Post-traumatic stress

post-trau • mat • ic stress [pohst-truh-MAT-ik stres] n.

a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.

In other words, finals.

Directly. After. NaNo.

I am a total mess. I have two finals tomorrow (one at 8 AM), and they will both force me to make analyses of books/plays I’ve yet to read. I’m convinced that it’s against all ethical laws to make a student write a fourteen-page scene, a nine-page research paper and a five-page text analysis, and still have final exams for those same classes. I am licensed to make this statement because I took a religion final. Whaddup.

So on account of my impending doom, I have been doing what I do best—staring at words. In fact, on Wednesday I spent the day staring at Linguistics-115-related words, and then Thursday, I stared at Religion-125-related words for five hours straight, without even a freakin’ potty break. On Friday I decided to mix it up a little and, you know, stare at some more words. But the excuse for my geekdom lies in the fact that these words happened to be those of one Eva Ibbotson (R.I.P. 1925-2010).

GUYS, LOOK at her. I will bet you anything that she was the kind of lady who would invite you in for a cup of tea on a winter evening, then send you off with a hand-knitted scarf and a graham cracker.

On Friday night until 2:30 AM, I sat awake in bed and finally read her novel A Countess Below Stairs. And I’m telling you, it kind of blew my mind grapes. Mind. Grapes.

If you’ve ever seen the BBC television series Downton Abbey, reading A Countess was like watching the entire series all wrapped up in one bundle of brilliance. It was beautiful. Witty. A classic in the making. I couldn’t stop watching—sorry, reading—and before I knew it, I was through all 400 pages, and tearing up over the magic of it all.

Basically, I’m ordering you to read this book. Now.

Also, since I’m sharing what has been getting me through my finals, I recently have become addicted to the music of U.K. singer Ed Sheeran. He’s a soul-singing ginger who plays acoustic guitar and beatboxes like a beast. If you have not heard of him, you will.

Oh, you will.

One last thing that’s helped me survive this week: How I Met Your Mother.

…yeah, let’s not go there.

I go home in two days, and will finally be able to take longer than a few minutes to sit down and write. And none of this blog nonsense. If it’s the last thing I do, I will open that godforsaken half-NaNo draft, and I will attack it with a few thousand new words. Optimism: it’s what’s for dinner.

—Samantha Chaffin

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One thought on “Post-traumatic stress

  1. thejaneite says:

    Oh my word, that IS unethical. I, too, took a course on religion (actually, specifically ethics and morals) and I wholeheartedly agree. Someone has it out for you (and college students everywhere). That is just wrong. You have both my pity and my prayers. 🙂

    Guess flippin’ what!?!?! I just read A Countess Below Stairs last night too!!! (For the fourth time.) I LOVE that book! A Company of Swans is lovely too, but my overall favorite is The Reluctant Heiress. You must read it. I know you’re into theater, and both are connected. 🙂 Miss Ibbotson is incredible. I’m sorry to say I didn’t know she was dead though. 😦 I think you’re write about the tea / scarf / graham cracker thing, btw.

    By the way- I haven’t even been on Figment so I have no idea what’s happening with my friends Charmaine, Derek and Pres. I hope I have substantial catch-up reading waiting for me, but having read this, I’ll forgive it if not. 🙂

    And I will check out this Ed Sheeran bloke. 🙂

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