Stress – let’s see what could be causing stress in my life?
Maybe it’s the last two weekends working in a busy tourist town in the middle of a pandemic. Everyone’s wearing a mask, but many many interactions with books, beer and credit cards are freaking me out a little bit.
I shouldn’t have these worries – I’m fully vaccinated. Why can’t everyone just get vaccinated?
Maybe it’s THE END OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. I have less shifts than before the pandemic. I want less shifts than before the pandemic. The bar isn’t fully open so there aren’t many tips at this job. Gigs are starting up again, if you’re brave enough but it’s hard to promote them, hard to ask people to come together. Unemployment has saved my ass this last year and a half. It’s made it possible to keep working on writing and music and pay the bills. I’ve been lucky, because it supplements gigs and record and book sales and tea towels and t-shirts I’ve printed and sold. I’m always hustling but unemployment made the hustle more benign, less stressful.
Maybe it’s having my dad depend on me in a way I’m not used to. For years he had a wife, who passed away from Covid back in December. He also had my brother Pat and my amazing sister in law Karen, and my older brother John. They all lived in Pittsburgh. Now my dad lives in NYC and it’s my brothers Michael and Riley and me looking out for him more.
Maybe it’s Eric getting ready to go away on tour. I worry for him driving all alone, doing all the work of gigging after the events of last year (Covid, heart attack). They’ve affected him and it’s affected me. Will he be safe from being reinfected? Trying to stay safe while doing all the usual work of touring is a lot. Yet I’m looking forward to him getting back to doing what he loves to do, what he lives to do really. I’m even looking forward to some quiet time to myself, and a chance to watch Halston the Netflix series and some French films. But I find myself anxious just the same.
I felt really sick yesterday. I mean, I just couldn’t get out of bed. I had terrible dizziness. I was nauseous and weak, convinced I had Covid, or had been bitten by a poisonous spider, or was having a stroke. It was awful. Eric was bringing me water and cups of tea but there was a point where I wondered if we should call 911. I’ve never felt that before. Never felt so vulnerable, like what if this is it and I’ll be like this the rest of my life. What if my healthy life is ending, right now?
My dad has been calling me every morning, to tell me he doesn’t like where he lives, or to ask when we’re going to do something about his hearing, or his eyesight. Sometimes he remembers what he says and other times he doesn’t. He never asks how I am, doesn’t seem interested.
But this morning I called him. “It’d be nice if you came to see me,” he said. I’d driven down last Thursday to take him to the doctor. There’d been a devastating storm the night before, the end of Hurricane Ida. A travel advisory or ban was in effect for coming into NYC. I had to ignore that as my dad was counting on me for an appointment we’d set up a month and a half ago. I’d promised him.
The GPS took me up towards Bear Mountain and down the Palisades Parkway as there was flooding at the usual exit off the Thruway. Traffic was bumper to bumper across George Washington Bridge. I warned my brother who lives in Queens he might have to take Dad to the appointment, which he was perfectly capable and willing to do, it’s just that I’d told my Dad I was coming. I’d promised.
The FDR Drive was a mess. There were abandoned cars littered along the roadway and silt and trash washed up causing more traffic stops and starts. Same on the Grand Central Parkway. It was apocalyptic, and yet the weather was beautiful. I drove like an ace , because what was i going to do, turn around? My brother met me at my Dad’s and we took him together, and the one appointment led to needing to make another so my Dad considered the whole thing a useless exercise. I drove back home defeated and drained.
“Dad, I’m not feeling well. I’m sorry I can’t come this week.” I told him about the dizziness, my worries about having caught Covid after waiting on so many people at work. Maybe it’s paranoia or stress. The dizziness. The fear I was having a stroke. My dad started to cry, saying he hoped it wasn’t his fault. He became so caring. I thought he’d forgotten everything but he still remembered what it is to be a parent.
I got my Covid test back and it was negative. I saw the doctor and she said it was vertigo, and not to worry.
I don’t know if that’s possible.
I told my Dad I’d see him next week. “I love you honey,’ he said and I felt so much better for a minute.
I will be back out playing some gigs/teaching a few workshops in Oct/Nov! Hope to see you if you’re nearby: