Where's my paper bag?

Sometimes I sit in my studio apartment on the verge of hyperventilation. It's not because it's small, or because I feel claustrophobic. It has nothing to do with the size of my apartment, or the fact that I keep my (unused) computer on a sewing table pulled from the curb, and use an ottoman as a desk chair. My home and its amenities, or lack thereof, have nothing to do with the panic. Life, itself, is what suffocates me.

Do you ever feel that way? Or am I in my own, little universe, suffocating under the fact that, "This is it. This is what life is"?

I wonder too many things. Like, if I'll ever enjoy my job. Or if money worries will ever cease. They won't. When can I return from the grocery store with a week's worth of groceries, or not have a late fee on my bills? When will my relationship not be prefaced with "long-distance," and when, by God, will Barack Obama be elected so we can all survive?

I live in a city of hundreds of thousands, but sometimes I sit in my tiny, little abode and think that we are it, the cats and I. That there is no one else out there, outside of that dilapidated front door that's covered in tin-foil to keep out the sunlight.

I realize that, of course, we're not alone. But sometimes the grown-up worries are too much. Is there anything else to look forward to other than high gas prices and job insecurity? No one can help me understand my job, and no one can hand me a new one. I have to make the decision of whether to buy brand-name shampoo or cat food.

I get mad at myself for choosing an industry that is flailing, and one that pays pennies. Why didn't I go into nursing? Or another career where $30,000 is unheard of, and not the most I'll ever make?

If I never had to leave my apartment, or the safety of my small neighborhood, I'd be OK. It's the big, bad world that terrifies me. When do you get too old to hold your mom's hand to cross the street? Because I am pretty sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But the light is on the other side of the street.