To do: Make another list

Today's awkwardly worded prompt asks: What is your favorite personality trait that you possess?

After yesterday's post, I'll go with my ace ability to make hyper-intense self-reflective lists.

Change: The short list

Today's NaBloPomo prompt is a crack-up:

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

Jesus. That is hilarious. One thing.

I know, I get it--this is supposed to be about that one thing. The most important thing. The thing that would, like falling dominos, change all other things.

But it's never that easy.

Or, as I told my therapist last week: I thought I'd have it figured out by now--all this doubt and self-loathing and sadness and fear. I thought being in your 40s meant you were finally over all this existential bullshit.

She just smiled at me and shook her head no.

That's not how it works, she said.


I mean my To-Change List is epic. There isn't  just one thing I would change; there's not even a Desert Island Disc list of things to be changed. There's an entire world of things I would change.

My shortlisted highlights comprise an ever-shifting amoeba of a list that includes, but god-help-me-is-not-limited-to changing the following:

  • How I'm selfish about my time
  • How I have trouble saying no in certain situations
  • How I forget to hit "save" at really crucial points when I'm writing or blogging
  • My weight/hair/stupid face
  • My crappy self-image
  • How I can't seem to save a substantial amount of money
  • How I can't just seem to say 'fuck it all,' quit my job and travel the world
  • The way I talk to myself
  • The way those conversations seem to be pretty damn boring
  • How I'll go several aisles out of my way at the grocery store to avoid talking to certain people
  • My social anxiety
  • The way I never seal Ziploc bags tight and everything inside them leaks/dries out.
  • The way I get impatient with my cats at 3 a.m. when they just want food or love.
  • The way I bite my nails
  • How I hate running
  • My sweet tooth
  • How I'm bad with names and faces
  • My inability to carry a goddamned tune
  • That my brain holds a lot of useless knowledge (fun fact: Elton John's real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight).
  • That my brain can't process said useless knowledge under pressure and I therefore suck at trivia
  • The way I comma-splice the shit out of everything
  • The way I seem to verb everything lately
  • My irrational fear of spiders
  • The awful haircut I had in 7th grade
  • That I didn't try harder at math in high school
  • That I didn't live in New York longer
  • That sometimes, when confronted with failure, I retreat
  • My very unfeminine snoring
  • My nervous laugh
  • That awful haircut I had when I was 33
  • The way I stayed in some relationships too long
  • The way I walked away from certain people too soon
  • My flat feet
  • How I let some people altogether disappear from my life
  • That I didn't go to law school
  • That I didn't major in English
  • Certain family members
  • Wanting to change certain family members
  • That I hate the heat
  • How I'm allergic to everything
  • My clumsiness
  • That one time I sat in that apartment in Chicago, foolishly waiting on a friend
  • Every single time I was unnecessarily rude
  • 1989.
  • That one time I hung up on a radio deejay who claimed I'd won a million dollars. I mean who knows, right?

So much change. So many big changes smashed up with dozens of tiny little changes and at best all I can do is hope is that one day I'll accept that that I may succeed in only changing some of them.

Ah, I see what you did there.

Maybe that's the one thing: Acceptance. Moving on. Getting over it already.

Fine, you got me. Well-played, writing prompt. You win this round.

The things that scare us most

Last night we hung out with some friends and over the course of the night I had a long and possibly drunken conversation about the things that scare us most.

It came up because my friend was sharing a conversation she'd had with another friend about what their fears when it comes to death--i.e., what would be the worst way to die?

For my friend that worst death amounted to drowning (I think I'm remembering that correctly. Again, possibly drunk). Her husband feared strangulation. Cory said he thought about drowning in his car if it went over a bridge.

As I sat there nursing a vodka tonic I could not think of that which frightened me most. I mean, I don't want to die, period, so death in general just seems fucking awful. I'd file death by stabbing or dismemberment or any other sort of torture under "least favorable" options but, call me naive, I don't particularly fear those deaths because I don't necessarily think they're going to happen to me.

I don't really fear death at all, I think. Which is likely only because I've never actually come close to it.

Which doesn't mean that I always only fear very real, tangible, possible, statistically probable things. Quite the opposite, actually.

It’s just that fear doesn't follow easy patterns. There's the kind of fear that comes from when horrible things happen -the bad health of yourself or a loved one; being struck by a car, getting robbed, finding yourself destitute and homeless.

And then there are the kinds of fears that nest in your psyche and although they may be rooted in veritable Bad Shit situations, often they're really just mental mindfucks that feed on insecurities, personal quirks, impressions and those bits of your mind that are difficult to parse.

Fear doesn't thrive on logic, it festers in a hothouse fertilized with batshit insanity, heart-strangling, soul-fed terror, and all things irrational.

For example when I was in the third grade I watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica that had some sort of space alien vampire character who killed people in a vampire-like manner.

That episode terrified me and I spent probably the next three months sleeping so that I could face a certain corner of my bedroom because I was convinced this space alien vampire lived in that corner and would attack me if I turned my back.

Not exactly a rational fear. I mean, I was 8, but still.

My fear of spiders is, arguably, slightly more reasonable. It's nurtured by a childhood viewing of Kingdom of the Spiders. Stupid, cheesy movie that imprinted a life-long anxiety even though most spiders aren't poisonous and/or plotting to take over my town.

Still, I'm not really scared that I'm going to die by spider--I just scream a little scream when I encounter one in the house.

Other things of which I'm scared, irrationally or otherwise:

  • Sitting still in a Ferris wheel. If the wheel is moving, I'm fine. But if we're just sitting there, motionless and staring at the ground far, far below--cue the panic attack.
  • Going way too fast down the freeway and having the vehicle lose control. I have a lot of bad dreams involving this scenario.
  • Parties where I don't really know anyone.
  • Falling off the side of a cliff. Actually, that one's happened. I have scars.
  • Being lost in the middle of nowhere with nothing to guide me home. I mean, really lost, not just Google maps lost.
  • Losing my cats to some sort of horrible accident (house fire, etc).
  • Bees. I'm allergic.
  • Losing an arm or a leg. Or losing mobility. The thought of losing my independence terrifies me in fact.
  • Being awful to someone I love.
  • Losing someone I love.
  • Losing Cory. That would be the absolute worst of the worst. Period.