The Definition of Insanity

More and more, I find my mind returning to the possibility of graduate school. It’s foolish. It’s hopeless. My time there is done.

But what if I could figure out a way to apply Power Transition Theory to domestic political violence? What if I could get funding? What if I could enroll in a program that fit me better?

No. It’s absurd. It will never work. Shouldn’t waste time thing about it.

But what if…?


Looking Forward, Looking Back

2011 was the worst year I’ve ever had. It seems cliche and self-pitying to recap the reasons why. For the past week I’ve been wrestling with how to write my year end roundup, to meet my obligation to be touching and profound at the turn of the year. Fuck it, I can’t. I’m just so tired. Tired of everything. Tired of the titantic struggles that marked my last three years: get into grad school, get a Master’s, survive being homeless, transition.

So this next year is one of modest ambitions. No big picture shit. No major life achivements. The goal of 2012 is to clean up the wreckage. I’ve finished tying off the bloody stump of my academic ambitions, and settled into a comfortably dead end job. Now I’m giong to learn how to keep my apartment clean. Learn how to cook at home five nights a week. Change my name. Get some new clothes. Little things. I don’t think I could survive another string of failures like the one I had between 2009 and 2011.

I need to be healthy, and to be healthy I need to get my life under control. I want that to be second nature. In my darker moments, I wonder if it ever can be. There are people who work here at the call center who have been doing this for ten or fifteen years. I’m scared of ending up like them. I’m terrified to think that even that might be too much to dream of.

Despite it all, I still harbor a great deal of ambition. I want to go places, and do things. I want to be someone who matters to the world. Even just a small part of it. I want to be more than a drone on the help line. But those are dreams for next year. First I have to conquer being a drone.

Falling Down Again

So it turns out that spending a year being homeless and on the edge of suicide isn’t an effective therapy mode. I know, I was shocked too, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one. On Wednesday, I went in to meet with two of my professors in their office hours. The first meeting went well; I updated/reminded my adviser where I was in the process, got some clarity about how to proceed with the rest of the quarter.

Then I had a nervous breakdown. A full scale sobbing, keening, wailing, slamming-my-head-into-the-wall-over-and-over-again breakdown, right there in the bathroom. I ended up curled up in the corner of the large handicap stall, doing my best to fit in some quality hyperventilation with the sobbing. Somebody comes into the bathroom and I shut up, hold my breath, watch the feet walk to the urinal and hope they don’t know I’m here. Standing in front of the mirror a few minutes later, I practice looking like I’m not a shattered wreck of a person and hey, it looks pretty good. It lasts until about four minutes into the meeting with my second professor, where I admit that I wasn’t able to do the work I said I would, and begin sobbing right there in front of him. He suggests that I should consider pulling out of my classes and focusing on getting healthy before I try graduate school again. He’s right. I can’t do this yet. My relief is unspeakable.

An hour later I find myself standing in line with a pair jumbo pot noodles (low quality carbohydrates, it’s what’s for dinner) thinking What does it say about me that I feel best about myself when I’m running away?

Now I’m not inclined to believe in God sending me signs, but I am inclined to believe that the Universe revolves around me, so when later that day Portland got hit with two inches of rain and hail in the space of an hour and a half, I figured that of course it was some kind of cosmic reflection of my state of mind. I felt wonderful and terrible. I hadn’t really wanted to go back to school, but it had seemed like the thing to do. Get back on the horse, and all that shit. I loved my class, it was the first truly exciting intellectual experience I’d had in years, but I hated and feared my workload. This post isn’t maudlin enough yet, so I’ll go ahead and say it: it was like the rain washed away my anxiety, while reflecting my grief at my defeat. (Yes! High score! Nobody does overwrought like a tranny. Nobody.)
On Thursday, I went back to school to drop my classes. It was the right thing to do. I wanted to do it. And when I got to the page in the web portal that drops classes, I couldn’t bring myself to do it for a half hour. I came home, truly sad and feeling deflated. The enormity of what I’d done, of giving up, pressing me down.

There was a box on my doorstep. My friends had mailed me a blender. When I finished wandering around my apartment, laughing and sobbing deliriously, I made myself a smoothie.

I have the best friends.

So Transitioning Isn’t Going to Solve All My Problems After All

“Laying awake at night.” That’s what they call it. When the world is still and your mind races. The blank screen of your bedroom ceiling now flickers with the dim, shuttery pictures of your own exquisite horror film. Tomorrow’s problems and today’s regrets loom. Desperate plans and hopeless fantasies war, and goddamnit there is work tomorrow get to sleep or you’ll never make it to the end of the shift. Safe in bed and yet falling, falling…

I owe all of my money. By the time my next paycheck rolls around, I will have had to make a choice between being late on my student loan payments, or not eating. Today I had to take a chunk out of my food budget to buy a towel so I can take baths; I can’t afford showers because I can’t afford a shower curtain. I think to myself, why did I buy that stupid fucking hat? It was overpriced, and the damn thing ripped the second day I had it. But the hat is just an emblem of my problem: I am sick and fucking tired of living like a pauper, and sometimes I forget that I still am one. I want to buy a blender so I can make fruit smoothies for breakfast, a healthier and hopefully cheaper alternative to hitting up a fast  food joint on the way to work. I can’t afford a blender. I can’t afford food, literally cannot afford it, if I want to pay my bills on time. It’s because earlier this week I blew a hundred bucks on senseless luxuries like a pan to cook things in, and a spatula with which to cook. And that fucking hat.

Not being satisfied with shooting myself in one foot, I find myself taking careful aim at the other. I’ve got a graduate class I’m taking. There’s a lot of reading, but it’s manageable. Then I’ve also got two other classes I’m trying to clean up from last quarter, classes I catastrophically fucked up because of my endless endless self-sabotage. My shrink called it an adjustment disorder. My mom called it dawdling. They’re both right. And now I feel it happening again, because I spent 10 bucks today–remember that affording food is something I only aspire to–on a book that I’m going to want to read way more than about the European Union. I’ve got a paper outline due next week about the disconnect between accountability and obligation of the member-states of the EU, and I don’t even know what the governing structures of the EU are. All I have to say on the subject is that somebody, somewhere fucked up. This paper is for one of the best, but most demanding, professors in the department. On top of that, I’m taking a course for the other best-most-demanding professor in the department. I know these men won’t cut me slack, and that even if they did, I wouldn’t respect the degree I earned from it. It’s a struggle to get myself to focus on my work, even the parts of it I enjoy. I’ve got Impostor Syndrome so bad I can’t even bring myself to decently fail.

And so I stay awake to the thrumming realization, an epiphany exploding over and over again, that I’m still trying to kill myself, but now I’m just taking my time about it. It’s a good thing I don’t own a gun.