Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I need more people to talk to so that I can tell whether I'm going deaf.

I called the Advice Nurse about my left ear, which is the first step to obtaining health care at my school. She suggested taking decongestants, and if my hearing/feeling of stuffed-upness doesn't improve, to call for a same day appointment to see if it's not something more serious.

I've taken about three doses now, and for a while I couldn't tell if things were improving, mainly because without TD (who is currently out of town), I have no one to talk to, since I work from home at my sweet ergonomic set up, or very rarely, at one of the libraries (only if I'm reading). I tried listening to podcasts, but the sound is too "surround" coming from my cheap computer speakers, and so I can't really tell if my hearing is the same or improved. It works better when someone is trying to directly address me, since I can tell if the voice sounds muffled to one ear or the other, such that when they stand to my left I can't hear them as well. Headphones...you would think, but for some reason the companies, they do stereoscopic sound so that I am supposed to hear more poorly from just one earbud.

So since I have not many friends in town who are free to just meet up to test my hearing (the few friends I have are studying for the bar or are probably busy with work, their own lives, etc.), I tried to sing out loud to Lizzie West's "Chariot's Rise" and Sheryl Crow's "I Shall Believe" (I am teh emo when TD is gone) which makes me notice a sort of echo in my head, in which my own voice feeds back slightly muffled to my left ear. Sigh. I guess I should call for an appointment tomorrow.

So, I'm slightly perplexed by my stuffed up ear, slightly concerned that I am way too self-isolating working from home and not social enough, and even more concerned that should I move away for a short-term fellowship or clerkship, I would lose my main source of company and will probably feel devastatingly lonely. I mean, I would still apply and go if accepted, of course. But I am filled with premature ambivalence and emo-ness. For a permanent move, we plan to move together (operative word being plan, which as Robert Burns will tell you...), but for a short separation, we would go separate ways and "make it work." Of course, I guess I would just have to reach out more and make new friends, but the very idea fills me with anxiety and preemptive sadness (I am Super Emo Girl, indeed). It's a scary thing, putting all your eggs into one basket, even if you love the basket so much you would hug it to you until the wicker cracked (bad metaphor! can you imagine that visual!). Without TD around, I've just been eating cereal, toast, graham crackers, fruit, and I did make myself some bean soup just to actually eat protein. I can easily imagine how I'd devolve back to my lonely, don't talk to anyone all day and eat cereal by yourself as you read the NYT and then stay up all night insomniac self that I was for most of my young adult life. I can't recall what it was like when I last had a boyfriend, since I was young and stupid and it was mostly long distance.

But I do remember what it was like during law school and the year I lived at my parents' house, in which I was whether by intent or accident mostly keeping to my own company, and would go for a whole day without talking to someone. Well, when living with my parents, I did talk, but in Vietnamese, so I got disused to talking in English about things that interested me, and I would go to the store just to see if I could do small talk. Actually, that was when and why I started this blog, so that I could have people to at least write to and form a community of author to reader. And it worked! I broke through my intellectual isolation with this blog, and I even made blog friends. I became so very insecure about my social skills during this time, though, such that when I finally met my first blog friend in person, SEK, I prepped him with this fear, in case I talked way too fast and too spastically and gesticulated nervously, which I sometimes think, can scare people. Seriously, I might hit you in the eye if we meet and I'm nervous.

Ironically, it was because of this blog that I'm now much more confident in my social skills. I kept on meeting strangers because I would start epistolary friendships via the greater popularity of the Belle Lettre alter ego, and I even got used to meeting such blog friends in person if I happened to be traveling in their area. I got used to meeting so many professors and readers that I started getting confident enough in my social skills to start dating again. Yes, I actually did not really date between college and now. Maybe I had two isolated dates in the intervening period, and you can imagine how those went. I can count on less than two hands the number of real, not ambiguous dates I've been on in my life. Like, it would actually amost fit on one hand. So when I did start dating again, just two years ago, I was a nervous wreck, but at least confident that I could talk about anything with anyone, and I learned to control my hand gestures so that I would not sock my date in the eye. One of the great virtues of being an academic is that I've learned to control the pace of my speech (at least when I'm presenting), so that if I try to pretend that I'm giving a talk or lecture, I will consciously slow down. Of course, this is ridiculous when you're trying to be charming and even flirtatious (not that I'm good at that) on a date. So after a few botched first-and-last dates, I got the hang of non-academic didactic talking and non-talking about the blogs we both read conversation enough to somehow charm TD. And since then he's been my favorite conversational partner, and so this muffly silence is kind of like a preview of what it would be if we did ever move away from each other, even for a little while, which reminds me not only of that isolating year living with my parents, but also The Month of Emo, in which I barely ate, scarcely left my apartment except to go on hours long walks, and watched Buffy for 10 hours a day.

This isn't an advice seeking post (Comments will be moderated for not at all needed snarkiness, and if you are addressing me or commenting on my story, I'd prefer email. If you would like to share your own story or feelings, comment away.). I've done long-distance, and of course it can work. Of course your example of long distance not working or working is great anecdotal evidence of either. Of course I am socially adept enough to make new friends and of course I should just put more effort into my social life and diversify my stocks of friends and conversational partners. I am just complaining a little, is all. Indulge me my lapses into emo. This is just a bit of oversharing and introspection, kind of like the posts I used to write before law professors started reading me. And to those law professors: don't read if you don't want the emo and oversharing! And yes, I am definitely interested in your VAP or fellowship, in whichever state, however far away! There's always frequent flier miles. Part of the trouble of writing for a dual audience (some of you like the personal stuff; some of you come here for the decreasing amounts of law/academia related blogging) is never being able to please everyone. On the one hand, given my open secret status in the legal blogosphere, I could become more circumspect (as I have been for the past couple of years) and talk about nothing personal, and not be honest about my feelings of ambivalence and my struggles with things that come with the territory of being an academic. On the other, I could write what I just did, be honest about my limits and fears, and seriously consider deleting this post at the end of the week when I am less emo.