I’ve started two or three posts in the last week, but either got bored with myself or the post or thought it was too lame, too boring, unimportant, whatever.
Clearly I’m back to being in a funk. Why not? I turned another year older on Monday; it’s the holidays and people get down during the holidays (which incidentally I love in general usually, btw, I know; it’s cliche’, but I like the idea of Christmas and the holidays); and it’s cold and windy and miserable outside. And while I’m always grateful and happy to have the semester over, really, that’s what makes me depressed because I sit back, realize 14 weeks have gone by and that I’ve accomplished nothing, am usually worse off physically than when I started the semester, and that I have to start all over again in January.
This post is really about two things: body/"me" issues (as always!) and fear of being a fraud. And I think since my birthday is always at the end of the semester, both things are amplified for me as usual.
First I’ll get all my body woes out of the way. The J is back. My stress level should have been down. I quit taking the pill. I should have been able to be dropping weight more easily than last year. The problem is, and you will laugh, is that I cut my hair. It’s true that whenever I cut my hair short, I gain 20 pounds. Why? Because for some reason I keep thinking I’ll look cute with short hair. People generally agree that I do; however, it is never what I expect, and as a result, I spend months feeling terrible about myself, not liking how I look, hating what I see in the mirror in the morning, frustrated with the lack of options to make my hair look different–all this leads to me feeling bad about myself which leads to poor eating, lack of motivation (why bother, right? I look terrible, so what’s the point?), and a whole huge cycle of bad things. Why do I keep doing it? Each time I think it will be different. Isn’t that the definition of stupidity? Doing the same thing over and over and knowing the result but thinking or hoping the result will be different. Like I keep trying to get 2 + 2 to equal 5. So that’s that first issue. I guess the solution is if I want a change, change hair color and try a different style that doesn’t mean a dramatic change in length and don’t cut above the chin. Lesson learned? I hope so. I’m too old for this and my body is getting too old for this yo-yo crap. Of course this affects my teaching as well because I’m not motivated because I’m mopey and I save everything to the last minute adding to my stress and feeling bad about myself, etc….
Feeling bad about myself makes me not want to train. Not training makes me feel bad about myself. My diet is a wreck. And since The J can eat whatever he wants and work out only twice a week, it’s a ultra challenge for me. And my poor trainer is being really helpful and supportive and kind. So we’re trying a different way of working out which involves me getting to the gym on my own about three times a week, once with her, because good lord, I can’t come back from the holidays with holiday weight gain.
And since I’m heavier than when I ran the marathon in October (yikes!) things are starting to hurt and I’m getting close to injuries (I’ve had a couple of strains and way more soreness than last time). Cardiovascularly I rock. But not getting this weight off is going to start to negatively affect my ability to continue running in the manner I’d like because of congenital knee and hip issues. Frustration and laziness are my biggest enemies right now. Oh, and the ever looming lack of commitment (because why commit to something if I’m gross and worthless anyway). So on my bday, I joined WW which I had toyed with before, but I already had a service where I recorded and kept track of my food, and those of you who I know out there who have done are really rocking with it and seem to love it, so I set up my online thing because what I like about it is that it keeps me from feeling guilty which keeps me from reverting into bad habits. We’ll see how that goes.
So that’s me in a nutshell right now. Time for my biannual self evaluation where I try to (re)commit to something. Try to (re)evaluate things in my life, etc. I’m sure there’s more where this is coming from because I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I need to make some serious career and life goals, and I really need to think about what that’s going to look like.
Academically–the end of the semester especially makes me feel more like a fraud than any other time of the year, especially now that I’m teaching the intro to the major class. My biggest fear is for my students in this class to get into my chair’s classes and he be like, "she taught you WHAT?? You didn’t learn THAT?? What is she doing in there?????" And then all is revealed–I’m a sham; I suck; fire her! (Of course today I have like a pre-review meeting in anticipation of the February review of my annual review–look as long as I get nothing from the school next Wednesday, I’m still employed for the following year). Granted, I think my teaching has gotten better this semester than it was last year. I have learned without a doubt that I just shouldn’t teach freshman, and since I do the writing classes scheduling, I can avoid this for myself. I just can’t engage them here. I know part of the problem is that I can’t teach an 85 minute writing class. Even giving them writing exercises in class or time to write their essays in class while I’m there, it doesn’t work for me. I have a lot to figure out for how to teach 101 still. I can fix some of this I think with 102 next semester, but I just do not do well with them. I did better this year, but this semester with them was a mess (although a positive mess), and seriously had it not been for that group of boys who have a crush and were eager to participate, class discussions would have been miserable. So I’ve really got to rethink some stuff again for next semester, which is good, I should be, but it just reinforces my feelings that I just don’t know what I’m doing at all. And if I don’t know what I’m doing, then are my students learning anything? Are they learning what they should? Granted I know I can’t force them to learn, and I don’t really know how to counter student apathy. The thing I’ve improved upon is not taking any of this personally anymore. It’s not about me or whether they like me (although it helps that they don’t seem to hate me this semester), so I’ve gotten better with dealing with that. But still.
Also, I still haven’t done anything about coming up with a research plan/idea. I want to submit something to major conference in my field–I could try to revamp the talk I gave in October at school into something worthwhile and make a fancy abstract out of it and try that, and that’s due next Wednesday (all the other ones are much later). But then I really want to do something for another panel, but I didn’t do anything yet with the conference paper from last year, but I have ideas for larger things that last year’s paper would be a part of and would want to expand on it for this year’s paper, but sigh. My brain is dry. The well is pumped out. I have no ideas again probably because I don’t read anything other than what I’m teaching, and I think my teaching is starting to suffer because I’m not reading anything else. This is why I think I was a better teacher as a grad student–because I was reading all the time for things other than the texts I was teaching so I had ideas all the time. Now, I’m just stale like old bread. I’m not moldy yet, but I’m stale. I’ve got to get fresh again, and I’ve got to figure out how to do that.
On an unrelated note, only because it still bothers me some, The J said that I have a very mild form of PTSD after seeing the guy die at the gym. I won’t run near the treadmill where it happened. And the bikes are in front of that treadmill, and one of them is very noisy and when people’s feet hit, it sounds like a thud. When I’m on the bike, I’m constantly turning around at the thud checking on the person to see if s/he’s fallen. I’ve seen the dead man twice. Rather, I’ve seen two men who look like him, or I think they look like him that even knowing the man is dead, I’ve done double takes and stopped and stared at them just to be sure. One was on the treadmill. That really freaked me out. I had to stop and catch my breath when I saw him. The other time was at the grocery. And I’ve noticed that I focus on certain people at the gym sometimes–I keep checking on them making sure they’re okay. One guy was doing some serious Cross-Fit stuff that made me really nervous–I was so nervous about him hurting himself that I couldn’t concentrate on my work out (which I think resulted in a muscle strain on my part because I was really anxious and not paying attention to my own form). And now my mom might have to have heart surgery because she’s got this little leak that affects her breathing and she’s freaked out and I am too, but trying not to let her know that I’m freaked out, and I’ve been having all these anxiety things lately which are made worse by a little cold. At least all I have to do is just show up and collect things from two of my classes the next two days (nice easy rest of the week for me), and Monday is my last teaching day (picking up stuff/housekeeping stuff next week) and then I’m done. Thankfully I’ve got that going for me. And now I guess it’s time to get ready for the gym.