Nov. 11, 2004
THE NEWS | PUBLISHER | GARDEN | ART BEAT
| THE HUM | CALENDAR
IT WAS "PICTURE DAY"
at my son't elementary school last week, the day those all-important
school photographs are taken. We had been told in advance, of
course, and reminded in numerous ways.
Picture day was also the day
after the election, when I and the rest of the Journal's
editorial staff spent nearly the entire night at the office,
putting together our local coverage for last week's edition.
I got back home at 7:30 a.m., just in time to help get Danny,
who is 6, ready for school and out the door. Picture day was
light years from my mind.
Later that week, I remembered.
"Danny, it was picture day on Wednesday!" I exclaimed.
What was he wearing? He didn't remember, of course. The blue
turtleneck with the stains? His worn out, faded orange T-shirt?
The custodian, bless her heart, must have taken pity on him;
she combed his hair.
Missing picture day is not the
end of the world, of course, but it made me feel like a Bad Parent.
And it was yet another example, among many lately, of how my
life seems to have slipped out of control, like a performance
by a once-competent juggler who is now watching the balls drop
all around her.
I am stressed out.
For me, it comes down to having
too much to do and too little time in which to do it. I squeeze
in the required tasks whenever there's a spare moment, or I try
to do two things at once, like cleaning the bathroom sink while
I'm watching the kids in the bath. A couple years ago, I told
my workaholic friend David in San Francisco about this, that
I feel like my life is carved into five-minute increments. That,
he said, is not good for your soul. David died of a sudden heart
attack last year at age 56.
The effects of this treadmill
life are showing.
Not only do I forget things,
I'm cranky and impatient with the kids. They don't fail to notice
when I put them off because of some "more important"
task. I was putting some knobs on our cabinets recently when
Danny got completely frustrated with me. "Work, work, that's
all you say. I'm going to throw your working tools away!"
On rare occasions, I'm distracted
to the point where I space out completely while driving, missing
my turn or going past the highway exit I need to take. That's
the kind of thing that really starts to scare me. I think about
those horrific stories of parents who inadvertently leave their
infants in the car all day, forgetting completely about them,
with disastrous consequences. Will I forget something really
For people in their 40s and
50s, increased forgetfulness is often taken as a sign of early
Alzheimer's, when most often it's linked to stress, according
to Eve Adamson in her book, The Everything Stress Management
Book. Other side effects of stress can include sweating,
nausea and vomiting, confusion, panic and hostility. Long-term
effects include depression and chronic pain, and may contribute
to high blood pressure, Adamson writes. A huge proportion of
all visits to primary care physicians -- some 75 to 90 percent
-- are for stress-related complaints, according to the American
Institute of Stress in Yonkers, N.Y.
Obviously, I'm not the only
one who is grappling with this problem. So I visited Bayshore
Mall one day last week to find out what other Humboldt County
residents have to say about the stress in their lives -- and
maybe get some tips from them on how to deal with it. Here are
some of their responses.
is stress at work, and I have two young children, there's stress
about that, they're 9 and 5. I don't know that I ever get to
the point where I can't function because of stress. I've heard
there are some people who get so [stressed out] they just freeze,
but I don't get to that point. If it's nonspecific, if I just
feel stressful, I'll just get up and walk around the block. That'll
deal with it. Typically, if I'm stressed out, it's because I'm
behind or I need to get something done. So I'll sit down with
a piece of paper and say, this is what I need to do to get these
things done. If I'm not doing it well, I should find somebody
who can help me do it better, or if I don't have time to do it,
then I either need to be honest about not being able to get it
done or find somebody who can help me. If there are things that
are beyond my control I need to realize that and not stress out
about that. Another way to get rid of stress [is to] go home.
The nice thing about living in a small town, certainly in Ferndale,
there's a pretty low-stress lifestyle down there, you don't worry
about things that folks may worry about in other communities,
crime or are the kids are safe, anything like that. My kids actually
tend to be good stress relievers because they take your mind
off of everything except them.
--Gregg Foster, 39, Ferndale
got a high level of stress. It comes in waves, like anything
else, I guess. I think stress comes out of relationships, out
of a desire to want to do right by the people you love, people
in your life, then there's stress that comes from meeting your
own expectations for yourself. There's stress from protecting
your investments, to include your family, protect the ones you
love, protect what you worked hard to achieve, those kinds of
things. I'm a helicopter rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard [but]
here people don't get in that much trouble. I've been here for
two and a half years, and I've flown on three or four things
that were the real deal and maybe on four of them I did something
directly. [The rest of the time] I try to take care of these
guys [his children, Promise, 3, and Tri, 4]. For me there's a
little more stress involved because we actually got married a
year ago and these are children from another marriage, and the
ex-husband's still in the picture. It's not that we wanna cut
off visitation from him but I don't think he's equipped to take
care of them. Usually I work out a lot [to combat stress], I
had a knee injury so I haven't been able to do that as much.
Movies -- like the whole put-the-kids-in-bed, get some movies
and spend some time with my wife, kind of the lockdown syndrome.
Go inside and not come out again. So we do that. We go out to
eat as a family, too. We have a Sunday brunch thing at the Trinidad,
the casino up there, sometimes. That's really nice.
--Patrick Roach, 29, McKinleyville
t's worse at the holidays. I had a daughter who died [three years
ago] next month. [Her twin, Giovanna, survived.] So it's always
more stressful at this time. She was 29 days old. Generally I
just try to really take care of myself. If I don't feel like
dealing with something, then I don't. If I don't feel like being
in the company of a lot of people then I don't. I try to take
a step back. It doesn't always work. But you do the best you
can. I'm [also] looking for a job. That's another story. It's
hard to pay the bills when you don't have a job! Kind of hard
to make the rent and car payment. [I'm a single mother and I
also have a 7-year-old at home.] Now's the time of year for work
at the mall, but I don't really want to do that. They want you
to be too varied in your hours, and they want you to give up
your life, and they only want to pay you $6.75 an hour. Kind
of hard to raise two kids on $6.75 an hour.
--Rita, age 28, Eureka
live on the Klamath River. I'm a fish technician for the Yurok
tribe. You get to ride around in boats, it's a lot of fun. Real
pleasant work. You're out in nature all the time, riding along
the river, and checkin' out God's creation. It's really neat.
What good's worry gonna bring to anybody? It can't add a day
to your life. If things are gonna happen they're gonna happen,
so take `em as they come.
--Thomas Willson, 41, Weitchpec
e're Christians. We pray, we believe in Jesus. He's always working
on our behalf and we really hear from him so we know he's there
for us. He really guides us in our life. I'm a maintenance worker
with Yurok tribe. We're both Yurok, we both live in the reservation,
we both have full-time jobs and we have a home, and we have great
Christian friends and other friends, and we both live around
our families. And we're thankful that we voted for President
Bush, and we're thankful that he's back in, it's something that
we were praying for, our church has been praying for. We've been
praying that earth will come back to morals, that things won't
be so far out of hand, that God's ideas should be our ideas.
--Morneen Willson, 42, Weitchpec
a lot of guys involved in my life right now -- I have to choose,
and it's stressful. My boyfriend, he just broke up with me and,
like, he wants to get back with me, but I'm single and I'm lovin'
it. I have a bunch of friends right now and I like having friends,
nothing serious. Homework is always something I stress about.
And I have asthma and if I don't have my inhaler, I'm always
stressing. I always forget it, so I chew my nails continuously,
I get really stressed out.
--Raquel Munoz, 17, Hoopa
really stressful because I don't know how I'm gonna make it if
I move out of my parents' house, just thinking about paying rent
and utilities and school and everything. And I just recently
bought a really expensive [Dodge Stratus], which was a mistake,
because now I'm obligated to that for years. So it's pretty crazy.
It's like I want to move away but I don't have money so I'm stuck,
and that's really hard, because there's nothing here for me.
I want to go to college. I want to major in psychology and become
a psychologist and have a career and all that, but I don't see
myself doing that because I feel so stuck here.
--Nicole Pacheco, 19, Hoopa
I'll tell you stressed. We're so stressed out about [the election
of Bush]. We're talking about moving to England. Our daughters
live in England. And I'm thinking, not too bad. In my lifetime
now, we will never see the kind of things happen in the United
States [that I'd hoped). It's just awful. I think the environment's
gonna be just down the tubes, if it isn't already. It's incredibly
depressing. To think that the country has that many stupid people.
It's scary, that's what I feel.
--Marlene, 74, Eureka.
a single mom [of 13-month-old Dylan] and I'm working a part-time
job right now [in a department store]. I'm learning hardware
and it's stressing me out because I got all these other people
that are really good. We have to do online training, so I'm trying
to take in what I can, but it's so hard because it's on the computer,
and I want to learn so much more. I gotta get food for my son
and myself, diapers, as well as keep myself sane. I'm 21. I take
a bath at night, just sit there and read or something. Gas is
a stress too, coming up for money for that. It's outrageous.
Right now for training I'm getting $7 an hour. And I'm stressing
out about Christmas. I live in my own place now, so just getting
a Christmas tree and making it nice for [my son]. I got no furniture,
either. It's hard and stressful.
--Misty, 21, Arcata [photo above]
lot of time at work I start getting stressed out when, like,
it's really busy or there's a lot of customers. I usually see
it in the beginning. You can tell when you're getting stressed
out. I try to fix it, and a lot of the time when I don't, it
blows up further. I usually just, when I notice it, I go and
take a breather or take a break, try to relax. A lot of the time
I turn to cigarettes. It's not a good choice but they relieve
--Maria Remme, 16, Garberville
the moment, I've been having a lot of stress. We're moving to
Mexico, and we've had four properties for sale and closing all
like in the last two months. I'm from out of town, I'm just up
here closing the fourth. We bought a house on the beach in the
Caribbean, south of Cancun about five hours. So the beach is
like right there in front of my house. I'm gonna start doing
my sculpture, I'm a marble sculptor, and so I'm actually looking
to de-stress. But it's been really, really stressful the last
few weeks, especially just because there's so many questions
that just aren't even capable of being answered. I'm an artist,
and I don't really do well with these real estate, all the dealings
with business. It's out of my genre. I lived in Humboldt County
for 23, 24 years. I was a student and then I was an artist. For
about 10 years I was doing chainsaw sculpting. It's been five
years of just incredibly hard work [to move]. We basically renovated
our primary residence and then another house that we got really,
really cheap as a repossession. That's what I do when I'm not
a sculptor, most of the time I'm a carpenter and do renovations.
And we found an incredible deal on the south coast of the Caribbean
in Mexico. Our dream is coming true.
--Dugo Nore, 52, Arizona
really don't [have stress]. I have my dog, I have a wonderful
family and wonderful grandchildren. I think some people might
be stressed right now; I discovered a lump in my breast. But
I guess because I'm coming from my age, and I already had a breast
cancer -- I think if I were 45 or 55 or whatever, I would be
stressed, [but] I'm 83. Now I just feel, if it's a cancer, just
deal with it. Whatever happens happens. I'm a widow. I live by
myself and enjoy it. One of my grandchildren, the first one to
do it, got married this weekend, so that was wonderful. I couldn't
ask for more. My husband was an alcoholic, so we went through
a hard time then, and then he stopped drinking, and everything
was great again, so that was probably the most stressful. And
then I had a daughter who, as a teenager, was extremely stressful.
I'm very disappointed [in the election] but I'm not stressed
by it, because I can't control it anyway. I couldn't see [Bush]
in there for four more years. I just can't see why people voted
for him. And I guess people can't understand why I voted for
Kerry, but [Bush] has had almost four years in there and I hate
what he's done in every way. I can't do anything about it, but
that's a lesson learned by growing older.
--Aida Green, 83, Eureka
THE NEWS | PUBLISHER | GARDEN | ART BEAT
| THE HUM | CALENDAR
Comments? Write a
© Copyright 2004, North Coast Journal,