I woke up this morning with the song “Pumped Up Kicks” playing in my head. It’s very catchy and a year ago or so I really liked it, until I realized it was talking about a school shooting or something dark. That made me feel bad for listening to it and certainly wasn’t a good influence for the boys, so I try to keep it off. But every once in a while I still sneak a listen. I don’t know why I was thinking of it this morning. Maybe it was the Valium.

I had to go to the dentist earlier this week since, out of no where, I woke up with my jaw feeling like it was being squeezed in a vice grip. The dentist went off on a thirty minute lecture about how 7 out of every 8 people he sees in his chair have this exact problem. He professed to know exactly what was wrong without even looking at me. I asked him to humor me and take a quick peek for my own satisfaction. He wrote me an Rx for Valium to take at bedtime. It was supposed to relax my jaw muscles so they’d stop doing whatever nefarious things they suddenly were doing after 39 years.

The next day, I couldn’t open my mouth more than half an inch and found even trying to chomp down on eggs to be excruciating. By lunch I was starving and tried to will a sandwich into my mouth between the tears. I gave up and scarfed down the yogurt and applesauce I could find in the fridge. A few conference calls later, I made an emergency run to the grocery store and bought a six-pack of Ensure protein drinks. You know things are bad when you find yourself shopping in the aisle right next to the adult diapers. Needless to say, I kept my head down. Once in the car, I chugged down two of the 350 calorie bottles to satiate my hunger pangs, which I immediately regretted. I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat anything that is butter pecan flavored again. At least not for a while.

I nearly rolled into my desk chair and tried not to pass out. I hadn’t even taken a Valium yet, although I’d nearly used up all the Advil in the house throughout the day. At dinner, the family was worked into a lather waiting for the phone to ring from the school district announcing who the kids’ teachers would be for the new school year starting next week. I grimaced and cut my noodles and chicken into ridiculously small pieces of mush so that I might be able to get them down my gullet. The remaining four bottles of Ensure glared at me from the counter. The phone finally rang, and we nearly had to strap the kids down to keep them from answering it. To their dismay, it was just the dog trainer letting us know that even though the heavens had opened with rain outside, we were still on for our final training session. In 10 minutes. Since I wasn’t really eating anyway, the dog and I headed into the maelstrom. Which, despite the rain, was needed since the pooch had been acting like the devil incarnate ever since we arrived back home from our OBX vacation over the weekend.

The following night, Mommy and I were double booked with evening activities, so we hired a sitter. I was at a book signing and she went to a PTA meeting. By the time I got back home, helped put the older boys to bed, changed clothes, and headed down for the left over pizza, it was 9:30. Unfortunately, the pizza boxes were lying on the floor and our man’s best friend had eaten my dinner. All five pieces. He looked up at me with an innocent toothy grin, but his garlic breath gave him away. So instead of pizza, my wife graciously assisted me with some eggs and bacon and a beer. Soon after, I hit the pillow with my Valium chaser and closed my eyes. The rest I’ve yet to discover. It’s waiting for me downstairs this morning. I hear barking. I hear kids yelling. Wish me luck.

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