Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anxiously Awaiting the Sources of My Anxiety

“The source of anxiety lies in the future. If you can keep the future out of mind, you can forget your worries.” - Milan Kundera

We all have them: friends who freak out over seemingly nothing things or worry about events that could happen to them but aren't even on the near horizon of their future. They worry about the possibility of getting mugged on the street when they live in the safest suburbia of America and don't even go "on the street." They flip out over who they could bring as a date to their 10 year high school reunion 3 years after they graduate from high school. They panic about who is going to play the female lead in the screen adaptation of their book (watch your back Selena Gomez...) when they haven't even finished writing the damn thing!

Yes, we all have those friends. And if you're friends with me, hi, I'm that friend.

I just finished reading a blog listing things that make the writer anxious but shouldn't and, after drying my eyes from laughing so hard, it got me thinking about my own anxiety problems. For example: I panic about getting pregnant and what would happen if I did. Could I afford a baby? Would I need to find another job? Would someone hire me if I was pregnant? Do people even take chances on pregnant women? Will I ever meet someone if I'm pregnant? See? It's ridiculous for me to worry about these things because I'm not even having sex. I'm not even in a position to have sex (no pun intended). Maybe instead of focusing on how I'm going to decorate the baby's room (pink and yellow w/ elephants wearing pink bows if a girl, tigers with bowties if a boy...) I should focus on finding someone to have sex with. I mean... date. Date. Yes, date.

Thinking about my anxiety and the ridiculous things I get anxious over really makes me stop and think about why I get so stressed over stupid things like the possibility of getting pregnant or finding a date to a wedding when everyone already knows I'm single. Maybe this is a way of addressing my fears. Yes, I'm scared to get pregnant and as of right now it's probably the worst thing that could happen to me. Yes, I'm slightly afraid that I'm going to always be alone. Yes, I'm petrified that Selena Gomez will be cast in the movie adaptation of my yet to be finished book.

Maybe my anxiety stems from the lack of these things in my life and seeing others achieve or do these things. The anxiety could be a way of living out things that I really want and a way of dealing with them even though they aren't happening at the moment. It's like I'm mentally preparing myself for the worst and freaking out before it happens so when/if it does happen, I'll be prepared to deal with it calmly and rationally.

Or maybe that's all crap. In the words of Dr. Temperance Brennan: I hate psychology.

Monday, May 23, 2011

After the "Rapture"

Rapture (n):
1. The state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy.
2. An expression of ecstatic feeling. Often used in the plural.
3. The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven

Apparently, May 21, 2011 was supposed to be the rapture... the day the rapture came... when the rapture happened? I'm not really sure how you would phrase that. Regardless, I, like so many other people I know, found the idea of the end of the world being this past Saturday kind of... well... hilarious. It's been the butt of several jokes last week followed by several post-rapture jokes so far week.
Even though I'm not still quite sure I understand exactly WHAT the rapture is (please feel free to explain if you're so inclined) I definitely feel that no man is going to be able to "predict" when it's coming. Despite the world-wide popularity of books such as The DaVinci Code or movies like National Treasure (although I'm not sure how popular that one was...) I have a hard time believing that these historical documents or biblical documents have hidden "codes" that we can use to predict things. Especially the second coming of Christ. If he's coming back, he'll come back when he's ready, not when man dictates he's coming. Although he might have been trying to make a surprise visit on Saturday and decided not to since we were all expecting him. Thanks, Mr. Camping.

Things I had Hoped to Get Out of Due to Rapture
That late fee at the library due to not turning a DVD in on time
Cleaning my apartment
Paying doctor's bills that my cheap-o insurance wouldn't cover
Going to the dentist

Things that I would have Missed Due to Rapture
Final Harry Potter
Seeing Wicked next year
Glee Season Finale
Finally getting to go to the pool at my apartment complex that only JUST opened

Perhaps if I had been raptured, those things would be in Heaven... so I'm cool with it. I can't see Harry Potter NOT going to heaven with me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Awesome Day or Why Friday the 13th isn't really so Bad

Today is Friday the 13th. Typically this day is the day when bad things happen or you have bad luck. I can't really say I've had that type of luck with Friday the 13ths, but maybe I've just forced past ones out of my memory.
The day started simple enough, nothing out of the ordinary. I woke up entirely too early and realized I had an hour left to sleep. Maybe this is when Friday the 13th kicked in. This would be one of those moments where, if I was on that Bahamas episode of Scrubs, I'd lift up my Brady Bunch Tiki Man and say "wanana!" Of course I'm not. Not that it's going to stop me. Wanana!
Long story short, why in the world don't I wake up earlier and give myself time to actually relish my mornings instead of racing through them? I had a perfectly lovely morning of sitting on the patio with my book and sipping a cup of tea. It was awesome and quiet and perfectly pleasant. (BTW, if you're into slightly darker fantasy historical type books, I would highly recommend the Gemma Doyle books. Just finished the first in the series, "A Great and Terrible Beauty" and omg...)
One of the first phone calls I received this morning at work was from a client who is having an event on Monday. She just wanted to verify everything. (Note: when working with an event planner or caterer, CALL TO CHECK IN PRIOR TO YOUR EVENT!!!! We really like this, I promise) Somehow the woman segwayed onto the dreaded "What did you go to college for" question. Normally, if you go to college and have a degree, it's not really that bad of a question. When you're a glorified receptionist who basically takes cookie orders (yes, I know I'm being overly harsh about my job... I really do a lot more), explaining to people what you hold your degreeS (note: plural) is slightly embarrassing. I explained I have my bachelor's in RHM and my master's in HES and then braced myself for the "What?! Wow!" response... usually this isn't said in a "Hey, that's totally awesome!" kind of way. It's more in the "WTF are you doing in THIS job?" kind of way... but I digress.
Let's just say I got a little teary-eyed from her praise of me. There really was no mention of my degrees but instead of how great I was at my job and how she knew that I would be successful and go far. And I BARELY ever work with this woman! Man, what do clients I work with on a weekly basis think of me? I could probably be the next president in their opinion! Maaaaaaaaybe that's pushing it...
I'm sure this whole "my day was so super great" thing is making me sound like a conceited you know what, but who cares?! After the week I've had I needed someone to throw me a bone and remind me that my journey is still far.
As a recent Twitter-er I started following my college (from which I hold both my degrees). The other day there was a "tweet" about an HES grad that was going to be on Regis and Kathy Lee.. I mean... Kelly? Yes, Kelly. She was launching her new line or something. There was a link, so I ended up on her website and ended up as a giant ball of this strange mixture of pride, inadequacy and motivation. I mean, kudos to this girl for realizing her dream and making it happen. She not only had a new line coming out for Fall 11, but had already put out TWO OTHER ONES! And they weren't crappy clothes either! So after I finished my "Good for her! What a great feeling to have such a successful HES alumna!" I started feeling very inadequate. I have yet to realize my dream, much less begin pursuing it. It was a big hit to the ego to see this girl who is several years younger than me already more successful than I wonder if I'll ever be. After that wave of inadequacy simmered down, I got super motivated. I mean, damnit why can't I be successful? What's stopping me? My boss? My co-workers? NO, just me.
So that brings me to what motivated me this week and why my day got even awesomer. I've been hedging about my book, hem-hawing that it's not very good, avoiding facing the truth that maybe it sucks and flat out avoiding what I really want it to be. So today, after completing my 15 minutes of work, I dove in head first.
I've written great things in the past... things that made ME happy. I didn't worry about what others thought; I wrote what I wanted to read and it worked and people enjoyed it. Why am I steering away from this formula? The formula works.
I feel like today's editing really got me back on track and really expanded the depth. I really hope it steered away from being too cheery/saccharin/cutesy and started being a little darker. Not scary dark, just not so cutesy.
I'll also be spending the weekend in the library working on the book... there will probably be several more entries over the weekend.
Finally, in case you noticed, I added some Doogie Howser background music to the blog. I sometimes feel like him as I'm entering these things. You know, minus the teenage doctor genius thing...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Post Torndado Words Even When There Are No Words

I would like to say as a preamble that I'm not trying to copy anyone by posting "my tornado story" on my blog or thinking it's something that needs to be shared with everyone. Truthfully, "my tornado story" is pretty lame and I feel slightly guilty about it, especially considering there are so many others that actually need to be heard.
I feel that here in Tuscaloosa, or as I think it could be more aptly named "Tornadoloosa", we've begun to think of "tornado warnings" as merely an example of the boy that cried wolf. This has been what? Our third? Fourth tornado warning this year? Wait, scratch that... in the month of April. So of course, who would have ever thought that the tornado that ripped through our city would have been that bad?
It's a little bit funny how the day began. April 27, 2011 - Administrative Professional's Day. Note: I AM NOT AN ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT!!! But I will take a free lunch from Wintzell's, thank you very much Aramark. As we were sitting at lunch we were talking about the impending doom - again, note that we were still thinking this was James Spann crying wolf. I don't remember if it was at lunch or maybe someone back in the office saying it, but I distinctly remember someone saying that it looked like the tornado/storm/whatever we thought it was at the time was going around Tuscaloosa. So I naturally didn't worry.
At about 3:00 my boss told me to go home before the storm hit. I was glad of this because after my yummy lunch I totally was not working anymore for the day. So I left work and decided to go shopping. I wanted a purple shirt to wear with my black pants and red shoes - I saw this outfit on Scrubs and knew it would be awesome. (Still have not bought said purple shirt...)
There were only a few stores open in Midtown Center, Old Navy being one of them. Since it was only slightly cloudy, I decided to go on in. Got some great deals, too. It was maybe about 4 when I checked out. That was when the sirens started going off. Although they go off pretty frequently here, so again... didn't worry. And then I got in my car. A gust of wind shook my car so hard the whole thing shuddered. At that time I decided it was time to go home. I don't like getting caught in the rain. I do like pina coladas.
So I got home to my sweet Ginger and we went for a walk. Checked the mail, I had a Netflix movie in there (Black Swan) and my plans for cleaning my apartment were put on hold so I could watch it. It started raining a little, but still nothing bad. In fact, it stopped shortly after and was just cloudy and a little breezy.
I don't really remember what time it was when my power started flickering. I hadn't fed Ginger so I knew it was before 5:30. She's afraid of lights going off and on, so I turned off my lamp since it was going off and on (it was also really annoying). A few minutes later my power popped off. Ginger, being Ginger, was terrified and started burying her head between me and the sofa. When I picked her up she clung to me, shaking and what I can only assume was doggy-hyperventilating.
The night went on, no power, very little light, and it was hot. I opened my sliding glass door, but the air was so humid and still that it didn't do much good. I don't have the greatest phone signal anyway at my house, so a storm didn't do it any good. The barrage of texts from my mom and Facebook messages started coming in, but I could barely reply due to no signal. At this point I was pissed... here was another instance of no power and phone signal due to no storm.
And that's where my guilt started. It wasn't until the next morning, Thursday, when I realized exactly how bad it was. Driving down 359 towards the University was devastating, and that wasn't even the worst of the damage. The only sign of happiness for me during that drive was seeing the Red Barn sign was still standing, undamaged. They had just put it up and it was so cute... I was worried the whole way on the highway that it had been blown to pieces like the rest of the area.
After getting to work and seeing there was no power, I started driving home. Everything was blocked off due to the tornado's destruction. I knew slightly that things had been damaged, but it wasn't until I got to Hargrove that I knew the extent.
To put it simply: it was gone. Everything that stood on that street, destroyed. I drove with my jaw hanging open, not even knowing how to react to what I was seeing. People walking up and down the street with faces similar to mine. I cried the entire way home and honestly have not stopped crying since.
I went home to my parents' in Alabaster for the weekend, mainly because I had no power but also because I needed to feel safe. Tuscaloosa no longer feels safe.
Over the weekend I had plenty of distractions - mostly wedding in nature - but in those times when I wasn't distracted all I could do was replay images of what I had seen first-hand and scenes from tv. They kept me up at night, flashing over and over in my mind. I began to wonder what I would have done had the tornado headed down Skyland towards me. Where would I have gone in my apartment? Where was it safe? Would I have lost Ginger? How would I have replaced my stuff? And then the guilt began flooding in.
How could I worry about those things when they had actually happened to so many others? How could I selfishly think about myself when so many others had lost so much? Here I was, safe in Alabaster, able to have a semi-comfy bed to sleep on (hey, the bed in the guest room is awful), a roof over my head, and still had all of my belongings and, more importantly, my life, and all I could think about was me.
I began to feel like a coward who had run from a problem rather than facing it head on. I had ran instead of been braver and helped. I still feel that way, despite assurances from others that isn't the case.
I know I shouldn't feel guilty. My friend Sheena used the term "survivor's guilt" in her blog about the tornado... maybe that's what I have. Maybe a little PTSD. Maybe withdrawals from the crazy pills. But maybe none of that matters. Maybe it's time I stop focusing on me, who lost nothing but a little peace of mind, and putting that energy into helping others who no longer have the means to help themselves.
On a happier note, all of this really has made me extra grateful for my family and friends. It's really made me realize just how much I am loved. So thank you Mom for sending me text message after text message letting me know every building that John Oldshue (old church member/former weatherman) said was gone. Thank you Kristy Ellis for asking me if I was in a safe place - no, I was not. I was sitting next to my sliding glass door. Thank you Emilie for your wondeful email about "Things that weirdly awesome" which includes "Meeting your brothers old hot roommate at an SEC bar party in nyc getting wasted making out with him then asking him to marry you. Oh and yelling roll tide as you drukenly walk to your aptartment." It was honestly one of the highlights from the night. And I feel like most importantly thank you Matt for Facebook messaging me all night during the storm... even though my phone was drained by the next morning from trying to reply. I love you all and everyone else who checked on me over the next few days more than I can actually express.

Tuscaloosa may be damaged, but from the incredible response from the people of our state and our country, it's far from gone. So thank you to everyone who has given your time, prayers, thoughts, donations, money, and love to our city. It's given me, and I'm sure many others, peace of mind and hope and knowledge that this too shall pass and we will recover.