A baked potato and a xanax, sir

December 8, 2015

Yesterday I got up, laid there for a sec to see if my head was still spinning (head, are you still spinning?), swung my legs over the bed and paused.


Yep, thar she spins (madly on, for all you Weepies fans).

“Must.fight.nausea,” I said to myself while reaching over to pick my softest jeans from the floor, quickly slipping my legs in all in one motion. You can do this. It’s not that bad. Pick something fuzzy, something soothing, something that will help you blend in. All these thoughts running through my mind in a steady stream, I keep my focus on the tree lot.

I have to get back and apologize to the kid I’m pretty sure I scarred for life the night before when I ran off with my hands cupped over my ears hollering, ‘Why are these lights so bright? ARE WE AT A DISCO?”, leaving a trail of trees in my wake. I’m going to be someone’s holiday retail story for seasons to come.

Saturday started out okay. One minute I was driving to Eagle Rock for a ceramics sale, the next I was pulled over on the side of the road with my head between my knees. Deep breaths, deep breaths. “If you don’t get your bitch ass over there everyone and there mother will have pilfered the wall hangings!” It’s these little pep-talks that help me maneuver the ledge. The ledge I btw have no idea I’m even on until WHOA DUDE WHY ARE MY TOES HANGING OVER THIS HERE LEDGE? That’s anxiety for you.

Sure, maybe I gulped a little back on my way out the door, but if I didn’t focus on it it’d just go away, right?

By the time I got closer to home it seemed to have leveled off. I had my wall hanging. I could see straight. I hadn’t keeled over in front of a mob of frenzied ceramics shoppers. I was in the clear.

I even had french fries for lunch.

Why didn’t I just stay lying on the couch? I’ve asked myself that question a hundred times (one for each person I didn’t fall down in front of at the ceramics thing). I guess my life theme of just a little more hasn’t waned yet. Neither has my propensity for browbeating myself.

Three days later I’m still riding out the aftershocks. All senses on maximum overdrive. I’m jittery. I keep thinking about crackheads coming off a high. The tv is too loud, the computer screen too bright. I’m bundled in my warmest, softest, loosest-fitting clothes and still need a blanket. I keep hearing my mother telling me to put on a bra (I can’t, too constricting) or my skin will stretch and I’ll end up with turkey neck. My fists are clenched. How many baked potatoes can one person eat? I’m about to find out because it’s the only thing I’m hungry for. Bland, bland, bland.

It’s tough to give yourself a break on this stuff; tougher still to feel like a weakling, like someone who just can’t hang.

That’s part of the reason I went back to the tree lot. Even though that kid doesn’t know me, I didn’t want his last impression to be of a woman dressed like Oliver Twist scurrying off in a complete dither over what probably looked like nothing. I also went back to prove to myself, gently, that I could. That I could own it, put a face on it and be honest with another human being, no matter how uncomfortable it made me.

So I did.

Turns out the kid is only 15 years old, a super zen early high school graduate who is totally into philosophy and, like me, Henry Miller. When I apologized and began to explain, he looked sympathetic and I cried a little. He turned the music off, for two hours, while I slowly walked the lot and found my Christmas tree.


“It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.” 
― Charles DickensOliver Twist

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  • Reply lena December 20, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Always floored by your courage and grace. And props to the Henry Miller-loving high schooler who has restored a little of my faith in humanity.

  • Reply Jen December 10, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Oh I’m so sorry. I know you really wanted to get that tree, I’m so sad that it wasn’t a good experience, at least the first time around. I’m glad you were able to go back there and talk to the kid and go home with a tree. I can only try to imagine your frustration with everything, but I’m glad you are willing to talk/write about it. That is big. Sending you major hugs. And baked potatoes.

  • Reply Katie December 9, 2015 at 12:15 am

    What I’m (slowly) learning (as the never ending pneumonia claims all my energy STILL) is how to try and let go of expectations. It’s so flipping easy to get sucked into I’m supposed to do this, I should do that, this should have happened today – screw it. You truly never know what the day will bring. Enjoy the good. Let go of the bad. And continue to be thankful for little things like killing the music at the tree lot!

    • Reply This Free Bird December 9, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      It’s this desire I have on the inside to do all the things I used to be able to do in a day, or even the things I actually FEEL like doing. Only then I can’t do it because a. stroke exhaustion or b. out of the blue post-stroke anxiety attack. I have to say I f*cking hate and resent both of them. I’m a prisoner trapped in my own memory.

      • Reply Katie December 10, 2015 at 1:06 am

        Big hugs. And lots of love.

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