Though they are not in themselves difficult, or terribly important, nor do I expect substantial attention or audience involvement, I find myself fussing a lot over them – and not only because that damned cold still has not really gone away. What this suggests, of course, is that I simply don't have enough to do: yes, there's too much boring administration (but the problem with that isn't that it's difficult, it's that I don't care about it); and teaching (doing it is easy – the horrid, and dispiriting, part is chasing after the students when they don't seem to care about it); and of course research, which I mostly avoid.
But since my life here is too narrow ("If only we could go to Moscow!"), these little, easy things get too much focus, too much attention, and generate too much pressure – this is the opposite of that lively, somewhat crazed life one has in metropoli when things are going well, and busily. In such a vacuum, one becomes tiresomely fretful, petty – easily enraged, too; I've sent two scathingly angry e-mails in the past week to people who weren't at all prepared for them. All of this is a product of, not really stress or overwork, but a kind of peculiar 'underwork' – where work, however much of it there may be, seems rather trivial and ineffective. It's very Chekhovian, I suppose – and, although I understand the (kind of counterintuitive) claim that Chekhov writes comedies, I am not finding it all terribly funny.
Perhaps I'm also affected by spending time with the actors, who are all lively Londoners, mostly around the age of thirty (which slightly affects their reading of the play – they cannot quite believe that darkness, malice, and the power of money were quite as awful in the 1980s as they actually were). Actors, of course, always seem to live in mercurial worlds that are larger than life – and we like to think of that as artificial, as unreal (the celebrity, the luvvie, the narcissist). But maybe the truth is that they are right – if you don't see everything you do as immensely meaningful, and tie it to deep feelings, experiences, ideas, aims beyond what one might expect of you, then you probably are wasting what time you have on earth. Which is all too easy to do.
Ah, well: if only – if only I could go to – London?...