and all the while
a great wind is bearing me across the sky.
-- Ojibwa saying
I've been in crisis mode for months. I'm only just now realizing this. When I was talking to Jed last night he asked how I was doing and I said that I hadn't gotten to have my nervous breakdown last May when I wanted to -- there was too much to do -- and that I really thought I ought to get to have one soon. He laughed, and I did too, but I wasn't really kidding.
Munchkins, I've been feeling so overwhelmed for so long. And every time I feel like I have some aspect of my life a little more under control, it becomes clear that something else really needs some attention. In some ways, I haven't felt really at peace for more than a few days since last spring, before all the chaos erupted at Mills. Maybe it's just that I don't really know how not to be a student. I'm a good student. I do my homework, I get decent grades, and I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. These days, it's entirely unclear what I'm supposed to be doing.
That's okay, I think. I was really stressed out last night because I felt like the finances were so bad that I was going to be forced to do tech writing for years and years, whether I liked it or not, and that it would completely cut off any chance of my teaching. And I don't want to lose teaching. But Kevin seems to think that as long as I keep writing and publishing, I ought to be able to come back to teaching when I want to. I hope that's right. I'd hate to be shutting off that option entirely.
I was also, again, feeling way out of my depth in tech writing. But then I took a look at the lecture notes for my class, and read the first two chapters of the textbook -- and you know what? I knew that stuff. There was nothing new to me there. Which makes me think that maybe I'm not as underqualified as I think. Which is deeply reassuring. Maybe the whole purpose of my taking this class is to make me feel more confident about it; it's a bit expensive for a confidence booster, but it does also add a bit of substance to the resume. Jed suggested as much in a letter I read this morning. That helped.
Then I read the first chapters of the O'Reilly C++ book. And okay, we're not doing any actual programming yet, but this book was also comforting. It's clear, it's friendly, it's more accessible than the Kernighan & Ritchie C book (which I still think is in its own way an excellent book, but not when I'm feeling so panicky and out of my depth. Too intimidating). I think I might be able to do this. I'm going to give it a week of really working at it, and then if I think it's still too much, I'm going to drop the class (which I think actually means I don't get my money back, but can transfer it to another, later class, which would be fine. I'm sure there's *something* at UC Berkeley I'd want to take.)
I'm also going to talk to my temp agency about finding me a place with a shorter commute. This is a lovely assignment in every other way -- great people, reasonable work, flexible about my going off for interviews and such. But losing three hours a day to commuting is just too much. If all my homework were reading, I could do it all then, but a lot of it involves being in front of a computer, and I can't afford to buy a new laptop with a working C++ compiler and functional batteries. So that has to get done at home. So I need to ask them to start looking for a more local job so I can cut down my commute time.
Mostly, I was feeling very trapped by my finances. And after talking to people and thinking about things some more, it's become clearer that I have options, and that what I'm doing *is* taking me somewhere, even if I'm not entirely clear on where. I might not be able to do everything at once, but I might actually be able to do everything, given time. Or most of everything, anyway.
I think I need a book with a big friendly sign on the cover saying "Don't Panic!". And a towel.
8:25 p.m.: Clean Sheets is completely up, poetry and all. And the newsletter went out! I read a fair bit of homework on the bus; now it's time to get my system all set up to actually do the work for the classes. And who knows, maybe I'll do a tiny bit of coding tonight.