January is a tough month. It’s long, for one thing, all 31 days of it, and for another, if you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do, it’s cold and dark and wet. You know you should be grateful for the rain, because that means snowpack in mountains, which will mean fewer summer wildfires fires, and a lush, verdant, and green spring. If you were raised partially pagan like I was, you also know all about Solstice and how the light will always return, literally and metaphorically. You know that you’ll eventually sit on your porch again like you did last summer, reading until 9 or 10, listening to the distant sounds of the county fair twenty blocks away that carried over the hill into your little valley and onto your porch.
You know all this, and yet, January still just sucks sometimes.
I’ve had three panic attacks this week and I have no idea why. If you’ve never had one, imagine feeling terrified for no good reason. Your heart starts racing. It’s hard to breathe, it’s hard to concentrate, and you’re pretty sure you’re dying. You can’t remember not feeling this way. And you would do anything to get out of it.
And yet, the only way out is through it, the only way out is to talk yourself down, again, and again. To breathe. To get other people involved, other people who will hold your hand and remind you that you’re not dying. And, you know, prescription drugs. Ducking out of the crowded movie theater to fish a pill out of your purse and swallow it with a sip from a drinking fountain.
And then, eventually, it’s over. But you’re tired. You’re still amped up. You’re worried for days, weeks, months, your whole life, that it’s lurking. That it’s going to strike again and you won’t know when.
It gets better, of course, and the more you understand about it, the less scary it becomes. It gets easier the more tools you put in your toolbox, the more breathing exercises you learn, the supportive people that you allow yourself to depend on, the more doctors and counselors you find. You make it work. You make it fit into your life, like it or not.
But still. It just sucks.
I was tired yesterday, and worried about my anxiety coming back, so I tried to stay busy, which I guess is the one plus side to anxiety: I get shit done.
One thing I did, and something I like to do to relax and recharge, is to cook. I made zucchini noddles, which is something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile. The premise is that you cut zucchini (or carrots or some other veggie) into long, thin, strips, and then use it to replace pasta.
I was a little skeptical, but they were delicious! They’re not a perfect facsimile for pasta, but they’re surprisingly close, and really filling. And they’re way healthier than actual pasta (and in a “literally-just-eating-veggies way”, not an “Organic-Evaporated-Cane-Juice” way.)
Here’s the recipe I used–it was great, and really simple, but there are also a ton of zucchini noodle recipes so if you find a better one, use it! (And let me know about it.)
I also used my brand new Zyliss julienne peeler which achieved what I wanted it to, so yay. The only hard part was ending up with weird little stubby end bits that were hard to grate, and might be easier with a vegetable spiralizer if you’re into that sort of thing.
I had mine with pesto. I think I’m supposed to put a picture here, but just imagine long, thin strips of zucchini with pesto on it. Bam.
Not that anyone asked me, but REAL QUICK RECOMMENDATIONS:
Book: Currently reading The Clasp by Sloane Crosley. It’s her first novel, and so far, it is just as precise, hilarious, and smartly written as I was hoping it would be. Go read it now. And while you’re at it, check out her two collections of nonfiction essays, I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number. Then go read anything else by her.
Movies: Brooklyn was quiet and sweet and lovely. It was realistic and harsh without being terrifying and violent. It was romantic and joyful without being saccharine. And Saoirse Ronan’s nuanced facial expressions are really amazing.
The Big Short manages to take a potentially complicated, confusing, boring topic and make it into a really good movie. And it actually manages to explain the 2008 housing crash. And it’s really well acted. And history is repeating itself, so there’s never been a better time to watch it.
TV: If you have not seen Master of None, it’s on Netflix instant and I would say go watch it right now. The jokes and dialogue are hilarious and seem natural, and each episode drops so many truth bombs about life that you almost miss them because you’re laughing. The show also gracefully manages to avoid being preachy or treacly by offering wisdom, reality, and different perspectives from the different characters, not offering perfect answers or providing perfect resolutions. It’s real, it’s funny, it’s smart. If you’re in your 20s or 30s you’ll relate to it very real ways. If you’re not in your 20s or 30s you’ll still appreciate it and hopefully gain some perspective on the perplexing Millennials. It’s funny. It’s smart. Go watch it.
January is hard. But guess what? I saw some crocus leaves just starting to poke out of a flower bed today. I think the light is going to come back after all.