26 September, 2016

Praying in the Street


Apart from the abrupt cold weather, a tell-tale sign of autumn arriving in San Diego is the fact that I can't hear cars at night anymore.  When the summer arrives, I open my windows, and they stay open for four months.  When it gets chilly, my windows are shut, and it becomes quieter.  The sound of autumn is complete silence.

I walk into my creative writing course with sweaty palms and shaky knees, and I sort of slam my body down into an empty chair.  I pull out a post-it, and I'm trying to write down BOTH RIVER PHOENIX AND PATTI SMITH HAD LAZY LEFT EYES, but my vision isn't cooperating.  My body feels very hot.  I'm shivering.

I was almost visited by a panic attack while driving.

On September twelfth, I open my socks drawer for the first time in five months.


Before, I suggested that guarding your true emotions isn't a good idea, and being open about your intentions is the way to go.  But I'm going to rephrase:  guarding my emotions is a bad idea for me and being open about my intentions is something I need to do.

Sometimes you grow up in an environment where neither you nor the person taking care of you knows how to help your brain think normal human being things through.  It's a chain, you know?  The person taking care of your parents didn't take good care of their brain, so your parent's brain doesn't take good care of yours, etc.

I've noticed that my brain didn't expand on a lot of things that it needed to expand on as a child.  For example, I don't know how to ask for forgiveness.  I equate asking for forgiveness with shame.  My brain thinks that asking for forgiveness means that I lost, and not asking for forgiveness leaves a lot of room for interpretation (meaning, maybe at some point, the other person will think it was their fault all along).

Another example is, I assume that every action I make around another person has the potential to annoy them, and is actually annoying them at that very second.  I grew up not knowing how people felt about my actions.  Like, I'd do things that I thought were good!  Good things!  But the people taking care of me had bodies that didn't know how to work through their negative emotions, so they would explode a lot when I was around.  Since they didn't ask for forgiveness, I would assume it was my fault.

You begin to collect all these mixed signals, and you just don't know what people's actions mean.

"Hey, are you mad at me?"
"Jess, why in the world would you think I'm mad at you?"

And it's probably because they stomped up the stairs a little too hard, or slammed their bag on the table on accident, or maybe they're just quieter; whatever it is, I think it's because of me.

I don't want people to be confused about how I feel.  I don't want to be confused about how people feel about me.  I do reiterate that it is all about trial-and-error, though.  I hope that my transparency encourages people to be transparent with me.  I hope that I never make people feel guilty about how I feel, I hope that I'm not a person that is hard to be around: I just want to be honest, and I want people to be honest back.  I don't want to not know.  

"I have always found it odd that people who think passive aggressively ignoring a person is making a point to them. The only point it makes to anyone is your inability to articulate your point of view because deep down you know you can’t win. It’s better to assert yourself and tell the person you are moving on without them and why, rather than leave a lasting impression of cowardness on your part in a person’s mind by avoiding them."
Shannon Alder


I know what is happening when I begin to get a strange sense of tunnel vision while driving.  It has happened before, panicking while driving, but there's always been someone in the passenger seat with me.  This time, I'm alone, stuck in traffic going north, in the lane farthest to the left.

John Mayer's Continuum always calms me down: I know all the lyrics in that album, and singing out loud brings me down from my whirlwind of panic.  I jab my fingers at my stereo.  Every action that I take is making my heart beat faster.

The existentialist thoughts arrive in a chariot of fire.  They park right in front of my car.  I can't see ahead.  My vision is getting alarmingly blurry.  My brain is trying to figure out which tactics to use to avoid freaking out; at the same time, the existentialist thoughts that burrowed into my head are growing larger in size.  I look at my hands, gripping the steering wheel, and I ask myself whether I'm real.  Whether I'm driving a car.  Whether the planet is real, whether the people driving their cars is real.

John Mayer begins to croon from the speaker and I feel like a child, trying to mimic his singing style.  Instead of sounding bluesy, I find that I'm shouting the lyrics.  ME AND ALL MY FRIENDS!  WE'RE ALL MISUNDERSTOOD!  THEY SAY WE STAND FOR NOTHING, AND!  THERE'S NO WAY WE EVER COULD!

santa barbara
santa barbara
santa barbara
santa barbara

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Thank you, pal.