In Which Brenna Fails Utterly at Being an Adult

Sometimes I dream that there’s a mean octopus on my ceiling.

The way I know it’s mean is that if it were a nice octopus, it wouldn’t lurk around on the ceiling in the dark like a creeper, it would just wait until morning and then come say hello.

But this is clearly a mean octopus, and as a result, I don’t trust it. I practice constant vigilance. I keep my eye on it.

Then D wakes up and wants to know what I’m doing sitting in the middle of the bed, staring at the ceiling. I tell him about the octopus problem, but he coolly informs me that I am mistaken.

I make him promise. I make him double-promise, which seems a little bit like overkill, because I have no idea why he would be lying about something like this.

Then he says, “Now go to sleep.”

And because he sounds so totally in control of the situation, and like a person who can be trusted to identify a rogue octopus, I do.

Now.

Here is where this whole scenario actually gets problematic.

D is on a business trip. He has been on a business trip all week.

This means that when I wake up at three in the morning, desperately certain that the house is beset by sea creatures, there’s no one around to tell me that the octopus is pretend. So, I sit vigilantly in the middle of the bed and I keep my eye on it. Eventually, I get nervous about its aimless flopping and turn on the light, but poof! The octopus scurries off somewhere and then I have to get out of bed and go look for it.

I check the closet and the recessed light fixtures and the hallway. I check the bathroom and the gap behind the dresser and under the bed.

I do this in a state of deep apprehension, convinced that at any moment, this hateful cephalopod is going to jump out and flail maliciously at me. I poke around the whole upstairs while the cats stare judgingly at me, and as time goes by, I begin to develop a sneaking suspicion that something is amiss. It’s a suspicion that only grows stronger, eventually eclipsed by the dawning realization that 3:00am is not the time to be wandering around the house looking for octopuses, and why am I standing in the hallway?

Then, duly mortified, I abandon the search and creep back into bed.

So, this is my problem. It’s a very specific problem, and unfortunately, there’s only one real solution.

I want that solution to be a particularly advanced form of dream-control, or some clever and ingenious octopus-trap, but it’s not.

First, to be very, very clear:

I have never-ever-ever been scared of the dark. Ever. In fact, I was that weird, compulsive little kid who turned off every light in the house and pinned the curtains together with a binder clip and put a row of stuffed animals against the crack under the door so no other accidental light would get in. I was on affectionate terms with every creepy tree-branch shadow and unexplained noise, and with the ghost of Marie Antoinette that I was convinced lived in my closet. I was made for the dark.

Which is why what I am about to say next is just so incredibly demoralizing.

I have spent the last week sleeping with my reading lamp on.

For real.

Which—yes—has kept my house a relatively octopus-free zone, but at the cost of my beloved darkness, my sense of self, and any respect that the cats may previously have had for me.

Aaaaaaand … this is yet another of the many ways I get really freaking weird when D goes away on business trips.

(Please come home—the cats are judging me!)

28 thoughts on “In Which Brenna Fails Utterly at Being an Adult

  1. I completely understand your dilemma. I am not afraid of the dark, being alone, or any little creaks my house makes… until my hubby is gone. Then suddenly, every single bad thing in the world is coming for my kids and myself. So I turn on every light in the house, lock the doors, put the baseball bat by my bed, and look like a chicken when hubby gets home.

    • That’s when I force the one snuggly cat to sleep in the bed with me, just in case all the bad possibilities in the world suddenly become concrete, she can protect me!

      By … being small and nervous and fat.

      This is probably not a viable strategy.

  2. I just watched Monsters, Inc., so I might not be the best person to talk to about this, but it’s definitely something I sympathize with. I’ll be fine for weeks and months, and then…sleeping with the light on.

    • Oh man, I do really want a dog! I had them my whole life, and now, as an adult, I’m dogless. Also, I would be the worst about letting them get up on the bed. AND I can train it to hunt octopuses.

      • Funny, I’m just the opposite. As a kid I had chickens, mice, fish and rabbits. Never dogs. Now I have two and I can’t imagine my life without them. But I don’t think you’ll have to train your dog to hunt octopi. I think the dog will eat them without telling you. My dogs’ bellies are inexplicably full sometimes.

        What kind of dog do you want?

        • Personally, I’ve always loved a nice big mutt dog with a good attitude! My husband is pulling for a German shepherd though, and I certainly wouldn’t mind one as long as we could keep the shedding at bay!

          • Haha. I have GSD/husky/malamute mixes (they look a little like utonagans), so we don’t worry much about the hip issues and they seem to stay puppylike longer than purebreds. But oy. They carpet our floors with their shedding.

            Don’t worry about it too much. In addition to secretly eating creeper octopi, dogs are also masters at manipulating serendipity. The right one might just jump into your car window while you’re stopped at a red light or have the same name as whatever it was that you just accidentally typed into craigslist. Or something less specific.

  3. I really want to say something witty and amazing but all I can come up with is I friggin love you!! I laughed my way through this whole post. I would literally give up a finger (just not the one I text with) to write like you. Every post you makes me smile. Thanks for being awesome.

    • :D Aw, thank you! (I had a fun time writing it—less so the part where I did the preliminary research/life experience.) I seriously am the *worst* sleep-hallucinator, and it’s amazing how alarming the most mundane and improbable things can seem at three in the morning. I dream of octopuses so you don’t have to!

  4. I don’t mean to trivialize your cephalopod problem, but this post is hilarious. If it makes you feel any better, I always make my dog sleep on one side of the bed in case the werewolf living in my closet escapes while I’m unconscious. You know, because then he’d be the first eaten and I’d have a chance at escape. Not because he’d valiantly protect me from lycanthropy.

    • Sometimes, the only thing to do about a sleep-octopus infestation is laugh and laugh …

      Also, next time I’m disgruntled about the whole situation, I can tell myself that at least I don’t have a werewolf in my closet!

    • cleo secondo me mini è ancora più golosa…ma noi avevamo 12 persone a cena!@ elena aspettiamo la tua versione, le glasse possibili ci interessano moltissimo!@ giovani interessante la tua glassa…golosa di sicuro e pure azzeccatissima!@ alice una volta nella vita tocca ciacmtarsi…!bnei@ la cucina di molly prova dai che resti stregata!

    • SÃ¥ koselige bilder fra fjorÃ¥rets jul:)Elsker førjulstiden ,sÃ¥ jeg gleder meg og stoooort til første adventshelgen hvor pyntingen starter for fullt:)Ha en fin uke!Klem Caroline

  5. If this octopus keeps pestering you it may be a message from StoryWorld or ClueForYourNextBookLand that your next tale should involve scales and suckers –
    perhaps, after Valentine (or the one after that)?
    I think your take on some kind of underwater universe would be awesome!

    • Honestly, the amount that I am obsessed with water is not even funny! While I can’t promise sea creatures, I’m currently traipsing my way through something that promises to be book 4, and it is *full* of water—although not the ocean, more like a whole mysterious contingent of creeks and streams.

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  6. I have horrible super-realistic nightmares where there are spiders coming down from the ceiling onto my face.

    I’m glad it’s not just me who has dreams like this! I may have sent this post to my other half with a note along the lines with ‘look! look! It’s not as weird as you think!’ Hehe :)

    • Oh, oh! I have the spider dream too! And giant centipedes. And something that resembles the chest-burster from the Alien franchise. And really just anything with a lot of legs. (Also, I was very, very relieved to finally read a book on sleep-disorders when I was 18 and learn that this sort of waking-dream was totally a known phenomenon and I was not, in fact, out-of-my-mind-crazy.)

  7. I never used to have these dreams until I started law school. I suspect they’re stress-related. I live in an exceptionally creepy house that’s prone to doing interesting things when it thinks no one’s looking, but I’ve lived there since I was three, so I’m used to it. Now suddenly I’m having waking dreams or sleep hallucinations or what-have-you about this woman in a really striking 1880’s silk dress, striped black and white. This wouldn’t be a problem except she tends to be really angry, and her feet don’t touch the floor.

    • Oh, for me, it’s definitely definitely stress related! It got really bad when I was in grad school and I was constantly waking up to an impossibly tall skinny lady standing in the corner of my room. And I lived in a bland, totally modern apartment complex—I can’t imagine what it would have been like to live someplace that was *actually* creepy!

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