Arizona: day three.

The airport, like Vegas, never sleeps. It’s six in the morning but it might as well be midday. People everywhere, hustling. I’m on the flat escalator, catatonic with sleep deprivation, watching the airport workers outside. Their activity can best be described as ant-like, both in their movements, which you can describe as “scurrying” at this distance, and also because of the idea that each worker has a job, a purpose, seemingly disparate, but if you pull back far enough, you realize that they are all working toward one goal. That goal being: to get your ass and luggage to their destination in one piece.

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Arizona: day two. 

Hotel.

The single-serving size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash were all of a scent called “natural wood,” which I can only presume is why, riding down to the lobby in the elevator this morning with four others, it smells like a sawmill. During the descent, I reflect on the fact that we all washed with the same scents and soaps and used towels that were likely washed with the same detergent. How often can you say that is the case with a group of strangers?

Not often, I guess.

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Werewolf

How must the werewolf feel
as the full moon approaches
to know that his transition comes
and feel powerless to stop it
and maybe also welcome it
and maybe also with the realization

that it was inside him all the time
his fingernails don’t turn to claws,
they just lengthen
his hair doesn’t turn into fur
it just grows
his teeth don’t turn into fangs
they narrow and sharpen

How must I feel
six days without drinking
to know that I won’t make it seven
and feel powerless to stop it
and maybe also welcome it
and maybe also with the realization

that it was inside me all the time
my anger doesn’t turn to hate
it just lengthens
my smile doesn’t turn to a grimace
it just grows
my sadness doesn’t turn to sorrow
it narrows and sharpens

We both know it’s inevitable
but god how we fear it
and maybe we both long for
the same thing

our own silver bullet

Arizona: day one.

Arizona.

On the cab ride: I thought I had escaped advertisements playing on the seat-back in front of me, but no; even the cab has that setup now. The ad playing now is for Proactiv solution; what are you saying about me, seat-back? Eventually I realize that the button in the bottom right hand corner turns the system off. I press it, and both the video and audio are mercifully muted.

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Thoughts at 35,000 feet

How does Internet access work on a plane? I’m sure I could just open a browser and look it up, but let’s you and I pretend we are in the pre-Internet age (and ignore the obvious contradiction that I’m crafting this pre-Internet fantasy on an almost-always-Internet-connected smartphone).

And why am I so afraid of flying? It flies in the face of statistics, and if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I don’t like to fly in the face of statistics. One website says that you have a one in 7 million chance of being in an airplane disaster. Another says that you could board a plane every day for 19,000 years before you board a plane that crashes. And yet here I am, sitting in an airline seat, white knuckled and having to remind myself to breathe.

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Stupid Brain.

Stupid brain. Stupid stupid brain, awash in anxiety, scrolling through the Yahoo home page and superimposing my children’s faces and names over today’s horror stories. Five men chase a father off by gunpoint so they can rape his 18 year old daughter, and I imagine myself in that position and my heart clenches like a fist. Dozens killed at a mall in the middle east, and I imagine our own trip to the mall this weekend being disrupted by explosions and the sideways rain of gunfire, and my insides leap like I’m on a roller coaster.

Funny how anxiety works. For a time I tried to justify my anxiety by saying that by imagining me or my family in those horrific situations, I was being empathetic, walking a mile in their shoes, etc…but I think that’s a clever trick that anxiety tries to pull. Anxiety is good at masquerading as other things, including empathy, but really, at least for me, it’s simply anxiety. To me, true empathy never seems like real empathy unless there is some sort of spur to action, whereas anxiety serves to do the opposite: paralyze you, leave you in stasis to fear.

One way to look at the world is: every day we walk on a razor’s edge; yes, we are happy, and safe, but at any moment, we can lose our balance and slip from the thin edge and tumble into the dark abyss of loss and sadness. I love the metaphor of being swallowed by sorrow, not because I long for it, but because I appreciate its accuracy: I see how sorrow, how utter loss, could subsume you, could change you in a myriad of lasting ways, how the “you” that you are today could simply disappear and not reemerge.

How do I keep this way of the world from becoming my default worldview? Well, first off, I navigate the hell away from the Yahoo home page. While some might deride this as the equivalent of an ostrich burying its head in the sand, I see it as a way to save us from the constant message that the media is trying to bury in our own heads: that we are not safe. Thinking about it now, I’m not 100 percent sure why they would want to do that – I suppose that’s another thought for another time – but I’m pretty sure that when we all step away from the news, far enough away so we can see the larger themes begin to emerge, we can see that goal as one of the overarching focuses.

Second off, I pause in my day and think of all the days I’ve lived in safety up until now, and the almost countless days that I have spent safe, without harm coming upon me or my children. Again, this doesn’t guarantee that we will continue to be safe, nor, if I understand my math correctly (which is not a given at all), does this mean that there is a greater statistical chance that they will continue to be safe, but it does help me to remember all those times where I worried and worried with such a strength that I had never had before, and still, even with that worry, nothing bad came to pass.

Just words to help me go on, words to help me take a deep breath and continue living, and living well.

500 words.