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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Even a small thing can provoke anxiety

Yesterday I was going to get a lot of things done. I had a dermatologist's appointment in the city to go to and then I was going to the NSW Government customer service office near Wynyard. After that I was going to catch a train to Bondi Junction and get some dental scans done in Randwick. I had it all planned out but what I didn't count on was that the bottom literally fell out of my trousers.

There had been a small tear around the crotch a couple of days earlier but I didn't think anything about putting on these trousers - which had been bought around a year earlier - for the purpose of finishing all these errands. Nevertheless it became clear as I was walking across the bridge into the city that I wasn't going to make it to Randwick on this day. The pain in the upper thigh area was too much to bear. I'd have to put off the scans to another day. But I thought I could do the driver's license renewal after seeing the doctor.

When I arrived at the dermatologist's and had taken off my clothes I had a chance to see the full extent of the damage to my trousers. It was exceedingly bad. There was an eight-inch tear at the top of the left leg, which accounted for the rubbing I had suffered from during the walk into town. To cut the story short, once I had left the doctor's office I jumped straight into a cab and came home. All my plans had fallen through because I had been remiss in not taking the small hole in my trousers seriously. I would have to delay important things to a day next week. I walked into my sunny apartment and went straight to bed and had a long nap.

When I got up it was lunchtime and I made some fried rice with leftover rice, tomato, mozzarella and spring onion. I sat down at the computer. For the rest of the day I would be there or reading a book on my Kindle but the nagging sense of having wasted time gnawed away at me. The nap hadn't expelled the feelings of anxiety I was having as a result of bollocksing the morning up. Then the rain came. I felt terrible. I felt brittle and thin, as though the slightest thing could cause me to dissolve. The rain pounded outside. The feeling of anxiety continued all afternoon and later, at around 4pm, I went back to bed because I was having feelings that were troubling my conscious mind.

I thought about having a glass of wine to relax me but then I thought that I was becoming an alcoholic and that I should stay off the booze. I seesawed between these conflicting ideas for a good 30 minutes but then at around 5pm got up and went to the kitchen anyway, poured a glass of white wine, and sat down at the computer screen again. Then there arrived the problem of what to do for dinner. I didn't think I could manage going out to eat, and it had been raining anyway, so I went to the kitchen and opened the fridge. The cauliflower and parsley that were sitting on the shelf returned my gaze. They almost looked accusing. I had bought them with the specific intention of making fritters but now, with the feelings of anxiety consuming me I worried about making smoke and setting off the smoke alarms on my floor of the apartment building. What if everyone ended up on the street like happened that other time when someone was cooking carelessly?

It was early for dinner anyway but I suddenly made a decision. I would make the damn fritters and the hell with the cooking oil. I put a saucepan with water on to boil, got my chopping knife, extracted the ingredients from the fridge and started dismembering the cauliflower. Then I put the flour, eggs, salt and pepper, spices, and chopped parsley into the biggest mixing bowl and stirred them into goop. Once the cauliflower had boiled for long enough, I smashed that into the mix as well. Then I put on the oil to heat on the big gas ring, got the spatula and spooned the mix into the fry pan. I did the fritters in groups of three. No alarms went off during this process. Despite the hot oil and the frying fritters, the air in the apartment did not get smoky. I had won.

I ate three of the fritters with some hot mustard and sat down at the computer again. The news was on. I relished the mundanity of the ensemble: meal finished, glass of wine, news on the TV, social media on the PC. Everything was fine. Except the nagging feeling of brittleness would not go away. I curled up on the sofa and watched the TV programs, changing channels occasionally and getting up finally to do the dishes. I had a shower, brushed my teeth and sat back down in front of the TV. The bland feed of nightly programming washed over me until I decided it was time to sleep. I read for a while in bed then turned out the light, hoping that the brittle feeling would go away by morning. I wanted to feel normal again.

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