Researching phobias for one of my characters (Atomosophobia- Fear of atomic explosions) I couldn’t believe the long list of fears. Here are some that struck a chord:
1. Automatonophobia – Fear of ventriloquist’s dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues – anything that falsely represents a sentient being.
I understand this phobia – dolls and dummies are equally creepy – but Almost Human is my New Favorite Television Show, featuring sexy robot Dorian (acted by Michael Ealy). Phobia cured.
2. Apeirophobia- Fear of infinity. I’m not afraid of infinity. It just blows my mind.
3. Chronophobia- Fear of time. This reminds me of one of my favorite Snow Patrol songs/lyrics (Gary Lightbody is not afraid of time):
4. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia- Fear of long words. Believe it or not, there’s a song about it (melophobia is the fear of music):
5. Blennophobia- Fear of slime.
Continuing to share my story of teaching English in Slovakia when I was twenty-one, which inspired my latest book, Traffik, what follows is another excerpt from a letter I wrote to my parents at the very beginning of my trip.
After flying to Vienna and staying the night in a hotel, struggling with jet lag and homesickness, I returned to the airport the following day to meet with the other Americans who would be teaching in Slovakia. At the end of the one-week orientation, we went on an outing to the Czech Republic where we toured a castle, a palace, a church and its catacombs, and finally a wine cellar…
“The wine cellar wasn’t as romantic as it sounds. It looked more like a community center with a beer hall inside. But we ate a good dinner and tasted four wines each. We sat at long wooden tables on one end of the room, and then there was a dance floor, with a stage for a band, and then more tables on the other side where the locals sat. At one point, the locals, who were mostly older, started singing sad but pleasant folk songs. After dinner, a band showed up and started to play! Everyone danced – young and old – to both techno music and to waltzes and polkas. A lot of people in our group danced. Although our polkas weren’t as good as theirs, we might have made up for it in effort. Nothing is more rambunctious than an upbeat polka.”
In his book, Travels with Herodotus, Ryszard Kapuscinski wrote about the first time he left Poland in 1958 (3 years after Stalin’s death) for his first journalistic assignment abroad:
“We flew in darkness; even inside the cabin the lights were barely shining. Suddenly, the tension which afflicts all parts of the plane when the engines are at full throttle started to lessen, the sound of the engines grew quieter and less urgent – we were approaching the end of our journey. Mario grabbed me by the arm and pointed out the window: “Look!”
I was dumbstruck.
Below me, the entire length and breadth of the blackness through which we were flying was now filled with light. It was an intense light, blinding, quivering, flickering. One had the impression of a liquid substance, like molten lava, glimmering down below, with a sparkling surface that pulsated with brightness, rising and falling, expanding and contracting. The entire luminous apparition was something alive, full of movement, vibration, energy.
It was the first time in my life I was seeing an illuminated city.”
Photo by xuuxuu on Pixabay
Just shy of a score ago this Fall, I embarked on an adventure to Eastern Europe to teach English and see a little of the world. This past year I wrote a book, Traffik, loosely based on my experiences.
Talking to my mother the other day, she mentioned she’d found the letters I wrote to her and my father during my nine months overseas, and she read me an excerpt. I barely recognized the written voice of my past self, nor did I remember the details I’d shared, so I asked her to send me some of the letters so I could share them on my blog and reawaken my memories of Slovakia as I revise my story.
I was twenty-one when I flew to Vienna in September – the first time I’d flown anywhere by myself. The next day I would meet the other Americans working for Education for Democracy – the group that brought teachers over to Eastern Europe to teach English – but before I met them, I had to deal with jet lag and spend the night in a hotel near the airport.
“Well here I am in Vienna, if you can believe that – because I can’t. It is 12:30 noon here, and it is about 5:30 am your time. And I haven’t gotten any sleep. On the plane they served us breakfast at 11:30 pm (our time) because we were in Copenhagen by then- which was about 6:00 or 7:00 am. WEIRD trip. Even though I am tired and bewildered I am also very excited and exhilarated, especially because I have gotten this far. When we were flying into Vienna I could see the land from above – mostly farmland with small islands of towns and a few expanses of forest. I was so excited because I realized that I had just flown from Chicago to Vienna, and I couldn’t believe how big the world is, and how diverse and different the countries are. It is definitely exciting to travel. I can’t believe this trip has just begun. I feel like I’ve already traveled lots and lots of miles.”
Here’s my pledge, with the web as my witness: everytime I post about Six Links of Separation, I’m going to go to SixDegrees.org and donate to a charity.
The website makes it extremely easy to donate. Here’s what I did:
1. I clicked “Donate”
2. I entered “writing” as a keyword (optional)
3. And I had 7 pages of charitable organizations to choose from!
I picked Afghan Women’s Writing Project, Inc. because I’d read about this organization and I’d been meaning to donate. Now, I have a karma buzz.
4. You can donate using a credit card or PayPal or these things called Good Cards.
Please consider stopping by SixDegrees.org and donating to the charity of your choice. You will enjoy the karma that follows!