In which I take a great and scary risk, succeed, and improve although I am still unsettled, and exhausted, and worried since it is all I got done.

I spent today dealing with my honor society problem. I mean all day. Realizing I was going to say no, figuring out how, doing it, recovering from it. This is not efficient — especially because the reason I had as much difficulty was that I was so tired, and now I am more tired, and have lost a day of work I cannot afford to lose. But I have been through it.

Advantage of joining: peoples’ feelings are not hurt. Disadvantages: cost, a day wasted at initiation, the expectation of renewal and future service to the organization. I finally decided I would have to join. Then I went to join and found I could not do it. I looked at my list of other things I want and need and I could not do it.

I did not know what to do. I considered asking the department and college whether it were really required and decided that was ridiculous. I spent hours composing the decline e-mail. I wanted to explain what actually valuable professional expenses were and I refrained. I wanted to explain the things I have renounced this year (every year in which inflation rises and salaries remain flat I renounce some things) and I refrained. I apologized for not having been still more direct, sooner.

I had to decline or I would not feel like a person. Once I had pressed send I did not feel free. I felt as though I had closed off a world I should not have closed off.

Walking along the path I then ran into a department chair, not mine but a department chair, and I asked him whether it were a faux pas to turn down membership in this honor society here. He said of course not, and was gratifyingly surprised that I was even concerned. I got e-mail from the honor society directors and despite the pressure to join it is not a serious problem to have refused.

I would get so much more done and enjoy life so much more if I did not have to handle these images.

→We/they love you, so it is your duty to relinquish everything, give all your blood, and chop yourself apart so we/they can eat you.

→If you do not do this you will starve in the cold on the streets. There, anyone will be able to do anything to you, the pretense of decorum we have here will be torn away, and you will die after great suffering.

→Do the right thing, then, take the path that will satisfy us. It is also the least painful of your two possible deaths. Come, give us everything you have and start dismembering yourself now.

These sentences are like ghastly fingers pulling me below ground. I have days where it is hard to keep the images from crowding in. License to be a coldhearted scientist helps a great deal with this.


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