I had two fillings put in on Thursday, and it wasn’t a big deal because they were in the front, and I had just had a root canal a few weeks ago. The dental assistant was telling me how much pain meds I could take at the end (Ibuprofen vs. Tylenol), and I said it probably wouldn’t be a problem because I didn’t take any for the root canal, and I had a Vicodin prescription filled for that. Both times, she gave me four Advil on my way out. It held me fine for the root canal, but I’m having a little more trouble this time around. My jaw still hurts–or rather, my gums–and I’m wondering if I inflamed it by brushing. I didn’t brush the first night per my dental assistant’s instructions, but I have been brushing since. I also wondered if it was because my dentist injected more numbing gel in my gums than for the root canal, but that doesn’t make sense. It might just be normal soreness, but it’s rather annoying.
I bring it up because that’s my life in general right now. Nothing big or horrific is going on, but I’m feeling a general malaise. It’s hard because logically, I know I have no reason to feel this way*, which actually makes it harder to deal with. When things are shitty in my life, I can accept that depression is the way I respond. When things aren’t shitty (and they really aren’t right now. I have great friends; my relationship with my family is the best it’s ever been; I’m writing every day; and I’m also doing taiji every day), what’s my excuse? It’s one of the problems with being intelligent and more than conversant about psychological concepts–I’m aware where I’m fucking up and how. Usually. We all have our blind spots, and therapy has helped me figure out mine In general, though, I know what’s wrong with me, and even know the ways to fix most of the problems; I just don’t do them for whatever reasons. Even when I know the reasons, it’s frustrating and embarrassing to me.
I feel aimless. There are too many things I want to do, but I just…don’t do them. I have a lot of shame about the fact that I’m a lazy bastard, but it’s not enough to motivate me to change. I’ve written before about how I’m my worst enemy, and I can talk myself out of anything by listing all the things that could possibly go wrong. I’ve been brainstorming podcasts, streaming, live-tweeting, and YouTube ideas, and all of them sound good to me, but have I done them? No, I haven’t. I know what I have to do. After all my planning, I have to just pick one and do it. The way I got myself to move to California and get my MA in Writing & Consciousness was by agonizing over it for several months, and then just doing it. It’s how I make all my big decisions, actually. My BFF reminded me once about how it looked to her when I got my cats. She said, “I said to _____ (her husband), “Minna just got cats! It’s so sudden!”.” In thinking about it, though, she realized I’d been talking about it for years before actually doing.
It’s weird how my brain works. I’ll agonize and obsess over something for days/weeks/months/years. It’s all I’ll be thinking about until I suddenly get sick of it and then switch into action woman. I wish I could skip the first part and go straight to the latter, but it’s not the way I work. I used to get upset about how I worked, but I’ve just accepted it because getting upset about it doesn’t help and it doesn’t push me to the second part any faster. It’s the same with my work ethics as it were. I always work to the end of a deadline, and I have ever since high school and college. I remember one class I had in college, Psychology Through Biography, in which we were graded on one thing–a paper at the end of the semester. As you can probably tell by the name of the class, the paper was about analyzing a famous person’s psyche based on what we read about them. I chose Tina Turner for several reasons, and I would tell myself throughout the semester that I really should start on the paper. I ended up starting the research about a month before the end of the semester, and I wrote the paper in three days or so. Funny story: I was madly working on the paper one day for hours on end in the computer lab. Suddenly, the power went out, and the computer turned off. I hadn’t saved in an hour or two (before the days of autosave), and I was devastated to lose so much work. I found out later that there were high school kids visiting the college, and one of them turned the power off as a joke. Had I gotten my hands on that kid, I would not have been responsible. I wrote 75 pages, and I got an A on it. Which did not help my work ethics any.
Another amusing story, also psychology related. I took Neuropsych, and it wasn’t my favorite class. I liked the prof, though, and she really liked me. I had a classmate who wanted to study with me before an exam. I don’t do group studying, but she wouldn’t stop pestering me about it. I finally reluctantly agreed to meet with her the night before the exam. For weeks leading up to the exam, whenever she saw me on campus, she would throw out a question at me related to the exam. ‘d shrug and say I didn’t know. When we finally got together to study, I did the same thing. SHe asked me questions, and I said I didn’t know because I hadn’t started studying yet. She gave up in exasperation after about fifteen minutes, and I went back to my dorm. A few hours later, I was ready to study, and I crammed in everything I could in about six hours of studying.
I didn’t feel great as I took the exam, but it was essay questions, so I felt better than I would have if it were multiple choice. Give me a chance to explain what I mean rather than think of a reason why every answer could possibly be correct. I thought I probably got a B on the exam, which would have been fair. When the professor gave us back our exams, she said she had never given a 100% in all her years of teaching, but she did for this exam. I wasn’t expecting it to be me because I really fudged one question. You probably won’t be surprised, dear reader, to find out it was me. I mean, why would I regale you with this tale otherwise, right? The funny part of the story is that my classmate, the one who wanted to study with me, came over and told me she got a B (or C, don’t remember which) on the exam, and she started speculating who got the 100%. She named a few people, and I just shrugged my shoulders and said I didn’t know. It was funny because she clearly thought that I obviously wasn’t the one who got the 100%. Which, valid, given my reaction to her quizzing me up until the night before the exam, but still funny.
The problem is, both of these incidents cemented for me that it’s fine to do things at the last minute. More than fine, in fact, but preferable. The problem is, I still agonize about whatever the chore is even while I’m not doing it. I’ve actually gotten better at doing things in a more timely fashion if they’re actual jobs, but less so when it comes to implementing something new. As I said, I’ve pretty much accepted this about me, but I still don’t like it. It would be much better for my mental health if I could do less agonizing if the end result is going to be the same, anyway.
*Sometimes, depression is a valid way to respond to a situation. Not always and not even often, but sometimes it’s perfectly understandable.