What Stress Does (Or, My Steady Descent into Madness)


Hello, internet people! I am presently sitting diligently in the study area of the library in my lovely castle school in England. I have just had two Coke Zeros and an entire bottle of Crystal Light energy water. I also ate half of the mini cake my mom sent me for my birthday and there is an open bag of fish crackers (aka Goldfish as most people call them) on the desk beside me. I am wearing my sweatpants and a t-shirt and my bangs are pinned back because I mean BUSINESS. I ought to be at the height of productivity right now, racing through the outline I’m working on like it’s NOTHING.

Instead, as you can see, I am typing a blog post. The reason for this is that I seem to have completely broken my brain. Never has the stress reached such a level, but apparently the addition of travel and British weather to my normal school regimen has utterly defeated me. The lack of sunlight and warmth has sent me into a state where most of what I do is huddle irritably under the blankets and curse the universe. Also, there is probably not enough Taco Bell, Chinese food, and chocolate in the whole of the UK to satisfy my need to eat in order to alleviate stress.

I had to battle a hoard of old ladies to get my hands on this.

The past few weeks I have sat around moping, sleeping, and eating. I have then gone to the gym in a spiral of guilt hoping to somehow make myself lose 10 pounds while still eating everything that I encounter. My face has erupted into a terrifying mine field of pimples and blackheads that won’t be extinguished no matter how many times I wash my face, avoid wearing make up, and slather up with facial creams. My bowels are in a constant state of utter rage and confusion, refusing to function properly no matter how much Activia I chug (yes, go ahead–laugh and do the jingle, you know you want to). I am constantly tired, yet when I lie down to go to sleep every worry I have ever had attacks me in an army of self-hatred and stress that threatens to strangle me.

And yet I can’t summon the will power to do the one thing that will make all this stress go away–actually DO the work that’s stressing me out. Instead, I spend a lot of time sitting around thinking about how sad it is that I have to write a paper and a short story between now and the end of the semester. I feel as if my ability to be creative has been sucked out by a hoover (that’s what they call vacuums over here, and some of them have FACES. It’s either adorable or terrifying, I’ve not decided). As an extension of that, my ability to write an actual scholarly paper is floating somewhere back in last semester, completely beyond my reach.

While I recognize that I am still a capable and intelligent human being who will at some point write this paper about Chaucer’s treatment of women and will even somewhat enjoy the topic because she did, after all, pick it herself, that seems very far away at times. What seems more present now is my desire to fly to Malaga where there will (presumably) be sun and warm. What seems even more present is my urge to bake something, because that is what I normally do when I am stressed. I daydream about my kitchen constantly. When I’m not doing that, I daydream about what it feels like to be warm, because that has become a virtually foreign concept. But most of all, I daydream of the magical day sometime after April 18th where there will be no papers and no homework and all I will spend nearly two weeks traipsing about Italy with my friends and generally not worrying about things.

Remember this thing? Well, I sure don’t!

Clearly, stress has dissolved me into a being made up mostly of two things: Odd desires for food and warmth, and a slow deterioration of all normal bodily functions. Apparently, THIS is what happens when stress attacks overseas and you can’t cope in the normal ways.

But don’t worry (because I know that you are dissolving into panic mode at the evident decline of my mental and physical capacities.) I’ll be fine. I’ll muddle through. And a long weekend en Espana is bound to refresh me enough to defeat this honors paper ONCE AND FOR ALL!


Ireland, The "Friendliest Country", Part One

Hello internet people! Some of you are aware that I am an official Harlaxton blogger this semester. As it just so happens, this week’s post is mine–so the comprehensive, witty, and scholarly detail of my trip to Dublin will be appearing there on Thursday. To tide me over, though, I figured I’d give the detailed, rambling, probably sarcastic account of my days in Dublin over the course of the next three days. We spent three days there, I’ll spend three days telling the tale. Seems fair.

To begin, I have now flown (and survived) three times. I’ve discovered I quite like take-off but I still hate landing. I’ve also discovered that for five girls of 20 (and my 19) years, we are pretty amazing at planning travel. We managed to choose a nice, no frills airline (by name of Ryanair, I recommend it), book a really nice hostel, get ourselves to and from the airport using public transport (trains and buses), and find said hostel upon arrival without incident.

We bravely navigated the city streets, including the slightly shady area about which locals made a hilarious face, and found ourselves in a nice, clean facility by the name of Mount Eccles Court. I recommend it if you ever stay in Dublin, because even though the streets nearby are shady, the hostel itself is secure, clean, has friendly service, and is excellently priced. Additionally, the receptionist the first night was both attractive and helpful in recommending where we should eat dinner–both glorious things for tired girls who’d been traveling all day.

Dinner, at the recommendation of said attractive reception-guy, was at a nice pub called The Oval, where we sat down to a nice meal served to us by, you guessed it, ANOTHER ATTRACTIVE IRISH GUY. He was every bit as friendly as our receptionist and spent a lot of the time chatting to us about life in America and being generally friendly and glorious. You know, the way men ought to behave in the presence of lovely young ladies. After so much attention, I am now convinced my singleness does not in fact result from some horrible fatal flaw in myself, because clearly I am not terrifyingly unapproachable as I previously feared, and I have just enough confidence to skip happily past Valentine’s Day without a hitch. Ireland–it’s the secret cure for your lonely heart.

Anyway, returning to what actually matters, I had seafood chowder and brown bread; both delicious. Also downed my first half-pint of Guinness, of which I wasn’t a huge fan. Lesley and Gina had some delicious pear cider, and Shannon had a lighter beer, all of which I naturally tasted. The amount of calories in said meal were probably alarming, but it was a CELEBRATION as it was Lesley’s birthday. She even had the luxury of finding a squid in her seafood chowder, which she dubbed her “birthday squid.” Our waiter informed us that Ireland is the “friendliest country,” and I have to say my experience has led me to agree with him in at least so far as to call Dublin the “friendliest city,” because every shop or restaurant you went in to, you were likely to have a nice conversation with the owner or employee.

All in all a glorious first night, as we trudged back to our hostel for a bit of relaxation and then collapsed happily into bed for the evening, refreshing ourselves for the next day’s adventure, about which you will learn TOMORROW.