little sarah Big World

Tag: stress

In a Nutshell

comedic relief

Even in the throes of a panic attack, I can appreciate that Wikipedia has chosen this exact image for this exact page.

I can get up out of bed, even though I’d rather shut my eyes and pray for this feeling to STOP. To GO AWAY. I can get up, instead, and go for a run.

I can stop drinking alcohol (due to hangover-induced anxiety, something I only started experiencing in my late 20s and WTF), stop drinking caffeine (a joke, at best, as I’m so sensitive that I only ever drink the tiniest amount. Still, even the tiniest amount can eff with my already-tremulous mental state), and start adding structure to otherwise nebulous days. I can run in the mornings, and eat Omega-3s at almost every meal.

I can console and comfort myself with the amazingly-well-written and thoughtful Anxiety blogs on the New York Times website.

I can read up on Buddhism, reminding myself for the one hundred millionth time to Just. Breathe. Breathe into the moment. Stop bumming yourself out over the past, or stressing yourself out over the future. You are married to an unbelievably gorgeous man who enjoys talking to you (all the time, about everything) as much as you enjoy talking to him. You live in Japan, where opportunities you could never have imagined practically throw themselves at your feet. Where new friends, sweet neighbors and earnest students show you a sort of quiet kindness, unassuming generosity and simple, silly camaraderie you never knew you needed.

Then, considering all of the above, I can consider, for the first time in my life, that my Anxiety may not be entirely situational. That it just might have some small relation to brain chemistry and genetic predisposition. And I can seek treatment, and help.

*       *       *

I may be in a nutshell, but I refuse to be a nut.


My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel.

Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.

– John Lennon

Web - deW

Today I am pleased with a mid-morning snack of oranges and chai tea. With my new, clean work clothes, grown-up clothes, and a day to myself. I am happy to be outside, running, happy for the warm, misty morning rain. Dew drops on a spider’s web that stop me in my tracks. Small things, like that.

beauty in the details

And, like many days, I find beauty and elegance in the small details. A sense of grace in what might otherwise be simply puttering about the apartment, quietly ricocheting from one project to the next.

Except, in the past, this fragmented approach underscored steady progress, and all the projects came together, one by one, each occupying a determined and defined space in my mind.

Now I spin in a soft frenzy, unable to finish anything, worried about doing things the exact right way and unable to commit to even the smallest decisions. I am overwhelmed by what I perceive as an insurmountable chaos–lesson plans and textbooks and a closet without drawers–and overwhelmed by the choices required to properly order things–buying notebooks and folders, filing things away, choosing between a dresser for the bedroom or plastic bins in the closet.

And what if I don’t get the right laundry hamper?

(The BEST one. The one that will solve everything.)

I am stressed out by Chad’s email inbox, by my sisters owning too many clothes, by the thought of all of the people in the world and their own disorganized closets, email inboxes, photos, and files. I want to know that I’m doing things the right way–the best way–with no excess, perfectly streamlined, and that everyone else is, too.

Simple Citrus

So. I take solace in the curve of an orange rind on a tea-stained ceramic plate. A simple mid-morning snack. A simple day, not much to do. That’s about all I can handle. Still, even then…

*       *       *

I don’t feel very grown-up, at all. I feel anxiety closing in on me, waking me in the morning and keeping me up at night. Pushing me away from the love of my life. I feel it growing inside of me, like some long-dormant monster I’ve been unintentionally nurturing all my adult life, awakened by the one-two-three punch of marriage-moving-IUD.

Sorry, no conclusion yet, Friends. Just field notes. Just feelings. Just trying to give an accurate reflection.

A Working Holiday


There are parts of my job that are fun and I really enjoy. Then there are parts that I tolerate and are really stressful.

Friday night was both.

Then Saturday I went for a crazy person’s late-night run.

I have not been a great Halloween participant this year.

Group Projects


Why I’m Glad to be Graduated

Man, what is it with professors these days and group projects? I think we can all agree that they are the worst, yet they seem to be ever gaining in popularity. So while I graduated college in 2009 and did I think two group projects, my boyfriend who graduated in 2011 did more like two per class per semester, and my friends who are still in school seem to do nothing but.

Seriously. Seriously, nobody likes these. Everyone dreads them. They do not prepare you in any way for “real life,” (whatever THAT is…). I mean, I work sometimes in teams or on committees at work, and I’ve planned social events as a group (potlucks, movie nights, camping trips, etc.), but it is just not the same AT ALL. Because everyone wants to be participating and tends to volunteer for whatever they’re best at, and you don’t ever have to present about it afterward.

I dunno, maybe it’s just the writer in me that prefers to work solo.

…OR maybe it’s that there are better, more natural, less torturous ways for people to work together towards a common goal. Like this:

Collaboration, Friends! Of the best sort! The bloggy, photogy sort! Just take a photo each day in response to the little prompt, and then share as you see fit! Care to join me? I promise that your grade will not be affected by my performance! Exclamation points!!!

I’m going to wait until the end of the month to share my photos, but consider this a sneak peak–all the photos in this post (except for the one I lifted from are my rejects up until this point. They just didn’t make the cut. Try and guess which photos correspond to which prompts! Then get into groups of four to six and discuss your opinions! Then write a 3-page response essay together and present it for 5 minutes in front of the class!

No? You don’t want to do that? You can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to do that? Because it sounds painfully pointless and frustrating and inefficient? You’d rather be judged on the merits of your own work or collaborate only with others who you know share your same passion and drive and goals?

You don’t say!

Some Days

Some days you just can’t win. Some days people expect more of you than you’re willing or able to give, and it is only 9:20 am. Some days you have more things to do than time in which to do them, and it is snowing, and you ride a bike, and you know that nothing is going to be easy or convenient or efficient.

Some days you have to boil potatoes before 10am, just to stay on top of things. (But the steam on the stove makes the kitchen warm and fuzzy).

Some days you know that you are going to get a talking to, and it will not be pretty. You know that you have to tell the truth to some friends, and that it will not be any prettier.

Some days you cry (sob, really) in the bathroom at work for a solid 15 minutes. You pace the halls and take deep breaths, and you are not proud of yourself, but you love yourself and so you say “It’s okay.”

Some days you return to work with eyes so red and swollen that there is no denying what you’ve done, yet nobody says a thing. And that is somehow worse than whatever you’d dreaded them saying.

Some days you roast potatoes, with garlic and rosemary. 

It’s your own recipe, and you use a fancy tip from Cooks’ Illustrated, and they turn out just right.

And you know that, when you get off of work, you will turn those potatoes into potato salad. You will pack up that potato salad, along with some mustard, vegan bratwurst, and beer, and you will go watch Newsies and have a meat-n-potatoes dinner with your girlfriends.

At least that much you can do right. And some days that’s the best you can do.

*       *       *

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

-Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

-Cut some red potatoes up into little cubes. I used 5 medium potatoes, with the intention of feeding about 5-7 people (as a side dish). Leave the skins on for maximum nutrition.

-Boil a big pot of water, then add cut up potatoes to the boiling water PLUS a bit of baking soda. Say…1/2 a teaspoon for lots of potatoes, but only 1/4 of a teaspoon for not so many potatoes.

-Boil for 3 minutes. Then drain. Then let those hot little spuds cool off.

-Toss your potatoes in some olive oil, a bit of salt, and crushed or chopped garlic.

-Spread the whole mess out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with more salt, some pepper, and rosemary sprigs (fresh or not, whatevs).

-Bake/roast for 20 minutes or so, until they are golden brown and crispy in parts and a fork slides easily in. BONUS: you can add some lemon juice for the last 5 minutes of roasting for extra amazingness.

-ENJOY! Try them in a salad with mixed greens, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and tuna. Or not.

Pants on Fire

So I lied. I acted like everything was sunshine and rainbows and self-improvement and growth. And it was.

Until it wasn’t.

Last night I cried myself to sleep, and not even softly, but in a major freak-out style. Bedtime is not my best time. Sometimes I lie in bed thinking of what I’ve posted for the day, and I’m like “Ugh, shut the fuck UP, Sarah.”

Sometimes the PMA and general optimism is too much even for me. The can-do attitude. You should know that’s not who I am, or at least not all the time. You should know that I’m moody, and that I am still having Spain-related regrets, and that I bawled loud enough last night that I’m pretty sure my neighbors heard me.

I tend to get super emotional around my birthday. Probably something to do with “another year passed” -style introspection.

Because I am not where I want to be, Friends. My jobs are fine, but they are not my life’s work. They are a way to make money, to mark the days flying past. Everything’s moved so quickly, since I got back from Spain, and I don’t like it. I’m all for being industrious, but not if being so busy means not a moment to spare to look at my life and ask myself what it is that I think I am doing.

Last night I realized I don’t know what I’m doing. I know what I wanted, what could have been, but those ships have sailed. Now all I know is that I don’t want this–to live in Salt Lake, surrounded by children, and weddings, to have so many empty social engagements and not enough opportunities to just sit down and talk, to be working nearly every day, early mornings and late nights, all in an effort to save up money, and for WHAT?

I don’t know for what, Friends. I don’t know what comes next. And so I cry.

*       *       *

Incidentally, the sight of my clean, dry dishes in the sunlight this morning pleased me in an inexplicably deep and sincere way. I have not forgotten how I felt last night. I need to look into that. But today I have a rack full of clean dishes, an example of some measure of foresight. And that pleases me.

For now.

Life Goes On


“Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da”

Last night I was yelled at by a cab driver. He said my card was denied, that there was no money, and called me a liar, when I said I was certain that it was just a mistake. He refused to run it again, said that running a different card would waste even more of his time than I’d already wasted, yelled at me “What are you do?! Why you call a taxi if you have no money?!”

I stayed calm, repeating “What do you want me to do.” He screamed at me, threatened to call the police.

“Belligerent,” I believe, is the word.

Finally he ran another card, which of course worked. I slammed the door on my way out, and he rolled down his window to say “Attitude! You do not need to have an attitude.”

I staggered to the porch, fell into a plastic chair, and sobbed. What else could I do? How can people be so irrational, so needlessly cruel and harsh?

(Some days I am still little sarah, and it is a Big, Bad world).

But then…then there was my Stephanie P. friend, who rushed over, with hugs. Kind words and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. She had never seen me cry before, but I am not embarrased, and anyways, that’s what friends are for.

Today I made salad with bean sprouts, bloomed simply and magically in Sister Natalie’s kitchen. I like sprouts. I like eating a salad for lunch, and the way the sunlight comes in through my kitchen window. I love the little gifts and tokens of affection that my loved ones give to me, something green, and new. Like a bit of hope.

*       *       *

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
	is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
	green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
	may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
	of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the 
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

--Walt Whitman, Song of Myself


Holiday Travel Madness


Guess who made it all the way to Salt Lake International Airport without her passport yesterday? That’s right! Me!

Oh, man, but that’s not even the half of it. First, I packed the morning of my flight, because I was up LATE the night before, celebrating with Eric and Co. after our ridiculously successful (previously mentioned) performance. I call it ridiculous, because we’d never even rehearsed all together before, let alone had a dress rehearsal, and some (Eric) thought it might be a total mess, but instead it was great and the room was packed and there was a line of 20+ people out the door and it was magical and Eric stood bathed in a halo of golden spotlight playing the accordion, but no I don’t have any pictures of it, sorry.

Then a long time of congratulations and people giving us money and packing up, and then free Indian food happened at the staff party for Salt Lake Film Society, plus free Epic beer, and then on to Eric’s folks’ place, where there was wassail and home-made caramel and staying up late chatting with Eric’s mom at the kitchen table.

So, yeah–I got home at, like, three or something, and stayed up an additional hour, determined to finish The Poisonwood Bible before leaving for Spain. Because I’m crazy like that these days. Crazy addicted to books.

THE PLOT THICKENS: So I packed this morning, finishing just in time for Natalie to pick me up, but my suitcase felt WAY too heavy. BUT GUESS WHAT? Natalie is a genius, that’s what! She suggested that we stop at her house (which is right on the way to the airport) to weigh my bag and take things out. BUT WAIT! She doesn’t have a scale. So we used the WiFit. We had to make a little Mii for the damn suitcase and everything. BUT THE BAG WON’T STAY BALANCED ON THE SCALE! So I stood on the WiiFit, holding the bag, and then we just subtracted how much I weigh. It was 10 lbs. too heavy. We took some things out. BUT WAS IT TEN POUNDS OF THINGS? SHOULD WE WEIGH THE BAG AGAIN? Naw, we’ll just weigh me, holding a bag with all the stuff we’d taken out, subtract my weight, and see if that’s 10 lbs. worth. AND IT WAS.

All of that was Natalie’s genius, as I was basically in a stunned stupor and she’s a quick thinker.

Then after all that we got to the airport, realized I didn’t have my passport (inflatable neck pillow, yes, but passport, no), raced back to my place, thanked the Universe that I had a spare key on me, since I’d given mine to Natalie and we’d left it at her house (!!!), zoomed back to the airport and made it an hour and ten minutes before my flight OMG.

The best part is, we weren’t even too freaked out. It was actually kind of fun, and there’s nobody that could have happened with besides Natalie. Thanks, Sis. Happy birthday on the 18th, also.

*       *       *

Then my second flight was delayed, so instead of a 50-minute layover in Chicago, it was more like 3 hours. No worries, Friends! Remember I already learned to make the best of traveling delays? So I visited the urban garden they have right in the terminal.

*       *       *

Now today I’m in Madrid, with Kevin. What a world. Anyways, Happy Holidays and safe travels to those of you who are flying, driving, apparating, etc. May you have fewer shenanigans than I!

Fractured Weekend

There was a lot of good this weekend. A lot of bad. Really, just…a lot. I forgot to mention that on Friday’s walk we saw a bunny AND a beehive. Can’t beat that.

Saw the new Harry Potter. Played a show with my band. Moved out of B & J’s and back into my apartment, this time with Kevin.

And it’s nice to be home, but it’s stressful, all this shifting around. We didn’t have any non-flannel sheets. We bought a new comforter; I already hate it (Mom called it when she said I have chronic buyer’s remorse). We’ve both had to downsize from four dresser drawers to two. But I will adjust, I will adjust. I have to, right?

[Also there is the part where I forgot for no good reason that I was supposed to baby-sit for the family I nanny for tonight. I just stood them up, out of absent-mindedness. And the part where I inadvertently offended a vegan friend/colleague and felt like a complete dick.]

But my sock and underwear drawer is looking pretty tidy.

Small victories, Sarah. Small victories.

Anxiety Dreams


dreams about having to play my jury again (in front of a panel of strangers, and being late, and not having enough rosin)

dreams in French where I can understand everything but can only speak in short, halting sentences

dreams about missing my flight, being late to the airport, not being able to find everything I need to pack, etc.

and then waking in the early morning with fears, anxieties, worries, thinking about love and life and if it’s okay to feel the way I feel and what are we going to do about this whole, messed-up situation