Eight minutes ago* the dentist’s appointment I was supposed to have today would have started… if my dentist hadn’t sent me a text at 8:30 this morning to say “sorry, but the impending apocalypse knocked our power out and in spite of what the 1700’s might say, we refuse to practice dentistry in these conditions.”
I was excited about this dentist’s appointment. I was looking forward to this dentist’s appointment. I was PROUD of this dentist’s appointment, because I’m of the age that organizing a trip to the dentist is both a strategic feat and a celebratory reminder that I can do this whole Adulting thing.
The appointment was supposed to equip me with a crown. Not the kind queens wear, but the kind that make your teeth even and your jaw hurt less all the time. That sounds neat to me, so it follows that when I got that text message this morning, I wasn’t as stoked as my ten-year-old self might have been about the canceled dentist trip (except that my ten-year-old self was only ever alive in 1998 on the east coast, so she wouldn’t have known what a text message was or why she was getting one from a dentist in northern California).
Anyhow, if I were Kurt Vonnegut, this would probably be the right time to drop a “So it goes.” Instead of being thirteen minutes into getting my teeth some new rims and spinners, I’m three hours into the homework and grading that I was dreading finishing this afternoon, after getting my teeth pimped out. So it does go, Kurt: Instead of being too grouchy from the dental work to even think about being productive today, I got a jump start on everything I was worried about. I’m now officially ahead of schedule.
This should be an opportunity to celebrate, but I’m still somewhat paralyzed with dread and guilt. Prior to the dental cancellation, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to motivate myself to tackle anything productive after getting my mouth jacked up, and would instead just waste my day sedated on the couch with nonstop Netflix barking reruns of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia at me.
I didn’t do that, so hooray! Said logical, reasonable people. I’m not one of them, though. Instead, I’m now worried that if I don’t continue with the momentum I’ve had this morning, I’ll never get the rest work done during February break.
Or after it.
And I’ll fail at grad school and get fired from my job and end up on the national news for being the world’s biggest loser and/or failure, and the picture they run of me will be candid and poorly lit so I’ll just look hairy and greasy and probably also be in tears in every living room in America.
So it fucking goes.
This is what it’s like to be an anxious person, because reading that back and assuming the perspective of a perfectly sane, reasonable human being, I’m able to objectively acknowledge that this is a logically fallacious line of reasoning because of its absurd slippery slopery. But anxiety isn’t reasonable, and if Trumpty Dumpty’s farcical assumption of King of the Mountain has shown us any universally accepted truth, it’s certainly got to be that we’re all bound to flail in fear and tumble off our walls once in a while, no matter how stably we think we’re standing.
This line of thinking haunts me constantly, and it’s the reason that I find myself – out of necessity – in the aforementioned Netflix-immersed state of mindlessness more often than I’d like to admit (like, every day for at least an hour or two). It’s also the reason why I can’t pause after a morning like this one – when I found motivation to fill unexpected time with proactive productivity – to thank myself, or at the least acknowledge that I used my time well, did something good, and should feel decent about it.
I don’t though, and so it also goes. I can’t always be productive, and I can’t always feel good about productivity, and I can’t make myself feel better no matter what the circumstances.
But what I can always depend on is that my dentist will, one way or another, cause me pain and agony. Ten-year-old me got the physical kind; looks like 28-year-old me gets to deal with the existential.
*I started writing this post at noon. On a Tuesday. It was raining then. It’s probably still raining now. **
**Yep, 12:42 and it’s still raining.