You can tell how stressed out they are just by looking at them. Bloodshot eyes are haloed with black and blue, symbolic bruises from a brutal boss who punched them in the face with unrealistic requirements and impossible deadlines; cheeks have sunken deeper than a cover model sucking them in for a photo shoot; and skin has paled to the point that it glows brighter than the laptop screen that blasts it with electrons for 18 hours a day. It’s not simply that they don’t have the time to eat anything other than half a Luna bar every eight hours washed down with a Emergen-C dissolved in a sugar-free Red Bull. Stress causes them to completely lose their appetites. Their frail, physiques are barely a whisper of the volutptuous, full figure of success they once were because they’ve lost 12 pounds in two weeks. Fourteen, if you count the water weight.
If only I could be so blessed. You see, I have the unfortunate pleasure of reacting to work stress in the exact opposite manner. My brain and body are wired such that when I get thrust to the edge of stressful insanity, I eat like I haven’t seen food for six-and-a-half days. A therapist might label the behavior as “emotional eating.” Emotional eating? Please. Emotional eating is the result of feeling an emotion, i.e. I feel happy so I’m going to treat myself to an ice cream sundae! Or, I feel worried so I am going to comfort myself…with an ice cream sundae. Hell, I feel heartbroken so I’m going to wallow…in an ice cream sundae! Emotional eating is the use of food to either amplify or combat an emotion. Apparently, it often involves ice cream.
Stress, however, is not an emotion. Stress is a condition and stress eating has nothing to do with trying to make myself feel anything, better or worse. Stress eating is a habit and is mostly a form of…
And fuck if I eat ice cream when I’m stressed! Are you crazy? Do you know how many dress sizes I’d have to waddle through if I ate ice cream every time I stressed out?!?!
But filthy Chinese fast food that is deep-fried and left to bathe in two inches of yesterday's greasy ghetto oil on a steam table for a minimum of three hours at a time is totally healthy for my waistline!
In times of utter stressperation, I always turn to trashy Vegetable Chow Mein from Chinese Gourmet Express in the Promenade "Food Court." I have to enhance it with an extra dose of generic-brand soy sauce that will inevitably contribute to sodium masterbloat, and an illegal amount of hot sauce from a suspicious bottle that probably used to hold authentic hot cock, but is now re-filled every night with some watered down industrial "hot chili sauce." The noodles are broken, overcooked, and greasy. Sometimes they're even streaked with burns. The cabbage, carrots, celery and bean sprouts are suspiciously bright, but simultaneously wilted. At the register, I wonder what Chinese Gourmet Express's chow mein really is that it could only cost $2.15 when it's all said and done, but then I shake myself out of it. I have enough things in my pretty little head to worry about.
My work life right now is exactly that. Work is my life. Workaholism is not a new development for me. In fact, I might wither if I wasn't clicking around the Internet with my mouse on fire from the minute I manage to feel around under my pillow in the morning darkness to find my Coke-bottle lensed glasses that I fell asleep wearing the night before, to the cursed moment in the wee hours of the next morning when I can no longer ride off my neighbor's wifi because his router automatically turns off at 4 am to reboot or some shit like that. I can handle illegally long hours. I can manage multiple competing priorities. I love having a to-do list that that's so long, I have to staple three sheets of paper together.
There are just some certain things in several of my work-related activities right now that are causing me to explode into a stress bomb every day. When that happens, the fierce marketing and management monster that I am completely loses it and I start to break my powerful rhythm. I procrastinate, and the only way I know how to procrastinate is to go outside for a smoke. Of course, I quit smoking a year and half ago so now I just eat.
Everything else becomes of tantamount importance to writing that one email I have to write. Or macro-ing the shit out of a spreadsheet. Or IM-ing with a contractor to walk her though her new job. I don't want to deal with the stressful situation. I get up from my desk to get a drink. Who knew that deciding between a can of and a bottle of Diet CokeDiet Snapple Iced Tea, Plum-a-granate flavor, would be so important that it would require a good 10 minutes of deliberating in front of an open refrigerator door? I end up taking the can and the bottle and pound them one right after the other before I sit back down at my desk. Suddenly I need coffee, as if a third cup of turbo-fuel before noon is just what I need, and not just any coffee, but a small House blend from the Coffee Bean, and not just any Coffee Bean, like the one that's less than a block away at Second and Santa Monica, but the one that is two full blocks away. While I'm at it, I should probably try another Chicken Curry Bread from Famima to make sure that my hatred of it the first time isn't mistaken.
And that's all before I've even gone to go get my ghetto Chinese food for lunch.
Geez. I'm going to gain 40 pounds by the end of the month.
Chinese Gourmet Express
1315 3rd Street Promenade (inside the Promenade Food Court)
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(yes, I am pretty shocked that they have a website, too)