birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

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Evacuation

The anxiety dream I’ve had since I was little is that I have to get out of a place. If I don’t leave right away, if everyone doesn’t leave right away, our lives are in danger. And for some reason, I just cannot get organized enough to leave, or I cannot finish a task I need to finish before I leave, or I can’t get other people to leave. Time ticks away, and I become more and more frantic, but I just cannot manage to get out.

When I was younger it was sometimes because I couldn’t see well. I’d be trying to dial a phone number but couldn’t see the numbers well enough to make a call that I really needed to make in order to leave. Then when I was older it was that I couldn’t gather all the things I needed to take with me, I just couldn’t get everything organized in time.

One or twice I actually have managed to leave (once I got everyone to beam off of an endangered planet just before aliens arrived).

But usually I just keep spinning my wheels until I finally (thank the gods) wake up.

When my husband and I were going on a vacation to East Africa we got stuck at LAX because there was an active shooter and most of the airport was closed down. We were trying to catch our flight, but couldn’t get any information about when it was leaving. We tried to get boarding passes at a kiosk but they were for a different flight number. We tried to talk to an agent, but the lines were endless, and when we started to worry we wouldn’t be able to leave at all we went back and tried to get any boarding pass from the kiosks, but we were no longer allowed to check in. I was panicked and fearful and I had to keep reminding myself that if we couldn’t get to Africa all that would happen was that we’d go back to our house. I was just going on vacation, I didn’t need to worry, but I could not completely let go of the stress.

Movies about evacuations scare the shit out of me.

I honestly don’t know what this is about. I’m a very impatient person, so the sense that time is slipping by and we have to get going is a head-space I am in a lot, which could be relevant. I also grew up hearing stories from my grandparents about the Japanese American evacuation during World War II, which also sounded stressful.

I don’t really have any other anxiety dreams. I don’t have the one about signing up for a class and forgetting to go, which is weird, since I actually did that once. I don’t have the one about taking a test I’m not ready for. I did once have a very vivid anxiety dream about forgetting a test I was supposed to give to a class. All the students were super pissed at me and I didn’t have time to do the photocopying and get it to the Office for Students with Disabilities in a timely way. It was a mess. But I only had that dream once.

So yeah, evacuations. I have no idea why. I must have been stuck somewhere bad in a past life.

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