On having no sense of self-preservation

April 4, 2009

Like most creative types, I am super-neurotic. If you’re looking for someone to worry about something irrational, I am your girl. Things I have worried about recently include:

1. Likelihood of being literally the worst writer in the world.
2. Global warming.
3. Earthquakes.
4. Not having an earthquake-survival plan.
5. Not even having a lot of bottled water on hand in case of earthquakes, oh my God, what’s wrong with me.
6. Crazy person transporting a ficus in their car who flipped me off for coming to a complete stop at a stop sign.
7. American milk cows way too closely related, just begging for some virus to come through and wipe out all delicious milk producers.
8. Financial meltdown inevitably leading to worldwide cannibalism.
9. North Korea.
10. Bangs: should I keep letting them grow out?

Perhaps strangely, the flip side of my personality is that I have literally almost no sense of self-preservation. I am not scared of things any normal decent person would be scared of. I say this not to brag – oh my goodness, had I mentioned how SUPER BRAVE I am?!? – but to make clear that something went wrong in the wiring of my brain, and so I am super-scared of cannibal day traders but not even a little scared of things I actually should be afraid of, GIFT OF FEAR-style. Like, say, getting shot.


So recently I was visiting my young man, who lives in a somewhat shady area of Venice. We were standing around in his kitchen at 9 PM, when suddenly shots rang out from just up the street. A LOT of shots. Like five or six. (Anything over “0” would count as a lot for me, but this really was a whole bunch in a row.)

“Turn out the lights!” I said.

“They weren’t shooting at us,” Young Man pointed out, prosaically.

“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO TURN OUT THE LIGHTS WHEN THERE’S GUN PLAY,” I insisted. Because I have seen many episodes of The Wire.

Young Man turned out the lights, grumbling a little, and then suggested maybe we would also want to hide out in the bathtub. I sneered at him and peered out of the window with interest.

“Do you think we should go see if maybe someone’s bleeding in the street?” I asked.

Young Man looked at me.

“I mean– someone could be hurt! You know?” I pointed out, super-helpfully. “We could be Good Samaritans!”

He looked at me again. Realized that I was probably not going to shut up about this possibility.

“Stay here,” he said.

“I could come with you,” I hazarded.

Young Man pretended not to have heard this stupid suggestion and went outside to check things out.

(LEST YOU THINK THAT I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON, the cops had already been called, and there were no tires screeching away or screams or ensuing awful things, etc etc. Even the neighborhood dogs had stopped barking.)

Meanwhile, I kept my post at the window. READY FOR ANYTHING.

When Young Man returned, he looked up at the window. I saw him frown heavily from many feet away. EVEN IN THE DARK.

“So that was your plan,” he said in withering tones. “Stand in the window? Make yourself a really excellent target?”

“I THOUGHT YOU SAID THEY WEREN’T SHOOTING AT US,” I said. And then, belatedly: “…did you find anything?”

AND THEN, not waiting for a response and also like my full name was ELANA FRINK, GIRL DETECTIVE, I said: “Let’s go outside and look for shell casings!!!!”

“No and no,” Young Man said.


Here is a stop-motion video where inanimate objects in NYC speak out. I am not explaining this well at all- you should watch it anyway. (It’s a lot like CREATURE COMFORTS. Which is of course A++.)

The Lost Tribes of New York City from Carolyn London on Vimeo.


3 Responses to “On having no sense of self-preservation”

  1. Dean Says:

    I would posit that you are being well served by your “young man”.

  2. Chris Kittinger Says:

    I agree with Dean.

  3. jengod Says:

    This post makes me laugh so hard. I miss you.

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