16 December 2008

Return To The Panic Hole

The Panic Hole. I have mentioned it before on this blog. And today I took a trip back there, unintended and involuntarily and completely necessary. Because if I hadn’t I think I may have started screaming and dived out my dining room window.

My dining room window is about ten to twelve feet off the ground. It would have hurt. Instead I got up and ran.

It happened about 10:30 this morning, as I sat at my computer making a heroic and painful effort to revise my resume. I had been at it for about two hours, and the going was tough. I didn’t expect it to be so difficult. How hard can it be to update what is basically a laundry list of where, what and when? Admittedly I haven’t seriously reworked my resume in almost (OH MY GOD) ten years; the last time in 2005 doesn’t count because I was going to work for a company for which I had previously worked. That was more like adding some notes in the margins.

The whole idea of reworking the resume had me antsy from the start. I was resisting, the hothead grouch in the back of my head kept screaming ‘I shouldn’t have to do this! Where the fuck did my job go?’ Shouting back wasn’t helping. I was cursing at some stubborn formatting issues that I could not resolve when my vision started to get a little wonky, like one of those dream sequence fade-ins on ‘The Brady Bunch’ or ‘Gilligan’s Island’. My heart started to race and I felt queasy-weak. The muscles in my arms and legs felt twitchy and leaden at the same time. Panic was setting in, so I got up and ran. I grabbed my iPod (I should just surgically attach it, it goes everywhere with me now. Except the toilet, and that may change.) put on my coat, scarf and hat and hotfooted it out of the house before I threw up or fainted. I jumped in my car and drove over to my nearest panic hole, a lake and park not too far from my house. It was reflex, pure and simple.

A cold day, pewter sky sprinkling a fine spray of sleet as I got out of the car and set out on a fast walk on the path around the lake. For some reason, I decided to not put on the headphones this time. It was quiet, well, PEOPLE quiet, and I wanted to minimize the man-made noises. What I needed was calm. My heart was still racing and my head was pounding. The air was chilly damp, but it didn’t seem to faze the birds and waterfowl. They were out in force. I rounded the second curve down by the lake and a bright scarlet cardinal flitted across the path right in front of me. The color was amazing against the backdrop of gray tree trunks and brown leaves. There was a flotilla of Canadian geese out on the water. They were honking softly, gliding over water like rippled glass. Something inside me began to unwind, a clock spring ticking over. I crossed the bridge at the west end of the lake. To my left, out on the water, I saw a cluster of smaller ducks. Diver ducks, maybe eiders or buffleheads. They resembled a school of fish in the way they were skittering around on the lake. I drew my first deep breath of the day. The cold air felt good way down in the bottom of my lungs. I felt another unloosening in my gut and the beginnings of a smile.

Climbing a small hill I make my way along the north shore of the lake. A steep embankment is to the left, lake to the right, the path at the bottom of a slope thick with trees. Bird chirps fill the air and form a nice counterpoint to the faint roar of a jet plane flying somewhere overhead. I startle a squirrel, which spasmodically scales a tree with a loud chittering noise. He rotates on the side of the tree and gives me the stinkeye. He swishes his tail in a gesture I think was meant to be menacing. I chuckle and apologize, assuring him I mean no harm. With a few wrinkles of his snout he scurries up the tree and out of sight.

Legs and arms are feeling loose, now that I have warmed up a bit. My breathing has stabilized. Air rushes in and out of my lungs, tasting faintly of snow and iron. Sleet is falling gently with a wonderful sizzling sound as it hits the leaves blanketing the ground. It reminds me of frying bacon, an impression strengthened by an unexpected faint whiff of wood smoke. I have fallen into a pleasant rhythm of swinging limbs and deep breaths. Sakes alive, it feels good to breathe so deep I can feel the tension drain away from my belly! Just like I was taught in my yoga classes from a few years ago. I can hear the voice of the instructor: ‘Remember to breathe, let it go, and breathe’. It is amazing that a simple thing like a loose diaphragm (no, not that kind!) can have such an incredible effect on feeling better.

Walkbreathewalkbreathewalkbreathe. I cross another bridge and enter the “Arboretum”, one of my favorite parts of the trail. The path wends its way on a gentle curve through a grove of tall, straight trees. No leaves at this time of the year. The trunks remind me of masts and the wood beams of the Lutheran church I attended as a child. Peace has worked its way through my skin and is working on the bones. The clock spring in my belly unwinds a bit more as I exit the cathedral and make my way towards the massive berm that forms the east end of the lake. The wind picks up because there are no trees to block it as it blows down the open water. A few bedraggled seagulls float in the water near the spillway. A few diver ducks are swimming in circles. Finally, I smile wide and laugh out loud on a deep lungful of wintery air. The gulls eye me with mild interest and then return to sulking in the wind.

My companions for the rest of this interlude in the panic hole are geese, two crows, and a lone canvasback duck. The duck was a surprise, I haven’t seen one at the lake until now. I raise my hand in greeting and the canvasback continues his slow glide over quicksilver wavelets. Time has slowed and whatever had me in its grip has let go. I am back to feeling human. My friend the blue heron is nowhere in sight, but that is okay. Maybe he, like me, took off for his panic hole. Heron, breathe with me.


  1. I did my resume last weekend. It's 4 pages. It's nothing but film work, music label work, and bar work, it was terrifying.

    I like your ritual to escape the panic. Sounds like a wonderful deep breath.

  2. I updated my resume Monday before last. That should be punishment for Shoplifting.

    As I had no lake nearby, I dove into a bottle of 18 year old Scotch. The water was fine.

    As was this post.
    I think we should start our own design team/consulting service.

  3. cIII: Thanks, bro!

    But 18-year old scotch? Dude, spill! (details, not the acqua vitae!) What label? I have a bottle of 15-year old Macallan on my desk. Dammit, bandwidth prevents me from sharing over the Net.

    Design team/consulting service? You have been reading my mind: that's on my list of Possible Futures, right there in my notebook. Let's brainstorm!

  4. dearest gumbo,

    way to work through it my brother. your getting the "black panther" fist in the air(like on the pic) from your southie.

    other than small animal sacrifices? breathing works best for me too.

    that resume? that job? that panic? none of that is as important as breathing.

    big fat celtic kiss to you. and me thinks you need some bagpipes.

  5. I must say, I kind of envy your panic hole! I am in sore need of an escape right now.. lol.

  6. I make my husband update my resume. I admit I am too weak to do it myself. Also considering a design/consulting gig in the near future. Terrifying and exciting...

  7. I soooo hope you get something soon. And as nice as your panic hole is, I hope you don't have to go back there.

  8. Let me just say that I have been on a Pete-y discovery of sorts.

    What I have been savouring for almost a year is Lagavulin. It's an Islay scotch. Very pete-y and very smoky. And, as the barrel houses are right on the coast, one can pick up on an, almost, Brine-y taste.

    The 18 year stuff I mentioned earlier is also a McCallan. That's Good stuff. Being from the Bluegrass state, I have to say that my heart lies in the hands of Bourbon. But, my ancestry dictates that I drink this as well.

    Brainstorming constantly. I'm thinking.....Treehouses.

  9. cIII:

    Lagavulin? Did you say Lagavulin?! Unfreakin'-believeable, the 16 year old is my favorite 'dry' single malt!

    Great minds, man, great minds...A toast to the treehouses! Slainte!

  10. Dude, I've been working on my resume ALL WEEK. So far? Nothing. I just look at my computer screen and mumble incoherently. I need a panic hole. I'm glad you got away to yours.

  11. This was great. Really. I was right there with you. Breathing, walking, smelling, feeling... loose (...in the diaphragm - I know. Not that kind.)

    I hope the resume revising goes quickly and smoothly for you, and that a job you're excited about follows lightning fast.

  12. wow. I didn't know you could write like that.

    I'm updating my resume too. So far I'm on the 80th draft and...it keeps getting worse the more I work on it. ahhhh

  13. Huh. Your "panic hole" sounds a lot like my "omigawdiwishihadaplacelikethateffffff". As in, I have empathy, but YOU have an AWESOME place to get out of your head in.

    In other news, I am a REALLY GOOD resume editor and have, for no charge, worked on hundreds (ok, fifties) of resumes for friends and friends of friends. I'm offering my services to you, IG, hoping it takes a little of the "OMG WHY WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS" feeling out of the holiday season for you.

    IF you think you could use this kind of help, please send it along to rsatz at yahoo. I will happily peruse, suggest changes, and send you a good draft back. Breathe easy, heron-guy.

  14. Goodfather: Clear your mind, grasshopper. Sit at your computer. Visualize a white sheet of paper on a black stone desktop. Breathe into your belly. Satori is not far away. Let me know when it hits.

    Csquaredplus3: Thank you. A state of grace when the words really beget the image, I am glad I got you there. Was it you rustling around in the leaves?

    Anndi: Of course, luv, I’ll even carry you if need be. Oh, and as long as your hubby doesn’t mind (grin).

    Charmaine: Thank you, also, for your kind words. I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I suspect the resume you are looking for is somewhere in the first 4-5 you did. Please let me know if that works for you.

    And in a bit of good news, I finished my resume draft this morning! A little polish and it will be ready for posting. Thank you all for checking in, I dig the good vibes!

  15. Rebekah:

    You are AWESOME! What a lovely coincidence! Perhaps this could be the 'polish' I was talking about!I will send that over a little later tonight. I have to admit, trying to cram 19 years of experience into no more than 2 pages had me rattled. I could use some guidance.

    (sniff) Truly one of the nicest things someone has done for me lately. Thank you :)

  16. Great minds that work up lans for rich people's Treehouses.

    All of those richies loves them some treehouses, right?

    Out on a Limb Design and Consulting.

    Just listen to that ring....


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