Sweating The Small Stuff
I’m not much of a worrier.
I’m a basically optimistic person, and I tend to believe that everything will work out okay. And it usually does.
And when it doesn’t, I mostly take it in stride, and wait for life to get better again. And it usually does.
Of course, there is the Big Stuff that everyone worries about – at least a little. I’m no exception – I worry sometimes about the Big Stuff – about death, and illness, and whether my family and friends are happy.
But I also have a few unimportant Little Stuffs that I can’t seem to stop fretting about.
Like oversleeping on an important day.
I have an inordinate fear of missing something important by oversleeping. The night before a big event, I wake up every hour and look at the clock. Which of course makes me extremely sleepy by dawn, which in turn increases the chances that I actually will oversleep. At my previous job, I had to get up at 4:30 once a week to get into New York for meetings. I barely slept at all – worrying that if I fell asleep I wouldn’t hear the alarm. Or that there would be a power failure and the alarm wouldn’t go off. Or that I’d read the time wrong. Sometimes I’d look at the clock, and then put on my glasses and look at the clock again. Well, not really sometimes. All the time. Repeatedly.
I actually did oversleep once on the day of a big meeting – (but not a NY meeting, thank goodness… I only had to get to my regular office nine miles away.) But my boss didn’t like me, and I was very afraid that missing that meeting would result in a horrible end to my career. And so I did a shameful thing. I called the office and told her that my husband looked pale and shaky, and that I thought he might be having a heart attack, and that I needed to hang back a bit and make sure he was okay. And then I got ready as quickly as possible (but not like without my makeup or anything – come on now), and then when I finally did arrive for work I said to my boss, “He’s fine; I just got scared for a minute.” I just didn’t say that what scared me was HER.
But anyway, that was not an honorable thing to do. And I’ve never done that since. So I don’t sleep before anything important. I just look at the clock instead.
Then there’s Parking.
As I have mentioned once or twice (or nine times), I am a very good driver. But I am a terrible parker. I cannot get into or out of a tight parking space. And forget parallel-parking. I actually have nightmares that I am backing out of a tight spot and my foot hits the gas instead of the brake and I go zooming out backwards into a dozen cars behind me. This dream makes my heart pound. And makes me even more stressed when I actually do have to un-park.
I worry every time I drive anywhere that when I get there, I will not find a place to park. I sometimes call ahead when I am going someplace new and ask where I can park the car when I get there.
Years ago, my husband was out of town, and I decided I would drive to the new outlet shopping center. It was a beautiful Saturday, and the outlet had just opened, and after driving for an hour, I arrived to an overcrowded crazy-busy chaos. I drove up and down the aisles and couldn’t find a parking place. I began to feel sweaty and short of breath. I turned around and drove an hour home.
I worry before a party that I will have a pimple. This was maybe a legitimate (though tiny) worry when I was sixteen. But now I am sixty-three. I think maybe it is time to relax about my complexion.
And Poison Ivy.
I am very fearful of poison ivy. I actually have a good reason for that fear. But still. I am a gardener. It may be an overreaction to run screaming from a shiny leaf.
Worms in my food.
When I was about eight years old, my family was paying a Sunday visit to my great-aunts. On the corner of their street, there was an ancient drug store. And my sweet old aunties gave me a dollar to go and buy some candy. I bought 5 candy bars (and had change, by the way) – one for each of us kids and one for my mother. (because I loved her and because I was a suck-up). My mother’s candy was a Planters Peanut Bar.
And she took a big bite without paying much attention. And then she looked at the piece she had in her hand and it had a worm in it. She was so grossed out. I was so grossed out.
And so for the last fifty-five years, I tend to over-inspect my food.