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Friday, 22 August 2008

The Three Stages of a Renovation

Eventually the tide subsides, the heaving seas settle to a gentle calm, the sun breaks magnificently through the clouds and the relentlessly pounding, heavy, grey rain blows away over the headland to the South. With the clearing skies, everything becomes more defined: there’s a small island about a mile out that looks like a really pleasant daytrip, and the lines of colour as hills stretch to the horizon become dramatic bands of pleasing blues and greys.

Which description is entirely unlike how it felt when the Course Director of Educational Studies with Urban Learning called me to let me know that the degree course I was enrolled upon had been cancelled. Paul, Director of the Educational Studies Department, is hugely apologetic and full of solutions. We have a detailed conversation, and rapidly conclude that if I enroll on a very similar degree course, the probable outcome, for me at least, will be the same. I have one call to make, so I call the Red Haired Boffin:

“Do you have any objections to teaching me?” I ask.

My question confuses her, so I expand and tell her about the course cancellation, plus the suggested alternative. RHB sees no problem for her, so I call Paul back and tell him that I would be delighted to accept a place on the degree course Educational Studies with Psychology. That would seem to be the end of the matter, except that it is not.

The problem is that I sporadically have bouts of Panic Attacks, a weakness that has led to fully fledged depression on two occasions. A day after resolving the ‘issue’ with my course, the first of a wave of panic attacks hit. This happens just as we finally complete the ‘tear-out’ phase of our renovation project and I begin my second in-depth budget analysis, based on what we now know(as opposed to assumed). In a misguided effort to lighten the gloom, I decide to go the pub to watch Liverpool. Drinks are had.

Two days after Paul’s phone call, the monkeys are jumping up and down on my back with gleeful abandon, and I’m finding it very difficult to ‘focus’. This is one manifestation of the ‘condition’ that I experience. For me, there is also the palpable sensation of adrenalin coursing through limbs, it can almost be felt as a thickening and a concentrating of the blood as if it’s chemically changed. Physically, nothing works properly; swallowing is difficult because I seem to be producing gallons of saliva, but my throat feels constricted, there seems to be an avalanche trying to escape out of my temples, but finding no exit it heads for the ears and I can hardly hear anything.

Mentally, thoughts are coming and going, crashing and conflicting, too quick to complete – no thought is ever finished - and I am completely restless all the time, but sleep is hard to achieve. There’s not even a comforting obsession as subjects to ponder vary from Global Warming to whether the cats are safe, rolling through the old noggin like very fast tumbleweed. One thing I can focus on successfully during these bouts is Internet Shopping, and it is only Panic Induced Indecisiveness that has prevented us, in the past, from owning an island in Cape Breton, a collection of Japanese pottery and a Shitzui.

As always happens, the tide subsides, islands in Cape Breton do not get purchased and sleep returns, and Neitze is proven correct once again, provided that is, you are misquoting him about that which does not kill (fear of dying seems universal among panic attackees), improves. The sun breaks magnificently over a calming sea. As we commence the rebuild phase of our project, we analyse the finances and realize that we can complete the majority of what we’ve planned, and a letter arrives from Hull University confirming my new place on the Educational Studies with Psychology degree course.


JoeyMac said...

Glad to hear the skies are clearing. I hear that these Psychology types can be quite devious, so watch yourself. ;)
We are heading to CapeBreton to look at some land ourselves, and will send you a rteport on your island :)

MJN said...

Yeah, wasnt sure whether to post something so 'personal' or not, but in the end, getting the jitters about the size of the project we've taken on is part of the deal. It would be wrong if I wasnt nervous about it. And it would be wrong if I wasnt slightly apprehensive about going to Uni at my advanced age.
Have fun in Cape Breton - I worked on the Bras Dor Lakes Interpretive centre there whjen I was with Atlantex. I dont need to tel you, of all people, how beautiful it is.