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Friday Afternoon Confessional: Surplus-anxiety

In recent years, The Girlfriend and I have been elaborating and experimenting with a concept we call “surplus-anxiety.” The basic idea is that a given person gets used to having a certain level of anxiety, so that when one of their problems is solved, they must find something new to attach that anxiety to. The Girlfriend went through a stage of this when she found a job after being semi-unemployed for a few months, and I confess that I am experiencing it now.

I confess that it hit its peak on Monday night, when I could barely get to sleep from worry about such crucial issues as “what will I have for breakfast tomorrow?” or “what shall I wear tomorrow?” The next day, I had lunch with my advisor and told him of this phenomenon. He suggested that the root of my surplus-anxiety was the lack of a major project over and above my day-to-day duties. The Girlfriend and I both found that explanation plausible as well.

I confess that I have not settled on what my major project should be. One possibility is learning to read biblical Hebrew, but The Girlfriend doesn’t think that will be as engaging as a writing project. I do have relatively clear plans for a book that would serve as a follow-up to my dissertation, but I don’t think I can start that in any serious way before the end of the semester.

So I guess I have to settle for the satisfaction of doing the laundry and grading papers for now.


October 14, 2011 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional


  1. Grading papers is recognized all over the world as one the primary sources of surplus-anxiety. Choosing the next major project seems like something that is, in principle, potentially subject to infinite deferral.

    Comment by Craig | October 14, 2011

  2. I confess I make great fun (in any course I teach) of the expression “[X] is recognized all over the world as…”

    I further confess that, although Woody Allen said that “what will I have for breakfast tomorrow?”, together with “where are we coming from?” and “where are we going to?” (we in the sense of ‘the world as such’) are the greatest unsolved (and anxiety causing) philosophical questions of the human kind, I can’t get no anxiety (not even a trace of, not to mention a surplus or such..) at the question “what will I have for breakfast tomorrow?”

    I confess I have decided not to comment any longer on this blog.

    Makes 2 (two) confessions in total for today. :)

    Comment by grrl | October 14, 2011

  3. The fact that the questions I was worrying about are objectively not anxiety-producing is the point.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | October 14, 2011

  4. You know how it’s common in profiles of not so famous people for the author of the profile to give a quick physical description of the subject, usually focusing on one distinctive feature? It seems like this description is usually used to bolster the impression given of the person over the rest of the piece. I confess I’ve often wondered what this kind of description would sound like for me.

    Comment by mattintoledo | October 14, 2011

  5. i confess would you stay if i asked you to stay, 2? hm, an example of the thought that, synchronicity
    i confess i like that song of Yglesias, Hero, only that song from his all other output and it helps when it runs sometimes on the car stereo

    Comment by read | October 14, 2011

  6. I confess that I always found grrl’s comments annoying and am glad she’s quitting. I further confess that I suspect she will eventually be back.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | October 14, 2011

  7. I confess that I like everybody, but I can’t find fault in #6.

    Adam, are you not writing a book right now?

    I confess that I am auditioning for an improv group tonight. I confess that I signed up for an 11:20 pm audition slot, which may not have been wise. I further confess that I signed up for a musical improv class, for which my excitement may make me the most annoying man in Los Angeles.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | October 14, 2011

  8. at least, 2, you are welcome to friend me at Fb if you would like, i don’t have any friends from EU, have no idea how to reach you though

    Comment by read | October 14, 2011

  9. oh, no, I have two friends from Portugal, one from Spain and one from GB, isn’t it cool? so it would be great if from France too, cz i thought grrl is from France
    a French lady is commenting on the blog and people are not welcoming her, strange

    Comment by read | October 14, 2011

  10. I confess I tried as hard as I could to ignore grrl because not feeding the trolls is such a key component of a good comment section. So that should be easier now, and for that I confess I am glad.

    Comment by mattintoledo | October 14, 2011

  11. I forgot to mention my Anglo-Norvegian friend too, cz he doesn’t interact with me much after the shooting incident, i am afraid i must be said inadvertently something insensitive back then
    and i don’t like the video of the song, too literal and explicit, i’ve listened to it now and if he would sing with a little less that, the tongue clucking like sound, trying to be sexy it becomes that, tacky, people say i believe

    Comment by read | October 14, 2011

  12. but without the video it sounds again nice, just the voice is a little edgy, without any cluckiness, maa, things are relative

    Comment by read | October 14, 2011

  13. I confess there’s almost nothing more depressing than a dramatic exit, and the knowledge that the exitee is assessing the impact of such an exit, & the inability to re-enter without comedic effect.

    I confess: been there, done that.

    Comment by Guido Nius | October 14, 2011

  14. there is nothing wrong with making people laugh and smile, even fake smile releases people’s inner endorphins etc
    and the first rule of trolls is of course do not give up, grrl, if you are perceived by that, majority here indeed a troll, by me you are a woman scholar, from a faraway place who finds people here interesting and try to communicate with them, but if i’m powerless to make you stay, what to do, feel free to dramatically come back any time, though sure it is not my own place to say so

    Comment by read | October 14, 2011

  15. Surplus-anxiety = relaxation-deficit?

    Comment by Guido Nius | October 15, 2011

  16. I confess that I feel bad about the way my long Monday Movies post titles look in the Recent Comments sidebar.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | October 17, 2011

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