Thursday, June 19, 2014

Surprises, Past and Future

I think I underestimated the effect of leaving my therapist and most of my friends in one fell swoop. I thought, you know, that the land could be my therapist this summer. And my friend. I always think that, and it's a giant mistake. I mean, it works to an extent...but it doesn't work all the way. It would work had I been created an introvert, but alas, I am an Extrovert with a capital E and the land does not talk back to me. 

I've been having lots flashbacks, lately. Fortunately and a little bit surprisingly, they've been good ones! Lots of fond memories that I hadn't thought about for quite some time. Like the time my parents dressed me up as a fire fighter for Halloween in Kindergarten. All things considered, for small-town mid-Michigan in 1995, that was pleasantly progressive. Props to you, mom. Props to you.

And then that time when I was 20, the last stop on one of my many solo road trips; sipping champagne on a rooftop with new friends and old, basking in the yellow glow of a Chicago skyline. I didn't have a whole lot of fucks to give, then. I'll bet you anything, though, that I thought I did. And that got me thinking: when I'm 26 and stressed out about life like I am right now, how will I remember this season? Will I shake my head at the moments that I am, right now, currently wasting away with worry? Will I wish I were back here?


For brief volcanic moments this past week, I have become very angry. Angry, and sad, and anxious. I am stressed out and restless, unable to sleep well and in a daytime daze. I am out in the middle of beautiful, and I'm absolutely incapable of escaping into the beautiful because I can't figure out how to forget that I have to go back to Clemson in the end...and for some reason, it's killing me.

I hate that I have to go back, but I will make myself go. I will earn a lousy, meaningless piece of paper at the end of this go around. I will not mess it up. I will not sever all of the ties. I will smile, and be nice, and be submissive, and try to make myself care because deep down under the burnout, I used to love this. And I'll figure it out.

But I'm finished with jumping through hoops. Finished. I do not "hate my life," as so many of my colleagues seem to wish to project; I hate that we're in an environment that is so terribly dehumanizing. I ironically and affectionately call our building "my own personal hell," but let's be real. I'd readily prefer my imagined (albeit diluted) interpretation of hell. In hell, the rules don't change overnight, every night. Things are pretty goddamn absolute. I'm tired of people who only value things that are valid in academia, as if it is the be-all end-all of society. It's certainly a highly important institution, but it's not at all an accurate representation of how the real world functions. One has to, you know, do basic things like communicate in the real world. And seriously? I'm very over being judged by my superiors for taking a few spare weekends to spend time with my family, when they have the opportunity to go home to family every single night. Your high horse is dead. Get off.

Being the anti-miserable person that I truly am, it seems like the ultimate betrayal of self to go back. And to think, a year ago I was excited for this! It's because, of course, I expected difficult; not impossible. Not unreasonable. Not nonsensical. Not wishy-washy. Not disastrous. And I have to drag myself, kicking and screaming, back there in 2 months.

Truth be told, I will be so happy to be back. Things will probably get better, and by the grace of everything, I'll remember why I wanted this. But I am so unsure of myself. I feel so unqualified and unprepared, awkwardly stumbling my way through my "life plans" whenever visitors ask. I have less of my life figured out than ever before. So, whatever happens...will be a surprise.

I hope it's awesome.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Anxious Girl's Prayer, Or Incoherent Rant

I think that I have about six hours left before these meds finally wear off. Or is it ware off? What is ware even used for? Or, for what is ware even used? Grammar.

I can't even spell. Or use proper grammar. Or stop thinking. I'm so tired, and I'm wide awake. My bed right now feels like Christmas. A few minutes ago, a moth fell onto my keyboard because it wanted the light. It startled me, but I wanted to watch it anyway. 

By grace though, even when I'm stoned out of my mind on Alprazolam, I can still do my job. I can help you plan your trip through the Badlands. I can show you Saturn, and tell you about the ice geysers on its moon Enceladus. When my mind is preoccupied with those things, it forgets that it's dizzy. I have to breathe because I have to speak. If I don't have to sit still, I can forget that my tee shirt collar feels like a noose.

And it had been almost two and a half months, so I'd forgotten how bad anxiety days felt. No trigger, just a bad day to drink coffee. I'm okay with it, though. I told myself that I wouldn't hate myself for taking medicine if I needed it. That's what it's for.

I am in, possibly, one of my favorite places in the universe. Badlands National Park is a saving grace and a graceful savior. And I'll say that it's beautiful right to its face, but as the poem in the Visitor Center says, the land will not flatter me back. It's too harsh and it's too real...but what if those things are exactly the things for which I'm searching? In that sense, I am flattered. I'm flattered that I can sit atop the most uncomfortable formations and feel rightly at home. Tough recognizing tough. Survivor acknowledging survivor. A land and a girl who both know that nothing is guaranteed and few worthy things are easy. Both being shaped by literal and figurative tempests; wind and rain and hailstones to end all windshields. In their seemingly woeful tales of erosion, though, both still wide open to the elements and willing to transform. Both knowing that change requires growing pains.

Both enduring, as long as the process allows.