I’m addicted to stress.
I only recently figured this out. I was looking in my mailbox freaking out over why a new kindle hadn’t arrived yet. Did the mail lose it? I needed it soon! What if it doesn’t show? It’s hot outside, so what if the heat breaks it? The roads are bumpy and so it could shake apart. I’ll open a box of shattered glass and plastic! How do I even use it when it gets here? It seems so complicated! But?! Oh no!? AUUUGH!
Oh God, I think I’m gonna die…
My friend, Janelle, who was on the phone with me as my poor little heart ran so fast you would think I overdosed it with ecstacy and Pixy Stix, finally brought me back to earth. “Garrett. Stop. Why are you stressing this? It’s not solving anything and nothing can be done right now. Just stop." Her voice was so firm and each word given so much importance and stacatto she sounded like a female version of Allen Rickman.
I paused a moment, more because my heart skipped a few beats and caused me stroke out for a bit than because of what she said, but I thought about it.
Why was I? It was in the mail. There was nothing to be done except wait.
I realized then that I wanted to stress out about this. The adrenaline would flood my body. A neurotic electrical storm would rip through every memory and thought to find any shred – any damnable hope – of a solution. Muscle cells would fire like pistons raging against whatever dilemma was at hand. Stress, for me, was my power. Fuel for destroying my enemies be they human, situational, or, apparently, the United States Postal Service.
You see, in my experience stress brings about solutions.
The saying goes that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. The people who say this, usually have a gross excess of time and money, or a sugar daddy. When you sweat the small stuff it’s because the small stuff usually has a solution. Something can be done to remedy the problem at hand.
For example, when your flight gets cancelled you go into overdrive. You run like a greyhound after a mechanical bunny to the next information booth. You fight everyone else at the airport. They are your enemies; competition for a limited number of seats on the next flight out. They must be destroyed. You plead, yell, cajole, seduce, bribe the poor kiosk lady for the shittiest, leftover seat. Simultaneously, you’re on the phone with a booking agent looking for a backup to that as you e-mail a competing airline for an opening just in case. In the end you might get a flight out and still get home in time to watch a new episode of True Blood.
Sweating the small stuff gets things done. It gets results.
Many of you might not call something like missing a plane small stuff. My belief is anything not world ending is small stuff.
My house burned down? Screw it. I’m going to Mexico. Nothing to be done about it. (This is an example my own personal world ending.)
A meteor careening towards Earth? The end of the world is inevitable and no Bruce Willis on a shuttle with an atom bomb to save us all? Screw it. I’m spending my time at a drug induced orgy and having unprotected sex with strangers. Not like I have to really worry about the long term consequences, right?
To me, it’s the big things that aren’t worth agonizing over. What can be done? Nothing, that’s what. So why bother? Little things, however, can be fixed.
I find the easiest way for me to deal is to do something where stress cannot even exist. Take making popsicles as an example of this. At your laziest you just pour some juice into a mold and place it in the freezer. Wait a few hours. During the time you can ulcerate yourself trying to figure out what that noise you heard in the wall a few moments ago was. (Did the pipes burst? Shit, there might be a flood. I hope insurance covers it. I’m going to go online and review my policy. Afterwards, I’ll call the insurance agent just to be sure they sent the right policy over. Crap, the furniture is new. Will it be destroyed? Will I have to move? I should look up apartments, too.)
Once you’ve made your calls, printed out some rental listings, and stressed over any other number of possible outcomes and the solutions you have judiciously selected and nervously set into place – you know, just in case – you go and grab your popsicle. No stress involved. Just put in your mouth and suck.
I turned back to my phone. “Janelle, stress works for me. Just let me have it.”
“You’re going to give yourself an ulcer this way,” she said.
“Oh God, you’re right. I stress too much. I may already have an ulcer. My stomach has been hurting. Maybe I should make an appointment with the doctor? Maybe I’ll try WebMD and diagnose myself?” I panicked.
“NO!” screamed Janelle. “You’ll just think you’re dying of ebola or cancer. WebMD self diagnosis is evil. I ban you forever from that website. Forever. Banned. Done.”
“What if I-?”
“But I’m stressing myself to death! I need to figure this out!”
Crud. I've moved on to meta-stressing.
Let me tell you. Nothing more stressful than stressing about your stress.
Time to make more popsicles.
Green Tea-Peppermint Popsicles
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups of mint, smashed and bruised
4 tea bags of green tea
1/2 cup honey
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Warm until the mixture is hot and steaming, but not boiling. Take off heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes. Reheat over medium high heat until steaming. Take off heat. Strain out the mint and tea. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
4 oz raspberries, smashed
1/3 cup sugar
juice and zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
Place the raspberries, sugar, and lemon in a small saucepot and warm over medium heat until the sugar melts. Lightly mash the mixture with a fork. Allow to cool. Mix with the yogurt and pour into popsicle molds and freeze.