Monday, August 23, 2010

Anxieties on Parade

Look, They're Doing High-Kicks

I've never been what you'd call an anxious person.

No, for 99% of my life, I've stomped through my days like a lumberjack, crossing tasks off my to-do list with one hand while rooting around in a bag of Chili 'N Cheese Fritos with the other.

At the end of a typical day spent blissfully ignoring 1) my mounting credit-card debt, 2) the unzipping ozone layer and, 3) the Situation in the Middle East, I would snap into my footie pajamas, collapse into bed and saw logs like Hoss Cartwright until it was time to start it all over again the next morning.

At least, that's how it used to be.

I Miss Those Days (Dammit)

What is it they say about hindsight? About not appreciating how good we had it when we were in the process of having it? Something annoying, no doubt. Annoying but accurate (= even more annoying).

[Oh, great. I just flash-forwarded to a time in the not-too-distant future, I'm sure, when I'll look back on this moment and think, "Wasn't it great when all I worried about was how I was starting to develop annoying anxieties that disturbed my sleep patterns? Those were the good old days, boy. Yup, that was a Caribbean cruise compared to today with, you know, the chronic explosive diarrhea and that weird buzzing mole on my clavicle. *sigh*]


Yes, that's the situation: I am developing free-floating anxieties that are part Ninja, part door-to-door salesman. They lurk, nay, they lie in wait, timing their approach for the moment when I am most vulnerable.

Their arrival makes me feel like someone who has answered the door while running a bath upstairs. "You got me!" I want to say, shifting from foot to foot. "For the love of God, what must I buy to get you off my porch?!"

The anxieties slip into my room before dawn in their sparkle-appliqued caftans and elastic-waist pants, Lee Press-On nails clacking. (I've never gotten a clear glimpse, but that's how I picture them.) They begin their flat-footed polka around my bed like those dancing hippos from "Fantasia" and, no matter how hard I resist (telling myself I'm still dreaming that I'm a back-up cage-dancer for Sammy Davis, Jr.), the anxieties still get me.

And there I am: awake in the dark, my wide eyes glued to the ceiling and my mind grinding on a seemingly insurmountable problem, such as:
  • When I take the kids to the orthodontist, should I park at a meter on the street or in the parking structure?
  • Is it time to give in and start wearing reading glasses on a chain around my neck?
  • Did I accidentally spend all of our money? And, if so, on what? (Corollary: did I keep the receipt?)
  • Was the "pashmina" I just bought actually woven from Paris Hilton's castoff hair extensions? *
(*I'm not making these up, friends.)

Of course, once morning comes and I'm lying face-up under the coffee-maker spout, those little problems that plagued me in the dark of night seem like piffle. Silliness. No big whup. Why, then, do I fester from 3-5 AM that I will not be able to find Morticia and Gomez if they go over to the grocery store's frozen aisle to fetch a box of Hot Pockets? For God's sakes, I hardly ever misplace the children!

Apparently, this is how I am now.

But Why?

What happened to the rock-solid, keep-on-truckin' Anna of yore (or at least six months ago)? Who or what took a can opener to my suit of emotional armor? Was it I who neglected to button up the seat of my mental long johns? I'm feeling a draft and I don't like it one bit.

Seriously, what gives?

Some Theories

#1: It's A Natural Part of Getting Older

Let me get this straight: no matter how much we eat right, exercise regularly, give generously to public television and scoop our dogs' doodie with earth-friendly bags we will, in return, start twitching through the night like a popcorn kernel on a hibachi the minute we sprout our first gray hair? Are you friggin' kidding me?

If this is how the system works, then - at the rate I'm going - I'll be flapping around town in a chicken suit long before I qualify to order off the back page of the Denny's menu.

#2: It's Only Temporary

This sounds reassuring...on the surface. But look a little deeper into the notion of "temporary" and I think you'll agree it holds precious little comfort, especially where sleep-deprivation is involved.

For instance, anyone possessing even a passing familiarity with cosmology will tell you that our universe is constantly expanding - an expansion that will ultimately lead to its destruction a few million years down the road. Which is to say that our universe is (say it with me) temporary.

I don't know about you, but I just can't go that long without a decent night's sleep.

#3: I've Been Hexed

It's quite possible that someone out there somewhere has fashioned a mustachioed sock monkey with troublesome in-between bangs and a generous smattering of sun damage across the cleavage.
Hey, it happens.

Fortunately, I'm close to perfecting my Reverse-Hex-O-Matic, which I've fashioned in my garage from a set of Buick hub caps, nine extra-long pipe cleaners, 47 pounds of baking soda and 3.6 yards of scrap hot-pink craft felt (along with a few other secret ingredients best left unlisted).

So, you know, at least I've got this option covered.

#4: I'm Losing My Mind


Now we're getting somewhere.


MuseSwings said...

Thanks for identifying that clacking noise I hear in the pre-dawn hours. I thought it was their deely boppers. Googly eyes aside, Thanks too for yet another awe inspiring free wheeling mind blowing insight into your mind.

Pearl said...

I, too, have become progressively more anxious -- or as I prefer to think of it, "aware" -- as the years go by.

I look forward to forgetting it all soon...


Fragrant Liar said...

OMG, you had to have just mined my brain for this post. I have an abundance of free-floating anxiety too, and yeesh how exciting is it to have more floaters to look forward to? Yes, it's all shit. Sort of makes one wish for a terminal case of "old fart" memory loss so you don't remember what you have to be anxious about and therefore POOF it's gone. Right?

Oy, should I be anxious about leaving this comment?

Cheryl said...

I'm with Pearl on this one. Ya just can't top perfection.

Dawn Parsons Smith said...

Clearly the anxiety gals in their caftans and lee press-ons are making the rounds...they started hanging at my house in my early forties...along with that idiot who took my ability to read small print...ugh....

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

So I guess you've gone with your "So You Think You Can Get a Good Night's Sleep" option.

Me too. See you round the Nut Hut.

Alexandra said...

ack. I have chest pain now. Now not only clutching my chest, but wondering if it's a heart attack. Crap, I feel numbness in my left arm and jaw, too.

Sweaty and clammy? check.




Elkhorn Inn & Theatre said...

I really loved "dancing hippos from "Fantasia" flat-footing the polka around my bed", and will now use that to describe what I've been calling "the endlessly spinning Rolodex" of crud that keeps me awake at night... Thank you for making me see I'm not alone!
Hint: It IS about getting older. It happened to me (I'm 51). My dad warned me this would happen when my friends/co-workers started kicking their proverbial buckets and dropping like flies. He wasn't kidding. They are and it did and it totally sucks, too! Fear bites! ;-)

Anonymous said...

yeah whatever happened to things getting easier, smoother as we age...the kids grow and all you are left with is peaceful bliss...well mine are 18 and 21 and Ive never worried more or had less peace and tranquility than after the last one graduated HS...whats worse than living with your adult children...and your hubs hose a childish adult...Mmmmm....having your aging parent come to live too...Uh Oh I better be quiet...and enjoy this while I can...Hahahah..!

Anonymous said...

My take-away from this?

Oh my god! Now I have to worry about developing buzzing moles!

Really? REALLY? Moles that buzz? This is your gift?

You are not very good at this game, Anna!


Anonymous said...

You own pink felt? Did you go to Michael's recently (and if so, do you have the receipt)? Because owning crafts gives me anxiety. Pipe cleaners. Shudder.

But seriously. Anxiety-ridden insomnia sucks. You should med-up.

Unknown said...

All of this I am.
I always have some jujube in my back molar that keeps me up.
My husband tells me:
"you must be making one helluva afghan up there, I can see it in your brows"


shrink on the couch said...

Numero uno would be correct. Too many satellites picking up too many horrible news stories. Which is why I watch Jon Stewart's Daily Show every evening. Go to bed with a laugh.

Michael said...

Anna, There is nothing wrong with this at all... I spend a lot of time using mental visualization to prepare for what ever task lies ahead of me. By the time a seemingly insurmountable task arrives at my feet, I have already dissected, chewed, and processed the job in my mind several times over. As we get older, we can rely more on past experiences and expertise to prepare us for whatever lies ahead. But maybe you are off your rocker, in which case you can't say you didn't see it coming :)

...And Another Thing!!

Ann Imig said...

Yes. But instead of buzzing? My mole's sing in Gaelic.


larainydays said...

Thanks so much, now I have a few more things to keep me awake at night... if I can ever quit laughing.

Paige said...

i feel in love with this blog last week AND i just realized you are editor! i think im in love.

Kulio said...

hahahaha :-)

HermanTurnip said...

It's all your subconscious, urging you to take care of "bidnezz" so you can get on with your life. I don't think it has anything do to with age, bur rather the intense desire to be rid of unnecessary burdens, like your credit card debt or that body that you buried in the garden last week.

Shari said...

Ha! Yes, I've heard those mid-night anxiety attacks called "doom darts", which totally is what they're like. And I often lie awake thinking "Did I spend all our money?" I also think things like "I hope I don't accidentally leave the kids on the bus when I get off."

LTYM said...

I suspect that this is all part of perio-menopause because I'm having the same issue.

Let me know when you want to meet at Chico's. (Wear your red hat.)

Stela James said...

this is nice post. thanks for the post. it's informative post.. work from home

When Pigs Fly said...

I feel for you. Anxiety is the crapfest of all crapfests. Getting sleep is crucial because the less you get the worse you feel.
Your imagery is fantastic and gave me a good giggle. Getting older and having more responsibilities does not help. Getting a good prescription does.

Penny said...

All of the above. I now wake up in the middle of the night and ask, "Do you really need to get up to use the restroom?" I keep waiting for the answer.

So Humor Me

Jeanne Estridge said...

Could be any of those.

Rooting for short-term temporary....

Sue Wilkey said...

Silly, silly Anna. Have you learned nothing from me?

Morning: Xanax
5pm: Chardonnay
10 pm: Lunesta

I'm like your freakin fairy godmother.

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Oh Anna, this Anna feels your pain. I have always been grateful for very good mental health. Lately, not so much. The sleep deprivation thing is taking its toll on me, too.

I hope it's not someting that always happens to people whose names are spelled the same frontwards and backwards. I'll be thinking about that at 2 am.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to all that. Thanks for the laugh! :D