In My Head

(You may want to just skip today. Come back tomorrow — video of the girls on ponies. I promise.)

Yesterday I missed my exit coming home from work. At the time I realized this, I was — in my head — in the fetal position avoiding flying, burning shrapnel.

This is how it started. At one point in my commute home, a small, aggressively-driven car was almost cut off/run off the road by a semi with a large silver tank. I was behind the smaller car, in the passing lane.

I started thinking what I would have done if there were an accident immediately in front of me. Where I travel on I-79, there is a pretty generous median, flat and grassy, so I could have dodged into there. I probably would damage my car, obviously, but better than plowing into a flaming wreck, right? I would have to be careful to avoid the occasional guardrails, but it was doable.

And then my brain took me through the accident. The smaller car in front of me getting bumped, brake lights flaring, the squeal of crushed metal, the tanker jack-knifing. By the time the tanker was rolling, I was in the median, watching the large silver bullet coming toward my car. Then I was out, and running for my life. I didn’t grab my purse, my groceries, nothing. Just me, running flat out, and then skidding to the grass on my knees, covering my head to avoid being blown across the other side of 79 by the concussion of the jack-knifed tanker and my car exploding.

And then I looked up, and realized I had gone right past my exit.

This kind of stuff is what goes on in my head all the time. (Also, yesterday at some point on the commute, probably after I got off the next exit and made my meandering way to pick up the girls and get them to the doctor for their ear rechecks, I was confronting Glenn Beck in an elevator. I believe I called him a poopie-head.) Car accidents, run-ins with “celebrities” I don’t like, various and sundry confrontations and disasters.

I don’t know if it’s normal. I don’t know if it’s pathological. It’s what my head does. Most of the time, it doesn’t interfere with my life — this is the first time I’ve ever missed my exit on the commute home. I just know it’s part of my psychological make-up, part of the way I work, of who I am. I don’t fight it too hard.

Next time, though, I’m going to try hard not to miss my exit.

How about you? What is weird — or what do you think is weird — about the way your head works?

14 thoughts on “In My Head

    • There are normal “intrusive thoughts” — as described in that article (which is very good; thank you for sharing). And there are not normal. My measuring stick says anything that interferes with normal, day-to-day activities should be addressed. I feel I sometimes straddle the line.

      And yes, I agree that we all fantasize about telling people off and normal stuff like that. As the article points out, daydreaming about it helps us stay in the “normal” societal bounds.

      thanks for the comment!


  1. I’m so glad I didn’t skip this post.

    I do this an awful lot as well. When I was commuting from Butler to Beaver every day, I had nearly two hours in the car for the round trip, and I found that my brain always did a nice job of filling that time when the music or the podcast I had loaded on the iPod wasn’t doing the trick. That activity, along with my familiarity with the drive, occasionally led to startling moments, like realizing I had been driving for 15 or 20 minutes without really paying attention to the road. Yikes.

    And: My conversations with Glenn Beck usually end with me calling him a tool. Sort of the same thing…

    • I find my brain goes off on its own tangents more often if I am NOT listening to music. For example, if NPR is on.

      Otherwise, I happily rock out.

      And I thought of that too yesterday as I came out of my day”dream”. Like, holy s&^*! I missed the exit — how did I get here??

      Yeah, Glenn Beck gives me a pain in general. Also in yesterday’s fantasy about him (that sounds wrong), I pointed out that Obama had a much harder job than he did.

      Thanks for the comment!


  2. I definitely have strange and often morbid thoughts all the time. A lot of them end up in my plays. (When Chris Rawson saw my first full-length he said, “you must have a very active dream life.” Little did he know that these sorts of thoughts were probably running through my head even as he came up and said that to me.) I have too many of these thoughts to write all of them, plus some of them are too weird/disturbing.

    And maybe there is something about I-79. Many years ago I was dating a guy who lived in Cranberry. Often as I drove up to see him I would find myself wanting to abruptly turn the wheel and drive my car into the center median. I wasn’t suicidal. I was just curious, I guess, thinking about what would happen.

    In summary, we creative types are just messed up. It’s part of our charm.

    • “Exactly!” to your last paragraph.

      It’s moments like yesterday that I truly wish I were a novelist or something. Alas, not quite there yet. It was a hell of a scene though!

      Thanks for the comment!


  3. I do the same things. I once created an entire life with my celebrity ‘2nd husband’ on the way to work one morning when traffic was horrific and it took like an hour!

    So i hope it’s normal.

    • Hey, that sounds like a good fantasy. I wrote a whole season of CSI once where I starred as Nick’s love interest. I solved murders and everything!


  4. I am not the creative type, and I do this ALL THE TIME. So maybe, RMP, it’s a family trait?! On my desk at work I have one photo. One. It’s a picture of my daughters from last summer. I cannot have any more photos on my desk or I would daydream away my 8 work day hours. And it’s not just heads-in-the-clouds daydreaming. I come up with uncomfortably real scenarios of death and devastation…those are usually at night when I can’t get to sleep. It’s disturbing. I seriously view it as a character flaw; no good can come of these imaginative distractions. It’s as if one side of my brain is trying to overtake the other. Ok, that sounds overly dramatic. *laughs* Maybe I am a little artsy.

    • That’s so funny that you say you’re not the creative type! You may not work in a creative field, per se, but I always considered you one of my more creative relatives! 🙂

      Anyhoo, I think the brain comes up with terrible scenarios maybe to help us face terrible possibilities. As Stephen King writes in one of his recent novels, “God punishes us with what we can’t imagine.” Or something like that. So if we think it — is we can bear to think it — we won’t have to face it.

      Thanks for the comment. Ciao!


  5. One of my readers had a hard time leaving a comment, so she emailed it to me. From aPSUmama:

    “I do this far too often. My mind will go all sorts of places on my hour long drive tho sometimes I let it. My drive is the one place where no one can hear/see me cry.

    The worst places it will go, though, are down the “what if…” rabbit hole. Anytime my husband isn’t home on time from a night out with the boys and doesn’t answer his cell phone, the darting starts. “Why isn’t he home yet?” “Where is he?” “In what ditch is his truck stuck?” “What if…” I don’t want to admit the number of times I have pictured the worst. Let my mind wander through a funeral, discussions with his parents over his belongings, would I be able to deal, would I completely collapse, would I be able to explain to Peanut who his dad was… All of this because he went out without grabbing his cell phone off of his desk at work…

    Ya. What if… what a loaded question… ”


    Yes, aPSUmama, I have terrible thoughts when my husband is late and when I don’t hear from him. I hear you on that.

    The best thing I can say is: All these comments make me feel pretty normal! Thanks!


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