Andrea Gibson – ‘Panic Button Collector’

By Button Poetry

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Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:02
I check my Facebook page 36 times a day for the sole purpose of making sure
00:07
I’ve not accidentally posted a nude photo of myself.
00:10
I reread an email 13 times before pressing “send”
00:14
to ensure I’ve not written something in the email
00:15
that could convict me of a crime.
00:18
Before taking a stage, when asked if I allow flash photography,
00:21
I always want to say “no”
00:22
because I’m terrified flash photography will give me epilepsy.
00:25
I know it doesn’t work like that, y’all.
00:28
Still,
00:29
I never eat nuts on an airplane
00:31
out of fear that I will suddenly develop a nut allergy,
00:33
and if I have to asphyxiate, I don’t want it to happen at 30,000 feet.
00:37
Twice in the last two years, I’ve been deboarded from an airplane
00:40
for running screaming down the aisle as the plane was taking off.
00:43
I can’t walk through San Francisco
00:45
without worrying my indigestion is the beginning of an earthquake.
00:48
I brace for tsunamis beside lakes in Colorado– I’m not joking.
00:52
The last time I saw Niagara Falls, I couldn’t take it.
00:55
It was too much much.
00:56
I had to plug my ears to look at it. I had to close my eyes to listen.
00:59
Generally, I can’t do all of my senses at the same time.
01:02
They’re too much much.
01:04
Like if you touch me without warning,
01:06
whoever you are,
01:07
it would take everything I have to not scream.
01:09
Imagine your hands are electrical sockets
01:11
and I am constantly aware that I am 70% water.
01:14
It’s not that I’ve not tried to build a dam.
01:17
Ask my therapist who pays her mortgage.
01:19
My cost of living went up at five years old
01:22
when I told my mother I have to stop going to birthday parties
01:25
because every time I hear a balloon pop
01:27
I feel like I’m being murdered in the heart.
01:29
Last year, a balloon popped on the stage where I was performing.
01:32
I started crying in front of the whole crowd
01:34
and kept repeating the word “loud, loud, loud.”
01:36
It was super sexy.
01:38
That’s what I do. I do super sexy.
01:40
Like when I asked a super cute barista 11 times,
01:43
“Are you sure this is decaffeinated?”
01:45
“Are you sure this is decaffeinated? Are you sure?” “Yes.”
01:47
I drink decaffeinated and still jitter like a bug
01:50
running from the bright, bright, bright.
01:52
I’ve spent years of my life wearing a tight rubber band
01:55
hidden beneath my hair so my brain could have a hug.
01:58
These days when no one’s looking, I wear a fuzzy-fitted winter hat
02:01
that buttons tight beneath the chin,
02:03
and I only ever wear a tie, so when I convince myself I’m choking,
02:06
my senses have something they’re certain they could blame.
02:09
As a kid, I was so certain I would die by way of a meteor falling on my head.
02:13
I’d go whole weeks without looking at the sky
02:15
because I didn’t want to witness the coming of my own death.
02:18
I started tapping the kitchen sink seven times to build a shield.
02:22
My mother started making lists of everything I thought would kill me
02:25
in hopes that if I saw my fears, they would disappear.
02:28
Bless her heart.
02:30
But the first time I saw that list,
02:31
I started filling salad bowls with bleach and soaking my shoelaces overnight,
02:35
so in the morning when I ironed them, they’d be so bright.
02:38
I’d be certain I had control of how much dark could break into my life,
02:42
how much jackhammer could break into my heart.
02:44
But my spine,
02:45
it has always been a lasso that could never catch my breath.
02:48
I honestly can’t imagine how it would feel
02:50
to walk into a room and not feel the roof collapsing on my…
02:53
No, no, no, I am not fine.
02:55
Fine never tells the truth.
02:57
And more than anything I have ever been afraid of,
03:00
I am terrified of lies,
03:02
how they war the world, how they sound by our tongues,
03:04
how they bone dry the marrow.
03:06
How did we get through high school without being taught Dr. King?
03:10
Spent two decades having panic attacks, avoided windows, jumped at thunder.
03:14
I think we are all part fight the flight, part run for your life,
03:17
part please, like, like, like, like, like me,
03:20
part can’t breathe,
03:21
part scared to say you’re scared,
03:23
part say it anyway.
03:25
You panic button collector,
03:27
you clock of beautiful ticks.
03:29
You can always, always, always, shake like a leaf
03:33
on my family tree
03:35
and know you belong here.
03:37
You absolutely belong here
03:39
and everything you feel is okay.
03:43
(applause)
03:46
Thanks.

This post was previously published on YouTube and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Photo credit: Screenshot from video