Karma gets the last laugh.

We were kid-less for the weekend. It called for a night at the casino.

The following are the things you need to know:

  1. I only smoked when I drank.
  2. I rarely drank, but when I did, I thought I was a 20-something year old rock star.
  3. I thought I was hot shit when I started drinking.
  4. I was neither a 20-something or hot shit.
  5. I soon realized my arrogance.

The chain of events, that I recall, started with a few Captain and Cokes, the flashing lights of slot machines, some money lost, odd looks from security, and me running out of my “drunk time” cigarettes.

On my thirtieth pee break of the night, I popped a squat. Even drunk, I do not sit on the seat for fear of God knows what. I reached over to grab some toilet paper. Low and behold, on top of the toilet paper dispenser, was a pack of cigarettes! I closed an eye to confirm my double vision was not deceiving me.

The next thought that went through my drunk mind is quite possibly what landed me where I am today.

“Ha. Ha. Some dumb bitch left her cigarettes in the bathroom. Too fucking bad for her ass.”

I snatched those cigarettes up. I smoked them all, laughing to myself as I thought about how she probably went back to the bathroom. She probably had to spend $10 on new cigarettes as the casino machine. I laughed and laughed at how drunk she must have been.

A little while later, I sat down, smoking a cigarette and drinking my drink. I was playing slots and running out of money. A man sat down next to me. A few more spins later, I cashed out. Reaching for my drink, I saw two cups that looked like the same drink. I was too drunk to remember which drink was mine. The guy next to me had sat down after me, put his drink down, and I did not know which was mine. Without asking him, I just grabbed the one with more and walked off. I laughed and laughed.

The next morning, I woke with a headache. I stumbled from the bed and into the bathroom. My bottom lip felt funny. Glancing in the mirror, I saw a red spot on the bottom of my lip. I didn’t know what it was. I had never had that before. I thought maybe I burned myself with a cigarette.

By the time we got home, I had small blisters on my bottom lip and skin. I knew what it was then. Knowing where cold sores come from, I tried to remember my actions for the night. The cigarettes crossed my mind. Then, I remembered the drink that more than likely was not mine.

I wasn’t laughing anymore.

Every few years, something causes it to surface again. Every few years, I am reminded of what a total dick I am when I party like a rock star. Karma got me. She got me good. She also made sure everyone could see it.

Fear of change is unescapable during sleep

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

It is early morning, probably four a.m. I am driving. I get the sense that I am headed north. I see nothing but freeway lanes in front of me. Bright city lights line the distance of my rearview, but I do not know which city I am driving away from. I keep thinking Atlanta, but there is nothing definitive to suggest that. I am alone on the road, in the car, and I feel alone. But I do not feel that loneliness at heart. My family is still in my heart and somewhere. Suddenly, I take an exit, the wrong exit. I start to feel a panic arise as I know I am headed in the wrong direction. I try to remember the way I am supposed to go, but I cannot remember where I am headed. The exit twists and turns around many other exits and freeways. I am left driving back and forth, almost in circles, lost and fearful. Then, as I feel the anxiety rise, I remember I really do not have anywhere to be or any definitive direction. Immediately, the road splits and I feel the urge to get in the other lane. The morning sun has emerged, and it is mid-morning. There are cars driving around me, passing me, swerving in and out of the lanes. I cannot merge into the other lane and I miss my exit. I panic again, as I know that once I miss that exit, I can never turn back. I will forever be lost. I want to slow down but fear getting into an accident. I keep trying to stay with the flow of traffic but try so hard to get into the other lane. I must get in that lane, or else I will never get where I am going, although I still do not know where that is.

Then I awake, feeling as if the breath had been yanked from my lungs. I jump up from the bed and have the urge to check on my children. More and more these dreams come. The finale is always unresolved, and I am left with an uneasy awakening and lack of air. I imagine that a bedside spirit has reached into my chest and stolen the air from my lungs.  Although these dreams have significant relevancy of current life decisions, I cannot shake the aching suspicion that I may be developing sleep apnea.

Now that I have cracked my daily joke, analyzation of the above dream is necessary. My family is undergoing some major changes, none of which are negative. I often find, right before major changes occur in my life, whether planned or not, I have lucid and predictive dreams. Many times, I have not understood them, as the change was unplanned.

In my twenties, I dreamt I was in a public restroom. Every stall was disgusting, all the toilets had backed up onto the seats and the floor. Toilet paper was covered in urine and stool. I could not walk or sit or use the toilets, as they were completely unsanitary.

At another time during my twenties, I dreamt that all of my teeth suddenly cracked and crumbled. Every single tooth slowly cracked and fell from my gums in pieces. There was no pain. There were no obvious medical reasons. I had simply opened my mouth to respond to a friend and my teeth crumbled away.

From reading, mostly personal blogs by so-called experts on dream interpretation, these dreams are very common. The Dirty Toilet and the Crumbling Teeth dreams both represent a strong dissatisfaction with one’s current life and/or situation. They represent a strong desire, sometimes subconscious, for change. Looking back, they represented my intuition telling me to sprint away from the possessive and abusive relationships I was in during that time.

The current dream is a representation of the changes my family is currently undergoing. We are considering a bigger house, my husband has been given new opportunities at his work which will alter our lives, and there are many other changes occurring.

Recently, I told a friend, I felt as if my family was on a speeding train that was headed straight for a cliff. I felt as if we would jump from the train right before it caught fire in an explosion, but we were still on that train and going to go over the cliff with it. But it was the train we were meant to be on as it still was where we were meant to go.

Anxiety and fear is not always a bad thing. Getting lost, lacking direction, dirty toilets, crumbling teeth, and exploding trains may not always be a bad omen. Change is scary. But more times than not, it is more than just fear. Fear pushes us beyond our comfort zone. It can cause us to shed our security blanket and move into a life, a better life, we were meant to live. Embrace fear and anxiety. Without, we would not seek change.

“To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self…. And to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one’s self.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

Shift Lanes

One of the greatest quotes I have ever heard came from a 90-something year old woman. I was working in a doctor’s office and she was at the check-out window talking with my co-worker about her age and life experience. My co-worker loved chatting with patients, especially the older ones. Older folks have so much more life experience and knowledge that we tend to take for granted. Next time you have a chance, spend time talking with someone over the age of 60. The life advice they have is remarkable and usually comical the older they get.

My co-worker asked the woman “do you have any regrets in life?” With a quick response, and little hesitation, she replied “I wish I would have had more sex.” My jaw dropped. My co-worker let out the loudest laugh. A nurse behind the woman stopped prepping IV bags and smirked. The doctor, had he overheard, would have turned ten shades of red.

Out of everything this woman could possibly wish to do differently in her life, she looked back and wished she would have had more sex. A 90-something year old woman, moving around with her walker, and knowing the Death was merely a block away, shocked everyone in ear shot that day. She left us that day with the advice of more sex. I never saw her again after that. She passed away before her next appointment. But I will never forget her and the importance of that one 2-minute moment.

When we are simply going from one doctor’s appointment to another, just waiting for the end, life appears very different. It will not be about money or career successes. It may not even be about making amends with people we lost touch with, family members included. It will not be about our boat, huge home, fancy car in the driveway, or how big our TV is. There is so much more to life than working towards something else.

I have talked to folks who were raising their grandchildren because their children had become drug addicts and unsuitable parents. They had worked their entire lives to retire, and then ended up being parents all over again. I have asked a very sick man how he was always in such a great mood every single time I saw him. With failing lungs and a dying liver, his winded reply was “why not?” as he gave me a smile.  I was told that we spend half of our lives working towards money and credit and success to obtain things we think we need in life. Then we reach a point that we can purchase all the things we thought we needed. But by then, these things are not so important. Sure, a Cadillac is nice to ride around in, but a little Honda will work just as well. A big and fancy home is nice to look at, but then you find you must fill it up with stuff and maintain all of that stuff.

At a young age, we are expected to seriously consider careers. We attend college, spend money and years on an education, that eventually we could end up despising or not finding success in. We may spend many years working at a job we may not feel was our calling, but the pay is good to support our family with the things we need. Some of us spend so much time and effort going above and beyond to get raises and climb ladders, which makes us feel important. But when we fail, we feel like a failure. After all, we must be successful.

Ask a 90-year old man or woman what their regrets in life may be. They won’t tell you it was getting an education as a doctor because of the money. They will not say that they wished they had bought a Lamborghini or lived in a huge house. Next time you feel lost and confused about the path you are taking in life, ask yourself if it will matter at 90 years old, if you make it that long. If you do not feel like the lane you are traveling in is right for you, get out of it. Too hard? Start making decisions and moves so that it is possible to switch lanes. What if you do not find something more in a different lane? O’well. Trying and not succeeding is better than never trying at all. Have dreams. Have hopes. Have faith that there is more to you and your life. If you are not enjoying the moments in your life, the people around you, and you are simply going through the motions to get to the next motions, shift lanes. We have one shot at this.

Life is about so much more than moving through it from one goal to the next. It is about savoring the moments we have been given and making the most of those moments.

And more sex. Life is about having more sex.