(warning: whining content ahead)
I feel old.
It hasn't always been this way. Until recently, I never really thought of my age. Now, though, I feel it in my bones.
Physically, I'm worn out. On top of my right shoulder pains, I now also have something pulled/torn/silly puttied in my left shoulder...which means my good shoulder now has the unmitigated audacity to hurt more than my bad shoulder. To add a hilarious twist, the exercises which keep my right shoulder at bay seem to exacerbate my left. Do the exercised and increase the pain on one side, or take an exercise break and increase the pain on the other side? Hum.
I'm tired. My progeny unit's erratic sleep schedule is starting to get to me, in spite of my spousal unit taking care of most of the night stuff. Night before last, the progeny unit slept through the night. This is only the second time this has happened. The first time led to about 4 hours of sleep the following night. Yesterday, the pattern of not wanting to sleep at all after a full night's sleep held true, and I fear I might have to tell my daughter she's doing it wrong. Additionally, the erratic sleeping on her part means it was a particularly bad time for my insomnia to return. Moreover, I can't even start on the coffee until she finally wakes up because my burr bean grinder sounds like a jet engine...and I have definitely learned not to wake up an under-rested baby as to not unleash her fury.
Work-wise, I'm disconnected. Summers are normally the time to do writing, reading, research...basically remember why I became an academic. This summer, I have only read thirty pages of one of the dozen scholarly books I brought home from the office, have spent a few hours finding a possible place to submit one of my two unpublished papers (which still required I mail in three physical copies; I resisted the urge to introduce them to e-mail or the 21st century) and failed completely to find a home for the other. Furthermore, I have more or less abandoned my closest-to-being-ready-to-write essay as being too far removed from events to be relevant...much like myself.
Job-wise, I'm stagnant. Yes, I should be thankful to even have a job, but this year, a record number of friends and accomplices found work...in their field...with possible futures. More than one have had encouraging news from book publishers. Me? It has been, unless my memory fails, about four years since I've received anything other than a form rejection from anywhere I've applied. I am at a dead end. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I will never be anything other than what I am, that there is essentially no longer an upside to my career, but it's hard; in spite of having really known this for years, to have your failure finally driven home? It is wearying. A while back, I used to tell my students that the difference between me and some much smarter MA colleagues was that I was a better worker, which is why I went on to get my PhD and they did not. However, these people do the exact same job as I and started doing so immediately after getting their MA. So the real difference? I have earned less, have higher credit card and student loan bills, yet we have the exact same career path. At least the world respects my highest of academic degrees....right? Right?
Life-wise, I feel I've missed out on so much. Why, I've been asking myself lately, did I not take the two years I took off between getting my two year and four year degree and do something interesting, like move to Colorado? Why did I not follow the lead of some friends and move into some career which would've allowed me to have a house, a new car, a pool table, something that would've meant I'd never have to life in the student ghetto for a decade? It's gotten to the point where I've quit watching any and all home improvement television out of the sheer jealousy and class hatred it evokes.
Socially, I feel isolated. A new crop of faces has entered our college town, and I've met none of them. Several people left our town without having a chance to say goodbye. And the people that are still here? The holdovers? Well, I rarely see anyone. I have one weeknight where I can go out--the Tuesdays at Howards, and this was the first time in weeks I've seen a few of my friends. Others, I haven't seen in close to a month. One friend called me several days last week to invite me out after I told him I couldn't go out anymore.
Yeah, I know. I'm whining again. Moreover, I'm ignoring all the wonderful things that are happening in my life, especially my beautiful spousal unit, my awesome progeny unit, my cool new band. However, I said a while ago I was going to be honest and open...and if you know me, you know whining is part of that honesty.
Last night, I took the second of what turned out to be many attempts to put my daughter to sleep. I picked her up, took her to the bedroom, swaddled her, and she started to scream, to flail. It was one of those times where she just would not be placated, where all of my (normally successful) tricks abandoned me. It's hard enough emotionally to bear her screams in the best of times. She yells with her whole body, her bottom lip starts to quiver, and she gains an Exorcist-esque pitch and timbre. Factor in my flaring shoulders, the mounting insomnia, and I came close to weeping myself.
Please tell me it will get better. Barring that, please tell me I will get tougher.