the problem is that professional success alone doesn't make me happy.

i'd be so lucky if it did.



I would say that the weather makes me lonely. But I got lonely on Saturday and Sunday, too.

The turn that April's cruelty and general weirdness (particularly in both my academic worlds) have taken is to leave me feeling incredibly fragile, yet still, somehow, unable to tear myself away from, say, Nerve, where I still see D. in the "who's online now!" section almost every day (why can't I block just one person...they should give you that, I think, as long as you don't waste it on garden variety awkwardness, as long as you save it for the person who kind of broke your heart even if you didn't know him that well) and which generates mostly time-consuming dates that don't make me feel better even when they seem to be okay. I really liked the guy from Friday, but he hasn't gotten in touch with me and I'm always the one who seems to like the other person more than they like me, so I don't email him. I spent Thursday night with the Australian and now nothing. I mean, I know he had a friend in town over the weekend and all, but a quick email to make plans, maybe? I sent him a couple sentences last night but it didn't go anywhere. And I'm sure that if I emailed him right at this moment saying I wanted to sleep over tonight, that would happen. But I don't want to have to send that email; it feels like a ploy.

Oh, and my old LiveJournal account got hacked and deleted. Just some other fun thing to make me feel insecure. Seriously, all of this is like being hollowed out, or slashed to shreds with a million papercuts.

And all of this keeps ripping me apart, but I can't stop doing it; it's hard to stay off the internet and I somehow have to get this article rewrite done at an incredibly busy time of the semester and I'm scared and my friends are annoying me but it's not their fault and I wish something here didn't have to be this damn hard.

But of course sometimes it's fine and validating and all that and so much stupid hope. I probably have to break the Nerve habit again soon, though. Two weeks seems to be my limit.



It might just be worth my noting here, for posterity as well as myself, that it is sometimes disturbingly, depressingly easy to have sex in New York if you're a straight girl able to steel yourself to play the game. And it's incredibly hard to find a boyfriend once you realize that's what you want.

In some ways, my problem is likely that I know too much about what it's like to be with too many different people. I have a couple different types and the important parts don't transfer.

Going to try to stop thinking about this right now, though.

What I'd forgotten...

was more or less the affective stress of being on Nerve. There's a certain addiction to it, a not-so-secret narcissistic indulgence. Getting in a loop of clicking to see who's been looking at me, not that I have any intention of meeting most of them, not that I write most people back. Sometimes there's a sense of regret in this, since it's not like I do a particularly good job of picking the people I do end up with--it all feels like a kind of willed randomness sometimes, undermining the sense that I think I'm getting better at all this.

I wasn't on the site long enough in January before I met D. to remember what this was like. It's only this week that the frenzied loops have come back, that I feel my schedule closing up, a kind of running running running and most of the time it never gets past that point. It's not entirely ideal to be doing this during the semester, especially when I have two writing projects on, but to some extent I know this is all related, that there is a necessity here, that this right now is part of the path in some sort of crazy and occasionally sordid way. After the whole thing with D. collapsed, the weekend I spent convinced that I was going to move to St Louis in less than two months, the weird convergence of various academic rockstar stuff, and going back on the site--at some point I feel like my entire sense of identity broke open and suddenly I'm asking myself questions about who I am, who I want to be with--basic things that I more or less try to ignore are suddenly pressing on me with a kind of urgency, and the thing that I realized about Nerve this weekend is that this is part of it, that I'm more or less trying out different identities in conflict with different people, trying to figure out who I want to be, trying to articulate some kind of sense of who I am--not so much in the sense that I have to be with someone to be anyone but more in the sense that being with different people helps me work out where I can find myself.

I'm not sure that makes any sense. But, then again, I'm not sure what I'm doing makes any sense. Not internet dating per se as much as the weird extremes my dating life in general seems to swing to, where I can go from The Poet to D. and learn what I gain and what I give up--and the truth is, I haven't decided yet, would like not have to decide, who I'm going to be. Suffice it to say there's a very big difference from being the 28-year-old woman with the 57-year-old man and being the 28-year-old chick with the 34-year-old guy and that some of these differences are irreconcilable. (Though this may help explain why I'm most comfortable with guys who are in their early 40s, even though this may also end up being a less happy medium.)

There are things about all this that I can only say elliptically. This is largely an attempt to empty out my own head, but keep the specifics to myself, the idea being to focus on a proposal related to my MLA panel tomorrow and so on. So I went out on dates Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The dude from Friday night was like many of the dates I remember from before. Very cute (in a kind of hipsterish, of course you live in Bushwick kind of way) with a lot in common with me on paper. We had a perfectly cordial and chemistry-less conversation over drinks and dinner, went our separate ways on the subway.

The guy I went out with on Thursday was in his mid-40s, runs a for-profit cultural organization out of his apartment. He's tall, big, kind of goofy-looking (think a more fit version of Jack Black, perhaps), and exactly as brash and unapologetic as you'd think a guy like this would be if he were also Australian. (As a result of this last thing, though, it's possible that I'd be willing to talk on the phone with him forever.) He was a little intense when I first met him, but we had a good time together. He turned out to be really nice. But not in that pushover nice-guy way. More in the way that The Poet is nice. Like, kind. I wasn't sure what to do with it all immediately afterwards. There were some complications, as there always are. But I found myself thinking about him (well, when I wasn't thinking about D. or The Poet) for a lot of the rest of the weekend. I sort of wish I'd been able to swing my own work to see him tonight; in a way it might have been comforting, though I know it's better to go to bed here relatively early, go to the gym so I can continue to fit into my skinny black jeans, head to the zendo to focus, and then work on everything else ever instead tomorrow.

Yesterday...yesterday is one of those days I probably won't ever talk about with anyone. If nothing else, it proved that I'm still capable of doing things that are kind of twisted and not all that enjoyable in the end. And it reminded me of something I really had blocked out about Nerve--the possibility of ending up meeting someone who, over the course of a day and several beers, brings out some of the worst things about you, who pushes you to something without even having to try, who under other circumstances you'd be indifferent to, but the right day, the right mood....And you will always be the crazy chick with the Snoopy tattoo for him to talk about and the next morning you're still a bit shaky, but it's mostly because--well, as I said before, it reminds me of what kind of things I'm capable of doing--and not in a good way. I am trying to let it be instructive. Fortunately, this doesn't happen to me often, but...wow.

Starting to line up a couple of other things for next week. One guy's really on the young side...I think he's okay, but I'm going to have to be more on guard than I'd like. I think I'm pretty much going to stay away from guys under, say, 38, for a bit...the younger ones tend to bring out the crazy.

Right now I'd very much like someone with decently broad shoulders to lean on. That I know for sure.


I'd be lying to say that your band sucks, but I am an academic rockstar

Deciding that this will be the week of some kind of rebound--not that I'm going to go trolling specifically to get laid or anything, but only that I will be focusing on awesomeness and focus. Admittedly, it hasn't started out quite like that. Didn't go to the gym as planned this morning because I was in a lot of pain, and I've been futzing on the internet for most of the weekend, only barely getting the teaching stuff done. Nevertheless. The zendo is now open on Mondays for midday meditation. I owe far less money in taxes than I'd been assuming I did. The decision about St Louis is no longer contingent on my mental state on May 1: at this point, I'm prepared to make whatever move makes sense based on the funding situation. Writing fellowship, I stay. Dissertation year fellowship or no funding, I go. Simple as that. I mean, not simple. But less fraught than it's been.

And I'm not saying it wasn't incredibly exciting to wake up yesterday morning to an email from the scholar who has perhaps been most influential on my work over the last five years--inviting me to contribute a longer version of my MLA paper (which was accepted, but the panel still has to be) to an essay collection. The collection proposal is uncannily similar to my dissertation proposal, and it dawned on me that--against all odds and without setting out to do this explicitly--I may have just actually read the field correctly.

I had my recurring dream about K. last night, the one where his wife is always finding me or in danger of finding me. It's weird to be having these dreams now: we haven't even been alone in a room together since last September, and it's been almost two years since everything happened. I saw him last about six weeks ago at school and have had this dream twice in the last three. Strange.

D. did finally break up with me on Friday, which I can't remember if I mentioned here or not. There were some things about it all that were shady, especially the part where I saw him online on Nerve last night. But I've archived his email, poured out the half and half, thrown away the hot chocolate, and that's all there was. I still can't quite walk past the Brooklyn Museum (managed to avoid it in everywhere I went this weekend), and sometimes I hear one of his band's songs in my head. But all the knifethrusts went on last week; Friday was just the last stage in it all. It's something that'll make me sad in the back of my mind for a long time, but I got a kickass conference paper out of it, I rediscovered something about myself as an artistic writer (though I always work better with an audience, alas), and it all provided the occasion (albeit painful) for rethinking several of my personal narratives--including the one about how I *have* to write my dissertation in New York.

And so. On with the rainy day.


Today's Zen Story / Yesterday's Commonplace Book

1. Today's Zen Story

I actually calculates the basics of my federal taxes back in January because I needed to get some numbers for a financial aid form. I found that I owed around $850-900. While I've owed that much before, this was particularly disheartening / panic-causing / traumatic / thwarting / depressing because I thought I'd finally gotten my withholding figured out at this point in grad school, when I wasn't freelancing, and so on. That was not a particularly stellar evening, to say the least. At the time I decided to take my dad's advice and just not think about it for a few months, keeping the money in the savings side of my checking account until April.

I revisited my taxes today, and, perhaps needless to say, I had to work through a lot of aversion to get there. Even when I finally sat down at my desk, I was procrastinating like mad, and I would stop every few questions to go through all the usual internet places: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, my Not-NYU email account, Nerve (yes, alas). Since I hadn't figured out the exact tax back in January, I didn't know exactly what I was in for. And it wasn't encouraging to see that I'd made an adding error in my income that had it *under* by $100.

And then I realized that I'd missed one of the personal deductions, so that I'd calculated my income as several thousand dollars *over* what it actually was and was thus looking at the wrong tax table altogether.

I still owe a few hundred dollars (and I can't get the NYS forms to work on my computer, so I have to wait until Monday for that), but it's about $500 *less* than I thought it was going to be, than what I've been assuming and stressing out about for the last two months and change.

I can't even really describe the sense of relief, not unalloyed by sheepishness, that I'm experiencing.

2. Yesterday's Commonplace Book

"Already how am I so far
Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star?

--Robert Browning, "Two in the Campagna"

In resisting idolatry, is the reluctant lover protecting himself against illusion? Or in looking for intimacy without risk, is he losing part of his soul? Because the heavy caesuras match the lover's halting heart, they contradict his boast of confronting no obstacles or barriers. Since the words that appear to lurch forward over the line endings are brought short by early-breaking caesuras they also inadvertently disclose to the attentive reader far more than the lover intends to say.

--W. David Shaw, "Masks of the Unconscious: Bad Faith and Casuistry in the Dramatic Monologue"

Also from Shaw:
But the despair of the jilted lovers in Maud and "Locksley Hall," like the anguish of St. Simeon decaying by slow degrees on his pillar, is a mere pretense. Such speakers act out a fantasy of anguish in order to escape genuine despair.

Is it so unreasonable

...to want to be more than the thing that distracts you from all the other things in your life?

In two years of sleeping with various people, some of whom I liked very much, I never once had the kind of relationship where I could come to a party with a date. There was a little of this with The Professor, but it was always fraught, and a couple of other theatre dates where introductions had to be made, and some awkward run-ins. But nothing substantial. Nothing that would ever suggest that I was part of anyone's life.

And even with The Poet--perhaps the most loving man I've ever met--dealing with me crying on the phone over D. (so over, as of today, but I basically had to ask him straight out just to break up with me already), meeting me after class to bring me a couple of Xanax--as bad as things are with me, they're almost a welcome distraction from what he's going through in his real life.

It seems like such a simple thing. I guess I have to stop thinking of it that way. Because there's no such thing as a reasonable expectation, not in New York, probably not anywhere.


New set of plans

My options for next year are something like the following:

1. I get Fellowship A. Fellowship A would mean working at a college in New York, secretly keeping my job at not-NYU to maintain library access, etc. It would be an insanely busy year, but it would buy me at least one more summer of diss work. If I get Fellowship A, I stay in New York, but try to move somewhere nicer / cheaper around October.

2. I don't get any fellowships. In this case, I move back to St Louis by mid-June.

3. I get Fellowship B. This one is less money, but more prestige and no strings attached.
3a. I get Fellowship B and take the money to St Louis. Financially, I could live on Fellowship B in St Louis, though I might pick up an adjunct gig for easier access to libraries.
3b. I get Fellowship B, continue to teach at Not-NYU, and stay in New York, at least attempting to negotiate a rent reduction or move

If #3 happens, I will set myself a goal of July 31 for making the decision about whether I stay in New York or move to St Louis. The decision will be made on the basis of whether I'm happy here. If I had to make this decision today, I would be planning to move back to St Louis the day after classes end at Not-NYU this semester.

There's a Zen center in St Louis. My parents say they'd help with a car and getting my stuff back to the midwest.

Yes, it's come to this. I'm too worn down by this city to remain committed to it. I've been absolutely wretched all weekend. Some douchebag called me a cunt at Franklin Park last night, which means I won't be going there again, and I probably will also be avoiding Soda Bar on Vanderbilt because it's the same owners. I haven't gotten any work done for my teaching stuff today, mostly because I've been crying. I'm trying to pull myself together enough to go get cash and food and possibly cigarettes. Because I don't care right now. I probably have to apologize to everyone who was in a meeting with me on Friday. I think I'm falling apart. I don't want to talk about D. right now. I just need someone to hold me through this night, through the remainder of the weekend, but it's not an option I have. I try so hard. I'm not clingy. I'm not unattractive. I'm smart but not pretentious. I'm good at what I do, but not snobby about it. I'm trying hard to be a better, more spiritual, more compassionate, more flexible person. Somehow that's not enough here.


In the elevator after zazen

I said that I couldn't deal with New York anymore, that what had always allowed me to put up with it was the thought that things were going to get better, that I had lost that sense....

"Don't worry about things getting better. They aren't going to," he said, and laughed.

I'm adopting this as my koan.


Friday miscellany

I saw David Cromer's production of Our Town with Caroline last night. We sat on the stage since the tickets were $40 cheaper or so and--wow. I only have fuzzy memories from seeing this performed a couple times in my childhood (and from the episode of My So-Called Life where Rayanne tries out for Emily's part), so it was in many ways a mostly new play to me. The house really is set up for a kind of proximity--I was going to say intimacy, but I think that would be the wrong word--not only with the actors but with the rest of the audience, which I think is an incredibly interesting choice. And it did take me back a little bit to some theatre experiences I stumbled into when I was much younger, like the night I saw The Caretaker at the St Mark's Theatre--probably the first time I'd been even remotely close to the action of a play and all of the sudden it's taking place three feet away. Our Town really is an incredibly meditative play. The last twenty minutes seemed to accomplish everything that Synecdoche, New York was struggling with over two hours to achieve, and it did so much more elegantly, without the elaborate machinery that was Caden Cotard's self-centeredness--the point being here that even good people are blind. (And in this sense we care in a way that we don't in the film.) Had I not been right on stage, I probably would have started crying--the only other time this happens to me is at the end of the Axis Company's Hospital series.

The play was also quite a wonderful illustration of Coleridgean suspension of disbelief at its best--particularly the part about transferring from these shadows of the imagination a human interest and a semblance of truth--but in a way that, I think, complicates any sort of "live for today" message at the end. It's possible that the blindness isn't a tragedy after all.

Other things. It's my last weekday of spring break. I've accomplished very little and it's snowing. I need to go to the gym, sit zazen, put in several hours with Browning and get my life back in order. Was in Charlotte visiting family last week at this time; the weather was awful and my aunt got the stomach flu (which I am still worried about coming down with, since it seems to appear about a week after you think you should have gotten it) so there was a lot of sitting around, but in many ways this was perfectly fine. I didn't really have to think. Just thought that by the time I got back to New York I'd be ready to do that again. Not so much. Not sure where these days have gone...possibly too much fuzting and a bit too much drinking on Wednesday. By tomorrow I'm going to have to switch back into teacher mode and prep virtually the entire rest of the semester. Of course I am not looking forward to this.

On the other hand, I'm finally (mostly) over the cold I had for two weeks and I have my voice back. I'm also not as miserably run down as I was during the first two weeks of March. So this is good. The downside is that while I was sick and not going to the gym for 2 1/2 weeks, I ate a lot of takeout and then just ate a lot of food in general in North Carolina. So I'm feeling pudgy. Disappointing, too, because I lost like three pounds in February and have certainly gained that back. And I've certainly not been doing well with food this week. The whole thing is annoying, but I'll go to the gym after this and I should be able to get in at least four days next week. I need to keep up confidence here, just saying.

Saw The Poet on Tuesday for the first time in two months. Mixed feelings. Don't really want to be back with him, but very much want to be his friend. I'm not sure he has friends like me and it became clear over the course of our conversation that he is, in many ways, extremely isolated right now. And he would switch back and forth between these crazy future plans of how we're going to end up together in a couple of years living in some cute place in Hoboken or something and talking about our relationship in this weirdly extreme past tense. I have a feeling that there's a lot of this that's being displaced from other things going on in his life. I hope I can continue to be there for him in some way, though.

Saw D. the Tuesday before I left. He drove out to Brooklyn on one of those nights where I had more or less lost my voice. Did my best to function in the fog. We had a really great phone conversation on Wednesday, and I haven't heard from him since so now I'm all nervous again. It's the nervousness of a relationship (such as it is) that's pretty much non-fucked up and I do tend to worry that I'm nothing without the sense of the sordid. But I also worry about seeming to put demands and expectations on him--which I'm not, except that I really do like seeing people I'm sleeping with at least once a week. Which has been difficult for us lately for various reasons. Also, I ended up talking a lot with C. about her stuff last night which meant that I kind of unconsciously started obsessing over D., which is never good. But I do know that if I continue to not hear from him today, it's going to be distracting.

Had my recurring dream about K. earlier in the week. Still, everything's less wretched than last March. And with that, I should probably get ready for the gym so that eventually I can make spring break mean something productive. It's never too late to hit the ground running--right?

(By the way, I signed up for a Twitter account, for no apparent reason. It's my firstname/middle initial/lastname.


On the pleasures of the textual exchange

I don't have time to go into this right now--I need to get to Not-NYU well before 5:00 to make copies of a handout I have not yet created, et cetera--but I wanted to note this nonetheless...

I know there was that big article last year about the whole ritual of looking over the bookcase of a potential lover. Fine, of course. I've been judging people on the merits of their books my entire sexual life. However, at least for a certain type of people, there's another, more intimate exchange: the part where you begin to exchange texts that you've written--ones that are not explicitly addressed to the other person, but examples of whatever you're working on, whether it's creative, critical, or some combination of the two. There are a couple ways this can be presented, depending on what kind of feedback you want. There's the already-written move, where you send a lover something you've published in one form or another, looking more for a reaction or discussion than anything else. Many times this is posturing (especially when two academics are involved), but possibly not in every case.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is the work in progress submitted--at least ostensibly--to the lover and looking for feedback and critique. This is the more fraught situation, of course, for both parties, but particularly for the lover (or, I should say, potential lover) who is asked to respond. First, you have to determine whether they really want feedback, how serious it should be, how much criticism they can take. And then, of course, it's your critical skills on display....

Anyway. You know where I'm going with this. There's an intimacy in all this that really goes beyond the email thing, and I know that I'm probably (or was probably) more likely to sleep with someone than solicit his feedback on something. I'm beginning to think that this marks a specific milestone--at least in a certain kind of relationship--this moment of editing, or of textual exchange more generally. It was pretty much the hottest thing that The Professor and I ever did with each other, especially when we were both still dating other people. The Poet sent me all kinds of things he wrote, almost right away, too, and as our relationship went on he'd have me read things for school. Every now and then I'd reciprocate, but more in terms of "oh, this is what I did today."

And now, D's doing it. I spent the first part of my morning ripping up and restructuring something he sent me, this brilliant and funny hybrid piece. We talked about what he wanted me to do and I did it, with more confidence than I usually have at this point in a pseudo-relationship...mostly moving things around, leaving the sentences for him to play with. And it feels momentous, in a certain way...he's also sent me a poem and a song, but I don't read that kind of thing as critically. (It's a policy I have with the work of my friends in general.) It's a kind of intimacy that helps make up for not having seen him in awhile. (Though hopefully that changes tomorrow night.)

In return, I sent him a copy of the conference paper I gave on Friday. Obviously, not an entirely equal exchange, but one that I think helps make us even, where I'm exposing myself in the midst of What I Do and How I Think.

Also, I do sort of loosely follow his occasional online writing, mostly on sites attached to his band. It's kind of fun to see the things we've talked about (too crazy and too specific to discuss here) get transmuted into his prose; there's an intimacy in that too and I may be slowly figuring out how he thinks.


In completely unrelated news, I haven't taken a shower today because there is a large roach in it. I'm pretty sure it's dead (hello, morning's epistemological debate!) but I'm still traumatized from having come face to face with it near my desk at 1:00 this morning. It's too big to vacuum and I really don't want to look at it. I'm out of paper towels. I'm wondering whether it will go down the drain if I poke it with a long stick. Augh.

Also, in spite of my best intentions, no gym today. Partially a time crunch with prep, but also continuing congestion and rundownness; would rather be reasonably healthy to teach and see D. tomorrow. And I realized that I'm not sure I'd really want to use a treadmill after myself today.


Words kicking around in my head makes it hard to deal with composition papers

Variations on the Search for Fresh Produce, scribbled in the margins of 3/8/09. Not really a poem or anything much.

Queen of the peppadaws
Strawberry season
Now it's turnips and fingerlings
As far as the eye can see
The market reminds us
That nothing is timeless
Hydroponic red peppers and mesculun mix

(And I'm not so sure about you this time)

Grand Army Plaza / Prospect Heights / Park Slope
But I'm the wrong side of the museum lights
(Where else can you express the bargain in those terms?)

Hazeleye bursting green
I looked up into them
Washington Avenue but you aren't there

Queen of the peppadaws
Strawberry season
I saw your face in a canvas bag back recycling back weekends of fresh eggs and summer squash

(And I'm not so sure about you this time)

The fountain's covered in ice
The socialists are patrolling the library steps
That car is heading right for me suddenly swerving
(It's just the road baby, you know where the lines are)
And this is only Saturday morning
This is only Saturday morning
Saturday's warning
This is only Saturday morning

Queen of the peppadaws
Dreaming of summer
Flatbush Avenue but it never pays to look ahead, no not that way
Setting up a day against the rest of your life
Attention veering off
Cars in the roundabout
Coming at you
Queen of the peppadaws
I'm not so sure about you this time

Not sure I'm doing it right

Well, okay, no. There's one thing that I know went right this week--I gave the best fucking conference paper of my life on Friday morning. It's not something that would have come about any other way than how it did, and every time I've thought back to it since I'm kind of amazed by it. Just in terms of the convergence of events, how I would never have had enough confidence to give this paper in this way at anywhere other than a grad conference at my own institution--but also, I think, in the sense that I both wrote the paper the day before the conference (in a particularly dismal/socked in exhausted six hours in the department lounge after a dismal and frustrating day of teaching) and that I had been writing it for the last two and a half years, more or less. The frame--autobiographical but not marked as such--was something I decided on the week before, a risk undertaken precisely because of the situation of the conference and feeling like I had nothing to lose. It was related to something I told D. before we met but also to a set of experiences I had last summer and an idea I blog about quite frequently. It turned out to be a disturbingly successful metaphor and frame. (I only wish K could have been there. We'd run into each other in the cafeteria a few days before and managed to have a nice conversation about a number of things, including this idea...but no such luck.)

The last conference I'd been to before this one was the one in Toronto last April, and I was struck by how much I *miss* conferencing without even knowing it. Even when no one says anything wildly earthshattering, it's still inspiring to think alongside new people, to spend an entire day or so thinking mostly about books and ideas. It's mentally regenerative even though it's physically exhausting--and, in this case, physically exhausting on top of the worst cold I've had in three years and one of the most horrible and draggeddown weeks I've had in ages--two of them actually, and I'm not sure next week is going to be any better. (More on that anon.) It was enough to make me think, in this horrible, paradoxical, "oh my god I really am an academic and in this economy that's seriously going to fuck up my life" kind of way, that many of my frustrations of the past few months can be traced to having gone to Wisconsin (where I experienced a lot of lethargy and frustration when I actually did want to think) instead of to MLA.

The conference, though, was wonderful, in spite of the fact that I had pretty much lost my voice by the end of the night. Sometime in the afternoon, D. sent me a piece he'd been working on....something crazy and brilliant that I read through instead of listening fully to the faculty panel. This made me grin, especially since he wants me to give him some feedback. (Also, he wrote me a song, he said, and sent the lyrics.) On the downside, I haven't seen him since we went to Edgar's show two weeks ago, and I'm going out of town on Thursday. This is precisely the sort of thing that makes me all stressy. But I'm realizing, though, that my saying last week that I didn't want to go back to The Poet was important, so I don't have to look to D. to provide a reason not to be with The Poet. I did actually talk to The Poet for awhile on the phone yesterday and got a better sense of what's going on in his head and his life--and all of this rather affirmed the fact that it's best I'm just a friend right now, and that he's using my breaking up with him as a way of thinking around something else that's actually much worse.

The rest of this week pretty much sucked, hardcore. I got everything done that I needed to, but it was miserable, sloggy, frustrating. I was almost in tears all day on Wednesday, feeling jerked around by stupid requests from professors treating me like a secretary rather than a colleague (too many flashbacks to my first job in Chicago), frustrated with my students, exhausted from the performance of engagement, too sick to go to the gym, everyone around me seemed to be dragging me down. I almost didn't go to zazen, though that at least temporarily made me feel better, even though I had to start running again right afterwards. I do not want people telling me that I am supernecessary for one group or another to succeed. If I ask you to do final proofreading on something, I do not want to get the okay to do the final copy and then hear three days later that there are changes that need to be made. And so on. I skipped my monthly field seminar on Wednesday night for the first time since I started grad school, was still in the library until after 7:00 grading papers, and so on, so on. The week before was like this too--just as busy but slightly less miserable--this past week--which was all supposed to be about doing my best to get everything done, suddenly had me on the rack.

The teaching thing is especially frustrating and overwhelming: this is the part where I have to keep telling myself: UR NOT DOING IT RIGHT. Basically, I feel like I'm back in my first semester at Erstwhile Teaching College, where I'm spending insane amounts of time on this thing with absolutely no payoff and then when the lesson plan fails because no one can be bothered to do the reading or, if they've done the reading, to talk about it, things only get more frustrating. I realized that part of the reason why I have an aversion to grading papers is that they seem, unlike drafts or even homework assignments, to be a kind of referendum on my ability as a teacher. Which is completely bullshitty, just not so much that I can believe it's not partially the case. And that, in turn, is clearly not helping my mood. I keep feeling like I'm failing this particular group of students and I don't know what's going wrong. Partially, it's teaching too many things I'm not familiar with, but--still. I think I'm better at first-semester comp than I am at second semester comp. But this, too, seems like it's emanating from self-centered reasons: I feel more secure when I know my students don't have anyone else to compare me to. So I think I get all weird in the spring. (Then again: the first spring semester I ever taught was the semester when I broke up with The Ex and got raked over the emotional coals with The Professor. And last spring I taught the fall version of the class, which made it the easiest semester ever. So perhaps it's time to give myself, and my students, a break.)

Right now the idea is basically to get better and get to spring break. The week is going to be pretty much running uphill. Today is grading, midterm evaluations, and the letter of recommendation for one of my fall students. Tomorrow is prep, hopefully being well enough to go to the gym (I haven't been in over a week and feel tubby--I'm sure this is also one of the reasons why this past week was so unremittingly miserable), getting a few stupid things done at school. Conferences all week, and somehow finding the time to do laundry, pack, maybe buy some cute shoes for spring. And then--down to Charlotte to hang out with one contingent of my extended family. And spring break, which is already being filled in for me, but I have to believe that things will get better after that, that I will eventually stop being sick, that D and I will get many walks through Prospect Park and that things will be okay for a little while.

I hope. Now zazen. Then grading.