Thursday, January 29, 2009


I have been pretty stressed out lately. I mean, there are a lot of things happening right now that come with stress. As far as I can tell, this has been manifesting itself as me being tired more than usual, biting my nails a lot, and eating a lot. Especially things like chocolate. However, I don't feel unhappy right now. There are natural stressors in my life, but I am not letting them get to me completely. It's interesting because I was unhappy a lot in the fall (though I didn't write about it much), and now when I have more reason to be unhappy--or at least, things that would explain being unhappy--I feel better. I think it's because knowing what's making me unhappy makes me feel like I have more control of the situation. It's empowering in a way. Even though I fret, fret, fret about the obstacles to changing and fixing my situation, I still am thinking of possibilities.
I'm trying not to let all this talk of a bad economy get to me. The reality is that there are problems, but that it's also not the end of the world (yet.) It's not impossible to do what I want. I worry about things happening that are beyond my control--which means I shouldn't worry about them to some extent--but I worry that there's some level of preparation I should take. What do I sacrifice in order to be able to do that?
Sometimes, I feel so empowered by the possibilities there are to change my life for the better. I think about what I can do and I make a list of ways to do it. And then I get so worried about the "what if"'s that I become crippled by anxiety. I don't do the positive things--I just shut it out of my mind as much as possible and focus my attention and energy on doing something else. Or escaping by reading a book or watching DVDs.
Today I had some time to drive on 206 while it was still light out and beautiful. It was sad to see signs for a planned outlet center on what is now open space, and to see a billboard for a new retirement community. The least they could do is make the new buildings look something like the old ones--somehow fit with the character of historic North Jersey. Sometimes I think I'd be happier not going up there and visiting the places I love, so I won't be reminded of how it's changing.
I ended up in Hampton, in an area that is mostly farmland. The landscape was rolling hills--that's how I've seen it described and that is exactly what it looked like--covered in snow. The rain that fell last night had turned to ice, leaving the snow with a shiny, glassy sheen. Thin, glassy ice coated all of the trees in the woodland I drove through so that it, too, shone in the sunlight. More congested parts of New Jersey that still have nice parkland--I think those are attractive, but then I go to places like upper Sussex County and am reminded what is really beautiful. Being up there reminds me, strangely, of places I visited this summer. 206 near Stokes State Forest, with its little delis, lack of chain stores or restaurants, farm stands, motels where no one I know has ever stayed, and "Lakeside" or "Mountain" eateries - "tavern" or "pub" or "family restaurant" - reminds me of the Flathead Lake region of Montana. Except without the towering Rocky Mountains. Just the small, lumpy Appalachians. (This section, Kittatinny Mountain, is actually part of the Appalachian Mountains.) Sometimes I think I like cities, or places where you live where you can walk to anything you need (library, grocery store, train station) but when I am up here, I find myself wishing for more open space, dreaming about living in some cabin in Sandyston Township.
I wished I had hiking boots and proper clothing so that I could stop at Stokes and explore.
I thought about goals I've had, such as attempting to hike in all of the preserved open space in New Jersey (or at least Northwestern NJ). State Parks, National Parks/Recreation Areas, County Parks (of which there are none worth mentioning in Sussex County), Audubon Society Preserves, Wildlife Management Areas, etc.
Sometimes I want to go someplace that is more like Sussex County--or rather, Sussex County Plus. Some place that is more of what I love about Sussex County. But sometimes I'm afraid that if I leave, it won't be here when I come back.

Anyway, I had all these thoughts about possibilities and, as I drove through the farmland and woodland, all this energy, but as soon as I got home I wanted to sit on the couch and just crash.

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