"What is actually causing the anxiety?"
October 13, 2020 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Amanda Ajamfar, an Iranian-American short story writer, wrote "Catastrophizing", published this year in The Georgia Review, in which a woman deals with ecological anxiety and overwhelming fear. "Then she picked at Atoosa’s choice of words in describing her mother, wanting to hear more about that than about the difficulty Atoosa was having trying to negotiate her need to have a phone for her job and social life with the unethical production of the object." Also by Ajamfar: "True Stories Never Satisfy", on the stories we tell that induce fear in women.

From "Catastrophizing":
At home that night she had trouble choosing something to eat, because everything in her fridge screamed waste: using anything up would mean throwing away packaging, buying more, repeating the cycle. Only Sampson got to have his dinner, and she reasoned that his food was allowable only because he was not culpable for any of the systems that brought him food—she was.
posted by brainwane (10 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
"I just don’t know what do with that kind of information, or those kinds of stories, says the soft-voiced woman.
There’s nothing to do, says the cop. It’s just how it is."


We just wait to get attacked and die, and know on some level it's our fault because we dared to be a woman existing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:15 PM on October 13 [4 favorites]


I remember trying to come with an explanation why I wouldn't go meet them, at that club, to see their friend's band, where the parking was on dark side streets.
posted by winesong at 8:09 PM on October 13


Sorry, also; thanks for posting.
posted by winesong at 8:10 PM on October 13


Thank you for this post- these two stories together get at something I have, in my own life, found difficult to name. I work in the mental health field and, whenever a patient brings up their ecological terror, I have strong feelings about how to handle it. I effort to get them to say more about it, of course, to put their terror into words so that we can grapple with it together- that's my job. But the terror is appropriate to the situation- not neurotic, but the result of a nervous system rightly identifying that something is very wrong in the world we inhabit. These feelings - like these stories that terrify, because they frame out a truth - are difficult to sit with, because we are not supposed to be "sitting with" imminent threats. Terror is meant to mobilize. But what to do when it seems there is nowhere to go?
posted by Bob Regular at 5:22 AM on October 14 [13 favorites]


Damn, these were good. Thanks for the post
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:58 AM on October 14


Thank you for posting these. I’ve been thinking a lot about how the stories in The Gift of Fear absolutely fucked me up and have caused so much anxiety that it negates any lessons I was supposed to learn, so the second linked story really got to me. “There’s nothing to do. That’s just how it is.”
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 9:22 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


ecological terror is because of exxon, a manifestation of colonialism. i suppose the therapy apparatus, where we're all just supposed to resolve problems within our own minds, instead of through collective action, isn't good at giving people political tools, but if you can trace root causes, i find that that does resolve anxiety.
posted by eustatic at 9:40 AM on October 14 [11 favorites]


That first story feels a lot like the inside of my head.
posted by bashing rocks together at 5:28 PM on October 14 [6 favorites]


Me too, bashing rocks together.

And eustatic, your comment was a revelation for me.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 8:53 PM on October 14


I am so glad that some readers found it useful to read these stories and, in them, find a useful reflection of the inside of their heads, or a lens to understand or consider people we meet or work with. I think that is one of the valuable dimensions of reading fiction, especially horror stories of dread, because so often the dread itself comes with some shame or obligation or other constraint that stops us from sharing our internal worlds with others.
posted by brainwane at 9:05 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


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