I spent from 12-4am waking up every hour to check the clock and having horrible dreams that I was missing my flight. I got up, showered, dressed (including make up and ironing my clothes) and headed to the airport. I had a grande latte and then immediately slept on the plane for over two hours. I don't think caffeine has much effect on me. Over the holidays I got to visit with my cousin Helen's family, including her newborn twins. She said someone had asked her husband David how they were holding up after several weeks as new parents to premature twins. He said that he was prepared for the crises. He had read all about those and could spring into action if Helen or the babies needed something immediately. But he was not prepared for the day to day slog of feeding, changing and soothing two infants who may not be on the same schedule.
I've been thinking about day to day slogs in general these days. I think that most people can spring into action if need be for short times. Mollie stole piping hot meatloaf off the stove last night and then immediately threw it up all over the living room. I (and our new portable carpet shampoo robot) can handle that kind of dog crisis. But we're starting to reach the point in Sarah's elderly canine life where she's having more frequent accidents in the house and I'm thinking she's just not able to hold her bladder as long as she used to. It's still manageable for the moment with some scheduled feedings and vigilance, but I think we're getting to the day to day slog part of her life.
I've also been pondering stress a lot lately and how people both perceive and handle it. People in general like to talk about how busy they are. They want their lives to seem just a little bit hard. Nobody wants to tell all their friends how easy they're lives are if the dramatic episode of that day's inconvenience makes a much better story. But just like Plato or Socrates said (I get them all mixed up), perception can become reality. How much of the stress of your life is self-inflicted?
At one point I was the poster child for self-induced stress. I can remember staying up all night sewing outfits for an SCA event so we could pack and leave a 4am. I would get to the event with 95% of an outfit done, spend the first few hours finishing it, the next few hours on a grocery store run, the next few hours sitting and talking about how tired I was, a few hours eating and drinking and then pile back into the car, grumpy that my husband had spent all day playing with his friends while I had slaved away for days with not so much reward. I wish I could go back and slap that person.
Lately, I've been noticing similar behavior in others. People will bemoan how incredibly busy they are, but then spends hours writing emails no one wants to read anyways. There's the perception that there is just "so much to do" that we just spend all our time freaking out about it and not getting anything checked off the list while adding more unimportant things to the list like "write a four page email talking about how busy we are".
Another colleague many years ago told me once that she couldn't do something because "her plate was full." At the time this prompted many snarky suppositions on just how big her plate was anyways. Was it a full dinner plate or was it more of a cocktail dish to precariously balance on top of a wine glass?
So today I'm not going to whine about how I got up at 3:45am and have a blister from the breakneck pace we've been rushing to slow moving meetings. And I'm not going to gross you out with the amazing fact that I managed to bleed through two pairs of underwear and a pair of dress pants before noon. I'll just revel in the cool printing press I saw today, how I learned why they're called upper and lower case letters (because of the trays they're kept in), and successfully did a load of laundry in my hotel room to save my favorite pants. There's a kick ass retro neon sign right outside my corner room in this wacky little hotel where we're staying and I'm watching all the Law and Order I don't get a chance to watch at home.
There's a lot of bullshit that crops up for everyone. But if the big picture is good, the day to day slog doesn't seem so bad.