“Mom!” I said insistently from my perch in the passenger seat. I think I was in 6th grade – 7th perhaps. And my dear mother had said something so horrible – so unimaginable – that I was compelled to argue with the utmost passion.
“They will never break up! They’ll always be popular! You don’t understand at all.” I finished by shaking my head sadly at her inability to comprehend the culture of our society.
She laughed easily and patted my arm. “Princess, nothing stays the same for too long.” Watching me roll my eyes, she shook her head. “OK, fine.” She continued. “You believe whatever you want, and we’ll talk about it later. We’ll see who’s right.”
To this day, she will raise the pitch of her voice a little bit and tease. “They’ll always be popular!” She mocks, and while I try for indignant, I end up being more amused. We giggle together. That’s actually one thing that’s stayed relatively constant over the years.
As the heat continues and the folks at work tell me it will only grow worse (How?! I ask. I already avoid going outside between 8AM-7PM! What more does this region want from me?!), I find myself walking to meetings through the miserable temperatures then pausing when I enter buildings. I’m pink from the heat, and sweating a bit – neither of which is part of the professional persona I wish to project. So I find a spot out of the way and just stand for a moment – get a drink, find a restroom to freshen my lip gloss and dab at my forehead. I’ve developed the habit of irritably informing my body it should “adjust already!” Cool down, level out, return to its normal color. It’s a very rare room where I can’t acclimate to the temperature, but those moments before the shift into comfort occurs are unpleasant. I feel overly warm, and out of place among the comfortable people who have been in this environment for longer than I.
The ability of people to adapt fascinates me. Always has. We’re capable of dealing with great pain and intense joy, yet somehow are able to fit in a routine. Go to work. Shop for groceries. Walk the dog. Talk to friends. Write a blog. There’s some sense of normalcy – a feeling that this is how life is going to be for the next little while. So I adjust. Wake up and know that I need to head out the front door with the dog pretty quickly or I’ll lose the motivation to wander the neighborhood. I should drink coffee soon after waking or the temptation to head back to bed becomes overwhelming. The chances of making it to the office diminish rapidly if I haven’t left by 9:30. If I don’t get some idea for dinner during the day, I might not eat. Likewise, if an idea for a post doesn’t happen, I’m likely to write garbage.
Those general rules – they help me understand myself. Once I know that mornings determine how the remainder of my day will play out, I’m careful with how I spent the first 2 hours I’m awake. I think that if I took a break from blogging, I wouldn’t come back. So I try to write every day. I believe that I – in some sense – get what I deserve. That if I’m predominantly kind and honest, good things will happen. So I bite back irritation, smile and engage in conversation when I’d rather be left alone, offer to help on projects where assistance is needed.
So why the initial story with Mom in the car? Because I think I’m spending too much time trying to adapt to a given instant in a constantly changing environment. Nothing stays the same for too long - Mom was right. My life has been spent in the academic world, and the nature of that world – at my level, anyway – is that people come and go. Move around, learning at each stop, then picking up to go meet new people who do your types of projects differently. So becoming too comfortable dealing with one particular collaborator isn’t overly efficient. I try to generalize concepts – understand that dealing with Dr. X teaches me to be more patient, while dealings with Dr. Y give me a new understanding of how to react to someone who’s overwhelmingly condescending and mean.
I think there’s likely a balance – though I’m never good at finding it – between becoming comfortable and effective in my surroundings, yet open to continued change. Letting people and situations evolve and giving myself the time to stand in the corner and acclimate to the changes. Instead I fight it – refuse to accept it until it’s clear there’s no alternative, then struggle to make it fit in my mind.
That’s not very clear, is it? This is why I talk to you in examples – it makes more sense. OK. This blog. I started out alone, which was good, and people started reading about the time I was getting antsy for them to do so. That was really nice. What else is good? The new readers – I love having new people comment, finding their blogs. My link list is relatively large, so perhaps I should introduce some of my new favorites in case you haven’t all met each other. The Repressed Librarian is newest, I think. With her pretty pictures and lovely template (I’m slightly jealous, yes. It took me long enough to just change my header picture – I can’t imagine doing the whole page.) Propter Doc (Her job is harder than mine by far, though I think she complains much less than I do. Probably a lesson there, right?) is obviously brilliant and though she's big on tea while I survive on coffee, I think we could still be friends. I love JustMe. Taking on too much work, having crushes and getting hurt, talking about church – she sometimes reminds me (only in good ways) of myself. Apparently is also wonderful – I laugh a lot when I read her. After all, she is hilarious. Ceresina strikes me as wise for some reason, perhaps because she has knowledge on my 'fear of teaching' situation which I don't yet know. DRD, who's been around almost as long as I have, though I didn't find her right away, wrote about a similar struggle between wanting to make new friends and knowing you'll lose them.
So that’s wonderful – I love that new people (to me, not necessarily to blogging) read! But I find myself reading old posts – old comments – and missing people who used to be here. The interesting part about blogs is that there’s absolutely no obligation to keep reading. I’ve stopped reading a few sites – sometimes I just got too busy and had to cut some out. Other times I’ve found myself vaguely upset and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. So I understand that the identity and number of readers changes – sometimes due to my content, other times having nothing to do with me at all. It’s hard to tell. It is something I think about – especially as I’ve reached the point where I’ve been here for a little while now. ScienceWoman – my very first commenter – took a break, and I missed her. I wasn’t aware until Monday that phd me read me anymore, though I keep up with her. Charlie and I email, and I think he’s wonderful beyond adequate description, but site stats don’t lie. He reads less than he once did. Dryden – charming, brilliant, and author of some incredible comments on past posts – is taking a break. Veronica and I got to be friends, which was amazing, but have lately lost touch.
So. I guess I’m not so upset about the post yesterday and those that are certain to mimic it in the future. This site – for as long as you want to read it – isn’t likely to change a whole lot. I’m a creature of habit – I write posts in the evening for the most part. I talk about work and like my job, though I often feel inadequate. I love my family a great deal, though I don’t see them nearly as much as I used to. I wish I was with someone, but being single is going to be a constant for quite some time, I fear. (Though I hope not forever. Please, please, please not forever.) I’ll likely never figure out my relationship with God completely, though I hope to make some progress. My friends are fantastic, but they're all far away. I sigh and try to elicit sympathy then attempt some hopeful conclusion. Pretty much every day.
But I’m here – clinging to happy times and trying to figure out how to make them last longer. Having trouble getting motivated because I’ve been depressed and developed a mild habit of spending the majority of my time alone lately. Getting too attached to people and routines, though I know that at some point everything shifts a bit. It’s better, I think, to be slightly hurt when I lose someone than to not care at all. Plus, new people show up when I need them. Online and off.
Oh, and to end this on a lighter note, and to convince most of you to avoid me like the plague? The “They” I started with? New Kids on the Block. I’m shamefully serious (and now pretty embarrassed). Poor Mom deserves some kind of award for dealing with me.