Thump and grind
I knew that returning to my regularly scheduled life would be... difficult.
After the unreal tournament of these past few weeks, it was bound to be something
of a shock to drift back into the daily drudgery.
"Drift" is not quite the right verb, here. Crashed to earth with a resounding "thump!" is more like it.
Pantyhose. Computerized distribution and warehousing procedures. Circuit breakers. Industrial swivel castors. Still to come: steel presses, welding machinery, and (tiny sliver of light) Pompeii. (Downside: still haven't been there.) Stop me when it gets too exciting for you.
It has been a long, grinding week enhanced by a torrent of wildly unhappy
hormones. The result has not been so much a return to normalcy, more of a
dip into the grim underworld. The world where I work long hours but never
manage to earn enough money to pay taxes (which would in theory be impossible...
except that Italy has a unique appreciation of the paradox as fiscal art form).
The world where my clothes all feel tight, but I still want to bake cookies
and binge on ice cream. The world where every day is exactly like the day
before, and the only thing that changes is what's on TV every night.
The world where no one gives a damn what I think, or how I've linked certain theories, or how I plan to go about introducing new methods and outlooks. The important thing is how quickly (and cheaply) I am able to turn other people's information into somewhat readable English.
But. There is hope hidden behind the hormones. I'm trying to come up with a plan for jumping off the hamster wheel. The problem is the same as always: by the end of the day, I am so mentally and sometimes physically exhausted from the strain of being a conduit between worlds that I'm too drained to do anything productive. Still, instead of vegetating, I'm doing my best to devise a strategy for carrying on with my research and academic work, round up some clients of my own, work with Mario and the Gang to put together bigger and better projects that should lift me out of this rut. It's just that, right now, I'm so very tired.
I had all kinds of plans for Life After Thesis. The idea was to fill all those hours I used to spend hunched over the laptop or books or journal articles, scribbling frantically or staring off into space in the vague search for inspiration. I certainly haven't given up on these plans, but of course my life hasn't magically become a world of fun and leisure. For the record, here are a few of the things on my list:
- Learn Russian. I've begun this various times in the past, but I've
never gone very far. It's not an easy language to study alone. But I do
have a few resources, and I actually started this before we left. I haven't
quite picked it up again since we got back, though. However, I can say "My
brother is a doctor" and "My sister is a journalist" rather
passably. So my traditional claim that I am only able to lie in Russian
- Study viola. It may surprise people that I used to be (a very very
long time ago) quite a musical sort of person. I studied every instrument
I could get my hands on, and while I was no prodigy, I took to most of them
well enough. There was a point at which I could sorta-kinda play 12 instruments.
I was about eleven years old at the time. It's hard to pick a favorite,
because each instrument has such a unique feel to it... and there's another
entry waiting there, so I won't take that thought any farther. Anyway, one
instrument that I always regretted not spending more time on was the viola,
and I'd like to take it up again. Of course, first I need to obtain the
instrument itself, and then I need to look into lessons.
- Get a puppy. This has been on my list for a very long time, but
it's such a major commitment that the timing needs to be carefully considered.
I obviously couldn't even think about it while deep in Thesis Mode, but
I exacted a promise from Dario ages ago that a puppy (this
kind of puppy) would be my graduation present. However, that's going
to have to wait another year or so: first, so we can have a bit of a rest
before diving into the exhausting world of raising a new pup. We need to
get our lives into some sort of order before taking on that kind of commitment.
Second, it would be nice if we could actually, you know, afford to have
another mouth to feed (and train) around here.
- Do, um, something. Something physical, I mean. I feel an actual need to get my body moving. Years ago (er, ten years ago, to be exact) I did ju-jitsu for a while, and I absolutely loved it. I especially loved that the atmosphere was not laughably hyperserious, as it often is in martial arts environments. People worked hard at the sport, but weren't overly caught up in the trappings. I quit only because the place was so far away, but now it's available right here in beautiful downtown not-quite-Bologna. Ideally, I'd combine that with a little strength training (i.e., basic gym stuff), but who am I kidding? I'll never be one of Charlie's Angels. Sob.
The full list is (quite a bit) longer, but that gives a pretty good idea.
Of course, in addition to all of the extracurricular activities, the plan
was to cook tasty yet healthy meals, spend lots of quality time with friends
and family, the occasional rainy afternoon curled up on the couch with a good
book, take day trips and weekends to discover the embarrassing wealth of cool
spots that are everywhere in this country, within easy reach, and which we
have sadly neglected. The sort of thing I haven't had time for in eons.
Basically, you see, the plan for Life After Thesis was to suddenly find myself living in a television commercial.
Against those kinds of expectations, I guess it's no surprise I've been feeling
the pain of the thump and grind. But just you wait: once I shake these hormones,
and get organized, I'll be doing it all. Really I will.
I'm setting myself up again, aren't I? I guess I never really learn. Still, I have to keep trying, because it's the only way I know. I'm so un-Zen, it's almost scary.