It's the trying to relax that's the problem. Driving, car pulls in front of you, miss the light, miss the next light, miss the next light, try to breathe, it's only elementary school but in so breathing and rationalizing it's only elementary school, you realize you are breathing heavier, not more slowly and just because you're not screaming at the car the pulled in front of you or at the lights doesn't mean your heart isn't beating faster.
I went to the ER on Saturday. My heart felt all fluttery--like it was trying to swallow and I kept telling my heart, don't eat that, but it was, apparently hungry enough to make me nervous. So, extra nervous I went to the ER where I was told to relax and try not to be so nervous which of course made me nervous--am I nervous now? Are you hooking me up to what monitor? Are you sure I'm not dying? Are you asking me if I'm stressed a lot right now? It's the end of the semester. I have two kids. I'm going up for tenure. I have two books coming out. I need to make dinner. I need to make dinner that is healthy and won't kill me and is made from organic wild rice that costs $10.00 a pound and my account is overdrawn now. Every time my heart flickers, I think, am I stressed right now? As I read Pam Houston I wonder, are Pam's stories of near-death on plane flights stressing me out? Is the fight between nonfiction and fiction stressing me out? If I choose John D'agata will I lose all my friends? When will John send his essay for one of the books that's coming out next year? Maybe he won't. Maybe that's good. Maybe I should spend less time on Facebook wondering about nonfiction, less time talking to my students about nonfiction and write some nonfiction but I really should write some poems but I hate sending poems out because you have to put them in batches and write down the ones you sent and I forget and then someone wants one and then I have to withdraw the whole batch or more likely no one wants any and where are all these poems going to pile up? Where are the GTA's for my students? Why couldn't I get them all one? Why am I chair of a committee that has failed to get more for my students? Why am I the chair of anything? I should sit in my chair and write. I should write standing up, for my health. Typing. Typos. Spellcheck. Auto spell check on iPhone I didn't mean "nag" for Angie." Sorry, Ang.
I have made myself so aware of my anxiety that now everything contributes to it. The fork? Am I shaking? No. It's just a fork. I dropped my water glass. I should really relax. I should sweep up the glass. My life is so full of dangerous glass however will I go on? Do I have any friends? Is Flagstaff the loneliest place in the world? Is that why everyone is so nice? Does the wind make my heart skip a beat in that hungry, not so good way?
OK. Here's what can calm me down: 15 vultures by the side of Lake Elaine (a little tiny lake mostly for the rich suburb down the street.) The vultures were all standing with their backs to the lake, wings open, wide and heliotropic like solar panels. A coyote that runs far enough away in front of the car, fast enough, that you believe no coyotes get run over, ever. The coyote looking back at you through the trees. A heron in Lake Mary. A heron in the desert. A running. No weird heart flutters. Perhaps I could run forever, nonstop. The best salad in the world: leftover ($10) wild rice, carrots, olives and toasted pepitas. I should live forever heart. Well, except maybe for the olives.
There are good things and bad things (mostly bad) about feeling fragile. The shimmer is good. The birch twisting their catkins in the angina-producing wind. The dog, getting old, still running through the forest, her camouflage almost as good as a coyote's. Max who says "yes" and "love you" as if loving everyone were old hat. Zoe who wants me to guess what and the guess what is almost always about a Cheetah or an Eagle. Now that she's been to Disneyland and ridden on the California Screamer, she's stopped asking why I like birds so much. Chocolate bar from someone who promises wine and chocolate are good for your heart. The bad thing is that it almost all threatens to break, like the notes for crystal. I don't like thinking about my heart or how fragile it is. I don't like feeling fragile at all. It makes me nervous.