Sunday, November 14, 2010

Omnia mea mecum porto

Signs and symptoms of hypochondria include:
  • Excessive fear or anxiety about having a particular disease or condition
  • Worry that minor symptoms mean you have a serious illness
  • Seeking repeated medical exams or consultations
  • "Doctor shopping," or frequently switching doctors
  • Frustration with doctors or medical care
  • Strained social relationships
  • Obsessive health research
  • Emotional distress
  • Frequent checking of your body for problems, such as lumps or sores
  • Frequent checking of vital signs, such as pulse or blood pressure
  • Inability to be reassured by medical exams
  • Thinking you have a disease after reading or hearing about it
  • Avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious, such as being in a hospital* 

I sure do love to cook and bake.  I just wish that they'd make a more cushioned floor for the kitchen (that is also easy to clean and anti-bacterial) because standing around cooking and baking and dish-washing is hard on my legs!  And also, has anyone ever noticed that people say, "Oh, I love to cook!" or "I really like baking!" but no one ever says "I love to wash dishes!" even though dish-washing is an enormous part of cooking and baking?  Personally, I don't like to wash dishes but I don't hate washing dishes, either.  For me, anything that involves the reduction of bacteria and other materials that might be defined under the word "dirt" is cathartic.  Cleaning and organizing, those are two things I give a big thumbs-up.

So today started out with homemade breakfast burritos and the Sunday comics, then it was nap-time.  At the end of my nap, I got a nosebleed.  I'm lucky that I can be a light sleeper because if I hadn't noticed it and awakened, I would have gotten blood all over the place.  It makes no sense as to why someone would get a nosebleed in their sleep, excepting the possibility that the person has a life-threatening disease like leukemia.  I've been tested, I don't have it, but I do get a lot of pretty nasty nosebleeds.  Anyway, I got up after that, and took Phoenix to the dog park.  It was kind of funny - when we got to the dog park, a couple with a three-legged-dog had just gotten there.  Phoenix played with her for a few minutes and we went on our walk around the open space, and when we were just getting back to the car, that same couple was leaving, too.  We followed them all the way to Target, where we parted ways, and I ran into Target to grab a prescription.  Then we hit Petsmart to get more dog food for Phoenix, (and also a probiotic) and we ran into the same couple and their dog there, too!  In retrospect, I feel retarded for not being more conversational with them and letting Phoenix play with the other pup some more, but in my defense, I was retarded in that I did not grab a basket on the way in and ended up walking around the store holding 5 cans of dog food and a bottle of pills in my arms.  Anyway, I should have stopped and talked more and been more friendly.  I feel like I missed an opportunity to make some new friends, plus I have a very special soft spot for three-legged dogs.  I guess if we are fated to meet again, then we will!

Upon returning, my mom discovered that she had a flat tire, so I helped my dad change it (since bending over is extremely exerting for him) and then I made chicken curry for dinner.  It was glorious and delicious!  And so here we are.

I feel like I haven't been overly introspective lately - which is probably a good thing.  I'm always acutely aware of my many thoughts and feelings, but in the last few days at least, I have felt much less anxious.  There could be many reasons for this, of which I am not going to go into because they are too numerous.  However, I have been attempting to do things for myself that are kind and compassionate, including not being so hard on myself and giving myself a break.  I'd really like to be able to be happy in whatever situation I find myself thrown into, and I've found myself thinking about something a good friend said to me in an email recently:  

"I think some of the post-trip angst I'm feeling is what I always feel after a trip abroad:  that the US is an imperfect place, and international travel just serves to highlight those imperfections.  There are certain things that I emphatically DO NOT LIKE about life in this country.  I don't like how impersonal life is here.  I don't like how unconnected I am to my neighbors.  I don't like the fact that a lot of Americans go through life without a strong sense of community or belonging.  I don't like the fact that most Americans are frenetically engaged in the pursuit of happiness, yet most Americans don't seem to be all that happy.  I don't like the fact that we are so materially rich that we take our technology-driven lifestyles for granted.  I don't like the fact that Americans, compared to the rest of the world (with the exception of Japan), are uptight and rushed.  I don't like the fact that our uptight, rushed, technology-driven lifestyle has robbed us of the ability to appreciate simple pleasures.  I don't like the fact that most Americans measure their success by way of material wealth.  I don't like the fact that in this country, life is largely about things, not people.  I don't like my finding that Americans, by and large, have terribly unrealistic expectations of their children and are thus often consumed by frustration that their children are not behaving in the expected way, rather than simply offering the children unconditional love and finding joy in their company."

I think she very eloquently describes all the things that are wrong with America that people in other countries do not experience, and therefore are exponentially happier than most Americans.  I'm taking the points my friend makes and intentionally trying to use them to my benefit.  Why are Americans so obsessed with material things?  Why isn't the joy of good company, and good times with good people enough for most of us?  Why are we always striving for more wealth, with which to acquire more things?  Do the things we acquire really fill the voids each and every one of us has?

I shall forthwith try not to take little things that might bring me joy for granted: Episodes of 30 Rock, any singular moment I spend with Phoenix, laughing with my family, delicious champagne, nights on the town with friends, beautiful sunny days, beautiful snowy days, whatever good book I'm currently reading, fresh air, seeing something I've never seen before, Chipotle burritos, and the list goes on.  I'd like to think that I rarely took anything for granted anyway, but now I must make an extra effort in order to maintain what little sanity I have managed to preserve thus far. 

*"Hypochondria: Symptoms -" Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <>.

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