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The Big Bad Wolf

I keep a list of things that inspire me to write, but the list just keeps getting longer but the ideas don't get crossed off. My head is at HOPAC for nine hours a day and what's left goes to family and cooking and other exciting things like trying to navigate the US immigration system so that we can get Johnny his US citizenship.

I get brilliant flashes of inspiration but no time to work them out, and for a person who has grown accustomed to processing my thinking by writing, this has created a massive traffic jam in my head.

In my old life, the one where I would sit at my computer and contemplate the intersection of my American-ness with Tanzanian culture to the soundtrack of Dora the Explorer, I used to get sleepy all the time. I would constantly find myself nodding off, and it didn't matter how much sleep I had gotten the night before. I think I was bored. I know I was bored. Bored and restless. But I also had time to bring meals to new moms and bake 100 cupcakes at a time and have people over for dinner every weekend. And I had time to write.

And now I am often exhausted but I don't get sleepy, even when I am supposed to, because my mind is so full of so many bazillions of details that I can't shut it off. I feel like a kid digging a hole in wet sand right where the waves stretch, the kind of hole where no matter how much sand you pull out of it, the hole never gets deeper. You can even have a giant pile of wet sand next to that hole--sitting there as a monument of all you think you have accomplished--but the hole never gets dug. I keep waiting for the day when I will finally feel like I am on top of everything, but I've been at this job for 19 months now, and that hole still has just as much sand in it.

My eye started twitching the other day, which is always a sure sign of stress, which I'm pretty sure was instigated by the United States Department of Immigration, which has, I believe, a secret plan to drive me over the edge. All I'm trying to do is complete the process of getting citizenship for my son who has been in our legal custody for well over three years now, which seems like it should be simple (since it was relatively so for our other three children), but as any good American knows, immigration to America is no longer simple. These days I'm picturing US immigration as a doorless, windowless, impenetrable bunker that refuses to give anyone any shred of useful information other than one guy who growls through a peephole, "You want information? Use your children's college fund to hire an immigration lawyer! Now go away!" and maybe "Not by the hairs of my chinny chin chin!" just for good measure.

There goes my twitching eye again.

Maybe this is why I was the Big Bad Wolf for Book Character Day last week. I huffed and I puffed, but in the end I ended up roasted in a pot.

Your hunch is probably right. I am losing it. You might want to just walk away slowly at this point.

What I really want to do is sit here and write a good long essay exploring the role of stress in a Christian's life. When is it good? When is it burnout? When was my life more glorifying to God--during those days when I made people happy with my cupcakes, or these days when I spend most of my days writing people emails that I know will make them unhappy?

That's an exaggeration, of course. Not all of my emails make people unhappy. But I can think of at least a dozen this week that did. There's a reason why principals have a bad reputation. (Like I said, Big Bad Wolf.)

But the problem is that I am too stressed and my brain is too full to be able to do any evaluating; all I can do is hang on for dear life and keep frantically scooping sand out of that hole.

I know I need to actively search for more rest and I know that after one more week, I'll have a break from school, so things will look different at this time a week from now. But I also want to somehow figure out how to live fully and gloriously and fearlessly in the middle of the stress, because this is where I think I'm supposed to be. If I'm looking around and it really seems, from all I can tell, that I'm living in the will of God, then there's got to be a way to do it without eye twitching. So if you've got that figured out, can you let me know? Because I don't have time to think about it.

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