Tag Archives: stress

We Meet Again


Last semester, I had to write the Mother of All Term Papers in one weekend. I had to crank out 5,000 words in a amtter of 48 hours. I had yet to begin my research.

Well, I did it, and I got a fantastic grade. No brag, just fact.

This semester, I have to write a 3,000 word paper in about the same amount of time. Not as many words, and on a more familiar subject.

Yet I have no outline. My intro is killer, if a bit unstructured. I have no idea where this paper is going, other than that I want to talk about Shakespeare from a feminist perspective, based on what little of feminist theory I have learned int he last few weeks of class.

This week, I also need to put together a presentation on Emerson’s literary theory, finish a translation paper, take a test over the structure of Early Modern English, and read The Tempest.

And my bridal shower is on Tuesday.

Panic mode is starting to engage and will not shut off until next Saturday. I will not sleep. I will eat too much. I will probably not be a nice person to be around or to write the writings of.


Here we go again.


Sprint to the Finish


Six weeks, and the semester is over.

I sat down tonight and wrote out all of my assignments until the end of the semester. Every last one. In addition to the smaller assignments, I still need to:

  1. Write a paper for the class on literary theory.
  2. Write a translation paper for the class on the history of the English language.
  3. Revise the Shakespeare paper.
  4. Give a presentation on the Great Vowel Shift.
  5. Give a presentation about a literary theorist not covered in class.
  6. Write a bibliography project for the Shakespeare class.
  7. Write a short reading response to Titus Andronicus.
  8. Write one more reading response about a literary theorist.
  9. Read four more of Shakespeare’s plays.
  10. Read a dozen more literary theorists.
  11. Take four more tests, not counting final exams.
  12. Take three final exams.
  13. Finish organizing a wedding. Our wedding.
  14. Not die.
  15. Stay focused.

I felt so overwhelmed, I had to go scrub the bathroom. Then sit at my desk and pretend I was being productive while I was, in fact, panicking.

Six weeks.

Six long weeks.

Let It Snow


I’m behind.

Believe me, I’m thrilled to be getting married, but there’s a lot more on my plate this semester now than there would be if I weren’t getting married in June.

(I’d still rather get married in June than not be super busy.)

But I’m behind.

Mostly it’s my schedule. Classes don’t stagger well with work and free time. And there’s a ton of reading. A TON of reading. I’m mostly up on that, but there are writing projects and research projects coming my way, and I can’t seem to get enough time to do them all. Every time I think I have a free Saturday…I don’t.

So I need it to snow.

I need it to dump. Buckets and buckets of snow. None of this “wintery mix” nonsense. I need snow and ice to clog the roads so school shuts down and I can stay in my apartment and work on things. School things.

And if anyone calls to tell me “we need to go do this or that or the other thing” I can say “sorry, I can’t get to my car.” And I would stay inside and read and write things.

And I would like to build a snowman.

(But it doesn’t have to be a snowman.)



I don’t know what to do.

I really just…don’t know what to do.

I was up until 2 last night/this morning. I was studying for an exam, and none of the information was sticking. I also had to write two essays for a take-home exam in a different class. I wrote one. It was finished at twelve, and I had barely looked at the material for the in-class exam.

My brain gave up at 1:30. I fought my way to bed by 2.

I got up at seven. My brain hurt, and I was still not done studying. And nothing would stick.

Then I blinked. The exam was over, and the other one was turned in. Fumbling through the day was not that stressful, after all, and everything is done. For the time being.

Two of my three classes are no longer the boss of me. The really hard ones.

And now I don’t know what to do. My brain is empty, my eyes are dry, my lips are chapped, my body is flabby from skipping running to get schoolwork done, and I don’t care about things right now.

My hands itch. The kind of itch that won’t be satisfied until I pick up a book or write something articulate, quickly and frantically, late into the night. My brain is still trying to form thesis statements and cohesive outlines for potential papers. I keep thinking I have assigned reading I have to do, a novel to read, at least a scanned article from my professor, but there’s nothing. Nothing to write. Nothing to read. Nothing left at all.

I could do anything. I could work on my novel. I could buy Christmas present online. I could draw something. I could work on a poem. I could write in my journal. I could write a play. I could watch a movie. i could do any number of things.

But I cannot form a thought. I cannot raise a finger. I can only sit and stare at the wall, overwhelmed at the magnitude of what I have completed, of what is behind me. What has been done.

I don’t know what to do.

It Has Begun


Yes, my blog is snowing. It surprised me, too.

What doesn’t surprise me is the frasier fir that has planted itself in my living room. Or the Santa figurines all over the den. Or the sound of the Karen Carpenter crooning “White Christmas” from the speakers on our bookshelves.

Yes, folks, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Irony: I won’t get to enjoy most of it because I’ll be locked away in my apartment frantically throwing together the last three projects. So I get to enjoy Christmas in two weeks, but not right now.

Well, maybe right now. Right now I’m on the World’s Comfiest Couch, looking at a beautiful Christmas tree, surrounded by familiar decorations and all the memories that come with them. Distant, for the time being, from all the things that will have me tearing my hair out in the next few days.

May your days be merry and bright. Merrier and brighter, at least, than mine will be in the next several days.



My mind has never drawn a bigger blank.

I have to write a 20-page paper and I have no idea how. I just don’t know.

I am bracing myself for two weeks of unbridled panic. I’ve already started panicking, inside.

I always know what I want to write about for school papers. I always have an idea of what my outline will be and how I’l phrase things. I always give myself plenty of time to write stuff out.

But I don’t have a clue. I don’t have an outline. And I don’t have the time.

Heaven help me.



So I’ve had my yearly overdose of tryptophan and more than my fair allowance of naps. I haven’t eaten this many carbs in weeks. Nor have I spent this much time watching movies or reading (even if I’m only reading miles of literary criticism).

It’s been forever since I was able to take a leisurely walk or not wake up until 10. It’s been forever since I’ve taken longer than an hour to check my watch and I’ve completely lost all sense of what day it is. Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.

But Monday, I go back.

And there’s so much to do. So very, very much that has to get done.

I’m feeling super thankful this year. Let’s have Thanksgiving twice.



Undergrad taught me to plan ahead. I wasn’t always the plan-ahead type (in fact, in many ways I’m still not), but I had too many scary syllabi surprises in my college experience to repeat the same activity in grad school. I decided that the best way to keep calm and carry on in grad school would be to take every possible moment to work ahead, even if that mean only spending fifteen minutes a day on a project not due until December.

I saw my first project on the syllabus and decided to get cracking fairly early. The second Saturday of the school year saw me sitting at a carrel, thumbing through books in search of the answer to a specific question (the goal of this project). I took notes, hunted down articles, perused the stacks, and compiled a list of helpful sources.

While my classmates were panicking about their first projects (due next week), I was confident that I’d gathered most of the research I would need to put the final touches in place this weekend. No sweat.

Then I got a news flash. The first project’s goal was not, in fact, to hunt down the answer to a specific question. No, it was to find a reference resource about literature and make a presentation about it, complete with tidy little handouts.

It’s due next week. Until tonight, I hadn’t started.

So much for forethought.

Post-Grad List

  1. I have graduated. Hooray!
  2. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Now I can enjoy spring in all its glory. 
  3. Except when I’m locked indoors balancing accounts. 
  4. And trying to get my room organized enough to pack it all up. 
  5. And raising enough money to go to Croatia. 
  6. And practicing that music that I don’t have that I’m playing for that wedding that’s here in less than a month.
  7. And buy a plane ticket to get to said wedding. 
  8. And another to get back in time to go to Croatia. 
  9. And oh yes, there’s massive flooding in Croatia so the water’s not safe to drink and I’d better get my shots. 
  10. And it turns out being done with college isn’t all it was cracked up to be. 

Almost Done


Today I attended my last classes of undergrad. 

I didn’t cry or get emotional or even overly exultant. I didn’t pause to relish the moment. After all, there are still exams to take. 

But still, it’s a momentous occasion. A long time in coming. 

Yet, it came. 

Now, sleep. I’ll party later, when I’ve got the energy. 

The Best Medicine


Stress kills.

We make light of stress. We laugh about pulling all-nighters and living on coffee. Stress infests a culture of all go and no stop. Stress leads to heart strain and worn out adrenals and crippling hormonal imbalances. Stress leads to poor sleep, and little of it—which perpetuates the problem.

But there’s always so much to do.

This semester I deliberately cut way, way back on activities. Accumulated stress led to health issues I won’t elaborate upon here. Let’s just say it takes something pretty serious to make me want to slow down.

It’s been a long, hard four years. Four years of non-stop action. Late nights and early mornings. Bad food. Poor sleep. Little exercise. I look vastly different from the way I did when I began—and not in a good way either.

So how does one combat the effect of four years of debilitating stress?

Tonight, I laughed.  

Not just a little chuckle. A deep, silly, unrestrained belly laugh. Nothing caused it but good company and a half-baked joke. And lying on my back, which always makes me laugh even harder.

I and three of my friends sat on a couch and laughed. We howled. Tears streamed from our eyes. Our stomachs hurt from the exertion.

Yet once we gasped enough air back into our spent lungs, we felt so much better. It was as if all four years or anxiety rolled away.

I should do that more often. 

The Writing Process (Or: Things I Do When I’m Supposed to Be Writing)

  1. Eat unhealthy food. The closer the deadline, the greater the quantity.
  2. Prepare and drink a lot of tea.
  3. Refill the water bottle. Over and over again.
  4. Go to the bathroom. See above.
  5. Tweet about writing.
  6. Take a shower. Contemplate thesis.
  7. Overanalyze what I’ve written.
  8. Fret.
  9. Write about 100 words, edit and tweak those words, cite the quotes, cement the argument, replace passive verbs with active ones, confirm that the point I made supports my thesis, check syntactical clarity, spelling, grammar, comma and quotation mark placement, and hit the save button.
  10. Repeat. 

One Week More


In seven days, I turn 22.

Just seven more days.

I’ve gotten into a habit of counting down the last few days to birthdays. I’m not sure why I do that to myself. It’s not like I’m eager to celebrate my birthday or anything. I stopped getting excited about them when I turned 19.

Cake is cool, though. And presents are thoughtful things. And having an excuse to go home and sleep in my own bed is also quite wonderful.

The frustrating thing is how I’ll be spending my last seven days of 21-hood. I’ll be frantically putting together three final papers, two of which will determine whether I tip fence-straddling grades in my favor. The pressure is mounting to a boiling point within me. It’s very uncomfortable.

I figured that if I stay up late every night, get up early every morning, don’t eat, and don’t socialize for the next two days, I’ll get things done and done well. The prices we pay.

Also, study for a test. Hmm.

Don’t worry, gentle readers. I’ll find something to laugh about in the midst of all this teeth-grinding. I’ll be praying a lot. God has given me grace in the past, He will give me grace in the future, and He will certainly give me grace now.

A goodness knows I don’t deserve a drop of it. 



In case you were wondering….

…which you probably weren’t, but still…

This has been a very, very stressful week. I’ve been going to bed late and getting up early every morning. And there are 2,000 guests on campus, four of which are sharing my shoebox  dorm room with me this week. 

Which is why the posts have been so short. 

That’s why. 

I’ve been writing so much that my wrists hurt, but not on the blog. I’m terribly sorry, but that’s just the way it will be until…tomorrow. Yes. Probably tomorrow.