iPhone screens illuminated the ground around my wedges as tears rolled down my cheeks: “My phone was just here a minute ago! Why does California hate me?”
The Bungalow search crew included my girl friend, a middle-aged Australian who offended me earlier, his tall friend who tried to apologize with Fireball shots and the USC grad student who I was showing photos on my phone to only moments before.
My phone was gone. I wanted to run away. So I nearly sprinted to the pizza place across the street, i.e. the site of breakdown #2 where I stood in line for gelato and discovered that my debit card, credit card and driver’s license were gone with it.
Last week while in Arizona my mother bought both of us a card carrier to stick to the back of our cell phones. It was genius while standing at the bar. But now it was tragic. Even though a friendly stranger had purchased my pistachio gelato, I was freaking out. I wanted to crawl in my bed, beg my mom to fly to California and forget that Bungalow ever happened.
Digging Out Skeletons
Despite accusations that it’s a cult, I attended Landmark Education several years ago in an attempt to address any skeletons loitering in my closet and to communicate better with my friends who had already completed the weekend-long self-improvement course.
In small groups I reflected on life upsets, like the suppressed memory that my blond best friend at age 5 was always selected for our neighbor lady’s costume catalog while my amateur modeling photos never made the cut.
By the end of the weekend I was standing in front of the class with a microphone in my hand proclaiming my brilliant emotional breakthroughs. The skeletons had been hauled out! Hallelujah.
As I drove home that Sunday evening, a course mate’s comment still haunted me in response to the internal dilemmas I described: “You just give up.”
What? I don’t give up. All-nighters were often pulled in order to finish greeting card designs. Working three jobs simultaneously led me to my career. And any crush I had was valiantly pursued until I severely creeped them out by sending packages in the mail. (Whitepages.com is an enabler.)
It wasn’t until these last few months in California, where my car has endured more damage than my dancing heels and the DMV knows my dad by name, that I realized I give up. All day, every day.
I give up on…
- Answering the email I don’t know the answer to
- Confronting a friend
- Returning the library book
- Finding the closest, cheapest parking spot
- Locating my car title
- Catching the right subway train
- Talking to aging relatives with dementia
- Responding to that nice guy on Bumble
Admittedly, in fight or flight situations, I’m the one instantly checking her Rapid Rewards account: “How fast and far can I fly the heck away?” And it’s not cute. I wish that I was always the girl who fights – the one who calms down for a second to figure out her next move instead of screaming swear words and crying to an innocent bystander for free ice cream.
Admitting the Problem
Hi, my name is Annie, and I’m an avoider.
Normally I post on Sunday evening. However, as I sat on the living room carpet last night, watching Hulu and eating a $1.49 McChicken sandwich I purchased with laundry quarters in the absence of debit/credit cards, I wasn’t sure where to go from there. They say the first step is admitting there is a problem, but why did I have the problem in the first place?
Mindy Gets Me Again
When you discover your favorite show in its 4th season, there is a mix of emotions. Any rage is shortly replaced with delight when you discover the joy of binge watching to catch up. And thanks to Hulu this has been the case with The Mindy Project.
Last night I watched Tuesday’s episode in which Mindy is due to give birth. Considering that Mindy Kaling is pretty much my Spirit Animal, it was no surprise that she was determined to undergo a comfortable C-section, versus the pain of natural childbirth, even if it meant a full-on feud with her disapproving fiancè.
However, while stuck on the subway train, contractions started. (This can’t be happening. I can’t.) She played it off. (Everything is fine.) And then her water broke. (Oh shit, maybe it’s just pee?)
And there was no doubt in my mind that in 10 years that could be me. If I wasn’t in a plush hospital bed with great lighting and ample painkillers, I would mentally avoid the situation, not accepting the fact that I was going into labor. It wouldn’t be until I couldn’t hide from it anymore due to a mess on the subway floor – very much like the library late fee, traffic citation or McChicken sandwich consumed while I dreamed of brûléed grapefruit from the day before.
What Do You Fear?
The crush I have on Mindy’s fictional fiancè reached a new level last night when he came to an important realization about her character: “Whenever she’s scared of something, she pretends like it isn’t happening.”
That was it.
Over the past few months, I have repeated to myself many times: “I’m scared.” However, while determining that fear and avoidance were both causing anxiety, I treated them as two separate issues. I never stopped to consider that perhaps it is a false dichotomy.
I’m scared of…
- Appearing inadequate by asking for help with an email
- A friend being upset with me when I confront them about how I feel
- The shame of facing the sweet library ladies after hoarding their book
- Spending more money at the auto shop because I suck at parking
- Admitting to my parents that I can’t find my car title
- Being lost and alone if I don’t catch the right subway train
- My aging relatives not remembering me
- The idea that the nice guy on Bumble could be one more disappointment
- The idea that the nice guy on Bumble could be awesome and I could disappoint him
Is It That Scary?
So, how did Mindy’s fiancè talk her into accepting and facing subway train contractions? “You’re a badass bitch.”
Being badass isn’t always sexy. Often it means being responsible even if it’s scary. It involves facing your fears and not flying away. Because good fighters aren’t the ones who hit the hardest or blindly swing away. They’re the ones who are keenly aware, anticipate the punches and still get back up after unexpected blows.
Tomorrow morning I will inevitably want to avoid facing the DMV driving test to obtain a California driver’s license. (Maybe I should just bike everywhere? Do Vespas require driver’s licenses? Maybe I could pretend I’m Italian.) But what am I afraid of?
Call it simply “being an adult,” but I don’t think someone badass would let the fear of wasted time, failed tests and $40 force them to give up.