Thursday, July 06, 2017

That's (slightly) better

Well, apparently my neighbors used up all their very loud stuff Tuesday night. There were a few muffled explosions last night, but they stopped fairly early. So I managed more or less a normal night of sleep. (I still want more, it will be a few days before I feel totally normal again).

I am wondering now if this was some kind of weird allergic thing, or if maybe I did have a tiny virus - I have no appetite this morning and was very circumspect about breakfast (I figure I can knock off early for lunch if need be). I still feel a weird jumpy anxiety which is not good - in some cases, I think having a slightly upset stomach makes me THINK I'm anxious, the two seem to be linked. I keep telling myself "everything is OK" but I'm still not 100%. (No caffeine at lunch, I think, today)

But yeah. I think I need to make a Sherman run tomorrow afternoon - for groceries but also maybe for fun of some sort (go to one of the antique shops, maybe?) One of the dangers of summer for me is that I'm alone too much - as much as I gripe about the weekly faculty meetings, or That Colleague who buttonholes one in the hall to deliver their latest complaint about the system or humblebrag - those things do serve an important purpose of getting me out of my own head. Right now, most everyone is away - the faculty that don't teach summers are either (a) out on fieldwork (b) on vacation somewhere (c) staying home with their kids. There are two people teaching but they mostly just come in for that (and they aren't my closest colleagues, both in terms of office-proximity and shared interests). So some days the only people I see are the secretary, a brief glimpse of the guy teaching Anatomy, and maybe a brief glimpse of my chair as she runs between meetings.

And I know much is made about how we should avoid being in an "echo chamber" online (and elsewhere), where the only opinions we hear mirror our own, and that that may be a contributing factor in the divisiveness we see - if you only hear your own viewpoint it's that much easier to think the other one is crazy, wrong, or evil.

But what's even worse is the echo chamber inside your own head. Maybe for some people that's an endless source of affirmation and it's what allows the rest of us to groan about the Dunning-Kruger effect, but for people like me, the echo chamber in my head is more often engaged in:
- telling me I'm not good enough at what I'm doing
- latching on to some little thing and blowing it enormously out of proportion, and then poking at me about that thing ("That little ache in your side? It's not that you pulled a muscle at all; it's your kidney failing. You probably have some horrible disease that will require incredibly painful and scary surgery")
- poking me about some thing unrelated to what I'm doing, and telling me I really should be doing that instead. (One of the problems I have with getting papers done is "Just one more article" syndrome - that there's some super-important article I'm overlooking, and I will look like a fool if I don't include it. Never mind that (a) my searching ability is pretty darn good, so I find most important articles and (b) that often when an editor tells you 'this article is really important' it means either "I wrote it" or "my student wrote it" or "a good friend of mine wrote it" and they want more citations.

Even if it's not trying actively to sabotage me, my brain sometimes does stuff like, as I'm trying to read an article, going "PONIES PONIES PONIES PONIES" or goes "You know what would be a good idea? Making a pattern for a pair of socks with some obscure biological phenomenon as either a lace or colorwork pattern" and that side tracks me.

Pomodoros have helped, in the sense of I can tell my brain "Shut up, what we're working on isn't FOREVER, in 25 minutes or less you can take a break" but yeah, that long slog of working alone isn't so good for me. I do get a little break a couple days a week when my research student shows up, but the rest of the time it's too quiet and my brain tries to fill the quiet.

But yeah. This just tells me that if or when I do retire, I will need to find some volunteer work or a secondary career so I'm not sitting in my house obsessing about WHATEVER. Or maybe I do need to consider moving somewhere with a downtown that has more stuff going on, and so therefore it makes sense to go there every day (even if just to get a cup of tea at a restaurant and people-watch). (What I would love? Some kind of a drop-in art center where you could bring projects, or where they had stuff like potters' wheels and kilns that you could rent time in, and classes, and that sort of thing.)

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