August 21, 2007

Try not to panic, it's only heaven.

Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can’t wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th Century, but heave has to step it up a bit. They’re basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell.

–Joel Stein, Columnist for The Los Angelas TimesRead his whole post here

My personal heaven? Lots of sun. Lots of water. Lawn everywhere -- a little long, but not unkempt. Popsicles. Footballs and frisbees and fishing off docks. And kissing.

And dogs. Many dogs. Maybe a dog to person ratio of, like 1:1. Have you ever noticed that usually dogs are a lot easier to be around than people or, say, cats? And sometimes more interesting.

Speaking of interesting, can somebody please explain to me what a jellyfish actually IS? Do they drift, or swim, or both? Do they hunt, or just run into their food, or both? And where does their food go? I've seen lots of jellyfish, but it appears to me they are all hungry, because I've never seen a jellyfish with a fish in its "stomach". Because I'd know. Because they're clear.

Also, while we're talking food and confusion, what is the nutritional value of a mushroom? As far as I can tell, their closest relative is dirt. Or maybe rocks. Or sponges. In any case, they're delicious.

My friend's aunt drinks non-alcoholic beer. Which is funny, because while I like the taste of beer, I also like the warm fuzzy feeling it gives your brain, right at the outer edges, kind of like when you're just about to fall asleep or orgasm. But my friend's aunt just drinks non-alcoholic beer because it reminds her she used to have orgasms, I think.

Speaking of things that are manufactured to impersonate good things but minus certain unsavory parts, why hasn't anyone come up with a non-tobacco and nicotine cigarette yet? For all the orally-fixated people of the world (me, for instance) that would be a delightful thing -- and unlike non-alcoholic beer, you would be getting the ultimate satisfaction of smoking (hand to mouth to hand to mouth) with none of the gross side-effects, including but not limited to stinkiness, wrinkliness, cancerousness, terrifyingly gutteral chronic cough and poorness due to ridiculously high tobacco taxes. (Not that I suffer from any of those afflictions, as I am not a smoker; I just think it's worth noting.)

Last night I was so anxious about having been on (lovely, relaxing) vacation and away from (interesting, fast-paced, exciting) work that I decided to throw a party, cook for 8 of my closest friends, and drink a bottle of red wine. Which was a good idea, up until the 3 a.m. panic attack, when I woke up and was so stressed out all I could do was reach stiffly for the blackberry next to my bed and breathe too fast (in and out, shiraz-flavored panting) while scrolling through the next four months on my outlook calendar frantically, the whole time convinced that I was going to drop dead of a heart attack at the tender age of twenty-something-too-young-to-die.

Panic attacks are interesting because when they strike they are stealthy, only waking you up from a dead sleep when you are already apparently in the grip of death, grim reaper with his gnarly hand on your heart, which is pounding out of your chest. Your limbs tingle, giant tears hang out in your eyes threatening to roll down each cheek. And my panic attacks, at least, are about nothing specific, but rather everything minute and inconsequential.

For example: My toilet is clogged, not flushing right. No big deal, need to plunge and draino again and that will probably fix it up, right? Right?

But if plunging and draino doesn't do it, what then?

What if I damaged the plumbing in the house and the pipes break and water goes through the second floor ceiling and down into the kitchen and they have to dig giant holes in my room to repair it and I get kicked out and my cat escapes or drowns in the runoff and my friends have nowhere for me to stay and I can't find another place to live and I get fired for missing work because I have to canoe through my house and then sick from the standing water and can't afford the medical bills and then my boyfriend leaves me for someone less quirky and confrontational and significantly less disasterous in every way and I am left with only that hooded sweatshirt I hate because it chokes me and my highschool yearbook and a guitar I still can't play, lying on my friend's parents' couch where I die alone and still unable to play "Blackbird"?

Panic attacks are about, you know, stuff like that.

And all you want is for somebody to tell you you're not going to die and maybe pet your head like when you were five years old and remind you that you're not alone, not at all alone, and not a crazy person, well maybe just a little.

But nobody's there, so instead, you picture the worst case scenario: you, dead.

And then it occurs to you that maybe, just maybe that might not be so bad. And then you have an idea: Distract yourself from your own unnamed panicky dread by picturing heaven. (Aaaah, and here is where this post starts to come together. Do you see it now? The genius? Thank you.)

And then, as fast as they came, the panicking and palpitation and panting are gone and you are waking up extra early later that morning and going to the gym to get the lingering panic out and then you're at work, all early-like, and things have changed since you were gone, but not that much, and people are glad to see you and your things are still in your office. Even the stapler and your plants, Spike and Henry.

And there are flowers on your desk. And a friend mailed you a book while you were gone. Both these things make you smile really big even though nobody is looking.

And someone tells you you're "glowing". Which is funny, because if a panic attack and 4 hours of sleep following a bottle of wine makes you glow, you think, you should be basically beaming most of the time.


I'm back, and while perhaps not entirely recovered from my vacation, I'm thankful for it almost without exception -- the only exception being the overflowing "in" box on my desk.

I'll get back atcha when I've had a bit more oxygen and maybe a little something to eat. In the meantime, welcome to a whole new week. Try not to panic.

You know what works for me? Picturing heaven, with the dogs and the lawn and the docks and the sunlight. And the kissing. Especially that. That's better than Hell and panicking, both.


Chuckles said...

You're glowing? Uh oh. Time to pee on a stick.

Trebuchet said...

Oh, silly... it was just a little leftover freakout sweat.