On 10/9/10, I woke up 6:54 am, vibrating with fear. I said this into my voice recorder. Imagine a super groggy voice. (Warning to the squeamish–I say the F-word and the SH-word, and it’s kind of gruesome, and worst of all I say “like” a lot.)

“Holy crap, what a nightmare… I go to a dentist to get my two fillings… and, uh, they gave me like shot after shot and were doing like brain stimulation stuff [this was the “dentists” shocking my brain through my skull over and over, making large parts of my face numb] and uh… shooting into my gums and eyelids, and drilling into my eyes… and when I left there I realized it was like 7 in the morning. I’d been there… I’d been there all night. I was like, “What the fuck?” and I went back. And I basically killed ‘em…. by banging their heads together… cause I realized—in the dream I was certain of this, though they totally denied it—it was like they hadn’t even drilled my teeth. My teeth felt the same. And I like, I kind of like worked out their scheme. It was like they had given me AIDS and like drilled into my brain. It was really creepy, just really creepy. Holy shit! I don’t want to have dreams like that. That’s fucked up. It started off nice enough, I was just going to the dentist. It was in a big house in the woods, kind of like Vermont….. Also, there were people that I knew in the house downstairs. I passed them on the way out. I forget what they said but when I came back I brought one of them up with me for moral support.”

Yesterday, I got two real fillings. Anticipating them is probably what prompted that nightmare. The dentist was very nice and very competent. The fillings are good ones. And it was brutal. Getting needles stuck deep into your gums to pump fluid in, getting holes drilled into your teeth, with a drill–these are undeniably brutal experiences.

I tried to teach myself something during that process. “Nathen, this is the result of putting off finding a new dentist. If you don’t like this, don’t put that kind of thing off.” My dentist in southern California diagnosed the cavities (the second and third cavities of my life) last December and said they were so small that he wouldn’t have to numb me or drill. Just a little sandblasting and a dab of porcelain. But then he got sick and couldn’t do the work before my term started. I came back up to Eugene and just hated the idea of finding a new dentist. All the dentists up here are way more expensive than mine, and who knows if their work is good? So I waited (Maybe I can make it to my next visit home! I take such good care of my teeth…) and agonized and eventually had my brutal fillings.

One of my definitions of adulthood is the absence of that kind of behavior: An adult is someone who just does what needs to be done. No agonizing, no procrastination. By this measure I am still working on adulthood. Perhaps this lesson will speed up my development.