pringles are my friends. The two Ps. There's probably a third in there somewhere.

"Take a little break," people say. "Get some fresh air." Oh, I've taken breaks. I'm a great fan of breaks. I think I might even be taking one right now. But there comes a point when another break is simply procrastination, a delay of the inevitable, a way to ensure that you won't make your "final-final" deadline that is still, when it comes right down to it, an arbitrary date pulled out of someone's ass. Yeah, I don't think I should be taking any more breaks.

The battle to keep going at all. I flip-flop from hour to hour between "Why am I doing this?" to "I'll never be able to finish this" to "No problem, plenty of time" to "Oh my God, there's not enough time." One moment I despair that I'll never complete a PhD (especially since I'm going into my fourth year and I DON'T EVEN HAVE A DISSERTATION TOPIC YET), and the next I think I have plenty of time, an eternity, surely I can come up with a freaking topic. Other people have topics. Other people have presented their topics. Other people have taken longer than you by a full year to present their topics. Doesn't have to be formalized or anything, lots of questions are OK, just need a solid direction. A worthwhile issue. A minute later, I'm panicking again. It's not good enough. What I have isn't good enough. It will never be good enough. Other people are so much better than I am. I'm not good enough. Not fast enough, not competitive enough, not driven enough.

My mind whirls. I surf for a few minutes. I check my email for the forty-bazillionth time. I get some iced tea. Pet a cat. Tell my husband I love him, whether he's awake to hear me or not. Right now, not, but I tell him anyhow.

And then I start again. One more page. One more paragraph. One more sentence.

I can do this.

I will do this.

1 comment:

rainy said...

Hey, you. You snuck onto LJ without even telling me. But your blog's not there, it's here. Harumph.

rachelmichellek @ yahoo, (you academic, you.)