Stubborn Not Strong

Through the mirror Nicola looked into Angie’s eyes. “You know, you’re very strong,” Nicola said.

“Thank you.”

“That’s no compliment. It’s your weakness. If you weren’t so strong you wouldn’t have to take it and so you wouldn’t.”

That’s not from the book I am reading now, but I believe from the one I read before it. There were many little lines and moments in it which captured my attention, and this was one.

I wouldn’t consider myself strong by any stretch – not by any measure, either. Not physically, emotionally, mentally…any of the “ally’s”, really. (See what I did there?)

But I have still had moments in life wherein I’ve wished I was just a little more fragile – just enough so that I could break and whatever broke me could become someone else’s problem to deal with. Or no one’s. Just so long as it would no longer have to be mine.

I think in my case it’s more a combination of stubborness mixed with an almost overwhelming fear of embarrassing myself. I don’t like making a scene, or drawing attention to myself. Most of my reactions to things and situations happen on the inside, and I keep them as hidden from the public eye as possible. I may jump a bit when something startles me, but I don’t scream and carry on. I’ve actually been trying to force myself to admit when something scared me, rather than focus on hiding it. Keeping myself closed off is the product of decades of practice, and so now it is a very difficult habit to break.

It’s hard to learn to express things when you’ve spent so long doing the opposite.

On the other hand, though, appearing to not have a reaction sometimes still comes in handy. Bit of a catch-22, now, I guess.

I’m super easy to take advantage of, too, because I never cause a stink or stand up for myself. I don’t return things to where I purchased them. I don’t send food back to the kitchen. I don’t rasie my voice when someone’s being an asshat on the subway.

I just take it.

Not because I am particularly strong, but because of some backwards fear of how I feel if I do things any other way. So in that much, at least, the strong and I have something in common.

We all feel like we have to take it.

Advertisements

This Day, Though

Ugh this day, man.

I was able to go back to sleep after taking Brody out and feeding everyone this morning.  For, like, an hour.  Still so over-tired.

Managed to get some things done today, though, so there’s that.   Worked out my remaining budget and I think thus far I am on point.  Bought the photo op that’s been tradition for every con we’ve both been at.  It’s been probably four years or so, though.  I hope she still remembers me this time.

We’ll see.

If no further unexpected expenses come up this week (I’m looking at you, emergency dental bill), I should be okay to pick up the last remaining items I most hope to get at Fan Expo over the weekend, and still pay rent.  That list includes the Mark Hamill autograph I’ve been craving most of my life…or at least since I got Carrie Fisher’s auto on the pic of the two of them ten years ago.  I shall shortly turn my attention to being more press-like, and write up a post or two forThe Mind Reels about what to expect from Toronto’s biggest geek show.

Brody and I went around the block today, which we haven’t done in a while.  It was just supposed to be a quick loo break, but he seemed so happy, I decided we may as well just go for it.  He got a bit over-heated, but not too bad at all, and it didn’t take long to cool down again once we got back inside.  So that was nice.  I like hanging with that little guy.

The other big thing I accomplished today was to get the Mind Reels’ Patreon page more or less ready to launch on Thursday September 1st.  I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking now, too.  I had a couple of ideas yesterday to make it look more how I want it to, and was able to implement most of them today.  I am super excited to launch, but also nervous to see what level of fail I may achieve this time.

I’ll be running a contest for anyone who pledges at or above a certain level each month ($7 to be precise) to see if I can drum up a little incentive early on.  We’ll randomly draw from those Patrons to win a signed script from one of our first 5 radio plays!  Which is kinda cool, I think?  On top of all the regular rewards that come with each pledge tier level?

Anyway, I’m nervous but doing it, anyway.  Www.patreon.com/TheMindReels is where we will be once we launch.  I can’t find a way to set a date and time to activate it, though, so I’ll have to do it manually in the morning when I wake up that day.  It’ll also be my birthday, so I’ll probably remember to do it!  Haha

Tomorrow is a volunteer day, and then I have a few more things on the To Do list to take care of.  Hopefully not too many, though.  I tend to be really sore and exhausted after my shifts.

And I’m already pretty sore and exhausted as it is.

Fear Itself

I’ve been making a few sad realizations of late, most recently last night.  It’s actually thrown me off my game today, and I’m having trouble figuring out what to do.

So I’m currently doing next to nothing.

I just can’t focus.

I mean, I’m also hella tired and it is crazy hot outside.  Brody and I went to Pet Valu earlier and I’m not sure which of us was more over the heat by the time we got back.  He got to see some of his favourite people, though.  They make such a big deal over him there.  I love it, and naturally, he does, too.  Also, there’s no shortage of treats, and today we met a dog as big as a pony.  Bless.  Munchkin.

I have so much to do, and I thought I had a plan, but I can’t remember now, and I’m too distracted by sadness to sort it out.

Actually, no, it’s not even that.  I think rather than sadness, it’s more a tentative resignation.  I’m not sure…like, I feel like a few days ago, I had a certain confidence in my choices and the path I was following.  I don’t feel that same confidence now.  I’m not certain that it’s wrong, but I’m no longer sure that it’s right, either.  I feel like I keep making decisions now, and then second guessing myself.  THAT makes me sad – on top of some of the things I’m realizing – but the uncertainty isn’t caused by sadness.

I think it’s more likely caused by fear.

What if I’m going the wrong way, after all?

Boxing Memories

Had a bit of a nightmare last night. Or, not exactly that, but a highly unpleasant dream. Not frightening in any way, really, but definitely left me feeling heavy after; a feeling which won’t be departing any time soon. The details aren’t important, and while the content of the dream I had after I went back to sleep was much more enjoyable, even that added to the heaviness when I awoke this morning. Just in a different way.

I’m resigned to this feeling now, I think. At least to sit with it for a time, and see how things go.

I’m not up to fighting it anymore right now.

I wish I could write more truth. And write it better than anything I am able to write now. The book I am reading currently is filled with snippets of truth laid out so simply before the reader that one could easily look right past it without pausing to take it in and realize what it actually is. I started taking pictures of certain passages with my phone; moments that ring true to me and that I want to remember beyond the pages of the book itself.

I considered finishing the book last night before bed, but I’m not quite ready to be done with it yet. I also haven’t decided what I’m reading next. So I dawdle.

There was a line about catching a brief glimpse of the contents of a box, and while not able to list off each individual item, seeing enough to realize that it’s all “the things a person in love collects when she’s not loved in return”. I read that line and my mind immediately went to all the little boxes of random items collected during past relationships of my own. At the time, they were mementos, which turned into painful reminders of what was lost after the relationship ended. And yet kept in a box at the back of my closet…or wherever…I think there are a few of them, but all scattered about and buried under other possessions. For what reason would I, or anyone else, keep such things?

I mean, definitely a large part of it is my irrational fear of forgetting my life. Even though I know I won’t likely forget any of those people (they are part of who I am now, and most of them are still in my life, to some degree or other), and even though I could look at many of those random items now and have no idea what the fuck they are supposed to be reminding me of, or what memory they are tied to – even though I logically know all this, there is still a feeling of comfort in having those things around. In knowing that I could look at them if I wanted to, and that at least some memories are still in there.

I imagine there is also some sort of therapeutic value in tucking everything about a person from your past away into a box and putting it out of sight, but still within reach. Not burning the bridge, but not using it anymore, either. I’ve never been the sort to try and forget a person, especially not if their only crime was in not loving me back the same way I loved them. It’s not usually an anger-inducing feeling, on my end; more resignation, and a sense of “well of course not – why would someone like you love someone like me this same way” sort of thing. Which isn’t meant to come across as mopey as it no doubt sounds. I tend to view it more as a confirmation of something I already know, or at least suspect. I have a hard time holding it against other people, when it’s something I already feel myself.

I realize there is the whole self-fulfilling prophecy argument to be made, too, but again – logic doesn’t really dictate feeling, at least not in my experience. So I get it – but I don’t feel it, so save your breath on that one!

Anyway, the thing which struck me more about the whole sentence in the book and how it relates to my life is in the idea that one can know they are not loved in return, and yet choose to love, anyway. Choose to allow themselves to love. It wouldn’t just be a risk, then, but a foregone conclusion that the relationship – friendship – whatever it is, will come to an end. Not necessarily in a permanent, no contact ever again kind of way, but that whatever it is for each person will change, and not be the same again for either of them. Maybe they grow apart, maybe they betray one another in some way, maybe they have an explosive break-up and really do never see one another again. Maybe they grow to hate the one they once loved. There are all kinds of ways that love dies; and all manner of reasons. But choosing to love, anyway, even when you already know you’re not loved back the same way – it could be a bit noble, or needy, or outright dumb – but the fact is that someone chose love, and maybe the box of random memories serves as more a reminder of having made that choice, rather than of the specific circumstances themselves.

Or I could just be trying to make myself feel better about saving so much crap, and justifying that to no one who asked. Well, except myself.

It’s funny, too, how much space is taken up with mementos of relationships past. One of my best and arguably healthiest relationships – which I don’t really talk about because it’s hard to make someone who wasn’t there understand – is pretty much relegated to the pages of a journal I kept at the time, and a framed photograph that hangs on the wall. I don’t think she got a box, and yet the few physical items I do have are some of the most personal and…intimate, but not in the way you’re thinking…items I’ve kept from pretty much any other relationship I’ve had. It’s not much, but it’s some of the most powerful.

My last relationship is literally everywhere. There is a bin in my closet of things, but that’s mostly because there’s just not space to put everything where it can be visible. Believe me, plenty of the memories we created together are visible. From a hanging over my bed, to some of the clothes that I wear, to a ring on my finger – moments of ours are all around me, and very much a part of me, even now.

Maybe more now than then, in many ways.

One ex is kept almost entirely in a shoebox – but a nice one. It’s decorated.

My first actual relationship is I believe in an empty Kleenex box. Or two. That plastic window with the slit makes it easy to add small objects and paper notes. Like a piggy bank but not. I think there are photos and letters in one of the folders or envelopes on my bookshelf, too, but it’s been so long since I even looked at them that I am not exactly sure where they are now, or if I even still have them.

Friendship stuff is even more scattered, but just as important, and just as much a part of who I am now. All through school I boxed everything up together by year. After graduating with my first undergrad degree is where things get a little sketchy; strewn about and less organized.

I’m pretty certain I still have a pop cap that a boy I liked gave me (as a joke) in first year university, though. It meant nothing, and yet still something, somehow.

My most recent best friend has finally found herself a nice new one with a penis, which is amazing for her, as it’s what she’s been wanting for a very long time. I’m honoured to have been chosen as the one to hold his place for him until he could get there, though a little sad for myself now. Haha The important thing is that she’s finally happy, and I am better at intermittent friendshipping, anyway, so I don’t have to worry about failing nearly so often now. That’s definitely a good thing. It was making me sad to constantly come up short, so while I’ll definitely miss our time together, I know that everything is much better for her now. She’s finally in the kind of good place she deserves, and that makes me happy. 🙂

I meant to write more about truth than I have, but I got distracted by boxes of memories and why I would still keep them. I am not even sure I’ve completely delved as far into those reasons as I could or should, but this post somehow got long again. I will say that I’ve been struggling much more lately about how much truth to reveal to those who know me, as well as which specific details should be shared. I don’t think I understand, like, normal human interactions. Haha

I often try to mimic or match what I see from others – like if someone tells me something personal, I try to return that by sharing something equally personal about myself. If I can determine a proper scale of personal-ness, of course. It seems more difficult to me lately, though. I don’t know if that’s because I have more things that I could speak openly about that are different from before – like current events instead of just the past – or if I’m getting less from those around me so I’m not sure when I’ve crossed the TMI line, and thus stay silent more often due to more uncertainty. I don’t know. I don’t know.

For some reason, so much feels new to me now. It’s not like I’ve never had friends or relationships before, but either I’m different or they’re different or, more likely, both. I haven’t figured out how to navigate the world, I guess. The way I used to doesn’t work for me anymore, and I have yet to discover a way that does.

I’d probably have more luck if I spent less time talking to a dog and three cats, huh?

Possum Adventure

I helped save a possum on the way to work this morning!

I was, therefore, late for work, but totally worth it.

Now, I was already struggling this morning, and today will be a long day, just for how exhausted I am. For various reasons that I won’t get into. I was walking to the subway, headphones on, and saw a lady I know from early morning walks with Brody. She often has treats for him, and nuts and seeds for wildlife along the way. Super nice lady, if somewhat eccentric-seeming.

Anyway, she flagged me over, so I took off my headphones and shut my MP3 player off completely when she pointed to the frightened possum hanging out in the doorway of a business on Yonge Street. It was very busy and loud by then, and the poor critter was very much regretting his poor life choice.

Someone had found an empty cardboard box and stuck part of a cucumber in it, to see if the possum would climb into the box of its own accord, but it was still pretty far away from the little fella, and the possum had not moved from its spot in the corner of the entrance area. We definitely did want to spook it into traffic, or anything, so I placed a call to Toronto Wildlife Centre and left a message to let them know where the possum was, and to ask that they come check it out and then help relocate it.

Another woman had also called an left a message, so at that point I was considering just continuing on my way, but I’d also left my phone number on the message, and wasn’t sure what I would do if TWC called back with instructions, or something. So I stayed a little longer, estimating how early they’d be checking messages, and wondering if I should just wait. I texted a pic of the critter to my manager and said I’d be a bit late, but I didn’t have much of a plan at the time. Was just waiting and thinking and chatting with the lady who’d flagged me down in the first place.

Then a slightly older lady came along, and stopped to see what was going on. We told her that at least two of us had called to notify TWC already, and she said she was going to go get her husband because she thought they could trap the possum and drive it out there themselves. At that point, I decided to stay long enough to see how things turned out with the little guy.

It took some time, and the one lady and I basically played at guard duty while we waited, making sure dogs passing by didn’t notice the critter, and keeping an eye out in case the possum tried to make a run for it. Neither of us know anything about possums or their general behaviour in the wild, so we speculated on a few thoughts, but really – we knew we needed to do a bit more research after it was all over. Other than playing possum, which was not really helpful in this situation. This one was shivering in fear so violently that we could see its ears vibrating. Poor wee heart.

Anyway, the other woman returned with her husband in tow, and he was carrying all the tools of the wildlife rescue trade – or so it seemed to me. He had a sturdy plastic bin, a wooden board which would act as a lid, heavy duty rubber gloves, a box cutter and duct tape. Wasting no time, he swooped in to trap the possum between the glass doorway and the bin opening, then slid the board down through that same gap, which effectively shuffled the possum into the bin and kept it in there with the heavy board on top as he tipped it all upright. He used the tape to fasten the board on in such a way that it was secure yet still let in plenty of air, and carried the possum package to his car.

I called TWC and left a second message to let them know that the possum was on its way to them, and could they please give it a quick check-up to make sure it wasn’t injured before returning it to the area from whence it came. I then headed to work, but of course took a moment to post a photo of the little guy to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. By the time I got to the subway, my employer’s Twitter account had liked the tweet, and by the time I got to work, TWC had liked the Instagram post.

I think within about an hour of my arrival at work, I got a phone call from TWC to let me know the possum had arrived safe and sound, and was in a dark, quiet space having a bite to eat and something to drink. The girl there said that wildlife often make bad life choices, especially when it comes to being home before the sun comes up, so the possum was probably fine, but they would check first to be sure. She also said that the man who’d brought the possum in had offered to go back and get it, and return it to a quieter place in the same area, if it was deemed healthy and ready to be put back into the wild. I thought that was pretty stellar of him, too, actually. It turns out that couple lives on my same street, so it was definitely a Keewatin kind of effort being put forth!

Just a short time ago, I got a notification from TWC on Twitter. They said that “he” is a “she”, and that she has at least one joey in her pouch! They also said they didn’t find any sign of injury, so she should be back in the ‘hood very soon.

How cool is that? I helped save a mama AND her baby from some uncomfortable at the least, fatal at the most, circumstances this morning! And still got to work only about a half hour late overall, which is much better than I worried it might be!

Good deeds are a nice way to start the day, I have to say! Yay Mama Possum! Rest up, and stay safe when you get back home!

Mama Possum

Living In Fear

I guess I pretty much live in some state of fear or anxiety most of the time. I suppose I always have. Some part of my brain is always on alert; listening, watching, trying to stay one step ahead of the world in an effort to see things coming, and plan a way to avoid or survive them.

It’s kind of exhausting, and occasionally somewhat crippling to boot.

As a kid, I would do routine inspections of the border of my bedroom to ensure nothing was close enough to the heaters to catch fire in the night. In the event of fire, I had an escape plan in place, and a mental list of the things I would try to take with me or toss out the window, along with saving the animals and family members in the house, too, of course. Somehow, in my head, that was all up to me. In the event of tornado, I also had survival plans in place. We didn’t have a basement, so I had to get creative. I wasn’t too worried about a tidal wave, being land-locked and all, though I did still have nightmares about them from time to time. But then again, zombies or alien invasions were also not out of the question, so I had to have plans for those, too.

As I got older, I started packing more on instead of less. Concerns about walking alone at night, having things stolen…I mean, stuff actually happens, and while there’s no way to be fully prepared, per se, it is possible to just be afraid and alert all the time as a way of lessening the chances it’ll happen to you.

Then I got Kate, and suddenly a whole other life depended solely on me. Keeping a roof over our heads and food in our bellies got added to the concerns, along with general financial worries that go along with unexpected expenses popping up suddenly. As unexpected things do.

It’s hard to expect everything, after all.

When we no longer had roommates and it was just the two of us, I started worrying that something would happen while I was at work; when I wasn’t home to take care of us. Every morning before I left the apartment, I would give the same little speech to her, and that became a superstitious kind of mantra. If anything bad had happened while I was out, a part of me would have blamed myself for not doing enough to prevent it, even if simple words do nothing specific at all.

As it turned out, what happened to Kate wasn’t while I was at work, but rather when I went away on vacation. I figured out pretty quickly after I got home that she was sick, and I hadn’t been around for her to let me know any earlier. She was euthanized within a few days of my return, and part of me will never forgive myself for giving up so many of those last precious days I could have spent with her, let alone the 5 months I’d left her in Colorado without me. Part of me will always believe it’s my fault she got sick to begin with, too, though.

Anyway, that’s how it was with one cat. Now I have three and a dog depending on me to take care of them. Depending on me and no one else, at least in day to day life. So now when I leave the apartment, the anxiety is the same, but multiplied by four. Some of them (I won’t name names because it’s not important) are less self-sufficient than Kate was, in that they need more care and attention from whoever is looking after them. So it’s harder for me to decide to leave, even when it’s just for the day. So many things can go wrong, even when I am there, but when I am not, the worry – the fear – is almost overwhelming sometimes. Usually before I leave and in the moments right before and after I get back home, but yeah. It’s always there, to some degree or other.

I guess it’s good we don’t really realize how out of control things are. We’d all go mad, I think. We’re on a rock, spinning in space, with plates shifting and mountains moving and the oxygen around us all we have to breathe with. At any time, another much smaller rock, hurtling through space, could slam into us and end it all in an instant (or in a slow, agonizing way, but I’ll be hoping for the instant, personally), yet here we are; all of us trying to bend, twist and force order into the chaos. Trying to assign it all meaning, and leave our mark to prove we were ever here at all.

Making plans can feel stifling sometimes, but not nearly so much as realizing that there can never be enough preparation. There will always be something we can’t predict; something we can’t avoid with forethought.

Sometimes we have to let go and see what happens. It’s really the start to living.

But it’s also really freaking hard.

I was watching an episode of a TV show wherein an artificial intelligence had taken on the voice of a human who had passed away. Hearing that voice again was hard for those humans left behind; those who mourned. And yet, at the same time, it’s a comfort. I thought of all the voices I’d give anything to hear again; voices from the past. Voices of those who helped shape who I am. A laugh, a curse, a playful tease, a story told just once more, even though it’s already been told a hundred times. What wouldn’t any of us give for the 101st?

A lot of a person is contained in their voice; certainly as much as in their appearance. That we communicate without voice so often now is a bit of a detriment – we text, we email, we comment on Facebook and Twitter. But it’s not really as much of a connection as when an individual’s voice is included. Even with Hudson the polar bear, the last time I saw him was also the first time I’d really heard his voice, and I was almost in tears when I made the realization. I know each of the cats voices; how they differ from one another and from other cats in the world.

Yet I really hate using the phone. Maybe it’s just easier to stay hidden behind a keyboard. As though taking our faces and bodies out of the mix isn’t quite enough most of the time, we also feel the need to remove our voices from the world at large. It just feels safer that way, somehow.

Safer, even as we cling to life and everything around us is shifting and spinning, spinning, spinning through space – until the day comes when we decide to sound our barbaric yawps over the rooftops of the world – and make our voices heard for all time.

What the hell am I even talking about? I think it’s time to eat lunch.

Learn To React Out Loud

I’ve realized that most of what I know of my friends and their lives – including the ones I talk to almost every day – is gleaned from posts they make online, as opposed to anything said to me directly. That realization hurt at first, until I made the realization on top of it that I do pretty much the same thing.

Except that I don’t really post much online, either.

It’s possible that’s where some of my communication frustration is coming from. Haha

I lean more toward not posting things online in public forums because a) when it’s in writing it’s harder to revise and re-state, b) the general public has no business in most of my bizness, and c) I’m of the notion that those I do choose to share with are closer to me in some way; I trust them with more of me.

So be it in person or via text/email, I much prefer small groups and individual conversations to mass online postings. In a way I choose those trusted few very carefully, but in another way I really just run on instinct. I’m crazy naïve, and of course just want to be liked (emotionally I’m, like, 8 years old on a good day, but most of the time I’m pretty much still an unborn fetus), so my instincts are often steered wrong just by those factors alone. I usually consider what I want to say before I say it (so writing is easier; I’m just not a fan of the public), but I also try to consider who I’ve decided to say it to.

Writing a personal blog each day is ridiculous for someone like me, but one can’t grow and improve unless one ventures out of their comfort zone once in awhile, and thus far I’ve remained mostly inside my comfort zone as far as this little project is concerned. I want to say I’ll work on changing that, but even as I think about typing it, I am also tempted to just let it be. So we’ll see, I guess. I want to keep those closer to me, the chosen few, still closer than this, and to venture further outside my comfort zone with them, too. With them more, actually.

But I guess sometimes I can talk about something other than what I did today, or whatever.

Like fear.

What are you afraid of” and “what scares you” are questions that come up all the time, to celebrities, to potential relationship partners, to friends sitting around a campfire splitting a bottle/several bottles of wine.

I’m not saying alcohol is necessary for conversation, but it definitely helps!

I once did a presentation in high school about fear. I actually can’t remember what it was for, or what I even talked about, specifically. I just remember I started off my presentation with the first 20 minutes of the original When A Stranger Calls. The whole, “have you checked the children” babysitter/phone call bit.

The calls are coming from inside the house!!!”

Guys! Some of the scariest 20 minutes put on film, if you’re me. And apparently if you are some of my classmates that day.

I, myself, am afraid of lots of things. Most things, really, but to varying degrees. I learned very early on in life to not react to some things, because my reactions would make everything worse. If someone thinks it’s funny to scare you and they don’t get the reaction they wanted, they stop trying. I bottle a lot of that shit up, even to this day. Sometimes it’s even practical – if you encounter a wild animal, don’t run. It makes you look like prey. So freezing up on the outside and screaming on the inside can actually be helpful in some situations.

Not in most, though, so training your instincts to do that is not the greatest idea, and it’s incredibly difficult to re-train yourself to scream on the outside once you’re older. I’m still trying to learn how to react out loud; to actively defend myself instead of freezing up.

I’m afraid of any kind of violation, be it of my person or of my home/safe space. Both at once would be unimaginably horrible. Yet I do imagine it, all the time.

I am afraid of the elements, mostly wind and fire. And water, though I guess the chance of a tidal wave coming off Lake Ontario is pretty slim. I think I am less afraid of dying in some sort of natural disaster as I am of losing someone to it. The animals; friends; family. I spend so much time being afraid and trying to prepare and/or avoid catastrophe that I feel like I would survive, but lose someone important to me, and spend the rest of my life re-playing it over and over in my head, trying to make the outcome different. Even losing Alysia – I wasn’t there, but there are still nights even now when I imagine all I would have tried to do to get those kids and Frankie the Kitten out of there safe. I mean, all I think or wish I would have been able to do. Just…anything to make the reality different. I would possibly just freeze in that situation, too, but not necessarily.

I remember once when I was living with Lizz in our cute little house, I was home alone, in the living room, when I heard a cat jump down from her bedroom window and in trotted Kate. Moments later, another thump of paws hitting the floor and Dodger appeared to grace me with his handsome presence.

Then there was a third sound in the back bedroom, and we only had two cats.

They both heard it, too, and together the three of us stared at the dark hallway until a massive raccoon sidled into the light, looked at us, then went into the kitchen to eat all the cat food.

Frozen in my chair, I placed a panicked call to Lizz, who was on her way home from work, and kept an eye on the cats and our unwanted visitor. Everything was fine – more or less – until the raccoon made its way back into the hallway and disappeared. About 2 seconds later, Dodger and Kate took off running after it. I’d heard about how vicious raccoons could be, and how quickly they could kill a cat, and panic washed over me again, but this time it kicked me into action instead. I raced after the cats, yelling the whole time, and they were so startled that they came back immediately. I kept them with me until Lizz came home, but by then the huge critter had made its way back outside through the window from whence it came.

Or from wherece it came.

Anyway, the point is, I was terrified and I froze, but once I was more terrified for the cats, I sprang into action hero mode, if only for a few seconds.

I’m afraid of spiders, though more because of their unpredictability and the whole jumping thing. I don’t like the jumping. Nor the crawling in my mouth while I sleep. Bugs in general…let’s just stay as separate from one another as possible.

So yeah – basically I am afraid of weather, animals/insects, and other people. This is what makes it difficult to leave the house.

However, I am also afraid of embarrassing myself. It’s a different kind of fear, but it ends up having the same result. Often, my ability to freeze and not react has helped me not embarrass myself, though. Or, at least, embarrass myself less.

Like, my first MRI, I did all this research so I’d know what to expect, but still, as I slid into the tube and felt the machine pin my arms to my sides, and looked up to see the cage over my head and the top of the tube inches away from that, I sucked my breath in – and froze. The tech asked if I was okay, and I said “yeah”, which forced me to expel a little bit of air, just to make sound come out. I felt like kicking and screaming and oh-HELL-no-ing my way right back out of there, but that would have been humiliating. One of the techs was hot and I didn’t want to make a bad impression, so I reminded myself to breathe, and let even more of that air out. Then in, then out. And repeat.

Since then, I’ve been admittedly kind of an expert on the whole MRI thing, and even give a little coaching to anyone I meet in the waiting room who’s nervous about it themselves.

I don’t like causing a scene. It gets me into more trouble than it’s worth sometimes, but once in awhile it helps. I just never really found the balance, because I’m still so focused on the freeze and stay silent than I am on what a more appropriate and beneficial reaction would be in some circumstances.

I haven’t found other ways to defend myself, even though my go-to doesn’t really work out very well most of the time.