Struggling to unclench
Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 - 12:57 pm.

I woke up this morning with excruciating pain in my jaw. I was painfully aware that I clenched hard during the night, but I don't think I dreamed of anything bad. Or at least I don't remember. In any case, I woke up in physical pain, with a cold, and feeling so miserable that for the first time in years I returned to that forgotten-yet-familiar longing: I need to go to therapy.

Since my last entry, life has been so-so. Nothing bad, really. I'm trying to keep my spirits up. I'm not angry nor nostalgic over having my UK life terminated. It's just that Andrew and I have returned to the life we had before that one, and that means a major regression. We're still academic minions. I hate sounding ungrateful, because it's a temporary job assigned with trust from our bosses, but yeah, it stings and it's frustrating.

My acid reflux returned with a vengeance. On Tuesday, my boss' assistant showed me the tasks I'd been assigned for her project, which entail doing the first thing I did when I started out working with her: calling people to ask them to take part in research. I bitterly said to myself "I have a PhD, surely I can do something else". It's not that calling potential participants is beneath me, it's that it makes me anxious as fuck, and it's the one thing that had me bed-ridden with vertigo for two weeks in 2013.

Wednesday was the first day since our return to Chile in which we just stayed home and rested. It was the anniversary of the 1973 coup, so there might be chaos in the streets with no chance to taking a timely bus home, and Andrew was down with a cold. Before this day, and since our arrival, it'd been a week of being pulled in all directions, from settling into the house to putting on a forced smile to face social commitments.

Still, on Wednesday I got word that my PhD had been awarded, so that meant I could start working on a postdoc grant application. My boss always had in mind that she'd be my sponsor, so the time had finally come. I only have one week to put it together to meet the deadline, but I will not stress myself out. It *is* a nice opportunity, a chance to continue my own line of research and to finally move on from being a student and an assistant, retrospective, yikes, those are all the relevant jobs I've ever had (plus some teaching, poorly paid).

Andrew and I live far away from our workplace, the university. I don't mind commuting, I actually kind of enjoy it, except that everything I see through the window is gray and miserable. Life in this city is sad, there's so much poverty, so many stray dogs. I still like riding the bus, though, despite occasional rudeness and mortally excessive speed. Listening to Bowie in my headphones brings me some solace, too.

Since our return, I was saying, we've been pulled in lots of directions. We started having a million tiny responsibilities at work, we started having invitations from friends to meet. But these are Andrew's friends. There are like two or three whom I consider my friends outside my relationship with Andrew, but even those, I met them through him. I do feel quite lonely in that sense. And living in this small, conventional village outside the city, there's no chance for my libido to stray, get distracted, have some imaginary fun.

I've told Andrew all I've said here: I'm feeling deeply sad, unmotivated, in need of therapy, friendless. He offers me the comfort of a good listener. When I talk to him, I try to access something, whatever that something is. I have a vague explanation of why my acid reflux returned so strongly the moment I stepped into my boss' office (she very much loves me, it's got nothing to do with how she treats me). I have a suspicion of why I'm painfully clenching my jaws again. But I still feel there's something blocking my access to understanding what my body's really trying to say.

For now, I just need to be patient and carry on. We have four months to find something better for ourselves, in this city or somewhere else. We have to keep a balance between making this house a home while knowing we're leaving it in December. We keep searching for a life outside of work to avoid the stress and boredom of a precarious job.

In other news: Victoria broke up with me. Or that's what I say to myself. The truth is, I messaged her on WA, she replied without asking anything. I replied to her asking her stuff, she replied again without asking anything about me. Got it. She's not interested in maintaining a long-distance, er, acquaintanceship. This pains me because I was falling hard and fast for her, but it also seems like the most logical thing to happen with someone you only went out twice with.

And another thing: the writer/editor who recommended my manuscript to his publisher told me he'd have news about it soon. He said he'd been following through my submission, and the publisher promised to send him a comment about my novel this week. I'm so grateful that the writer/editor has been so keen to give me a push, but his message sounded like bad news. He's had to insist, and he'll get "a comment". I suppose I should get back to looking for publishers.

Speaking of my manuscript, yesterday we met with two friends, a couple. The guy is a musician and he mentioned the name of an old local band, and that's the same name I used in my book. Look, I knew it wasn't a terribly original name. There must be a few bands called like that, but it was still frustrating to hear it, all the more so because the band in real life played the same genre as the band I wrote about in my story.

Lastly, this week is a holiday, due to Chilean independence (it's my country's independence today too, but that's all bullshit). This means I'll get the chance to work on my grant application without worrying about my research assistant job. That's the academic dream, eh, having time off to work in peace. Christ. Like I said, however, I will not stress myself out more than necessary.

Anyway. Hopefully this week I'll get an office chair, and I'll finally have something resembling a desk. I've not had one for over a month and a half, and that has me feeling even more hollow and aimless in life. Sure, it'll be good to work from home, but what I'm really longing for is going back to doodling and making silly comics. Now that's the fucking life for me.

prev / next