I could not help but feel cursed, then, that I had to conduct a training session for the Journal today (and tomorrow, and Friday) at a time when my anti-social tendencies are at their peak. I genuinely cannot remember the last time I'd felt this disinclined to talk to people. I just want to be left alone. We had an AGM and welcome drinks reception on Monday, and I was almost dreading the latter with the same intensity as I'd dreaded going to work when I was a lawyer. That was how draining it was, the thought of socialising. It seems that, when I am in such a mood, my fear and loathing of public speaking is magnified manifold; and since the actual speaking took maybe 10 minutes, I spent a vastly disproportionate amount of time dreading it.
Imposter syndrome, right? Except I don't think I suffer from it; I am genuinely convinced that I am a fraud, that I don't belong here, that I haven't the slightest clue what I am doing. Of course, those are the very symptons of the syndrome that I have just denied, as is my conviction that I am the exception rather than the rule. Of course, too, in the rare moment when the fog of negativity and angst clears and I am reasonable for three seconds, I know that this is just a phase, fuelled by PMS, and I am feeling useless because I have made no progress on Chapter 4, and that is partly because of how much work I've had to do for the Journal, and once that's done, once I have time to focus on my PhD again and start writing, once this PMS is over, I will feel much better about everything.
But I am presently mired in this negativity. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be in Cambridge. I am so tired of the smallness of this town, its physical constraints, the predictability of my routine, the contemptuous familiarity of all the places that I go to. Its intellectual history is presently insufficient to outweigh all these things, the extent to which they bore me, the staleness of its sameness. But I haven't the time to go somewhere else; I am too busy.
It is a good thing, then, that I am going to New York next Thursday. I really, really need a change of scenery. This place is giving me cabin fever and I can't stand it for much longer. I need a break. And so I am looking forward to New York; perhaps more importantly, I am really looking forward to going home in December.
The drivel above pretty much sums up my life at the moment. But there are bright spots, and Matt has been shining brightly like the Northern star for the past couple of days. First: on Monday, he helped me carry 6 bottles of wine and two big bottles of fruit juices to the law faculty as I was in charge of buying drinks and snacks for the Journal's welcome drinks reception, and I couldn't carry all of those things on my own. He even got me a good deal at the Cambridge Wine Merchant; otherwise, I would have procured shitty cheap wine from Sainsbury's. I was feeling so lazy that I was ready to abandon my high standards, so thank goodness he spoke to the people at the Wine Merchant and got me a good deal. He also picked out the snacks for me when we were at Sainsbury's. Someone at the drinks reception said that this year's was much better than last year's, and since Matt pretty much chose everything, it was entirely due to his credit.
While we walked through the market square, I rubbed him lightly on the small of his back and said, 'Thank you for being my...muscle.'
He joked, 'Or your mule. Your donkey.'
We walked through King's College (I was so used to walking through on my own that I forgot to tell the guard that Matt was with me as I showed her my student card; he had to clarify and she had to clarify with me. That wasn't nice of me). It was too bad that we were carrying all those things because walking through King's College always makes me feel like I am at Cambridge and reminds me of the reasons I wanted to come here; it is also really picturesque. So despite all the bags, it was really nice to walk through King's with him.
When we'd deposited the stuff at my desk and the white wines and juices in a fridge that smelled like cheese thanks to a bottle of spoilt milk, I walked him a third of the way back to town, through the UL to the junction of the Backs and the Orgasm Bridge (so-nicknamed because it's a very steep bridge which requires a lot of effort and hence grunting to cycle up). I felt very light and happy as we kissed goodbye, as he hugged me in his really comfortable warm embrace. So I really appreciated that he took time off his day off from work to be my muscle.
Second: yesterday evening with him was lovely. He'd just been paid, and he took me to a semi-fancy restaurant, the St John's Chop House. I had a butternut squash risotto for the main and it was delicious - and this is coming from someone who doesn't really like butternut squash. He also ordered a bottle of wine for us.
The bill came up to 70 pounds. I really did not expect it to be that much. He footed the entire bill because, as he told me later when we were snuggled next to each other on my bed, 'I wanted to treat you a little tonight.'
There had been a couple of occasions when I paid for our meals because he was literally broke. But they'd never been anything more than 30 pounds. And I certainly did not expect him to spend this much money on dinner last night. I thought we'd go for the early evening set thing, 19 pounds for a 3-course meal, and that'd be that; but he went all out. It was really sweet of him.
I ought to help him save money, oughtn't I? I suppose the bright side is, I'm going to be away for 10 days, so he wouldn't have to spend money going out with me. But anyway, we will see.
Over dinner, I asked him what his favourite dessert was.
'A really, really good gelato,' he said. 'Pistachio gelato.'
'Pistachio, really?' I said.
He pronounced the 'ch' in the last syllable in 'pistachio' as an 'sh'. 'Piss-sta-shio'. He mimicked the way I pronounced 'pistachio', especially the 'ch' in the last syllable.
'So posh,' he teased.
Sometimes, he doesn't pronounce the 't' sounds at the end of a word or in the second syllable of a word. He doesn't pronounce the 't' in his own name. He doesn't pronounce the 't' in 'better'. But I have noticed that he doesn't do this at work. And so I like it that he feels comfortable enough with me to just do him. (For instance, he's stopped trying to dress slightly up - slightly because he's definitely not the dress up kind of guy - for our dates. Now that I am older and wiser, it's a good sign of comfort.)
Over dinner, he asked me, 'What's your favourite word?'
I have so many words that I love and which I use quite often; but my mind, so stuck in academic writing, could only come up with 'ostensible'. I mean, it's a good word and I do use it quite often when I write my PhD (maybe even when I write in this blog), but it's certainly not a top ten favourite.
Here are some of my favourite words, then:
...okay. I can't think of others. Anyway, I am over this entry. I'm going to watch something on Netflix now.