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THE PAIN GAME


Life can be hard. And not just when you consume sucralose. This sugar alcohol, which is found in various sugar-free, calorie-free drinks and gums and candies, not to mention Splenda, and also the diet Margarita mix I found in the pantry and mixed with tequila every night the second half of last week in my version of a party of one - excuse me, but it was my birthday week - sucralose, I repeat, is hell on the stomach. What's the point of saving a few calories when your belly swells to third trimester pregnancy size. Which makes it hard to enjoy the Groundlings comedy show. Well, not that hard, because the show was funny and I am in love with one of the stars. Her name is Patty. A sense of humor is the most potent aphrodisiac. Which put negatively is to say that the lack thereof is "the most profound indication of a social malignancy." That's Virginia Woolf. Which I'm currently reading. And if I have tequila, it will be sans mixer. Don't consume artificial sweeteners, unless they're natural. Lesson learned.

But even if you learn your lessons, as have I, you still find that life can be hard. I have heard it said that we live lifetimes within lifetimes. That the "karmic cycle," the law of cause and effect, is speeding up. Like the Buddhists, I don't believe in reincarnation. And I am not a Buddhist. But I am a fan of the comedian Jim Carey, who once said that the power that is (cosmic order?) doesn't let him get away with anything, so he tries not to break the rules. No lying cheating or stealing for Jim, whether in thought, word or deed. Because if he's naughty, he gets his comeuppance with celerity. Jimbo is probably fortunate. Not getting caught can be the worst-case scenario for the evil-doer, who becomes entrenched in bad habits and emboldened in his belief in his own invincibility, his crimes skyrocketing to the heavens until he commits some abhorrent atrocity, gets nabbed, and has hell to pay. 

But even when you play by the rules, there are life's big stressors with which to contend. And stress sucks. Among the biggest stressors listed on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory are separation from a mate, whether by death or by divorce, the death of a close family member, major personal illness or injury, losing a job or changing jobs, and moving to a new place. And true to the old adage, I find my own life speeding up and becoming more stressful. The first 20 or so years were pretty smooth sailing. I lived in the same house and attended the same schools for years on end. No one died or divorced. Things were peachy. But the second half of my life has witnessed at least one major stressor virtually every year. Take the last five years. Last year my mom passed away. In 2015 my mom was hospitalized for nearly a month after undergoing the partial removal of her colon. In 2014 I broke my femur. In 2013 my longest romantic relationship to date ended. In 2012 I broke my foot and got hit by a car, which I don't recommend. And on and on and on, not to mention living in several different states, working different jobs, etc. Yes the one constant in life is change, but so much change is enough to make a person's head spin, and I get car and sea sick so easily. And don't even own a smart phone!

I mention this to reassure you that if you're feeling more stressed out than usual of late, it may be due to the acceleration of your life's pace. Whether or not you can slow things down is up to you. Or maybe it's not. You can't control things like death and divorce. But marriage and kids are on that list to, and you can control your reactions to all these. So take a step back, sit in silence. Breathe. And drink your tequila straight up, like me.

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