Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On good days and bad days

I have a great memory when it comes to bad things. And by “great”, I mean terrible. Let me clarify…

For a while now I’ve been kind of blue. The main reason was the disappointment for not being able to finish my thesis as planned this spring. That one got me good. The second, almost as important reason was the stress I was under to finish something thesis-related, even though I almost had no time to do it in between all the other stuff going on in my life. The third reason is the accumulation of many smaller things that individually affect my mood on a daily basis. They can range from the disappointment I feel in myself when I haven’t done the dishes, to instant low self-confidence for some reason or other. Fortunately, are usually forgotten the next morning. However, I don’t deal too well with these things if too many of them hit at once or too often, or if they are combined with other factors such as stress or disappointment. (You can see where this is going, yes?)

The result of all of this was that I have been feeling overall bad, with certain bright spots in between, as opposed to my usual feeling overall good but with certain darker spots every now and then.

At least I think that is how I usually feel. The thing is, you see, I have a very selective memory when it comes to these things. If I look back on my childhood, I think of it as exclusively happy. My teen years? Happy. The semester I lived in Japan? Happy! My time in the US last fall? You guessed it – happy again. Clearly, I must be missing something. No one is happy all the time. And if I think real hard about it, I do remember certain not-so-happy memories. I was as stubborn as a goat’s left hoof when I was little, and as a result I got into big arguments with my parents. As a teenager I had all the normal puberty issues and growing-up angst. When I was in Japan I was at least on one occasion so homesick that I seriously considered spending 30,000 kroner (about $ 5,000) on an immediate flight back home. And the first thing I did in the US was to cry my eyes out in public because I felt so very, very lonely.

But those aren’t the things I remember. It is as though my memory deliberately preserves the good times and erases the bad.

I think it’s a survival technique. If I had remembered just how homesick I was in Japan when I started planning my trip to the US, chances are I wouldn’t have left Norway at all. My terrible memory for all things dreary gives me the strength to go on (and because of that it is great).

When I woke up yesterday morning I was rested (for the first time in a while). I was smiling. I was ready to tackle the challenges the day would bring. What had changed since Monday? A few things:

First of all, I had decided to stop giving a damn about the stupid Chapter Five (you may remember it from yesterday’s post as “Or How I Lost The Will To Live”), and just write whatever came to mind. Turns out all my procrastinating and wailing and cursing of this chapter haven’t entirely ruined the work I have done in between. There is something there. It is a meager start, and it is still the crappiest draft made in history (and I am slightly worried that my supervisor will have a heart attack when she sees what her once so promising student is capable of producing), but it is that, at least: a start. And because I stopped caring, I managed to get some serious work done. What a relief!

The second thing that changed from Monday to Tuesday is that the Burrow blog, which was launched with astonishing success, no longer felt like a burden. This is one of those little things that typically don’t give me much stress, but because of the timing I was in no shape to handle the extra excitement it provided. Once launched, however, it is not out of my hands (urk, I have NO idea what I shall write for my first post there, scheduled to appear on Monday…), but somehow it is out of my mind (*snort* Okay, pun not intended, but hey… It works…).

Finally there were some other non-major things that resolved themselves, and all together this makes for a MUCH happier Cruella than the one banging her head into the wall all weekend. At least I think that is what I did. Strangely enough, it feels as though I was happy then as well. In fact, I think I have always been happy. I’m just never blue! Happy! (See how great my memory is?)

Currently listening to: Good Days and Bad Days by Kaizer Chiefs

Currently reading: The Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Two (This was my treat for sending away the draft. Friends have recommended these books to me for years, and I saw the movie a while back, but I never got around to actually picking up the books. When I finally did bring the first one back from work one day, I loved it every bit as much as everyone said I would.)


arlee bird said...

Selective memory is a funny thing. I too look back on my past and it all seems happy, even though I know for a fact that there were times in high school and college and other various times that I would be very depressed. But when I think back I can only recapture the happiness and don't really feel the sadness that I know existed. I had a great life, good friends, and loving parents and everything turned out well-- in essence I am a happy person-- I just thought I was sad sometimes.

I know some people who are the opposite. I guess it would take extensive individual analysis to figure it all out.

Tossing It Out

welcome to my world of poetry said...

It's a well known fact that of one remembers something in their life that gave them tremendous pleaasure , keep thinking how good you felt then you r body will realease endorphines into your body which makes you feel good, think of that occasion over and over again and all bad feelings disappear. It has workded for me in the past and I know should I feel blue any time I know the remedy.

Take care.

Nicole MacDonald said...

I do this - i think it helps to keep a positive outlook, which always makes things better :)

RosieC said...

When I stopped caring, it was the best thing I ever did for my graduate studies. It doesn't mean I don't love it anymore. It just means I stopped beating myself up all the time. I'm glad you got your chapter sent to your supervisor, and I doubt she's going to have a heart attack or choke over it or anything like that. The best draft is the draft that's turned in!

When I'm feeling blue, these are some quotes I like to go back to. They don't make anything better, but they make it easier to keep moving.

Pooh says (gloomily) "A week! What about meals?"

"I'm afraid no meals" said Christopher Robin, "because of getting thin quicker. But we WILL read to you."

Bear began to sigh, and then found he couldn't because he was so tightly stuck; and a tear rolled down his eye, as he said
"Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?"

..."Once we're thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it's only here that the new and the good begins."--Tolstoy, W&P

"Any idiot can face a crisis; it is day-to-day living that wears you out."--Chekhov

Good luck :)

Jan Morrison said...

oh dear woman! Yes! And it is all mind, no? I mean nothing happened between suckiness and okness other than you changed your mind. Now I need to change mine. It is getting very twisted about the fact that, as usual, I have no clients in the summer and that makes me want to get a low paying but steady job but I know that I won't want to if I do and so it goes around and around...
much love to you my pal.

Rachel said...

I too often remember times spent abroad as being wonderful. But that's because so much of it is new and therefore, a blur. Often, there's little down time, and anyway it's a big change from the monotony of life. What did you do in Japan? What were some of your experiences?

I'd love you to become a member of, a new community for women travelers to get real travel information geared specifically to women.

It would be great if you could post about your travels to Japan, providing anecdotes and photos from your time abroad. You might also want to provide tips for women travelers who also want to get out there.

I look forward to hearing more about your experiences abroad!

Hope to hear from you soon,


Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

I don't know what is wrong with us humans. I do the same thing. Dwell on the negative and forget all about the positive. Except for traveling. If at least a year has gone by, all I can remember are the good bits!

Jennee said...

I remember good things too. I mean, if we only remember bad memories we just dwell on them and then we're just cranky! I know that when I was living in Miami, I had a ton of struggles, nothing ever went right but despite all the hardship I had great friends that took away the pain. Man, I miss that. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I like selective memory too! It makes life a lot easier to handle :) I'm so glad you're feeling more like your normal self again!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, Mari, I do this exactly... happy happy happy (drives my husband nuts, as he is typically malcontent).

YAY for 'sent away Chapter 5's! And YAY for Percy Jackson!
And YAY for the Burrow being out of your mind! erm... (its mind?)

*scratches head*

Adrienne said...

I'd love to have that kind of selective memory. I feel like I remember the good and the bad equally, but not enough of either. Good luck with your thesis. :D

Tundiel said...

I feel sort of guilty now that we added to your stress.... but I'm happy that you were happy regardless, and that you have always been happy and that you will always BE happy.

And I have a selective memory too. *shifty*

nonamedufus said...

Boy, you're in a bad way. I bet you're glad you visit my blog for a quick pick-me-up, eh? ;)

H.B.Markor said...

I'm sorry to hear about your blues, but that just seems to be how life goes some times. There are days I wake up ornery as can be for no apparent reason, and then there are days that nothing will make me mad. All you can do is hope for the Happy days to outlast the cranky ones. I like your way of forgetting the bad ones, that is just good self preservation.

(Rick Riordan has a new series out called The Kane Chronichles that he just started. After you finish Percy Jackson you should have a look at it. The first book is The Red Pyramid)

Cruella Collett said...

arlee - so you're a survivor too, huh? I guess I think of it as this: The happy times form memories. The bad times form experience. (Wow, that sounded so deep and philosophical that I almost have to trademark it...)

Yvonne - that is great advice. Thanks! :)

Nicole - so true! Positive is good :)

Rosie - those are some great quotes. I am especially fond of the Pooh ones (how a not-too-clever bear can be so wise is beyond me!). And thanks for your kinds words on my draft.

Jan - and much love to you too :) Yes, I think it was all mind, though as you can see, I ended up out of mine... Good luck with finding the right frame of mind to you too!

Rachel - wow, that sounds very interesting! I was in Japan for a semester abroad during for my Bachelor's degree. I'll definitely visit your site and get back to you on this!

Rebecca - sounds like your memory is selective the wrong way! I suppose the key to keeping a selective memory in check is to take the time to really think back. Usually we remember both the good and the bad if we concentrate!

Jennee - friends are definitely important. I wouldn't have been who I am had it not been for my friends (and I would certainly have a lot more BAD memories!)

Jemi - it feels good to be myself again too! Yay!

Hart - it doesn't surprise me that you are like me in this. We're very alike in certain respects (have you noticed? :p ) and then VERY different in others. And yes, we're out of OUR minds!

Adrienne - I suppose I wouldn't want the bad things to be completely erased - after all, they are part of me too. (A wise woman once said "The happy times form memories. The bad times form experience." [wow - I am already being quoted!] I think it is important to cherish the bad memories in its way. But of course keep the good ones closer to heart.)

Tara - I think I was putting the pressure on myself, so don't feel bad. And as you noted, I wasn't feeling bad in the first place. Happy!

nonamedufus - I'm definitely happy I have your blog (and other blogs as well) to keep me zane (what little is left to salvage). Thank you for that! :)

Cruella Collett said...

Maria - seems we cross posted!
I like your view of it - to hope the happy days outlast the bad ones. I have always believed I was one of those people who was able to do that, but perhaps the reason I believed it was that I wasn't able to remember any bad days...

And I am glad to have more Riordan to check out once I have finished the Percy Jackson ones (which will be soon!)

Anonymous said...

I try to dwell on all the wonderful things I've got going for me in my life, but as with everyone, it doesn't always work out.

You look as if you're always happy! Keep it up! :D

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