Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Oil and water

I was once in the middle of a very intense conversation with a fellow student at art college. This is going back a while, I don't remember what the conversation was about (it's beside the point at any rate), but I do remember that we were both drinking lots of coffee whilst we wittered on.

Come the eventual reflective pause, we each of us realised that we'd had far too much coffee and were highly-strung, fraught and a bit shaky.

We decided that the antidote lay within the confines of the nearest pub, and trotted over there as fast as our chemically-boosted metabolisms would allow. Which was pretty fast, in fact.

Two or three pints later we were much calmer, more settled, feeling like we'd achieved a sense of parity through countering the intake of stimulants with those of depressants. We returned to college, and I recall having a lengthy conversation with another fellow student. I felt lucid and level.

When I bumped into this latter student the following day, she asked if I was ok. I wondered why she needed to ask, and she said that I'd seemed a little odd during our conversation the day before. I mentioned to her that we'd had our chat after I'd had lots of coffee then some beer.

Ah, that actually makes sense then she said, laughing. She explained that half the time whilst talking to her, I'd appeared very taut and tense in my body movements and general demeanour, whilst my words were issuing forth in a slightly unfocussed and slurry way.

Conversely, the rest of the time, I was speaking quickly and a little forcefully, whilst my body movements were loose and languid.

Clearly, the beer and coffee didn't mix in quite the way I'd perceived.

I mention this now because my working days are split, and have been for some months. The split seems to be getting wider. Mornings now feel like drudgery and tedium to a large degree, and leave me feeling flat and introverted by the middle of the day.

Afternoons (in which I spend my time helping to facilitate creative group work) are nourishing and sustaining, and that feels like an understatement.

I've become aware that for the first hour or so of the afternoon, however, I hardly talk to anyone, keep myself in the background, don't wish to engage. As time wears on during the afternoon I feel like I regain my life and confidence and can take a leading role in the group, advising, encouraging and motivating others.

That first hour in the afternoon bothers me. I know that it's about the transition from one role and the place I occupy within it, to a very different one. But it seems more prominent now, and feels as though the distinction between the two roles is getting harder to manage. I hope this situation doesn't last.


Sophia said...

"nourishing and sustaining, and that feels like an understatement." I need this in my job all together. I get very little of it. Most of my day is like your mornings and I hate it to the T!! Ugh! I cannot imagine doing a split like that in your work. You seem to be doing well with it overall and I think it makes sense to have that first hour flow forth as it MUST have that kind of transition from work that is like night and day. Hang in there! :)

Zhoen said...

Sounds very frustrating, fighting the circadian rhythms like that.

Beer+Coffee=running to the restroom a lot.

trousers said...

Sopha, I know I'm lucky enough to have what I've got in the afternoon work, and although I'm complaining in this post, I certainly don't take that element of it for granted. I just worry that the split will - particularly if there's to be any more upheaval, which isn't exactly unlikely - make it all the more difficult to manage, with all the consequences that may bring.

Thanks so much for the kind words of encouragement though, which is really appreciated, and I'm a little lost as to how to adequately reciprocate given that, as you say, most of your day is like my mornings. I empathise, and you're in my thoughts.

Zhoen, yes it is. I like your equation: that awkward hour of transition is like me locking myself away into a private, closed room in my mind.

Carol said...

I can understand why that hour bothers you but that space is critical. You can't just jump from one role to another without going through a transition phase! It's such a shame that your mornings are so different from your there anything you could do to get a more even balance?

C x

Ps. I can't drink much coffee at all cause I get all jittery and grind my teeth...not attractive...not attractive at all!

Jennifer said...

I think Carol is absolutely right. I teach classes on Saturdays and, like you, this work is uplifting, energising to me, especially compared to my 'day job.' Part of that is because I am good at facilitating, and that's because I have passion for it. I usually get to the college an hour or so early, and if I happen to run into class members who are also there early, they want to chat. Now I've learned to hide from them because I NEED that hour to "turn on." Like Carol said, it's not like flipping a switch.