is a strange thing. To say I’ve been stressed these last few months would have been an understatement. With me stress manifests as anger. Truthfully, for me, almost all emotions manifest as anger first – I’m anxious, so I’m going to scream with anger; I’m sad, so I’ll just sit in the corner and seethe for a little while; and even strangely, when I’m happy, I get fidgety and pissy until I realize that this strange emotion, it’s a good thing, I can just relax and enjoy it. I’ve learnt to wait a while before I explode and let the real emotion emerge – which only means I keep my mouth shut, it doesn’t mean that I don’t radiate waves of hostility or that I don’t look at you with eyes that would clearly love to bore a hole through your skull.

In addition to being angry, I’ve been tired, lethargic, unenthusiastic and all out of creativity – and completely panicked about feeling this way. My friends have been telling me to relax. ‘Read the list of the biggest causes of stress’, they say. Buying a house, getting married, moving in with your significant other, moving house, hating your job and looking for a new one. I’ve done all of those in the last 2 years or am in the process of doing them. ‘But I’m not conscious of feeling stressed about the job, or about the wedding. I just feel tired and stressed and lethargic and sleepy all the time’, I would say. I wouldn’t believe them. Just wait, they said, let one thing give and you’ll feel better.

And now? Now that the stress of feeling locked into a job I dislike and not knowing what’s next else has lifted, suddenly I’m a different person. I have energy, I’m nicer, calmer, more excited about life. Mr. CC for the most part has held up admirably under the strain of living with me – he’s got a thick skin and while that has caused some spectacular fights between us, for the most part it’s a good thing when you’re planning to share your life with someone whose skin is, um, how shall I put this? Diaphanous? Yes, lets go with that, it brings across the point that I can be a crazed bitch, while simultaneously making you think about soft, dewy skin with a gentle blush on it.

But our puppies are definitely letting me know that they can see a difference. They are about a year old – standard issue mutts who have the nicest personalities I’ve ever seen in dogs. They’ve always been fond of me and I’ve always received a rousing welcome from them. But their love for me was always a little bit restrained – I could almost see them thinking, ‘We love you, but all that twitchiness and repressed hostility? it’s a little hard to love.’ (I feel I must add that I was very careful about not taking out my anger on them. They have never gotten anything more than a stern voice or a gentle shake from me) But now? They can’t get enough of me – they seem to just enjoy being in physical contact with me. Wherever I go, that’s where they are. If I’m sitting, they’re sitting with me or near me and preferably in direct contact with me. If I’m cooking they are laying right near the kitchen. If I’m out in the yard, they’re walking along with me. And late in the evening when I’m lying on the couch, they can’t wait to jump up and get stretched out across my body.

There are times when I wake up in a cold sweat wondering ‘Holy shit, what am I doing? Am I really leaving academia? Am I going to regret this?’ But then I realize I have an abysmal record of making decisions that make me happy – I don’t know what it feels like to make decisions from the heart and am really just moving blindly through this career transition. But maybe I’m not flying as blind as I think – If I’m making changes that make me a person my dogs like better, it can’t be all bad ?

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