The Pain Period – Days 5 to 6 – 16-17th November 2016

I came pretty close to slipping today. Shit, less than a week in and I’m almost off track.

If I were to judge my actions strictly by the temporal obligations fulfilled, then yeah, I did kind of fall off the wagon. But, I thought about things, and some adjustments need to be made, changes in course that will make sure that I keep on the right track.

The way I measure each day is by how many hours I spend on three things: academics, exercise, and music. 10, 0.5 and 1 hour(s) for the first, second and third category, respectively. I don’t think that this is excessive, I mean, Jesus, at one point I spent daily 14-hours stretches on WoW, and I played that shit for years. I have iron will and unbreakable concentration when it comes to things I’m compelled to do.

At the start of each day, for academics and guitar, I’m supposed to write down what sections I’m going to finish studying, revising or practicing during that time, so that I don’t spend 4 hours on some small topic or detail that probably won’t be asked in the exam (today’s example was whether the LH surge during the female menstrual cycle was elicited by just high levels of estrogen or the secretion of 17-hydroxyprogesterone by the follicular cells*, I must’ve spent 30 minutes reading every relevant Wikipedia article). I have a bad habit of getting bogged down in detail: I feel some weird sense of being patronized when a textbook omits detail for the sake of being concise and accommodating the anticipated age, knowledge and intelligence of the reader. Soon enough I’ll be wading through specialist literature that’s way too advanced for me to understand right way, so I’ll waste more time trying to decipher that, typically give up, and then grudgingly attribute the reason to why something occurs as ‘it just does’ and move on.

Unfortunately, I rarely plan anything in detail. Typically, the most I’ll do is simply make a mental note stating ‘three hours this, five hours this, two hours that’. In fact, the entire system is flawed in that it measures by time spent first and actual progress made second.  Like, if I told someone that to become a virtuoso violin player, they’d simply have to spend 10 hours each day doing something with a violin that resembles playing; no scales to practice, no songs or phrases to master, no music theory concepts to assimilate. Just sit in the room staring at it until you somehow absorb the expertise from the fucking ether.

And, I mean, how is ten hours each day somehow the accepted standard for time spent on this sort of thing? Because I arbitrarily decided that that’s the length of time required each day to get the results I want in the exams, that because 90% of people don’t study that much I’m going to do better than at least 90% of the students? So, I tell myself that I’m going to sit there for 20 half-hour pomodoros and throw factual spaghetti at my brain and hope something sticks. I rarely last this long, because sooner rather than later it feels like I’m using studying as some kind of punishment and meaningless self-torture instead of learning something as a by-product of intense curiosity.

An alternative approach would be to still divide the day into various tasks and activities, as before, but to not measure my performance by whether or not I spend the designated time doing what I’m supposed to. For example, if I said ‘spend 10:00-14:00 making flash cards for Chapter 14’ and I end up finishing it in two or three hours, then I can go and do whatever. I finished what was scheduled for that day. I can go on with other work, have an extended break, whatever. Of course, an obvious problem comes in when I don’t manage to finish it in the allocated time. It then starts taking up time that’s meant to be spent on other things, and if I don’t get those things done as well then they get pushed into the next day, and so on until shit just snowballs out of control.

I could say, ‘well, tough shit, I don’t go to bed until it’s done’, but that’s a recipe for disaster, since sleep is perhaps the only thing I can’t do without. Seven hours each night at minimum or I’ll crash right off the bat the next day.

Actually, come to think of it, all of this fucking strategizing to coax myself into studying is trying to treat the symptom and not the cause. Giving myself aspirin when I need antibiotics, masturbating instead of pussy, labored introspection instead of conversation and fucking sunshine.

I’ve got photos and videos of everything I’m supposedly looking forward to in Boston. The Harvard Campus; the hottest, most interesting Bostonian girls I could find on OkCupid; Bill Burr’s tour of the city. I can’t think of a single good reason of why I shouldn’t grit my teeth and just stick it out for the next 30 months. Logically, practically, rationally, it all makes sense. Perhaps not the unreasonably tough Draconian work schedule I’m drawing up for myself right now to prepare for the exam, but beyond that, everything makes sense. None of the finer details of my study technique would matter if I really, really wanted to do well. I’d be focused and efficient because goddamnit everything is so interesting and rewarding and satisfying I don’t want to stop. It’s that simple. I can be the most hard-working, resourceful, committed, persistent motherfucker who ever lived if I want something. Unfortunately, that something has always been something like World of Warcraft, or sneaking around the corner to have sex with the girlfriend at a time when the auspices of parents still applied.

Am I calling it too soon? Am I becoming despondent that haven’t turned into an ultra-disciplined stoic robot in less than a week? Perhaps.

When I push too hard, I break. That’s how it’s always been. I suddenly wake up from whatever shitty, lazy way of living I had at the time and turned myself over whole-heartedly to a life where every action was noble and wholesome and healthy and had meaning. I last a few days, then it becomes too much, and ‘just five minutes watching a YouTube video’ turns into a daylong binge, and I’m out again.

Last night, Saturday night, I went and smoked weed and watched the first few episodes of The New Girl with a friend of mine because fuck yeah Zooey Deschanel (as a side note, her portrayal of stupidity and cluelessness as happy-go-lucky so randumb xD is probably the biggest blow to feminism since women started dancing naked on poles for money). I’d badgered him earlier that day to come and get a beer or something. Anything. I’ll buy. I’ll buy fucking everything. I just need some social contact.

After days of just working, working, working, with the most conversation I had being the few short sentences I exchanged with the cashier at the cafeteria, a gnawing discomfort started growing in my chest. A day later it became crushing fucking loneliness. The last time this happened was mid-2012, and I ended up getting back with my ex because I couldn’t fucking take it anymore.

So yeah, I said in the previous post that I needed rhythm. Turns out I need balance too.

Right now, I’m sitting in my boxers at my desk at five-thirty in the afternoon. I must’ve woken up at like, ten or some shit. Five hours later than usual. During the interim occupying my awakening and writing this now, I finished the last few sections of the Frozen Throne campaign, had some chicken, and drank way more caffeine than I should have. Not exactly fucking balanced, but it is, kind of, when you consider it in light of the past few days. Except this shit should’ve been spread out evenly. One or two hours a day doing whatever the fuck I feel like doing.

But only one or two hours. No binging.

* The textbook says that ‘moderate levels of estrogen incompletely suppress LH secretion’ but that ‘high levels greatly increase its secretion via a positive-feedback cycle’, but the Wikipedia article mentioned something about some other hormonal factor produced by one of the many fucking cell types involved in a chicks period every month. This seed of doubt fucked up everything: I had to embark on this quest to find the ‘right’ answer, which often doesn’t exist yet because it’s still an area of active fucking research. I imagined myself in the exam citing sources for my answers: ‘according to the lecture slides, x happens; according to the textbook y happens; according to me your mother could suck a golf ball through a garden hose).

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