When is something real? Trying to scream…

Hush little baby don’t say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It’s just the beast under your bed
In your closet in your head


The other night, I woke up and stretched my arm out to the empty side of the bed and felt an arm there. I froze and tried to think. I didn’t know what to do. So I screamed. Tried to scream. The scream wouldn’t come out.  I tried and tried to scream until I woke myself up not because of the scream but because of…adrenaline, I suppose. Terror.

In Junior High PE class we used to practice screaming as part of our self defense training. I was great at it. So great I should have been in a horror film at it. An example to other screamers great at it.

When I’m  asleep I am never able to scream when I’m in danger, and apparently I scream in my sleep fairly often. So if you have been one of my bed partners in the past, or hope to be in the future, you have my sincere apologies.

Why do I scream, or try to scream? Nightmares. Sometimes very frequent, almost nightly. Mostly I wake up screaming every month or so.  Sometimes I can remember them, but mostly I have little or no recollection of what I was dreaming, just the sense of residual terror…or  perhaps a vague sense of pursuit, violence or evil.  In the dreams I remember, I am not usually the direct target– the horrible things are happening to someone else.

There’s often a sense of complicity to the horror that remains when I awaken, even if I can’t quite remember what happened. I save myself at the cost of another. Running away more quickly than someone else. Hiding. Observing. Guilty of and by inaction.

They’re just dreams, right?

It’s fascinating how a body responds, though, to something that doesn’t even exist.  Exactly as it does for real danger. The body has no clue what is real, it just does what the brain tells it to do.  Or is it real if my brain and body agree that it is?

How do I know what is real myself if my brain thinks there is someone in bed with me who shouldn’t be? Or if my brain lets me watch a small child be flayed alive while I am asleep?

I guess that’s the point. My brain doesn’t know and so I don’t know, not really. Is “real” only a construct of belief? Does believing something make it real? Or more real?

When does real become real?

And why do we call something “just a dream” when the mind and body both think it’s real?

I think I’ll just play “Enter Sandman” again and stop thinking about it…


An imaginary conversation about bubbles

It is really hard to take a picture of a hand holding a bubble wand sticking out of a car window on the freeway.

I suppose it…wait, a what now?

A hand. Holding a bubble wand.

Going down the freeway.

Yeah. Blowing bubbles.

Uh. Bubbles?

Out of the passenger window of a black SUV.

While you were in your car.

Right behind their car.

And you were driving.

Who else would have been driving?

And so your first reaction was to take a picture. While driving.

No. My first reaction was to stop crying and laugh because the bubbles were so fucking adorable. Taking a picture was my second reaction.

I don’t even know what to say now.

I know. It was pretty cute. You should have seen all the bubbles.

No, I mean about the crying. Or the in car photography.

Oh, I cry on the way home every night. You should be more worried about the in car photography. And don’t sigh at me.

You make that challenging.

Anyway,  traffic started to move so I immediately put my phone down.

Immediately? No you didn’t.

Nearly immediately?


Well, anyway. I put my phone down.

What’s the deal with the crying?

Nothing. Just the usual  thing where 2018 thinks it will be able to kill me if it just keeps trying, and it still hasn’t given up after 3 months. So I cry.


Work. Personal. It all sucks and I’m in limbo on every side.

Your friendship side seems to be working fine.

True story, but even then…two of my most favorite people are beset with the same sort of shit that I am.

Did you really just use the word beset in conversation?

Maybe. You should pay closer attention.

I’m sure you’re right. So why do you cry in the car?

Because I have to act like I have my act together all day at work. Usually, that is not difficult…but this month I just don’t have it in me to keep it together all day at work and NOT cry on the way home. It’s all I can do to get to the car sometimes.

I guess there are worse ways to handle stress.

Well, with the whole fat camp thing I can’t handle it the usual way.


No, potato chips.

Really? Not booze? I thought you were a bourbon fan. And IPA.

I am, but not when I feel like I really need a drink. With my family history, when I feel like I really need a drink I know I can’t have one. And I hate to drink alone. I’m a purely social drinker. Get me in a happy situation with all of my friends and a good glass filler and I’ll drink all day.  Not when I’m stressed out.

Good to know.

My drug of choice is the chip. Or mashed potatoes. I’m not sure it’s much healthier to eat my stress than it would be to drink.

Maybe not.

Anyway. I’ve been mostly able to handle the stress without turning to carbs. Kind of a miracle. The most stressful 3 months of my life, and I’ve lost 18 pounds.

Well done.

It’s probably not due to my healthy diet. The way this year is going, it’ll probably turn out to be a terminal illness or something. Which I will be diagnosed with just after losing my job and insurance.

Ordinarily I would tease you about being overly dramatic, but this has been a horrible year. Maybe you should get a checkup.

Is it a yes or a no?

At happy hour the other night, one of the guys mentioned something that resonated with me.  He was referring to a concept I’d read about several years ago and forgotten. He said that if someone can’t say “fuck yes,” then it’s a no. Later that night, I saw a post that talked about the concept and linked to the post where I’d originally seen the idea, the one that Mark Manson wrote. Two mentions in one night was a sign from the Universe that it was something I should ponder..

The concept makes a lot of sense to me, especially in the context of consent. I mean, if I am not excited about the idea about kissing someone or if he isn’t excited about kissing me…then why bother kissing at all? If one of the people involved in a transaction is pulling back or slapping your hand away, that’s definitely not a “fuck yes” to whatever you are doing.  Or as the article says, if you aren’t both leaping into bed yelling “fuck yes” then you probably shouldn’t be leaping into bed at all.

If consent isn’t enthusiastic, mutual and clear, it’s a no. Simple.

It’s the same with relationships. You need the enthusiasm and emotion about a new beginning in order to have a shot. We shouldn’t be starting from a place of “meh, I guess she might be OK.” There has to be something about the other person that generates a “fuck yes” on some level.

I would rather be alone than be with someone who is not 100% into me. I would rather be alone than with someone who I can’t be 100% into. Sure, every relationship has ups and downs. Sometimes you are 80% and he is 120%. Sometimes it swings the other way–but there needs to be a core of fuck yes to the relationship in order for it to last. And you have to be on the same page about what you’re “fuck yes” about. If he thinks I’d be an awesome friend and I think he’d be the perfect father of my children then it won’t work.

On the other hand, I do wonder if sometimes we write people off too soon. Especially in this time of snap judgements made on online dating sites, or based on only superficial criteria. Some of us have a long list of dating demands, instead of being open to the other person showing us what’s awesome about them. Physical attraction can be a sneaky bastard, but maybe if we were more open we’d struggle less finding a partner. People seem very disposable when you can just swipe left to make them disappear.

Or maybe if we gave people more time, we’d just get bogged down with the wrong people. I’ve been married 87 times, what do I know?***

But what if no one does it for you? If no one ever makes you feel that fuck yes feeling about them? Or conversely, what if you don’t ever generate a fuck yes from other people? I’m sure most of us know people on both sides if that equation.

The piece recommends looking inward in that case and working to figure out if there’s something about you that needs to be tuned up. If you’re too picky, no one will ever ring your bells. If you are too negative/judgmental/hostile then people will have a hard time responding to you. Sometimes you are the problem, or at least part of it. Sometimes the issue is with the person in the mirror, and that person has some work to do. Sometimes I wonder about that given how many times people forget they’ve met me!

The concept could have uses outside of sex and relationships, but it might be a little less clear then.

Work? Well. Maybe. It would be awesome for work to be a fuck yes. There are people who’ve made that happen for themselves. But there are also financial realities. I’m not so sure that I need more than “mostly yes” for work to be functional.

And maybe to some extent you can make what you have a fuck yes with a positive attitude.

I’ve certainly been guilty of not listening to my own inner voice telling me someone is not right for me. I have talked myself into countless dates and relationships because someone was nice or funny or smart, thinking that if I didn’t get the fuck yes feeling then it was because I am broken. Not because that nice, funny man was just not the right fit for me. Or that the one I was crazy about who kept dropping the ball would figure it out someday.

I’m still not entirely convinced about that. Which does say something about me that I am not entirely happy about.

Work still in progress. Always.

***For the record, I have not actually been married 87 times. Not even close.