It is hot in my apartment. We have a nice air conditioner in the living room, but it doesn't quite make it all the way to the bedroom. We can't put an air conditioner in the bedroom because the only window leads out to the fire escape. Apparently, it is illegal to block a fire escape with an air conditioner in the window. This makes sense. At first, Sujan and I were thinking of breaking the law and installing it anyway, but we decided against it.
And I'm glad. Not because it wouldn't be nicer with an AC, but because I'm a big baby. There is a gate covering the window left over from the previous tenants who have two children. We could have the gate removed, but it makes me feel secure. I have enough anxieties already so why not feel secure in my bedroom? If we took that gate off and installed an air conditioner, that would make it that much easier for a bad man to climb into my bedroom while I sleep. I'm not crazy! In fact, I know of a person who was in her apartment in Baltimore when a robber/ crackhead tried to break into her apartment from the fire escape. No thanks.
Am I afraid of things because I've seen so many scary films or do I enjoy scary films because they really touch a nerve? As afraid of airplane crashes as I am, I can't get enough of that first scence in "Final Destination" or the plane crash in "Alive."
I'm much better than I used to be. When I was a little kid (4 or 5 years old), I had so many fears that I insisted that my parents stay in the guest room right next to my room until I feel asleep. If they tried to sneak downstairs when I was still awake, I'd become quite angry. I was probably 7 or 8 before I was comfortable enough to turn off the lights when I went to bed.
Things got a little better, but I remember there were two movies I saw around third grade that freaked the shit out of me to the point where I completely regressed- "American Werewolf in London" and "The Island." "Werewolf" has a dream sequence where a nice suburban family answers the doorbell and gets decimated by armed intruders with machine guns. In "The Island" a psycho sticks needles into children's eyes for some reason that I can not remember. Both of these films really tapped into my fears. I was terrified of being murdered by crazy intruders in my house.
It got worse in fifth grade. I was old enough to come home alone after school and not have to go to daycare or to a babysitter's house. I was so happy because now I could come home and watch "GI Joe" and "He-Man" in peace. But over half the time, I would hear some phantom noise and become convinced that there was a crazy person hiding upstairs who was about to come kill me. Many times (come rain, shine, or sleet) I would go outside with my homework, sit in the front yard, and wait for one of my parents to get home. The neighbors started asking questions and I would explain that I was locked out. Locked out twice a week?
My mom thought that I could be cured with some therapy. So off I went. It was fine for awhile, but the thing that I best remember from these sessions is that the therapist lent me a sharp letter opener to keep under my bed to ward off an attacker if I needed it. This really made me feel better. I put it alongside the baseball bat that I already had at the ready.
Other than the few months that "Psycho" set me back, I did get gradually better as the years went on. I grew up and I guess enough times of thinking that I was about to get murdered didn't pan out so I relaxed. I don't know.
But my fears flare up occasionally in odd ways. However, in the past few years it tends to usually be more based in the fear of the supernatural or other strangeness. There are a few instances off the top of my head and they all involve me in a semi-conscious state.
In Thailand, a few years ago, as I slept in a wood cabin on the floor in the middle of nowhere I thought I was being attacked by spirits.
And my favorite- a few years ago, I thought Marc's pager (which kept going off in the vibrate mode on his dresser which made for a super strange noise damnit!) was an alien or some shit like that. Someone must have been paging him over and over (Balgavy, we need that print of "Chocolat" to LA by tomorrow at 9 am!) and I thought the apt. was being attacked a la "V".
I did what any sensible person would do, I garnered the courage to leave the safety of my room (I'm not sure what I had in my hand to use for a weapon, my Cal Ripken autographed ball perhaps?) and check it out. In this scenario, is it better to be really quiet and hope to sneak up on the alien life form/ armed intruder or is it better to jump out quickly to scare it/him? I chose the surprise attack. Whew, no one there.
I went straight to the phone to page Marc. I'm not sure why, other than to perhaps ask him when he was going to be home so he could protect me? When his pager went off again, I probably jumped three feet in the air. I was terrified for about four seconds until I realized what the strange noise was. How fucking foolish could I be?
So other than my fear of people coming in through fire escapes, my daily fear of a catastrophic terroist attack, being absolutely convinced every time I get in a car as a passenger that my face is destined for the windshield, and my extreme paranoia of dying in a plane crash, I think I'm fairly well balanced these days. Right? How the hell have I made it this far?
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