Saturday, August 30, 2008

The not-quite-holiday weekend

So, yeah, I had the grand plans. Of taking this weekend off completely. I had my ridiculous spa experience yesterday - there was an element of the ridiculous about it - and I came home and napped and then went for dinner and then to a party. Vacay-esque, to be sure. But I'm afraid that, having lost last week to the Franken-arm experience, I am behind where I need to be with my work right now...I can't kiss it entirely goodbye over the next few days.

But I do have Season 4 of Six Feet Under to watch, and plans every night - these are things that make me happy. Under these conditions, I can sneak a bit of work here or there, relatively painlessly.

The big news, though, is that I am off crutches. On Wednesday I was given the go-ahead. My left leg is in a kind of mild shock at being used again, but nothing has been hurting. I've been walking - a little gimpily, at first, but that is sure to change. My muscles will come back from their famine-victim state. I must say, though, that I've woken up this morning feeling a little off in the area of the fracture...something feels mis-aligned. This worries me. My provisional solution is to stay away from walking today, though that's not going to help me much if there really is something wrong.

Really, I can't handle any more problems. So let's just pretend, shall we, that I am not feeling as if my bone is un-knit, and tackle the weekend of fun.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Goal for the new year: Protecting my Morale

The new academic year is imminent. I am far, far from the headspace I would like to be in. I feel gutted and exhausted. Very, very empty. (Compounding this is the demise of my 6-year relationship...for real this time...I haven't blogged about it because I couldn't bear to add another thing to the litany of disasters, and because I also can't bear to write about it in this forum, but there you have it. It is a tragedy, and it has been devastating. And that's all I'll say about that.)

I need to be good to myself this year, if I am to pull myself out of this awful period. I don't trust the academic year to offer me many opportunities to be good to myself, though. And so my major goal - I have others, mostly having to do with the contradictory poles of high productivity and lack of stress, but this is my major one - is to save my morale. What's left of it.

The morale is shockingly low at Scary City University. Shockingly. People are so overworked and so unhappy that they become consumed with negativity about the place, their jobs. Their lives, sometimes. I have come to realize how corrosive this is for me. I need to do my best to avoid getting sucked into whining conversations at every turn. Sure, venting is important - and there is plenty to vent about, as I know all too well after a year in this awful place. But because I have so little here, so little life outside my work, my work already threatens to become everything. And if all I ever hear from anyone else about the work context is negativity, then it just casts the most awful pall over my life in general.

So I need to do whatever I can to avoid being eaten alive by other people's unhappiness. I have enough of my own - and I don't want even that, much less other people's. So this means closing my office door sometimes, it means making an effort to cultivate friends outside the university, it means declaring some get-togethers with friends from work to be "work-talk-free zones."

It also means making sure I have a life. I used to have a life outside my work.

So those are the most important goals for the new year. Picking up the pieces, really. Putting myself back together again, which requires some neutral energy and some distraction from Scary City Uni. This is, paradoxically, what I need from Scary City Uni this year - time and psychic space away from it and the sadness it creates in all of us.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I'm back in Scary City.

I am finished with IV antiobiotics and onto a week of pills, but not over the exhaustion caused by that ordeal: I went to ER for this 5 late nights in a row, since I was supposed to get them every 24 hours and the first dose had been given at about 2 in the morning. So I spent 2-3 hours in Emergency every night (though didn't go as late as the first time!), and then cabbed home, comatose. I am so sleep-deprived. So freaking depressed. I feel robbed of my last week in Home City. Also, other bad things happened last week.

And now I'm back here, as of today. Great. I sat on my couch and immediately became itchy. It was crawling with tiny ants, which had come over from an infested plant. Nice. Welcome home.

And with the crushing weight of the new year upon me. Thank goodness I have another week until it really starts up. But since I didn't get any work done last week because of the arm, I am appallingly behind on everything. And I feel a strong sense of dread about the prospect of the overwhelm. In retrospect, last year was just so overwhelming. I can't have that again.

All I can think about this horrific last eight months is that it's my "Jesus Year" - I'm 33. Maybe all of this together moves me toward the big spiritual transformation, the life shift, the new learning, etc., etc. Yeah, well, great. Fabulous. Also, I cannot wait till New Year's Eve...I usually am not much for New Year's, but I can tell you that I am going to say a very conscious and celebratory goodbye to this year, that night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Very quick update, as I'm supposed to be not typing or doing any work (just great...great timing...). I went back to the hospital in middle of night last night; was given first round of antibiotics by IV. I will go back at least twice more - every 24 hours - for same. I am meant to be resting the arm, which is hard to do when you're on crutches.

And frankly, life fucking sucks, in more ways than this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Off to Emergency for the 418th time this summer...

Yes, that is right. I am just waiting for morning rush hour to lighten up so I can manage the bus with my crutches, and I am taking myself to the hopital for the wasp sting I got on Sunday afternoon, which has made my arm balloon to alarming proportions - truly alarming - and is getting worse by the hour. I had a terrible sleep last night because of it.

I know it's a bit rich to be going to Emerg for a sting, but I feel as if, though this isn't a life-threatening problem or anything, it needs to be treated effectively, not with the half-assed measures that clueless walk-in doctors seem to take. The walk-in clinics I've been to in Home City always feel sketchy to me, as if they're populated with doctors who trained in the 50s and are stuck in a time warp.

Like the doctors from the new X-Files film, which some friends and I had the misfortune/delight of seeing last night. It was truly, truly, truly heinous. I couldn't believe it. So bad it was amusing. Did Chris Carter have a head transplant and forget what his show actually was? My goodness - appalling.

Anyway, I shall update ye. I seem to be in amused, light spirits, though I am sure being in Emergency for eight hours or whatever will beat them out of me.

Update: I went and didn't have a terrible wait - I was out of there in just over 2 hours. Anyway, the young doctor took one look at it and said, "Whoa, you have a nasty infection! I'm going to prescribe antibiotics, give you some benadryl, and I just want to have the other staff eyeball it so we can see if we should give you the antibiotics in an IV to begin." When she took me to the head doctor, he said you can't tell if it's an infection or just an allergic reaction, and so he didn't want to give me the antibiotics - he made her draw a line around the affected area and go home and watch it, and come back if it continues to grow and/or I develop other symptoms of an infection. I am to take benadryl for four days - which means now I'm going to go for a nap - this is going to be a very dozy four days.

My gut thinks it's an infection, but whatever. Let's just keep fingers crossed that it's not, and I don't have to spend tomorrow morning at the hospital, too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Life change

Yesterday I was taking a long drive back from a family party four hours away. I put in Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible and found myself tearing up. Why, you ask? Because it reminds me of running. It brings back very strong memories, for instance, of training for last year’s half-marathon – I listened to it addictively then, and it is intimately linked with long-run endorphins, in my brain.

And the thing is, I miss running. I miss “real” (read: cardio) exercise, for which I have a strong predilection. I was ramping up my running to get ready for an autumn half, just as I broke my knee.

I am also aware that I may not be able to run again. There is no certainty on this question – the orthopaedic guy thinks I may be able to, but is not sure. The Internet tells me – as did the first surgeon, in Hawaii – that my knee will never be the same, and that I will almost certainly develop arthritis in it.

I am sad about this. I will do everything I can to rehabilitate the leg. I have already started, having gone to see a physiotherapist on my own (I was never referred to one, which shocked me and the physio) so that I can start building up strength and range of motion even while still unable to walk on the leg. (Though my left calf is a sad, pathetic little thing by now – it’s atrophied alarmingly.) I’ll work and work and work so that I can get back to what I love to do. If I can’t run, I’ll maybe go back to swimming laps, which I used to do, but got bored with.

But this is bigger than the question of cardio exercise. My worrying about this is one symptom of a larger, looming confrontation with aging and mortality. What with everything that’s gone on recently – ovary still probably needing to come out, this stupid injury*, even the first-ever migraine - I’m really feeling quite uneasily in touch with my own eventual deterioration and death. It invades my consciousness daily; it never really had before. And you know, I’d have rather put off this feeling for another couple of decades.

For that reason, it is a great thing to be watching Six Feet Under right now.

At any rate, I feel quite fundamentally changed. Quite.

*Stupid being the operative word. Do you know, this past week I have started to experience some real anger over this injury for the first time. I mean, for chrissake!! I was just bloody standing there!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So my mini-vacay – with input from you – will start on the Friday afternoon of Labour Day weekend – hurrah! I have already booked my two spa thingies...and since the spa is about a 30-second walk from my house, I can come home and have a post-reflexology mid-afternoon nap. So exciting. Then there will be wine and baths and swims and swims (the thought of which makes me drool) and the big, fat novel I was recently given as a present (don’t you love friends who give you random presents in August, with cards that say, “we love you?”).

But really, it’s quite pathetic that I’m such a wound-up head case that it’s an effort for me to plan downtime.

When I had an awesome blogger meetup with the lovely Psychgrad (with whom I talked and drank Strongbow as if we’d known each other all our lives), she asked me if I was happy. I was pretty much stumped. See above.

But moments like the meetup with Psychgrad – and the hours-and-hours-long dinner I had with a friend last night, and other times with my dear friends on this trip to Home City – make me very happy indeed. It’s just too bad they’re few and far between.

Especially in Scary City.

I was feeling better about Scary City – my line recently has been that I don’t mind Scary City, I just hate my job – but I’m feeling pretty upset about the thought of going back there in ten days. I hate how fucking uptight everything feels. Maybe that’s why I’m so uptight. I hate that everybody I know – because most of my friends are from the university – is so bloody overworked and beaten down that we are all a bunch of pathetic people who don’t know how to actually have a life anymore.

But I’m actually okay, for the most part. I am almost ready to come off the crutches and I have somehow decided that this will magically be the end of my year of awfulness.

And hey, I’m writing. Even if the part I’m writing at the moment is gut-wrenchingly difficult. At least I’m writing.

And I have been watching Six Feet Under with R. (Yes, I know, I’m always 7 years – or, hell, 15 years - behind the shows.) I had never seen it. I love it. We’re finishing up Season 2. The way it makes me sad makes me happy, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I'm feeling pretty burnt out. This isn't good. Because I'm also feeling the creep of the new academic year. Never have I dreaded it before. Never. But last year was so stressful that I can't stand the thought of this year.

And the problem is, I haven't really had any down time in a long time. My week of true vacation in Hawaii was ruined by my accident and my five days in hospital. My week of bliss at dance camp - the last week of August - is now cancelled because of that. Those were my two weeks this year free of work. My trip to France was lovely, but it was a research trip. My two-day getaway with R near Scary City was marred by the fun ovarian scare. My long weekend in Nearest Metropolis was truncated by the bed bugs. Vacations are not meant to be, for me, it seems.

And I've just been plowing through, machinically, trying to get far enough ahead with my stuff before the year starts that I don't feel like I'm drowning. So I churn through it, anxiously. Today I: finished writing my job letter, wrote some of the current book chapter I'm on, drafted about a quarter of my revised SSHRC grant application, and closely read and commented on an essay for my co-edited collection (which was a disappointment and will require significant revision - and I had such high hopes for this one!). I didn't touch the other looming things - course design for the fall that is not even finished. There's administrative service that I'm supposed to be doing - more growing of my program. I feel exhausted, and it's August. This does not bode well.

I wonder if I can take Labour Day weekend off. If I can plan for a full three days OFF just before classes begin. I wonder if I can afford the time. I don't even know what I'd do. I'd be in Scary City. Maybe I'd just read novels and go for swims. And walks - if all goes well, I should be coming off crutches and able to walk properly again just before that weekend. I think I need to do it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Writing surprise

After a lot of self-reproach, and a little motivational help from this, I seem to have found my writing groove again.

It is even fun. It is even about discovery.

I can't believe it. The last couple of weeks have seen me produce over 8000 words with little angst and no sweaty, painful effort - not my usual deal. I've even seen myself work while on "vacation" - like last week, in Dad City, where I grabbed 30-minute chunks of time a couple of times.

That's the key - I've finally given in to the writing experts, with their "you don't need to be precious about your time" shtick. I've finally seen that it's true that I don't need five uninterrupted hours in which to sit down and write. No. I can work in 45-minute blocks of time, and actually think intelligent thoughts and get some momentum going. I never thought it possible. I always thought I needed to be the tortured artiste in order to write well, but I don't - and this doesn't mean I'm uncreative. In a sense, it is as if I'm finally giving in to my own creativity, and am more in touch with it than I have been when I've been buying the tortured artiste thing.

Part of what has been helping, too, has been working at the library. Not every day, but at least half of my writing days. Free from the distractions of the Internet right there in my laptop.

I feel returned to what writing was for me before graduate school ruined it. I never thought that would happen.

I do feel this might have negative consequences for my blogging - because I do still get exhausted of my own writing, and so it's much less tempting to compose blog posts at the end of a day. And I am no longer afraid of what will happen when I sit down to write - so I am not as likely to use blogging as procrastination.

But the important thing is, I'm writing (a book - I can finally say I'm writing a book, and feel like I mean it). And I'm enjoying it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Quick Update

I have been away! Since Friday afternoon. In fact, I am still away. I am in Dad City. After visiting First Unit City for four days, staying with most loved family members who live there.

I was sad because it is a beautiful house on the water, a house that I adore, and I LURVE swimming, and I couldn't go in the water, really. I would have been able to go in off a dock - I could, I imagine, hop down the ladder on the one good leg - but since this is shallow water, I couldn't do it, really. I did have one attempt, crutching in and then sort of crouching there, supported by R. How ridiculous I felt!

Also in First Uni City, there is my grandmother, who is 85 and broke her pelvis around the time that I broke my knee. She is recovering at the Most Loved Home where R and I were staying. Others - Favourite Aunt, mainly - were ther for the first two days. But for two days, we took care of her - which was an odd challenge for me, given my crutching around. So I hopped around in the kitchen semi-preparing food, and R carried the trays in to her. It was sad, and interesting, and a post about my grandmother is coming soon.

But I am too tired right now. Too tired to write about any of the things I thought I would write about. I drove for five hours today, from that city to Dad City, and I am amazingly exhausted - it can't only be from the driving?! At any rate, there is much to blog about: grandmothers and writing and other things.

Friday, August 01, 2008


I am a terrible blogger. I have been too preoccupied with writing (I seem to be on fire, people!), whining, and being disturbed to post anything properly.

Which is very rude of me!! For this week, two people - the lovely Brigindo and the hilarious Sisyphus - were kind enough to give me an award for my blogging. Thank you, you two - I'm not sure I deserve it, what with my whining and my boringness of late - andnow my dropping the ball. But to have been chosen by two such fine folks is fantastic.

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

I know most of you have been nominated already, and I'm trying not to repeat. See, the thing is, I loves you all. I hereby award you seven:

Dr. K.
Feral Mom