“And besides, feelings are totally full of shit.”

I woke up last Sunday adorned with the previous night’s glow sticks and feeling like someone had dropped a load of bricks on my chest. Such is the weight and effect of running into one’s own unhappiness.

The last two months have been endlessly stressful: holidays, moving to Chicago, moving out of our apartment, moving into my Unnamed Hippie House (which I’ve decided is its name, by the way), my uncle’s death, drunk people drama, sickness, job hunting, job interviews, the beginning of the semester, winding down a job, and living apart. It’s all fucking hard! Hard, hard, hard.

I’m a person who thrives in chaos, so times like these usually see me rising to the occasion. Five years ago, we launched Moodle at the beginning of the semester while I was also a full time doctoral student and a new gyne instructor – so I was essentially working two very demanding full-time jobs while taking on an emotionally and physically challenging part-time job while also maintaining a relationship and starting to focus on losing weight after four months away from the gym (and my bike) with a broken arm. Literally the day before Shane moved to DC, I had unexpected minor surgery after receiving scary lab results from an abnormal Pap and also got an estimate of $2400 to make the necessary repairs to my car so that I could move to join him – while also gearing up for the beginning of the semester and actively job-hunting. I’m not alone in my experience of shit stacking up in impossible ways, or of being able to put my head down and knock through it all to come out on the other side smarter and stronger.

But in and around the stress and stressors of the last two months, I’ve had a lot of time to think. The time and space and distance have allowed issues to rise to the surface that I’ve been ignoring or just haven’t been brave enough to face. And one of those is my unhappiness, a thread of pain through so many aspects of my life.

It’s no secret that I’ve been profoundly unhappy in my career in the last few years. In job interviews, I’ve spun it as “a series of right turns” – from instructional technology support at Illinois to reference librarianship at GW to web development at UM. From a position of authority and trust to the bottom rung of a soul-deadening bureaucracy to manual labor, working in a call center, finding ways of stretching 5-8 hours of work to fill 40, and then ending up in a position where I’m challenged and respected, but which is still tangential to any of the goals I can loosely define for myself.

I’ve been tremendously lonely in my relationships. I’ve focused my energies on my marriage to the detriment of my relationships with others – perhaps appropriately so, but still a stark thing to realize. I’ve been trying to change this in the last few months, but I know I have a long way to go.

I’ve tried to direct this loneliness and frustration into positive channels: running, the garden, cooking, blogging, teaching, and connecting with friends online. What I haven’t realized until recently is the extent to which my loneliness and frustration has been self-reinforcing. I’m lonely, so I go running alone. I like running alone, so I opt to continue with this solitary activity, even though it could be a great opportunity to meet other people and build relationships around running. Shane is often busy with hobbies or friends, and I respond by soaking up the much-desired solo time, which then leads me to support (rather than complain about) more time dedicated to hobbies, which then leads to more time alone.

Which leads me to this place: waking up on a Sunday morning feeling crippled by sadness. Grinding away on the track to meet a training goal but also to focus my mind on something other than the intractability of my feelings. Struggling to remember happiness, or to picture what happiness might look like. Knowing that the easy answer is more meds, or changing the meds, but being unwilling to accept that as an answer YET AGAIN.

I want to be happy.
I don’t know how to be happy.
I don’t know what has to change in my life for me to be happy.
I’m afraid of my own unhappiness.

SB is off at his second interview in 7 days. He gets home Thursday night, and then I leave on Tuesday for another interview. We both have been going constantly for months now with very little down time, and I’m so tired of it. I’m really ready to be done with this part of our life so that we can move on to the next chapter together. That’s what teams do, right?

What We’ve Been Up To: A Short List

Item #1: Earlier in the week I helped my best friend load the moving truck that is going to convey MOST of her family’s worldly possessions to the East Coast, where she starts a job in about ten days. It was bittersweet – I love helping people move and dispatching friends for big adventures, but it will be sad to not have her around, and I will miss her greatly.

Item #2: In the next ten days, SB will hit both coasts as he interviews for Real Jobs. He is stressed out and anxious as he’s prepping for travel and presentations while at the same time working on a class and his CAS project. I really wish I could be more helpful but (1) I can’t and (2) I have my own pile of work and applications to worry about. The only significant bite on my hunt has come in the form of extensive reference-checking – no new interviews, and a rejection letter from the one interview I did have in May.

Item #3: Last week I worked with my gyne instructor friends for probably the last time, at least en masse. The next major teaching session isn’t until January, and by hook or by crook we should be out of here by then. Working with this program was such a blessing, and I am deeply grateful for this experience for a variety of reasons.

monday monday

I’m DONE!!!!11!!1!!! for the semester. I’m honestly fairly happy with the paper, which is significant as I wrote it in less than 24 hours.

I just came from a very positive meeting with my adviser wherein we discussed my CAS project, as well as the current half-assed job hunt. She’s not keen on me leaving, but it’s not her decision, and when I told her more about the primary promising opportunity, she got excited about it as well. We brainstormed on the project for a bit, and I owe her a proposal in a couple of months. I’m fine with all of these things.

It is 81 outside, and I’m looking forward to working in the yard tonight and NOT suffering from overwhelming guilt because I’m not accomplishing something else.

On a less bright and sunny note, I had another panic attack this morning at work. I say ‘another’ because it occurs to me that at least part of the misery and headachey stress of last week was probably panic attack-y things. It’s been a couple of years since I had a bad bout of depression, so I’ve sort of forgotten the side effects. Here’s hoping that the dramatically decreased stress level coupled with a bunch of yoga and exercise and sunshine will keep this one at bay.

I stumbled across this article this morning. It’s all about the economics of PhDs – rather, it’s about the total glut of PhDs on the market, in comparison with the relative lack of growth in demand for PhDs in tenure-track jobs. It’s not a happy thing.

It’s cold and grey, and I’m tired and lonely. I’ve spent the day, on and off, putting the rest of the archives online, trolling through a year-or-so worth of highs and lows, enough for a lifetime. Odd to read my guarded prose now – and to wonder if things would’ve been easier if I’d just said what I was feeling, what I desperately needed and wanted to say. Would the story be different? Odd to think that a year ago I was stressing over a job decision and praying for a house. So much has changed. And I think the weight of those two years, plus a generally blah day, have really gotten me down. I don’t want to be in this apartment alone right now – but there’s no one home at the kids’ or Shawn’s, and I don’t feel like eating alone either, or I’d just go somewhere. So I think I’m going to take a bath and wait by my phone and hope I snap out of it.

The latest:
Shawn’s taking my apartment, which will mean our moving is ridiculous but somewhat easier as the deadlines won’t be as firm and we can leave things behind.
The interview at Aroma was last night. No word back, but they said they would call today or tomorrow.
Meat night dinner was tasty, if sparsely attended. Sarah and Hannah were at a show, and Mark was busy. Shawn and Melissa and I had chicken with potatoes and peas in a coconut-curry sauce – a little salty, but damned tasty.
I have an interview at Health Alliance tomorrow.
This review of Kill Bill V2 almost makes me want to go see it again.

When it rains it….well, fuck.

I haven’t called Friar Tuck’s back. FT, by the way, is a giant liquor store. The consensus seems to be either take the job and then quit when something better comes along, or hedge appropriately and give it a few days.

In the meantime, however, I’ve gotten two phone calls. This is a red-letter day already, as I usually get about six phone calls in an entire week. Anyway, two phone calls. Both about jobs.

  • Call #1 was at 10:45, right before I went to lunch – Michael from Aroma calling to schedule an interview for tomorrow night. Wednesday, 7pm, be there or be square.
  • Call #2 was at 2:15 (but I just got the message) – Leslie from Health Alliance at Carle Clinic calling to schedule an interview for a CSR position that I forgot I applied for. I just left a message for her.
    Two bites in one day, plus the randomness that was the Fastest Interview Ever. Good times. Things are looking up!
  • OK, so I was offered the job at Friar Tuck. In under 10 minutes. Like, I got out of my car at 5:19, and was back in my car at 5:28. Good sign? Bad sign? To me it reeks of desperation – “oh, you have a pulse and can lift 50 pounds? you’re hired!” – but then what do I know. I was asked few if any of the usual questions – why do you want to work here – what’s your work experience like – tell me what you liked/didn’t like about X job – literally within four minutes of me sitting down, he had offered me the job. So yay, good for me, right? I told him I wanted to think about it – told him about my concerns with my car – and he said I should call him back by this morning and let him know.

    But do I really want this job? There are some pluses – great discount on liquor, decent hours – and some minuses, namely that I’m not sure I want to work there in the first place, and I don’t want to have to rely on my unreliable car. Besides, I’m a little weirded out by the speed of this whole process. AND then last night I got an email from Aroma saying they would get ahold of me this week to set up an interview. And I’d so much rather work at Aroma – it’s closer to home, I really like it there, it’s more the sort of job I’m looking for, I wouldn’t have to go out and buy more clothes.

    So do I take the job?
    Do I take the job and quit if Aroma offers me a job as well?
    Do I turn the job down cos I feel downright weird about all this?
    Do I just get my head out of my arse?
    Discuss.