Thursday, April 15, 2010

This World Is Old, I Want A New One

So, there seem to be terrible things afoot, generally speaking. Watching the Daily Show last night, I learned that the decision to sidestep the molestations that have been rampant in the Catholic church for the past, oh, three decades was endorsed by Cardinal Ratzinger, alias Pope Benedict. I'm no Pope - for one thing, his shoes come from Prada, while mine are decidedly Payless - but it's hard to believe in a church that says, "Hey, see that person over there, in the flowy robes? He's got a red phone to God." And that that same person would be all "meh" over systemic sexual abuse in his own church.

Also, it seems like many a flight out of Europe has been grounded because a volcano with the incredible handle of Eyjafjallajokull has decided to burp volcanic ash all over the Continent, pleasing science-folks and greatly irritating all those earth-bound Scotsmen who are now shaking their shaggy fists at the sky and vowing to "git yea, whoevair ye aire." This image provokes a great deal of giggling from your author, but I also understand the annoyance factor here is high. To be grounded in an airport, where there has been no fresh air pumped in since 1989, is the pits. Like, David Caruso-on-CSI bad.

Oh, also: earthquake in China. Many people dead. And the Polish president died in a plane crash. And apparently (and sort of unbelievably) Canadian politicos are partying with blow and whores, which, like....what?!

When I was thirteen, I read Gordon Korman's spectacular work of young adult fiction called Son Of Interflux. One of the characters, a genial high school junior named Phil, was constantly getting into art school scrapes - carving a wooden bust of Garibaldi, sliming bananas through a fan and shellacking them, and so on - the fallout from which was constantly destroying his faith. Phil was the same type of person who'd find a worm in a swamp, bring it home, and name it Keith. "Phil's faith was on a constant cycle of destruction and renewal." Testify, brother.

I myself have been having panic attacks: freak-outs that range in severity from turning gray at the dentist (I saw myself in the mirror. Nobody should have to wonder where her lips are) to a full-on weeping festivals. In the middle, there's a gamut of stupid shit: lightheadedness (that's my big one), shaking, sweating, feeling removed from your body, nausea, losing your ability to speak, dry mouth, and other delights. You can imagine that a person in the throes of one of these moments isn't inclined to make small talk over the canapes. Instead, they curl up under the buffet table, trying not to cry.

So, I've made myself a little fort under the buffet table. Some people I've let in: come hang out, give me online pep talks, watch me eat soup like I'm five years old. To some people I just say, "I'm feeling weird and anxious. If I need to leave, I'm just going to do that." Many people don't even get that much: I either sprint away like I'm being chased ("Come back! We just want to exchange social banalities!") or I slither away to the bathroom, and seem extraordinarily sketchy as I count to one hundred and try to calm the fuck down.

I might be making this up, but I read somewhere that, every so often, there is a cycle of rebirth. It happens on a micro scale and a macro scale. On a small scale, the rebirth pains might look like panic attacks; on the mid-level range, there might be some mystifying Canadian political shenanigans, and on the global, we get eruptions and earthquakes. This isn't some vengeful or apathetic God punishing us (although smiting the Catholics who touch little kids and then lie about it might be a good place to start with the avenging, yes?). I think it's a cycle. We need to push through the really hard times, because when we come out the other side, with all our new knowledge and muscles and patience, we're stronger. We're different.

Plus, we're all scrubbed and pink and we get to lie in a blanket for a minute, just breathing together.

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