Thursday, February 2, 2017

In which I feel all the stress.

This morning, I was wracked with anxiety over something that happened in 1983.

I was in third grade and, as youngsters of my ancient generation were wont to do, I learned cursive. One day, we were assigned what I'm sure was supposed to be a "fun" task. We were to pick our favorite cursive letter and then write words that started with that letter - an animal, any sentence of our choosing, five names.

Five names.

I chose the letter L. And my little third-grade brain completely freaked out and couldn't think of five names that started with L. So, I carefully wrote out "Laura, Lonnie, Larry, Larueow, Leaomy." You know, in hopes that those last two were maybe, like, names? Names that kids would not be privy to, but that adults knew, and then my teacher would be super-impressed at my knowledge of obscure names?

Yeah. It didn't work that way. My page of lined writing paper came back with a big ol' "-2" at the top. I was heartbroken.

This morning in the shower, I found myself listing L names ... Laura, Laurie, Lorrie, Lori, Lauren, Laurel ... my God, I am so prepared now. I could pass with just women's names alone! And yet, I'm still anxious about that long-ago assignment and feel that I need to be prepared lest someone approaches me on the street and demands that I rattle off five names that start with the letter L.

It could happen.

This particular flavor of anxiety is just one of the cornucopia that I'm experiencing as of late. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who finds themselves saying, "He did what? Are you effing KIDDING ME?!?" at least once a day.

So, there's that. And there's my sweet Big Doodle, he of the bladder cancer and advanced age and zero patience.

Big Doodle can't sleep through the night anymore. Bless his heart, he will wake me up to let him outside. This can happen any time between 3 and 6 a.m. I take him downstairs, he does his thing, I go potty out of solidarity, and then we go back to bed. Or not, as the case may be.

I seem to have lost the ability to go back to sleep after I've been up. That has made life ... challenging. And Big Doodle's lack of any hip sockets to speak of means that he isn't always so psyched about going back upstairs after doing his thing.

Sometimes, we lie on the couch. Others, we go to the downstairs guest room. He sleeps and I ... try? I don't want him to feel abandoned, so if he doesn't go back upstairs, I don't either. Besides, we are having more Doodle Dementia Days.

You know, like the night he wanted to sit in the middle of the patio and look at the moon at 3 a.m. Or today, when he was going bonkers inside the house but would do nothing but bark at the sky when let outside.
I see this a lot.

I just got off of a work call. At the start of the call, all was calm and bright. Both dogs were asleep - Lil' Frankfurter in my lap, Big Doodle on a couch at the other end of the house. But about halfway through the call, Big Doodle came sauntering into my office. He got right up in my face and blarfed out the loudest, most "Oh dear God, are you dying?" hack that you've ever heard.

The good news is that the guy I was talking to laughed with me when I explained what happened. But for the rest of the call, Big Doodle would lie still and then cough cough HACK mucus HACK unexpectedly. I just kept my hand over my microphone unless I was actively speaking.

It might have been a career-limiting moment.

But I decided to focus on the funny. Do you know how much mucus an 80-pound dog can produce? Especially a geriatric 80-pound dog who has no personal etiquette? It's a lot of mucus. Mucus that he wants to show you by getting right up in your face. Because he loves you.

I should probably be feeling anxiety about this instead of something that happened when I was in third grade. It's not like that cursive assignment prevented me from going to college or anything. I don't look back on it as the turning point when it all went to hell.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm working on perspective. Sometimes I have it, and sometimes I don't. And stress and weariness are making themselves known in odd and powerful ways.

How's with you? And what are your favorite / worst ways stress shows up in your life?

5 comments:

Becky said...

We (okay, they, the people in my house) just switched up the food Betsy the beagle gets. They did not transition her and after a few days, it caught up with her. Badly. Of course, I'm the only person she bothers when she has to go out in the middle of the night, so I've had a few sleepless nights here myself. Because being up all night with a sick kid and my own sickness isn't enough (my poor sick husband can take care of himself at night.)

It is however, a good distraction to what's really going on. That and keeping myself busy doing things (there's a long list...)is keeping the anxiety at bay. I carry stress physically and in some awful ways (stomach issues, anxiety attacks, sleeplessness), so any way I can avoid it is good.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Our geriatric black Lab makes noises that have had us thinking "this is it" more than a few times lately. Moses can make my stress over the world lessen just by convincing me that the best thing I can do is lie down under the table with him.
I was absent the day we learned the letter R (and more importantly, the lower case version) in cursive writing. I *still* can't write a decent 'r' and I am 51 years old. Is it wrong that I blame it on that sick day?

Andrea said...

It seems that once again, our dog has caught some sort of GI cooties from whatever he insists on licking a the vet's office. Last night he woke me up at 12:45 and 3:30. It was super swell to get the chance to see how much snow was falling throughout the night, but I refused to go retrieve his short shih-tzu body from the snow when he stayed out doing the looking for a good bathroom spot crawl for a bit too long before deciding and coming back up the stairs.
I remember one of the times I had trouble sorting my stress priorities and found that not having hot dog buns for dinner weighed just as heavily on me as my cousin being deployed to Iraq!
I am sure you have tried all sorts of things to get back to sleep, but still I recommend counting backwards from 100 (and restarting every time you lose count-and if that is not distracting enough, alternate the numbers with the letters of the alphabet backwards-that usually distracts me enough to at least relax a bit. ;)
I eat a lot of peanut m&m's too!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I hope you are able to nap or something to take the edge off the no-sleep.
This random, REAL post made me feel like I was sitting beside you on your couch. I appreciate that.
And it must be recognized that you are still in the top tier of all dog people ever, you nurture them so lovingly.

Becky Brown said...

I love you friends so much. Thank you!

Becky, I think your people kind of suck for not transitioning the dog's food better. Thank you for taking good care of your pup anyway.

Also, Karen? I totally blame that one sick day. There's no way you can be expected to write an r since you missed that day.

And Andrea, your comment re: hot dog buns = Iraq made me guffaw. Yes! That's it exactly!

Green Girl? Your comment about sitting on the couch made me happy. If only I could just come over and plop on your couch! You know I'd bring beer.