Garlic and Grace

I love garlic. Love it. Onions were cheap when I was in college, so I’ve had too many sautéed onions and tomatoes/potatoes/okra/cabbage (all of them more onion than anything else) to enjoy onions very much right now. But garlic goes in almost anything I cook – soup, meatloaf, tacos, pasta.

This is why, last night, I decided to make fish with butter, soy sauce, ginger, and chopped garlic. And that’s how I ended up chopping the garlic with my New and Improved technique of using the point of the knife as a pivot. This technique, improved though it was, didn’t stop me from accidentally slicing into my middle fingertip. Of course.

The cut was – is – deep, although it doesn’t need stitches. I applied pressure, washed it off, then bandaged it up and finished cooking my fish. I ate lying on the living room floor, as is my custom, then rolled over and went to sleep. On the floor. At some point during the night I made it to my bed. This has not always been the case.

This has been my experience of Real Adulthood over the past year – varying degrees of constant, inescapable exhaustion. Worrying about my weight. Worrying about money (or lack thereof.)  Worrying about work. Worrying about my family.  I have no doubt that most of my exhaustion comes from needless worrying. But so few stressful situations are easily resolved like they were in college. There are no essays, no assignments, no auditions. Just one problem after another.

2017 has been a rough year so far. I’ve actually had reason to worry. Beginning the week of January 23, it seemed like our personal troubles were finally coming to an end.

And then, that Wednesday, a truck skidded on ice and rammed the front of our car. While I was driving it.

The car was totaled. I escaped with some bruises and mild dizziness and nausea. The airbags deployed, but they didn’t even damage my glasses. The financial and psychological aftermath has been difficult, of course – I still have to drive to work, snow and ice or no.  But I’m okay, and I am so grateful. We are getting a new car this week, and I’m grateful and excited for that as well.

Last night I cut my finger.

It’s such an insignificant thing to trigger this mess of a post, but my life is nothing BUT insignificant things – I’m not in grad school, after all, which I’m mortified about.  From middle school all the way to college, my parents, teachers, classmates, and friends expected me to end up in grad school. The fact that I’m not is … unexpected.  For the longest time, I felt worthless because I wasn’t in a graduate program.  Worthlessness and self-hatred are exhausting, too. Leaving Facebook has helped, but it’s going to be a long fight – and not one that will be solved by going to grad school, necessarily.

Since the accident, I’ve resolved to practice what is (for me) the hardest form of self-care: being kind to myself. Like many people, I’ve gained weight since leaving college and incorporating things other than sautéed vegetables into my diet. I have spent a truly obscene amount of time despairing over the shape and size of my body. But it’s healthy, and it’s the only one I’m likely to get. I forgot how lucky I am to have it.

Life as a Real Adult has been nothing but problems. This is something I know all too well. What’s easy to forget is that life is also a series of solving problems. Every accident, every cut finger, every bad day at work and poorly executed gumbo recipe, is both an obstacle to overcome and a lesson for the next time.

I hope that one day I can stop worrying and learn to face my problems with humor and grace. I think this is a talent that comes with practice. And I am so, so lucky – we all are – to have the opportunity to practice.