Refrigerator. Photo by nrd on Unsplash

A daily recipe for anxiety

It’s a quiet Thursday afternoon. I’m wrapping up a handful of work emails before shuffling to the kitchen to figure out dinner. They’re all pro forma: acknowledging receipts of documents, keeping stakeholders in the loop on projects. Brainless communication.

A few minutes later, I’m lingering with the fridge door open, wondering what I could possibly make of chicken, pickles, and leftover rice. Suddenly, alarms ring. Sirens blare. Heart palpitates. Sweat beads gather in seconds on my forehead, my palms.

Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god.

In my rundown of the latest assignments, I told my boss what she needed to do. I told her — “Here’s what’s on your plate for next week.” That’s a fireable offense, right? Direct reports don’t tell bosses what to do. Fuck. Should I send a follow-up email apologizing? Or just wait until the next morning and schedule a meeting to apologize? Or send a text? I could send a text. No, that’s crazy. I shouldn’t send a text. That’s madness. She probably won’t even interpret my email as a directive from some holier-than-thou, got-it-figured out content cowboy. Probably. Hopefully. Deep breaths, Steen. Deep breaths.

Back to pickles. I guess I could use them as a garnish. Or make some kind of relish. Ew. I hate relish. Why would I even suggest that? Because I have pickles, that’s why. Maybe they’re less sweet than salty, though. I can’t honestly remember — it’s been a while. I should try one. 

Yep, salty for sure. Also sweet. Also, bitter? Is that bitter? Pickles shouldn’t be bitter. Does that mean they’re bad? Damn, when’s the expiration? A week ago. Shit. Can you get botulism from pickles? Or maybe mold. I mean, it could blend in with the pickle. That explains why I didn’t see it. What happens if you eat mold? Maybe I should call the urgent care and see. No, no that’s ridiculous. I can figure this out for myself. I’ll just check WebM— no. Bad idea. Rabbit hole. I’ll wait it out. If I feel gross after two hours, I’ll call urgent care. 

Hm, that rice isn’t all that fresh either. I got that with Indian takeout last … Friday was it? I should probably throw that out to be safe. God, now that I think about it, the chicken is probably old, too. I can’t remember when I got it and I don’t see an expiration date. It’s looking a little piqued. Alright, I’ll dump it, too. And the cheese — I don’t even know what kind of cheese that is. Is that rind or more mold? Probably mold. The lettuce is likely bad. Okay, time for a purge. Let’s just clear out the fridge. 

Shit, I can’t believe I told my boss what to do. I should prepare for the worst. I have enough savings. If she fires me, I’ll be okay — but I should start looking for jobs now. 

Okay, fridge cleared. Now I just have to haul this to the garb— fuck! I cut myself. Somehow. On a garbage bag? I’m so accident prone. Let’s hope that doesn’t get infected. Got to swab with alcohol first, then Neosporin, then a bandaid. Two, probably. It’s in an awkward place and I don’t want them coming off. The bandaids, not the fingers. But maybe the fingers, too. Isn’t this how people get MRSA?

Alright, swabbed, Neosporin-ed, and bandaided. Let’s get this stupid garbage out. 

Deep breath. Garbage out. No more poisonous food. Cut sanitized and covered. 

What was I doing? Oh, right dinner. Except I’m not really hungry anymore. Alright, let’s skip it and I’ll make some tea.

God it’s quiet. I hate living alone. Just me and anxiety, overstaying its welcome. What if I’m alone like this forever, talking to myself to fight away the scaries? It’s possible. I’m such a self-doubting worry freak. Who puts that in their list of “must-haves” on dating profiles? Nevermind, nevermind. I’m just going to sit here and watch Star Trek and sip my tea and not worry about this shit anymore. No more. Not tonight. Tomorrow will be better.

Dammit, I was supposed to take my car in for maintenance. I hope it doesn’t break down when I’m going to my appointment tomorrow. Weren’t the breaks acting up? I remember them whining few days ago. Oh god, oh god …

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Best believe
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Best believe

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Ideally, man’s best friend

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