Hi, I'm panicky.

What's with me? With the not-posting? I have no excuses. Actually I have an entire rucksack full of them, but I will spare you.

First of all, I have been terribly remiss regarding informing you of my Wonderland posts. New posts here and here. Also, there's also an interview with me in the videos, under "Keyboard Confidential" (which I would link to if I could figure out how), in which I murmur and look an awful lot like my late Irish grandmother. All I need is a Manhattan and wispy blue hair, and I could scare the shit out of my father.

Now marvel as I abruptly change the subject. Aaaaand… go!

I've always lacked confidence regarding my ability to move through space. There was the Bike-Learning Failure of '73-'78, the Roller Skating Catastrophe of '79, the Uneven Bars Horror of '83. And then there was driving. I never had the slightest interest in driving, except inasmuch as it could get you places, and I liked places. I had never even sat in a driver's seat, when I found myself in just such a seat, my foot on the pedal, in a driver's ed car, careening down Main Street. I don't remember much from driver's ed, but I do recall a lot of screaming, most of it not coming out of my own mouth. I may have hit a few things. Not surprisingly, I failed. I took Driver's Ed all over again. I passed, but barely. I failed the driver's test. I figured that this was a sign that I should be chaffeured everywhere, but my parents made me take it again. I passed, but just slightly.

Then I moved away, away from the Land Where Everyone Drove, and that was that for twenty years. For twenty years I haven't had to drive. I think I drove a few times in college, when my a cappella group (don't laugh) went on tour. There was a familiar screaming sound, when I did that. My fellow a cappella mates stopped asking me to drive. I moved to the city, where no one had cars. I was all set.

But then I moved here. Figuring I would get used to driving, I moved to this place. And I did, mostly. I was a little sweaty-palmed for the first couple of months, but now I can get around town without a problem. Then I tried to drive on the highway.

And I completely freaked out.

Without going into too much detail about it because reliving it makes me want to die, here was how much I was freaking out: my vision tunneled. I was fairly certain that I was going to throw up on myself. I lost all feeling in my arms. My hands were sweating so badly that they were slipping off the steering wheel. My hearing went all funny. Then I started crying, which, in addition to the tunnel vision, made it awfully hard to see. I got off at the nearest exit.

I was probably on the highway for ten or fifteen minutes. That was one year ago.

I know what you're going to say. I can hear you saying it. Highway driving is scary, you're saying. You have to keep on trying! It's a skill! You'll get better! Do you always use all those exclamation points, when you're talking?

What we have here is not a lack of confidence—well, okay, it IS a lack of confidence, but also it is a fear that grips so tightly to me that I can no longer reason. I've tried driving on the highway a couple of times since then. I've tried to work through it. I did some cognitive behavioral therapy, I learned about dealing with panic and breathing the right way and I tried talking myself through the panic, blar de blar, and I am here to tell you that I cannot. I don't want to sound defeatist, here, but all the talking to myself and breathing just makes me calm enough that I don't run off the road and run screaming from the car. I can manage it, but I still get the numbness and the tunnel vision and the nausea—and the sweating, don't forget the sweating!—and I feel absolutely dreadful.

I tried going on the Garden State Parkway last week. My panic was so intense that I was nauseated for days afterward. It was like I had been poisoned. Why would I put myself through that again? Except, you know, for all the really smart reasons, like I need to get around and do things and be independent and GOD SHUT UP WITH YOUR REASONABLE ATTITUDE.

I'm sorry, baby, I didn't mean it. It's the fear, is all. It's got ahold of me.

All of this is leading up to one question, which is: what do you think of hypnosis? Anyone? Anyone?