"Sleeping With The Television On"
I'll write up more later. Much later. Right now, I need some recovery time.
The Carol Stream show ended at 3PM. I tear down, and I start driving home. I have a couple of stops to make first, including Barnes And Noble to pick up a book I ordered. I look at the clock and realize I have just enough time before the comic shop closes at 5PM. So I make for there.
I get there and get in the door, apologizing for cutting it so close. "Oh, you have plenty of time. We're open until 7:30 tonight." I see the flyer. I forgot -- the store is holding a fundraiser for Hero Initiative, and helping out is Gene Ha, the Chicago local comic artist whose most recent work, Justice League #7, just went on sale this week. I thought the signing would be earlier in the day. Nope, it starts at 5PM.
Please note, I have no beef with Ha. He is, as far as I can tell, a very nice guy and generally swell. And I doubted he would remember the two minutes we met and talked at the Kankakee Fantasy Con last year. But all I could think was to make tracks as fast as possible.
I start finishing up my browsing the racks and such, planning to be out by 5PM. Ha gets there a few minutes early. Everyone greets him like and old friend, and all I can think is, "Get out of here, Peter. You don't belong here anymore."
Ha talks with everyone and even jokes with me a little as they are clearing out the space where he will sign books and draw sketches. I feel the anxiety attack building like an explosion. I pay for my stuff and slip out (and I get the feeling the other regulars noticed a difference in my behavior). I was invited to come back after I finish running around, and I said I'd try to make it.
But I can't.
So now, I'm sitting in a restaurant. I'm in the booth in the furthest corner from the door with my back to everyone. My burger is getting cold. I haven't touched my iced tea. The few fries I've put in my mouth taste like styrofoam. And I'm locked in this vortex of insecurity and inadequacy.
I mean, what was I supposed to do? Introduce myself as a fellow comic creator? Not only is that presumptuous ("Hi! I'm a self-publisher who sells only thirty copies of his best selling title and I'd like to approach you, an industry superstar, as an equal!" That is such an asshole thing to do. Oh, I wrote an online comic strip, wrote a book that sold a thousand copies, and have a miniseries about to be pubished digitally. Whoop-de-fucking-do, that is so inadequate compared to what he's accomplished), but I just know he hears from people trying to show off their stuff to someone in the industry in hopes of him helping push them somewhere all the time. I wouldn't do it, but I fear he would think any talk I make about my stuff would be seen as me trying to get him to stump for me, lumping me with "those assholes."
Everyone is insecure about something. Everyone, no exceptions. I have several, and can master them with varying degrees of effort. Some are nothing to overcome. Some take a little focus, maybe a little pep talk to myself, before I get moving. But being in a situation where I'm not only not an equal, but will never be considered an equal? I can't handle it. I panic. I freak. I want to escape.
Those of you who think I'm so amazing and brave and wonderful? Well, that's a bunch of crap. Right now, I'm just some stupid coward hiding away from the world in plain sight.