Tuesday, September 27, 2005

First, we need to talk about last night's Prison Break. Is Fox River the shoddiest prison ever built or what? It's like if IKEA built a prison — one riot and the whole damn thing falls apart. It makes Michael Scofield's whole tortuous escape plan seem kind of unnecessary when the front door's pretty much already off its hinges.

I skipped out on my Confidence Course last night because I was afraid Bob Danzig might try to draw attention to me and I, ironically, lack confidence. Damn you, vicious circle of insecurity and shame! Also, I'd like to extend a special thanks to all the friends I called or emailed about heading out to happy hour and maybe getting me drunk before this whole confidence class thing, not one of whom got back to me. Yeah, that makes me feel real good about myself.

I told my therapist — okay, therapists — about the first meeting of the Confidence Course, Bob Danzig, the whole curriculum there and I got back some psychobabble about the place being a "safe environment." The classroom lays under the threat of Bob Danzig congratulating you — yes, you , personally — for some middling acheivement you'd rather he didn't make a big deal out of. Like, last week Sandra asked me what I did in my free time and I told her I was writing the Great American Novel because (a) I already confused her when I told her I "freelanced" and I wasn't eager to use a word like "play" with multiple, ambiguous meanings, and (b) even though she's asking me these personal questions about how I get along with my family and where I met my friends and stuff, I wasn't sure whether the truth — my hobbies include watching television and masturbating chronically — was appropriate here. Anyway, Sandra told the class and then every time Bob Danzig mentioned one of his books he'd give me this very intense kindred-spirit stare that felt like your friends at the bar, physically prodding you to talk to an attractive woman even though she's way out of your league.

Frankly, I don't need to be told how awesome I am. It makes me less confident, actually. I feel like a fraud, with Bob Danzig babbling on about how wonderful it is that I'm a writer even though my writing career is pretty much a long string of frustrations. I'd rather people had low expectations of me and they could be unduly impressed whenever I pull of the most mundane tasks without making a total ass out of myself. That's the mindset that works for me: I have high standards and low expectations and at least I'm rarely disappointed.

Anyway, my therapist compared this whole confidence class to a big mistake I made back in college, learning how to (sort of) swim. Briefly, I started this mortifying swimming class petrified to take my feet off the pool floor and my hands off the pool wall. Three months later, I was comfortable curling into a ball underwater, floating a few inches away from the pool wall, and I felt very good about that. Of course, this was a mistake, because now it gives my therapist and my parents and my conscience this metaphor about how I'm capable of overcoming adversity and my irrational fears, and now I feel like I should conquer my other anxieties even though hiding under a rock is easier.