it's 5am and


i still can't sleep. when you start hearing the birds it's really all over. maybe I'll take r's car and go to mcdonalds for the hell of it. I'm supposed to move it at 10am for her anyway (she's out of town). my anxiety feels like this: i used to live in an apt that was crazy infested with stuff no one wants to read about. but it was the constant paranoia where you started checking every surface at every minute of the day: open up the toilet seat and check under the bathmat every time you peed, or every time there was a hair tickling your skin you'd freak out, or lying awake at 5am (such as now) thinking about oh god what if it gets me at night so i gotta lie awake just in case even though you know it's absolutely stupid and wouldn't help anything. kind of like being a kid all over again, that illogical logic of "well, if I keep my head facing the door and windows i'll know if a monster comes in." i think i could get kidnapped and no one would notice for days. who would notice if you just stopped texting? no, i can't drive a car. i'd probably crash in the sleepless state i'm in now... - i miss driving in SA. whether that was inner city joburg or the endless free state farmland or up and down the mountains in lesotho or going through the townships into randfontein. there were all sorts of different challenges: missing traffic lights, tiny 2 lane highways where you had to avoid the potholes on your lane AND the trucks ramming through the other side at 100km/h, watching for the speed lights and hidden cops ready to ticket you for any damn thing. oh and the time i nearly crashed a tractor on the way to the archives. and when i had to wait for the cows to cross the highway. and when my tire ran flat on the way to thaba bosiu. yeah, i nearly died too many times, but life is really a bummer after research. i used to think that what i miss about research was the content of stuff i got to engage in. but i realize now that it is about independence: there is a kind of unusual ownership, outside of capitalist or economic context, that cannot be touched. only you get to control what questions you want to ask, and how you answer them. or how to expand your own world through writing and publication - and maybe, if you're lucky, someone else's world. (driving, the good kind - the aimless road trip kind, kerouac style - is a bit like that.) of course, the deeper you get into academia, the more deeply that ownership is compromised. i quit before that could happen. i don't care that my final project will never see the light of day. that project profoundly shaped me, it is MINE in a way that I can't quite explain, and don't have to. i don't need to be lauded for my work, or have it published, or use it to bring more accolades, more grants, more degrees. it is just mine in all the ways that matter. if i ever go back to academia it will be for some other topic or reason, but they cannot have this. the downside to quitting is that now i get to contemplate going to mcdonalds at 5am with 0 sleep before logging into slack for work. and that's life right now.