PANIC ATTACKS IN PUBLIC
AMBER LOVE 20-JAN-2015 A few days ago, I discovered my car was dead and wouldn’t start. I hadn’t driven it for a couple months since my last modeling job and it’s been pretty cold over here. The battery was replaced using Christmas money (because I’m such a loser I still get that at my age) and I took the car out a couple days ago to fill it up while gas is crazy cheap. Then it would make sure the engine ran for a while which is good for it. Today, when my mother asked if I would be interested in driving to Whole Foods about an hour away in order to indulge in actual healthier shopping and make sure my engine ran some, I said sure. I hate grocery shopping as I do most shopping. There are a lot of things I don’t enjoy doing and I know will cause stress triggers. Those things include absolutely any doctor’s visit, clothes shopping, going to gyms, food shopping, and a lot of other activities that make me do “normal” things that “normal” people do in life.
I woke up on this Tuesday morning, not as stressed as I was Monday morning. See, on Monday mornings, I dedicate myÂ timeÂ to sending out resumes and I usually have at least one breakdown from it. If I can recover with the solace of food, I can get to the point of being a functioning writer. I sit back at the desk with the cat on her pillow in between the keyboard and monitor and I get to “work,” the work I want to do. I’m still editing my mystery novel and I have a short story I need to wrap up. I also have another short story to start from scratch for an important charity anthology. When I can function, I can write. Hiding in my bedroom and not doing any triggering stressful thing all through November is how I accomplished the novel in the first place.
Waking up today, I was trying to find that writing motivation. Since I was a little scatterbrained knowing I should finish what I start and finish that one particular noir story. I don’t know why my brain was getting upset thinking about the new one that barely has an idea formed yet. But my routine is stressful in its own way: I get up no later than 7 am. The cat and I go downstairs where I have to then try and keep her protected from the beast down there or catch him and lock him upstairs while Caico eats. I make my coffee. If Caico doesn’t need her second floor litterbox, we sit with my parents watching the morning news and Good Morning, America wherein my father will make GOP Obama hating racist remarks and I try to bite my tongue and remember that this is not my house and I am not homeless because of him. My father had his weekly diner breakfast to go to with his old fart lodge veteran friends. My mother asked me about going all the way out to Whole Foods.
Sure. Why not? Then I know I can get a ton of things fitting in my nut-free, nearly vegan lifestyle.
I’ve been to that location of Whole Foods several times, but not on a regular basis. As I said, it’s an hour away. It’s in the neighborhood where my friend lived most her life and five minutes from my home town. I should know the area inside out, but I don’t. I needed GPS to get me home from a job I had for 18 months because I tend to make wrong turns. My TomTom GPS had accidentally been wiped with all my stored locations when I tried to update it. That was a bullshit process where they wanted another $100 for map updates. Fuck that. I have the smartphone for backup – or so I thought. So, with my former bookmark of Whole Foods in Union, West Orange, and Montclair all missing from the memory, I typed in by city and searched “POI” (points of interest). The antiquated device took me right passed my destination and to a Trader Joe’s. I thought all I had to do was drive in a squarelike fashion to get back on the road I needed, but we ended up in circles. I kept trying to get my phone’s Google Maps to work, but every time I clicked the little walking guy hoping I could change it to driving directions, the fucking app would error and crash. Eventually, I pulled over, updated Google Maps and turned off the stupid wifi, because it wasn’t automatically connecting me to Comcast systems.
Jesus Fucking Christ, Verizon – this phone costs a fortune every month and I expect it to fucking work.
Now, during all this, my mother was chiming in with how she knew exactly where we were – we were five miles fromÂ her home town too after all. She knew, but she didn’t really know. She knew the street and that eventually we’d land in Newark if I kept going, but she didn’t know about a single damn thing in that three-mile area which is exactly as much as I knew without working GPS. Eventually I got to the point where I snapped, told her to shut up and let me handle it. I’d get us out of whatever godforsaken neighborhood we were in. I drive better using The Force than GPS.
It turned out we were only about a mile and one block over from the Mecca that is Whole Foods. We got inside and of course since we had been in the car for well over an hour, my mother needed to find the ladies’ room. While she was gone, I was replying to email and having a breakdown in the produce section. Typing out my predicament in reply to my podcast guest asking me to rescheduleÂ ended up in me spilling my guts about my mental problems to a person I only through Twitter. Five minutes later, I was shaking but continued to successfully suck backÂ my tears.
My skin – well, what can I say about that? My skin has been a visual and physical manifestation of my anxiety for days now with the hideous topography of hives, cold sores, and erupted blisters on my face, neck, chest and hands. This morning’s cold sore on my lip was just one more fucking thing. I knew it would take more effort than I was willing to give if I wanted to try hiding any of it with makeup. You can guess, I’m sure, that I didn’t even look in the mirror before setting out. I said, “fuck it,” once I put Abreva on the new cold sore. I threw my hair into a boring English braid, put on the clothes I wore yesterday, and left the house like that.
I don’t know if it’s the healthy food they sell or what, but the people working at Whole Foods are like movie stars. Nearly all are African-American and unbelievably gorgeous. When I go there, even after modeling, I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed near the pretty people. I want to run in, find food and get the hell out. They’re all on mega doses of happy pills or something too, because every single person is abundant with friendliness. This is not like a shopping experience in Shop Rite or the A&P where I see people who look “like me” orÂ prettyÂ teenage kidsÂ sneaking texts in between customers. I went up and down the aisles of Whole Foods with the cart which was filled way more than if I had to pay for the stuff myself. I felt like Quasimodo, because I’m sure I was hunched over and there was the whole looking hideous thing. If I could’ve shrunk my head into my scarf like a turtle, I would have. My broken out face, bad hair that hasn’t been colored in eight or nineÂ months, and frumpy clothes shouldn’t have been around the glorious afro curls and neatly ponytailed dreads that I admire. Nope. I was out of place. I was stressed. And I wanted to get the fuck back home to my room where I could hide with my cat.
About $240 later, we were on the road and finishing the fantastic audio book memoir by Rob Lowe, STORIES I ONLY TELL MY FRIENDS. It’s literally a surprising life story to me.
In the last week, I’ve replied to three friends that I probably won’t be able to go to their parties and cosplay things. First, there’s not a single costume in my closet that fits and I’m not in a position to make a new one; Second, I’mÂ hoarding my money like a dragon because my unemployment runs out soon; Third, I can’t function. Period. It’s not “can’t function in this place or that place or with those people.” It’s just, I can’t function. I know I’ll have to at some point when the next paying job comes along in February, but it’s one of the easier ones where the commute is harder on my emotions and the job itself usually feels good.
In wrapping up this unnecessary diatribe about my life, here are some last thoughts:
Fuck you, Verizon Wireless.
Fuck you, TomTom.
Fuck you, Google.
It might not be a haiku, but it’s poetry to me. I’m going to get back into my pajamas and watch MURDER, SHE WROTE for the rest of the day and perhaps, for the rest of my life.