Job Fairs and Dumb Fears

Sister and I are on our way to the city (about an hour away) to a job fair, in the hopes that we can capture one or two of those elusive beasts called incomes. I have fifteen copies of my pathetic little resume in a cute pink plaid folder and I'm not wearing my yoga pants. So. You know. Chances are pretty high that I-- well, no, the chances are pretty much the same as before.

Anyway, this means I'm blogging from my phone. In the car. On the highway. CALM DOWN, Sister is driving. Despite being unemployed, single, and heavier than I ever planned on being again, I am NOT suicidal. I can barely focus as a PASSENGER (more on that later).

I know I said this post would be about Satan's Cat, but all of the photos I want to show you are on my computer. So that won't happen right now. And if I wait until I'm near my computer before I post, I will probably break my NaBloPoMo promise, too.

[Hey! Side benefit of me posting from my phone: I can't type nearly as fast and get tired of it pretty quickly, so I won't be nearly as ridiculously wordy as I usually am. Which is a benefit to you, I think...]

In an effort to try to keep part of my promise, I'm going to tell you about my new phobia. I am afraid if cars. You remember? Those giant metal objects with the ability to maim human flesh? Yeah. Those.

You see, my father and I were in an accident a few Christmases ago. I was home from college for Christmas. He was driving us to the city about an hour away (the city I'm currently job fairing in, coincidentally). It was snowy and icy and we were in his truck. The bed of the truck was empty, so it was very light. Suddenly, the back tires lost traction and we were swerving. Then spinning.

On a bridge.

We hit the guardrail. We left our seats for an instant, held by our seat belts only. My feet somehow found themselves ABOVE the dashboard. The back of the truck left the pavement and we tipped toward the edge. I caught a glimpse of the icy, raging river 50 feet below.

An million moments and prayers later, the rear tires slammed back to the roadbed. We continued to spin to the far end of the bridge and onto solid ground. We settled in the ditch on the opposite side from the impact, buried in the snow up to the tops of our tires, but upright and still in our seats. Alive. Mostly whole.

When we finally stopped moving, I did a rapid mental self-check while asking Papa if he was okay. It seemed I was mostly just scared. But Papa was pretty disoriented and said his neck hurt. A firetruck/ambulance, some refused care, a tow truck, a little dinner, and (finally!) a hospital visit later, it turned out he had broken his tailbone when we came out of and then forcefully returned to our seats. Plus some whiplash and probably an undiagnosed minor concussion. I never saw a doctor, because I felt fine. Or fine enough.

Several hours later, the muscles around my shoulder were in spasm and I was sore. Whether from the adrenaline letdown or from the accident itself, I didn't know. It wasn't until the next day that I found the bruises, one diagonal stripe from right shoulder to left hip and another from left hip to right hip. Oh. Seat belt. Duh.

Once i was back to college, our insurance company mailed me a letter informing me of my right to sue my father for any damage his driving had inflicted on my person. I declined. But I teased my dad that he had to financially support me for the next two years, which was the statute of limitations.

In the end, we were both fine, the truck was repaired, and we went on with our lives. Every once in a while my shoulder will go into spasm, but it's been less and less often for shorter periods of time. In fact, I can't remember the last time it did it.

However, the next winter saw me living back in my hometown. I was driving my current car--a 2000 Plymouth Neon (built for snow, right?). The snow tires (do you people know about studs? as in: studded tires? we use those here) were crap--probably bald from past years' use. One evening on my way to go Christmas caroling, I lost control of my car and spun into the ditch. Usually not a big deal here in the Far North. You dig out or call a tow or get a neighbor to help. But for me, it was terrifying. Because as I was spinning, I wasn't seeing the flat, straight road I was on. I was seeing a bridge. With a 50 foot drop and icy water. I was having a flashback.

Now it's three years since the first accident and two days since the first real snow. I find myself short of breath and long of adrenaline and clenched muscles every time I get into a car. It's better if I drive myself, because at least I'm in control. But still white-knuckley.

I spent Sunday in various stages of panic attack. That was the first snow. The first ice. And that was the day we decided to drive up a winding road into the mountains to babysit for a friend. Winding! Mountain! Icy! Roads! Without snow tires!

It's gotten better since all the vehicles I ride in or drive have gotten studs put on them. And some of the ice has cleared.

And we can totally justify this by my experiences and the "trauma" and whatever.

BUT? It was like an INCH of snow. I usually MAKE FUN of all those other places and people who freak about a tiny bit of snow. I'm usually like, "Big fat chickens! You shut down your city for THAT? It's like the apocalypse for WEENIES! Come to the Far North and we'll teach you how it's done." And? I even knew I was being ridiculous while I was crying in the front seat of Sister's car with my fists and MY FEET so tightly clenched that my bones hurt. I could tell I was being stupid. And yet? There was no convincing myself that I was safe. And I totally was. Sister is a good driver, her car is safe (lots of airbags, if all else failed), and most of what I was feeling as sliding and low traction WASN'T ACTUALLY HAPPENING. It was phantom slippage.

And rather than think about the therapy and pharmaceuticals that could be in my future if I don't get a handle on this madness, I'm just going to MAKE FUN of myself, like I deserve. Because, self? You live in the freaking FAR NORTH! How the heck are you going to function. at. all. if you cannot get in a vehicle? You live TEN MILES from anything important. It's not like you can walk anywhere. Even if it's NOT -15 degrees, which IT WILL BE in a few weeks, you've never walked ten miles in your life! And? YOU LIVE IN THE FREAKING FAR NORTH. There's going to be SNOW. For like SEVEN MONTHS OF THE YEAR. You call it FAR NORTH for a REASON! You'd better just move now if this is how you're going to behave, self! Stop being a weenie.

How about the rest of you guys? How do you deal with semi-traumatic events and/or phobias? Are you afraid of anything that you know logically is completely silly to be afraid of, but you CAN'T NOT clench your feet and cry about? Please tell me I'm not alone.


  1. Well, this will either make you laugh, or not make you feel better at all, but I have a phobia of snow (chionophobia I think is the actual term- so it cannot be just me - I hope?) I get tense and anxious if it is falling, and I cannot relax and breathe normally until it is melting. As a child, I was terrified of having to wear my snowsuit. And I grew up in CANADA. You know how I finally got over this? I moved to Texas. (And still, it snows occasionally. And no one here knows how to handle snow.) So, um... yeah. Being afraid of driving/riding in cars in snow seems entirely rational to me.

    I hope you find the job of your dreams, by the way.

  2. Sarah Pearson11/2/11, 10:28 PM

    This is not a silly phobia, it makes perfect sense to me. I know because I suffered from it for years. (My accident involved a trailer coming through the back window of our car - you know, where my babies were sitting). I won't lie, it took a very long time to get over, and I'm still nervous about strangers cars (as in cabs, I don't make a habit of getting picked up by people I don't know).

    Tim eventually did it for me, I hope it does for you too.

  3. Sarah Pearson11/2/11, 10:29 PM

    Yeah, and I have no idea who Tim is, I meant time.

  4. HAH! But I can't move to Texas. I like it here. Five months out of the year, when I'm at home and safe. Hmmm...

    Maybe if I were guaranteed a nice cowboy husband....

  5. SEE?! That sounds entirely reasonable. But I really do need to get over it or move.

    Were your babies okay?

  6. So I guess it got fixed, but the e-mail DISQUS sent to me still had "Tim" in it and I liked the typo SO much. Then I read THIS comment and laughed out loud. ;)

  7. I felt bad and then I felt worse. I do not like driving in the ice and snow. I can have anxiety episodes.

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  9. The other day was my first glimpse of what a panic attack must feel like. But even then, I'm sure it wasn't a real one. I have a new respect for people dealing with anxiety disorders...

  10. I don't think your fear is dumb. I have those kinds of fears too.

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