Spidey Senses

Warning: Although I cuss on this blog all the time, there are a couple of words in this post that were unpleasant to write, and I feel warrant mentioning. You’ve been warned. Also note that I am fine. Obviously, I’m right here, writing this post.


I haven’t always trusted the warning signals my body and situational awareness give me. Those messages almost always run counter to the Good Girl training that is knitted into every cell and hair follicle of my being. That training, and my unconscious but slavish adherence to it, is what has put me in dangerous situations again and again. Had I always trusted my fear, I would have recognized and removed myself from all but the tiniest few of those moments.

Today I had a museum date with a dear friend who is one of my favorite people to visit museums with. As I walked up the hill to the subway, I saw a Black man outside the entrance. He drew my attention because he was pacing in a hard, agitated way that seemed off. He stopped pacing when he saw me, spat and went into the station. My mind tagged me immediately: look for him when you get inside, don’t look at him, just be aware of where he is, which platform he’s on. 

I didn’t question it for a second. Now that I’ve learned to listen to my internal sensors, I’ve seen how consistently correct those frissons of intuition are. I always listen.

In 1997, Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, was published. Subtitle? Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence. Yes, exactly. I will admit that I never read de Becker’s book, but it remains on my TBR list. By the time it came out, I had already learned to trust my gut instincts. There are still moments when Good Girl training pushes me to ignore what my body knows, but those moments are few and quite far between. When my brain went on high alert and told me to watch out for that man, I took that to heart.

As I approached the station, the man burst out and walked quickly past me, sneering, “Ugly slut,” as he passed. I felt it vibrate in my body. There wasn’t a question but that he meant it for me — not only because I was the only person around, but because he shot it, like a wad of spit, directly at my ear. 

I went inside and down to the platform, relieved that he wasn’t in the station and I wouldn’t have to keep an eye out for him on my ride. I sat on the end of a bench, watching the curve around which my train would come, wondering if I’d write about that moment.

People — men — don’t often say hateful things to me. Don’t misunderstand. Men say any number of disgusting, harassing things to me. Men are often the reason I avoid certain routes. Street harassment is real and awful and sometimes terrifying and dangerous. Too many women have been beaten and killed by men they didn’t smile at or whose lewd advances didn’t inspire loving responses. Those men are all about power and control, all about letting me know I don’t exist as a human, only as body parts they can use as they wish. I take those men seriously — hence the avoidance when possible. 

This man wasn’t a street harasser. This man didn’t muddy his intentions with slimy come-ons. He was focused on violence. And he wanted me to know that violence was focused on me. He wasn’t interested in exerting power over my right to be a woman on my own. He wanted my fear, wanted me to know he had seen me and that he could harm me.

About a minute before the train arrived, I heard him coming down the stairs to the platform, shouting, “Bitch tried to steal my ENERGY. Where’s she at?” 

The white couple beside me tensed, the man whispered, “Oh no.” I didn’t turn around. To give him that attention was to invite him in. And, too, my read on him was that he would want to attack me head on. He’d want to be in my face so he could see my reaction.

He walked past us a little further down the platform, talking loudly about people thinking they can steal his energy when they look at him, about tearing women’s heads off. He kept punching one fist hard into his palm, so hard the woman in the couple whispered, “So much rage! What can we do?”

What indeed. 

As the train finally made it to the curve, he turned back toward us and began to approach slowly and forcefully. (It was alarming but also interesting. I’ve never seen anyone move like that. I hope to never again see anyone move toward me like that.) At the same moment. An Asian woman stepped into the sightline between him and me. I’m pretty sure she didn’t do that on purpose, but I was grateful all the same. Not being in his direct line of sight felt necessary. She made her body a shield, whether she knew it or not.

The white couple was poised for flight, still seated but on the barest edge of the bench, ready to launch themselves to safety should anything happen. The Asian woman took a step back — because maybe she finally noticed the man approaching? I stayed where I was. 

As the train pulled in, the man passed us, fast, still punching his fist, still cursing about how easy it would be to “snap a bitch’s neck,” about needing to teach people never to look at him. 

But then he changed his mind. He had positioned himself to enter the train car that was slowing down in front of us, but then very intentionally jogged up a bit as the doors opened and boarded the next car up. Passing between cars isn’t possible on this particular train, which meant we were all closed off from him. Yes, the people in that next car were subjected to him, but we had been released. Yes, I watched the doors at every stop to be aware if he entered, but I had been released.

All of that was scary, of course. I mean, of course. And also sad. I’m sure if, given the choice, that man would rather not have been decompensating on the train platform in front of all of us. I may be wrong, of course, but I really can’t fathom a scenario in which someone would prefer what I witnessed today over equilibrium and the ability to live more easily in the world.

Why are we so able to not care about people who need help? We won’t be okay if he hurts someone, so why can’t we figure out how to help him now so that he doesn’t get to the point where he hurts someone?

That point could have been today. Could absolutely have been me. If I had made the mistake of looking into his face, he would for sure have harmed me. If I had responded to anything he did, he would have harmed me. If that Asian woman hadn’t unknowingly stepped between us, he might have walked up to me instead of walking past the bench where the woman, the couple, and I were seated. And then there would have been a story on the news (if my injuries were serious enough) decrying the horror of having dangerous, violent, mentally ill people on the street. And then the story would have faded — displaced by some other horror — and we would have gone right back to ignoring the people on the street who need help.

I certainly don’t have any answers. I can’t imagine the difficulty of reaching out to that man (and the many other people like him) and helping him access supports. But isn’t that exactly what we should be trying to do, isn’t that part of the point of making lives together in a city?

I’m glad nothing more serious happened to me today, glad to have another indicator of how finely-tuned my spidey senses are. But where’s the radioactive spider bite that turns on the social safety net spidey senses for my city? For all the cities? Why is it easier for us to let that man reach critical mass than to help him find care, find peace?

It’s the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

My Greening Thumb — Documentation

So last night I waxed rhapsodic about my plants … but I didn’t share any of the photos! (I seem to be on a roll with getting two slices out of one idea. Hmm …)

So, here’s the little basket my aglaonema and pothos came in. This picture is from my first month or so at my old job. I’d already had the basket of plants for a few years that that point. The peace lily was long gone, but the parlor palm was still doing its thing:

And I have this pic of a sun-burned leaf on my cyclamen:

And this of my aglaonema silver bay (that for years I thought was a dieffenbachia). It’s actually much bigger now!

Here’s my cyclamen with more flowers than it has ever put out at once … with a bonus shot of my orchid after it came back from burned air roots:

And here the spotlight’s just on the orchid:

Once, before all the destruction I rained down on its pretty head, it put up long stems with multiple blooms. The most extravagant it ever shared was seven flowers at once. So incredibly gorgeous. I want to be optimistic that it could approach that level of flamboyance again. I just bought it a new pot and some orchid potting mix, so we’ll see.

Here’s my coleus before it began its wild-and-crazy development:

And this red maranta (prayer plant) is the one I eventually took home and killed. 😦

And here are all the plants when I started my job and lined them all up in the window … before the sun destroyed them! See my inherited Christmas cactus on the right? It was so pale and anemic and in such a small pot for how big a plant it was. (And speaking of plants I took home and killed, on the far right you can see the lovely peperomia dolabriformis (maybe) that I received as a welcome gift when I started my job.)

Here are some newer pics of the cactus, including its first bloom phase and its most recent:

Last but not least, are some pictures taken through my computer camera over the course of the last two years. You can see my pothos has come a long way from that little basket, and my coleus is clearly setting up for world domination. And, as you’ll see, I’m not the only one who enjoys my green office!

Several things aren’t captured in these pics. My ZZ plant peeks out in the last picture, but just barely. My new parlor palm, my glittery pothos, the three pots of pothos grown from cuttings, and the ginormity of the cactus today are all out of frame.

Now that I’m spending more time in my office (3-4 days a week!), I’m thinking about changes I need to make. So many of these beauties need repotting, I’m questioning whether I should say farewell to my overblown coleus, and I want to get another spider plant and see if I can keep it alive for half a minute.

And do I want something flowery? My cyclamen, cactus, and orchid put up flowers, of course, but I’m thinking something fragrant. Years ago, someone gave me a beautiful thing, it was some kind of miniature orange blossom bush or some such fantasy creation. That was back when I had an actual garden outside my apartment. I think the plant was a sweet mock orange and was meant to be added to the hydrangeas and hostas I was growing outside. The plant was lovely, and when it bloomed, my living room smelled like heaven.

And I killed it in less than a month. Sigh.

As much as I don’t deserve to be trusted with growing things, I do seem to be getting a little better at it. And, now that I think about that garden I had when I lived in Prospect Heights, I didn’t kill any of the things that grew there. I left them to their own devices, and they did what they were meant to do. I had bleeding hearts and periwinkle in addition to the blue hydrangeas and the hostas. And there were a couple of other flowering things.

Seems like there really is hope for me!

It’s the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

My Greening Thumb

I changed jobs the summer before Covid. When I packed up to leave, I brought home the plants that had made my workspace happier: a prayer plant, a small dieffenbachia, a little pothos, an orchid, a jade plant, and a cyclamen I’d killed and resurrected at least a dozen times over the eight or nine years that it had had the misfortune to live with me. I’d kept the first three on my desk and the orchid, jade, and cyclamen on a window ledge not far away. That ledge was sunny, and they needed sun. 

I had a little over a week between jobs. As it turned out, that short time in my house was a disaster for all my plants. They hated my house. My apartment is sunny, but the difference in light, heat, and humidity between my office and my house were entirely unacceptable. My orchid, which had been setting up to bloom, dropped two leaves and the buds stopped growing. My cyclamen lost several leaves and choked off the buds that had started coming up. My dieffenbachia and pothos drooped. My jade dropped leaves and started shriveling at the base. In just 10 days! 

I installed my plants in my very sunny and warm new office immediately. I had a bright office and was certain it would give my poor plants a better environment than they’d found in my home. So I brought my leafy little friends to work … and almost killed every last one of them. 

I thought the wide window ledge in my new digs would be exactly what sun-hungry plants would love. Instead, they got too much sun: blazing, unobstructed sun through my east-facing window, sun so intense it burned the leaves on my cyclamen and dieffenbachia, sucked the life out of my jade plant and my pothos, and wilted my prayer plant. My orchid’s aerial roots dried and shriveled. And just like that, I was cast back to the bad old days of my plant-murderer past.

I grew up a plant killer, never able to keep any poor growing thing alive for more than a minute. This truth was particularly frustrating and shame-inducing given the spectacularly green thumbs of my grandmothers, my aunt, and my mother. With my office plants, I had been made brave by the years-long, in-spite-of-me survival of my cyclamen. I’d received it as a gift. Then I received a gift of the dieffenbachia and the pothos. They arrived in a lovely basket, accompanied by a tiny, elegant peace lily and an equally tiny parlor palm. The peace lily held on for a while, but my careless care soon brought on the end of it. That loss made me sad, but the pothos, parlor palm, and dieffenbachia stayed with me, greening up my windowed but surprisingly-dark office and making me think there was some hope for me after all. When I changed jobs a couple of years later, all three plants survived the move and seemed to adapt to their new space. And then the palm withered and died. I filled the empty space in the basket with a red prayer plant. Over the next couple of years, I acquired the orchid and the jade. The orchid was a gift to the office that no one else felt brave enough to attempt caring for, and the jade was left behind when a coworker moved on. I adopted both — the orchid with a little trepidation, as I’d killed an orchid once before.

And then I found myself in my new, brilliantly bright and hot office, and my plants faded fast. My new work team had welcomed me on board with a pretty little growing something that might have been a Peperomia dolabriformis (no name tag in the pot, but the dolabriformis was the closest looking plant I could find in images online). There were also two left-behind plants that I adopted: an red-brown not at all alive-looking aloe, and a Christmas cactus choking in a too-small pot. 

I did a lot of failing in the beginning. I took way too long to realize not all plants want as much sun as my window provided, took way too long to realize that the increased warmth of my office meant the plants would be thirstier and would need more water more often. The only plant that seemed happy in those early weeks was the Peperomia.

I had to unlearn everything I thought I knew about my plants and learn how they needed to be cared for in their new environment — like moving most of them out of the direct onslaught of the sun and watering them a LOT more to make up for the extra heat. In the first two weeks, I repotted first the cactus and then the pothos, jade, dieffenbachia, and prayer plant

Eight months in my new space, I was feeling cautiously successful. My plants and I had survived and I risked saying we’d begun to thrive. I further expanded the office greenery with a “fishnet stockings” coleus I’d adopted while at a writing residency. 

In those early months, I discovered that my pothos is a golden pothos — it never had variegated leaves in all the years I’d had it, but suddenly it was putting out huge, shiny, green and gold leaves. My prayer plant, which had lost its red and was putting out anemically-pale green leaves, started to grow larger leaves, started to add red again. The dieffenbachia, which never supported more than three small leaves on each … stem? stalk? (still a lot to learn!) … suddenly had six, then seven, then eight leaves, and wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

The coleus started working hard at becoming a tree. Its leaves stopped fish-netting almost as soon as I brought it home. They all turned bright-light green, some with a purple edging. I waited much too long to start following the care note that I found online about pinching back to “encourage bushiness.” I was wary of the pinching and I also loved how tall it was growing. 

The Christmas cactus immediately began putting up new growth, fluffing out in all directions. And then it began a spotty bloom. I’ve never had one of these plants before, and I was thrilled it was making flowers, so proud you’d think I was sprouting them myself!

The orchid made a slow comeback. It grew new leaves and put out a new set of flowers right before the pandemic, but its external roots were still in a bad place — it had taken me way too long to realize it couldn’t take the full force of the sun. 

The aloe was a big win. I’d figured it was for sure a lost cause, but I did a little reading (thank you, University of Google!) and found an article that said to move it out of the light, remove the outermost leaves so the plant could focus its recuperation energy more intensely … and then ignore it until it either revived or died, no water, no nothing. 

I followed the steps. It was in such sad condition, the drastic, ruthless approach seemed best. That was in mid-July. By mid-September, I told myself that I saw something not quite brown and not quite green happening with one of the smallest leaves. I was pretty sure I was lying to myself, but I kept thinking I saw that not-quite-green. And then I was convinced that I saw that not-quite-green spreading to other leaves. By March 2020, there was hardly any brown left, and it was only the palest brown.

And then came quarantine. 

I knew I couldn’t take the plants home. The original ones hated my house and had finally recovered from their two 2019 moves. I couldn’t risk them in my house. And the aloe and cactus had just come back to life. I couldn’t subject them to the dark heat chamber that is apparently how plants experience my bright, sunny apartment.

So I bought self-watering bulbs and angled my computer monitor so I could log into my office from home, turn on the camera and see how the plants were doing. No, seriously, I’m that person.

It’s about to be two years later … and most of my plants have survived. The peperomia gift that welcomed me to my new office was the first to go. I can’t say that I was ever caring for it properly because I was never sure exactly what it was. When it was clear it wasn’t doing well with the self-watering bulb, I brought it home … and it promptly gave up the ghost.

Next was my prayer plant (red maranta). I followed the advice of a few different online plant people, but … no.

I bought some new plants for my home … and killed many of them. I thought if they started in my house, they’d acclimate to my bad lighting, but mostly they just decided the plant hereafter was a more attractive option. The dearly departed: a spider plant (“But it’s impossible to kill a spider plant!”), a ruffled jade, an echeveria.

I also got a new prayer plant. After trying very hard to die, it has revived and is looking almost okay today. I brought home some cuttings from my office pothos, and they’re doing nicely. I bought a different kind of pothos — its leaves almost seem to have glitter on them, which is weird and fascinating — and it barely survived my house, so now it’s in my office and has come very nicely back to life. I bought a ZZ plant, a parlor palm, and another peperomia (an obtusifolia, not a dolabriformis) … and all of those were moved pretty quickly to my office after their instant rejection of my house.

My plan with the self-watering bulbs had been to work in my office once every other week. That turned into once a week when it became clear that the self-watering system didn’t give me the “two weeks peace of mind!” it claimed on the package. The larger plants barely made it a week with the bulb. So I put a second bulb in my pothos and a second and third bulb in the coleus. I spent a day a week in the office so I could take care of them and compliment them and be amazed at how well they were doing without me around. And, in addition to the newbies I’ve brought to the office over the last months, I also have three small pots full of cuttings from the pothos.

And I’ve discovered that my dieffenbachia … isn’t a dieffenbachia at all. It’s an aglaonema silver bay! And it’s done fabulously well during quarantine. It’s got two new plants, is putting out leaves like crazy, and is definitely ready for a larger pot.

I have no one’s idea of a green thumb. Not even close. But I’m realizing that I can’t think of myself as a plant killer anymore, either. Not entirely. I seem to be turning a corner. My farm-life fantasy may have a chance after all!

It’s the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

Triggered: Musing on Misophonia

My last post has me thinking a little more about misophonia. In case you missed that post and need a definition: Misophonia is a neurological disorder in which sound cues are misinterpreted within the central nervous system. The word means “the hatred of sound.” People have misophonia are triggered by specific, entirely mundane sounds, responding with irritation, rage, panic, the need to flee. People describe it as feeling as if they are being driven mad.

Me. I am “people.” I’ve been dealing with this for decades. In responding to comments on yesterday’s post, some new thoughts came up for me.

First is the inherent meanness of misophonia. It’s bad enough that common sounds make misophones feel as if they’re going crazy. But it also makes them feel like bad people. They must be bad if they feel such violent rage — often toward beloved family members. So you don’t just suffer from the trigger, you also question your inherent goodness as a human. And then I responded to Ramona’s comment and realized that, on top of suffering from the trigger sound, if you aren’t always able to control your response, you might lash out at the person making the sound, and that person would have no idea what they’d done or why you were acting so irrationally. Thanks, misophonia.

Misophonia was only made an officially recognized disorder in 2000 or 2001 (sources disagree). Twenty years ago! How in the world is that possible? People have surely been suffering from this for about forever. I’ve been dealing with it since I was a kid, and that was a thousand years ago, so … where was the medical profession all this time?

But it makes sense, right? It would never have occurred to me to say to anyone, “Oh, you know, when you make that sound, I want to grind you into dust.” Because who would ever say that? And because “that sound” was usually something harmless and normal like taking a breath or whispering. So being set off by a trigger sound is maddening and makes you feel like a secretly-homicidal person. Who wants to talk to the doctor about that? And as I type that, I realize that I’ve know about this for years, and I’ve never once mentioned it to my doctor!

I need to do a little research, find out how this disorder finally made its way into the light. I joked in last night’s post about misophones uniting and shouting, “We’re here! We’re here!” like in Horton Hears a Who, desperately trying to get the attention of the world’s doctors. Of course, that wouldn’t have happened, because so many of the sounds involved in that mass uprising would have triggered more than half the assembled crowd, and everyone would have fled. 🙂

Disorders are “discovered” all the time — quotation marks deployed because in most of those cases, people have been suffering for any number of decades and it just takes a while for medicine to catch up, but damn. That’s so cruel.

Lakshmi commented that living in a city must make it harder to deal with misophonia. Do you know, until I read her words, it had never once occurred to me that living in this huge, many-peopled city must absolutely have made this disorder worse for me. Just from the greater number of people I encounter in a day, the triggers would increase exponentially. And, by the same token, the fact that I’ve spent so much of the last two years alone in my house has meant that I’ve had significantly fewer run-ins with trigger sounds. How have I not seen that?

One of the articles I read about misophonia talked about ASMR helping people calm down triggered. Um … no. Not me, at any rate. That’s for certain. ASMR is a trigger. That whispery nonsense makes me want to slap the speaker. Ugh. Calming? I mean, if “calming” is another way of saying “setting me off.”

I really do feel as if I talk about misophonia a lot. I haven’t posted that much about it here, but I think I’ve posted a number of times on FB. Each time I write about it, there are many people who comment that a) they’re learning about it for the first time as they read my post, and b) that they or someone they know suffer from it. Meanwhile, all the articles say how rare misophonia is, that only 15 – 20 percent of the population deals with it. It’s unlikely that I just happen to know a huge number of that small 15 – 20 percent. I’m not buying it. What rings more true is that most people have never talked to their doctors about it. Misophonia makes us keep the suffering to ourselves, so the number of folks who have it is dramatically undercounted. I mean, I’m a total over-sharer, and we’ve already established that I’ve never mentioned this to my doctor. Definitely a serious under-counting.

Does it matter that people don’t know about misophonia? What difference would it make if more people were aware? Well, for one, more sufferers would know they aren’t evil and insane. Yes, that’s a big one. But also, people who don’t suffer from it would (maybe?) be more understanding when a misophone snaps at them to stop yawning so loud, stop shuffling their feet, stop chewing with their mouths open. Maybe. Or at least they might not take it so personally. Well, except for the open-mouthed chewing. Please take that personally. And stop. Stop right now. People, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO CHEW WITH YOUR MOUTH OPEN!!!

Ahem. <pats hair back in place>

The unfortunate truth is that there isn’t a lot anyone can do to help someone who has misophonia. I mean, I have my self-soothing tactics, and sometimes they work. Interestingly, one of the things that helps the most is recognizing what’s happening. Having the lightbulb moment of knowing that I’m responding to a trigger doesn’t erase the sound’s power … but it sort of does, too. It can make me feel less out of control. And that helps me remember to use other tools to calm myself. I can listen to music or white noise. I can walk away from the sound, from the person making the sound. I can engage the noise-maker in a different way so that they stop doing whatever it is that has me wishing an anvil would fall on their head.

There are a number of studies being conducted — there’s an International Misophonia Research Network, for example, and a Misophonia Research Fund. It’s encouraging to see that people are working to find treatment options. One interesting treatment I read about was wearing hearing aids that play a relaxing sound. There is still the DIY treatment of reducing stress and getting more sleep. That’s what I’ll be focusing on. That and remembering that throat-punching is generally frowned upon.

It’s the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

Triggered: Misophonia Redux

I’ve written about misophonia before. And tonight I need to write about it again. Calling it out, naming it, can help sometimes, can defuse some of my anger response. A quick explanation:

Misophonia, or the hatred of sound, is a disorder. People who deal with it — people like me — are set off by specific sounds. And the response to hearing those sounds can be irritation, rage, panic, the need to flee. It makes sufferers feel as if they’re being driven insane. Fun times, right?

So yes, misophonia. I have it. Or, most accurately, it has me … has me tied up in knots and twisting in the wind. I might be happier if my response was the need to flee, but no. My response has always been instant rage. Zero to infinity in a nanosecond. A shaking, head-exploding rage. Picture me the way anger is depicted in the movie, Inside Out.

I have a long list of sound triggers. Mouth noises are my kryptonite, but knuckle-cracking is also pretty horrible for me. Loud yawns, certain voices. Yes, driven into a rage by the sound of someone’s voice, something they cannot control and certainly can’t be blamed for.

I finally learned that misophonia was an actual, for-real disorder about 10 years ago. And it’s only been a named and recognized thing since 2001. I’m picturing a crowd of misophones somehow finding one another then banding together and fighting to get the medical establishment to recognize them. I see them taking to the streets, shouting, “We’re here! We’re here!” like in Horton Hears a Who. You know, or something.

Learning about it was as glorious as the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm. Learning about it meant I wasn’t imagining it and that I wasn’t the only person suffering from it — if people were writing articles about a problem I had that I’d never mentioned to a soul, that meant other people were having the same problem, and I wasn’t alone in my craziness. Most importantly, misophonia being a real thing with a name meant I wasn’t the horrible person I’d lived my whole life believing myself to be, a monster who got crazy-angry at people when they made everyday noises that shouldn’t have inspired violence in my heart.

I’d spent decades fighting myself to keep my reactions to myself. My responses were unreasonable, so I’ve always worked hard not to show how I was feeling. I mean, I still fight to keep my reactions in — it would really not be okay to punch people in the throat because they yawn loudly. But at least now I know I’m not actually losing my mind, just living the life of a misophone, dealing with a trigger sound. And recognizing that I’ve been triggered actually helps me calm down. I can do little things to put out the fire — listen to music, make noise of my own to drown out the trigger, breathe deeply and do a mini body scan to distract my brain.

When I wrote about this the first time, I had just read an article that suggested reducing stress and getting more sleep could help. I liked the sound of that, and I like the sound of that now, too. Unfortunately, I haven’t done a very good job on either front (and writing slices at midnight isn’t really helping, is it?!).

Why am I thinking about misophonia today? Because the first zoom of my day included a meeting participant who triggered me big time. BIG time. A trifecta of horror. He 1) cracked his knuckles, 2) started eating some kind of squishy scrambled egg burrito business, 3) chewed with his mouth open.


To put it mildly.

I had to turn off my camera. I was literally grabbing fistfuls of my hair and pulling it.

Open-mouth chewing is … the worst. I was truly made insane by that guy. So insane that, for the first time in my life, I actually tried to do it, to see why that might even be a way anyone would ever chew anyhow. Yes, this is as nuts as it sounds. I took a piece of my muffin and tried to chew it with my mouth open.

I was quite comically unsuccessful. I didn’t know what to do with my muscles to have my mouth stay open while I was chewing. I’m serious. I was chewing r-e-a-l-l-y s–l–o–w–l–y trying to get the mouth-open thing. Not only was I not able to chew that way, I wasn’t making any sound at all. What gives? Are the open-mouth chewers wilfully making those disgusting noises? Are those sounds not a natural byproduct of chewing with your mouth open? Has the cruelty been the point all along?!?!

I have spent the rest of the day trying to make any of this make sense. I’m triggered anew just remembering that meeting.

It’s the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot