The unhappy weight of guilt around productivity has let up somewhat: since Mitchell has kindly started giving me my marching orders – literally telling me what chapter to draft next, and send it to him – and Melinda, going a bit outside the normal range of activity for a therapist, has chimed in asking for the same – I am getting some work done, and can remember once again how everyday, how easy, it really is to do what I think I am supposed to do, with my life.
So, when I lost the past four days to, first, a cluster of things to do for other people – a report on a doctoral thesis, a recommendation letter, a chain of minor administrative discussions; culminating with M.'s slightly anxiety-producing discussion with me of what he wants me to take over in the fall, which is definitely more than I wanted to take on – and then a big system crash and rebuild (two and a half days, basically) plus erratic stomach problems – it was all annoying but not depressing, not terrible, not merely Another Example Of What A Failure I Inevitably Am. As it usually is.
Although last night I looked through the supposedly drafted chapter, amazed that it was really just notes: and realized I needed to get up today and write out paragraphs, so that I would have something to send to Mitchell and Melinda on Tuesday.
In the night, this evolved into its own kind of panic – a dream of wandering through my neighborhood, then a few blocks away to an area I'd never seen before, with beautiful houses, sandy earth, and warm, dusty weather, where I discovered various castoffs and started to take them away. (Is that what scholarship looks like to my inner selves? – well, I admit, as today I need to go through a pile of secondary sources looking for the necessary points where somebody has talked about my current topics, it's not an inappropriate image.) And then, as I climbed a stair behind a house to another level, the dream turned dark and hopeless, as the things I'd collected were lost, and I was in a scruffy wasteland of urban trash.
Just a dream: but I woke aware that I was frightened of the possibilities of failure, yet again.
So: coffee, and attacking paragraphs, and cranking out – something. Some attempt to avoid, to hold back, to overcome, disaster.
In two days, to Stuttgart for a week that includes Easter weekend, to work with Joyce on another long-delayed anthology. Stuttgart is, I think, the German version of Norwich – a rather isolated, boring town, pretty and well-off, but with a population that most of its compatriots treat as slightly ridiculous. I remember from visiting there in the early 1990s, an exquisite toy-like train system – a result of a highly technical town (home to Mercedes and BMW), lots of municipal funds, and a relatively small area and small population. Cute, to be frank.
Probably a good place to get some work done....