A Woman of Many Fears

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I’m afraid of a lot of things. To most people that know me well, this probably isn’t such a shocker, because you’ve likely seen me in action. Running, wailing, shuddering. It’s mildly ridiculous and embarrassing when I actually map it out in my head the amount of things that frighten me. It’s like if you went around and polled a bunch of random people and asked them, “what’s your greatest fear?” my answer would likely be everything they said plus about 45 more things. Some of my fears could stem from anxiety, which can get pretty intense at times, but some of what I’m afraid of is concrete. Concrete, I’m afraid of concrete and really heavy things, because what if they fall on you? and avalanches are scary…

but well… Let’s get started, because I need to get this off my chest. 

Exhibit A. I have an EXTREME, unyielding, semi-debilitating fear of centipedes. I’m not talking I see one and I go “ew! someone! kill that thing please! off with its head!” No. I am already down the block, past the Dunkin Donuts and on my way to Memphis. If I see one, I bolt. And then I proceed to panic and hyperventilate and make a huge deal out of this little bug. I’m a human for God’s sake, I’m a million times bigger than it, get it together. But man, those things are gross, and they frighten me on a deep, profound level. If you’ve ever witnessed one of these exits, I’m not playing around here. I almost had to unfriend someone on Facebook that posted a picture of one recently. WTF ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME FOR? I was affronted, galled, angry. Of course this person had no idea that I had to put my shaking hand on the screen to cover the picture while I clicked the “I don’t want to see this” button. And if you, centipede poster, see this, I’m watching you.

I’m also afraid of what I call “phantom centipedes” which can be anything from a feather to dust collecting on the wall to basically anything ever that might, maybe, COULD resemble a centipede. If I think I see one, my fight or flight sense says “kindly get the fuck out of here.” The other day someone said, “why don’t you show that thing who’s boss and conquer your fear, KILL IT, it will feel good!” And I either laughed at them or mean-mugged them, I forget because what an absurd proposal. 

Exhibit B. I’m unreasonably afraid of heights. I watched the documentary “Man on Wire” awhile back (if you haven’t seen it, it’s CRAZY). This man is literally thousands of feet in the air on a flipping wire. WHAT. I think he’s the bravest man in the whole entire world. Balls the size of watermelons. This man was God to me. My stomach was in knots for the entire thing. I have no desire to sky dive, go to that Hancock observation deck (WHAT IF IT BREAKS?) or go to Six Flags. All of those things sound truly awful to me. #sorryimnotsorrybutiamscaredtho

Exhibit C. Anything that is unpredictable and flaps. So birds, butterflies, moths (ESPECIALLY). I do that thing where I run around and put my hands over my ears when there is a sudden, unexpected encounter. I helped my mom clean the birdcage once. BAD IDEA — one escaped. I know, this sounds really silly. And, in fact, it IS silly because I have a tattoo of a freaking bird flying out of a cage on my back. Ah, symbolism. Typing it out I’m like “Lauren, Oh God. TMI, TMI, Tee EM EYE.” It’s real, guys. 

Exhibit D: Haunted houses and people dressed in scary costumes, especially ones that can sense and pray on my fear. I went to Dream Reapers when I was a freshman in college (yes, 18 or 19 years of age) and had to leave the line because some jacked-up dude in a clown costume wouldn’t leave me alone and made me cry. 

Of course, I’m afraid of the not-so-easily-pinpointed, ambiguous things, too. Things that generally most humans are afraid of. I’m afraid of being alone, of being judged, of losing people I love, of making the wrong choice, saying the wrong thing. But I’m also afraid of crossing the street when cars are coming fast, getting burned by the lava inside a Hot Pocket and answering phone calls to strangers.

To be clear, there are things I am ~not~ afraid of: I am, after all, a strong woman. A feminist, a curious adventurer, a lover of the many possibilities this wondrous world beholds. But I have a checklist, and there’s many I didn’t list here, so let’s just make sure we get these things clear before you take me anywhere. 

 

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A True Legend

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Like millions, I’m struggling to understand Robin Williams’ recent death. He represented a significant part of my childhood — he was the Genie, Peter Pan, Mrs. Doubtfire, Doctors Patch Adams and Sean Maguire, John Keating. The list goes on and on and on. He brought these roles to life with the type of imagination and zeal that only a true genius could muster. Sometimes with laughter, sometimes with tears, he always delivered with passion. He taught me things, and because of this I felt like he could be my goofy uncle. I felt like I knew him. Then again, didn’t everyone? He was one of my favorite actors because, apart from the “stage,” he seemed like a genuine, regular guy. 

And just like that he was gone, and, to everyone’s dismay, of his own accord. It’s hard for me to imagine wanting to take my own life. I’ve thought about it, sure, but more in a philosophical “what would it be like to die?” way when I’m feeling sad. I’ve never planned anything, never desired to act it out, never actually wanted to end my life for good. Because what a horrifyingly final decision. The very thought of getting a belt out to hang myself sends shudders down my spine.

I’m lucky, though, to have never struggled with intense, manic depression like Mr. Williams did. I have always reached out for help and depended on others when I felt life was too much to bear. So I can’t even imagine the level of despair he was experiencing. I’m not a stranger to depression and the effects it has, not by quite a stretch. In fact, I love someone who struggles with clinical depression, and it’s, well, not fun sometimes. It’s a scary illness. It’s difficult for the person with depression, and it’s difficult for the people that love them and want to see them grow and succeed. 

News sources report that his daughter is “inconsolable” and no wonder. My own father died almost a year ago today. He died on the 20th of August. I saw him struggle for breath on our entry way floor. I saw his face turn blue. I made the 911 call, shouted at the voice on the other end to send ambulances faster, pleaded, wished, waited. He wanted to live, but he could not survive the attack that was pulsing through his heart. My dad had demons of his own, sure, but he didn’t want to die. I know this for sure. I don’t know what it would be like to know my father made the choice to end his life. It’s impossibly devastating to even fathom such a thing. My heart goes out to his family. 

Sometimes things in life are so tragic that there aren’t enough synonyms in the thesaurus or words in the dictionary to accurately capture them. To really convey how it pains the heart to even envision them again. It’s too much. And, as a writer, that’s a tough and frustrating thing because that’s what I do. I describe things. I try to say, “this is how it looks, feels, sounds,” in a way that no one else can. I feel like I can’t rightly do that here. I didn’t know Robin Williams, unfortunately, I only knew what I was filtered through the media like most others. But I know how he made me feel and how he made me laugh in his movies. And damn, he made me laugh really hard. He was a comic genius, but not only that, he was an unbelievably talented, well-rounded actor. There won’t ever be a “friend” like him. He was a true legend that will be missed sorely around the world for quite some time to come I’d expect.

I’m here to say I’m sad for Robin Williams, for my own father, for people who feel they have no way out, for people that die suddenly and unexpectedly and the loved ones they leave behind, for so many things. I’m sad in a way I can’t describe; I’m sad for a man I knew and a man I didn’t. Williams’ daughter, Zelda, is clearly a wise and feeling woman. I’m going to share her tribute to her late father here, because it’s heartbreaking and perfect:

“You — you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You — only you — will have stars that can laugh.” — Antoine De Saint-Exupery

If that doesn’t say it, I don’t know what does. 

Rest in Peace. 

Bah Humbug

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Photo on 7-17-14 at 6.30 PM

My life has been a fucking mess lately. Scene: Like a Girls episode except I’m not Lena Dunham, and I’m also not in New York City. Oh, I also don’t have a hot manic boyfriend named Adam. And I freaking hate Cool Whip. So, pretty much the only similarity is she also struggles. I STRUGGLE, WE ALL STRUGGLE.

It’s true. Sometimes life deals you weird, terrible, shitty cards. And you’re holding them in your hands, at an imaginary poker table, and you’re like, wait what? Where did these come from? How did I get these cards? These cards are wrong! Take them back, Kevin Spacey!

Let’s back it up a bit.

Just a few short months ago I felt pretty optimistic about my L-I-F-E. I was some dude in an 80s movie with Ray Bans and high-top sneakers giving the thumbs up to everyone around me. I’m envisioning Tom Cruise or maybe Robert Downey Jr. Long story short, I was feeling fly. And I was doing it on my own.

“Here I am, walking down the street! The sun is shining! I have my stuff together! I got this! Summer in the city! my life is GOIN’ GREAT. Watch out, world!”

Yes, my friends, things were coming together. I was writing consistently, treating myself well (mentally AND physically), putting myself back into the dating game, seeing someone new, eating bananas, feeling the sun on my wintered-out skin, dressin’ fancy. YOU KNOW, things that normally signify health and happiness…er something like that.

And then, all of the sudden, they weren’t. Things got strange. Life threw me a ::CLICHE ALERT:: curveball. And I’m not going to get into the specifics of what exactly happened (…but BOYS, IT’S ALWAYS BOYS) that started this bizarre, downward spiral again. Because really, in all honesty, that’s not the point. I let a situation take advantage of me and bring me down. Which is not what a strong ladyGIRL does. I should have been smarter. I should have had my guard up. I should have seen through the act. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda.

But I didn’t, sadface, and then things got difficult. And I’ve been here for a little while. Hell, I’ve been here lots of times in my life. But the disappointment always feels new. And then you decide to go out, pretend to be happy and carefree and social, and then come back and worry yourself to sleep at night. Wondering, will it ever REALLY get better? Eh, it’s not so great.

So what I want to talk about here is the ascent. Which is what I’m struggling with right now.

Yes, ladies and gents, that glorious ascent back into awesomeness.

And it can be done, but it’s super hard and annoying because you’re like, I just had everything, and I was HAPPY, and now I have to start AGAIN?! Yes, it’s stupid. Life is weird. There’s no denying the fact that it sucks to feel like you’re at the bottle of some old, rusty barrel again.

I want to start to climb back out once more. To open myself up to new things and places and people and eat those damn bananas again. And shine from the inside out. Because I know I’m capable of it, and I also know I’m 26 and I’m young and in my prime. I should be clicking my kitten heels and wearing bubblegum-hued lipstick and drinking Moscow mules. There’s no point getting hung up on people or things that won’t matter when everything is weighed in a balance. The people who care about you and have your best interests in mind will stay.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. The point of this blog is simple: If you get pushed down by some dildo who’s out to make your life a living nightmare, you get back up. Because you gotta. Because you’re awesome.