There seems to be a lot more swearing. I have noticed an uptick in trust leading to muted profanity in the workplace. At a recent meeting, a group of us quietly started dropping s-bombs, before one of us took it up a notch, and oh, how it tingled.

The dangerous lack of discipline implied by the willing use of four-letter words can be immensely useful, but let there be no mistake, it does represent a breakdown of control. I miss that loss of control less and less as I get older, but in the rare occasions where I long for it, I ache and mourn.

This makes me a stilted conversationalist, whereas before dialogue seemed to flow loosely and promised the thrill of undeniable promise. That words could be alchemized into gold given the right environmental conditions, either smoky rooms or forest filtered light, left me entranced.

And so lately, I have been confused, wondering how I ever got here and where I am supposed to go. It is so easy to get lost in the overwhelming minutiae of a new job, and the days pass so fast you wonder if career success is little more than the acceleration of dying. I want to have an easy retirement, but I don’t want it to seem like I’m getting there tomorrow.

The benefit of the torturous moral road is that it’s long and demands lengthy stops for self-reflection. It is no wonder to me that hotels stand as the most common backdrop of my dreams, and I know them so well, both the macabre and the sentimental. The latter frighten me the most, because they chip away most effectively at my sense of self.

I ran on Saturday, the first time in ages, and I engaged in imaginary conversations with the same person it seems I always have, and I was the most boring companion, talking about my new teachers and their charming demands for attention and new equipment and requests for leave. I talked about how everyone seems to like me, even though I lost my keys. I mentioned the children in the parking lot who seemed to be camping in their car, their mom probably a student with no daycare, and the fight in the parking lot at 8 pm, and how both times I went out to fix the problem because I feel like I am supposed to be the adult in this new life of mine.

Today, I took my sister-in-law out to hunt for mushrooms, and I felt paternal and protective, like every woman is now a younger sibling, and I recognize the patriarchy in that sentiment, and denounce it, but when she walked into a nest of yellow jackets, my instinct still took over, and I methodically went over her, crushing the wasps as I found them, eight in all, each, except one, futilely stinging away at her coat, thank god for the cold.

We returned with ten pounds of matsutakes and chanterelles, and here we go, it’s going to be a fast ride, I can see the bottom, I can’t forestall its coming without a monumental crash. Maybe our mistakes are simply our way of slowing down time.


Or maybe the universe places us in situations that force us to slow down, understanding that we'd never do anything so personally beneficial when left entirely to our own devices. I know. Pretty deep, right?

I'm in the final stages of Ph.D. acquisition, specifically the stage that involves sitting for hours, days, weeks, writing up the explanation for everything that just happened. The discipline is waning and the use of profanity in on the rise. When asked if I'm excited or nervous about finishing, the response is something like, '[four-letter word], no. I just want this [four-letter word] to be [four-letter word]ing over. Holy [four-letter word]', in a monotone pitch while staring off into the distance. All this to say that I agree with your assessment that copious use of four-letter words implies a loss of control, because I'm knee-deep in controllessness (word?).
brando said…
I was going to respond with an appropriately cited lit review on profanity in academia, but no, I just couldn't. Stay sane, my friend.
eclectic said…
Profanity is the privilege of being a grown up. At least, that's what I tell my kids when they catch me cussing. Not that I would ever do that... .

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