Under Pressure

Tessa and Jamie at Produce Row, Portland

I have a knack for stressing myself out. Case in point : today, I nearly had an coronary over getting a massage. 

I'm running late! Come on bus driver, step on it. Maybe it would be faster if I just got out at this stop and ran. What shoes am I wearing? Oh my god. I haven't shaved my legs in like a week. It's fine, it's fine, she massages hairy backs for godsakes. Massaging old men would be the worst. I wonder if they take off their underwear. Oh no, should I take off my underwear? I don't want her to think I'm a perv. Or a prude ....

A massage, in it's very essence, is the exact opposite of stressful. It's supposed to be ... what's that word again? oh yah, relaxing. And that has always been a bit of a challenge for me.

I tell myself stress can be positive. Studies show it can heighten performance, and anyone who has ever written a midterm paper in a single stream-of-consciousness sitting can agree. But the problem is, when it comes to stress for me - it's an all or nothing kind of game. Almost everything gets the amount of worry and attention other people reserve for an inaugural address or the results of an std test.

I put myself under an immense amount of pressure, because I know how important the little things in life are : birthdays, and phone calls to my grandmother.  It's the reason I send intricate cards and do all the other things that make one a thoughtful person. 

Because I am very thoughtful; and not just in the 'Awe, you shouldn't have' way. My mind doesn't take a break. Even my dreams are usually stressful; I'm missing a midterm or am horribly late for  lunch.

I think about them constantly - so those 'little' things, aren't little at all. They're enormous.
They expand and take a disproportionate share of energy in my day. I can't do any of the tasks I set out to do with ease and grace, because I feel like the coffee date I have scheduled this afternoon is open heart surgery. 

This kind of stress is not positive. I accomplish less because even the smallest act requires a tremendous amount of my mental and physical resources. Because when you worry about something, think about something, and treat something like it's a big thing - it becomes a big thing.

I need to work on giving things their proper importance. No one ever earned a Pulitzer Prize for doing their laundry.  

(photos) an 'easy like sunday morning' picture from this summer, with friends at Produce Row (title) "giving things their proper importance" is an idea from Joan Didion's On Self Respect. (soundtrack) Queen's Under Pressure


  1. Oh wow, I am the same way. Sometimes I have to take a break from myself by escaping into other things (ahh, the beauty of fiction). For an ultimately cliched piece of advice, "don't sweat the small stuff"!

  2. i like you and i want to see you soon. email me: caradenisonatgmaildot
    we'll exchange numbers and all of that. we are sick this week and in california the next....

  3. "No one ever earned a Pulitzer Prize for doing their laundry."

    So so true.

  4. I remember in high school when Gabe got a DUI and was telling us about how she told her mom she said, "I figure, if you act like it's not a big deal....it's not a big deal."

    Those words have alway stuck with me, and I remind myself of them all the time when something is worrying or stressing me.


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