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By Jane Whitten

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Extra resources for Tropical Wildlife of Indonesia and Southeast Asia

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For me, everything looked red. The worst symptom of my anxiety was insomnia. It had started on the long plane ride across the Pacific Ocean from Hong Kong to LAX. My drug of choice for flying is Xanax. 25mg pills put me in a slobbery coma for up to twelve hours. That day I was feeling off so I took one-and-a-half and slept in my cramped seat for maybe three hours then jolted awake in claustrophobic fear. I spent the rest of the flight in the throws of a full-on panic attack, getting up from my seat to stretch, sitting back down, ordering water then coke then coffee then beer.

I awoke, snuck out of the hospital into the cold air and started my truck. m. I turned the radio on to an early morning talk show. My truck rumbled through the empty, craggy streets of New Orleans, the wipers cutting paths on my cracked windshield through a glaze of frost. The regret and depression I had still felt upon waking dissolved. About two blocks from my apartment, I experienced a feeling I can only describe as spontaneous happiness. It was a sort of profound tranquility, an almost meditative state, something like what people say they feel when they’re certain they are going to die.

Cece’s eyes brightened. ” she asked. “Kind of. I guess so. ” I said. ” Regina frowned. ” Her chuckles sent waves through her chins. Max walked off to some other Brits to rip shots and smoke cigarettes and I stayed and chatted with Cece. She was Vietnamese but grew up in Poland. She had moved all the way to Southern California to attend university, then came back to Saigon to live with her parents. ” Cece explained that the Native Vietnamese, who were generally very friendly to travelers, hated Viet Kieus.

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