“Venetian blinds,” I say.
“Peeping Tom!” I answer without having inhaled.
“Tomatoes,” I try. “Salmonella poisoning!”
Another way to play is to see how many worries I can associate with each object. For example, I could add choking on a sandwich to the tomato category. Even Saturday morning cartoons trigger angst about radiation from the TV. I simply cannot draw a blank in the association game; there is no end to all that could go wrong. So you can imagine the degree to which setting out to write a worry blog arouses in me a sense of danger. Among other things, dwelling on all that can go wrong could end up making me worry more.
Yet, I am not without my optimistic stripe. I can envision a scenario in which spilling my anxieties onto the page results in a transfusion for my mind, ridding me of the very fears I write about, thus allowing mental space for imaginings of, say, joyful days in the nursing home sometime in the distant future.
Ah, the nursing home. I’m still trying to decide whether the company of a roommate—if there’s a choice—will be worth the risk of being around someone who might, for example, deposit fingernail clippings on the night table between our beds. My three twenty-something daughters already know that if I do land in a shared room, they should claim for me the bed by the window. And, in case I can’t speak for myself, I have asked them repeatedly to arrange for the window to be open whenever possible, though not when someone outside is operating a leaf blower.
Speaking of my daughters, I–of the association game described above–am reminded of another problem with airing my worries publicly. Although presently there are no marriages for my girls on the horizon, let’s say they get married some day. What if my new in-laws-to-be happen upon my blog? Will they think I’m a screwball? (Really, Future In-Laws, I’m not as dotty as I may seem here.)
The same problem could arise if I were to meet Mr. Right, or for that matter, Mr. Wrong. (I spent a very enjoyable four years with a Mr. Wrong, so I’m not at all opposed to getting another one.) If such a Mister were to read my ruminations on loathsome scenarios, it might put the kibosh on our relationship just as it’s getting started or even before.
Thinking about my future in-laws makes me wonder how we’ll divide visits with our children. And grandchildren! Will it lead to competitive Thanksgivings? I’m divorced and let’s say my theoretical future son-in-law’s parents are divorced. Then what? Will we have to divide up the time four ways? Or, yikes! eight ways if all my sons-in-laws’ parents are divorced?
Another thing troubles me: What if all thoughts vacate my mind? In case that happens, I’ve been composing several worry pieces before actually launching my blog. This way I’ll have a backlog of postings which will also be helpful if–as happened in 2003–a tree hits my house and diverts my attention to paint colors and industrial-sized hepa vacuums.
And one more stress-provoker popped up. In the middle of this writing effort I opened the New York Times to page 20 one day and read an article about meanies. E-meanies! E-meanies exhibit typical bully behavior by spewing mean things on a person’s blog while hiding behind the web of the Web. Couldn’t just writing about e-meanies here put ideas in an e-meanie’s head? Well, E-meanie, don’t think I’m going to let you bother me; I have plenty of other things to worry about.
Before I wrap up this first post, it occurs to me that I should check out other worry blogs. The only good that could come of reading them, however, is if they are inferior to what I can write. Otherwise, I’ll feel deflated. Here’s a parallel example: In an intriguing collection of women’s true sex stories, Behind the Bedroom Door, I recently read an essay, “The Best Sex I Never Had” by Hope Edelman, which was much better than what I’ve written on that very same topic of high school “sex.”
I lamented to my friend and writing mentor, Phillip Lopate, that Edelman’s superiority made me want to give up producing discourse on the page. He responded, “I’m not as good a writer as Samuel Johnson, but I persist and so should you.”
And so, I’ll give my worry blog a go.
MY MEMOIR . . .
Readers of all ages will relate to this deeply personal story, told with comical sensibility by a quirky, startlingly honest mother, daughter, ex-wife, and dog lover, who—à la Nora Ephron—will feel like a dear friend. Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others will stay with you long after you finish reading it. (adapted from Amazon description and culled from Amazon reviews)