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On Being Calm, Part I

May 20th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Potpourri

I’ve started writing this several times. Each time I do, something distracts me and I throw it away because I wanted to actually BE calm when I wrote it. Something tells me I might not be able to do that any time soon, so I’ll just close my eyes, count to 3 (hundred) and do my best. This time around, it’s my little black kitty crying in the living room that’s causing mild anxiety. It’s hard for me to ignore or otherwise deal with neediness, especially when the subject is so damn cute and loving.

Tom came by to pick up our generator for Flipside. We chatted for a few minutes. It’s usually the most banal items from casual conversations that stick with me and cause me to worry about trivial things for a long time. I spent most of the conversation just listening and trying to offer some sort of help. I left him with a mnemonic, and quite possibly a hint into just how neurotic I am about borrowing/lending stuff due to my own unpredictably faulty memory.

(While writing that last paragraph, I gave in and walked into the living room to pick up Grace. She purred all the way back to my office, sat in my lap for about 10 seconds licking herself, then jumped to my feet, licked them a few seconds, and lumbered over to the kitchen for some comfort food because Daddy wasn’t paying enough attention to her.)

Tom said something that made me think about the first time I took Xanax. I had been working a gruelling (for me) job at a mediocre steakhouse. Some people don’t believe me when I tell them I served Ron Jeremy a salad there, but it doesn’t matter. Even if The Hedgehog himself doesn’t remember having meatloaf at the Cattle Company in Beaumont, Texas, I know he was there. And I know that particular night he wanted a lot of pepper on his salad.

It was very early summer and I had just finished some of the most difficult and fulfilling classes I’d ever taken in high school. Some friends and I decided to get jobs together. We figured if we were together, then collectively we wouldn’t lose our shit no matter how boring or stressful the job was. One of those friends had the clairvoyance not to come back after the first day of work. I think it was Kevin. I know it wasn’t Kenny. I don’t remember how much longer I lasted, but it was long enough to learn that food service ain’t my gig.

My car, a 1988 black Chevrolet Corsica, had been overheating that day and I didn’t know jack shit about cars, other than the fact that I had no money to fix them. I had “No More Tears” stuck in my head, which is far better than “Brimful of Asha,” which had been the uninvited guest in my brain the day before. It was tip-out day, so I was somewhat excited by the fact that I’d be leaving with actual cash in my pocket. I was cutting lemons, something I still enjoy to this day, and trying not to think about the goofy dude (wish I could remember his name) who had cut himself performing the same task the day before and gone apeshit, running around screaming and spurting blood all over the walls of the kitchen.

I was thinking a lot about vacation. A huge group of friends had been planning a trip to the beach. The “band” hadn’t played in quite a while, but we decided to bring our gear and just set up on the beach and jam. This was exciting. Even as of today, I’ve never played in a band or jammed with a group of musicians that felt nearly as fun or relaxed as this group of high school retards who (myself proudly included) knew so little about music. That isn’t to say I haven’t played better music with other folks, and I’m certain a few people reading this know I’m talking about them when I say that.

My selective memory hasn’t retained enough data to allow me to say that I never dropped anything at that job, but that day I was especially worried I was going to do so. However, I’m certain that something at least mildly disatrous happened because I left work early. Walked up to the boss, said I needed to leave immediately, and asked if I could go ahead and get my tip-out. He said, no come back tomorrow.

I don’t remember the walk back to the car. I barely remember the drive home, and even that only because I was fiddling with my makeshift FM transmitter (took the mic out of a $2.88 Mr. Microphone and soldered on an 1/8″ plug) and cheapass Koss portable CD player velcroed to the dash of Michael Jackson (The Corsica. It was black, but spent so much time at the refinery where my uncle worked that it had been chemically altered to look sort of pale tan in places). I don’t even remember walking in the house.

The next thing I remember is being in the urgent care exam room making jokes with the Doctor about pH levels that I couldn’t have made 6 months prior because I’d just completed the first Chemistry class I ever actually learned anything from. Before I knew it, I was back in the passenger seat of the MRS (Manly Red Stationwagon, which wouldn’t become my car until sometime in 2000, I believe) with an Eckerd pharmacy bag in my lap and a plastic hospital bracelet on my wrist.

Back home again, I swallowed a little yellow pill with the help of my best friend at the time, Coca Cola. The pill was small enough that my then almost completely unchecked emetophobia wasn’t too much of a problem, as long as I put it just far enough back on the center of my tongue so as not to gag myself with my finger or fear that the tablet would slip to the left or right and touch my throat in the wrong spot once properly washed over with Coke.

The next thing I remember is waking up to the doorbell ringing several times. It took me a few minutes to realize nobody else was home. I answered the door to greet the smiling face of a really good friend who heard I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to bring a card. She also had flowers or a gift basket or something, which I thought was kinda strange at the time. Whatever it was, it probably had cows on it. That’s another story.

She asked how I was. The only thing I remember coming out of my mouth during that conversation, standing there in the front hallway in my red plaid, flannel boxers was this:

“I think I shit my pants.”

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