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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Arrogance is My Half-Best

Here is something I learned today: boutique eyeshadow stays on so much better than drugstore brands!

My mascara held up pretty well, too.

I had the misfortune of learning this because of being called on the carpet to my supervisor. I had indeed made mistakes, some of which have consequences beyond time delays, and I definitely deserved being called on it. I wasn't crying over that, although I was extremely humiliated.

What had me crying was why she thought I had made these mistakes and gotten behind. It wasn't the reason she thought, that everyone thoughts - that I have too many 'distractions' or 'responsibilities' or too many jobs. No. It's never that.

It's that I am depressed. Period. I have depression, I have anxiety, it makes coping difficult and in fact nearly impossible. On a day to day basis I have to deal with my brain fog, my fear of failure, the physical pain that my mind induces. Every moment of my life is dealing with that.

It's much better than it was, of course. My psychiatric medication - old-school Prozac! - has been a downright miracle. Instead of two hours lying in paralyzing apathy in the morning, it's 45 minutes. Instead of six hours of distraction time on the internet, trying to shut my brain down, it's two. Half of my house is tidy and neat, and I only have to re-wear the same pair of leggings twice before they get washed, instead of two weeks.

But I'm still depressed.

More than that, I have the bad habits that have been instilled by depression, the avoidance and the fear and the desperate belief that things will either work out okay or be complete life-ending disasters, so there isn't much point in putting forward any effort.

And I've told people I am depressed. I have been working on this problem and fighting through it. I had had to take time off work because of it, and I have been as clear as I can be about the situation. I wish I had kept my mouth shut. What's the point of admitting these kinds of weaknesses when there isn't support for it?

This kind of stigma - the "it's no big deal, it shouldn't be a factor" assumption - is the one I find most difficult to deal with. I could stand up more to the overt things, like being called crazy or being dismissed, but this is a lot more insidious. It's these kinds of things that makes taking time off for my appointments difficult, and hard to make myself push forward and take care of myself to be able to actually FUNCTION.

I think what I wish more than anything is that people gave me credit for the amount I am functioning. This is bad - but six months ago it was worse. A year ago I was nearly suicidal. The fact I am showing up to work and doing most of the things, it should be more recognized!

I am ill. I am doing my best. But sometimes the best isn't good enough.

Monday, November 6, 2017

History

I have been blogging a very long time. I started first with a hand-coded site so long ago that it was never indexed by the Wayback Machine. I moved on to Diaryland, and front there to Diary-X, and then Livejournal. I lived through the 'Online Journal' vs. 'Blogger' debate; was condescended to by other academics when I was not on the forefront of the 'vlogging' movement; lost an entire six years of my life when Diary-X went down; and spent six months establishing a 5,0000 person following on Tumblr before abandoning it to work on my dissertation.

I regret that choice, sometimes.

One of the things that people fussed about, back in those early days, was what did it mean to be an online presence. There had been online communities since the first time computers networked; but the online journalling/blogging/vlogging movement was different. It was in some ways a pyramid scheme: there were central people who got a following around whom a community built itself (the introduction of commenting was an earthquake), and then people tried to copy that central blog, or expand on some new theme...hoping to be the next Dooce. (That's what we called it, before the term 'viral' took over.)

The thing is, the absolute central part of it, was that an authentic community could not in any be faked. It could not be simulated and it could not really be copied. If someone managed to hit that critical mass to form a community, there was no way to replicate it. The frustrating part, of course, was that sometimes people were doing the same thing as whatever new star was out there - they may even have done it first or even better - and still they wouldn't get the following. They missed the moment.

The reality of blogging - even in my cantankerous endless-September woes I know that this is the term we must use - is that we are, and were, always doing it for the fame. Not necessarily the money, but we were all looking for a place to belong, for recognition, for understanding and the support that is provided from being in a group that recognizes each other. I think it's true, that many bloggers - the well-known central ones, at least - do it 'for the love.' The money that comes isn't incidental, but it isn't the point.

And that's probably the key to being a successful blogger. To not think about what will get clicks and likes and is most likely to turn someone in to a viral star, but that which will be authentic and bring people together, to your page and site, to talk and respond and be part of the world. Together.

This is something I have a hard time with. I know that I have interesting things to say and I want to share them with people, but often when I try to do it I run in to the same trap I did with my dissertation: instead of producing something authentic with real meaning and my own voice, I replicate and echo what I believe to be what people want to hear. And I tell myself that I shouldn't bother writing something because it won't be understood or have any appeal, or it's not good enough.

But that's absurd.

I am good enough, and if you are reading this, you thought so too. You stuck with me through these 500 plus words because you saw something in them that appealed to you, that spoke to some part of your soul, and that is a connection we share now.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The More Things Change

I didn't write at all last quarter.

As an academic professional - that weird job category rebranded as 'student services' and 'campus life' - I think on the academic calendar, with the arbitrary waypoints that are built in: Fall, Winter, Spring, reading period, finals, break. Scheduling things with friends who are also orbiting the ivory tower is a quick exchange:

"I can't, the kids will be returning that day."
"But it's not even the 10th!"
"We're on the quarter system."
"Oh....so see you in June then?"

It was a weird and difficult quarter overall, which is something I feel I say a lot: things were weird, and things were difficult, and it's a tired thing to say because things are always weird, and difficult, and even if the things that make them weird and difficult change, there you still are: weird and difficult.

One of the things that was especially weird over the past few months is that I started a new job. Yes! After all my angsting and what I thought had been a firm decision to stick with the job that was unsatisfying but consistent, another opportunity popped up and I went for it. And got it.

My 'day job' and 'night job' now happen on the same campus, a midnight-to-midnight thrum of students and colleagues among which I am working to find a place. My world abruptly shrank from encompassing the city to being a sixteen-block-square.

This is my commute. I am still late at least once a week.
The job is nice. I like the work, it's good to be academically involved with students again, I have quite a nice office. What I still lack is a sense of purpose and drive. But I am working on that.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Treadmills

I was planning to write about prepping a garden pumpkin for freezing, or something more profound about the pointlessness of unnecessary pain...but I'm not really feeling either of those topics today. I'm rather tired, and thinking about all the things I need to do before next week, and the week after, and so on.

Two big  things on my mind are a conference that I get to go to for work in two weeks - which is also the same week as a 5k run I am planning on doing. The two things don't conflict, it's just that they are more things I need to plan backwards for.

I'm really excited about the conference, partially because of the topic - international credential evaluation! whoo! I'm a dork - but the 5k is bringing up all sorts of complicated feels about being on a treadmill that keeps going around and around in circles.

Circles that are not as adorable as this baby.
This 5k was something I first did in a year I refer to as The Year of Good Health. It was a time when a friend of mine decided to work on losing weight and getting more physically fit, and somehow I went along with her. And for six months things were great: weight loss, daily walks and runs and Pilates sessions. I even went to the gym regularly. But then, things came up. Dissertation, work, marriages, and then it was the first 5k date and it had been two months since I had tried to run. I did the race, but I mostly walked, and it wasn't the triumph I hoped for.

And then, of course, the weight I'd lost came back on.

The same thing the next year.
And the next.
The fourth time, I had a vaguely-legitimate excuse in that I had sprained my calf muscle, so running? Running was not going to happen.

But it's another year, and I didn't train. And while the same excuses of writing, and marriage, and work are there, I still feel rather let-down by myself. I don't want this to keep happening. I want to be better, and actually meet the goals I've been planning for.

Last week was another week with good intentions. And little accomplished.
This is seriously getting old. Even my fussing about goals is getting repetitive now! There really isn't much  point in fussing about it over and over. I just have to actually try to get these done, and try it again. Because this time, maybe it will be good!

And here we go again!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Beginnings at the End

Early morning, move-in time.
A friend asked me the other day if I was still blogging. I haven't been. I've been very busy, but haven't been doing anything that I wanted to blog about, because I couldn't figure out how I was feeling about different events.

The biggest one is that my residents came back. In what I persist in thinking of as my 'night job' - even though it consumes most of the day and night - I live in a college dorm and...it's hard to describe what I do. Crisis counselor, editor, financial manager, friendly shoulder, school principal, social justice warrior. It's a job I love. Unfortunately, even though it's easily the most satisfying and enjoyable work I have ever done, it's unlikely to turn in to a full-time career. This reality has made this move-in time pretty painful, actually, because I'm caught between wanting to throw myself in to it with the enthusiasm it deserves, and trying to hold something back so I can be ready when a real career opportunity presents itself.

I have been trying to remember to look to the sky.
In my 'day job ' I've gotten the chance to change my focus, which has been re-invigorating, even if the tasks themselves are rather dull at this point. I think it's okay to admit that - all my colleagues acknowledge that once you've gotten over the learning curve, it's just a matter of processing for hours and hours, with a few bright spots of international mysteries.

(Or maybe that last bit is just my own geekiness.)

As well as the misfortune of wondering if I will be able to continue the part of my work that I love, I'm also still mourning the fact I had to drop the certificate course I was hoping to add to my resume. There just wasn't time in there for me to put the work in to it - not if I wanted to be able to do my two jobs, eat, sleep, bathe, and oh yes - write.

So I let it go.

I found this tree in an unexpected garden in the city. I sat here for an hour.
I feel rather at loose ends, though. I was working on that certificate as a way to have something new to be working on in my life. I've been trying to change my career direction for two years with very limited success, so I thought I should turn my focus to something else. But I was caught in a bind: in order to have the resources to change my fate, I had to keep maintaining the situation I was in. But there wasn't enough time or resources to make changes while trying to maintain the basics of the status quo.

Things are stable right now, of course. I have two jobs. My wife has two jobs. They are good jobs. I have a reason to do things I enjoy, like baking and sewing, and even enough time to try to do the things I have always thought I would be good at, like writing. I can find the moments to write resumes and cover letters and keep trying to find a job that will be a good career, at the same time as working with what I have. There are possibilities.

So I'm dusting myself off, and starting again. I'm trying to remember that the leaves change color at the end of the season to make way for what's next...nothing ever really ends; it just starts a new direction.