“A” is for anxiety — always

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(Yes, those are indeed fallen-out teeth from my own personal collection.)

 

You can’t fight a Type A personality. Not even in your sleep.

Turns out, I’m not just Type A, I’m Type A-plus.

When I was in sixth grade, I had the toughest teacher at Marshall Elementary School. He was notorious among the older kids for grading on a curve, but bumping it higher every year so it was successively harder to get an A. I was so worried I would flunk that I never turned in any paper or test without checking over it at least three times. Mr. Mullis — who turned out to be one of my favorite teachers of all time — told me that he thought I was “the slowest thing on two feet” until he realized what I was doing.

And that was when I was only 11.

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Type B personality until… just now. Seriously. I was Googling Type A and Type B popped up right along with it. Those folks are supposedly relaxed and non-competitive. I’ve heard of such people, but I thought we just called them slackers.

So anyway, I thought that as a working mom, if I no longer had a traditional go-into-the-office job, that would be one less stressor. Yeah no. Instead my stupid anxiety dreams have just morphed to suit my situation.

Reporter nightmares ranged from reading lines in my stories over and over and finding mistake after mistake to interviewing sources as my teeth gradually tumbled out of my mouth.

My nonworking dream life? Much scarier, more insidious. Get this: People start showing up at my house. The doorbell rings. It chimes again and again. Guests stream through the front door, and they are all expecting a sumptuous meal from me. I’m completely unprepared. I open the fridge, heart racing, to reveal an opened package of shredded colby-jack cheese, orange juice and strawberry jam flecked with traces of peanut butter. That’s it. No, I will never, ever audition for one of those Food Network competition shows with surprise ingredients, thankyouverymuch.

Here’s another one: I’m vacuuming. I run the hose attachment over the dog hair tumbleweeds but just as one is sucked up, another appears in its place. What the… Then, I look behind me and in a scene from an Indiana Jones movie that does not involve exotic locales but rather a very messy house, a massive ceiling-scraping ball of dog hair rolls down the hallway at me.

Or, I’m carpooling. I’m getting ready to pull away from the school when a woman rushes to the minivan with a girl and says I need to take her home. I don’t recognize this kid, I don’t know where she lives, Mapquest is on the fritz…

Horrifying, right? Oh, it gets weirder.

The scene is some sort of fancy gala and I’m dressed in an amazingly beautiful — and borrowed — ball gown. I really, really need to pee. I gather my full skirt and head to the nearest restroom and squeeze into a stall. I take care of business only to discover the toilet doesn’t flush. In fact, it’s not even working. It was a fake, a display toilet only. The skirt is splashed with urine and I panic when I realize it’s going to cost a fortune to dry clean.

I know what you’re thinking and no, I don’t need a therapist. I can explain away each and every one of these: I entertained a lot over the holidays, my house is a pig stye with overly shed-y dogs, I carpool too much and that last one, yeah, that harkens back to not one but two emergency plumbing calls when the toilets wouldn’t flush because an important pipe was plugged with tree roots.

Actually, on second thought, maybe I *do* need a therapist.

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