I know people from Mills…

I know people from Mills who are pretty scornful of the kind of poetry that shows up on the subways/buses these days. And I can understand that, a little, since it tends to be rather sound-bite-ish in style; necessarily so, perhaps. But I still like it. I saw this one today:

Sometimes I go about in pity for myself,
and all the while
a great wind is bearing me across the sky.

-- Ojibwa saying

Boy, was I feeling sorry for myself last night. I didn't get to sleep when I said I would. I lay in bed for an hour trying to sleep and thinking about work and money and Clean Sheets and money and writing time and money. Finally got up and called Kevin. He helped me put some of this in perspective. Had a little hot chocolate and called Jed. He also helped calm me down. Worked a tiny bit more (putting up the music review), and then went to sleep. Overslept, so that I only had time to do Heather's article this morning, and will need to do the poem when I get home, but felt much better after those conversations.

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.

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