I had a small meltdown…

I had a small meltdown last night.

I'm still in California; I had planned to go back Sunday, but changed my ticket to Monday. Jed came up yesterday and we took Nalo to breakfast; then I went downtown to work (finished reading Lolita and came up with a thesis for my paper, but didn't write anything), see Sherman briefly, and meet with Heather to go over her Clarion application story, while Jed was at the SFY workshop. (I was tempted to go, but I had other things to do and hadn't read the stories to be critiqued anyway). He came to get me around 4:30 or so, and then we went to stop briefly at a going-away part for a friend of his. I'm not sure how, but it ended up being about 8 p.m. by the time we got back down to the South Bay (we really did spend only half an hour or so at the party, so I really don't know where the time went -- very strange). And on the drive down, as I thought about all the work I had left to do (one paper to write for class; one story to revise; one paper to write for ICFA; one history book to read by Monday!) and how little time I had left to do it, and that I had to go back to Salt Lake City...I just got more and more stressed, until I was coming pretty darn close to a panic attack.

I started making Jed sing to me about halfway down the peninsula. He has a deep bass voice, which always startles me a little, but I find it comforting. When we got back to his place, I felt paralyzed; I had so much work, and I couldn't figure out what exactly to do. And then when he said something or other sympathetic, I just started bawling.

So he sat me down on the couch, and held me, and we talked for a little bit, until I'd calmed down and he understood why I was in such a mess. It's wasn't even the amount of work, actually. I'm not sure I can pull it all apart, but I think it was the work + Utah + leaving all the lovely Bay Area people, including the ones I just met (Tim Cooper, Tim Pratt, Marissa, Mark, Daniel, etc...) + being trapped in Utah for years to come + not seeing Kevin because he's so busy + not being able to just turn off my mind and enjoy Spring Break + the pure fact of getting stressed at all.

See -- I have this goal. While I was dating Kevin at Chicago (me an undergrad, him a grad), I saw a lot of grad students go through the mill. They fell apart. They had nervous breakdowns. They dropped out of their programs. They had explosive fights with their sweeties. They had incredible crises of faith in themselves. And I just didn't want to do that. I'm 29, not 19 (mathematicians start young), and I wanted to do graduate school not just well, but with grace. Maybe it's a futile goal. Maybe I just set myself up for failure when I demand that not only should I do everything and do it well, but that I have fun and be reasonably relaxed while doing it. Maybe everybody's right when they tell me that I do too much.

But I don't want to give any of it up. I'm stubborn that way. I want to do grad school well, and Strange Horizons well, and Bodies of Water well this summer, and keep progressing on my own writing (which, thankfully, is part of grad school), and maintain my friendships, and keep answering all the e-mail I get, and somehow put enough time into both of my romantic relationships that I stay sane (because the boys manage just fine when I don't call them for a while; it's me that starts falling apart). And I think the price of doing all this well may be some periods of intense stress and falling apart. Maybe.

Jed eventually set up my computer and logged me in. He sat on the floor next to me while I dealt with some ICFA stuff that I had to handle. He made me chamomile tea. He told me I'd be fine, and that I didn't have to stay in Utah if I didn't want to. (Which was good to hear, even if I'm damn well not going to let a stupid state defeat me). He spent an hour going through online magazines for me, helping me get my notes in order for my ICFA presentation. He convinced me to reschedule the meeting with my history professor, since there was essentially no chance of my reading the books I'd planned to read. He went over my schedule for the next two days with me, reminding me of things I'd forgotten. He fed me cheese and crackers at 11:30 p.m., and pointed me to an essay by Gardner that I should skim for my notes. He set up my computer in the dining room so I could work this morning. He tucked me in and held me until I fell asleep. He had lots of work to do himself, that he put on hold in order to take care of me. Have I mentioned that I am exceedingly fond of my Jedediah?

I'm okay now, and I think I can make it through the next week. I go back this afternoon, and am only there for less than 48 hours before I get on another plane and go to ICFA for six days. Then I come back and have one more month of school, culminating in a big paper that scares me a little but that I think I can handle. And then I get three months off, when all I have to do is put Bodies of Water together and work on my writing and not be in Utah. :-) Oh, and keep running the magazine, but really, everyone else does all the work; I just supervise and tell people how great it is. And go to WisCon. Anway...

I may not make it through with as much grace as I would like.

I'm not giving up.

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