08/05/03: Backitty back back junior.... shabbadoo?

I deal with stress in a very weird way. Things doesn't bother me for months on end, and then one day I start to sense some seismic activity deep in my core (and it's not because of the broccoli). If I don't take immediate action when this feeling is first noticed, then I know I'm headed for a meltdown.

Weird things trigger stress in me, and what's worse, things that are typically identified as pleasurable and happy events stress me out to some degree. Trouble is that I don't notice the building stress levels because I'm too busy enjoying myself and then all of a sudden there's that rumble... and the Jill who was happy 2 minutes-ago is now needing to decompress.

Not that decompressing is some monumental event. It could be something as simple as just having a half-hour to write, taking a little zen break, going for a drive and cranking "Heaven on Their Minds" so I can sing it at the top of my lungs, eating an entire Entenmann's raspberry danish twist (wait, that wasn't supposed to get printed!); ya know. Stuff like that. It's not some big dramatic thing.

Time to myself is the most important thing on the earth to me. I think I absorb, observe and overanalyze more than your average person-- my inputs don't have a very good filter on them, so anything I hear or see sticks with me on some level until I have time at a later date to assimilate and digest the experience, no matter how mundane the interaction. Because of this, I need an unusual amount of 'down-time' to parse this information and let the queue clear out so I have room for more input. Ever since I was very small, I've needed this time. My folks would often catch me sitting on my bed staring at the wall in a trance... teachers thought I was daydreaming, when the reality was I was just working everything out and analyzing it. In the morning after I'm out of the shower, I need 5 minutes to sit quietly and stare at the wall. If I miss out on my wall-staring time, it definitely shows after a few days. It's vital to my existence. When I'm running late or if my mind is over-occupied with other things, it's the first thing I forget to do.

So being in Arizona for 11 days was a totally positive, fun experience. But it also wonked me out having so many rehearsals and then rushing around to meet up with friends I haven't seen in 6 months; running here, driving 100 MPH to get there, moving this person's time slot here to accomodate this or that, thinking about the global impact of a comment or glance, worrying about screwing up a piece, worrying about being a polite houseguest, etc. Most people would be honored to have the opportunity to have these stressors, and while I'm there I am totally honored. But eventually it starts to get to me. It was a blessing that I had some of my mornings alone to just hang out and stare at the wall... if I didn't have that, I don't know what might have happened. Normally I like to sleep in until 9 or 10, but I found myself getting up at 7:30 or so and then just staying up to parse.

Nothing on the planet fixes me up faster than a massage, though. The last few times I went to AZ I booked a massage or a facial or some girlie thing, and I found that I was able to just relax and enjoy everything more. I should probably make sure I do that from now on. The dumb thing about massage is that I have a very hard time enjoying it unless I'm paying for it. It's not that someone else couldn't do a good job, but it's that I'd be worrying the whole time that I'd now owe this person something instead of just being allowed to enjoy it on its own, or worrying that their hands are tired, or wondering if they really wanted to be doing that. So paying for it removes all obligation and worry. I am guaranteed to lay back and enjoy, obligation-free. That removal of obligation and brain cycles is totally worth the $60.

So! Speaking of the effects of not dealing with stress before it gets too much... This morning, I decided to get a jump on my first day back at work. Normally I work 10-7, but I figured I'd work from home early in the morning to get caught up on emails and stuff before entering the building and getting jumped. As I waded through the almost 275 "Action Required!" emails, I felt my stress level totally rising and well, I uh, kinda freaked out. It came on really fast and really hard, and it wasn't pretty. So much was being asked of me, plus I was just overwhelmed with being thrust back into real life after being in la-la land not even 10 hours before. I started off ranting about how people rely on me way too much, and that turned into pacing, and that turned into clenching my teeth and fists and ultimately the dam broke and I broke down. Hell, I even curled up in fetal ball for a moment.   Such a large explosion rarely happens, thank goodness. This isn't the way a 32-year-old adult handles adversity. But when I feel like I'm being pulled in 800 directions by people who can't seem to wipe their own backsides, I get really overwhelmed. (Make no mistake: it is not my teammates who can't wipe their backsides; it's the folks we support. My teammates continue to be coolest part about my day-- I love these guys like family.) Anyhoo, once I got that out of my system, all levels were totally back within normal operating ranges and parameters.

Anyway, on an infinitely happier note, Rob and his pal Paul are gonna be in Wilmington this weekend. I can't wait! We're going to see the Blue Rocks, but I'm trying to come up with a Plan B if it's rained out... Rob's other friend (whose name I can't seem to ever remember) is also going to be in town bringing his kid back from band camp, so I'm thinking that whatever Plan B turns out to be needs to be somewhat kid-appropriate.

Anyhoo, I just realized I have a scheduling conflict. I'm scheduled to go back out to AZ for the weekend of October 4th, but I noticed that I'm doing the 150-mile Bike to the Bay that weekend. Maybe I can do the Philly ride instead which happens a week or two earlier; that one goes from Philly to the NJ shore. I'll check it out the dates and see if they work.

Blargh. Must do laundry tonight. I think I also need to rent my cousin Brooks (he's a handyman) for a day or two this week. I have a million little odd jobs I need done, and I need a manly man with tools and a truck to help me knock 'em out in a day. I just signed another year lease in my dumb apartment, so I'm making an effort this week to make the place feel more homey. I'm tired of living in a place that feels so temporary; no wonder why I feel like I wanna leave all the time.

You know, it would be very interesting (and probably pretty pathetic!) to chart out how many times I said I was moving back to Arizona only to then turn around and change my mind. It would also be enlightening, I imagine, to map out the reasons for each decision as well. When I think back on all the reasons and times I said I wanna go back or I wanna stay, they are all totally legit and well-thought-out reasons. Alas, circumstances change so rapidly in my dopey life... makes you wonder who's driving.

OK, that's about it.

As soon as I get my Arizona pictures developed, I'll slap 'em up!