Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ghost Town


In my early twenties, I suffered from panic attacks, not the sudden kind that leave you panting and confused, but the slow steady jungle drumbeat of anxiety that built until I felt as if I would not be able to breathe. Unlike a lot of people, I never mistook these episodes for heart attacks. I knew what was happening which made it worse. I lived with my then-betrothed in a one bedroom apartment with walls so thin that you could feel the wind blow through them and roaches that would not die, but instead dropped from the ceiling into food and clothes and hair despite my constant search for a better pesticide. We shared this palace with his bonsai trees (thank God, there wasn't room for a real plant) and all our stuff, which lined every available surface -- many books, pictures, the troll dolls that were ever so popular at the time -- my favorite was a blonde bridal troll doll with a horrified expression on her face. I'd always been a minimalist, but the clutter made me feel better in some ways, a padding of sorts against the horrors of the world because God knows our door didn't -- I saw a police officer lean into the locked door of one of the apartments when someone died in one of them and entered in less than a minute with one stiff push from his hip.

When I was alone, my mind looped to every bad thing I had ever known or seen -- one of my particular favorites was a high school cheerleader who'd been stabbed forty-three times while babysitting (the kids were asleep) in my hometown by an obsessed weirdo wearing a Jason mask, who kept saying over and over, I love you, you stupid bitch. She crawled to a neighbors and lived through it. I'd often felt a similiar anxiety as a child and would try to visualize the happiest scene I could think of -- fields of tulips. Of course, it wouldn't take all that long before a man wielding an ax came to the tulip field. I didn't even try that technique as an adult -- instead, I'd sit in a fugue state with the television turned up high. Sometimes I'd start to relax a little, especially when watching something funny, like In Living Color. Until a roach fell on my head and startled me, sending me into a fury and panic. If I could have stepped outside of myself, I would have laughed. Other people's suffering can provoke that response if you're not careful.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Every day above ground is a good day." Scarface

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: Midnight Cowboy

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Sunday!

16 comments:

Cheri said...

The Tony Montana quote is one of my faves from the movie.

43 stab wounds! And she lived! Good Lord... I always thought that Michigan was deranged but Texas, bloody Texas, is one helluva state.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm reminded of the time I went to the Maple Theatre to see "Blue Velvet." The pastoral beginning of the tulips in bloom, the small town firetruck passing by, and the man watering his lawn--All normal everyday events that leave the audience believing they're seeing a Disney Movie. Then the man watering the lawn suffers a stroke and the movie becomes nothing more than violence, violence, violence.

No great shakes said...

Pre-marital sex wouldn't be included on your list of "every bad thing I had ever known or seen." Right?

Toot toot said...

Tony sure did a lot of coke.

The cineaste said...

When "Midnight Cowboy" first came out I don't think people realized how gay the director was. Gay auteurs just weren't on most moveiegoers' radars in those days.

Dr. Phil said...

Panic attacks in your early twenties? It's amazing how you suffered through to get a doctoral degree. Well done!

Piaget said...

Explore the concept of egocentrism as it manifests itself in your stories, Michelle.

Robert Mapplethorpe said...

Nice photo. I love it when you have hair in your mouth, Michelle. But, then again, I'm gay.

Gabby Hayes said...

I love to see the tumbleweeds rolling in a ghost town.

Marquis West said...

A ghost town is a great place for pre-marital sex. Next to cemeteries, they're my favorite.

Oscar winner said...

"CASINO ROYALE" OPENS FRIDAY, NOV.17 AT A THEATER NEAR YOU. LONG LIVE JAMES BOND!!!

Laura said...

I suffered with panic attacks for years, back then they didn't have a name for it. I thought I was crazy. I was so happy when I finally went to a doctor that knew what I was going through and had a name for it. Luckily, I don't have panic attacks anymore, but I think if I had roaches falling on my head, they would start up again with a vengence!

paul said...

Cajun Q FoxyLady
I know about roaches was hoping Mighty Isis would shazammmmmmmmmmmm them 4me
Rock on R2 C2!

Cheech and Chong said...

A guy across the hall in college used some kind of surgical instrument for a roach clip. We thought that was so cool.

Anonymous said...

This post is so descriptive! You should be a writer...lol Roaches--now that's a scary thought! Insects are creepy! I'm glad you made it out of that ghost town!

Anonymous said...

Holy crap a lot of crazy stuff happened where you grew up!