Disclaimer: this post turned out 100x more depressing than I intended for it to be. So, here's a picture of a beautiful sunrise to compensate for that, and also for the fact that I'm not posting pictures.
There's a difference between a groove and a rut. Maybe there's also a difference between routines and habits, although I think I just want that to be true because it would be nicely rhetorical, and I love when things are parallel. I'm starting to get into a nice routine as far as school is concerned. I finally sorted out my class schedule, and I'm figuring out where (and when) I work best. I've been fairly good about not working after 10 pm. If I try to write too late at night, I start thinking school is the priority. Turns out, life is more important than that. And if you don't do the things you need to do in order to have a reasonably sustainable lifestyle, you're not gonna do very well in school anyways. I'm re-discovering something I think I knew in college, which is that I am useless if I try to write at home, but if I'm at the library or at a coffee shop, I'm almost always laser focused. The classes and the teaching seem to be reasonably under control now. But other parts of life? Not so much. Socializing and figuring out how to eat well are the two main things. Part of it has to do with long days at school -- most days, I'm on campus from 7 am to 7 pm, and when I'm done with class, I just want to go home, finish up my homework, and collapse. But a lot of it has to do with just not being proactive. I start blaming anything -- or anyone -- else for the fact that I'm not doing the things I should be doing, instead of just doing the things.
Within the department, I'm "No, not that Katie, the brunette one. Oh, you mean the one who's in our class and barely says anything? Yeah, that one." (This is the class that's entirely in Arabic. I've been getting surprisingly positive feedback on my writing assignments, but the improvement in speaking is slow. Steady, I think, but slow.) I've been invited to dinner or to other social events several times in the past couple weeks. I almost invariably decline. It's like an automatic setting. A horrible habit. It doesn't even occur to me to think about going. I was raised that way, I guess. And what do I do instead? I go home and stare at my computer screen and feel pathetic because I only have two friends here, and everyone else seems to know each other. And somehow, this is everyone else's fault. Really, it's just (1) me being egocentric, and (2) me not accepting that I actually really truly live here now, and will for the next x number of years, and therefore, need to make friends and find food.
And this is a domino effect. (Does anyone even play dominoes anymore? Or do they just play online dominoes? Is the next generation going to understand what the domino effect even is? Oh well.) One domino is that I take it personally when I have to park six rows away from the entrance to the grocery store. Everyone else is getting the close parking spots, why can't I! And then, in a really effed up Freudian way, I choose to park at least four spots away from the closest available spot. But the fact that I even went to the grocery store is huge, never mind that I've lived here almost a month and had to use Google Maps to figure out where the grocery store even is. And then there's the "not buying vegetables" thing, because I think vegetables are what real adults buy, and somehow since I don't believe I qualify as a "real adult" (basically because I don't do things like buy vegetables) I didn't buy vegetables. But, I did buy Viva paper towels, which, like dryer sheets, I don't feel entitled to, for equally effed up Freudian reasons. I've been this way as long as I can remember, but I usually don't realize how delusional and insane these kinds of things are until I say them out loud. Robert calls it "Katie sense." Well, awareness is the first step to change, right? Hmm. At least I no longer get upset if people don't take me seriously when I say nonsensical things like that. And, maybe more importantly, I don't take myself seriously when I catch myself thinking this way.
Then there's other stuff, peripherally domino-caused kinds of things, like buying buying a bunch of cookie dough I don't have any intention of turning into cookies, and buying nail polish... I know I just painted my nails half an hour ago, and I know this color looks identical to three other ones I already have, but it's different, I promise! It's a different brand! And, in the right lighting, it's sparklier! And the driving thing. My California response to times like this was to impulsively drive hours to my favorite beach and go camping. I'm trying not to do that tonight, because it somehow feels like an avoidance tactic or an isolation tactic. And I should try to get better about acting (rather, not acting) on impulses all the time anyway. But, camping at the Gulf does seem really appealing, and long drives seem to work magic as far as clearing my head goes... Anyway.
(Incidentally, the title of this post reminds me of when my sister and I were teenagers and I asked her if she deleted all my AIM contacts, back before Facebook, when people actually used AIM. She said, "I didn't do it, it was an accident!" How can my little sister be 22 now? And how can I be 25? I had a dream last night that I was 25 and hated it, because I thought I should have accomplished something in my life by now. And then I woke up and realized, wait, I am 25. My dream self seems to be a lot more worried about that than my real-life self, though.)