Sunday, January 27, 2013

How's "getting back on track" working out?

Well, first of all, I planned on writing this blog post last night on Tuesday night, and I did not even start it.

I did pretty well at my Freedom from Recipes resolution for the week. On Saturday night I made lentil soup with different healthy things we had lying around, and it was so delicious I wrote down what I did.

I ended up making three recipes from my "to try" list, which were baked yogurt chicken from Pure Simple Cooking, a very delicious cabbage apple side dish from Eating Appalachia, and Spent Grain Sourdough from Not Eating Out in New York. Which I guess warrants another update on The Year of Sourdough and Advanced Sweaters. More on that later.

Isn't this fascinating?

The point is, even though I didn't totally break free of my obsessive need to construct and follow a recipe to-do list, I did manage to stop myself from measuring every little thing. Stop it, Sarah I'd say, inwardly. Put that measuring cup away. It's just another dish to wash. You know how to cook. On Monday [which was Kitchen Day instead of Closet Day (as if anyone who isn't me is paying that close attention to my personal madeup schedule--You didn't do Kitchen Day on Sunday! I'm done with this blog!)], I made the chicken, the bread, the cabbage, and a completely madeup-as-I-went balsamic roasted squash and onion garlic swiss chard feta pearl barley lunch salad. I prepped some stuff so that the next day I could add white beans and swiss chard to some leftovers and make it a pasta dish.

No day was Closet Day, yet I still managed to put on clothes every single day this week. Imagine that.

All right, this is boring; who cares; moving on. EssStress still has its suffocating grip on me. I feel like I'm constantly caffeinated, even when I'm not, but mostly, I am. Everything seems funny. I don't know if I'm seeing the humor in life, or if I'm just losin' it. When I'm calm, such as when I am riding the bus, waiting for the bus, or walking (so basically, outdoors or near a window), I find myself dreamingly framing shots, as though my mind is a camera taking ephemeral Polaroids of the red of the Broadway Bridge with the red of Union Station beyond, the moody gray skies overhead crisscrossed by damp black branches, and the reflection of faces and lights superimposed on these sights by the glass of a bus window. Everything seems beautiful. I don't know if I'm seeing the poetry in life, or if I'm just losin' it.

How's the essay working out? I'll answer that question with a story.

Since the beginning of last week, I have been thinking about a specific episode of a carton from the 80's that I watched as a kid. I can't remember which show it was, possibly Adventures of the Little Koala. If anyone remembers this episode and what show it came from, please speak up! Anyway, it was an episode in which some magic thing made ice cream flavors out of everyone. For example, a sweet person would push the button and the resulting ice cream would be very sweet. Everyone's favorite ice cream flavor was based off of the main character, quite possibly The Little Koala himself. (I have since Googled the show, and his name was actually Roobear.) Everyone raved about how great it was, so he tried it, and was frustrated that to him it tasted like nothing. Then everyone tasted their own ice cream flavors, and found that they tasted like nothing.

The topic of the personal statement is basically me, and it makes me think of that 80's cartoon episode. I can't determine what is interesting or not about myself, in the same way that Roobear could not taste Roobear-flavored ice cream.

When I told this story to Handsome Man, he looked at me like he was truly nervous, and I realized this was perhaps not the brilliant metaphor I had been deluding myself to think it was for an entire week.

How's the essay working out? Well. Did you know you can get stress pink eye? I told you about the stress bloat on Saturday. Stress headaches are well-known, as is stress-induced nausea, indigestion, and a host of other stomach ailments. Over the weekend, I had stress vertigo. For four days. I realized it was only stress and not something serious when fresh air and a walk cleared up the whole thing on Monday. On Wednesday I woke up with my eyelashes stuck together, and I realized I had contracted stress pink eye...or it's time to throw out my purple gel eyeliner.

On Thursday morning, as I was locking the front door of my building, I suddenly realized I did not know exactly what time it was and had not checked Transit Tracker, so I did not know the exact arrival time of my bus, either. I did not know if the bus was arriving in two minutes (which means, run and I still might not get it) or five minutes (power walk) or eight minutes (take your time.)

Panic surged through my body like a bright blue electric current that instantly held my bones and blood vessels in a strong, heavy grip. Would I get the bus!? Then I laughed at myself. Get a grip! It's the bus. You're not about to walk into a job interview!

It was as though I was in such high stress mode that I greeted small, daily events with as much stress as the life-altering tasks and decisions ahead of me. I should say, "lives-altering," as whatever I do now and decide this spring will affect the future and geography of Handsome Man.

For example, typing an e-mail this week, I noticed at one point, while shifting in my chair, a feeling of unease that my seat belt wasn't where I expected it to be. What seat belt?! I was in a desk chair, not a car! I don't even drive a car that much anymore; I walk and ride a bus or streetcar where there are no seat belts.

When I at one point voiced the concern that this level of stress about a two-page essay did not indicate good things about the stress level I would show toward much greater volumes of work next year, my kind co-worker objected that this future work would only be for a grade, whereas the work I am doing stressfully right now determines much more than a grade; it determines school acceptance and where my husband and I will live. That kind (future) husband who has repeatedly voiced his indifference to our future geography, his willingness to follow, his insistence that I not include his future in my stressful thoughts.

I'm posting this on Sunday, and I do not feel that same level of stress that I did when I drafted this post throughout the week. I spent Saturday watching Mad Men in pajamas and knitting. I left the apartment only to check the mail, where I found a letter and viewbook from Cornell. The application to Cornell is due on Friday, and since most of what I have to prepare for Cornell is similar to what I will have to prepare for the schools with February 15th and March 1st deadlines, I expect (hope) Friday to mark the end of this particular stressful period.

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