Internet Porn Birth Control

A male friend recently told me of an alarming crisis: younger men have become so used to having multiple tabs of different pornographic websites open, which they rotate through several times in one setting that they cannot get an erection when they are in the presence of a naked woman since they are under stimulated. As he articulated the horrors of a heterosexual man, who’s fortunate to be in the presence of a consenting, naked woman, and not able to perform, my thoughts drifted elsewhere, as they usually do.

If the younger generation of men are no longer aroused being intimate with a naked woman, might this possibly be the answer we’ve been looking for? “We” meaning those of us who are concerned about all this rampant fertilization. There are already over seven billion people in the world, wouldn’t it be wonderful if internet porn became the birth control of choice for younger men? Finally, men can enthusiastically embrace a form of birth control.

There are lots of men who claim that the “real reason” they watch so much porn is that they don’t have enough money to have a girlfriend. Let’s transform the poor man’s plight. Instead of focusing on these guys’ lack of money, let’s think of all the resources they’re saving by not fathering more people to consume them.

Now, if we’re going to honor men who use internet porn birth control, we shouldn’t shame them about their selective erections. After all, when these guys actually want to reproduce, they can always store some of it in a sperm bank. If this becomes really popular, men will eventually have their own personal sperm banks at home.

Plus, and here’s the real exciting part, men who have erectile challenges can get the latest designer penile implant, but this isn’t your grandfather’s penile implant. These are the new and improved devices that can be controlled by an app.

Imagine girlfriends or wives using a cell phone app to select from several different vibrator settings. Now the implant pump that controls the reservoir of saline solution to produce and deflate an erection will still be done manually. Wouldn’t want an app to activate an erection at an inappropriate time.

Another fine feature will be that women could keep track of their men via the penis tracking app, especially for those powerful men who need reminders avoid forbidden places.  Warnings would be pinged to their penises when in they are about to enter certain places. A cloaking feature, emanating from the implant, will render the penis invisible to cameras, preventing dire consequences during those momentary lapses in judgment when a man tries to take a dick pic.

Of course, those are the special upgrade features offered only to rich, powerful men who need to be saved from themselves. Poor men, on the other hand, are still expected to exhibit self-control of their penises. As the saying goes, dear fellows, “You have no excuse because you have no money!” But take heart, all men can truly think on their feet when thinking with their penis.

Internet porn birth control…a family planning solution that men will enjoy using!

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2017 Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day, I attempted to make pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread). The first thing that threw me for a loop was the tapioca flour.  My regular grocery store had about a dozen different flours, none were tapioca. I made a special trip to a high- end grocery store to get it. Next, I didn’t quite have enough olive oil and used vegetable oil to make up for the gap. Then, I added the milk to the oil and brought them to a boil. Afterwards, I removed the wok from the burner and stirred in the chopped garlic and flour. That tapioca flour was a different animal altogether. I think the recipe referred to the texture as “sticky,” whereas as I would call it “rubbery,” but perhaps the texture was off since I’d never made it before.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I then stirred in two beaten eggs and the finely grated parmesan cheese. At that point, I put the wok on the counter and used two wooden spoons to integrate the eggs and cheese. Reminded me more of a science experiment than a cooking technique. One thing that eventually became true, as predicted by the recipe, was the cottage cheese appearance.

As best I could, I dropped one wooden spoonful of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. The batch didn’t look like much going in, but once they came out…I of course, did a quality control check and ate one. Absolutely delicious even though it was my first time.

Perhaps the biggest compliment came from an adorable child who was almost 2. He kept eating so many pao de queijo, to the surprise of his parents. Admittedly, Thanksgiving would have seemed weird without the bird. The host prepared a special, initially secret, flavor injection. Then, he took it outside where the turkey fryer awaited. As he carefully lowered the turkey, I reminisced about the early dangerous days of the first generation of turkey fryers that got so hot, it burned down people’s wooden decks. The newer generations are a bit risky, but nothing like their ancestors.

The turkey was as moist and delicious as it was beautiful. I loved how we all brought side dishes and desserts that went beautifully for this gathering of adult orphans.

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Puzzle T-Shirt

Once again, I dealt myself a challenging costume card. Not only did I have just shy of a week to complete the latest outfit, but I first had to put together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle.Following tried and true puzzle logic, I first separated out the edges, even setting aside the few pieces that were already together. I took a risk with this puzzle since I’d bought it from Goodwill and the box had already been opened, but at least the previous owner hadn’t completely broken up all the puzzle. I’d just hoped that no pieces were missing.Over the next four days, I binge-watched “Stranger Things” while putting the puzzle together. Apparently I was overexerting myself because I felt a little feverish and met myself coming and going to refill my water glass. My work paid off toward the end of the week when I finally put the last piece in place. Then, I leisurely removed swatches, brushed puzzle glue on top of them and set them aside to dry.Once I had all the swatches I wanted, I bagged up the rest of the puzzle.  After all, why should I put the remaining pieces back in the box since there were now gaping holes? At least I bagged pieces that all went together. The next morning, the glue on the swatches had dried and then I used my crafting nemesis: spray glue. For this step, I went outside on my balcony and put on even shittier clothes than what I normally wear around the house. I’d turned a gray T-shirt inside out, sprayed one swatch at a time and placed it on the T-shirt. Trump’s “Art of the Deal” swatch went on the back of the T-shirt.I gingerly put the shirt on since the stiffness of the puzzle pieces made it seem as if I could pop them off with one inadvertent flick. Fortunately, there weren’t any casualties, even when I put on my seatbelt and the times I sat down. After I read my spoken word piece, “Interactive Life Puzzles,” I gifted every audience member, including the bookstore employees, two plastic bags of puzzle swatches. I hope to hear/see what those other creative souls did to repurpose their pieces of the ’80s.

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Interactive Life Puzzles

Life is composed of many pieces that can be put together in several different ways, unlike a static jigsaw puzzle where you separate out all the edges, put them together and fill in the rest, using the convenient pretty picture on the box. Those puzzles can only be done in one way, regardless of your ethnicity, religion, gender, politics, or socioeconomic level.

Interactive life puzzles are a beast in comparison. None of the pieces fits together in a neat picture. The infinite number of pieces can be put together and interpreted in an infinite number of ways and are only limited by one’s lifetime.

An entire lifetime collecting pieces of the puzzle, either making sense of it or not. Pieces may have meaning or not. Each piece has no more value than any other until it’s part of something meaningful. And we don’t even agree on what’s meaningful or not.

Puzzling, isn’t it? We’re not creating the same overall picture even with access to the same pieces of information. Some have a financial or political obligation to interpret the puzzle in a logic-defying manner like saying the way to curb gun violence is more guns. Or by blaming mental health issues for violence perpetuated by guns and then taking away affordable health care, which could help remedy those mental health issues.

Now, just throw freewill into the mix. Could you imagine when opening a jigsaw puzzle box and the individual pieces had freewill? They could flip themselves over to hide what’s printed on the other side or change their picture. Edges could become curvaceous and vice versa. Or a certain group of pieces could refuse to join with other pieces, regardless that they’re all part of the same puzzle.

We’re all puzzle piece collectors, dragging around our incomplete collections. Over time, even the pieces we’ve lugged around for so long become misshapen, not truly representing what they originally stood for. Pieces that loomed so heavily on us when we were children have been long buried and forgotten until something random triggers its activation. Upon reflection, we may detect patterns in those pieces most personal to us while being mere buoys raising and falling in the change of pieces that affect our community.

Let’s not forget those historians emphasizing the winning side’s interpretation of the puzzle while conveniently omitting those pieces that mar its pretty view of the past. Perpetuating those glossy celebrations of decorative pieces of history magically filling in the factual gaps with lore, exaggeration, adult fairytales and outright lies.

Whenever someone wishes to return to the good ol’ days, I always wonder which part of the past are they conveniently forgetting or oblivious to, which existed back then that even those ol’ time contemporaries didn’t like and fondly looked further back since all those modern-day, new and improved pieces with their jagged edges still pierced into the pretty picture they were trying to make with inflexible pieces.

There’s never been a golden age of human beings or civilization. They all rise and fall. We are the same vicious assholes we’ve always been. Despite technology, innovations, living longer, access to creature comforts those in the good ol’ days could never imagine, yet our species still drags around a self-destructiveness, which manifests itself in the form of greed, jealousy, hate, irrational reactions to the unknown, especially when the unknown is in the form of another human being with such perceived differences, the fearful forgets their humanity.

And therein lies our self-destruction, not really new and improved. Just reinvented with the latest upgrades to handle the same shit we’ve struggled with all along. The picture on the puzzle pieces may look different, but it’s the same struggles as before.

Always some group who view themselves as being above the law and deserving more than others, using the same tried and true strategy of divide and conquer with whichever modern twists that gives the illusion of something different, but it’s still the same ol’ puzzle. No matter which pieces you get in life, it’s the same puzzle. Make the best picture you can.

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A few writers who have participated in my monthly spoken word and storytelling show, The Austin Writers Roulette, have written about frybread. Many different cultures around the world have their staple breads, but I’ve never tried any Native American bread before.

Now that I’ve cooked up ethnic dishes for the past couple of weeks, I’ve finally gotten around to frybread. I mixed all-purpose flour, water, salt, and baking powder; kneaded it into a ball; and let it set for about 30 minutes. Although the instructions stated that the longer it set, the fluffier the end product would be. I cleaned my apartment in the meantime and once I finished, I heated up the oil in my wok and rolled the dough into balls. I flattened the dough out with the palm of my hands and put a small hole in the center. Using tongs, I slid the dough into the wok. If it sank to the bottom, then the oil wasn’t hot enough. Since I’d used just enough oil to get the job done, I wasn’t about to get any closer to boiling hot grease to see if the dough touched the bottom or floated. I had a pretty good process going. As soon as I’d prepared one to slide into the wok, the one already frying was ready to be removed. When I bit into the tester piece of bread, my first thought was, “Dough brick.” Fortunately, it wasn’t quite as hard and heavy as my first impression. But not as light and airy as I’d hoped either. I made quick work of the whole batch. Even so, a thin smoky haze floated throughout my apartment. To prevent the activation of my smoke alarms,  I turned on the stove air vent and took the wok off the burner. Just the night before, the culinary challenge was to bake butternut squash, mix it with beef sausage, chopped pecans, brown sugar, butter and sage. All that deliciousness was bound to be a hit. Only thing that stops me from making butternut squash more frequently is cutting that damn thing open in the first place.

As with every new recipe, I realize it’s not the “authentic” experience, but I definitely enjoy mixing  some familiar flavors in novel ways.

The following day, I attended my first ever Native American powwow. One of my fellow rouletters invited me, especially so I could try frybread. She was volunteering at the ticket booth and was supposed to get off around 11:30, but had to work nearly an hour later since her replacement volunteer ran late.I walked around the market and looked in on the start of the traditional dance parade in the arena while I waited. Once she was finally free of her volunteer duties, we waited in line at one of the vendors where she knew the owners.

We both got a regular tostada, which used frybread instead of a tortilla. I made a mental note that when I attempted to make another batch of frybread again, to make the dough in the morning to fry it up for dinner. Perhaps  then it will be closer to the consistency of that delicious frybread.Afterwards, we watched some of the competition.

The announcer called out the various categories of competition, which consisted of several individuals performing at the same time. One of the things they were being judged on was how well they kept up with the live music being drummed and chanted. There were two drum circles and unlike African musicians who collaborate with the dancers, these musicians challenged the skills of the dancers to keep in time with their drumming, which could change tempo without notice.

As usual with such an experience, I wanted to learn more about meaning behind powwows since I’m sure I only glimpsed a small part of the significance since I only could truly see the things which I readily understood.

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Two Medusas

Halloween has been my favorite holiday since I was a child and continues into adulthood. Initially, I was in it for both the candy and costuming. Now, as the producer of my own monthly spoken word and storytelling show, I dress up for the show every month. A third of my closet is composed of costumes. At any given time, clothes that I’ve not worn in a while may very well be repurposed for the cause–or rather the theme of whichever show is on the horizon.

Since I’m an independent agent and Halloween is on the eve of Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment, I granted myself the day off. Although I hadn’t planned on attending any celebration, I still couldn’t pass up the opportunity to dress up. The trick this year was to wear a costume that could withstand the 105-degree heat of a Bikram yoga studio.

Out of all my costumes, my Medusa cobra heads made out of felt were the most practical, considering I wanted to wear a costume in a hot yoga class. Yet, I had a chiropractic appointment before yoga; so wearing my galabeya to flesh out my Medusa look would have just been plain weird. I compromised and wore a flowing shirt along with brown jeans.

As soon as I sat down in the waiting area, a guy looked at me and said, “You look familiar.” Without missing a beat, I replied, “Of course I do. I’m Medusa.” Another woman in the waiting area burst out laughing. Turns out the guy had been a regular at the same yoga studio.

I arrived at yoga class a little late, which always makes me want to sneak in, but with a hair full of snakes, it was not an easy task. There were positions which made me very aware of my braided snakes. Throughout the entire 90-minute practice, I’m pleased to say that I only lost one snake.  A 90% success rate!

Once I returned home, I read an email from my apartment leasing office about a Halloween celebration. Given the fact that Halloween landed on a Tuesday and the first day of open enrollment was the next day, this low-key celebration was better than nothing and worth putting on one of my galabeyas and some green lipstick and pixie eyelashes for the cause.

About 30 minutes prior to me getting ready, the bottom fell out. I had second thoughts about even making the short walk to the leasing office for free libations. Traditionally, Austin floods around Halloween time; so I didn’t know if the rain would continue throughout the evening. Fortunately, it eased up while I did the bare minimum to get into character. Drizzling, the weather held up and didn’t challenge my cheap umbrella too much.

I loved that the punch matched my lipstick. There were two varieties of punch: “The Regular Stuff” and “The Good Stuff.” Of course I choose the latter, which was laced with Whipped Cream flavored vodka. Never tried that it before, but it definitely got my vote.

I ate half a cold-cut sub and too many chips with onion dip. As if those chips hadn’t sank my regular diet enough, I had a mini chocolate cupcake followed by a jello shot. Note to self: any jello shots with candy suspended in it isn’t going to be good! Adding to the confusion, the doggie jello shots were just beside the ones for humans.  We were apparently supposed to “know” that those suspended things in bottom of the doggie cups were pieces of dog food!  Yours truly got clarification before even attempting any scary-looking shot.

As usual, I happily ate and drank while making awkward conversation with my fellow residents and the leasing office staff. One woman, who I’m not sure if she works there or not due to the relatively high turn over rate, launched into a story about her first date with a guy who turned out to be a chain smoker. I was taken aback by her story since I’d merely approached food spread and she’d begun her story with no segue. I did the socially acceptable thing of asking her questions and making comments and even invited her to sit with me after I’d finished fixing my plate, but she drifted off to talking with someone else.

Another guy complimented my costume and added that that was the first time he’d seen me in makeup since I normally am not wearing any.  I immediately thought “stalker,” but then he stated that he’d not worked out in the fitness room for nearly a month. I let the fact go that I didn’t put on makeup to work out, yet I teased him about rushing to his grave since he’d stopped working out, stopped eating healthily and started back smoking.

Lastly a German guy tried his best to engage us into a deep conversation about the significance behind the observation of Halloween. The only interesting cultural gem I could offer was about how bands of drunken men would go around in England demanding more booze and if not receiving any, would pull a prank on whichever inn or tavern that refused.

Now, I mostly view our celebration as just one big party where I doubt few people attach much significance to any of the original meaning. TV shows like American Horror Story, tends to circle back to the original meaning where the worlds of the living and dead can connect freer than any other time of the year. Yet the basis of the observation was signifying the end of the harvest season when most plants died, which people associated with human death and dressed in costumes to ward off ghosts.

Only time will tell if the modern reinterpretation of Halloween is a benefit or hinderance to our culture.

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How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Years ago, I started working out on a regular basis just to get a good night’s sleep. For the longest time, that was sufficient. In the past couple of years, I’ve managed to work out every day for at least 30 minutes, which serves to reduce stress, but not remedy anxiety dreams.

As much as I hate to admit it, whatever I’m doing professionally has now become such a huge influence on whether I get a good night’s sleep. For the first year I taught at a private school in Honduras, I had a principal who turned out to be a very despicable person and for that school year, I hardly ever got a good night’s rest and one of the results, my hair thinned out. Vowing to never exhaust my health like that again, I stood up to him at the beginning of the second school year when he mistakenly thought we’d pick up where we’d left off, but I managed to change the dynamic and started sleeping well.

Since leaving the classroom as math/science teacher, I’ve had several different jobs, trying to find that delicate balance among challenge, creativity and happiness. For the past couple of years, I’ve been working from home, but not quite as my own person.

As a matter of fact, since resigning from the last job I deadened, I’m no longer bored, I’ve proven myself to be a quick learner (once again!), and my schedule is flexible. This is what I’ve envisioned for myself all along when I started working from home: freedom.

Freedom from worry, boredom, rigid schedules, underemployment, and underestimation of my skills. I sleep like a baby! With proper rest, I have so much more energy. Plus, since I’ve completed my on-boarding training, I’ve been exercising in the mornings–just the way I like it.

Sleep has become my accurate barometer of whether all the other elements in my life work productively. By the time my head hits the pillow, if I have lived the day with integrity (being true to myself), then good rest is my reward.

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Liberian Rice Bread

As I read Madame President about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becoming both Liberia’s and Africa’s first female president, I felt humbled, angry and intrigued. Humbled by all the creature comforts I’ve been born into and yet have the nerve to complain about the challenges I’ve faced, which pale in comparison to what Liberian woman have had to face. Angry over the violence, greed and machoism of the men who plunged their country into such an abyss all the while hoarding wealth. And lastly intrigued by the fact that women, who were assaulted at such a frequency that hardly anyone batted an eye, still had the resiliency to take care of their families by forging into the woods to find something to sell.

Throughout the biography, I looked up pictures of various people who were mentioned. I listened to popular political songs during the time. As if hearing music from that region hadn’t transported me to my times as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, the mentioning of food truly landed. Although Tanzanians have their own take on similar ingredients, Liberians have their own flair on such staples as bananas, spices, rice, beef, chicken and something I’d never even heard of before, potato greens.

Since I usually prepare one big meal a week to store in plastic containers and warm up during the hustle and bustle of my work week, I dedicated this week’s cooking to Liberian recipes, starting with rice bread. My general attitude about recipes is that they are guides, which I readily adapt to the ingredients I have, my Vitamix to grind up fresh spices and make sauces, and my usual quest to use the smallest amount of cookware to have fewer things to clean up afterwards.

I chose two recipes: Jollof rice and rice bread. The most interesting one was the latter. I never made a vegan style bread, but I recommended this recipe to both my mother, who’s tasked with Thanksgiving dinner with vegans, and my sister who’s a pescatarian with vegetarian and vegan kids.

I’d never heard of cream of rice before this recipe, but logically enough, it was right beside the cream of wheat. I mixed the small box of cream of rice with three mashed bananas, freshly grated nutmeg, some sugar, oil and baking powder, which was supposed to be baking soda except I didn’t have any. One thing I underestimated was the amount of oil to grease the baking dish. I discovered that after the fact. I even warned my mother. After I got the goods from the baking dish, I sat back and enjoyed it’s deliciousness: crispy on the top, slightly sweet and moist on the inside.

One day, I’m going to taste something more authentic, but in the meantime, I’m very happy with the Teresa version.

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Patio Furniture

The latest leasing agent staff has let me know I’ve worn out my welcome. Perhaps many of us long-time residents have. I’ve not kept an accurate account of how many times the entire staff has turned over, but I think they’re at least the fourth group to come in and they apparently have the most critical eye.

Ever since moving here, I’ve viewed my patio as my art studio, especially for painting. Granted, none of them have probably seen me out there painting, but what they have seen, they haven’t liked. The first email I received months ago, listed all the “acceptable” things that could be on the patio, which were short list of furniture and plants, real or fake.

As far as I’m concerned, I only had three things on my patio, which weren’t clutter nor trash; so I ignored their email. For months. Until the monthly email became aggressive about having the maintenance guys remove the offending things from my patio at my expense. I took the above picture and attached it to an email in response to their escalation, asking which of the three items was “inappropriate.”

Of course, I never heard back from them. I forgot about the email until the second month I received it. In a huff, I wheeled my portable drawer of oil paints to the corner, put the flower pot underneath the drawer, threw an old sheet over the whole thing and placed my hideous clay sculpture of a nude lounging woman over it.

With such a fine concession, I figured this was the most creative thing I’d done on the patio in a while; so the aggressive emails should end, right? Nope. Got the same threatening email the following month.

Next time I hand-carried my rent check to the office, I politely-as-possible inquired about the email. One of the nameless staff members informed me that everyone receives the email. I turned on my heels and calmly walked out, all the while scheming how long it would take me to save up enough money for a down payment for my own place.

Not too soon after, I quit my old job, where I’d dead ended after a year, but had to remain a few months longer until I lined up something more lucrative. Now that I’m in my final week of independent health agent training with ACA open enrollment right around the corner, I’m looking forward to an increased call volume and working six days a week for those six weeks.

Thanks to blanket threats, regardless of whether I’m in violation or not, I’m more motivated than ever to get the hell up at of here. I know bullshit exists wherever I go, but it’s time I start earning equity to mitigate that bullshit.

At least my patio situation was easier to remedy than one of my neighbors. They must now drive around with a canoe on their SUV since it can no longer hang neatly from their patio.

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Stormy Nights

Most of my “dark and stormy” takes form as reoccurring anxiety dreams, independent of the actual weather. Adding flavor to the nightmarish experience are sleep apnea and teeth gnashing.  Like everything else, these dreams have evolved.

My earliest recollection of a reoccurring anxiety dream was when I was a child prior to being school age. I’d dream that one of my grandmothers lie supine on a circular metal slab that rotated. As it began to move, sharp automated synchronous blades sliced her like a pie. I’d wake up, run to the bathroom and vomit. One time, I took control of the nightmare and stopped the blades from chopping her up. That was the last time I dreamed about it.

When I was a young child, I had a funny digestive track and couldn’t mix my food while eating. I had to eat all of one thing on my plate, then the other or else I’d throw up. Eventually, I outgrew that digestive problem.

Then as a Peace Corps Volunteer in my early twenties, my reoccurring nightmares involved my teeth falling out. The worst one was when my teeth had fallen out and a variety of bugs swarmed out of the sockets. Those ended as soon as I finished my Peace Corps service after nearly two and half years. In addition to stress, the malarial prophylaxis I took contributed to “changes in sleep,” as warned on the label.

The latest and most long-lasting genre of anxiety nightmares involve me frantically looking for something: my car keys, my car, a missing shoe. In those dreams where I’m looking for my keys or a shoe, I’m usually in some fancy hotel, going down an endless series of hallways, never quite retracing my steps to find what I’m looking for.

Now, you’d think in those dreams where I’m looking for my car, the setting would be a parking lot, but I’ve yet to have that dream. Instead, I’ve parked my car on some sketchy street and the farther I walk, the more apocalyptic the neighborhood becomes. And it’s always nighttime. Sometimes, I’m walking down a craggy hill or through the forest. Other times, there were some not so friendly-looking clowns walking all around me or chain-wielding thugs.

Occasionally, I even find my car, but I’ve never been able to get in it and drive away. It’s always in some visible state of disrepair where I have to get a tow truck at that time of night, in the middle of an apocalyptic event and my cellphone doesn’t have reception, so one of those sketchy-rapey thug-clowns volunteer to escort me to a bar, but when we get to there, it’s one of those darkened out, dilapidated places with broken out/boarded up windows, no one inside for apparently years as evidenced by all the cobwebs and dust, but allegedly has a working phone.

So, that was the worst of those looking-for-my-car nightmares since during that dream, I declared, “Fuck this!” and not dreamt it since.

Obviously, the moral of these nightmarish anxiety dreams is that once I face the fear in the dream, they no longer reoccur in the same fashion, but there’s always something for me to worry about.  The week before I quit my latest dead-end job, I had a beautiful baby girl in my arms and I was frantically looking around for her parents. Clearly, that little girl did not represent any maternal instincts on my part since I’ve never desired having children and I’m blissfully past child-bearing age. I believe she was a metaphor, either representing my inner child or creativity.

Since I resigned from teaching, I’ve had a series of jobs where I’ve enthusiastically thrown myself into and hit a dead end within a year since none of them have held the intellectual challenge and creative outlet that teaching allowed me until the combination of oppressive high-stakes testing and asshole administrators, ie the anti-educational Texas two-step, motivated me out of the classroom.

I remember years ago when one of my friends declared that people just needed to do their self-actualization on their own time and when they’re on the job, just work. After all, she reiterated, that’s why it’s called “work.” This is the same friend who’d also confessed in an unrelated conversation that her inner child was dead.

Well, my inner child is alive and still creatively curious and energetic about the world. At times, my mind is so stimulated about pursuing a new project or worried about something that I need to strategize my way out of, I can hardly sleep or when I do, I pick up on a new genre of anxiety nightmares like tuning into a new season of American Horror Story.

Here’s the latest one since starting my new job: the setting is one of those big multilevel houses horror movies just love. For some inexplicable reason, I’m one of the chaperones of a children’s birthday party in this dimly lit house. The woman of the house, who’s also the only other adult besides this creepy-looking maid, comes to me in a panic about some of the children having wandered off and she wants me to go find them since she suspects they’ve gone upstairs unsupervised.

I recruit four kids to go with me and we all hold hands as we walk upstairs where the lighting is even dimmer. As we get to the middle of the staircase, I notice a doll version of the creepy maid with her back against the wall, slowly sliding down just above the banister. Before she goes past us, I quickly grab her and run to the kitchen.  I have the doll by her throat and I partially wake up at this point to slow down the progression of the nightmare to consider my options.

Then I go back into the dream. I still have the doll, clutched by the throat in my left hand, and I use a kitchen torch burner to set it on fire, but then I rewind the dream. Instead have the doll clutched by the throat with metal tongs so I don’t burn my hand when I light it on fire. I rewind the dream again. I have the doll clutched by the throat with metal tongs, but before I set it on fire, I gesture a cross with my right hand over the sink full of dishwater, saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, I bless this water.” Then I set the doll on fire, burn it to a crisp and plunge it into the water I just blessed. I was determined not to have that demonic doll return in another anxiety dream! She represented the doubts I had whether I’d make enough money as an independent health insurance agent.

Why, it was absolutely delightful the next week when I dreamed that my sandals had disappeared when I’d slipped them off while attending a meeting. That anxiety dream was joyfully clown-, thug-, and demonic doll-free. I did the prerequisite searching under skirted tables, looking for my sandals before I took control of the dream. I declared during that dream, “I’m going to reach into this bin, pull out my sandals, put them on and walk out of here.” And so I did.

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