It beats me -- physically, mentally, emotionally. I spend months or years in bed recovering, all the while thinking that if I had just done better, worked harder, been better for Brown, it wouldn't have happened.
We make that agreement, Brown and I. New semester. I say: "Brown, I will give you every waking minute. I will be the perfect student. I will study all day in the library, and eat right, sleep right, do yoga, so that I will not get sick. I will read every course packet and complete every assignment ahead of time. And you will love me for it the way that I love you." And Brown says, in my head: "If you are perfect, I will love you and not kick you repeatedly in the head."
And then by mid-semester... (and I blame myself. Look, that one weekend I stayed up too late. The time I dicked around on the internet instead of workworkworking. Brown wouldn't do this to me if I was a better, more diligent, more dedicated person.)
Now, the reason for this dramatic analogy is that we say that abusive lovers don't change. (She says "I'm sorry, I will do better" and he says "I won't beat you again" and they kiss and make up and feel good about their resolution and then the tension starts to build again...) And, since I have to admit that the university is not actually a *person*, I have to accept that it won't change either -- and nor will the Rhode Island environment that makes me constantly asthma-sick and feeds all this other autoimmune crap. My recourse *should* be to up and leave the bastard. Which I did. Which I do. But I keep coming back...
"He's changed." "I've changed." "It won't be like that this time. We'll work harder. I'll do better. And it'll be so wonderful."
I have been gone a year, and seeing everyone at pi made me really want that degree. Most other respectable universities won't accept a transfer student heading into her 4th year (to get me out of the Rhode Island Respiratory Hell), and, while I could probably arrange a transfer to the local Community College, there's a part of me that says "GODDAMMIT, I put so much blood and sweat and tears into this, I deserve THAT damned degree," or else that pain will have been pointless. I'll still feel like I failed at something, left it unfinished. (All the things I said I *wouldn't* feel like the last time I left). And I do still love the university, strangely, at least... in the bold abstract concept of "Brown! YAY!" (beyond the fact that stepping onto the campus makes me want to panic). I love Brown, I just hate *myself* at Brown.
And so I start heading down that abusive road again. Not any time soon, of course, for I'm still bandaged up from the last time, and the doctors who said I could probably never again do a fulltime academic courseload make me have to consider the INCREDIBLY financially unviable part-time student-ness. But I'm looking at timetables -- next summer, for a 2-class semester? 2006? 2007? How long do I have to wait to become a Resumed Undergraduate Education student? And find myself making lists to plan ahead of all the ways I will change to better serve my relationship with academia, my position as student. I will learn time management. I will learn to rock deadlines. I will gear up to working full-time-plus. I will read so much of everything ahead of time, be so smart, so good. I will train myself to go without procrastination and the endless social time I crave. I will be so incredibly flawlessly dedicated in what I eat, when I sleep, how I keep myself unsick. I will be perfect for you this time. I will change you from your abusive ways, and it will be perfect.
In totally other news, related only by my major, this is the coolest fucking thing ever. (sekilara, vagenna, w0lfstar, YOU NEED TO SEE THIS.) THIS -- a beautiful, nine-step list for how to make my own (alien) language -- is SO TOTALLY why I went into linguistics. I just didn't know it at the time. Also, I think I've found my ideal job -- someone should so totally hire me on to one of these sci-fi shows to write the alien text for them. Tell me that's not the IDEAL Sachi-job. (Oh, and I could moonlight with the rest of the scriptwriting departments to write the really shmoopy romantic scenes.)
If anyone needs me for the next six months, I'll be making up languages. Also: trying to figure out how an exclusively telepathic race would structure their communications -- even *if* they would -- because it got me wondering.
*note: by "the coolest fucking thing ever," I mean "it's the coolest fucking thing ever if you are ME or otherwise spent a great deal of time studying linguistics, and realize that all those required classes on phonology and syntax and semantics have just been summed up in NINE STEPS, and all for a geeky sci-fi purpose." And, as such, probably quite dull for the rest of you.