It's been over a decade since I first joined GA, though I've been mostly absent for a few years now, and past versions of me that were mad at other past versions of me erased a lot of what I/we/they posted here. Part of me is sad, because I'm sure I could've wrung a lot of nostalgia out of some of what I deleted, but part of me is also glad, because I'm sure there would have been a lot to cringe over anyway.
So: hello again, those of you who remember me, and hello also to the wee little neophytes who don't.
I'll cut to the chase, since I don't have much time to write. I've always tended to participate on GA most when I'm dissatisfied with my life and actively trying to change it. I won't list the past reasons, and I'll only skim the surface of the present ones below, but it'll suffice to say that at the moment the two main requisites for my coming back here are true: 1) my life is in many aspects in need of correction and 2) I have the time and opportunity to do something about it.
I suppose I'm unfair to this website. I use it when I need it and then disappear when the sun comes out again.
Last time I blogged I still lived in Ohio, and was documenting year after year of my slow process of clawing myself into a PhD program, and at last, it's happened! I live in California now, and attend quite a shiny university, which will hopefully lead me to getting a job, somehow, somewhere, ranting about literature.
But oh, how things have gone astray! Honestly, I really think I only need to make several minor corrections at once, but they kind of need to happen all at once, so it'll feel stressful:
1) In a real Faustian move, the alcohol problem I developed in response to the stresses of working full time while studying and researching my ass off at night to get into this program has persisted as I started the program and is now actively sabotaging me. I detoxed once late last summer, staying sober for a solid two months, but then this and that went wrong, and as soon as I started drinking again, it's like my body starting wanting to reclaim every single drink I had denied it for that entire two months. I had lost ten pounds from quitting alcohol, and immediately gained it all back, plus two or three more. I hate feeling overweight; I grew up pretty skinny and athletic so when my body's not in good shape, I simply don't identify with it. It feels like I'm wearing a fat suit I can't unzip. (I weigh 175-180 and I'm 5'10, so I'm not like massive or anything, just squishy enough to lower my confidence, kill my libido, and make me constantly poke my sides and stomach). I'm detoxing again next Thursday (I have to wait until I get benzo pills so I don't get withdraw-y), so hopefully I'll beat this finally, or at least beat it for longer, this time.
2) I seem to have lost direction when I hit the PhD program. For my BA and MA, I got by just being really good at writing essays about literature. Now, everyone in the department has like a solid identity: they specialize in radical Marxist ecology or queer readings of 19th-century maritime literature or what-have-you, but I don't give a shit about the Anthropocene and I think Moby-Dick really is just an unfortunate name and nothing more, so I have nothing to say to some of these people. The truth is that I was always secretly a literature student just because I wanted to write novels myself, and I used the English degrees as a sort of private creative writing program (because actual creative writing programs are for suckers and hacks), but now that I have to shape myself as an academic and get a hyper-specific, boner-deflatingly esoteric focus, I'm struggling. I do have options though--I think I'll get into translation theory and pile on some foreign languages like I've always wanted to--but I still have the sense of needing to play catch-up, even though I had thought the whole process of getting accepted here was the catch-up game, and that at last it would be comparatively smooth sailing.
3) If you have misgivings about your relationship every day, is it a solid indicator you should start charting a way out of it? My boyfriend and I live together, and sometimes I feel that I really do love him, but often I wonder how much he holds me back. This is a whole entry in itself, so I'm going to deal with it at length another time. I'll content myself with saying that I don't think we're really that sexually compatible, so the only things holding me back from going on a wild sex rampage are a) not being crazy about my body at the moment and the unfortunately long half-lives of my self-control and loyalty.
4) Lately I'm tired all the time. I remember years ago the very idea of a story I wanted to write or a song I wanted to learn on the piano used to keep me up until the early hours, but for the past few years it just feels like all the things I used to get so excited about just don't do it for me anymore. I'm hoping this is related to the alcohol and not so much to age, so that once I quit again, the old drives come back. I miss being a creative, expressive person. My blogs, I'm sure, were definitely more fun to read back then.
I guess for the next few months I'll try to focus on those big four: sobriety, career, sex and, uh, sprightliness. I really, and perhaps naively, hope that fixing the first problem kind of sets into play a chain reaction that fixes the rest.
But enough with the complaining.
I'm hoping to make myself blog once a week or so, because I'll feel obligated to live my life in a way that lets me report progress to a bunch of anonymous or semi-onymous strangers. I want to say that even when things improve I'll stick around and be a nice, active, contributing member of the forums, but... perhaps it's not so terrible for there to be a place where people can go and get support when they're low, and then kind of graduate out and move on once things are better again.
I think that's how a bunch of institutions are designed to work, anyway.