This has been a very rough week. The days start too early, and end too late. Usually in the wee hours of the next morning, actually, and that only because I finally reach the point where I can't stay awake a moment longer. This is the last week of classes, meaning that on top of a nightmarish amount of grading, there are also meetings, receptions, luncheons, defenses, and presentation sessions. All of which are vitally important, especially to someone at a delicate juncture in her career.
It hasn't all been bad. I got some insider intel that was reassuring about the current state of my professional life, although it hasn't done much to stem the tide of consuming dread (see above). Last night, I saw Jonathan Richman perform--highly recommended if you love seeing pure joy and honesty onstage, with a liberal dose of smart humor. He even sang part of a song in idiomatic Italian, which was a fun surprise. Also: great beats for dancing. Dancing lets me get out of my head (which needs a good airing out, lately, as it's getting quite stuffy in here). It connects me to myself, like rewiring circuits that have become a little frayed. That makes it therapeutic like few other things, for me. Less so, however, when interrupted at frequent irregular intervals by frantic emails from students about their final projects. But, still better than sitting at home, episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids Edition" providing a low background drone as I stare at a screen reading page after page of student writing and entering numbers into a course management system.
Even beyond the nervous thrumthrum of late-semester angst and overwhelm, these days I am experiencing something very close to pure chaos. Nearly every aspect of my life is utterly uncertain, the answer to every question about my future a deer-in-headlights stare, every to-do item a quick blip across the screen that I may or may not manage to grab before it's too late. I'm disconnected from my social circles; if I speak to my friends, it's almost exclusively in quickfire exchanges of texts or Facebook messages or emails, with long gaps in conversation that feed a social anxiety monster in the pit of my stomach, especially late at night.
The sum of all this is a sense of isolation and numbingly endless repetition of dull activities, shrouded in doom, although I can easily point to specific positive moments when I stop to think about it. Even with the realization that the lack of sleep and meaningful human contact are probably the main culprits here, it's... a strange feeling. With a slightly metallic aftertaste that I'm pretty sure is fear.
I feel like I'm perched on the edge of the abyss with one foot already in midair, like the classic tarot image of The Fool but without, as far as I can tell, a helpful pup nipping at my heels to warn me before I go plummeting over.
At the moment, if I were the wagering kind, I wouldn't bet on my odds of staying on terra firma. Hopefully, a good night's rest and a night out with friends will cure that. I'm just not sure when I'll be able to make that happen.