Total Pageviews

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Worrywart

I don’t need anyone to tell me what my problem is—I know what my problem is: I worry too much. I worry about everything, starting with all the careless shit I did throughout the day, to all futuristic things that are completely out of my control: Did the mailman think I was flirting with him today? Did I mail the car payment on time? What will I do if my kids want to play with Barbies someday?           
This year, I’m trying not to worry as much. I figure it’ll be better for my health in the long run too. If I’m this worried about life now—like I’m a parent to teenagers—imagine what I’ll be like when I do have them…. Christ, I’ll probably have ulcers by then.
My official worrywart syndrome was put to test last week. Skipping out of the bar for my break, I couldn’t wait to eat my homemade pizza and read this book that's so electrifying, I even find myself reading on BART’s escalators. Before marching into the kitchen, I glanced at next week’s schedule, only to discover that I was scheduled to work a day I don’t normally work—and it was on my ruca’s birthday! I began to choke dementedly, as if my breath were a spindly fish bone, as I checked and re-checked the schedule. There was no way around it: I was working on her birthday, and I was screwed!
Panicking, I fled to my manager, spewing some kind of jumble along the lines of “can’t work!” “birthday”, and “doghouse for days.”
He’d been watching the bar as my cover, and blinked his doubts at me. “Did you request it off?”
            “Yeah, but months ago.”
            “Are you sure?”
            I scratched my head. Now that he mentioned it, I wasn’t.
            I offered solutions of switching the shift around but it didn’t look good. School schedule for this bartender, vacation for another…. A couple came to the bar suddenly and my manager turned around to greet them, his signal that the conversation was over, and tough shit.
            Sighing, I went to the kitchen. “Sara, como estás?” the dishwasher chirped at me.
            “Bien,” I mumbled.
            “Sarita! Qué te pasa?” Rafa in pantry asked.
            “Nada,” I shrugged irritably.
            My pizza was fabulous—with fresh tomatoes, broccoli, and salty kalamata olives—but I ate it with as much enthusiasm as a soggy leftover burrito. The chapter I was reading was as alluring as ever—the protagonist’s ship has just sunk and he finds himself in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger—but the words flickered as much excitement to me as a Monday morning, and my eyes rolled dully across the pages.
Not only was I bummed, but I was worried sick about how my ruca would take the news. “You wanna go to Napa? dinner? a party? Gee, that sounds great but I gotta work.” Or: “Babe, you didn’t really want me around on your birthday, did you?”
She was gonna be pissed! She was gonna be crushed! Five birthdays from now, she’d be licking frosting off her candle and snark at me bitterly, “Remember that birthday you had to work?”
Somewhere in the back of my head, I heard another voice peep through. Stop worrying! Things will work out, they always do.
Except when they don’t, my other voice snapped back.
No! That was negative, pessimist thinking. Miracles happen…sometimes. Really, who knows? Maybe someone will come to me, short for rent, and beg me for my shift. Or maybe the restaurant will flood, be filled with water like a fishbowl, and by default I’ll get the day off—although I really don’t think I should hope for that.
Sigh. Worse case scenario, I’d work the shift and my ruca would understand—she’d have to.
            My half hour was up. I’d spent my entire break miserable, had hardly remembered what I’d just read, and half of my gourmet pizza was sitting in a massive pile of compost.  
As I grunted my way back to the bar, I checked the schedule, desperate to look for someone I might've missed. But as I looked at it, it was as if my name had magically disappeared from the shift. I’d been swapped for a different day—the ruca’s birthday was now wide open! 
My manager, now standing at the host desk, straightened his tie and winked his silent You’re welcome.
I was as giddy as gumdrops! I whooped and cheered and beamed! I had the day off, and that was by far the best present I could give to my ruca.

Later in bed, I stayed up for hours agonizing. I’d had the perfect chance to prove myself that I didn’t need to worry, and instead, I'd glummed around as miserable as Eeeyore's rain cloud. Would I ever change? Would I ever learn to have some faith that things work out? 
I suddenly realized my irony: I was worried again about worrying when the only thing I should’ve been worried about was losing sleep!
Telling that incessant voice in my head to kindly shut up, I closed my eyes, and melted into peaceful slumber.

© Sarah C. Jiménez, All Rights Reserved 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not Your Superwoman

All winter season, I scoffed arrogantly at the sick people around me—ha! All the snotty-nosed, sniffling, sneezing, headache stricken sick people who had let themselves get sick. Not me! I wouldn’t let myself get sick—I was way too in touch with my body to break down. I cook and eat healthy, exercise regularly, and sleep like I’m still a teenager. While masses of germs hailed like bullets through the air, I, Superwoman, would be immune to all of them and not get struck down. Getting sick was for suckers!
The closing of the holiday season at work was starting to kick my ass like a whip to a donkey. My lackadaisical four-day work week had been stretched to six-day back-to-back work weeks with our biggest mid-January convention wrapping up our busy season. Superwoman was wearing thin. Still, I was convinced that I would not exhaust myself until after the convention had ended…. Not so. Folding like a cheap poker hand, I woke up Monday morning as miserable as a New Year’s hangover. My head felt like a water balloon before it bursts, and slimy trickles of snot gushed out my nose. My usual morning desires like breakfast, hot tea, and a steaming shower to splash my senses awake were diminished into one sole desire: to collapse my head back into my pillow, and sleep for an entire day. Instead, I went to work.
Ordinary lights pulsated like strobe-lights on my pupils, and ubiquitous noise thundered in my ears like heavy metal. My ego was a bit wounded. I was not immune after all; I had become one of them. I had become…sick.
My only relief was calling into work at 7am the next morning, my boss insisting I stay home. Immediately, I fell into sleep’s sweet surrender, overcome by prisms of dreams as my body went to work, exorcising the demon bug out of me. The pockets of time I spent awake were utilized guzzling down pulpy glasses of grapefruit juice, flooding out toxins with copious refills of water, and scalding germs with hot tea.  After each waking nap, I slowly un-peeled another layer off myself until I finally woke up feeling…well, better. So I did the two things I always do to uplift my spirits: I wrote and cooked. A note to readers though, that the keyword here is that I did not clean up after myself in the least. 
The ruca walked into a kitchen filled with colossal stacks of water and juice glasses, teacups filled with soggy tea bags, and my bowl of half-eaten oatmeal crusty in the sink. “Baby,” I reasoned, trying to explain that cleaning was part of the secondary process of healing.
“You didn’t even make the bed!” she exasperated.
“Well technically, I did just get out of it,” I shrugged.
Indulging in my soup instead of arguing, we slurped down steaming bowls of lemon-spiked caldo with carrots, zucchini and tiny pasta wheels. The lemon coated my throat and steam sizzled into my pores. Something inside me fizzled away as I soaked up my homemade medicine.
            I awoke the next morning super early alert, alive, and so chipper you’d think I was actually a morning person. “I guess I am human, after all, and not Superwoman like I tried to be. Everyone gets sick, even healthy people break down at times,” I chatted with the ruca, as I picked out my clothes for the day. “Even though I hate the feeling of becoming vulnerable to something tougher than me, it’s part of life. You know, it made me think of a quote I read somewhere about crying and I translated its same meaning to being sick. Getting sick doesn’t mean you’re weak; it just means you’ve been strong for too long.”
            I realized suddenly that my conversation was nothing more than a hokey monologue, and that the ruca was sniffling miserably into her pillow. “You got me sick!” she moaned. “I haven’t gotten sick this entire season!”
More glasses would go unwashed, and the bed would probably go unmade again today. But as the ruca sneezed into a fistful of tissue, I realized that I was right: even the strongest can only be Superwoman for so long.

© Sarah C. Jiménez, All Rights Reserved 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jolly Fun Times at the DMV!

Going to the DMV is about as much fun as getting a root canal. Not that I’ve ever had one, but the contorted grimaces of agony I’ve seen on people afterwards pretty much match those who have spent an entire morning dealing with people who hate you at the DMV. Still, the ruca and I had go. Not only had the plates expired a month before, but I’d been walking around with an expired driver’s license (which apparently, hadn’t been a problem, seeing as no one cards me for a glass of wine anymore).
As soon as we got there, we waited in line to wait for a number to go sit down and wait some more. Some dude with an angry face like a rowled up pug was the security guard. No taller than five feet (which was probably why he was so pissy), he glared at all of us as if we were conspiring terrorists with a nefarious plot to blow up the DMV (one could only fantasize), instead of agro locals who’d all been forced to throw our coffees away at the door. I noticed a very confused mentally ill woman talking to herself as she lugged a tattered blue suitcase that looked like it was from her hitchhiking days in the 60s. The guard growled at her to wait outside until the inside line had moved along, which seemed to terribly upset her. The ruca and I looked at each other. Why does the DMV seem to bring out the worst in people?
They were calling groups A-G with a number like B-25, a random system with about as much rhyme and reason as a Bingo game. We took our seats and waited…and waited. Next to us sat the poor lady with the suitcase who kept asking herself “Why, why, why?” without an answer. Suddenly, the ruca gasped. “We can take care of both registration and your license renewal at the same window, right?”
“Of course we can,” I scoffed. “This is the DM—” Immediately sensing the irony of my words, I shot out of my chair back to the info window to go ask. The only thing more tedious than waiting in line is being told to wait in it again.
Below my eye level in my peripheral vision, I could see someone shouting at me to “sit down.” I debated validating the security guard’s ego by giving him any attention, but decided against it. I had every right as a human being to ask a question without being ordered to “sit” like I was some kind of dog—he was the one with the ugly pug face. He barked at me again. “Sit down!”
“No!” I snarled back at him, swallowing down my boiling temper. “I am not going to sit down! I have a question for this lady.” My space at the info window suddenly opened up, and although the lady assured me that I wouldn’t have to wait in two lines, I was still fuming when I slummed back into my seat.
“Everything okay?” the ruca asked.
“Oh yeah,” I blasted, feeling slightly delirious. “Just having a jolly ol’ time at the DMV.”
 Back to the waiting game, not a single D was called for nearly 40 minutes. Growing antsy, we bonded with people around us, who all mostly had Ds and were just as irritated. “Do you have a D?” “How ‘bout you?” “No, they haven’t called a single one.” The guard squinted at us, suspicious of an arising revolt which wasn’t too far off. In fact, we’d grown quite rowdy, hollering “What the fuck?!” every time another B was called. When they finally started calling the Ds, we knew the employees had finally gotten the point and that they in fact did not want their chairs hurled across the room. We cheered madly. Yes, we were that obnoxious crowd. Don’t mess with the D group.
            When our D-72 was finally called, the ruca and I jumped out of our chairs and flew to window 19 before anyone could change their minds. A young woman with red and green glittered acrylic tips looked up at us and rolled her eyes. Our thrill at being called was short-lived as we handed over our paperwork along with several hundred bucks for registration, late fees, an unpaid parking ticket with another late fee, and whatever other annoying fee they felt like tagging on, like a human existence fee. My stomach was growling terribly for breakfast as we finished up, but there was one last line to wait in which was also the moment of truth: the photo line for my new license.
            Fluffing my hair and glossing my lips, I prayed for that perfect shot. The suitcase lady was behind me again knocking madly on her head, which were my sentiments exactly, but I forced myself to focus; I had to take a good picture—it would be the face I showed for the next four years! When I finally got to the front, a lady with a terrible red dye job and jingle bell earrings snapped at me, “Stand there and smile! Okay on three: One, two, three!” I waited…no flash. I held my perfectly posed smile open revealing a mouthful of teeth…nothing. When the count had finally reached about seven or so, I dropped my frozen face to ask her if she’d taken it when—flash! “Thank you. Next!”
“Wait!” I shrieked. “I think I might’ve blinked, or made a face...can I see it?”
“No,” she said. “New regulations—no one can see their photos.” She looked at her screen at the top-secret picture. “You look…fine.”
“But I’m gonna have it for the next four years! Can’t I at least see it so I can maybe retake it?”
            She shook her head, making her earrings jingle. “Sorry,” she smacked, unconvincingly. “NEXT!”
            Helpless against a seemingly impossible system, the ruca and I shuffled out, ready for a late breakfast at our fave spot, and micheladas to wash the bitter taste out of our mouths. (The rest of our afternoon had all been determined that first hour.) Although we'd given the DMV almost three hours of our morning, it didn't seem to matter now. We would continue on with our day, and the DMV would continue being…well, the DMV. 

© Sarah C. Jiménez 2012, All Rights Reserved