Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Hidden in Jest

Sometimes I half believe and almost wish that, were my skull to be opened up for some yet-to-be-determined reason, the doctors would find a fist-sized tumour in my brain. Not because I want to face a physically and emotionally agonising death, but because the discovery of something that shouldn’t be there, something that’s crowding my memory centre and interfering with the efficient rapid-firing of my neurons, would explain everything. Suddenly my embarrassing stupidity, my frustrating slowness of wit and my worryingly poor memory would all make sense. In a few short hours, the easily operable and completely benign tumour would be removed, and my former mental acuity would return. Perhaps I would also become beautiful and slim. Why not?

The sobering reality is that, as a non-super working mother with many demands on my paltry resources of time, energy and long-term memory, I may never regain the sprightliness of cognition which abandoned me around my third pregnancy like some deadbeat dad. Even more mortifying is the possibility that my brain power hasn’t changed at all; that I’ve merely sloughed the scales of callow, arrogant youth from my eyes and finally recognised my own stark inadequacies. Whatever the explanation, I watch in wistful envy as grads I saw enter the building barely out of nappies now outstrip me in a job that’s evolved past my abilities. Confronted with the esoteric challenges of the work, I see their minds leaping ever onward like mountain goats on the Matterhorn, whilst mine struggles feebly like an axolotl in the mud.

During my interview with the Department of Hippies, they laughed incredulously when I told them how long I’d been in my current job. They told me changing teams every couple of months was de rigueur in their department. If they’d asked me then, I would’ve said I stuck around for reasons that added up to me loving the work, and meant it. Obviously I loathe the peripherals – certain unpleasant people, the waist-high drifts of red tape through which I must constantly wade – or I wouldn’t be searching for jobs elsewhere. But I’d always felt I was doing something challenging, rewarding and important. In the last few days, though, reading through boring and meaningless documents on which I’ll eventually have to write boring and meaningless reports, the cogs of my slow and unwieldy brain finally ground into place, and I realised I hate my job.

I know I sound wickedly ungrateful for my health and employment. I know I should be doing the equivalent of pounding the pavement looking for jobs, CV in hand and hopeful determination on my face like a plucky character in a tacky ’80s movie about making it on Wall Street. Right now I don’t feel fit for much more than wallowing in apathy-inducing depression. It’s not all bad, though. I bypassed a nervous breakdown a few weeks back, perhaps I’ll revisit it and try it on for size. I may not be eligible for cure-all brain surgery, but mental health leave’s as good as a holiday.

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