Down into February we go…

And into February we have come, along with that uniquely February feeling, y’know, the one that has y’all like “I can’t believe its only February” and “I can’t believe its already February”. Simultaneously. 8 days in and I whilst the month started on a very positive note, I can’t help but feel like those few days were very much an exception to this downward souring spiral I’ve entered and journeyed down since 2017 began.

It was a positive start too. On the second of the month a very large number of colleagues, and I, went to the bowling alley to celebrate someones birthday. Bowling’s a great crowd game because there are always people better than you and always people that are worse. And in such a big group, like we were, it was great to just cheer each other on and laugh at the mistakes of those who started so cocksure. In some strange twist of fates, I managed to have a very good start indeed, getting strikes and spares left, right and centre. Even went onto win the first of our lanes game, of course I then went on to do abysmally in the second and final game, but eehh.

The following day was even better. Ive decided that for February I would try and do something ‘cultural’ once a week, whether it be going to the Theatre, visiting a museum or visiting a landmark. My first activity of the month was a visit to the Festival Theatre to see a Silent Cinema screening.

With accompaniment on the piano, a double bill of Buster Keaton began. The first film up was the short ‘One Week’. Buster Keaton’s first solo film, it is a delightful comedy about a two newlyweds who attempt to build a house with a prefabricated kit in a week with ensuing sabotage and hilarity. I loved this little film, I’ve never actually seen a black and white film, let alone a silent film at the theatre. The pianist, whose name unfortunately escapes me at this present time, was superb! The mood changes were so swift and the music was so fluid with the shots.

The second film of the bill was The General. A comedy in which Johnnie, an engineer, must rescue his two loves; his train and the delightful Annabelle Lee; from Union spies that have captured them. Im told that although it initially had only mediocre reception, it is now widely considered to be Keaton’s masterpiece, his ‘pièce de résistance’. And I can see why,. Film has definitely moved on since the 1920s, no argument there obviously, but The General is a cinematic masterpiece that a lot of films these days just do not live up too. Honestly I forgot the pianist was even there at one point, as the music was so well performed, not once with a wrongly timed note or an irrelevant emotion evoked. The only downside to this new found appreciation of Silent Film is that they so rarely do productions like this. The next isn’t until July, and who knows if i’ll still be here by then.

And of course the happiest of all times in the last week came from dancing. I talked about it in the previous post. But after restarting Lindy Hop in January, I have finally restarted Blues dancing in February. Previously my enjoyment levels between Lindy Hop and Blues were split 70:30 in favour of Lindy. Now, even after only one session of the blues, I can see that split being reversed in favour of Blues. The connection between you and your partner in Blues is so important, and feels amazing. Not to mention the music of Blues hits the right spot every time. The class in Edinburgh was fantastic, helped of course by the fact that for the whole month of February, the beginner classes are free (my bank account thanks you). Something that I found challenging in this class was that everyone learns to both follow and lead in the dance. I am a follow when it comes to dance, I just cant lead, im hopeless, but recently i’ve been feeling like I should learn how to. Especially because there is usually a huge imbalance between followers and leads that it would be nice to be able to always ask someone to dance, and not wait around for someone to ‘become available’. And thanks to the way these guys do their classes – and it really is ingenious, getting rid of those stupid gender roles straight away without even exposing new dancers to them, i wholeheartedly approve! – I am now able to learn to lead, without my following being compromised.

I was even able to stay for an hour after the class and join in the social dancing. As usual with swing dance scenes, everyone was so welcoming and friendly and asking me to dance, I was sad to leave when it ended for the night!

Why then, I hear you say, after these happy instances, do I describe these times as a “downward souring spiral”? Because unfortunately these three moments are really the only time in which my brain is able to momentarily switch off from the pit of despair it seems to have cornered itself in.
Work is horribly trying for me at the moment. But I’m trapped in a swaddle of guilt when I continue to apply for jobs. Guilt for lying to my colleagues about everything going well, guilt for lying to my supervisor for lying when he asks if everything is okay. Of course I couldn’t actually tell him how I truly felt, even if I could find the right words. His ‘is that all okay’ is delivered in that ‘It is okay. This is just a closing remark to our meeting’ sort of way that oblivious academics/bosses/men always seem to nail. Guilt for wanting to give it all up, disappointing parents and backing out of something that I’ve always said I wanted to do.
Because when it comes down to it, i’ve been wanted to do a PhD since I knew what one was. Ive always wanted to be a scientist, maybe even one day work for NASA, or conduct my own research into the way the universe works. But now, now that I’m here and doing it…I hate it. I can’t survive four years of this work. I don’t find joy in it and I certainly don’t want to be doing it for the rest of my life. So i’m trapped in this confusion of emotions in which i’m apply for jobs but feeling both relieved and disappointment when I am either offered another stage of interview or rejected.
This is why I am pessimistic about February. Slightly/very concerned about my own mental health, but eversoslightly optimistic when it comes to getting out and relieving that stress.
Over and out. X.

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