Every night I snap a two-piece orthodontic retainer into my mouth, the same discolored pink one I got as a teenager. The dentist told me then to press from back to front to lock it into place, and I follow directions even in irascible middle age.

The problem is when I push on the front of the top piece, I feel like the stupid thing shifts a little in the back and vice versa. So I can’t stop myself from alternating like a seesaw, anxiety crescendoing in concert with speed. My breath shortens and chest tightens until I force a deep breath to ward off insanity. Then I do one more futile burst of taps desperately trying to cover maximum surface area before finally conceding, mentally drained and disappointed in myself for giving in to the OCD. Every night.

This is the kind of nervous energy that anchors my life and writing in a sort of high-effort, low-impact equilibrium. I channel it into — or maybe mitigate it with — a desire to be logical.

Writing is helpful exercise for me as much as I dread it, so thank you to anyone who takes the time to read. I try hard not to be boring and have variety, even though people seem to only recall the rants on parenthood and pics of my abs in good lighting.

I come up with one post per month. I will never send you anything else or charge, and I will always write back if you have a response or just want to say hello. If a post might get me in trouble, I hide it from the website so only subscribers can read it in their inbox and then dutifully delete.

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Logic Applied to Nervous Energy