Life without daily schoolwork is all glitz and glamour, really. Sleeping until noon, having horrifically embarrassing marathons of TV, eating my bodyweight…well, I guess that is the opposite of ‘glamourous’, isn’t it? Then life without daily schoolwork is embarrassing and clogging my arteries.
Since my amazing birthday vacation, ‘flying under the radar’ doesn’t really even come close to explaining how I’ve been spending my time. But in between bouts of hermitting, I have managed to sneak in some pretty neat activities. Part of Jenn’s program involved a ‘work placement’ (I think that I bragged about her’s in a previous post, but am feeling way too lazy to do the research to verify that statement), allowing her the jealousy-envoking opportunity of working at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Yep, THAT cathedral…the really famous one. So, on her last day, she got to give me a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of one of the top destinations in London. The last time I was in St. Paul’s was back in 2008, right before Easter. Instead of paying the astronomical entrance fee, some friends and I decided to attend a service to get a peek at the inside of this beauty for free. We were also persuaded by their twist on Eastertime services, remixing some famous fairytales from our youths into relevant religious messages. Well, as you can imagine, this pissed some people off during ‘Little Red Riding Hood, Christianity Style’ (not the official name); one guy even screamed before being escorted out, ‘Read from the f*&$ing Bible!!!’ SOOO, I was convinced that my 2013 visit would sadly be less dramatic…especially since it would have to be me or Jenn shouting, and I forgot to have coffee that morning and was feeling quite sluggish and nonscreamish.
Not only did Jenn give me a professional tour of the normal scenes, filled with little tidbits one normally hears on an audio guide , but she also took me up to the library and archives of the Cathedral. Then we got to laugh in tourists’ faces as we took the VIP/staff elevator to the Whispering Gallery while they had to schlep up the narrow flight of stairs. Unfortunately, modern technology could only get us up to this point, and we were forced to join the peasants in the climb to the top of the basilica in order to peer out at the beauty of the city. If you love the way London looks at street-level, guaranteed you’ll love it from above so I give this tourist destination two thumbs up for good family fun. Especially when the sun is shining, and the sky is blue; those two things make any activity in London even more magnificent.
I guess now I should define ‘hermitting’, eh? I make a lot of jokes about my anxiety being weird, mostly because it flares up during unusual situations. Your dog just got bit by a rattlesnake in the middle of nowhere, and I have to call a vet on the satellite phone? No big deal, I’ll just call him at home. I potentially have swine flu and have to fake a normal temperature while crossing the Egyptian border? No problem, I’ll channel my inner Meryl Streep and put on a performance of a lifetime before I climb a mountain. I have plans to meet you at a new place in a city I’ve lived in for years? Panic. Central. I will not only leave my house with enough time to get lost, find my way again, and get there 30 minutes early, but I will also have to look up directions from MapQuest, Bing, and GoogleMaps before I leave, and then will run my GPS on my phone during my entire trek. And in the first 5 minutes of this trek, I will panic about the fact that I have left both my inhaler and my allergy medicine at home. Sure, I haven’t had an allergy-related-asthma-attack in a year and a half, but the stress of finding this new location could trigger something at any moment. Maybe I should just go back home…
Normally this is the time of the freakout when I picture one of my favorite Bill Murray characters and laugh at the ridiculousness of myself. But the stress of this year has manifested in strange and obscure ways, and instead of laughing at one of my favorite scenes from ‘What About Bob?’, I start to identify with it: “When I wanna go out, I get weird. … Cold sweats, hot sweats, fever blisters … dead hands, numb lips, fingernail sensitivity … What if my heart stops beating, what if I’m looking for a bathroom and I can’t find it, and my bladder explodes??” (Almost a direct quote…and yes, I used ellipses. I am trying to be an academic, here.) I suppose that once I had fully realized that I had completely finished my coursework for my MA, I realized that I only had one more obstacle in my way until grad school was finished. Which would leave me unemployed, homeless, and having to face the decision of what to do next. I have been so lucky in my life (prior to Decision 2013…which is the moment we’re in now…) that, even when I don’t have a definitive plan in place I feel calm when I think about the next step; things have a funny way of working out, and I’ve never really doubted that. Until lately…because when I think about what I’m doing once I turn in my dissertation, panic immediately takes over and I can feel my throat start to close. I no longer have blind-faith that everything will work out, because I’m afraid that after completing this incredible degree, I’m going to have to move back in with my parents. Not that I don’t love my parents, but moving from London to Rawlins, WY (to me) is not an option. So lately I have been keeping the fingernail sensitivity and exploding bladder at home, and have gone days at a time when I haven’t even looked out a window, let alone left the safe confines of my dorm room. So if I’ve cancelled on you in the past month, I can say this genuinely: it’s not you, it’s me. Unless you suggested something really lame, and then it was totally you. And we probably can’t be friends anymore. Ever been broken up with in a blog post before? Neither have I, and neither have any of my friends…because my friends only put forward amazing shenanigans, and I just felt like being dramatic there…don’t worry-we’re all still dating.
But in good news, Bertha might be back from the dead! I ordered a generic battery for her, and when I took her out and about yesterday, she didn’t throw a single temper tantrum. So included in the slideshow are a couple of photos of campus…you know, since I’ve been here for 9 months, and haven’t included any photos of where I spend my time. My bad. So fingers crossed that a random ‘Hail Mary Pass’ has actually worked! Because I’ve felt like I’ve been missing a limb these past few weeks…
My dissertation is also sloooowly coming alone. Now is the time to throw a shout out to the gloriousness that is my friend Steffi, because she has translated the mother(s) of all sources for me. I had found two testimonies from women survivors who had served as nurses in the psychiatric department in the Theresienstadt ghetto, but they were both in German. And while I like to think that I can fake German with the best of them (Steffi will disagree), I needed an expert. So she literally saved my life by helping me out, and because of these two sources my dissertation might not suck. So let’s take a minute and applaud the awesomeness that is Steffi. No, seriously-move your hands together in a manner that creates a clapping noise. … Thank you 🙂