jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


I heard a piece about a man who wrote down every fear he had. And he ended up with hundreds of them. I thought that was pretty impressive, so I started my own list, to see how far I could get. The list makes me both laugh and cringe.

1) Fear of passing through this world and never being known.
2) Fear of dying slowly and horribly aware, like asphyxiation or a miserable life.
3) Fear of never being loved unconditionally, of never being able to give my love away.
4) Fear of the take out delivery people thinking I am single and pathetic and depressed so I order two dinners to make them think someone else is here.
5) Fear of the guys who run the corner pharmacy knowing that I fuck, so I buy my shampoo there but condoms elsewhere.
6) Fear of being watched at night, of a face on the other side of the dark window.
7) Fear of looking stupid, saying the wrong thing, of revealing how uncool and anachronistic I am.
8) Fear of discovering I am really a vain selfish ass.
9) Fear of being destitute and desperate, of having nothing of value inside my head, no marketable abilities, of having to be a stripper in the only kind of horrible place that would take me now.
10) Fear of being sent back to prep school, because not graduating from prep school is "why everything in my life turned out wrong."
11) Fear of finding out that I really did graduate from high school so that my fuck-you bravado turns into complete bullshit.
12) Fear of being even less intelligent than I fear I am.
13) Fear of calcifying into a bitter intolerant nasty woman.
14) Fear of being invisible.
15) Fear of being noticed.
16) Fear of having my needs and vulnerabilities cruelly exposed, of being viewed without empathy.
17) Fear of overreaching and being left with nothing, with a pocket full of sand.
18) Fear of my teeth dissolving.
19) Fear of calling for help and no sound coming out.
20) Fear of running into the house for safety and discovering the walls are made of glass.
21) Fear that the retarded guy at the laundromat will be the last man ever to touch my underwear.
22) Fear that I will try to make art in public and it will be as bad as that one thing I saw that one time.
23) Fear that I suck, in general and in specific.
24) Fear that my friends tell me nice things about myself because they are my friends, not because they are objectively true.
25) Fear that I make people uncomfortable by being awkward or smelling bad.

*Slick did her own list over at Conclusion Free, and I must say it kicks my ass from left to right. Bravo!


Anonymous famjaztique said...

Yes, I heard this story too, on NPR. I thought about making my own list. I'm a fan of lists anyway. Must be the virgo in me.

9:21 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

I loved "Fear of dropping an open can of soda and when it hit the sidewalk, it fizz on you."

I also love that people are emailing me and telling me which ones they share. (Pssst! do it here so we can share, eh?)

10:05 PM  
Anonymous famjaztique said...

Yes, I think I will share my list. I'll need to sit down and do it like a stream of consciousness exercise so that I don't think about it too hard or self-edit. Because I think it's obvious one of my fears is really revealing anything.

10:52 PM  
Blogger fortycalibernap said...

that first one says it all for me.

i've been in love more than a couple times, and each time i fall in love it seems to take me deeper -- significantly.

but i don't think i've got there yet, and it continues to drive me.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Pan said...

You didn't graduate from High School?? Cool . . .

Why no 'Fear of being sent to prison'. That's a biggie for me.

8:00 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

yeah 40, I put the big one first. then I had to really dig to find my blind spots, the things I function around, irrational wierdnesses, things you never admit.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I've spent time with you. You don't smell bad and you don't suck, in general or in specific. These things are objectively true.

11:43 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Yes, Pan, It's true. No high school diploma for me. The very short story is that I flunked art. The slightly longer story is that I had already been accepted and scholarshipped to art school, so it didn't matter.

Not going to jail. Whoa, I hadn't thought of that! It's been a long time since I have been arrested...

11:52 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

aw, thanks Dr. S. That made me laugh. But fears are irrational, right? I mean, really, my teeth are probably not going to dissolve, and the delivery guys from the Thai restaurant probably could not give a damn about what or who is over for dinner at my house at any given night!

12:00 PM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

god, number 21 made me guffaw, here in my lonely office with untouched underwear...

1:05 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

oh, I'm glad that made you laugh. You might remember Robert the laundry guy from a post from last winter. He asked if he could be my boyfriend, but I already had one. Perhaps I should go back and take him up on it!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I know the fears are irrational. Mine are too. But I thought that the best way to fight irrationality was with unblinking faux naivete and rationality.

I grin at you, from my family's house, where the deaf dog licks her feet incessantly. She gives a wet cadence to my days.

9:37 PM  

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