Friday, November 1, 2019

Day 1: 10 Things that Scare Me

The Scream Edvard Munch
It's that time again: National Blog Post Month, more affectionately known as NaBloPoMo. It's the month when I commit to publishing a post every day of the month, no excuses. This is my ninth year participating. My first NaBloPoMo post was way back on 11/1/11. I won $250 that year in a random drawing of bloggers who completed the challenge. Since then I've finished most years. Anyway, that's boring, but I hope you'll read along this month and write lots of comments in the comment section for me to respond to. Anything to avoid cleaning the dog's ears or going to bed at a decent hour.

I don't usually write to prompts, but today's prompt for NaBloPoMo turned out to be similar to a podcast I listened to the other day on NPR called 10 Things that Scare Me, which I took as a sign. The prompt is "What scares you the most and why?" It's way more fun to imagine myself on an NPR podcast, so I came up with 10 things. 

I have to say this challenge was harder now that it would have been 30 years ago. Back then I was constantly afraid of both everything and nothing I could name. I was afraid of being afraid, which means I suffered from panic disorder and bouts of depression that usually accompany that hideous, clinging zombie of an albatross. Some days I was afraid to even leave the house. I was a different person then. It's been at least 15 years since I threw off that life-sucker, so this list wasn't as easy to make as it once would have been. Cheers to that and here we go.

1. Falling. My number one fear is falling. In 1998 I fell face first into our brick hearth just a few days before Christmas. I won't describe it because in my experience it's disturbing for people to hear about it. I'll just say it's a silly accident that causes me to have panicky PTSD-like flashbacks when I think too hard about it. For years before that I had dreams about falling. All different kinds of dreams about falling. In some I even hit the ground and died. After that fall, those dreams stopped. I was lucky I didn't die. Now if I even trip a little going up the stairs my body reacts like it would if I had accidentally invited a vampire in for a glass of wine.

2. Walking my dog. For most of my life I've walked my dog(s) almost daily when the weather is decent. But I've stopped doing that the past year or so, because he's been attacked four times by pitbulls/pitbull mix, and I'm afraid he'll be attacked again and the next time his luck will run out. Crow is a big standard poodle. He weighs about 115 pounds. He's fat, but fortunately he's agile. His vet tells me he needs to lose weight. I tell her I'm aware we're both too fat, I know why, and yet I'm afraid of the cure. She gets it. It is terrifying when he's attacked. Three times my granddaughter has been with me, and once I had both her and my year-old grandson with me. Now I have a second dog. She's a sweet, 10-year-old border collie mix and she would not survive such an attack. I don't think my fear is unfounded, but I resent -- I don't have words for how much I resent that I'm afraid to walk around my own neighborhood and give my dogs and me some exercise.

3. Dying before I write a book. OK, please don't be a smart ass and point out that I could be doing NaNoWriMo this month instead of writing blog posts that will be read and forgotten by 40 people who might not even read past the first paragraph. The report card of my life does not show a 4.0 student, much to your surprise. Scrawled in red pen are the words "Not working at her full potential." To be fair, I did write a book once and I had a contract for that book, but the publisher screwed me and that was that. I didn't lose any money, but the book was never published. It's not a good reason for why I haven't written another one. Please note though that I've published 700 blog posts here on this old blog and that's probably worth at least three books. Right? 
As soon as I got out my phone
she refused to lie on her
TP bed. Of course. I couldn't sit
on the toilet forever, so this
is the best photo I
could get. Damn cat.

4. Running out of toilet paper. People, this is real. When I was growing up we sometimes ran out of toilet paper and money before the end of the month. And then we ran out of tissues and paper towels and all the used tissues had been dug out of the trash ... Thank you, Jesus, my dad always had beer and cigarettes though. It could have been a disaster. After LtColEx told me he wanted a divorce I started stockpiling toilet paper. I filled the back of his long walk-in closet with jumbo packages of toilet paper. Charmin was stacked to the ceiling. After he moved out, I didn't run out of toilet paper for months. Maybe it was years. I stockpiled a lot of TP. Even now I have a 16-pack in reserve, plus a second one Margaret Catwood claimed as one of her beds. (Those are a little smashed, but they would do in an emergency.) If I look deeper, this one is probably more precisely a fear of being too poor to afford toilet paper. Eat the rich. And Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself.

5. Dementia. Every time I forget a word. Or a name. Or where I parked my car. Or what day it is. Every time I call my granddaughter by the dog's name or vice versa. Or I get lost and wind up in the wrong state. Or I use "invite" as a noun. These things have happened, people! (OK, not the last one.) It's a legitimate fear. I was always the smart one, never the pretty one. If my brain goes, I've got nothing. Fortunately I've got a daughter with an ice-cold heart. She knows what to do.

6. Men. Not all men. Just a healthy majority. #metoo

7. Amputation. Imagine a little girl, about 10 years old, Lying on the floor watching an old black-and-white TV by herself. She can hear her mom and grandma talking and laughing as they are making pies in the kitchen. On the TV a man and a woman are standing in a bare dirt corral beside a house on a prairie watching as a man on a horse rides toward them. They are afraid. The horse gallops up to them, the rider jumps off, and as the woman screams and valiantly, yet fruitlessly, pulls at his arm, he wrestles the other man over to a stump and chops off his hands with a hatchet. Whack! Whack! It's over in seconds. The little girl is horrified. Terrified. Sickened. She turns off the TV and goes into the warm kitchen where her mom and grandma are rolling out rounds of pie crust. She sits on a chair and they continue talking as she silently relives the scene she's just watched. And I've had a fear of amputation since. 

Once I was walking through our local popcorn festival when a toddler in a stroller threw what I thought was her toy to the ground. I picked it up and handed it to her. Only when I looked down at what I was holding out, it wasn't a toy. It was her prosthetic arm. Fortunately I'd already had a lot of practice acting like everything was OK while I was panicking inside. Shudder. Don't laugh! It wasn't funny!

8. Balloons. What I want to know is who fucking invented balloons? I hate them. Hate. Them. Once again, I can trace my fear to a childhood trauma. I was at a birthday party. I was five. There were fucking balloons. One popped right on my arm. It hurt. It made a loud noise. I realized then and there that balloons were a toy of the devil. Balloons should go back to Hell where they belong.

9. Being found out. Impostor syndrome. Blah blah blah. I'd say it's an affliction of the mediocre, but I know plenty of people who are anything but mediocre and they suffer from it too. It's the curse of those of us who think too much. I wish I had a dollar (adjusted for inflation) for every time my mom told me, "You think too much." I would respond that it's better than not thinking enough, but she still scares me and she's been gone over a year now. I don't want her to stop this car. Anyway, it's hard to be a perfectionist and at the same time know that I'm mediocre at pretty much everything, but I've survived balloons so I'll survive this too. 

10. Donald Trump and everything he represents. I won't belabor this one. I know most of you agree. And if you don't, wake the fuck up. We're in trouble. The balloon has already popped.

That's my list. Do you care to share yours? I promise I won't mock you. Talk back to me!


  1. Re #5, my sister has 2 sisters & 2 daughters. Sometimes she calls me by the name of the younger child (I'm the youngest) & the child by my name. If I recall correctly, our mother sometimes did the same thing.

    1. There were 5 of us, and my mom sometimes had to run through all the names before she got to the right one.

    2. We still sonmetimes call one another by a combination of our names. The one most famous in the family is BarLoPhyl. Doesn't it roll off the tongue nicely? My mom, bless her heart, is almost 96, and she still sometimes runs through all 7 of us. The bad thing is, the rest of us (ranging in age from 71 to 53) are just as bad. And I've started adding the pets' names as well.

  2. Read every freekin' word because what scares me is that no one will read my stuff. Well, that's not exactly right. What I'm afraid of is people reading the title, maybe the first paragraph, and then telling me how "nice" it was. Soldier on sister; write like there's nobody reading!

    1. Thank you, Teri. People have actually told me they don't read all the way through. But they insist they still like reading my blog. I try not to be too wordy, but it happens.

    2. Reticula, I'm wordy too. I do read all the way through. :)

  3. Falling is my number 1 fear, too. And dementia is pretty high for me, too.

    Love that you’re doing this again. I flirted with the idea when a crafting blogger I follow mentioned in. I want to make a gratitude scrap book (small, 3x8) and figured trying to add this as well would just lead to failure.

    1. It's a big commitment. I do give myself Wordless Wednesdays. And sometimes I have to say something short and sweet because life. I'd say doing the scrapbook is enough with everything else you have going on. Good luck with it!

  4. Dementia is a biggie. Also losing my sight and/or hearing (and yet she still goes to lots of loud concerts without hearing protection...sigh!). Since I had a couple of TIAs, being incapacitated a stroke has become a fear. If I stroke out, I hope I either make a complete recovery or it's the end. No middle ground. Trying to speak and having only garble come out was the most frightening experience I've had recently.

    1. That sounds terrifying. Stroke is one of mine too. My mom had a major stroke when she was just a year older than I am. Paralyzed her entire right side. She recovered a lot, but never completely. She never played the piano again -- and yes, she was very good before. She lived another 18 years, but still. She had a husband who took care of her for years. I tell myself I have quite a different lifestyle and never have had high blood pressure, but I can't help worrying sometimes.

  5. #5 and/or just being so caught up in life that externally it looks like dementia. A couple of years ago I ended up just outside of Indianapolis before it finally clicked that I was heading to Akron when I left the house that morning.

  6. WHAT! That would scare the shit out of me! And piss me off so much I'd probably have a stroke. (See above.) I get it though. I go so many different directions and I don't have a daily schedule. I have to think really hard which way I'm supposed to go some days.

  7. I truly enjoy your writing style. I left a comment on your Facebook post about falling and knowing that if I am ever killed or seriously injured at home, it will be because I have tripped over a dog (or some other of our menagerie!).
    I will address some of your 10: Panic disorders -- I have panic attacks, though not like I used to. My daughter has very real anxiety issues as well but is getting them under control. Falling -- see above lol. I recently had a FB "memory" of a post about falling off my front porch, while seated in a chair, so yeah, I SO get that fear as well. Walking the dogs -- I have an English Setter who would give his life for me. Thankfully we don't have any dogs in the neighborhood (that I know of) that aren't restrained and that might pose a threat to him or to me. He is 45 pounds of lightening. My daughter's 85 pound Australian Shepherd/Basset mix lives with her and her husband now, but none of us was afraid walking him. He is a pussycat, but he LOOKS scary, he's so big. We also now have three pit mixes who are never out of our yard without a harness and either me or my husband attached to the other end. But I don't walk them around the neighborhood often simply because I know they might accidentally hurt a child by loving all over them lol. They LOVE people but they don't like dogs they don't know, and I don't kid myself that I could totally control one of them on my own if a dog they don't know charges at them. They love our next door neighbor's dogs, but that's because they have had time to get to know them. You are very right to be scared of a pit in your neighborhood hurting you or your dog. It is a shame that you don't feel safe walking in your own neighborhood. Writing a book -- Me too! Actually, even though it wasn't published, you HAVE written a book, so you should stop fearing that. I have "written" more than a handful of books but never tried to publish any of them. I've just shared them with family whose criticism I knew I could handle. I have written newspaper articles, newsletters, and oh so many blog posts, so I'm good, I guess. TP -- yes, I think this is a different kind of fear; sort of how depression-era people (like my parents {mother still living, almost 96, thank-you-very-much} save everything. Dementia -- not even going to try to be witty on this one. I so get it. I have this fear as well. I've always been one of the two (family of seven kids) who is known for having a large vocabulary, for writing, or winning awards in writing, or helping others in the family with their own compositions, etc. And my brain very much does not work like it used to. It's the getting older thing. I know that. It's the transitioning into menopause thing too. I know that as well. But it's the scary thing too, and I have never spoken about how real that fear is to me until now! Donald Trump? Oh yeah, very much a real fear there!

    1. Thank you, Lori. I'm so glad you've been stopping by and reading. I've read your blog too, and you are a good writer! Isn't it funny how our fears can make us feel so isolate, but when we air them out, lots of people have the same fears?

  8. 1. Losing T in a court battle. I have honestly not had a good nights sleep in 2 years. I worry and panic all the time.

    2. Band Aides. I HATE HATE HATE band aides. I think they are disgusting, and nothing freaks me out more than a dirty band aide laying around in public. It makes me gag.

    3. Stink Bugs. They are harmless, I know, but one flew into my mouth once when I was trying to flick it away and I haven't been the same since.

    4. Bridges. Driving across the 7 mile bridge as a kid and seeing where the old one was falling apart has always terrified me. I now drive with the windows down and sometimes unbuckle my seat belt, still on the fence if I think that part is a good idea or not.

    5. Driving in the snow, I have had 3 nearly fatal accidents due to other people in the snow, so now I am such a nervous driver that I'm a danger to everyone, so I refuse.

    6. I'm afraid of dying unexpectedly and people having to clean up after me and go through my belongings, similar to your impostor syndrome you mentioned, I'm afraid if that happened people will see me in a totally different way.

    7. My sister dying. Ever since her cancer, I am so completely restless about the thought of losing her. I feel like she is half of me and I wouldn't be whole with out her.

    8. One of our dogs hurting another person or animal, they aren't aggressive by any means, but they are protective. The older Moo gets the less patient he gets so we don't take him out anymore, he is also fat by the vets standards and now has a pretty bad limp on his front leg, but I would rather him be fat and crippled in the house where I know he can relax than have him bite someone in a pet store. Which he did once, a girl came up and choked him in a hug while I was paying and he nipped her ear. Didn't leave a mark, didn't draw blood, but it scared us both. The dad was thankfully understanding and completely blamed himself and his daughter. But we haven't taken him out again since then.

    9. Always being fat. It's an endless battle of diets and attempts at exercise. I'm afraid I'm going to just continue to balloon up and gain more and more and never lose weight. Someone asked me recently if I would give up 5 years of my life if it meant never having to worry about my weight, I answered yes without even thinking. I would give up 10 years. I think I would enjoy my remaining years so much more if I didn't have to constantly worry about what I'm eating.

    10. The big one, I'm afraid I will never give birth to a child. After T we have ruled out adoption. And everyone tells me I should be thankful we have him, and of course we are, but I still want to have a baby. Having him brings so much joy in our lives and fills a big gap, but it is totally different and I don't think the two can be compared.

    That was actually really therapeutic to type out! I always love reading your blog :) I save the juicy ones to read to Greg during our morning routine lol.

    1. I'll have to write more juicy posts then! It is therapeutic to write these fears, isn't it? Of course I could go on and on ..... I was nodding along with most of yours. Number one -- oh, yes. The last one though, yeah. There's no experience like having a baby and raising that baby. I hope so much it happens for you. You and Greg are already wonderful parents. I know you love T completely. I just hope you get to experience both. And as for number one.

  9. I am afraid of when I can no longer get myself to physical therapy appointments and have my joints put back into place. When that day comes, it will be an existence of unyielding extreme pain with no relief (I’m allergic to pain meds). What’s the point of living when that happens? Yeah. I’m definitely afraid of that.