Saturday, February 26, 2011

What, me worry?

I recently added a favorite saying to the About Me blurb on the blog.

It is a folk saying included in a book called "The New Joys of Yiddish,"and it goes like this:

"Don't worry about tomorrow; who knows what will befall you today?"

I am a big-time worrier, a tendency I think I inherited from my mother and that has been heightened in my fight against leukemia. I laughed in recognition when reading this folk saying, which comforted me in its implication that I am part of an entire people that specializes in worry, with just cause.

When dealing with cancer (or any disease or difficulty, for that matter), we are counseled to banish the "what ifs." For me this is hard to do because of my talent for runaway catastrophizing.

I had pulled "The Joys of Yiddish" down from the bookshelf in order to find a word for "troubles" that was at the tip of my tongue. I actually had the word correct: It is tsores (to rhyme with juris" or "Boris") from the Hebrew word tsarah, "trouble."

With each definition, author Leo Rosten provides sayings or commentary, and in addition to the folk saying that I liked, he also included this little exchange on the page about "tsores," which is often used when speaking of offspring:

"And how many children do you have?"
"No children?! So what do you do for aggravation?"

This also made me laugh.

My children have never provided any major aggravations, just the usual ones. Yet my imagination is so active that I can conjure enough aggravations on my own. I did so recently for each child.

For Ben, who drives a Toyota, when news came out this week that the company had recalled 2.17 million vehicles in the US. to address accelerator pedals that could become jammed in drivers' side carpeting: Now I have to worry about Ben's pedal jamming down when he's driving? (I saw him today and he reminded me that it was an issue for new cars and that if there was a problem with his 2004 model it would have happened already.)

For Joe, who has a Saturn Ion. I drove it the other night, and it seemed like the drivers' door didn't closed all the way and that the steering wheel occasionally squeaked: Now I have to worry about Joe falling out of the car or finding that the steering wheel has suddenly refused to steer? (He told me the door is fine and that the steering wheel only squeaks in cold weather.)

For Katie, who doesn't get enough calcium in her diet and who won't take a calcium supplement: Now I have to worry about her getting osteoporosis? "Your bones are going to break!" I said to her in my best Jewish mother's voice. (She promised to have more cereal with milk at school.)

Oy. The worry never stops.

Joe and Katie were both home this past week for a February vacation. It was great having them here. Joe just went back, and I drive Katie back to Brandeis tomorrow.

Soon it will just be me, Maddie...and the creature who roams the house when we're not here.

The "creature" took a pear out of a bowl and nibbled away some chunks, ate a piece of a dog toy, moved a plastic bag from the kitchen to the living room where it ate a bagel, and knocked over a lamp.

I figured it's probably a squirrel and called the animal control officer, who told me to open a window or door in the kitchen and lay down a trail of food leading to the outside in hopes that the intruder will pick up and leave.

It creeps me out.

I told Katie I bet she's glad she's getting out of here tomorrow. She didn't disagree. Instead, she wondered, "What if you wake up in the middle of the night and it's sitting on your face?"

Thanks, Katie.

"This is how horror movies start," she persisted, intoning in her best movie trailer voice. "First, they thought it was a mouse...then a squirrel...and then it started moving furniture around."

I guess I passed my imagination on to her.

I think I will go worry about the creature.

It beats worrying about leukemia.


Ann said...

We had squirrels in the attic of our last house. It took forever to get rid of them. Maybe you could borrow a neighbor's cat to make things uncomfortable for your unwanted guest?

Jim said...


The increased intensity of worrying is one of the worst things about cancer. We're dealing with it, which I can honestly say is one of the hardest things on my family.

Shalom and love your aggravation joke.


Jonny said...

I like the Yiddish joke Thomas Friedman referred to in his terrfic book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, as one Israeli viewed the situation in the Mid-East: "Of course I'm an optimist, today is going to be alot better than tomorrow!"

...but "tomorrow" is shaping up pretty good for you -- all things considered. Stay on that upward trajectory, mentally if nothing else...easy for me to say, I know, but we're all pretty impressed with how you're doing it!

pam said...

Dearest Runder-Woman,

Katie does have a great imagination -- i also had a gnawing squirrel when i lived in the apt. in RI, -- i remember your Uncle Bill talking about the worry-gene in your family -- ours has the same on the English side, just labelling it anxiety!

the only joke i ever tell is the Russian version of pessimist vs. optimist, which i hope you will enjoy:

The pessimist says, "ach, things could not get any worse."
The optimist replies:" Don't worry, of course they can!"

Your humour and delightful family always get you through those worrisome does Maddie...
and your appreciation of the Runder of the World, and your Vibrant way of living by the Latin:
'Carpe diem...' and for Maddie, Seize the stick!
so i won't start worrying about your worrying!

Nelle said...

I laughed so hard reading this. I was a worrier and then all of a sudden when I survived the open heart surgery I stopped worrying. Unfortunately,my son has taken on the role. He drives me crazy with his monitoring of all my food and phone calls. I smile because I know that he gets that from me and I feel loved. My favorite Yiddish word is ferklempt and not sure I have spelled it right but I just love it!

PJ said...

Squirrels? You don't know from squirrels. My niece has to pay $60 per squireel to have them removed. If they leave on their own, mazel tov.