Irene North


Category: Stories

A physical manifestation of stress

Cinders rests in her respective spot watching over me while I sleep in comfort in my special snowflake blanket, courtesy of George Soros. /s

I am not doing well.

I wrote in a previous post detailing some things that were causing stress in my life. It was not an exhaustive list. My Friend Sandra knew I was having a bad time recently and, under the guise of coming to play with my cats, brought me a red velvet cake to cheer me up. And it worked for a while.

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Einstein on a Train

Einstein sleeps on the train.

Einstein sleeps on the train.

The LED board at the train station said our train was leaving from platform 3, but when we arrived, everything was broken. Signs confirming which platform you were on were non-existent. Platforms 2 and 3 were at the top of the stairs. Platform 3 could have been on the left or right. We didn’t know. The mechanical board on the platform was broken. So we asked. And asked. And asked.

No one seemed to know. The man sweeping the platform told us we were in the right place. Everyone who spoke English gravitated toward one another, asking the same question. We all had tickets on the fast train to Athens. We hoped we were in the right place.

The train eventually arrived. It was dirty and covered in graffiti. We found our seats in first class. Einstein was sitting in Paul’s seat. Eventually, we convinced him he had to move.

The first class seats weren’t fancy. They’re not quiet. They’re not much nicer than cattle class. You share a compartment with six people. Einstein wore dark blue jeans and an orangish-yellow polo shirt. He took a nap as soon as the train left the station. Einstein snores.

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Everyone loves blueberries

Tabitha insisted she knew the best spot in all of New York to pick blueberries. It was a beautiful summer day. The sun was shining just enough to warm your face, but not enough to sweat while basking in its glow, so we thought, let’s go and see this magical blueberry land. While my family picked other fruits on farms in the Hudson Valley, we never picked blueberries. We always got them from the stores or farms in plastic or moulded pulp punnets.

Blueberries in a moulded pulp punnet.

Blueberries in a moulded pulp punnet.

My husband, Paul, and I joined Tabitha in her car as she drove away from her home in Rock Hill and deep into the back country of upstate New York. Twenty minutes later, we turned onto a dirt road lined with overarching oak trees, their leaves swaying with a gentle breeze. Tabitha parked in between two young ash trees at the edge of the woods.

We walked about fifty yards into the woods on a one person wide, grass-trodden trail to an open area with few trees. Tabitha wasn’t the only one who knew about this place. Wild blueberry bushes were everywhere. As we each staked out a spot to pick berries, we discussed the best way to make jams and jellies and grabbing handfuls to eat just as they were. But I wanted my grandma to make blueberry pancakes.

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Sleep. If you can

It was December 1997 when my husband, Paul, and I had our own place together. It was an apartment on Lillibridge Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. At some point in 2000, I woke up in the middle of the night. The clock read 3:37. A heavy pressure pushed on my chest and I panicked, ever so slightly. It had happened to me before. It happens to me still. It’s a result of sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis occurs as a natural part of REM sleep. It can occur when falling asleep or upon waking. I am only familiar with the latter and it lasts several seconds to minutes. Practically speaking, it is the most terrifying feeling I have ever experienced. Regardless of knowing what it is, there is always a sense of fear.

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The Cheerios Incident


When I was a child, my mother always tried to ensure we had healthy foods to eat. Breakfast usually consisted of oatmeal or cereals, such as Cheerios, Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran and the like. Every now and then, Mom had a coupon for sugary cereals that we could have as a treat. My sister, Lori, and I could only eat those once the opened box of more healthy cereal was empty.

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