A Airplane crash. Mechanical problems, engine failures, freak weather patterns are all possible causes of an airplane crash. But now, since September 11th, there is a whole other breed of airline crashes.
B Bees. Not the usual, garden-variety bees. But, the big black bees. Those bees are just mean. They buzz by like the ferrari in the fast lane on the freeway. Someone once told me those bees don’t sting. I’m not sure, and I’m not volunteering to find out.
C Car Accident. When I was learning to drive, my dad told me it wasn’t me I had to worry about; it was all the drivers around me. It’s true. Both my car accidents were of no fault of my own. I fear the damage reckless drivers, arrogant drivers, oblivious drivers may cause.
D Dropping Ryan. I’m sure most parents fear dropping their newborn babies. As my son has gotten older, and heavier, I still fear dropping him. I did fall once, while holding my son. Somehow, in an adrenaline-induced moment, I fell and managed to keep my son upright. He enjoyed the ride; I bruised my legs. But bottom line, I did not drop my son.
E Earthquakes. A fear I have not outgrown. During the 1994 Northridge earthquake, I fainted. My sister and I stood in our doorway, watching the worried faces of our parents in their doorway, and I remember thinking, “This is it. This is the big one. I can’t handle this.” So I fainted. Tornados and hurricanes come with warnings. Fires can be put out. There’s nothing for me to do during an earthquake but be afraid. I am powerless and out of control.
F Falling. I am afraid of falling down stairs. I am afraid of falling on a rainy day. I am afraid of falling and hurting myself beyond bumps and bruises.
G Guns. I do not like guns. I do not understand guns. They are weapons. My son will never be allowed to play with a toy gun. Guns shouldn’t be available to the public. Seems to me more harm, more “accidental” shootings wouldn’t occur if there weren’t guns in the first place.
H Hospitalization. I went through life thinking hospital stays happen to other people, not me. It’s not true. It happened to me the summer of 2010. I was unexpectedly taken from my son for four days. I spent those days confined to a bed, missing my son so much that the sound of his voice over the phone made me cry. And now I know it can happen. And I’m so afraid it’ll happen again.
I Iran, Iraq, Israel, India. The “I” countries I have no desire to visit. The “I” countries that scare me with their wars and bombs and explosions. The “I” countries that scare me with their poverty and harsh living conditions.
J Jail. Jail is for bad people, most times. Jail is for people who have done bad things, most times. Although I know there are exceptions, there are people in jail who are innocent and are being wrongly held. But, for the most part, jail is for “other” people. Jail scares me. I know some of it is the movies. Some of it is the news of riots and escapes. Bad things happen in jails. Driving on the freeway, reading a sign for the men’s colony that will be up-ahead on my right, makes me double-check the locks on my car doors.
K Knives. I don’t consider myself completely comfortable with a knife, since the night I cut myself while attempting to cut an avocado. My cut required a trip to the emergency room and stitches to my hand. Since then I am extremely careful when slicing vegetables, bagels, and eggs. A butter knife is the knife I first try to use.
L Losing a student. Field trips provide students with wonderful educational opportunities, a chance to go beyond their world and experience something new. Hopefully, something that supplements what they have been learning in the classroom. As a teacher, field trips are scary. Big open spaces. The possibility of losing a student. I have been entrusted with the care and well-being of children’s lives. It is not a responsibility I take lightly.
M MRI Machine. I have experienced two MRI’s. With the first, I didn’t know what to expect but walked away feeling traumatized. The noise. The coffin-like space. For the second test, two sedatives still didn’t relax me. My body is being sent through a tube. A tube that will make loud noises, examine my body, and all I can do is lie there - still and straight.
N Needles. They come in all shapes and sizes and they inflict pain. They take out blood. They don’t always enter a vein the way they’re supposed to. They leave large purple bruises on my arms. I do not watch any procedure involving a needle. As a result, I am entirely closed-minded about acupuncture.
O Operations. Operations are scary; you are putting complete faith in the person(s) who is cutting you up, trusting that your body will be properly re-assembled. You are completely involved and then completely un-involved at the same time.
P Poison ivy, or poison anything for that matter. Some poisonous flowers and plants are difficult to identify and I worry that I will unknowingly place my son and I in harm’s way.
Q Questioning my choices. Should I have tried to transfer to another school when I became increasingly unhappy at my present job site? Should I have taken a loan and bought a car all those years ago, instead of riding six public buses a day to attend my college courses? Should I have been less afraid post-9/11 and traveled more? Should I have ... they’re dangerous words and they scare me. A quick thought but beyond that I need to make peace with the choices I have made.
R Robbery. Bad people do bad things. They broke into my family’s two-bedroom, one-bathroom home and ransacked through our things. Years later, they stole our jeans when my husband and I were doing laundry and not standing vigil while our clothes were in the drying cycle. I fear a person so heartless, so desperate, so devoid of morals and values that they rob me while I’m with my son.
S Sharks. I don’t trust them. I know they are nature’s creatures like dolphins and seahorses. I just don’t worry about a seahorse attack. Even at the aquarium, on the other side of a very strong piece of glass, I don’t like looking at sharks. I’ll leave them to their business and trust they’ll leave me to mine.
T Time, more specifically, time rushing by and leaving me wondering, “Where did it go?” and “What have I done with it?” I go back and do the math - out of high school for, gasp, seventeen years. My first batch of kindergarten students will now be entering tenth grade! My little ones, fourteen boys and six girls, are now in high school, looking ahead to college. And where am I? What have I done? Sometimes, I have answers aplenty - answers that leave me feeling proud and content. Other times, the answers leave me feeling dissatisfied, yearning for more.
U Underground passages, such as caves. I will not explore a cave for any reason. Regardless of how beautiful the crystal formations are touted to be, I refuse to put myself in that situation. Bad things happen underground. Caves collapse. Coffins are buried underground. I’m not going there, willingly.
V Violence. Violence is sometimes like an earthquake. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. People are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, and through no fault of their own, bad things happen. It scares me. There is the very real possibility that I could be sitting in a coffee shop, engrossed in my novel, and an act of violence could occur.
W Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the original movie featuring Gene Wilder. I saw the movie as a child and there’s only one image that continues to haunt me - a little girl choking on a piece of candy and transforming into a giant blue balloon.
X Xenophobia. People with irrational fears do irrational things. What if I’m traveling abroad one day, and someone decided they don’t like brunettes from the United States? What if someone in another country observed my husband and I holding hands and decided they didn’t like foreign couples, especially inter-racial foreign couples?
Y Yoga. Okay, maybe it doesn’t entirely scare me, but it definitely unsettles me. The idea of yoga is not calming and centering; in fact, it has the opposite effect. Thinking about yoga makes me anxious and uncomfortable. It must be the covers of the books I would notice when I worked at the library, but the word “yoga” brings to mind human beings transforming their bodies into curly-pretzel shapes. And me, I’d be in a pretzel-shape, and become stuck. Unable to remove my foot from behind my ear, if it was even possible to get my foot back there in the first place.
Z Zoo animals attacking. I know this last fear may seem irrational, but I never forget that the animals I’m admiring are, at their essence wild animals. Wild animals do misbehave, do behave aggressively and can be unpredictable. I know this may sound selfish, but I just don’t want one of those animals to behave in an unsafe way on a day my son and I are visiting.