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The Vernal Equinox arrived in my town early yesterday morning. With the change of seasons came a different sort of change in seasons in my life. A really big one, as they go.

I spent the day wrapping up a two-year project: my dissertation manuscript. Today it goes out to my committee, as soon as I get it printed and softbound. Six people will have three weeks to read and ponder it before my defense, aka The Gauntlet. It’s a brutal process that I’ll discuss a bit later, when I can stand to think about it. My advisor says there’s even a Snake Fight involved. Next week, I’ll get back on dissertation editing – setting up a defense rehearsal with my fellow doctoral students and cleaning up the citation file. But first, I’m tending to myself for a few days.

Today is the day I start repairing two years of neglecting everything. Spring cleaning, organizing, gardening, fixing things, and a few little treats to myself. My house is a mess; I’ll dust, sweep, vacuum, and wash the curtains. I’ll plant sunflowers, order new seamless stainless earrings, buy some new colanders, read a couple of piled-up periodicals, scan some backlogged negatives, exhaust a roll of film or two and maybe even develop them. This isn’t hypomania. This is just catching up on life.

Writing a dissertation warps your brain.

I’ve been out of circulation for so long that my social skills are decimated. I don’t know what to do other than work. It makes me anxious to be idle. Devoting myself to my work so completely for so long has really, really warped my brain. This is to be expected, of course, but wow. Now that I’m here, I’m at a loss for words. I knew it was coming, but there was really no way to be ready for it.

In the category of obvious changes, this afternoon I’ll have 5 years of hair (12″) cut off to donate to little bald kids. The bob will put a spring in my step that is oh-so-appropriate for this change of seasons. I’m looking forward to seeing the surprise on people’s faces at the new cut. It’s not like I haven’t done this before – just not in 5 years. I’m ridding myself of the reminder of 5 years of toil, stress, and anxiety. I can’t wait!

Another pertinent change was an intake interview on Monday for a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) group. I’m finally admitting that I need to learn how to handle things better because the meds don’t do it all and individual therapy is slow going. The focus of the DBT group sounds like exactly what I need, so I’m planning to join the group in April. I’m a bit nervous about the prospect of group therapy, because nothing screams “crazy” like group therapy.