Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith

We now interrupt this Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice readalong challenge currently in progress to bring you a look at how I procrastinate when I should be getting ahead on said challenge, hanging out with my dad in the hospital, cleaning my house, sleeping, doing laundry, lesson planning/grading/working, practicing my dance moves for the teacher flash mob I’m participating in at the prom this week, shopping for a prom dress that won’t flash the mob, attending my sons’ myriad soccer games, completing the training for my new job, paying bills, worrying about how the second job will or will not pay aforementioned bills, worrying about the tree that fell on my house in the storm the other night, worrying about the OTHER trees nearby that might fall on my house tonight, worrying if rain will get inside the hole in my chimney, obsessively checking the weather on the internet, wondering if my family or neighbors will get injured by the broken bits of my house that keep falling from the roof and chimney, contacting the homeowner’s insurance company to get money to have the roof and chimney fixed, calling various roof and chimney and tree removal contractors to get estimates for repair costs, and, well, I guess you get an idea of what my “monkey mind” looks like…

Anyway, back to the book review:


Whoa, dude. How did you get inside my head? Granted, I’m pretty sure I’m not actually a Jewish man, but still…Mr. Smith, I am amazed by how totally you GET my anxiety. What year were you born? I really truly think you might actually be my long-lost twin.

Anyway, Smith’s description of anxiety as a fight-or-flight response gone haywire seems apt. I also share his (and his friend Kate’s) “allergy to practical behaviors, such as opening one’s mail” and find that I am also a compulsive nailbiter and counter-phobic much like the author. However, I’m unconvinced that this is a bad thing; after all, if people didn’t rush headlong into their fears (like a flash mob!) sometimes, how would humankind progress? Does it matter that the person did so to soothe his own anxiety or squelch his own fears?

Creepy side-note: Do you think it means something that my great-grandma had this exact same chattering monkey toy which totally scared the shit of me as a kid? Is it significant that a version of this damn monkey also figures prominently in a work of Stephen King horror and the lives of me, Daniel Smith, and likely several other quite anxious adults? I wonder how this hideous piece of Americana was marketed, actually. Would you care for a little childhood trauma with your toys, anyone? Yikes. This deranged primate STILL gives me nightmares. Way to eff up your offspring, folks!

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