An LA Panic Attack By Guest Blogger Nathan Wellman

The Con

Throwing up in a strangerʼs bathroom, Iʼm scared that heʼll hear me. Have to wipe the porcelain clean after each new volley. Iʼm supposed to clean his house, but I canʼt even breathe without sweating. Canʼt quit though. Itʼs the only money Iʼll make all week.

A porcupine is swimming through my blood. Iʼm exhausted and sweating. Just pushing the vacuum leaves me breathless.

Iʼm alone and thereʼs no one who can help me. Theyʼre all two thousand miles away.

Thick Pine-Sol fumes donʼt help the nausea. I think to myself “This is Los Angeles.”

A thousand dreams expire here for every one success. You can smell the rotten ones everywhere. Iʼm gonna hit it big one day though, just you wait.

Showing up for my housekeeping gig with a 100 degree fever is looking, in retrospect, to have been a spectacularly shitty idea.

The joints in my body creak and groan like tired door hinges. “Just a little longer. Hang in there. Hang in there.” Iʼm saying this out loud as I leave the manʼs house. People veer off of the sidewalk to avoid me.

Canʼt drive. Gas is too expensive. So a dripping, fevered kid compulsively clutching at empty air has to take the metro. I sleep on the floor of the metro station. I sleep sprawled across two chairs on the train. Still have a full mileʼs walk in the California sun to get back home. Iʼm breathing fire that tastes like poison ivy.

(Damn it, I know itʼs a pretentious thing to think, but a part of my brain canʼt help but pipe up, “So this is what being poor and miserable feels like! Iʼve read all about this!”)

Back in Kentucky, people are erecting statues in my honor. Everybodyʼs so proud of me. Gotta keep going.

Every step forward somehow takes me backwards. My apartment never seems to get any closer. I knock on car windows at red lights to see if somebody can give me a ride. They all speed away. I recognize some of the music blaring from their stereos.

Is this what art will always be? Will I ever get where Iʼm going?

“Just a little longer. Hang in there. Hang in there.”

Ok, back to the drink.

— Nathan Wellman

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