Preparedness, Anxiety Disorder – Tomato, Tomahto

I have lived my life in constant anticipation. Hopefully this is not the only capacity in which you people get to know and recognize me, I would hate to have the soundtrack of my life be overrun with Carly Simon. Like in that same unfortunate way that every time they play “Time of Your Life” by Green Day you think of graduation or the last episode of Seinfeld. I couldn’t bear that, but part of me is constantly expecting it with stomach acid churning at mach speed. Some of my symptoms are undetected and probably not even that crazy to those around me, like the fact that as soon as I leave the subway station, I get my house keys out of my bag, ready to open a lock located 3 blocks away. And conversely, I get my Metrocard out as soon as I put away my keys when I head out the door. No one really cares and in fact, getting out your keys early can really only help you in some cases. In college I took R.A.D. – Rape Aggression Defense – a course that teaches you to anticipate an attacker and consequently kick his ass while screaming “NO!!!” as loud as humanly possible. However, by holding your keys between your fingers we learned you could knock that guy out and pierce him in two to three locations, depending on if you had an additional deadbolt on top of your room lock and dorm lock or not.
Nowadays I am less prone to what I like to call stegosaurus hand and hold my keys normally, my anxiety started long before college, however. I have always looked ahead, whether 5 seconds or 5 years into the future and I have planned on all my actions having consequences since the beginning of my existence. When I was finally old enough to sleep in a big girl bed, I learned that making the bed was important to my parents. I learned to sleep so still that my covers would remain unrustled and I slithered up out of the top of the bed and patted down any wrinkles that may have occurred in the previous eight hours. Hey, I don’t see my parents complaining, they had a neat child who would rather lie immobile for a night instead of doing any real work the next morning, and who would rather not play at all than play and have to clean up after herself. I also got so used to being so tightly tucked into bed that I didn’t feel natural unless I was constantly tucked in everywhere, which led to an awkward conversation between my nursery school teacher and my mother. “You do know that she tucks her sweaters and undershirts into her underwear, don’t you?” and my mother, the poor woman who could not explain why her youngest child felt the need to have yards of fabric crammed into and stretching out her Underoos, could do nothing but nod. You might say I was lazy about all of this but I just think I was looking to the future. I did (and still do) everything in the name of efficiency. I like to make sure there’s time enough for me to do everything I want to in this lifetime. And usually that means I am perpetually at least 15 minutes early for any meeting or social gathering I have ever gone to, I complete tasks in a shorter amount of time than most people and spend a lot of time waiting for others. To me, showing up on time means embarrassment and showing up late means failure. Take the time to smell the roses you say? I did smell them, and I have been waiting for you to finish smelling them too for at least ten minutes. Where would I be without a scapegoat in all this, by the way? I have to place some blame on Milton Bradley for this anxiety. I believe that I was a completely normal kid until my introduction to Perfection and Operation, the games where the bejesus is scared out of you when you aren’t fast enough or still enough to complete your tasks. It’s the only logical thing I can think of that determines why I am the way I am. And plus, with all the small parts, they took so long to clean up. It is ironic that I do everything so quickly and efficiently and yet I am extremely impatient. They should cancel each other out or at least somehow I should be wired to be more understanding of others who choose to do things more slowly. But you have no idea the toll it takes on me when I get stuck walking, keys out, behind the Slowest Person Ever on my way home from work. I am in a rush to get to get home and efficiently cook dinner and watch syndicated television, so I feel the S.P.E. should really pay more attention to the clacking of my heels and the annoyed huffing sound I make because of them and all the bags of groceries they are carrying which take up the whole width of the sidewalk. Anyway. That’s enough of that. I should really finish my lunch and get back to my final hour of efficiently wasting time before work ends.

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