I am seated in a cozy, but dreadfully orange, rocking chair in the corner of the living room where the Christmas tree used to live by the fireplace (which is lit) with laptop in my lap, coffee on the table beside me, still donning my pajama pants and t-shirt.
If you look closely at the photo, you can see the vacuum standing to D's right and a racquetball racquet resting on the tabletop. These are signs, as well, and all of them are pointing to the start of Spring Semester 2009! That's right-the vacuum has been abandoned more than halfway through its use; the racquet has been removed from the bookbag it resided in just days before this photo and Dustin is back to chugging caffeine in any form it comes in.
As for me, it's Wednesday and I don't teach on Wednesdays so, instead, I'm doing comps. work and trying to get some preps done for my two classes tomorrow (mentally on the preps, literally on the comps work).
This semester has brought some rather disconcerting situations along with it. First, when I arrived back from NY Dustin informed me he thinks that the house was being cased by burglars due to the spotted oil marks in front of the mailbox and the fact that a car with a broken fan belt (he knew this because he heard it) parked in the driveway one of his first evenings back while he sat in a, mostly unlit, room with the curtains pulled watching House online. After a few minutes of hearing the car, he pulled back the curtain, spotted the car in the driveway and it, promptly, pulled out and headed to the main road where it stopped, spoke briefly to a waiting car, which then had to turn around and face the main road, and departed. Weird, right?
Luckily, D came home when he did. It's not that there's really anything worth stealing in my house. Seriously. No tv (except the one with bunny ears which will be worth nothing at all after February without that digital box), no game systems-aside from the first ever Nintendo with cartridges, no money, no jewelry, no nothing. There's furniture, but I don't think that'd be stealable without drawing attention. Clearly, they didn't start casing the house early enough to realize the people that are in and out of it are poor students with nothing to offer a thief.
Then this other strange thing started happening. I started to catch my teeth locked strongly together in the back of my mouth. I noticed it because they were so tightly locked that they actually caused pain in my jaw. It would wake me up in the mornings. I'd notice it while I was walking around the house trying to get it cleaned up or while reading. Out of nowhere, my mouth would start to throb and I'd realize I needed to slacken my jaw, especially in the molar section, to release the pressure my teeth were causing. There's no real medical issue here to explain it. The explanation is really quite simple: stress.
My mother used to grind her teeth when she slept at night. Since I never slept much as a kid, I could hear them grinding together even when I was in the hallway outside of my parents bedroom. Eventually, our dentist had to give her something to wear so she wouldn't ruin them and do permanent dental damage. It turns out, this is really quite bad for you. I don't grind so much as I lock, very firmly, and I do it while I'm awake. However, recently, I've found myself waking up at around 5-5:30am because I feel so stressed out and my teeth have begun to lock together and cause pain...again.
When I explained this to my parents, they sounded baffled: "What do you have to be stressed about?"
I know this means they're worried. I know, more than that, it means they might not completely understand how stressful, scary and exhausting comprehensive exams are. My mom said..."But you've been preparing for a year!" And I realize this is true, but try explaining to her that I have four questions to answer, 150 books I've read to inform my answers and only five pages apiece to answer them in! Changes things, doesn't it? Think it over and you will see what I mean.
So my poor teeth are suffering as is my sleep. Occasionally, I can distract my thoughts. Like last night, for example, I think I exhausted myself into a good night's sleep because the two nights before that I had, a grand total of, about 8 hours of sleep. (I told you. I keep waking up at 5ish and don't fall asleep to at least midnight, but usually 1). No jaw lockage this morning when I rose. No stressful thoughts that woke me before the sun. It was nice.
But now, there's coffee and reading, writing and revising...more coffee, relaxation after my hour at the rec...then a healthy dinner. Maybe vegetarian. Still thinking it through.
Now is the time for school work. I look like a doctoral student for the first time in all four of my years here at Mizzou: bookbag, giant baggy clothes that portray just how fatigued and stressed I am, armloads of books, computer, pen in hand constantly! I've been reading these other blogs written by students who are starting back this semester, too (not my students, people I've never and, probably, will never meet) and they're stressed to. Aaah, to be an undergrad again.
PS-A little GG update. Word on the street, UTHers is that A. Parker will be gracing us with his presence in just over a month's span of time. No wonder the rec center is full of spritely blonde ladies working their abs and toning their scantily clad bodies! I should've known it wasn't for the meathead gents pumping iron and grunting in pain as they complete their bench presses. Keep checking back for more A. Parker sightings at your one and only source for gossip on the UTside.