South Park Self

disastrous quinsequonces

Blarg. Apparently the inevitable upshot of the Interesting Times on campus is that Lurgi Strikes Britain. Not surprisingly - I am carrying a buttload of transferred student anxiety, given the number of queries I'm dealing with, and while I haven't been conscious of extreme amounts of stress, clearly it's nibbling away subliminally. I've been at home since Monday with the usual merry trifecta, head cold becoming sinus infection becoming full-on glandular resurgence, so I'm somewhat dead on my feet. Also, Sid the Sinus Headache is having his merry way with my hapless form to a quite unfriendly extent. Cue a lot of sneezing followed by clutching my head with cries of agony. The bugger with sinus headaches is that they're bloody pressure-sensitive, which means ixnay on coughing, or getting up suddenly, or bending over, or sneezing. Particularly sneezing.

Campus has pretty much calmed down: exams are in mid-session, and have run smoothly apart from one aborted attempt at disruption earlier this week. It was a small group of protesters who, I think, are a lunatic fringe who've refused to accept the (considerable) concessions made by university management in response to the protests. They were Suppressed, and the disrupted exam resumed. Score one for Order. Although we've seen a second crop of panic from students who were just keeping it together, and whose fragile hold on sanity was somewhat shattered by the threat, however averted, of a new round of shutdowns. I have been dispensing lots of reason, calm, procedural nitpickering assistance and virtual "there, there"s and patting. This whole thing has brought out my latent vaguely maternal wossnames like you wouldn't believe.

Mostly the discernible effect of student anxiety has been a sharp drop in their ability to actually read properly, which I have to say does not bode well for their exams. The university has issued a blanket option of deferring exams until January, no questions asked, "aargh protest freakout" accepted as valid motivation; and a couple of ways of achieving this, one of them online and clearly kludged together as an on-the-fly response, which means it only works within certain narrow parameters. I have been disseminating info and FAQs regarding all this via email, mostly because the Registrar's office issues their fiats gnomically and with a fine, detached disregard for their real-world ramifications, putting me more or less in the position of a Talmudic scholar continuously interpreting Scripture. Any announcement I make to our faculty's undergrad students is a clarification or update very carefully written to fill in the gaps. It will infallibly generate at least five emails almost immediately, from students asking me to give them exactly the information I have just given them in the announcement. This clearly isn't about information, it's about panic and the need for reassurance, which means the Maternal Wossnames do not permit me to yell at them for not reading properly: instead, I patiently re-explain. Usually via the medium of cunningly-personalised cut and paste, as there are limits even to my pseudo-maternalistic patience.

I am doing Good Work, apparently; there is a happy little clutch of tearfully grateful emails in my inbox, variously from students and their parents, but all that nice validation notwithstanding, ye gods I'm tired. And headachy. And snuffly. And contemplating with a certain lowering dread the upcoming end-of-exam season we are now having to do three weeks later than normal in a hurry, thereby compressing my orientation prep into a significantly tiny nutshell. What does not kill me makes me stronger. Let's hope.
South Park Self

insert gravelly Satchmo lyric here

A week into no anti-depressants at all, and it transpires that Evil Wellbutrin was inhibiting my ability to giggle at the Internet. Or at stupid stuff my Dragon Age companions say, or that ridiculously graphics glitch where it gives you two of a pack of wolves stuck into the same spot at right angles and spinning gently. Or to feel attachment or affection, actually - I'm currently romancing Cassandra, and kicking myself that I didn't do it earlier, she's a sweetie. All fluffy romance under the righteous grumpy kick-butt sexy contralto surface. At any rate, there is now giggling, the absence of which I hadn't noticed until it started coming back, and my expression of affection to my cats and Dragon Age romances is at approximately three times the level it was a month ago. Huh. I am apparently me again. I'd missed me.

The thing is, I am, when you get down to it, fundamentally a contented person. When functional I have a sort of innate connectedness to existence at large, the ability to get a gentle kick out of random examples of the universe doing its thing: cool clouds and spring foliage and happy dogs being walked and good food and catchy music and elegant turns of phrase and flower scents and beautiful coltish students and people letting each other into traffic in the morning. Living is its own succession of micro-rewards, the enjoyment of which consoles me enough for ongoing angsts or challenges that I can drift more or less contentedly through my days. Depression suppresses that ruthlessly, and apparently anti-depressants muffle the connection.

I don't think I'm naturally a depressed person. I think the last few years have been triggered by circumstances, some of them physical: my dad's illness and death, and the giant knock to my system represented by the DVT and embolisms and what have you. The anti-depressants made it possible to survive that by kicking up my energy levels to the point where I could function, but I suspect that somewhere over the last year my natural brain chemistry tried to reassert itself, and the anti-depressants started messing with that in a negative rather than a positive sense.

It also explains, I think, why I reached a sort of natural end to the therapy process, at least for this particular point in time. I have a great deal of respect for therapy, which on a good day finely balances insight and moral support with a crash-course in building an emotional toolset. My therapist was lovely (and amazingly open to acquiring ridiculous amounts of by-the-way knowledge in my bizarre interest areas. Apparently you can't understand my psyche without a passing acquaintance with vampire symbolism and videogame narrative patterns.) I learned a great deal, and made a start at acquiring some important skills, but then the relevance just ... ran out. Part of the problem was that I couldn't get beyond a certain point in the process owing to the emotional muffling - it's not really possible to excavate emotional responses if you're not, you know, actually feeling them. Part of it was practical, in that therapy is expensive and I actually can't afford it - my medical aid runs out approximately in April every year, and the couple of thousand rand weekly sessions represent every month just pushes me over the boundary from "makes ends meet" into "inexorable slide into credit card debt." (And the one sour note my therapist ever struck was in repeatedly recommending two sessions a week at a time when I wasn't quite surviving financially while covering one. To her, "I have no money for this" apparently meant "is prioritising disposable income differently", and it was really "has absolutely no disposable income, thank you very much" to me).

But part of the problem was also that I became frankly bored with myself. We were circling repeatedly back over a particular set of dysfunctions which I know about, dammit - I recognise them in myself, I have acquired some tools to start to try and recalibrate my own behaviours, and the rest is time and practice. I kept having to say "Yup, still doing that, working on it, might be improving a bit" week after week. Really I'd rather put the mental energy into enjoying something life-connected and happy than in revisiting, endlessly, the darker corners of myself. And it also rubbed my nose in the fundamental disagreement I eventually have with therapy, which is its validation of me-focus beyond the point where I'm actually comfortable with it. Me-focus is important. Boundaries and self-care and other buzzwords are essential. But there comes a point at which this feels too inward-turned, too close to narcissism, and I feel that it's at the expense of outward connections which are also important for my mental health. I like the world and want it to be happy, and there's a moment in therapy where the therapist is defining it as "self-care" and I'm defining it as "selfish". And, frankly, bugger that.

So now I can only see where this goes, and hope it lasts. I am let loose on the universe unmoored by aids either therapeutic or chemical, and am apparently drifting contentedly thereby. And I've remembered how to giggle at the Internet. I'm surprisingly OK with that.
South Park Self

you can't get the wood, you know

Lo these many aeons ago, back in the mists of time, one of the multitudes of DM-ing Andrews of my immediate acquaintance (the polar-explorer namesake one) ran a Rolemaster game. Standardish medieval framework, featuring the usual quotient of ridiculous semi-British humour, puns and insane party antics. I think it may have been that one where Dylan's character critically fumbled a riding skill, fell off, and rolled a 66 crit on the dismount, coming really absurdly close to death. But it also featured the party mind-controlling a peasant, for reasons lost to history, no wait, now I come to think of it it was in order to force him to dig a grave for the messenger we accidentally killed because he came galloping past us in a Suspicious Manner and we critted fatally on an attempt to stop him somewhat less lethally. (He had nothing whatsoever to do with us or our quest and was a mere item of local colour. Andrew being Andrew, his messenger's badge was a small red fish).

Anyway, we forced said peasant to prepare a grave, causing him to shamble up to the party once finished, spade in hand in the approved American Gothic pose, and utter the immortal line, with all the delivery of a medieval Eccles, "I dugged an hole." This became a catchphrase, not just in its original form, but in its somewhat idiosyncratic grammatical franglement, in a manner not unrelated to LOLcats or doge. I wroted an blog post. I wented to an work. Our students hadded an protest. Our protesters also flunged an things at our VC, in a manner which did its damnedest to undermine the otherwise praiseworthily conducted protests and which has been ruthlessly suppressed, hopefully in the Carrollian sense1. But I digress.

All of this is a vague and pointless preamble to the observation that The Jo had another outbreak of mad l33t carpentry skillz, and maded me an TV cabinet2. Thus:

It is a thing composed of equal parts beauty and utility. It is precisely measured to the dimensions of the various bits of my home theatre system and ever-expanding DVD collection, and has wheels and handles and dinky brass clasps on its cunning back compartment to store acres of electrical spaghetti, and it is bringing me much joy not of only of the utilitarian and organisational variety, but of the warm glow of Nice Friends Made Stuff For Me!

I have Nice Friends. But you knew that, since a lot of them are you.

1 "Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will just explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)
"`I'm glad I've seen that done,' thought Alice. `I've so often read in the newspapers, at the end of trials, "There was some attempts at applause, which was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court," and I never understood what it meant till now.'"

2 Which seems, in fact, to be a Theme of a certain cosmic inevitability. The Evil Landlord did something similar when I was living with him, constructing me a giant TV cabinet which stored not only the home theatre system, but my entire DVD collection, at least for about a week and a half until my hopeless addiction to media acquisition overran the space almost instantly. It is a source of great sorrow to me that my current living room is no way in hell large enough for the original TV cabinet, and I had to leave it behind, thus necessitating the Joannular carpentry outbreak.

South Park Self

Thursday wol is a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist

The recent Great Office Migration has come to a temporary halt while various other people play Musical Offices in the background, so I'm half moved back into my old office, with none of my books on the shelves and a noticeboard closing off the spanky new door between me and my colleague, held up by piles of boxes. (Greatest challenge of the whole procedure: trying to impress upon the Powers That Be that a soundproofed office is completely vital to her ability to function as a clinical social worker. They weren't getting it. Eventually we Heath Robinsoned it ourselves).

Having lovingly packed up my computer and carefully boxed all the cables resulting from it, the printer and the fancy Lync-using phone, I have now reassembled everything and persuaded it to work. This took no more than the expected pause for swearing at the telephone set-up help pages (a VoIP phone is fiddly) and at our network protocols, and the worst I had to do was change my campus password, which works with absolutely everything and which had somewhere in the whole labyrinthine process become dissociated so that half of everything didn't recognise it.

However, with everything up and running, and despite my meticulous packing principles, I have one cable left over. It was clearly connected to something when I dismantled it, and everything is running, but there's this cable. One of those fancy new ones with a USB plug at one end and one of those square-cross-section thingies at the other. Probably a printer cable, but I have a printer cable and the printer is working. Where the hell did it come from? Do they spontaneously replicate by binary fission or dodgy entanglements while tangled up in a box? Is one of my students a reverse kleptomaniac? I'm confused.

Failing any insights as to mysterious cabling, have some random linkery. This is a beautifully creepy and poignant Ursula Vernon story that's as much about writing as it is about anything else. And these are Owlvengers, thus neatly encapsulating two of my obsessions.

South Park Self

their children's hell will slowly go by

This is currently my favourite random image in the stream which flows incessantly and sometimes repetitively over Tumblr:

Damn, it has anxiety. In particular, it has anxiety if it's a student whose exams have just been summarily relocated by two weeks. You would not believe the degree of chaos incurred for the workings of plane tickets, travel arrangements generally, accommodation, planned holidays, planned vac work, parental travel plans for graduation, and interesting new religious conflicts. (Diwali). The conceptual high-water-anxiety-mark on the walls of my office is higher than it's ever been. I have spent the bulk of the last two weeks soothing students, often through the medium of cut-and-paste, because there's a limit to my ability to be originally soothing twenty times in a row.

However, the protests seem to be (touch wood) over: the students, bless them, have pretty much swept the board with achieving their goals (0% fee increase for next year; university commitment to insourcing; lifting of interdicts and dropping of charges against protesters; a ban on police on campus). How the hell we're going to finance all of the above is another story entirely, the government is going to be a broken reed in this department, I can tell you right now. But I'm back in my office, at least, and none of my plants died, and the level of office-renovatory chaos is at least no greater than it was before the involuntary two-week freeze, and we have dates for rescheduled exams so I can start allaying anxieties in a slightly more concrete fashion.

These student protests were, I think, necessary, and certainly powerful, and in the long run have a chance to materially improve the lot of our most disadvantaged and financially precarious students. There's a cost, though. And while a middle-class student is likely to be able to absorb a R4000 airline ticket reschedule, or pay for accommodation for an extra two weeks or to write a supp, our poorest students won't be able to. If we have to fling sacrifices into the maw of the political volcano god, it seems particularly cruel to have selected for these ones.

(My subject line is still "Teach your children well", incidentally. Because it's still relevant).
South Park Self

sigh, and know they love you

Today has been characterised by a trickle of emails from students panicking (fairly understandably, I must say) about whether or not exams will run, and what happens if they're delayed. (The VC has just postponed all next week's ones, which will cause interesting degrees of chaos). Campus is still closed and will be tomorrow while protesters lobby Parliament and dodge police brutality, and I predict I'll spend a lot of time for the rest of the week sending soothing responses along the lines of "we know, we're sorry, we're trying to formulate a strategy which won't torpedo your academics." The theme is still anxiety about their studies, just in the microcosm rather than the political macrocosm.

A week at home has, if considered entirely separately from the very real and desperate circumstances of the protests, been lovely. My cats are graciously pleased that I have arranged for once to give them the sustained companionship that is their due, and are signifying their approval by trying to lie all over my papers and wrists and the keyboard while I'm trying to work. While looking deceptively innocent and adorable, viz:


That curled-paw pose is absolutely my favourite one ever. The black speck on his nose is a tiny bald spot which is a legacy of one of his recent fights.

Work itself has also been pleasantly mitigated by the fact that I can wander around the back courtyard during tea-breaks and water, prod, prune and otherwise appreciate all that burgeoning spring life. Because my back courtyard has a statement to make right now, which is "Green!" Or possibly "GREEN!!" Namely:

Photo0220 Photo0215

The small maddened forest to the left of the first picture is three tomato plants, which have confounded my expectations by reaching skyward with jungloid fervour despite the fact that plants put in exactly the same place at exactly the same time last year on exactly the same regimen of soil and water went small and stunted and sickly, and died after producing about one and a half actual tomatoes each. One of the reasons I love gardening is because it has its own wayward vegetable mind and, charm you never so wisely, will thumb its nose and go its own way.

I also, in a spirit of enquiry, planted another batch of Jo's mad rocket seeds, which I swear she has irradiated or subjected to naked full moon dances at midnight. Or else they're actually triffids. Because I planted these on Monday evening, and this was what they looked like this morning:


I went out there a few minutes ago, and I swear they're visibly bigger. The offical, nursery-packaged chive seeds I planted at the same time have yet to materialise.

My subject line is Crosby, Stills and Nash, more specifically "Teach your children well", which I learned to play at guitar club at school, and the attempt to reproduce which this morning led me to realise that I haven't tried to play my guitar in over a year, and its bottom E string has snapped. Phooey. But I'm officially nominating the song as the week's anthem, because dear lord, so much of what these poor kids are facing is simple inheritance.
South Park Self

trigger warning

It's possibly a little too apposite that my car music should have just cycled into Diamond Dogs, as I've been at home for three days owning to a closed campus - the students are protesting. They barricaded the campus on Monday, and did again with added flame on Tuesday, after by all accounts an uncomfortable night at the admin building in which attempted discussions with university management eventually broke down just before midnight with a bunch of arrests. I managed to leave the house before yesterday morning's emails warning us that campus was closed for a second day, so trundled up to a bizarre, deserted, post-apocalyptic landscape in which the few students wandering around looked confused and slightly hunted, and there was a very slight haze of burning tyre smoke over everything. Today we're also off campus, which is closed for students nationally to yell at the government, to which I say yay. The government needs yelling at.

I have found my own reactions to be strangely complicated. On the one hand this seems fairly standard - students will demonstrate, bless them, and we've had a good couple of decades of relative ideological apathy, so it's rather reassuring to see that the current generation is capable of this sort of generalised moral passion. I do wish the protesters wouldn't break things, but I know how mobs work, particularly when passions are high and when there's a whole entrenched history of disadvantage vs privilege embodied in the buildings of our campus. And their thesis - that fees are too high - is absolutely valid. Our fees are too damned high - in my job I see a continual succession of these poor kids in the direst financial straits, struggling to make it work under the double whammy of high fees and under-preparation by Matric. Our fees should bloody well be protested. And while it's a lot more complicated than the students would like to believe (if we cut fees as demanded we'd go under, as far as I can tell, and the institution, far from screwing the working poor with a jaunty laugh, does put a buttload of money into financial aid), with any luck the nationwide nature of the protests will be enough to force the government to at least divert some of their corruption earmarks into our severely under-subsidised tertiary education.

What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the trigger effect of all this. I started university in South Africa in 1988, still under the apartheid government. While I was possibly the world's most unpoliticised and oblivious undergrad, and experienced only the trailing tail-end of the student protests, there were still marches on campus in my first couple of years, and protesters tangling with the police water-cannon on Adderley Street (the purple shall govern! Ye gods, I was only hazily aware of the whole Purple Rain protest at the time, and a quick google reveals that I had remembered the details perfectly accurately. It clearly made an impression.) The police cars all over campus yesterday and Monday, and the burning barricades, and the footage with flash-bangs and loud-hailers outside the admin block on Tuesday night, even the raised fists and shouting, catapulted me nastily and viscerally back into that far more tense and horrible time. Let's just say that students vs. government has some unpleasant historical precedents in this country, shall we?

So protesters are hard-coded as "legitimate" to me in a way which actually transcends the validity of their current point of protest. It engenders a cold, sinking feeling to have our current government by implication put into the same frame of reference as the bad old apartheid one. (I had an identically emotional response to the police casspirs in District 9). And if nothing else, my Cherished Institution has handled the whole thing with conspicuous tone-deafness, to haul in the police so early on in the process, to descend immediately into "this is illegal" in a way which instantly overwrote "let us discuss the valid point you have here", and to re-create with such fidelity the traditional battle lines of police and stun guns and armoured vehicles as the threatening backdrop to student protest. It's perfectly obvious to the most untrained eye that that was never going to go down well.

In all sorts of weird ways South African apartheid was never my battle, but in all sorts of weird ways it is, not just because I was there for its fall and live here now - because these are my students, and the effects of apartheid are still playing out in their lives, and one upshot of my job is that I feel protective and worried about them, and very invested in their happiness and success. Some of them have crossed lines they shouldn't have in these protests, and are going to face potentially life-ruining consequences. We have had lectures disrupted, and exams might still be affected, and I know that I'm going to be dealing with emotional and physical fallout from these protests as students wander through my office attempting to unravel the ramifications for their studies. And I can only hope that it's all worth it, that it works, that our thrice-damned government will remember its roots enough to respond appropriately.

And because that's all too damned serious, I shall end with entirely another sense of emotional trigger that is equally about history and investment and struggle and moral polarities: the new Star Wars trailer made me cry.
South Park Self

the theme of hierarchically-defined, continuous translocation

We haven't had a proper movie club in ages - movie club being, by definition, a session where we watch two movies with a putative thematic link, back-to-back, while eating Stuff On Rolls and imbibing alcohol to the level prescribed by the quality of the cinematic offerings. Sunday night wasn't technically a movie club, as we only watched one movie, but I propose to follow the principle of thematic linking between unlikely and disparate narratives by comparing the film, which was Bong Joon Ho's Snowpiercer, with my current state of work existence. (I'm glad I checked the director's name, incidentally, I'd remembered it as Boon Jong Ho, which is quite possibly a dreadful insult in Korean).

Given that Snowpiercer is (a) a dystopian, post-apocalyptic, extremely violent semi-thriller, (b) graced by Bearded!Chris Evans doing a surprisingly dark and driven tone which is the antithesis of his American Captaining, and (c) batshit insane and completely surreal, I should hasten to add that it doesn't have that much in common with my current state of work existence. My life right now is tragically missing any iteration of Chris Evans and is neither violent, dark, nor, currently, particularly surreal. What it does have in common with the film is a certain thematic tendency to a habitat characterised by continuous and ongoing movement which is dictated by Powers That Be who are severely above me in a hierarchy and whose dictates cannot be resisted without Negative Consequences. Not that my boss has a machine-gun or anything, but still.

Snowpiercer is (apparently extremely loosely) based on a graphic novel, and has as its bizarre premise a reverse-global-warming experiment gone wrong, plunging the world into catastrophic global winter in which the only survivors are hurtling around Europe/Asia in a very long, very socially stratified train on a circular train track. It is quite mad, and very dark, and very tense, and very beautifully filmed, and its culmination is cathartic beyond belief after the build-up and the increasingly horrific revelations. Its grimy lower-class protagonists fight their way up the train in balletic, impressionistic outbursts of extreme violence, and the upper-class train carriages are surreal pockets of hallucinogenic, heightened colour and bizarrely artificial life - they feel more like Doctor Who alien scenarios than anything else. Bonus Tilda Swinton being an almost unrecognisable caricature, and an overall impression of vivid nightmare. It's a very good film, for a given value of "very good film" which assumes "is a total mind-fuck."

My working life is characterised by a faculty administrative restructure, which has necessitated a sort of frantic game of Musical Offices as we all attempt to keep working while repeatedly relocating. I moved my stuff out of my office on Friday, along with my next door colleague's stuff as she happened to be in New Zealand, so they could knock a new door into the wall between us. My attempts to delay this process by a vital few weeks were steamrollered quite handily by various managers and Deans and what have you, because apparently this needs to be done Right Now owing to the inscrutable whims of builders, and the devil take the end-of-term pressures which have both me and Colleague at the mercy of continual angsty students in all this. The work should have been done over the weekend, but predictably wasn't. We are both squatting in temporary offices in the fortuitous absence of their rightful owners, but may, builders willing and the creek don't rise, relocate by Thursday or so. This will be temporary, as in the next couple of weeks both of us will have to up sticks and move completely to totally different offices in the opposite corner of the building. Since the necessary renovations haven't been done in the new offices, we'll move into offices a few down the corridor from the eventual location, and then move again when the new offices are ready. Colleague's move will be even more transient, as she's resigned and is moving to New Zealand at the end of the year. I am rather discombobulated by the change, and by the weirdness of being in someone else's working space.

Fortunately, as stated, my boss doesn't have a machine gun, and moreover looks nothing like Tilda Swinton, but I am nonetheless more than slightly inclined to see myself as hurtling indefinitely into the cold. Things would be materially improved by Chris Evans, even the grim and grimy version. I find Chris Evans curiously comforting.
South Park Self

Things I Have Forgotten Lately

I am generally very happy with the results of halving my anti-depressant dose, I am feeling my Sensitive Frondy Antennae connecting more and more with the world, in a good way. (Higher levels of cuddling my cats, and, metaphorically at any rate, my students, in the sense that current curriculum angst levels are very high and I'm getting an unholy kick out of being sweet to the gazelles and materially improving their overall states of happy). Most of the reduced-dose side effects - headaches, insomnia - are very manageable, and are giving me hope for stopping completely in a couple of months. Less manageably, the other side effect seems to be the unleashing of some bastard into the Personal Settings menu to crank Dodgy Memory up to 11, presumably while cackling wildly and twirling the villainous moustache. (For no adequately defined reason I am ascribing the villainous moustache and bastardhood to a knob-twirler of indeterminate gender skewing more female than not, but whatever). As a result, over the last few weeks I have forgotten the following:

  1. Repeatedly, to finish annotating my Masters student's dissertation. Every time I happen upon the item in my to-do list I am shocked and horrified, and set off immediately to open the file and finish, which lasts approximately a nanosecond before I forget again and get sidetracked.
  2. Repeatedly, to reply to my mother's last email, and/or Skype her. This becomes lost somewhere between sitting down at my home computer with the thought of "Right, must email mother," and actually scrolling back to the email in question.
  3. Repeatedly, to do something - anything - with the post I picked up from Phleep's campus postbox. It's sitting on my desk at home. I should give it to Jo(ty), or open and scan and email it, but I keep catching sight of it, thinking, gosh, must do that now, and immediately forgetting about it.
  4. Despite being rather pleased and excited by the topic (Frankenstein as science fiction), to prepare my Monday lecture. I'm repeating last year's lectures, but like to re-read and tweak my notes and refurbish the Powerpoint with reference to any new movies which have come out since last year. (Age of Ultron, as it happens. Totally a Frankenstein narrative). I set aside Sunday afternoon to do this, completely blanked on it, woke up early on Monday with a sudden shocked recollection, and had to do a hack job in 20 minutes. Although I scored a round of applause at the end of it (it was the final lecture in the series), so it can't have been too bad.
  5. In a complete and total sense which is somewhat alarming, the actual context and topic of the fairy-tale paper I thought I was writing. It has a whole media studies dimension I had blanked entirely, and on which I am not authoritative in any real sense, not without considerable reading for which I do not have time. Digging out the original email to read the topic was a nasty shock. I have had to withdraw from the project, causing angst and guilt, and rendering the Vladimir Propp library expedition null and void.
  6. In a complete and total sense which caused me to unsuspectingly answer her reminder phone call with a happy sense of gosh how nice to randomly hear from you what's up?, Jo(ty)'s Mount Nelson tea party. I was looking forward to that, if only in the vaguest and most futuristic sort of way. The discovery that it was actually last Saturday and halfway over when she called, was something of a distressing blindside.

Looking back at this lot, in fact it's not entirely about memory or even procrastination, most of those are things I quite like doing - it's about fragmented attention span and tendency to sidetrack. I spent most of Saturday morning vaguely reminding myself that I hadn't seen Jo(ty) in a bit and should invite her over to dinner and a Pandora-inspection and visa-shenanigan support session, which was presumably the desperate and futile attempt of my subconscious to alert me to the tea-party thing. If I'd had the capacity to follow the thought to its logical conclusion I might have remembered. But apparently not so much. Presumably my brain chemistry is registering its disapproval at no longer having its norepinephrine and dopamine levels moderated. Given that Wellbutrin is sometimes used to treat ADHD, possibly an attention-span response to reduced levels is not unlikely.

I just hope it equalises soon. My brain is all too frequently a soft, cheesy thing, but it's mine and I need it. Also, as a Public Service Announcement: if I've undertaken to attend some sort of Social Shindig in your company in the near future, it may be wise for the nonce to send me a reminder email, as I cannot in any way guarantee that I'll remember to check my diary.