Why would somebody with crippling self-doubt and high anxiety decide to report from war-torn Iraq?

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This story is featured in Issue №2 of Anxy: The Workaholism Issue, a magazine that takes a creative perspective on the inner worlds we often refuse to share.

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(See the story on Compass Cultura.)

Young people die for no reason and many reasons all the same. During what years I have lived, countless friends and loved ones were taken without warning. They always are. Even when it’s real it never feels that way.

More came and went before a trip late one summer. We drove the thin sinew of highway roped around the High Country, leaving no room for error. The road unwound in the darkness past dying headlamps. A roiling fear ignited in me as we drove back from Asheville. I felt against my chest death’s cold and hollow knocking. And I experienced car crashes that could be but never were. This was a new kind of death. After two separations, I lost hope and safety and love and whatever it meant to have a home. I met an incurable rush of fear about my mortality and the indispensability of time. It dawned on me that anything could end and that everything will. Home was no longer a place to which I could return. …

Kelli Griffin served her time and changed her life. She wants to vote. Now what?

Nothing bad will come of this, Kelli thinks. This is for my children.

Her daughter is learning about civics and voting and, coincidentally, the town of Montrose, Iowa, where Kelli lives with her husband and children, is holding an uncontested municipal election. It is balmy on this day, November 5, 2013. Kelli Jo Griffin picks up her children and stepdaughter from Keokuk Catholic School and Central Lee — four kids total. Both schools are a short and raucous ride to the polling station inside the Ivor Fowler community center where things will soon go wrong.

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Kelli Griffin. Courtesy/ACLU of Iowa

Kelli has forgotten her driver’s license. She packs the children back into the car and speeds home — forty-five minutes, maybe an hour, one way, then back again. The kids are shouting. Mommy’s voting! It’s exciting and restless, this democracy. …

A low point, a bottle, a cat, a gun

The Smith & Wesson SD40 VE low-capacity handgun looked slick on my coffee table, in my hand, anywhere I placed it in my little apartment in Savannah, Georgia.

I let it hang at my side and stared into a mirror, one five-pound trigger pull away from being a killer, a protector, a hero, someone not to mess with. The weight, a pound and a half, traveled up my arm like an extension of my thoughts, an adjunct of power over everything and everyone, including, for once, myself.

I disassembled the weapon. The slide first, then the barrel and chamber with it; a magazine and a spring and the grip attached to the rail where the slide sat. …


Kenneth R. Rosen

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