I had a moment of realization a couple of weeks ago. I was on a date, (a first date – is there any other kind?), and as I sat across from lucky suitor #143, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to crawl under the table and take a nap. And it wasn’t for my date being boring or off-putting or socially insecure (yes, that last one has happened to me before). I was just truly exhausted. Sure the floor was covered with remnants of some child’s hatred of tortilla chips (anger issues?) and the grout between the tiles was a fancy shade of white restaurants use known as dirt-brown. But I was tempted, nonetheless. And at that moment, I realized – I probably shouldn’t be subjecting innocent men to a date with a certified zombie. I probably shouldn’t be dating right now.
When did I lose my ability to exist outside of the roles of student and teaching assistant? When did my conversational skills become limited to nut graphs (look that up – it’s not what you think it is, perverts), datelines and merits of the serial comma? When did I replace eight hours of sleep with 16 ounces of coffee (flavored creamer and whipped cream, please!)?
To figure this out, I reached deep within the recesses of my mind to where every math skill I’d ever learned lays dormant and forgotten. How long after starting school did this metamorphosis occur? I took all sorts of variables into account: my age, my diet, the time of year, the moon’s pull on the tides…things like that. And with the precision one can only expect from an English major, I calculated that my slow spiral into the depths of journalism-brain began exactly .25 seconds after being accepted into grad school.
At that critical moment, everything suddenly became about journalism. Every wonder (worry), every excitement (worry), every apprehension (apprehension and worry). There just simply wasn’t any space to think about much else, and there still isn’t.
I sometimes wonder how long the rebuilding process will be. How soon after this semester ends will I get my brain back? Will I suddenly snap out of this fog, confused and disoriented, rapidly blinking my eyes against the bright light? Or is it a gradual process of renewal, like a beautiful spring or a major skin graft?
Perhaps the real question is – Do I really want to snap out of it? Is this fog really that much worse than the dating fog? While I once worried about whether or not I’d hit it off with my date, if he’d find me attractive, if he’d talk at all (yes, it’s a problem sometimes), now I worry about classes and students and writing. I worry about things that might actually benefit me as a person and not just my marital status. And isn’t that what we should all aim for?
Disclaimer: To any single, attractive men reading this, please ignore the above. Thanks.