Friday, February 16, 2007

bad employee

It all really hit me last night walking home from B's after greasy Chinese from Tony's and a half bottle of crappy champagne. I didn't have time for any of those things, for conversation or dumplings or Cook's. In the last five days I've bought a condo, crammed for the GREs, given up my apartment, written a paper proposal and liquidated resources that have been in my family for six decades. It was all going smoothly, but the speed was overwhelming and felt out of my control. As I picked my way through the frozen slush, trying not to slip on the black ice, I couldn't focus on the task of walking home without falling because there was so much crowding my brain.

I got home and looked around at my apartment, crammed full of books and bakeware and scarves and realized I was leaving this home I've been in for two years. That I had twenty-nine days to keep living my normal life and somehow pick it up and move it two miles west. And I fell apart.

Panic attacks are awful. Your heart starts to race and your vision blurs so that even as you bend your head down to gasp for breath you dart your eyes up, trying to get a lock on something right in front of you that seems to be zooming away. I knelt down in my entry way, my dirty pants hems soaking my butt as my shoulders heaved, shout-whispering "IcantdothisicantdothisicantdothisICANTDOTHIS."

I eventually got it together enough to stand up and lock the door behind me, then began pacing my apartment. It was like the photos on my fridge and the furniture and even Sadie were there in a conspiracy to make things impossible. Everything around me was spiraling away and closing in at the same time. I started pacing back and forth, erratically sitting down Indian-style and beginning to put things in piles. Start packing! I won't these tank tops before I move! Wait, I haven't worn these tank tops in six years! Why do I still own them? What kind of person doesn't give her unworn clothes to charity? Wait, don't start packing now, you idiot! I should study for the GRE! I completely screwed up the geometry section of the last test I took! FUUUUUUUCK I'm going to bomb the GRE and not be able to get into my program and then what the hell did I buy a place for because it traps me in DC and I'm wasting all this money and FUUUUUUUCK.

Repeat until 4 AM.

I always feel terribly when I call in sick to work for mental health days. I do it maybe twice a year, which is twice more than a good employee probably should. But I had to do it today. I woke up at 6:30 after a long night of freaking out, and I was a damn wreck. Puffy, red-rimmed eyes anchored by circles so dark it looked like I'd been punched. I was utterly, bone-achingly exhausted. Shockingly, a fourth consecutive night with less than four hours of sleep had not exactly left me anywhere close to satisfied. I was still shaky and nowhere closer to tackling any of the things that made me freak out the night before. They were all still there AND the GRE was now two days away.

I emailed my boss, went back to sleep and woke up feeling even worse. Now I'd managed to fail at the one thing that was entirely in my control-- being a good employee. I put myself ahead of the good of my group, and no matter how much I rationalize it, that I needed this day, that I needed to get my shit together because there would be no way to tackle both my many Friday work meetings or the test on Saturday feeling the way I was feeling, I didn't feel right about it. Once I had enough clarity to see beyond my own needs, I saw how selfish it was to take a day for myself at a critical time. Mostly, I just really, really hated letting my boss down, and hated myself for doing it.

I'm feeling better now, now that I've managed to get some sleep, relearn the Pythagorean Theorem and best of all, heard from my agent that the seller now wants to close two weeks later than we originally planned. This further convinces me that there is a benevolent God watching over this entire "buying a condo" thing, and I just fervently hope He continues His good works through moving day.

But my guilt at being a bad employee is still very much around, exacerbated by the guilt I feel at feeling guilty for taking care of myself. This, to any male readers out there, is why women worry about wrinkles so much. Because of specimens like me who elevate neurotic to its purest, most distilled form: Insanity.


E :) said...

It's so easy to get overwhelmed and then to have a bit of a panic. You just have to remember that everything will work out in the end.

I did the same when I moved internationally twice in the space of 14 months. Ugh, I feel your pain.

Break a leg in the GRE!

Sparkles Anon! said...

Breathe, darlin.

The good thing about deadlines like the ones you have is that you know EXACTLY when the insanity will be over. It's not unending.

Let me know if I can help.

Ar-Jew-Tino said...

Good luck tomorrow. I'd say something smarmy yet witty but I get the feeling that's not what you need right now. Besides, I'm not that witty.

Kristin said...

Good luck! Not that you need luck: You're smart, beautiful, funny... Okay. Probably only the smart bit will help on the GRE, but you never know.

Hey Pretty said...

I know I've told you this before, but I will repeat it: Of all the 25 year olds I know, you are without the most grounded, wise one I know. If anyone can do all this it's you. Stop stressing and do.

Anonymous said...

Aw, EJ, we're here for you, lady! I"m an awesome packer upper. An even better carrier-up-the stairs-er.

You have a total pass for not engaging in social appearances for a good month, kiddo! Let us know how we can help :)

123Valerie at gmail. com