Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Anxiety Fest

August 29, 2003

Last night was one of those nights when I wake in the wee hours and can’t get back to sleep. Today it was around 5 a.m. when my eyes opened. I’d been having a perfectly nice dream about getting gyros for lunch and then I was awake. I got up and peed (is that why they’re called the “wee hours”?) and got back in bed and finally gave up and got up again around 6:30 when I decided that my getting up wouldn’t be any more disruptive to Mr. Karen’s sleep than staying there and shifting position every two minutes. Sometimes doing a brain dump in my paper journal helps at times like these, so as quietly as I could I took the book from its drawer in the office and picked a gel pen and went downstairs to write.

It did help; I wrote for about half an hour and then went back upstairs and was able to go back to sleep, this time in the guest bedroom because I didn’t want to disturb Mr. Karen. I slept another hour or so, but when I woke my brain picked up the same set of worries again. There’s really no need for it to do that; compared to so many people in the world, I have a great life and nothing to fret about, but fret I do anyway.

I’m worried that the trip to Japan that we’re planning is going to be a disaster, that we won’t be able to figure things out very well and it will be stressful and we’ll come home feeling we wasted the time and the money and didn’t see the right things and didn’t have a good time. I’m worried about the things we haven’t arranged for our other fall trips, that we’ve waited too long and will have trouble getting the reservations we need at a reasonable price. Knowing that some people don’t get to take any vacations doesn’t help lessen my stress about any of this.

I’m at the quilter’s remorse stage of the memory quilt, where I’m not happy with it yet feel it’s too far along to make significant changes. I don’t like the backing; I’m not happy with how basting the layers went and on and on. It’s not the as close to perfection as I can get quilt that I wanted to make. I really, really hope that if I just push through this, I’ll be happy with the end result. That’s what’s happened before. Problems that look glaring before quilting are hardly noticeable when it’s all done.

I’m worried that enjoying the zoo makes me a bad person. I went yesterday to have a little fun on my last Thursday of freedom and to celebrate the milestone of finishing the top of the memory quilt. It was great– the weather cooperated, and not only did I finally get to see polar bears swimming in their fancy Arctic Ring of Life exhibit, I got to see two capybaras swimming and running to the mud hole afterwards. Is it wrong to get pleasure out of watching captive animals like that? Is it cruel to keep them in zoos, even good zoos with nice exhibit areas? Some people think so. Does the fact I contribute to wildlife causes mitigate my zoo going at all? Should I just stop thinking so much?

I’m worried I’ll get back to work and find I’ve forgotten how to program and will have to start learning all over and irritate my coworkers in the process. I’m worried my back will never stop hurting. I’m worried the twinge I feel near my incision when I move in certain ways is not part of the normal healing process. And when I’ve worried about all that, I fret about the old standbys: that I’ll never get my weight or my house in the shape I want them.
It’s a heck of an internal dialog. Except now it’s external. Maybe that will help. Maybe never wanting to have to write such a whiny entry again will get it out of my system. Or maybe not. Maybe I will never get it out of my system, and maybe that’s okay. Kingsley Amis said, “If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.” Well, whining sure annoys people, though that’s probably not what he meant. He probably meant controversy and debate of the intellectual sort, but I’m not up for that. Today, I’m occupied with my world of mostly self-created anxiety, hoping to exorcise the worries by exposing them.


Though it didn’t start out that way, this entry turned out to be one in a series of Random Acts of Journaling.


About year ago, I was drooling over a Dick Blick catalog. I still haven’t gone to see the store in person.

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