Sometimes I wonder why certain things are so scary.

Not physical scary. Not like needles or mummies, though those are pretty bad. You have a choice with those: you can run or face them and either way it’s over relatively quickly. No, more slug-like parasite dwelling long-term in the back of your mind scary.

For me, it’s one thing in particular: writing research papers. Every time I try to start a big one, it feels like I’m drowning in acid superglue. I really don’t want to admit that it frightens me so I let it go and go and go until it’s right up to the due date and I have no idea what two-way analysis of variance means.

I pull all-nighters. I drown in fiction and stay away from conscious thought. One of my favourite authors said this (avoidance) was typical elf behavior. It comes up in most of the books I read now, from the superhero to the fairy tale (don’t let my Goodreads deceive you… the serious book phase was entirely school-related and I remember almost nothing, but am instead rather happy to report that “good literature” hasn’t spoiled me for modern YA). It’s been a coping mechanism since high school. I even like it. If I can’t find fiction good enough to distract, I’ll make up my own. I’ve had one story going for probably 10 years-constantly reinventing and editing it in my head.

And yet, the end always comes. Even when a paper is so late that I’m sure the teacher won’t let me turn it in. In a stunning bit of unpremeditated wisdom, I thought I had chosen at last a college major wherein I would not have to write research papers and was thus safe. Aha. Ahahahah. Little did I know the price of attending a university that prides itself on research. Even a simple nutrition major who wants to do nothing in the world so much as to get out of school in one piece and start learning how to teach and be part of a community must needs research. And since said nutrition major wished to take a certain number of P.E. hours in her last semester, the only research class open to her was the one the fewest students had taken before-almost no information was available about it. To think she was excited about being in the kitchen once again! This semester, she is to create the perfect bean-meat hamburger patty. This will take something on the order of 8 weeks, and requires her to eat every Thursday at approximately 4 pm the equivalent of one cold hamburger patty, and rate the permutations thereof on a little sheet of paper. Accustomed to at least a little variety (e.g. cookies) in the lab kitchen, she nearly wept at this turn of events. Then the other shoe dropped.

The paper. Whereby she is supposed to become the foremost expert on beans and ground beef and hamburger patties in the known world.

And we are back right where we started, clawing at the superglue. Or closing our eyes and pretending it isn’t there. Well, it’s due (for the third time) in 30 hours.

One of the themes in every single one of those books I’ve devoured is that you don’t run away. Never. And if you do, things invariably get much, much worse. That typical elf behaviour? A child grew up a functional orphan and messed with her own daughter’s head so badly that she was happy to be stolen away as a goblin bride. Superhero? Anorexia, and she didn’t even realize it until it was nearly too late. Fairy tale? Spent a decade with a frog as a best friend, and nearly lost the love of her life.

So this is Goal #84. Nothing else on The List holds the capacity for such sheer terror, or hopefully such a real feeling of accomplishment. It will take until the end of the semester-there are oodles of pieces. See you on the other side, and forgive me if I don’t post as much throughout this process as last month if you please!


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