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Look after yourself November 20, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Breaking the fourth wall, Small things.

One night, you are out late.  Until half past three, to be precise, helping people you care about a lot clear up the detritus of people you couldn’t tell from Adam, and then you get home, have your dinner – which has been waiting on the kitchen table since six the previous evening, nine and a half hours since dinner time and you can’t even tell – and fall straight into bed at just gone four.

You are up at half past nine because you have a careers talk – sitting in a lecture theatre while people tell you how hard you’re going to have to work to have a chance of doing something so very prestigious, all the research and preparation you’ll have to do, even though you don’t want to do it anyway.  (My options appear to be thus: Barrister.  If not; solicitor.  If not; finance.  Or You Could Go Into The EU, That’s A Bit Different, We’ve Had People Do That Before.)  You start to worry a bit about why you are where you are, and what you’re trying to achieve.  Who thought something you enjoy for the time being could only serve to push you in directions you don’t want to go?  I chose Law over Maths because I thought I could do what I want to do with it.  Now I don’t know what I want to do, just that it isn’t this.

Ignore it.  Pull yourself together and spend the next five hours in the library, solidly.  Try and understand what you’re doing, you’ve got an essay due on it soon.  You might want to start writing that too, if you’ve done enough work for it.  Your call.

You’re supposed to be half an hour’s walk away at eight o’clock.  Do the maths.  Eat beans on toast in an empty house, and set off at nine.  Ring home while you’re walking and find out how everyone is, because God knows when you’ll get another chance to do it.

Excuse yourself early, start walking home about a quarter to midnight.  Look neither left nor right because if you see anyone, or any drunken students start a conversation with you, you’re just going to burst into tears.  (I wonder if they’ll remember, and if they’re paranoid it’s their fault now.)

Your fingernails have been full of muck for a good twenty-four hours and you haven’t brushed your hair in coming up to a week now.  It ought to be disgusting, and it used to be something you’d never do.  Isn’t that interesting?

This is a request to everyone at the moment.  The nights are drawing in, the workload is getting longer, the stress is creeping up on all of us.  Please, it’s not much, but I’m asking you to ask people how they are.  They might be people you see every day, you live with, you work with, or people miles away, counties away, that you ought to share things with a bit.  Just, when you see them, or speak to them, say, “How are you?”  It’s not a big thing.  They might say, “I’m fine,” and leave it at that, and just feel a bit closer to fine.  They might say, “I’m really busy,” and being busy feels just that bit more legitimate, for once.  Or they might tell you they’re feeling worn down, or they had a really good lecture earlier, or that they have a hundred and one things to think about.  Bu please, please ask them, because if someone starts to go a while without switching off or shutting down, if they turn into an automaton for a bit without really realising it, and nobody stops them for a second and just gently reminds them that they have emotions too and that’s okay, and they’re interested, even if they’re only slightly interested… they might find themselves wandering through the middle of town at nothing o’clock in the morning with their hands stuffed in their pockets and just bursting into tears with the emptiness of switching off and finding there’s nothing inside themselves to fall back on.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

I’m not about the next few days.  See you on Sunday night or more likely Monday.  Sorry to everyone if this was a bit gut-spewy but I haven’t anywhere else to put it and blogging is all the vanity I have at the moment.  I’m still a teenager technically so I’m afraid it’s going to have to be okay.



1. mikel - November 20, 2009

Sorry I am one of your “lurkers” but thought I should comment.
You sound like you are in a difficult place just at the moment. Too many things to do and nowhere near enough time to do them all. You need to plan into your diary some “me” time – that time is unmovable and sacrosanct. If something else has to give to make that time so be it. I doubt the world will stop if something doesn’t happen. It is exactly the same in the work environment. there are times when a dozen things that are all top priority hit you at the same time. Which of the top priority tasks is the “top priority”? You have to say no to some of them in order to keep sane.
To lighten the mood a little have a look at this.
its all about law and hos a humble Scottish snail made legal history 🙂

2. mikel - November 20, 2009

aargh dratted fingers – how a humble Scottish snail made legal history

3. T - November 21, 2009

I’ve always loved wandering cites at night, I wouldn’t wish that internal darkness to ruin the electric midniht splendor for anyone and especially not you. And then in the centre of this to work for strangers you don’t know and may well never meet. I admire you for that. You’ll work it out, I know you will, and I know I can’t be there but you always call. Even if it’s to arrange another call at a better time. You can.

4. Flix - November 21, 2009

Thank you for that blog. It’s true, that how are you makes such a difference, even if a person doesn’t feel like they can answer it wholly honestly, just the fact that someone asked can make a whole world of difference. Something as small as a smile or a bright “Morning” from a stranger passing in the corridor can go a long way to helping a person feel connected, in some way, to other people.

Yesterday, I made a conscious effort to stop and ask the how are you question, and the all important follow-up where necessary. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do, but it’s good to talk and stmtm.

5. Jenny - November 21, 2009

I know you’re always busy, so I don’t want to call in case it’s a bad time, but if you ever find a *good* time you can always call me, you know. Meanwhile Lucy said she saw you on the train (it was lovely to finally meet her), and I hope you are having a lovely, lovely weekend, and a much deserved rest, and just, well, time. Much love. xxx

6. gflawrence - November 26, 2009

I realise I’m reading this late, very late, to the point where writing won’t help the way you were feeling days ago, and, well, I’m sorry. If one of our chats from last year is in order again, I’ll try to actually catch it instead of getting caught up in my own silly nonsense. Just, please, don’t make yourself poorly again. My equivalent of the How Are You? is, I like your … which serves a similar purpose, I find.

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