Last night, while working on a book review that I had promised the editor 41 days ago, my left arm started twitching. And it wouldn’t stop. I’ve had twitches/spasms before, but they usually give up after a while. This one, though would not quit. And it was violent, too–like, all of the muscles in my upper left arm were trying to break out of my skin. I found this excessively irritating and distracting, because I was trying to write this damned book review. So I tried clenching my fist, slapping my arm, shaking my arm. Nothing worked. I gave up and tried to finish the book review, but didn’t, and went to bed. Then I got up today, started writing the book review, and the twitch came back. Was it some sort of punishment for having procrastinated? A manifestation of stress, which, according to the interwebs, causes twitches? I don’t know. I know that the twitching didn’t stop when I (finally) sent the review off, at least not immediately. But I though there might be something to the stress bit, because I’ve been juggling too much shit for my little brain to keep track of: dissertation, book review, article revisions, job applications, current teaching gig, remodeling the upstairs of our house. So I decided to get away from the house and from the office. I piled up all the stuff I’ve been meaning to read–back issues of The Nation, journals that have piled in my “do.” box, and that William Sewell book, Logics of History, which I’ve read before but been wanting to go back to–and headed off to a coffee shop, where I sat my ass down in a comfy sofa and just read for a few hours. Twitch gone. Mental state slightly better. Work load roughly the same, but the way I figure it, that’s never really going to change. I’ll finish one thing, take on another, and it’ll all even out. I’ve long had the theory that every person has a certain level of stress that she will find a way to meet, no matter the time in that person’s life. I’m sure I was freaking out about spelling tests when I was 10 as much as I’m freaking out about my dissertation now. In any case, today was a valuable lesson for me. Every now and then, get thee the hell away from the places that mean work and deadlines and responsibilities. And maybe that twitch will go away.