Saturday, January 26, 2008

Miscellaneous numbers regarding being sick , and having existential crises

Times I've been very ill this cold/flu season: 3

Days this current cold has lasted: 3

Times I've been outside in the last 48 hours: 0

Hours in the last 24 hour period that I have been asleep: 17

Pints of frozen yogurt I've eaten since getting sick: 2

Days of work missed: 2

Social events cancelled: 2

Moments of existential crises gone through: too many to count

What is it about being sick, when my body's defences are totally down and my cells need all the energy I can give them to fight whatever virus has invaded, that makes my mind swim in circles around questions like: What is my purpose on this earth?

I came down with an awful case of bronchitis my Freshman year in college. It was then I decided I ought to drop out of school since I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. This question--of what to major in, of who I was--had bothered me since the day I moved into my cell-like dorm room, but it really started to get to me when I had hours upon miserable hours to lie in bed and think.

I called my parents during this crisis and told them of my plans to drop out of school. Instead of freaking out, my mother, in her infinite wisdom, said, "Why don't you just focus on feeling better and we'll talk about this later." By the time "later" came, I realized that thought I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, dropping out of school wasn't going to help me figure that out.

During this current illness, I happened to get my MFA mentor's comments on the stories I had given her. Even on the best of days, comments on my work are often enough to send me straight to the Land of Crisis. Needless to say, feeling like crap physically didn't make her comments easier to take. So of the 7 hours I've been awake in the past day or so, I would say 5 of them have been spent wondering, WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? I CAN'T WRITE! WHY AM I EVEN BOTHERING TRYING TO GET A STORY ON THE PAGE AND THEN OUT THERE INTO THE WORLD? WHO AM I KIDDING?????

Her comments weren't harsh or even surprising--I knew the stories I handed in needed a ton of work. And I'm excited to work on them. I guess I was just hoping for some over-arching positive message like, "You've come a long way since we first worked together" or "You're totally going to make it--don't worry!" I guess that's what we're all always hoping for, though, and I should just get used to not always getting it.

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16 comments:

The Alchemist said...

I loved the post. I'll be back. Interesting to think that the writer bug got the flu bug then was bugged by her mentors comments.

bostonerin said...

Ouch, Bug. Why is it when our bodies are at their most vulnerable, the mind follows suit? I hope you're feeling better now...or soon, anyway, and can salvage some of the weekend.

I think you should embrace your existential crisis! Writing is filled with them, one after another, so we may as well come to accept that they happen. It's a sign that you care enough to be doing what you're doing, worrying about what others think about it, and nervous that you're not going about it in the right way.

Just don't let it prevent you from actually writing!

Shari said...

It sounds like you have really been down in the dumps. Please keep persevering. I think it probably takes us all a long time to figure out what we want to do in life. I'm 37 and just figured out what I want to major in. My husband is 42 and he is changing careers.

barbara said...

Because I have a miserable cold right now, I totally get where you are coming from... it is hard to be up when you are down...
Thank Heaven we get better!

keith hillman said...

Ah-choo! Things aways seem (sniff) worse when you are ah-ah-ah-choo ill.Plod on!

Renee said...

I have the same experience when I'm sick! But I've also found that it happens any time I have an extra moment to think - like when I'm on vacation. Any extra space in my brain and the first question to fill it is, "What am I doing with my life?"

Feel better soon. :-)

Beautiful Witch said...

Whenever I'm sick all I can think of is how much I take for granted being well! I believe there is a reason why illness is called dis-ease. Because it seems like whenever we're sick something isn't right and we need to slow down and feel it out. I hope you feel better soon and I am sure your stories are going to be better for having weathered this storm with you!

gautami tripathy said...

Somehow or the other, I mostly end up being sick in January. Once I had a severe case of pnemonia and another Chicken pox. And sore throat seems to go on and on..

I am too not very happy with my career. Thinking of changing it..

Get well soon..

Becca said...

Poor Bug...I hope your mood and repiratory system are feeling better so you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to work on your stories.

paisley said...

i feel for you on the sick part,, i seem to catch every little bug too...

on the writing front,, i found simple free form poetry usually gets me thru the dry patches.. just write,, and then break it up whittle it won and create a poem... you will be surprised at the amazingly beautiful stuff that will start to accumulate.....

TI said...

Hi Bug. I think when we're down with a cold it's hard to have perspective about anything. It's really tough to process comments at the best of times. And self-doubt is the perennial writer's affliction (The Fraud Police, remember?). That doesn't make it feel any better, but I know exactly how you feel. I'm in the "who am I kidding" mode right now, too.

tumblewords said...

Aww. Feeling down makes it difficult to feel up, in my opinion. :) I'm still trying to find out who I should be and what I should be doing but at least I don't have either a cold or the flu, today! Get well, write some more, please!

January said...

You’re delirious.

Of course you’re a talented writer. And, of course, you’re going to make it. You just have to hunker down and do the work, as you know.

Now get some rest, and then get back at it!

RB said...

I agree with many of the previous commenters. And I find colds strangle my creativity as well, which is why I want to bitch-slap whatever famous writer it was who said he loved writing when he had a cold (do you remember who that was? We learned about him in one of our residencies, I think)?

Hope you're on the mend!

redness said...

Sounds like you were unwell and hope by now you've recovered and realise that you can write, preety darn well too ... so keep the posts coming you have a captive audience !

Lucy said...

I Love this post! (as I read this post while I am fighting a bug).. so many memories come back to me... My eldest son called me beginning of his Soph. year ALSO with Bronchitis ALSO telling me he wanted to drop out of college! Luckily I said something wise like your Mom.."never make a life changing decision when you're not feeling well" We went up to see him and 'yada yada yada" He graduated last year!
Your post is so true.. when we are sick, our minds go haywire! As for your mentors words...You must re-read them when you feel better and you will realize you CAN write! We all thrive on and need encouragement, I think it is never easy to get used to Not getting it. Hope you're feeling better today. I am glad I found your 'excellent' writing! :))

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