Notes From a Walkman Junkie: Panic Lists and Other Crap
Though I have lived in my apartment for a few years now, it basically looks like I just moved in a few hours ago. I have kept the space very minimal with the logical thought of it being a temporary place of residence; the fewer things I have in it, the fewer things I would eventually have to move out of it. Items in my apartment include the following: One red couch (I had ordered a midnight blue one, but when I arrived home to find that a bright red one had been delivered in it’s stead, I said “fuck it. It is only the sole focal point of my apartment” and kept it), one queen size bed, one lamp (it was given to me later, but is very lightweight–so I kept it), one bunny (also a gift, but he too is lightweight — and soft–so I kept him), one orchid, some boxes, a few various paintings and drawings lined up against the wall, one Chewbacca poster, and one tiny television set.
When my brother, Iago, first saw my place he said it looked like a relatively neat seventeen-year-old boy with a slight drug problem lived here. Once I was talking to Iago on the phone and casually mentioned that I was tidying up a bit and his response was, “Tidying up? You don’t have anything. What are you doing, moving the couch?” Despite the fact that I don’t have much in my place, the little that I do have I am quite particular about (as in — yes, that box needs to stay right there and no, there cannot be two pillows on that side of the couch and yes, the only “art” I have hanging up is my creepy Chewy poster and no, I don’t want a bigger T.V., I like tiny things, please don’t touch that, put that down.)
These little particularities (intense displays of obsessive-compulsive behavior) about things tend to make me a bit uncomfortable with other people (and my bunny–he has staring issues) staying in my apartment. I can usually overcome my admittedly unreasonable anxiety and panic about house guests with a few (self-developed) coping methods, like making a list of things that I should do to prep my place for the guest. The list usually starts out relatively normal: Make sure the guest room has clean sheets and towels, stock up on some tasty snacks and beverages, etc., though as the list progresses, it seems to steadily decline in practicality and reason: Get more furniture. You look ridiculous. How can you not even own one chair? Why is your television so small? Idiot.
Anyway, I usually work through these absurd freak-outs privately so that by the time my guest shows up, all is (apparently) good and (mostly) well. Recently, however, I was caught a bit off guard by my sister, Pancake’s (perfectly reasonable and timely) request to stay the night over at my place rather than just the day as originally planned. What really threw me was the approach she took when asking. The whole thing went down via Facebook messaging and played out something like this: Pancake: “Can I ask you a question?” Me: ”Sure” (I was already worried. ‘Can I ask you a question’ is right up there with ‘we need to talk’ on the nervous-making scale.) Pancake: “I know you just got back in town from a long trip and have been around other people nonstop lately, so I really want you to be honest with me — it won’t hurt my feelings. I will understand. Tell me the truth. Would it be OK if I spend the night at your place on Sunday?” Me: ”Actually, I have been spending a lot of time with other people lately and have not even really unpacked yet or had time alone and I am feeling overwhelmed and would rather you not stay over if possible.” Pancake: ” ………..”
Of course, I immediately realized my grave error (truth) and also knew that it was my idiotic OCD tendencies that were causing me to act a fool. Pancake and I talked the following day and I naturally retracted what I had said, explaining my silliness and lists and let her know, “of course you can stay — bring your swimsuit. It will be fun. There will be nuts and cheese.” Pancake too felt terribly about the whole thing and told me she had used the classic bait of “Do these pants make me look fat? Be honest. I won’t get mad” and when I answered honestly “Yeah, they are not very flattering on you. Wear something else” — she got mad (then put on a different pair of pants anyway.) Everything turned out fine and she actually ended up changing her mind, not staying the night after all (after all of our bullshit.) This made me wonder if this whole thing was some sort of exposure therapy to get me over my “houseguest” phobia. I asked if she planned to throw spiders and candy circus peanuts ( reasonable fears of mine) at me the next time that she comes to visit.
As a nod to Pancake (who is welcome to stay with me anytime — providing she give me ample notice– at least two to three weeks –to make many, many lists), I have attached I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton.