Today’s quote comes directly from The New York Times’ International Women’s Day-themed Daily Briefing. And it couldn’t be more appropriate to where I’m at right now.
Also, the briefing noted that Senegal ranks in the top ten countries with the most female representation in Parliament. I had no idea. Go, Senegal!
I unexpectedly and very pleasantly had the day off, and with nothing pressing to do, I started the mammoth article I’ve been meaning to read for three months, added words to my neglected French vocabulary list while finally streaming Lemonade, ran a couple of miles at dusk, and generally lazed about doing semi-taxing but rewarding things that are only enjoyable when done at leisure. And I did indeed note that I was happy, and feel grateful for it.
I hope you are having a happy day, too.
I’m not sure whether anxiety and depression are feelings, or mental states that keep you at a distance from your feelings. Regardless, a big old ball of anxiety tinged with despair has been hanging over me like that little Zoloft cloud lately, and every which way I’ve tried to fight it – or not fight it and simply get through it – has failed miserably…
…including posting this quote. Oh well. Maybe it’ll work for you.
(I don’t know whether this rightly belongs in the “inspiration and encouragement” category, but I don’t have one called “let’s all feel like shit together,” so it’ll have to do.)
Trying times. So many hate-filled people causing so much needless pain. I wish I could go hang out on Desmond Tutu’s couch and listen to him make me feel better about the universe. Last week I said I would pay to be David Sedaris’ friend. Today, I think I would turn over my life’s savings just to sit at a kitchen table with Desmond Tutu and David Sedaris and feel that all is right with the world.
Perhaps I should give up on language learning and join an ashram instead…
I am actually over the hump already, since it’s 1:30 on Thursday morning here, but I never changed from EST to Dakar time on my computer so I’m just going to pretend it’s still Wednesday at 9:30. When it was actually Wednesday at 9:30, I was in a great mood despite this looming deadline, but since then a very industrious and vengeful mosquito has picked up tormenting me where it left off last night. This same mosquito bit me repeatedly on four of my toes yesterday, and today it has tattooed that ankle and also gotten both arms so many times that the hydrocortisone cream that usually kills the itch immediately has given up the fight and left me wanting to peel my skin off. I don’t even understand how one mosquito needs that much blood. How has it not exploded by now?
This is all entirely tangential. I had meant to post a song that, while not filled with the most inspirational words, is filled with an inspirational feeling that had described my current mood, until my current mood shifted from a world-is-my-oyster-happiness to a world-is-nothing-but-discomfort-itchiness. Is itchiness a mood? Because it is literally overwhelming all my senses right now.
In the battle of mosquito bloodlust vs. Ruth wanderlust, the mosquito has won out tonight. But there’s always tomorrow, and with that I am off to bed.
People. Today I had a meeting… in French.
The first thing the man I was meeting with asked was, “Français? Anglais?” I chose the latter because though I’m seizing every opportunity to speak French, a business meeting is no place to practice. I then proceeded to lose all professional decorum when he offered me espresso from his Lavazza machine.* It was like Beatlemania applied to a coffeemaker.
So to be fair, there wasn’t much farther to fall. But I was alarmed when the man called over one of his staff, seemingly to introduce us, but actually to join us for the rest of the meeting – in French, because I had said that was fine when I thought we’d be doing five seconds’ worth of, “Je m’appelle Ruth. Enchantée. À bientôt.”
For the next twenty minutes I had three parallel streams of thought running through my mind. One was, “Holy shit, I’m having a meeting in French and I can understand!!!!” One was, “Holy shit, I’m having a meeting in French, what if I can’t understand????” And then of course, one was the conversation itself.
Perhaps it’s due to this overcrowding that my brain seems to skip over some fundamental processing component when working in French. I’ve noticed that I’ll follow along with a conversation, respond accordingly, and conclude with some mutually agreed upon forward-facing plan, but afterwards I’ll find myself unable to recap what was said in anything more than vague general terms. The specifics don’t seem to get banked, even in my short-term memory.
Anticipating that I might have this problem today, I scribbled down notes in English immediately following the meeting. It felt a little like I was cheating the (language acquisition) system, but in this case I couldn’t afford to get anything wrong by writing in French. As it is, I’m terrified that when I email them to follow up they’re going to be like, “Why is she going on and on about X when we asked her to talk about Y?”
That’s not the point. The point is: today I reached a new personal level of awesomeness because I had a business meeting in French. I just gave myself a literal pat on the back, because such things are important.
*It takes capsules just like Nespresso but it is as delicious and potent as the real thing.
Yesterday was my one-month anniversary (monniversary? mensiversary?) in Dakar, and I spent most of the day crying. But that was before I realized what day it was. At about 6pm it dawned on me that I arrived on February 15 and it was now March 15, so I took a moment to be proud of myself before returning to weepiness.
I’m by turns discouraged, lonely, bored, frustrated, overwhelmed, disconnected, hungry, nauseous, and unsure of myself here, not to mention convinced that my hair – which I am hoping to grow out as quickly as possible and which I am thus loath to trim into shape – makes me look like a socially untouchable muppet. But I’m not leaving til I finish what I started.
(PS It’s not nearly as bad as that sounds. I am in a slump right now but there have also been many moments of pure joy, confidence, excitement, chattiness, connection, and happy gorging.)
(PPS Will share photos from my trip when I figure out how to connect an Android to a Mac to upload them.)