Nancy Roman

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.

checking the pita

Checking the pita.


  1. I am glad that it’s not only me that wakes up every hour to see what time it is.


  2. I have epilepsy so driving is not an option, however when I did have a car, out of the three times I tried to park it, once I hit a bench, and another time I broke someone’s tail-light. Don’t sweat it 😉


    • You have just triggered a memory that suddenly explains my fear of parking. I scratched a car while parking the DAY I got my license!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The worm story has taken over your whole post. I would stop eating. Easier.
    Sleeping in is still a worry before important occasions. Does that ever go away?
    Parking, I manage to scrape by. 🙂 XD


    • I guess the worm story was the wrong image to end on…. but I didn’t see how I could continue if I listed it first…


  4. Deb

    I have a cat who wants to eat breakfast starting at 3AM. I will never be allowed to oversleep…her yowls are incredibly loud because she is deaf, so she over compensates 🙂


    • We have an old cat like that too! But I am afraid the one day I really need to get up, she will decide to sleep in!


  5. Worms? I’m checking for them from now on!


  6. Had to take a friend for a colonoscopy yesterday. Early morning appointment and I woke up every hour to make sure I didn’t oversleep. Didn’t want to get scolded by the poop police.


    • I am comforted to see that many other ‘normal’ people check the clock every hour before a big event.


      • That made me laugh. Thanks for considering me normal and is someone else’s colonoscopy a big event? I need a life.


  7. Christine

    I remember the worm in the Planters bar. I loved those, but I haven’t eaten one since.


    • That kind of traumatic experience you never forget.


  8. Suffer the same thing with important dates.
    Ended up on the pavement the first time I drove the ex husband’s car (a wartburg) and scraped the car next to me after I passed my test trying to park the damn thing.
    Pimples: had a beauty on my wedding day.
    Worms in food, only when preparing, not eating.
    Great post, memories of yesteryear!


  9. Same here with oversleeping. When i traveled on business it was magnified by ‘miss the plane phobia’ then I had the clock on my pillow (extreme nearsightedness)
    I have pimples as well, my feeling is pimples past menopause is just not right and unfair.


    • When I travel, I schedule a wake-up cal at the front desk, set the beside alarm clock AND set the alarm on my cell phone. Then I still wake up every hour.


      • Scary, maybe you should retire and become a novelist!!


        • My plan exactly. It took several years to write my novel, but I am retiring in a few months, and then full steam ahead. (but no alarm clocks)


          • I love it when a plan comes together..Godspeed..


  10. I have the same worries – oversleeping – and that usually occurs before flying. So I end up barely sleeping b/c I’m too busy checking the clock – GAH – then arriving at the airport early only to be delayed and looking like the Walking Dead. My 2nd advanced worry is parking, especially in an area I’m not familiar with. I don’t just use the Garmin, I research the address on Google Street view so I know what the building I’m supposed to be at looks like. Can’t tell you how many times that tip has “saved” me anxiety b/c I knew that the office was tucked into the back of an ancient Red Brick building. GPS would have brought me there but I wouldn’t have known WHERE to go to find the entrance = and where to park 🙂 Maybe I’m not as neurotic as I’ve long suspected I am … 🙂



  11. I can identify with so many of your “tiny” worries. I put a pencil and paper by my bed the night before we’re going on a trip. As I wake up during the night and think of something I don’t want to forget to pack, I make a note of it. I have gotten up in the morning and had several items written — all on top of each other…..since I don’t want to turn on the light and wake up Motor Man.


  12. Oversleeping is an idea that eats at my mind. I was bought up to make sure you did everything you could to be on time, even a little early for an event/meeting/date. These days I arrive some times so early that I find myself sitting with my iPad looking at something to pass the time. It’s silly, but being late actually puts me in a bod mood!
    Oh yeah, and the poison ivy thing is annoying – but then I used to blow up like the Elephant Man when I would get it. Miss days sitting at home waiting to see again.


  13. Totally understand the parking worry and the one with worms!
    Am a total worry pot and I’m trying to break the habit.


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