Radio Station KFKD

If you are not careful, station KFKD (K-Fucked) will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop… Out of the left speaker will be the rap songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn’t do well, all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime, the doubt, the assertion that everything one touches turns to shit, that one doesn’t do relationships well, that one is in every way a fraud, incapable of selfless love, that one has no talent or insight, and on and on and on. –Anne Lamott

Already, before you write the first ‘the,’ you’re screwed by your own unworthiness. –Carolyn See

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The blogging conference is coming up, and I’m worried about getting myself out of the house. Once I get to the airport, I’ll be fine—probably even happy and excited. But that liminal period is fraught with anxiety. The last time I traveled alone, I almost turned around several times while driving to the airport.

Travel-induced anxiety makes sense, I guess. Travel is loaded with uncertainties, and those concrete uncertainties suggest a kind of psychic uncertainty. Even though I had a tendency toward anxiety since childhood, it was my first major trip—to France—that brought about what I now know as panic attacks. The first one happened on the Paris metro. I was sixteen years old. I’d never been very far from home. I didn’t know if I believed in God. I had a boyfriend mostly because I was scared to be alone. And the train, rumbling loudly, plunged into an underground tunnel. I could feel it, then, palpably: existential anxiety. This trip was like life itself–loud and scary and disorienting–and I didn’t know what I was doing and I could barely speak the language.

I feel that kind of anxiety less when traveling now, partly because I’m well-medicated and partly because I’ve had a little experience moving about the earth. There isn’t a cure, but if you just sink into the anxiety and let it happen, and move forward despite it, it will abate. The anxiety I feel now is more about fulfilling some sort of purpose. It’s being afraid of both failure and success. The more I invest into writing and building an author platform, I worry, the more devastated I’ll be when I fail. But imagining success is even scarier: if I succeed, surely it will be at some cost.

I don’t know why I think this. I don’t know if it’s my pessimistic take on the “Can women have it all?” debate, or something darker and more primitive, a belief seated deep in my hindbrain that individuals are allotted only so much happiness. (See this post for my concept of The Arbiter of Happiness, but fair warning—if you don’t like leprechauns, you may never sleep again.) All I know is that I’m scared to ask for anything more. Scared to go to the conference. Scared to have a second child, because the first one may have used up all the genes for health and cuteness and smartness.

Abby, that’s not the way genes work. And that’s not the way the world works. Trying new things isn’t tempting a capricious god.

More and more lately I keep remembering the year I turned thirty, where I left off with my memoir posts. I’m with Gills-and-Fins on my thirtieth birthday, a couple of months before we break up. I’m sitting on the couch. He’s brought me a brownie with a candle in it. It’s time to make a wish. I’m slightly drunk, and in that space of a few seconds before I have to blow, two wishes flit through my mind:

I want to have a family.

I want to be a writer.

The wax is dripping into the brownie. Without thinking, I wish hard for the first one. I’m afraid to wish for both.

7 thoughts on “Radio Station KFKD

  1. And yet they both came true anyway…how ’bout that?! I love this post. Have felt many of the feelings you describe, especially the ones related to failure and success as a writer. Have a fabulous time at the conference — and leave the judge at home. You can decide if it was a failure or success when you’re back home and have had some time to let the experience sink in. Just be there and see what opens up! (How’s that for an unsolicited pep talk?)

  2. To be fair, the Metro is a hurtling shitbox, so no wonder you felt so anxious. As a fellow anxiety-ridden mess, I get this post on every level, right down to your fears about having a second child and about wishing for two life goals/milestones. I can’t comment on the family part as I don’t know you personally, but I can comment on the writing part and say you’ve already arrived. You are one of the few bloggers I follow who possesses natural writing talent, at least in my humble estimation, and I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in that opinion. I will probably never go to that conference; I’m too chicken shit and comfortable in my routine. So I envy the courage you have to even sign up, let alone travel there, and believe it will likely be one of life’s adventures you’ll forever be glad you embarked on. Have fun. Make friends. And let me live vicariously through you 😉

    1. Your comment made me teary, Sammiches. Thank you for the confidence you have in me. I feel the same way about you as a writer; I truly enjoy and relate to what you write. And I’m very grateful that you read my blog.

      I probably won’t make friends at the conference, but I am going to go and try not to curl up in a ball or cry while I’m there. That, I think, will be a great achievement. 🙂

      You know, the three of you who commented on this post said, either explicitly or implicitly, that I’ve reached my goal of being a writer, which I find heartening and very interesting, because I still I don’t think of myself as “real” writer. If one writes, one is a writer; I know this. Still, in some realm apart from the rational, I don’t think I deserve to call myself that unless I meet some yet-undefined measure of success. The truth is, if I don’t start calling myself a writer now, I don’t know that I ever will–no matter how many people read my work. Thank you for reminding me that I already am whole and perfectly imperfect just as I am.

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