Snow and frozen sleet all day. A slushy day inside and out. It's evening and I've been inside working on the computer and in the kitchen all day -- it's time for me to get out of the house, get to the gym or the yoga studio, clear my head.
Some days, it's hard for me to be alone -- I'm not at all built for it. I love being by myself but surrounded by people. After just a few hours of truly working at home, being alone without social contact, I find myself incredibly lonely, lacking structure and full of self-doubt. Without a good social context for myself, I feel detached from my own ideas and even goals. Pushing myself back into a stable and consistently social situation is one important motivation for going back into a school. This all sounds very thoughtful, but by 5:45 pm on my first day by myself, I was earnestly researching shut-ins and people with extreme agoraphobia to see if I might have a problem. Clearly, my tolerance for being at home by myself is too low for me to ever become a shut-in. It spooks me after just one day.
I need these hours of work alone to be on track for this presentation, though. I think I should try to work out of the house starting tomorrow, bring my laptop with me to my rehearsal and work somewhere before and after.
The trouble is that some schools have released their doctoral candidate decisions, and it's within two weeks of the date I received the initial decisions this time last year. I signed up for this presentation in part to mitigate the obsession with waiting at my laptop, checking every email and junk folder for decision letters. I thought I'd be better this time around, and I think I have gotten better. But it's still growing -- every day I feel it growing in my awareness, inherently neutral but increasingly obstructive, like a mushroom cap expanding fast in the cool shade of a mossy rainforest tree. The writer in me cringes at the terrible simile, but unfortunately, it truly feels that way. Fungal, and potentially spreading, but hopefully dignified. It's hard to think about anything else. This year, like last year, I'm totally fixated. The stakes seem higher this time: health insurance, a feasible income to stay in New York, mentorship when I have none. Last year I felt so desperate, each day that I still didn't hear, a catastrophe. The program is more real to me now, so I feel significantly less hung up on an idealized vision of what life might be. If I had gone, I most likely couldn't have made it to Finland, worked up at Cornell, spent so much time at home this winter. I'll keep trying to be grateful for the time I did have out of school, and I'll continue to do so if I end up having another year. I'll be grateful, too, for the work I've added to my CV because of this year.
Today's writing is a tailspin of work-related navel-gazing and professional self-blame and instability, I think, poorly concealed in the paragraphs above. I'll scramble back to myself soon.