It's hard for me to write these days. I think that in changing jobs I lost track of something central to how I've viewed myself for the past 14 years. I'm not sure what that is exactly, but in consequence, I feel newly confused or disoriented in transferring my thoughts into voice--sort of shaky about the voice I hear as I write. Or maybe, I can't think of anything worth filling out with that voice.
I am an undergraduate again and spend my days memorizing facts about the body. I take tests over drug actions and interactions, side effects and adverse effects, peaks and troughs. I learn to operate mechanical beds and tympanic membrane thermometers. I put things in lists and draw charts. I can't think of how to make this interesting.
When I was 12 or 13 and believed that my whole family existed solely to embarrass me, I held my father in the deepest contempt for his appreciation of self-help books. As a college student and then a graduate student, I lowered my eyelids and thought dismissive thoughts about pop-psychology. Now, before I sleep, I read David Burns or pop-Buddhism and try to charm the wrinkles from my brain by thinking about my breath. I wonder: is this getting old or getting dull?
In May, taking me completely by surprise, the Russian asked me for a divorce. He wants to start a family. He tells me that when he sees men with small children at the grocery store he feels pain. Also, my personality annoys him—deeply and in ways that his ESL status prevents him from expressing except obliquely in response to my probing. I suppose these are good reasons not to stay married. Who am I to say nay? I think about how he’d better hurry up and find someone to bear these children, these transmitters of Russian genes, and I wonder why I have no yearning when I see children in the grocery store. Mostly, when I see children I feel dread or irritation, especially if the children are not obviously connected to some nearby adult or are making a loud noise or one that threatens to become loud. The children I know are bright, piquant, and something like frenetic. They create an atmosphere that is exactly the opposite of the dim, dusty library aisles where I have experienced my fullest sense of content. I mean that entirely.