on january 24, the academy of motion picture arts and science president will announce the nominations for an oscar. i won’t be getting one. but i sure felt like a star last night when the black lincoln town car pulled into the driveway. michael, the driver, opened the passenger door for me and off we went. president obama was in town but i didn’t have to worry about traffic. i had to worry about dr. drew.
i had run six miles earlier in the evening to calm my nerves. i texted friends in the back seat as if the digits on my driver’s license were reversed and i was fifteen not fifty one. i hardly noticed the beautiful lights on michigan avenue. michael dropped me off at the building where cnn has its bureau. the bureau is eight desks in one room and a small studio. a cheerful makeup artist made me look so great i felt awful i was being wasted on a wednesday night. and the producer took me into the studio. it was nine thirty and i really wanted to be home in my pajamas.
i sat in front of a screen that was a video feed of the view from the window. i had a microphone up under my sweater. i had an earpiece in my right ear and could occasionally hear parts of dr. drew’s interview with billy ray cyrus. a camera was directly in front of me and the producer told me to look just towards the top of the lens. then it would appear as if i were looking at dr. drew. it’s kind of like skype, but i would have to use my imagination.
i heard but could not see a clip of the time my facebook friend gretchen miller taught me how to open a champagne bottle with a saber sword. it was a wonderful memory. then an expert psychologist was introduced. she was quite alarmed–because she said that panic attacks are made WORSE by someone going out into the world without proper medical supervision and care. further, she said that panic attacks were among the easiest ailments for a professional to treat.
i have to stop right here and tell you what i HAVEN’T been doing for the past week. i haven’t been seeing facebook friends. i haven’t been traveling. i haven’t been lolling by the pool at some wonderful resort. i have been reading messages, texts, and emails from people who are just like me. it has been overwhelming because almost all of them have been from people who suffer from panic attacks and agoraphobia. all of them feeling trapped. all of them doing their best. some of them unable to afford treatment but most having made some effort. i have tried to respond to every email and i’ve made arrangements to visit at least one new friend because they believe i can help them walk out the door of their house. hell, it can’t make things any worse, right? and at least they’ll get a hostess gift out of the deal.
in the studio i did the worst thing: i forgot my manners and my microphone. i felt like i was being told that everything i had done over the past year was not only wrong, but medically ill-advised.
“maybe i should have brought a psychologist with me,” i said about my past year of travel.
i instantly regretted the words. and i settled into a familiar feeling of self-loathing. my foot and my mouth are a perfect fit, yes?
the interview ended, dr. drew couldn’t have been more polite and sweet. the producer and the makeup artist were very kind. i went down to the curb and watched the president’s helicopter fly overhead. michael told me the traffic would be light on the way home. i felt guilty taking dr. drew’s car.
this morning, i was still feeling like i owed somebody–most particularly the expert psychologist–an apology. and i had to question whether it’s okay for me to just haul off and write back to the facebook friends who contact me about their anxiety attacks. i’m not an expert. and i didn’t have experts with me when i went off to see my facebook friends around the world last year. i didn’t even ask any experts what to do or how to do it.
so i don’t have any opportunity or need to make up a thank you for oscar night, but i have a thank you for this morning. thank you to my friends and family, on facebook and those who aren’t on facebook, because you made it happen. and if i could roll out the red carpet for you on oscar night, i would!