Monthly Archives: February 2018

The light

I was always so used to the Mediterranean, sea and mountain light. I did not know the light could be different. I did not know that a key reason I was happy with what I was doing was that it was making it possible to stay in this light.

Coming home was easy this time, though — partly because I flew to Houston and drove, making the transition easy, and partly because it was good to get to any space that was mine.


I wish I had felt I had options when I was younger. I had them in fact and could see them, but did not have the strength to take them. The overriding priority was not to upset our parents and this was a very difficult task, all-consuming, always. It always seemed we must define and fulfill their true wishes and I did not realize that the reason things were so opaque was that they were in irrational states, and that much of what they said was incomprehensible because of that or was to some degree inaccurate because of that. Divining their wishes, fulfilling these, earning love or at least preventing mistreatment or terror were the only really important things and this has shaped my life.


In any case, I will stop tearing myself apart. Nothing is a question of time management, or of priority management, or of self management, it is a question of authority, of having authority, of having any belief that my own instincts and insights can prevail, or any belief that anyone will see I have honesty and integrity. I am so used to not being trusted and to being told not to trust myself.

I feel as though something twisted in my stomach were straightening. Perhaps this is the proverbial umbilical cord, loosening. I will encourage it.


The worst professional advice I ever got was to cram schedules and rush. I never did this and I always made deadlines. Once I started cramming schedules and rushing, I began to fail. Even now I was afraid to start preparing class because I thought that once I started I would need to go at warp speed and finish in under 25 minutes — or be accused of spending too much time. It felt as though I must be finished in 25 seconds. I did not want to enter a space in which I would be goaded like that, so I could not begin — even though I in fact had the 2.5 hours I wanted.

Now I only have 25 minutes, because I was so scared to start and give myself only 25 minutes. But if I had reminded myself more squarely, you have 2.5 hours, you do not have to rush, then I would be well finished, happy and relaxed by now.



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Le prochain voyage

Costs so far: Flight + car deal, MSY (New Orleans) to SFO, March 31-April 7, including travel protection but not rental car insurance or taxes (yet): $1085. Lodging: $998.

Then there will be rental car insurance and taxes, combustible, airport parking, and pet care. I will not ask to be reimbursed for cost of food or tolls, and may not ask to be reimbursed for any other costs although I really should.

Todo esto es muy caro.


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La depresión

I can see it: YES I suffer from depression. I see it after having a day at work which, because of having visits from elsewhere which had to do directly with our department, was a GREAT DAY and reminded me of days at work elsewhere. It was so great that somehow the following day felt great, too. I could really live like this.

Suffering from depression is so frustrating because it dissipates as soon as anything good, or non-bad happens. This is why depression treatment doesn’t work, any better than time management works when your problem is project design (for example).

People finally say, now, that it is because of that that I should get away from here. But why would they not say it 30, 20 years ago, when I knew it and it was possible to do and still have a career? Why did they put on so much pressure to tough it out? They are frustrating.

My tarot reading says:

Card 1:  How you feel about yourself »

The World

You are about to reach, or are already enjoying, a period of total fulfillment, wholeness and satisfaction – the arrival of your heart’s desires.

You feel satisfied with what you have achieved and are enjoying the rewards for past efforts. A time of happy outcomes, material wealth and greater spiritual awareness.

Card 2:  What you want most right now »

The Sun

The Sun suggests that what you most want at this time is some joy and pleasure in your life, perhaps a long-needed holiday in the sun to re-charge your batteries.

You may have been through a period of challenges or a time of limbo and inactivity. The Sun heralds an ending to difficulties and a time to celebrate with friends and loved ones, a time of pleasure and the possibility of good news around children or the conception or birth of a longed-for baby.

Card 3:   Your fears »

The Moon

Lies and insecurity are likely to be prominent in your life at the moment – you are afraid of being deceived and feel that you are being misled. Trust your instincts and let them guide you away from those who may seem charming but are only out for their own gains.

Your turbulent emotions are muddying the waters – step back and try to find clarity of mind, although this may seem difficult. The Moon does help to illuminate the way and don’t worry, it will turn out alright in the end.

Card 4:   What is going for you »


A time of absolute endings and brand new beginnings, your life is going through a period of great transformation.

Whilst change may be difficult, or even painful, you will pull through.

You will be free for a brand new phase in your life.

Card 5:   What is going against you »


Life will seem hectic and full of challenges and you will find it hard to have the right perspective on things.

You may have a rival in love or at work. Think about whether the relationship or the job is really right for you.

This is a time for being calm and patient and life will soon have a sense of normality again.

Card 6:  The likely outcome »

The Star

This is a time of good luck and fortune, perhaps after a period of struggle and heartache.

Good health, possibly after a time of illness, and good fortune will give you a new zest for life.

If considering a new love affair, new job, career change, or travel, then go for it.

You may also receive a gift or gifts!

Yet I do not feel that means I have to suddenly leave. My other card reading said changes were coming here. What will happen if I leave? I asked. You will become a workaholic, it said. What will happen if I stay? Growth, it said.

Dios quiera que así sea. (Note that this reading does not seem to answer the question I asked it at all.


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More on priorities

I still think the original article was the most interesting, with its discussion of time, what time is, and its practical questions:

What matters now? (People change in time, so it’s natural that priorities change in time, as well. Make sure you’re not acting on yesteryear’s priorities just because you had them last year.)
What actions can I take today, tomorrow, and this week that most reflect my priorities?
What are the priorities of the people around me who matter? (Your family, friends, boss, coworkers, employees.) Do we have alignment, interdependence, or tension?
What’s on my plate that doesn’t reflect my priorities and what needs to happen to get it off my plate?
With whom can I share my priorities so that I receive the support I need to take action on them?

I think looking too closely , as I have perhaps done, or simplifying to “am I following priorities or not?” are distortions. “Why aren’t you following stated priorities?” is like “Why are you not using your time wisely?”

My priorities? Adventure. A quest.  I remember being isolated as a child and forced into extreme dependency. I wanted to grow large, so I could forge autonomy and connection.

What I learned this week includes:  1/ That I should not limit myself just to assuage professional jealousy of others. Not only is it uncalled for–it will not work; and 2/ That I have high interest in work compared to others and also, high expectations of it.


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On priorities

This is what I learned about priorities.

First education: Service and leisure come first. Creative and lucrative work are ornaments that enhance your service potential, or that are parts of leisure. (I was always dissatisfied with this hobbycraft version of life.)

College and graduate school: Research and creative work are first, teaching and lucrative work are second, service is third, and all of these things take place within the framework of a life that includes leisure, personal development, and maintenance work. (I liked this a lot and it was also the mode that prevailed in the two contingent jobs I had, both also at R1 institutions.)

First job: Teaching is first, service is second, research is third, and all of these things take place in a framework that puts college social life ahead of other parts of life. (This was a terrible culture shock from which I have not recovered.)

Second job: Research is again first, but real research is oriented toward fundraising. Therefore do lucrative research as it is, we repeat, of prime importance. Otherwise, carry on as in college and graduate school, just do all things at a lower level and step up leisure activities to compensate. (This was a relief but the highly utilitarian understanding of research was dissatisfying and bleak.)

Reeducation: Neuroses and leisure are first. Anything else you can get is lagniappe and can be taken in any order, but of the possible things low-level teaching is first. (This was terrifying because it mirrored my first education and to a degree, my first job. I have not fully recovered from it.)

Third job: Managing chaos is first, teaching and major service are second, research is really third but is said to be first, and you had really better have a life outside somehow because here war is first, desolation is second and in a thousand years there will not be peace. (This is endlessly frustrating.)

I am not uninterested in The Profession; it is just that I did not know what it was. In college and graduate school — and I studied, one way or another, at six institutions — I got a certain impression of how things would be. Of the six institutions only one was not R1 and I ran away to an R1 as soon as I could. At the time I thought Institution #6 was just an odd place, but in retrospect I realize it was not odd, it was merely not an R1.

This is why I say R1 university work is one thing, and everything else college or university is another planet. There are people who manage to remain in an R1 style bubble even without being at one. I wish to emulate them but am still not sure how. I think a double income helps, and I know a very strong personality helps. I was told today that I was “a remarkable woman” but clearly I need to become even more remarkable if I am to be satisfied.


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On efficiency

This has to do with my having traumatized myself by ignoring what was really going on and trying to say my problem was “time management.”

The thing is that I do not want to be efficient. I don’t want to sit down with one eye on the clock and try to rush. I don’t want to start by planning priorities. I am so naturally organized that forcing  yet more structure is stifling, and so naturally efficient that slowing from run to walk is what’s good for me.

I want to just sit down and immerse myself in work and not think about the outside, the end. I want to let my mind relax. If I have to constantly second-guess, is this the most important thing I can be doing right now? is this strategic? can I do it in 25 minutes? I cannot concentrate. Not just following my own lead causes me to go around in circles.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Really my problem is being so unkind to myself, and not allowing myself any authority. My other problem is all this unresolved trauma in academia. How would I resolve it?

I try to resolve it by understanding it and I can analyze anything, but I think the actual answer is to be kind to myself about it. I will try to remember this.


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The connection between belief in truth, confidence, direction and purpose (you need the first to have the other three)

I am up to auto-psycho-radiography again, because of the confirmation that one should think of one’s days in terms of defining and acting on priorities, not of “time management.” Actual priorities, however, are not always easy to discern. One has the priorities one thinks one should have, and the ones one does have (and acts upon), and also the unconscious or merely unacknowledged ones that may be stronger and that may even have validity. What are my priorities? The more I look, the more basic I get. My deepest priority is calculating the right ratio of acceptance and refusal of abuse, the ratio that will equal survival. The concept seems to be: I must take as much abuse, and undertake as much self-denial as I can without disabling myself completely. How much can I give away while still retaining enough of myself to keep functioning at at least a basic level? In Reeducation, it was said that I was functioning at a much higher level than I deserved to do, given my putative background. I needed to drop this façade so as to see reality. That was of course false, but I took this path and it is a difficult one to return from. This is because my most basic research question is how much I can hobble myself without becoming completely non-functional. Until I renounce this project I will not progress.


I am also over-complicating matters. The fact is that this family health situation has also been a great deal of work, and traumatic. I have not gotten a great deal else done in two months and I am very tired. “Why do I not set better priorities?” “Why have I not smartly done yoga and otherwise taken perfect care of myself during this time?” are not necessarily constructive questions.

I am in addition destroying myself because of what I have not done, which is not useful.


In another context someone said:

[The people in question] do not believe in truth. Lacking such a belief it is hardly surprising that they also lack confidence, direction and purpose.

That is why I wanted to do activist work I am passionate about as a profession. There is more to think about here. I believe in truth; I just don’t believe I can have access to it in my current field. Why is this? Because I have been told so often that I am wrong in my very being, and I have internalized it. Entering another field so that this wound could air, rest, heal, always seemed best to me although others said it would be a betrayal.


I have to decide now that I have access to truth in THIS field. I have to actively combat the idea that I do not have access to truth, to autonomy, to integrity, and the idea that I have no value. These are my basic beliefs: I cannot discern truth, I have no right to autonomy or integrity, and I have value only insofar as I can serve and please others.

I think of work as a place where I am isolated, but also lack power and autonomy. There are expectations that are impossible to fulfill, but the wages of not fulfilling them are death; you could also survive without being a true star, but you will be maimed like the Little Mermaid. Also, at work there will always be requirements you have not met only because you were not told of them; you will always be excluded from discussions of matters that affect your life; you will be obstructed and harassed. That is why it is hard for me to start work, because it means stepping into that place, those dangers, those roles.


What do I say, spontaneously, when I am really angry at people? “I am not your servant!” That means that being treated as a servant is what most angers me. This is to say: I want to believe I have access to truth. I want to be seen as a person. That is, I want to recognize myself as a person.


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