December 7, 2000
Holiday Meltdown 2000

today's horoscope: "you may be less than your usual charming self today."

I feel it coming.

It's not here yet ... but it's on the way.

I'm doing everything I can to try and ward it off: eating sensibly, getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, drinking plenty of fluids, gluing little construction paper Santa Hats onto everything in sight.  I'm trying to stretch myself as much as possible throughout the day ... literally and figuratively. I'm fortifying myself with pre-emptive doses of Aleve, St. John's Wort and Glen Campbell. I'm using positive mental imagery and daily affirmations and *Candy Cane Therapy* and lots of deep cleansing breaths.

I'm crossing my fingers, even.

But like that insistent tickle in the back of your throat, warning you of impending influenza, so is this growing thundercloud in the back of my heart, warning me of impending emotional storm.

I am about to have my annual Holiday Meltdown ... and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it.

You know how cranky I get for those infamous seventy-two hours every month? How intolerably prickly and sensitive? How I make life miserable for myself and for everyone around me? How I bitch and moan, and burst into tears over Gap commercials on TV, and pick imaginary fights with David, and drown my sorrows in tomatoes and chocolate and four-hour naps until the storm finally, mercifully blows over?

All I can tell you is: you ain't seen NOTHIN' yet.

How bad will it be, you ask? Let me give you an idea. Take all of that monthly premenstrual nonsense (which, according to my calendar, is due to start in precisely fifteen minutes)  ... add a big steaming dollop of *Holiday Anxiety* AND *Impending Birthday Blues* ... toss in a pinch of overwork and homesickness, just for fun ... season liberally with ringing phones, a mailbox full of unanswered e-mail, money worries, two boxes of unopened/unsent Christmas cards, sinus congestion, holiday newsletter deadlines, and a fresh new crop of jawline acne.

The result?

My annual case of *I Don't Know Who Invented Christmas (But I'll Bet It Was A MAN)* ... or, as I'm not-so-fondly referring to it this year:

*Holiday Meltdown 2000.*

There's never a good time for this sort of stuff to hit, of course, but right now is an especially sucky time ... mainly because things have been going so WELL lately.

The past couple of weeks have been a real *breakthrough period* -- personally, professionally, romantically, creatively -- every way that matters.

That job offer from the Groovy Computer Company a couple of weeks ago, for instance, was the best thing that could have happened to me careerwise. (Or -- more accurately -- not taking that job offer from the Groovy Computer Company was the best thing that could have happened.)  At the time it felt like the end of the world, turning down that job ... but now I know it was the smartest move I could have made. It opened my eyes to the career opportunities outside of the Totem Pole Company, for one thing. It bolstered my flagging self-esteem. It reinforced my secret belief that I am actually very, very good at what I do.

It introduced me to

And it sounded a great big wake-up call for Franz, I think.

My personal life, likewise, has gotten a real shot in the arm from all of this newly enhanced self-esteem and stuff. (Read this: it turns David on. I guess there's just something sexy about a woman who isn't sobbing uncontrollably into her pillow every night after work.)

The Tots are thriving. I've never been happier with the website. I'm drawing again. I've learned how to cook a turkey, all by myself.

Life is good.

So I've been making all of this strong lovely progress, the past couple of weeks, and whut happens?

CHRISTMAS comes along and fudks everything up.

In a way, it's too bad I don't read the women's magazines anymore. I'm sure that right now they're just loaded with stories and advice columns and useless anecdotal articles all about coping with holiday stress. 

But that's OK. I've got my own handful of useless anecdotal strategies in mind for this holiday season:

  • This year, I'm not going to do anything I don't want to do if I can possibly help it (and if it doesn't screw up the holidays for anybody else).

    Holiday parties are a perfect example.

    I didn't go to the Totem Pole Company holiday party last weekend. I'm probably not going to go to David's company party this weekend, either. I hate these things. I dread them for weeks and weeks ahead of time, until I make myself absolutely sick with anxiety ... and even though they usually turn out to be not-completely-terrible  --  and even though I usually get a groovy new dress out of the deal  --  I can still think of about a bazillion things I'd rather do than stand around in uncomfortable shoes all evening, eating miniature meatballs on a stick, making polite chit-chat, and watching other people get drunk.

    This year I'm just going to pass on all of that. (See below.)

  • This year, I'm going to be really really stingy.

    I'm going to be downright Ebeneezer Scroogelike about a lot of things this year.

    I'm going to be stingy with my promises, for one thing, and with my commitments, and with my emotional resources. I'm going to be stingy with my Peppermint Candy Ice Cream. I'm going to be stingy with my easily-depleted *energy reserves.*

    I'm most especially going to be stingy with my time: with my early-morning/high-energy time, and with my Tot Time, and with my writing time, and with my David Time, and with my sleep time, and with my precious Alone Time.

    This of course will allow me to generous with everything else.

  • This year, I'm going to keep it simple, stoopid.

    Now that I've gone and shot off my big mouth about Christmas cards, of course, I'm obligated to follow-through on my promise. (Pleading temporary holiday insanity probably won't fly, will it?)

    But here's the scoop.

    If I see you each and every day in *real life,* I'm not going to mail your Christmas card to you. OK?

    If I'm going to be seeing you in two weeks -- unless you personally gave birth to me after untold hours of excruciating, agonizing labor -- I'm not going to be mailing your Christmas card, either. I'll bring it with me when I fly to TicTac, and I'll give it to you in person ... along with a hug.

    (If you've ever called me "overrated," "a bad example for mothers everywhere" or "ludicrously self-involved," I'm probably not going to be sending you a card at all this year.)

  • This year, I'm going to go right ahead & sweat the small stuff.

    I'm going to sweat it like crazy, in fact ... beginning in about fifteen minutes.

    I'm going to sweat it freely. I'm going to sweat it profusely. I'm going to sweat it big and wet and stinky.

    While I'm at it, I'm going to sweat the medium-sized stuff, too ... and the big stuff, and the microscopic stuff, and the humongous stuff, and all of the stuff in-between. I'm going to sweat it out loud. I'm going to sweat it at work. I'm going to sweat it right here on the website. I'm going to wake up first thing in the morning sweating it, and I'm going to lay awake at night sweating it.

    Sweating the small stuff is going to be a total way of life for me.

    But only for the next seventy-two hours.

repaying a little more of that karmic debt

two years ago: cocooning

throw a rock