Saturday, October 13, 2007

Time To Think

I was to drive home yesterday. I postponed until today, then postponed again. I'm still at my house and feeling semi-guilty about the fact that I've not yet made the drive north.

I am, I think, nervous about my upcoming interview. I tend to get paralyzed with fear when anticipating an event. I sleep a tremendous amount. I'm unable to do anything right. I get impatient and awful. And this I have been the past few days.

I sat in an office on Thursday afternoon, doggedly refusing to leave until Steve gave me the measurement I sought. This particular task has topped my to-do list for at least six months, yet I couldn't make it work. So I demanded a meeting and since we're friends, he obliged.

"Aren't you tired?" I asked after a mere hour of debugging code and starting from scratch to recreate work I'd already done.

"No." He said, giving me a look then shaking his head at me. And I watched him work, doing nothing more than sitting and making mental notes on how to recreate the process in the future. I apologized several times when the length of our meeting stretched past 3 hours, then 4 and neared 5. He waved me off and continued to transfer files between my laptop and his, then to his desktop and back again, typing and clicking and scowling in turn.

I was crushed when it didn't work. I returned to my office with head down and shoulders sagging. I wanted to put this in my paper! Had a section ready for it and a figure. And disappointment didn't begin to cover my feelings that it had all been for naught.

I came home and spent hours dealing with Carrie's data. I, put quite simply, screwed it up beyond repair. I think what has to be done is to start over from scratch and carefully recreate each step, checking for errors all the while. After watching Steve do the same thing with a different project of mine, it's hard not to feel useless.

"Fine." I said sadly after trying my last idea and realizing it wasn't going to work. "At least I can do laundry." And I believed that until I was pulling clothes from the dryer and came up with a USB drive. It was very clean, but I doubted it enjoyed the wash and dry. So I sighed heavily and brought in laundry. I decided to check poor Eenie (of Eenie, Meanie, Minie and Moe - my 4 2GB drives) later.

Then I took another nap, waking to realize that hours were gone but my feeling of unbearable failure hadn't eased at all.

I read a book, feeling tense the whole time. Then I decided to pick up the house and vacuum. I did more laundry and put away clothes. I picked out what to wear on my trip, deciding - perhaps to my detriment - against wearing a suit. I'll try pants and a sweater instead and see how comfort over formality goes. I looked again at Steve's results and decided on a way to use them after all. Then I made several figures for my paper and felt the tension ease just a bit.

I packed, ran some errands and continued to clean. I fixed slides in my talk and am doing one more piece of analysis to fix the last section that bugs me.

It turns out that going through the slides, packing and preparing for the trip calmed me. Most of the time that doesn't work. If I'm nervous about a talk, I try to forget about it and practice feverishly only to exacerbate my fear. This time, I breathed easier as I tucked items into my new laptop bag and made sure I had everything necessary in my suitcase. I feel better that the house is clean and ready for my return next week.

I crave normalcy though. The ability to work and rest and live without dreading the next big trip or hurdle. I want to settle in and welcome boredom for a while.

But Eenie still works just fine and transferred figures from my desktop to laptop. My analysis is now finished, so I can complete my last two slides. I can fold one last load of laundry and place my luggage in the car. Then I can return home - to noise and people I love - and interview with 8 men and give a seminar on work I think is important. And while I'm still not thrilled about spending the next few days in this manner, the paralysis appears to have lifted so that I'm at least prepared to do so.


Anonymous said...

good luck with the interview!

zelda said...

good luck on your interview!

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