Everyday is the End of the World as We Know It

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Lately I’ve been waking up at 3 in the morning to worry. Not on purpose of course. It’s probably that I’ve gotten back in the habit of drinking a few cups of coffee in the afternoon AND having a glass of wine when I’m cooking dinner at night. This is not good for me. Coffee and wine mess with my sleep but sadly, I’m not always on my best behavior and sometimes these vices, disguised as treats, sneak in. Sometimes might be all the time.

Super early yesterday morning, after ruminating in the dark for what seemed like hours, I finally just got up and decided to walk the dogs at dawn. I love doing this because there are less people out and lately it seems like there are people everywhere. Running into people with three not-so-well-behaved dogs (I still have my mom’s dog, Spreckles) AND navigating social distancing etiquette is challenging. I’m always finding myself taking weird routes I had no intention of taking just to avoid people. Hello, stranger. I guess I’ll just take a right turn here to avoid you!  Doesn’t it seem like everyone is always out these days? Not that I blame anyone. I’m sick of my house too and sunshine and space are all that’s keeping us sane these days.

I often listen to books on Audible while I walk. I also listen to podcasts and I call my dad regularly. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The books I’m reading are often stories about social injustice and while they are super educational and meaningful, they often make my habit of over-worrying even worse. Podcasts are great too but the health and wellness spectrum that I often find myself in also tends to make me over-worry. And even though I love my dad to pieces, sometimes talking to him and absorbing his problems ALSO makes me worry too much. I am just the worriest worry wart there ever was.

This worrying tendency makes me think of my grandma who passed away forever ago. She was known as the worry wart of the family. I miss her so much. I wish we could talk about this worrying habit. But maybe it’s good she’s not around today to see all the things that are going down. It is not a good time to be a worrier.

The other day, I walked out into the orange light of mid day (due to all the fires burning in California) and there on the wall of our entryway was the biggest green bug I have ever seen. I looked it up and I think it’s a green Katydid. I’ve seen small bugs like this a lot. Small finger-nail sized versions but this thing was HUGE! It was as big as my palm. And then later I walked out into the backyard and there in the track of our sliding glass door was the hugest slug I have ever seen. All I could think was, it’s the end of the world! Giant bugs, heat waves, weird orange light, pandemics, crazy political scenes, the country on the brink of a civil war… I just wanted to hide like Chicken Little.

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I decided books and podcasts and phone calls were just too much for my poor stressed-out brain. (I know. Eye-roll-worthy.)  I often walk without listening to anything but I decided to turn on my favorite “chill” playlist and a Moby song came on.  I don’t know why I don’t use music to calm myself more often. I don’t remember which song it was but as the softly repeating base line echoed around the inside of my head, I felt my cortisol levels lower. I gazed up at the trees that line the sidewalk path and I started to notice how they were pruned.

Every tree was pruned differently. I know a lot of this is dependent on the tree and how it grows but the more I examined the branches of each tree, the more I thought they looked like individual works of art! Some were trimmed to flay out symmetrically in all directions. Other trees were pruned to turn in on themselves in spirals. Some were weirdly pruned to grow over the sidewalk…It got me to thinking about who pruned them.  I bet there is a tree-trimmer on our neighborhood route who decided to create his own masterpieces on every tree he comes across! How cool is that?!

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I’ve always thought our neighborhood was a little over-aggressive with their gardening (seriously, it seems like every day is a new and different very loud gardening task: blowing, edging, trimming, mowing…) but today I actually appreciated it. In a community where everything looks the same, I thought, how cool that it actually isn’t!

Then I started to imagine the cool animated graphic I would create with long willowy purple trunks and branches spiraling around each other to pretty music and wished I was an animator with 3d graphics skills. But that’s just a typical Brenda rabbit hole to fall down.

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But let me tell you, it’s a whole lot better than all the other worry rabbit holes I’ve been falling down lately! A whole lot better than worrying about civil war!!!

Quarantine Day 12: Rando Bits

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If it wasn’t for the fact that I have the worst cold I’ve ever had in ten years (!!) (just a stupid fatal-attraction-level sinus infection and NOT covid-19, don’t worry) and the fact that I have anxiety, I would say this quarantine has been good for me. I love staying home and I have more time than ever to be creative. I didn’t think I was an introvert but maybe I am! I’m cooking, I’m cleaning, I’m mom-ing, I’m making things! I even pulled out the sewing machine which I’ve been dreaming of for years! I’m pretty low-level happy. That is until I start worrying about how many people are dying, my parents and whether or not this is the end of the world. You know, just your normal 3 am freak-out stuff.

It’s been cool having the kids home all day long. I can be my old helicopter parent self and not feel guilty about not letting them go out ever. They don’t seem to mind. Their faces are permanently glued to their computers, playing Minecraft or doing school work. I hardly hear a peep out of them unless they need food. And since I miss them so much, I’m happy to play short-order cook. My kids are spoiled rotten. But you knew that already.

We do insist they sit down to dinner with us and even though they roll their eyes I think they like it too. Some lively discussions go down.

Bug and I have taken a few walks together which is nice. I’m loving the corona-swerve since I never really like interacting with other people when I’m walking the dogs anyway because Whiskey is the super-hyper-attack-everyone terrier that he is. I told you the quarantine is sitting well with me. Weird, right? Though I do miss a good coffee date.

There is a new Starbucks around the corner from us and it opened up this week. I spied it while I was out walking the dogs early this morning and the minute I got home Bug and I rushed off to visit it like a long lost friend. I never thought I’d be so happy to see a drive-thru.

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One of you asked how Bug and I are I’m dealing with our anxiety. Bug has decided that “anxiety” doesn’t exist. I think her dad is rubbing off on her and she’s in the I-can-fix-myself-just-fine, you-wusses stage. It’s a blessing because I don’t think I could deal with her going through what she went through in second grade all over again. The endless questions, the dry-heaving, the worry circles. You all remember what we went through. The doctor said that she will always have anxiety but that it will come and go. So I think it’s just on the go side which is great. And I’m sure she has matured a lot and uses a lot of her coping mechanisms.

Me, on the other hand. Well, I’m medicated so that helps. Like a TON. Whenever I feel myself starting to freak-out I just remind myself of my upcoming doctor’s appointment and store whatever worry I’m obsessing about in a mental box to talk to my doctor about. I LOVE my doctor. She is so nice and she always makes me feel like I’m normal.

Am I worried that I won’t be able to see her during this quarantine? Yes, of course. But I know she will do her best because she’s always worried that her patients are going to commit suicide if she isn’t there for them. I don’t need her that bad but she always tells me to call her immediately if I ever get worse. I never have called her so I feel pretty good. But then I worry that the government is going to fail and I won’t be able to have insurance anymore and we’ll all live in poverty and I’ll have to go cold turkey on my meds and live in a cardboard box in an alley somewhere getting gangrene… but then I remind myself that my brain likes to tell me lies so I shut that up and think about something happy instead.

Like postcards! I haven’t made any kind of formal quarantine journal but little things like blog posts, Instagrams and postcards tell the story. I doubt anthropologists will ever thank me for all the documenting I do but I like to imagine they do. What a gold mine of information I would be if there weren’t all the other social media megastars that there already are.

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In other bits: gardening! Spring is here and I am pottering around happily with my plants in the house and my pots and planters outside. I’m growing mung bean sprouts for my cat who likes to eat the house plants and throw up. They aren’t growing fast enough and she keeps eating Bug’s spider plant.

Bug is so funny, she’s named the plants in her room in zones: Her rubber plant and pathos are “The Tropics.”  Her fern and ivy are “The Northern Coastal” and her spider plant is “The Grasslands.” Apparently, Kady likes to visit The Grasslands frequently.

I don’t know why I put that photo of brown sugar up there. Maybe because I love a good circle shot and I wanted to share that I put a teaspoon of brown sugar in my coffee every day with my magic spice mix. It’s delicious. Do you know what is funny? I am still losing weight even with that teaspoon of sugar every day. I do eat a slice of peanut butter toast for breakfast and I usually have a glass of wine every night but cutting out carbs and not going to restaurants seems to be the magic cure to my weight problem. Who knew! Everyone else is complaining that quarantine is making them gain weight. Not me!

Next up is my sanitation station. I love the sound of that. I’m thinking I should make it into a shrine or ofrenda of some sort. I mean, if it is going to live there by the front door it might as well look cute, right? Right now it looks pretty pathetic. I’m thinking maybe there is a saint who is in charge of cleaning? A portrait of Zita, the patron saint of house-cleaning?

Masks! They are for fashion! I know, I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying that but since I can’t mass-produce masks (I can only make about two a day after I get done with my day job) I’m mostly just making them for friends and family. And if I’m making them for friends and family I might as well make them cute, right? So far I’ve only dug around my fabric stash but I have day-dreams of creating masks that have facial expressions on them and maybe a baby shark for the little boy who loves baby shark so much. Wouldn’t that be cute?

You might know that I am a HUGE fan of Project Runway. It’s my favorite show. And yes, I watch all the spin-offs and project-runway-wannabe shows too. I think I missed my calling when I passed up going to FIDM right out of high school. Can you imagine me as a fashion designer? I know I’m not the most fashionable person but I dream about it all the time. So when Christian Siriano started making plain white masks (and not designer masks that would become collector’s items) I swooned. What a hero!

Next is a pathetic picture of Whiskey. You’d think he’s a poor neglected puppy the way he mopes around. Not the dog who gets peanut butter twice a day with his allergy medicine and the dog who gets walked regularly, patted and crooned to all day long. He’s just playing on your emotions folks, nothing to see here.

Speaking of short-order cook, I can make a mean sandwich! Just ask Bug. Payam would agree too but we aren’t allowed to have bread anymore so we just wist from afar. I’d also like to note my sliced-up hand from making soap. It is a beeyotch. So not helpful when obsessively hand-washing.

Lastly, I give you a shot of my African violet being all pretty in my kitchen window. It’s the little things that keep me sane.

How are you coping?