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Things That Go Bump

Mood: doomed | Drinking: chemicals


Night Terrors

The things that come for us now in the dark
do not wear the faces of our childhood monsters.

There is no boogeyman or closet troll
lying in wait when the lights go out,
but still we curl beneath covers,
reduced to small sniveling things
too scared to open our eyes.

In the dark we discover the fragility of our happiness.
We realize disappointment is not an “if” but a “when”.
We discover that betrayal is unavoidable.

We suffer premonitions of catastrophe.
Panic of dying alone. Within every shadow
lurk specters of bankruptcy, layoffs and loss.

The rituals once used to banish the ogre under the bed
gave us some small sense of control, so we adapt,
develop defensive OCD tendencies,
flicking the light switch ON-OFF-ON-ON-OFF
before turning down the sheets.

When daylight finally appears, it does little to assuage us.
The pretense of normalcy comes more naturally
once we’ve been groomed and caffeinated, yes,
but the newspapers these days print our nightmares as headlines.

Late for work, we run back into the house from the garage
three separate times
to make sure the stove’s really off.
As if caution will prevent
the inevitable electrical fire
already smoldering inside the walls.

When we come home later to fire trucks,
we feel almost relieved.

We always knew disaster was only a matter of time.


-Lo, who is only afraid of the dark after watching scary movies when Boy is away.

Hope Is the Hardest Part

Mood: Determined | Drinking: Tea


A friend and I had a discussion recently about the nature of hope. She said, “Without hope, what is there?” And I agree.

But hope is so hard, and so painful. It’s the knife edge that cuts both ways.

With hope, you live on the edge of constantly being without, being proven wrong, being a fool. The object of your hope, the things you hope for, may remain forever elusive, may never materialize.

With hope, you feel the edge — the prick of faith, the sting of doubt.

But without hope, you’re so lost. No light in the blackness. No promise of a way out.

And so we hope. In spite of, because of, in the face of all fear and doubt and evidence to the contrary, we hope. What else can we do?

Years ago, I tattooed a mantra on the inside of my wrist. Written in latin so strangers couldn’t read my heart whenever they chanced upon it: “I am a prisoner of hope.”

The days of late have been dark, and not just for me. So many sad stories from so many people.

As for my own story, I’m working my way through a morass of anger, of fear, of helplessness, of sadness and loss. But I’m leaving room for hope. I’m turning my face toward the light.

What else can I do?

-Lo, who is getting better at waiting.

The Fires Burn Low

Mood: Crouching
Drinking: Pop, Fizz

I’m leaping into a change of scenery. Inhale and hold.

Change equally inflames and frightens me, and at the moment I’m teetering on the fence, right foot in front of left, arms flung out like airplane wings, trying to maintain my ambivalence.

Tomorrow is my last day at a job that has been good to me for the past two years. Next week I start a new gig with a lot of risks and a lot of perks.

I came back from Chicago with a midwestern head cold and in between sneezes I am trying to remind myself that comfort isn’t a good enough reason to stay put. I know all the routines of my current job. I have a color-coded calendar and a carefully labeled file drawer. I know where the landmines are and how to tiptoe around them. I have an assortment of fancy ink pens and an Aeron chair. For two years, I’ve had it made. And now I’m movin’ on.

I’ve got new names to learn and new routines to establish. I’ve got to shape a new voice for a whole new generation and start a discussion about serial commas. And just in time (with all the earthquake rumblings of late), I can finally abandon my Bay Bridge commute to the east side. I’ll be stayin’ in the city every day, all day from here on out. (That’s reason enough to quit a comfortable job.)

I’ll exhale on the other side.

-Lo, slightly delerious with a head full of medicine.

Dental Hygenist Butcher Bitch

Mood: Flossed within an inch of my life
Drinking: Tea time

I know I’m not the only one who has a serious dentist phobia. I know there are lots of you out there who fear the teethers.

You walk through those awful dentist doors into the magazine waiting room and the “wheeeeet wheeeeet” sound of the saw or the polisher or the tooth tangler or whatever the hell those torture devices are called fills the air, and it’s enough to make you soil yourself.

I had my six month checkup today. I managed to put it off for a whole extra month and even then I seriously considered bailing when I was just blocks away. But I learned my lesson when I tried to hide from a dentist for three whole years–when I was finally forced to return, the scraping and the poking was 10 times worse than before.

The scraping is the worst. They get in there with those metal spikes and various poking devices and hack away at your enamel. Sometimes they whack your gums and then have the audacity to say in the most condescending tone, “Your gums are bleeding.” And I always say, “Of course they’re bleeding, you whore! That’s usually what happens when you try to carve them up like a Christmas ham!” Or at least that’s what I would say if they didn’t have their fist all up in my mouth.

Last year there was a new hygenist at my dentist’s office who came within millimeters of giving me a full-fledged panic attack. Not only did she keep up a running commentary on anything that seemed to flit into her mind (my clothes, my hair, my monroe piercing (“did that hurt?”), my education (“are you still in high school?”), my purse, my fingernails, my belly lint), she would stop working and wait for me to answer. I just wanted her to get on with the goddamn scraping so the whole horrible incident would be over as quickly as possible and I could escape with the smallest amount of trauma. But no…it was like a big social event for her. Each new victim in her chair was a first date, and she was all about getting to know them to see if there might be potential for a magical future.

It’s the closest I’ve ever come to ripping the paper bib off my chest and bolting from the chair, screaming down the hall and out into the street. It was almost as bad as the time the dentist tried to remove my first wisdom tooth without much anesthesia. Oh yes. He did.

See, I wasn’t born with an innate fear of the tooth doctor. When I was little, I didn’t mind much because there was this big cool fish tank and a treasure chest full of loop-handled lollipops and they’d let me choose what flavor of polish I wanted–grape or cherry.

But then, in college when my wisdom teeth finally decided to make an appearance, disaster struck. I was already well on my way to developing a nice little low-level dentist phobia. Mild tremors upon entering the parking lot. Slight feeling of doom in the lower part of the intestinal tract. Nothing I couldn’t handle.

But then the family doctor (whose wife was about 7 feet tall, while he was only 5’7″ and balding)–not sure what the balding pate has to do with anything, but it’s a nice little detail, innit? Anyway, this doctor decides he’s going to go ahead and pull my wisdom tooth himself, even though it wasn’t fully grown yet. Apparently he thought a little shot of novocaine and a lot of pulling, yanking, jaw gripping (I had bruises) and tooth cracking would be a piece of cake. I think his dentist chair probably still has my fingernail grooves in the arm rests. I let him rip one out (didn’t have much choice since my mouth was full of pliers and shovels) and then, blood dripping down my chin, said “No more!”

I let the other wisdom teeth stay where they were and grow big and strong for about 4 or 5 more years, until I was dating Boy and one of my big wise guys got all impacted to the point that I was extremely ill and my throat was swelling shut and I had to go to an oral surgeon. Now, oral surgeons, them guys are cool. You get the magic gas and float away to happy land and wake up with a mouth full of cotton, happy as a clam. (Assuming clams are really happy. If I was a clam, I think I’d cut myself, but that’s another story.)

Strange and immediate cravings for burritos, gyros and cheeseburgers aside, my oral surgeon experience was quite satisfactory. But I’ve never again darkened the door of a dentist den of horrors without mace in hand and a pocketful of vicadin. (Wouldn’t that be nice, really?)

So now I am toothsore and slightly hyperventilated. And I may have been rude to the dental hygenist. (I told her right off that I hated her and all her fellow hygenists with a fiery burning hatred, and if she even *thought* about giving me the Flossing Speech, I’d hunt down her firstborn and toss him from a cliff.)

Exaggeration aside, I’m sure that hygenist is telling her boyfriend about the bitch she had in the chair today who was so scared of dentists that her knee spasms were rocking the room. But you know what, whore? Better a Bitch than a Butcher!!!

-Lo, who needs to calm down, already. Sheesh.