Archive for the ‘Social Anxiety’ Category

Christ alive — I’m not sure I recall how to write for my very own private audience any more. And it took about nine tries to remember my own password. A similar thing happens when I’ve missed a few pizza and taco nights worth of visits to the gym and the only way I can remember my locker combination is to imagine a woman shaped like the three digit code 34-8-38 (i.e. an apple core). I feel comfortable sharing that because you’ll never guess which one in the dressing room belongs to me. I’ll give you a clue though, I always try for the one that someone graffitied in perfect 7th grade detention handwriting “I H8 U!”

I’ve taken up a weekly residence over at Badass Digest where I mostly write about the resurgence of rad music videos – a true amalgamation of my favorite things. For full disclosure’s sake I’ll tell you that I gave said column the title “Holy Hunter of Music Videos” because I really thought it was funny how at first glance it appears to read: “Holly Hunter of Music Videos”. It may come as a shock that I wasn’t on all of the pot when this was decided. Then the comments came, “I always mistake the title for ‘Holly Hunter of Music Videos!'” I want to reply and explain but then realize I’d be essentially explaining that yes, I have a full-blown case of idiot. Instead I freeze up and google image search a pair of unlikely animal friends to clear my head. Wait, I uh…

Anyway, a perk of the gig is to occasionally have the opportunity to sit down with a well-known type, engage ourselves in conversation and share with the masses. This generally inspires zero performance anxiety on my end until someone mentions the words ‘video’ or ‘camera’. And I feel like I just exchanged my irrational fear of my grandparents’ swimming pool cleaning robot for a ONE EYED RECORDING DEVICE!

I’m determined to get over these silly jitters by discussing them, thus the wench boob grabbing header and word dump below it shall be seen again. This is as close as I’ll ever come to stripping on the internet.

The root of my fear begins with an introduction to this clip for some (a pleasant revisit for others) – Luther Hegg’s speech from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. While other folks stuck to a predictably safe round of applause my paternal grandfather, Cleo used to shout “AAAAAATTA BOOOOOOOOOY, LUTHER!” to me from the audience after (sometimes during) every school play , choir performance, etc. It was one of those moments I secretly lived for and claimed to loathe in certain circles mostly made up of girls my age wearing the real Keds. Cleo also implemented the Swartz Family visit to Fuddruckers post Mormon Baptism that quickly became tradition. In any case, I don’t think I need more examples of  just how cool I thought he was at the time. And forgive me because I was far too young to know that wasn’t home of the world’s greatest hamburger. I’m getting off topic.

There was one performance in particular when I guess the confident-on-stage me fell right the hell apart. My parents had recently divorced and we’d stopped attending The Church of Cheese and Crackers of Rattle Day Snakes. The devout Mormons in our family didn’t approve and no longer came to my performances. I think only one of my parents had made it to the Fifth Grade Graduation Showcase. I had a small solo in a shitty number our lazy music teacher had written about exercising. Seriously, my shining moment was belting forth the line “EXERCISING, EXERCISING, HOW I LOVE MY EXERCISING!” at the top of my ten-year old lungs to a gymnasium full of video camera wielding parents with horrified looks upon their faces. And no Grampa Cleo in sight which meant no “Atta boy, Luther” and the resulting “Graaaaampa, I’m a GIIIIIIIIIRL!”

A few years later my new mom signed me up for a class at the Plano Children’s Theater called Sizzling Shakespeare. This is also where you have to ask yourself if a thirteen year old girl should sizzle. My parents narrowly escaped that tragedy because I sure as hell didn’t. My charisma reserves were tapped. On our first day of class during an introductory activity when asked to take the shape of a household appliance I had the nerve to become a human blender. They all watched as I spun around in circles until I became too dizzy and toppled over knocking a nearby chair on its side. Yes, I was unintentionally signing myself up to play the role of Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I didn’t execute the part perfectly before an audience because of the whole newfangled stage fright plus missing Grampa thing.

What I’m getting at is – how in the world have I held onto these feelings for so long and how can I get rid of them?

I’ve had piping hot radioactive fluid injected into my face since then, so shouldn’t I be unfazed by a task so seemingly puny?

Crap, I think I’m having a bona fide “I’M NOT JOSIE GROSSIE ANYMORE!” moment.


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I’m way overdue for a brain dump.

Meat Halo left Austin for school in the Big Apple a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t want to mess my big girl pants in the midst of our big league, Hollywood goodbye that morning, so I opted for an organic vanilla milk for my breakfast beverage instead of a coffee.  My dad and I share many traits, some of which I wish I could politely return like my penchant for the band,  Rush, laughing really hard at my own jokes, and stress related bowel issues.

There’s a laughable trend lately where my goodbyes take place at none other than the “TGI Fridays of Southern Italian Food”, Buca Di Beppo.  I had my leaving Charlotte dinner there, too.  It’s large party friendly is mainly why, but also because it’s the only Italian restaurant in town(s) where you can order an oversize mixing bowl full of tiramisu.

I sat next to Meat Halo’s mother at one end of the table, opposite of his siblings on the other, and scooped favorites onto my plate from what seemed like an endless parade of bowls.  That many bowls made me slightly tense.  Let the record show that I’m diagnosing myself right here and now with a mild case of Irritable Bowl Syndrome.

At some point I was awakened from my food coma by a heated argument regarding one of those pesky amendments.  Luckily, Meat Halo’s mom had a pocket constitution, SURPRISE, not in her pocket.  That’s not important, and neither are the amendments (in the context of this tale)!  As she slowly leaned to the side to retrieve said item from her bag we were not only met with evidence to support and possibly settle the argument, but also with a copy of the not so widely regarded… pocket constitootin’.

*insert “FWERP” followed by silence*

It was the kind of flatus that one of my favorite non-fiction works, Farts: A Spotter’s Guide, refers to as “The Long Goodbye”.  The button for this one in particular on the battery-powered fart machine attached to my copy is no longer operational because I’ve pushed it one too many times.  I mean because of the batteries blah and how they don’t blah blah hold a charge like they used to blah.

My Vulcan mind melding techniques must be super rusty lately because Meat Halo didn’t receive the one I sent him in which I compressed a very long explanation of why it would be less awkward to ignore the fart than it would be to address the fart and run away from it.  Before I knew it he’d grabbed the purse from the back of my chair, threw it over his own shoulder, and shot out his hand into mine.  It was just on the cusp of Terminator’s “Come with me if you want to live!”

Wait, what?!  Are we dining on a land mine?  Is this an authentic, Sicilian, flammable gingham tablecloth?

I’m pretty much the world’s worst actress, and my improvisational solo piece titled:  I Didn’t Hear a Goddamn Thing and All I Smell Is Penne Arrabbiata turned out to be a bona fide flop.

I followed him into the hallway where he continued to wear my purse and I muffled laughter and attempted to focus on the situation at hand instead of my fellow restaurant patrons just behind him gathered round a table where Pope Benedict XVI’s head spun around in the center of a lazy susan packed with spaghetti and meatballs.

We hugged it out, returned to the table quietly and calmly, never to speak of it again (until I asked permission to tell a small chunk of the internet).

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The same bashful young man has been delivering mail to my office for a few years now.  He bobbles through the door, kicks the box on the floor, and takes zero notice of my little hello’s from behind my giant, cube-y pigeon hole.

I feel like a colossal idiot for never wondering why aloud until this very morning. 

“I feel silly for saying hello to that guy every day even though I know he’ll never say it back.” 

“April, that guy is deaf.” 

I’m admitting to you now that I was romanticizing the situation (surprised, I’m sure) all this time.  I went over several scenarios including the possibility that I might resemble some awful, older cousin of his who used to trap his head in an empty pillow case full of her post Taco Cabana breakfast burrito flatus.

I came across an extremely unhelpful website while googling “basic sign language” that included a list of the absolute worst basic sentence samples of all time. 

Here are the greatest hits:






Doesn’t it sound like someone’s recounting a series of events that might have actually taken place in that exact order? 

Listen, I don’t need to tell you this, but you’re probably sleeping in your car because you told someone your aunt sleeps in her underwear.

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Did you know that trees have something called a crotch angle?  I can’t read about them without snickering.

“If removal of a “V” crotch will destroy the shape of the tree, you can leave it in and add artificial support using cables and hooks.”

I think I’ve gone to bed at night hoping I’ll awake less awkward for over twenty years now.  Just when I think I’m getting the hang of it that dainty, towheaded girl from the gym wants to talk to me about books again and my tongue is too busy curling itself tightly around my brain (like a boa constrictor) to speak or gather my thoughts.

It released its death grip long enough for us to discuss starting a book trade and I brought her my selection the next day.  I spotted her on my way out and nimbly made my way over.  

Okay, I’m lying.  I was so inexplicably anxious to hand it off that I handled the thing like a hot potato.  And I walked on searing coals to get there.  Did I say “ooo, ahh eee” out loud!?  I can’t be too sure. 

I’m in the middle of Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me and I’m worried she’s going to ask if she can borrow it next.  I think I’ll tell her that I’m sorry, but my copy smells like Bradford Pears. 

(In so many words, a “v” crotch.)

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I hover between delighting in conversation with other women at the gym and being completely, mentally chafed by it. 

A couple weeks ago a real looker of a blonde-y asked me what I was reading as I was hard at work huffing and puffing and blowing my way through a cardio session on the elliptical.  While I took a few hours to catch my breath (I was a Texan, teenage, Marlboro red smoker)  she offered, “I’m always looking for a new book!”   

Something about the way she was beaming up at me from the treadmill really caught me off guard.  She never broke her stride and I can hardly turn a page without belly flopping off of the machine.

Here’s my winning reply:  “It’s good!!!”  I should capitalize that because I did sort of shout it as I flashed her the title quickly, but it’s almost too embarrassing (even for me) to share that part.  She smirked and looked away. 

Instead of turning the next page with a moistened fingertip I wiped my forehead and pruned the following pages with a handful of nervous sweat.  

It’s too bad Amazon doesn’t carry my next read  in anything other than paperback.  I was going to request it on toddler vinyl with more pictures.  Wait, maybe less in this case. 

Product Description
It’s difficult to love a woman whose vagina is a gateway to the world of the dead.
Yeah, tell my boyfriend about it. 

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In case you were wondering, I didn’t miss the helicopter. 

The class tour of our local news station was quite a bit more fascinating than it sounded.  I didn’t retain a sizeable hunk of what our tour guide was talking about during the introduction though.  I was busy in the back (that’s what she said) choking back tears, stifling laughter, and far more interested in the live feed direct from the Pentagon just behind him. 

Before they went on the air the anchor man broke a clean sweat fluffing a Charlie Brown tuft of hair every which way while performing some sort of possessed lip yoga.  He was going to town on an invisible corn cob.      

Later we met our local weather man who wore a pair of white Reeboks with his suit. 

Now every time I flip the channel past him I desperately feel the urge to share that tidbit with anyone within earshot.  Maybe even a neighbor walking their dog down the street.  “HEEEEEEEY!  OUR WEATHER MAN IS FOOLING EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!” 

I hate that about myself.

I took (mental) notes throughout the day on how each of the anchors handled themselves on camera.  I never know what to do with my hands and I was scheduled to host a snippet of our student news piece a few days later.

I never told Ben this, but I put his favorite pen in my pocket before I left the morning of our shoot.  I was in need of a stupid human trick to calm myself down and it worked.  I know I’m not a lunatic yet because I stuffed a pen in there, and not his toe nail clippings. 

Although when you leave things like that scattered about on the dining room table you’re just asking for someone to hot glue them together with dry elbow macaroni for use as an amulet.  Not that the thought ever crossed my mind.

We set up for an outdoor scene on campus and I counted to ten into the boom mic.  Okay, we don’t even call it a boom mic.  The technical term, if you must know, is actually, “kong dong”. 



My awesome lady teacher kept telling me to hold it lower and lower until it accidentally ended up crotch level and we both had a good, twelve year old laugh.  That’s probably… no, that’s definitely the moment when I knew we’d be friends. 

I read my lines with no problems.  I was a little nervous, okay, I was a lot nervous.  Who the hell am I kidding?  But I didn’t appear uncomfortable.  

I know this because I got to watch the footage the other night in class.  And I was mortified, but not for the reasons I thought I would be. 

It wasn’t because of my braces or how they give me a slight lisp.  It was because the cameraman framed the shot expertly capturing nothing but boobs and a tiny head on top of them mumbling on and on about gosh knows what. 

Downtown Charlotte sparkled in the distance and Titzilla left her mark on this cruel world by crushing each skyscraper one areola at a time.  

The editors promised to cover the mams up with a banner, and I can’t even begin to express how awkward that conversation was.

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Swallowing Air.

Okay, so I completely chickened out and refrained from interviewing my gym enemy (Jiminy) for class this week.  The other evening I noticed she had stopped the once rotating fan directly on herself.  And I don’t think I could have resisted the urge to address her only by the name, Hades. 

Instead I decided to arrange a phone interview with a stranger (by definition), Tripp, who’s been my virtual friend for years.  He could be a hologram for all I know.  I haven’t had the chance to meet him in person. 

He remained patient while I fumbled with my cell phone’s sorry excuse for a speaker phone.  The “hands free” device it came with was nowhere to be found, believe me I searched sweet and low.  And that’s either because I lost it or took a lonely stance against them in defense of amputees. 

Every note scribbled down on my pad during the interview looked like Danny Torrance‘s “Redrum” handwriting, so I typed it up and handed it over to my Production instructor last night in class. 

“Oh, hang on to that.  We’re going to go around the room and share!”

“That sounds great, I’ll do that.”

I mean because there’s nothing more I love than speaking aloud to my class, especially when I’m sharing an interview that contains a stranger’s candid confession that the thing they’re most afraid of in the world is the herpes virus.  I love having everyone’s full attention.  Repeating all of this over and over in my head only makes me more crimson and clammy.

Immediately, I felt the need to pee explosively.  Like my vigilante kidneys were getting back at my bladder for something, perhaps the extra cup of coffee I had right before class.  The outer layer of my bladder probably looked like one of those water balloons painted to look like a hand grenade. 

I counted and realized I was sixth in the sharing line.  If I left then it would have been rude.  And then I probably would have come back just in time for my turn without a few minutes to regroup and peel the toilet paper from the bottom of my sneakers.  I took several deep breaths and ended up filling myself up with so much air that not only was I about to piss myself, I was also going to fart myself through the ceiling and into the classroom above me on the second floor. 

And then it happened, the calm before the storm.  She called my name and without even thinking, peeing, or farting I just began rattling off an effortless speech complete with hand gestures and eye contact about my stranger’s crush on Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. 

When my turn was over I almost fell right out of my chair.  I imagined the feeling I felt then was similar to what Princess Jasmine probably felt right after her first ride on a magic carpet.   

I held my business until the rest of my classmates were done sharing and ran to the restroom to congratulate and reward myself for a job well done. 

And I hope to god they couldn’t hear my cruise ship horn fart through the thin wall between us.

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