Monday, June 18, 2007

Fear Itself

Here’s a big one. I’m going to list some fears. This will be the end of my heart-on-sleeve series of posts for a while. I’m considering writing a big convoluted science fiction blog that is so complicated and impossible that it will have nothing close to the truth in it. Honesty is draining.

So here are some of my fears. Some of them are rational, some of them aren’t, but there’s one thing I know, I’m sure as hell not afraid to admit them.

Fear #1: Writing. I fear writing for all kinds of reason. First of all it just gets harder, not easier. I didn’t think this would be the case but I just spent over an hour going over and rearranging a measly two page paper. Plus I tend to think I suck sometimes. Then there’s the point when you don’t even understand what you are trying to say so how can you expect anyone else to. Then, there’s losing four pages because of the cheap laptops in the library and wanting to yell Goddamn! at the top of your lungs but you can’t because, well, you’re in a library. Then there’s the fact that overnight you have somehow lost the ability to type, even in your hunt-and-peck hackneyed way. I could go on but we need a new fear, there are plenty of them.

Fear #2: Needles. I know, join the club, but it really started when I needed stitches in my hand and the doctor started applying shots of Novocain right into the cut. I can get shots (I won’t faint or anything) but if I see someone shooting up on TV or in a movie I hurriedly avert my eyes. Acupuncture is out.

Fear #3: Being expelled. This is a new one, but the financial aid people sent me a form to fill out that would verify my tax information and I started on this irrational fantasy about them finding a discrepancy in my tax forms and expelling me for fraud. There is no way that this would happen, and I know that, but I’ve only got eight credits left until I can graduate so my mind does this to me sometimes.

Fear #4: Ending up in a cookie-cutter retirement home. No-way ever will I willingly go to one of these places. Why? I’ve worked in one, and I could tell you some things.

Fear#5: That my shower is going to fall through the kitchen ceiling. Every spring a leak develops from the upstairs bathroom that drips into the kitchen. Then it just stops. I have this fear of taking a shower and falling through the floor. What compounds this fear is that sometimes I hear a funny creaking noise when I’m in the shower. Could you imagine what kind of scene the paramedics would find?

Fear #5: Losing my house. This is like the being expelled one, it would take a lot at this point for this to happen, but I have to say, with all its faults and dusty corners and creaking showers, I love my house, so naturally I fear losing it. I better not get too close to this fear, don’t want any self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fear #6: Becoming like DB. This is a guy that I knew who went back to school later in life and graduated but was unable to turn his degree into anything. He drank a lot, and after some years he drank anti-freeze, poor guy. It’s a sad story. He survived thank goodness but there’s a depth of despair in that act that I never want to experience.

Fear #7: Public ridicule. I know I invite it sometimes, but I can’t stand the thought of being singled out and laughed at even at this age. Kind of like Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery but of course not as bad as getting stoned to death. By the way, why did they make every American kid read that story in high school? As if the geeky kids who actually read it (like me) didn’t have enough of that kind of thing in real life.

Fear#8: That I won’t be able to play guitar anymore. Having my hands mangled or something would make me automatically think of one thing: “I’ll never play guitar again.” Not, “I’ll never write again,” or “I’ll never cook again,” or “I’ll never hold a woman in my lovin’ arms again,” Okay that’s corny but you get the point. When I used to cut myself at work I would make sure that I hadn’t cut a vital guitar finger. I’m not a great guitar player, but I just need to play every day. When I can’t, I get surly.

That’s it. Here are some things I’m not afraid of: Death: at this point not so much, but then I haven’t given it much thought. Flying: No way, I love to fly. Well, the actual flying, not the hassle of #$%$*& airports. Heights: I grew up in trees, not like Tarzan but close. I was in a tree the other day sawing branches and remembered how cool it is to see your neighborhood this way. Germs: believe me I definitely don’t have this phobia. Strange Food: Bring it on, but it has to be fresh. Sharks: I live way inland so no. I once went swimming in the ocean after a shark attack was reported the day before. Snakes: Nope. Bugs: A little. Maggots: Yuck! Leeches: Yup. Okay that’s enough.

The fact is is that we all fear, it is a survival instinct. I try to remain rational when I feel afraid but sometimes, even now when I’m alone and I hear a strange noise I think, for a second, “Someone’s going to chop me up into a thousand pieces.”


Emily Barton said...

Funny. I'm getting ready to write a post on fear myself. Stay tuned...
Meanwhile, I have no idea why The Lottery is forced on high school students, especially when she wrote the absolutely fabulous Haunting of Hill House, one of my all-time favorite ghost stories, and which, I bet, is something that could have garnered the attention of even the non-geeky students. Or even We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which is another great one of hers.

linser said...

I hated The Lottery. It just seemed like a mean spirited story to me. I had the same reaction later to "Lord of the Flies." My big fear is rats. Dan and I are with you on the needles.

Froshty said...

What bugs me is that I had to read "The Lottery" and see the short film three times in my life time (7th, 8th, and 10th grades). Why wasn't once enough? They really tortured us with awful short American fiction like the story about the man who got fired from his job but kept showing up every day and that creepy rocking horse story with the girl riding her horse in the attic.

Ian, your shower fear might stem from the fact that a previous owner of your house (me) suffered the indignity of having the toilet in the first floor bathroom almost fall through the floor because the shower we'd rigged down there leaked and rotted out all the flooring. I believe you dropped in to visit during the floor rotting out process.

Emily Barton said...

Isn't it funny how NONE of us liked The Lottery? Forsyth, I bet it was those magical powers you had to influence us, and you turned us all against it :-)!

linser said...

And speaking of The Lottery, what about that cheerful little short "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge?" Just the thing for angst-ridden teenagers.

archie said...

Life is scary. Be afraid. Be very afraid!
I am and that has helped me survive.

imichie said...

Yes Archie, I try not to let my fears consume me but sometimes I heed their advice. I try to work through the irrational ones and store the self-preservation ones.

Danny said...

Fascinating! I vote for more "heart-on-sleeve" posts. If starting your crazy science fiction blog helps you keep writing this honestly on here, I say start that sucker today!

Speaking of Shirley Jackson, have you ever read her wonderful (and funny) short story "Charles?" I recently had a gig writing a teacher's guide for it for some publisher and I just loved it. Such a different tone from the creepy "Lottery" but still with some interesting dark elements.

Where is the definitive movie about Shirley Jackson's odd, short life (she died at the age I am now)? I smell an Oscar for Kate Winslet!