Day 8 – Dream Catcher, Part 1

Photo credit: Daniel Hourtoulle from Pixabay

As I made myself comfortable in the well-worn in armchair, its velvet hugging my clothes as if to tell me that I was safe to relax into it, I could hear the howl of the wind as the winter storm grew stronger outside. The warm, dim light of the sconce lamps on the walls flickered, casting a haunting glow between the paintings. Dr. Murray, my psychotherapist, had left the office briefly to speak to the receptionist, though I figured he was probably also going to the loo. He was a highly sought out therapist, and my guess was that he had so many patients throughout the day, even on days such as this, that he had to use any open chance to handle his business.
 
He was a kind-natured fellow, an older gentleman; quite stout in stature with a little balding spot right on the top of his head.
 
“Alright, Mademoiselle Loraine, I’m back.” He said as he shimmied into the chair behind his desk. “We have made great progress, in my humble opinion, in a very short amount of time at that.” He smiled at me and clasped his hands on top of his desk.

I flashed him a small smile in response.
 
“You don’t think so?” He asked, as a look of surprise appeared on his face.

“Um,” I started, “I’m still having the nightmares without the visuals. Except now, I hear them, but I still don’t see them.”

“That is progress, my dear! When you first came in to see me, you complained of nightmares, but you could only feel them. Everything else was all black. Then you began to see light, and now you can hear them. What have you been hearing?”

“Well, it’s all muffled, so I can’t really make it out. Oh! But I can see very blurry outlines of figures moving about, nothing at at all distinguishable though.”

Dr. Murray nodded. “I see, I see,” he paused and looked at me, “any other developments? Inside of the dreams or in your waking life?”

I tilted my head curiously and gave the questions a bit of thought.

“Not in my dreams, no, but I’m not quite sure what you mean when you say in my ‘waking life.’”

“Oh, yes. Carl Gustav Jung, a famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst believed in the concept of synchronicities, which holds that two separate events that seem to be coincidences may actually have a meaningful relationship. His biggest anecdote about that was of a woman he was treating, who in the middle of her appointment with him, told him about a dream she had. In her dream she saw a golden scarab.

“As she was telling him about the dream, an insect flew into his window. When he turned to see what it was, he opened the window and caught it, only to find that it was as close in resemblance to the scarab the woman had seen in her dream that could possibly be found in that area of the world.”

My heart began to pound against the inside of my chest, as warm waves moved down my body. The thing was that I had experienced something like that.

“Actually yes.” I began, “Though I can’t make out the exact sounds from my dreams, I was able to hear a muffled melody of some sort, something unfamiliar to my waking mind. However, when I went to the library over on 57th and Ashby last week, the one with the gorgeous lobby, I could’ve sworn that the same song was playing softly in that lobby. I remember thinking, ‘what a strange coincidence.’ However, now I’m afraid that I may have been wrong.”

“Hmm, yes. That is quite strange indeed.” Dr. Murray slowly moved his head up and down, seemingly pulling in information from somewhere deep inside of his mind. “How about this? I have a good friend and colleague of mine who’s a hypnotist, Dr. Dandridge is his name. I believe we might need his expertise to pull what’s trying to uncover itself from the recesses of your subconscious. By all means, if you’re not comfortable with this, you can decline-“

“I’d like to do it.” I said, not meaning to cut him off. “I mean, I’m sorry, I’d really like it if you brought your colleague in.”

He chuckled. “You must be quite eager to get this nipped in the bud.”
 
“Absolutely. It’s a strange life to live having nightmares that you can only feel, but you can’t see or hear.”

“I can’t even imagine. Rest assured, we will take care of this. I’ll reach out to you with some openings for both myself and Dr. Dandridge before the end of the week.”

I rose to my feet, both nervous and excited about our next appointment. Would the hypnotist be able to pull the hidden nightmare from my the recesses of my mind? If so, what if it’s something so horrid that I purposely hid it from myself so that I would never have to face it again? What if I regret it?

Dr. Murray left his chair to meet me at the door and patted my shoulder.

“Don’t worry, my dear. Whatever we uncover, I’ll be sure to make things right.” He said as he escorted me to the door.

His reassurance was comforting, but I couldn’t help but think that we were about to uncover a monstrosity.

Rediscovering My Inner INFJ

Photo credit: Skitterphoto – I think I will start using images that reflect the post content…

Hello, hello, hellooooo there. Though I plan to write a blog post about why I quit my job, I haven’t done so just yet, but I really want to talk about this INFJ and Myers-Brigg topic which will touch on some of the points about why I quit and things that I realized about myself in this post. You’ll be able to read it in much more depth once I publish the ‘Why I Quit My Job’ post.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Most of you have probably heard of the MBTI (though my mom hasn’t, and I feel like I should send her a link to complete it), and some may agree with its test results while others may not. I was kind of skeptical in the beginning because I seemed to flip between INFP and INFJ quite often, leading me to believe that the test was off. I’m not going to go into the psychology of it all here; I encourage you to do some research on it if you’re interested and take one of the tests you can find online for free here or here, or pay for it here.

After a while I’d begun to realize that we can waver between two similar types depending on the day, and that made a lot of sense. I think, especially for women whose hormones quite heavily affect their moods like me, that wavering between two MBTI types happens often. Men, too, perhaps, but being a woman gives me more anecdotal insight into the matter.

How Did I Come to Rediscover Myself as an INFJ

For a while after college I thought I leaned more towards the INFP side of the house, so I just submitted to that type for a while. It was okay, especially as I was working for my previous employer and had to be a lot more sociable due to the nature of my job. In fact, I’d put the MBTI out my mind and focused more on material world things instead of spending time in my mind in a way that many INFJs are familiar with. Moreover, my job didn’t really allow me the time to be in my head. Much of my post-working hours were spent learning and understanding the super-advanced technologies that I was supposed to teach to my clients and help them to understand. 

The first year went well. However, the second year I began to burnout really, really badly. To make matters worse, my second manager quit about three months into my getting to know my first multi-billion-dollar-a-year-in-revenue  client, kind of leaving me high and dry with my very, very ESTP/ENTJ/ENFJ colleagues in the sales group. Being an introvert and being the kind of introvert who needs a lot of background information before I feel comfortable adding my input, things started to sour. Eventually I went back to my first highly unsupportive manager, and then moved to a very supportive manager. Eventually he quit, too, which sent me back to the unsupportive manager. Needless to say, the burnout plus the lack of support and the slow but obvious shift of my role into being more sales-y than technical is what drove me to quit.

I’ve been away from that job for almost two months now, and I thought that I’d get back into a tech role, namely software or web development. But as the days have gone by, and I’ve been able to hear and feel myself again, I’ve come to realize that I don’t really want to be in the tech industry anymore. If you read any ‘recommended careers for INFJ’ website, they’ll say that jobs such as web developer or programmer are good. While I agree with that, as I enjoy coding, it’s the job searching process and the inherent competitiveness of the industry that tends to leave us feeling drained.

Plus, I realized that the only reason I was in the field to begin with is because we will always need technologists and many roles are very lucrative. If you read just about any job site in regards to coronavirus’s impact on the job market, jobs in technology are the ones that have remained relatively unscathed. That’s awesome news for anyone wishing to enter or stay in the tech field. 

Being able to hear and feel myself again, though, is how I’ve been able to rediscover my inner INFJ again. I realized that I’d been lying to myself about what I really want to do and how I’d like to go about it for a long time now, almost four years. The scary thing is that I’m in my 30s and I’m still asking the question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

Post-Rediscovery –  What’s Next?

Rediscovering my INFJ has reminded me that, for those of us with this type, it’s completely normal and to be expected to still ask that question. Not only are we idealists at our innermost core, but we need to feel some kind of purpose in what we do. That’s a tall order to ask of many jobs out there. And being in my 30s and still having student loan debt to pay off, I do not want to go back to school. That leaves a lot of unanswered questions and soul-searching to do.

Preliminary soul searching led me to life coaching and opening up a body care business, but there’s a lot that goes into both of those before they can actually become things I can make a living off of. While I still plan to pursue life coaching in some form, I’m seriously dabbling with the idea of becoming an English teacher. Obviously not in the U.S. because that would require more schooling.

Then there’s the writing, which is like a loyal lover following me throughout the highs and lows of my life. Vlogging has also made its way to the forefront of my mind. Being a vlogger has always been a weird idea to me, though I’ve attempted it multiple times. I think it would be a purposeful endeavor to use vlogging as a way to help other INFJers that are around my age understand that they’re not alone and how to navigate being an INFJ in a non-INFJ-friendly world (even though I’m not exactly sure myself – maybe we can navigate together). Or in the very least, watch me as I stumble through the rest of my life trying to figure things out.

All in all, I feel a sense of relief remembering my MBTI type, INFJ. Instead of feeling like a complete failure, I understand that this is normal for me and my INFJ people, and that once we find something that isn’t crazy draining, but also purposeful, we will finally experience peace. Hopefully. For a while, at least. 

Are there any INFJs reading this? What’s your experience been like? Have you found success in a career you love? I’d love to read your story!

∞ Aminah Jamil

Day 7 – A Curse, Part 1

Percival bit his lip as the bank teller, Lucy, typed in the information for his savings account in the database. The serious look on her face plus the really fast typing she was doing gave him butterflies and made him rapidly tap his foot on the recently waxed floor. Lucy never looked over at him, not even to provide him a little reassurance. Surely she must be aware of the energy of anxiety oozing from his being, and know how to ease a customer’s worries.

The thing was that his mother, a woman taken to overindulging in spirits, as well as with slot machines and Texas Hold’em, was not to be trusted most of the time. He loved her, undoubtedly, but she had a way of guilt-tripping him into doing the most self-damaging things in order to get what she wanted. She would arrive at his apartment in the early hours of the morning, much before dawn, and ring his doorbell nonstop until he answered. Every time she did, his heart would sink into his stomach, for he knew exactly who it was. Her greed left no trust in his heart any other woman, and even if that wasn’t the case, he feared that she would leech from whatever woman was insane enough to be in his life, to eventually drive the woman out of it.

If it wasn’t for the fact that his mother had been eerily quiet for the last two months, he would not be standing in the bank at that moment. The longest she’d ever left him be was three weeks. He wasn’t quite sure how she would have gotten his bank account information, but he knew how she could get when she was desperate. Lucy’s eyebrows raised as she finished typing, then followed the brow raise with a deep breath.

“I’m just waiting on the system to finish loading, Mr. Goddard.” She glanced briefly at him above the rims of her tortoiseshell glasses.

Percival had over $50,000 saved up in that account. One might assume him to be quite foolish with his savings, wondering why he wouldn’t put it to good use in an investment account or real estate. He had many reasons, but the number one reason was his need for deep research. With his office job where he often worked overtime, it was near impossible to think of anything else besides work. He was a man of many excuses.
“Mr. Goddard, your account balance is…” Lucy pulled out a pen and paper and wrote it down. 

$53,731.42

Percival’s whole body relaxed. He wanted to kiss Lucy and ask her if she was free that evening, but being Percival, he would never pull a stunt like that, no matter how relieved he was. 

“Thank you, thank you so much.” He told her instead. He took the piece of paper with his balance on it and neatly folded it into his pocket before he turned to walk out of the bank. He was curious though, where was his mother and why hadn’t she come around? 

Day 6 – You Looking At Me Looking At You, Part 1

Photo cred: Streetwindy

I hurry to get to get to the elevator before it closes. My morning hadn’t gotten off to such a great start, plus it was raining and the buses were running late. One of the heels on my favorite get-out-of-the-door-as-fast-as-I-can pumps, the matte black ones with the pointy toes, broke off as soon as I put them on. To top it off, I’m officially 5 minutes late to a very important practice presentation meeting for the real deal presentation with an investor tomorrow. It feels like I’m in one of those nightmarish movies, the ones where with every step you take your legs get heavier and heavier and your destination gets farther and farther away. Before I can reach the elevator hall, I feel lighter but I also hear harsh flutter of papers scattering and folders falling to the floor. Heat flows in heavy waves up my face as I turn to look behind me and see a trail of papers forming a line a couple of feet away, ending near my feet.

Everyone is either on their way to their offices or standing around, chatting it up with cups of coffee, all looking over at me, but no one helping. I rush to pick up the papers, one by one, all now out of order. Murphy’s Law won’t stop playing in my mind, as I think of all of the possible ways my boss will kill me once I finally arrive to our floor. How did the papers even fall out of my messenger bag anyway? In a momentary break from picking up papers and stuffing them in whatever folder I can, I see that my zipper has broken. Great.

I resume picking up papers, but as I do, a young gentleman around 28 or 29 squats down on one knee to help me. He has on black, circular-framed glasses, with a large tuft of black hair flowing over his eyebrows, dark jeans stretchy enough to allow him to get down on the floor in that manner, and a blue tweed blazer. He’s got a little goatee trying to grow in, as if he hasn’t had access to a razor in a few days, but also as if he’s been trying to grow it for months and this is all he’s got. I want to know which one it is. I shake the thoughts away and begin picking up papers again, feeling the wave of heat move up my cheeks again.

We continue picking up papers in silence until, without either of us realizing it, our hands touch as we reach the last one. I look down at my hand and then up at him, who is already looking at me. When my eyes meet his, all time stops. The sounds from around the building lobby slow down and fade away, leaving just the sound of my heartbeat and both of our breathing. Even those sounds are muffled, reminding me of the moments right after plunging into a deep body of water when the surface stills and you’re just hovering underwater. Calm. Serene.

His eyes are the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen up until this point in my life, and I find myself thinking that I don’t think I ever want to look into any other pairs of eyes except for his ever again. There’s nothing particularly special about them; they’re your basic dark brown irises with black pupils. I can tell he’s got some kind of East Asian background, if it’s not his full background, though, so maybe it’s that. He doesn’t break his gaze either, nor does he remove his hand from mine. All of the morning’s events faded away with the rest of the world, and all I want now is to reside in this moment, for at least a little while. 

Day 5 – C-Sweet

Charlotte held her chin in her hand as she scraped her fork slowly across the empty plate. No food had touched it at all, and she was getting hangry. She wasn’t the type of person to lash out at others when her stomach was neglected, but that day she felt that she might not able to control herself. Why hadn’t she been able to take a break away from her colleagues to eat? This normally uncommon situation was becoming more and more of an issue, and she wasn’t appreciative of it at all.

When she started, the work culture at her company was laid back – people could come in when they wanted to, so long as they completed all of their tasks before the end of the day; there were ping pong tables at each corner of the building, including the roof; there were beanbags all over the place that you could just plop right into. However, the company was under the rule of a new CEO, and she was an absolute nightmare. Everything that Charlotte had loved about the company was slowly disappearing, though she’d been putting up with most of it without a complaint.

The one thing that she was finding she wasn’t fine with, however, was the working lunches. Even though they were called “working lunches” there was more work than there was lunch. And now, she had to wait even longer for dinner because the restaurant was backed up. An angry growl vibrated Charlotte’s stomach and sent zaps of pain all throughout her abdomen. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath in through her nose. The chatter and dish clinks of the restaurant started to fade away. She held that inhale for ten seconds, allowing the pain of hunger move to a less prominent part of her attention, and then she exhaled. She repeated that sequence twice more.

She recalled the mindfulness breathing technique from her meditation teacher, remembering her words: “There will be times when you want to hurt people, when you want to lash out in anger or frustration. In those moments, choose mindfulness. Choose to take less than three minutes to step away from those emotions, from a potential negative situation that may last you well over three minutes in consequences. Just close your eyes and breathe.”

While the mindfulness practice was usually helpful, she found that the hanger crept back up little by little. To make matters worse, from the corner of her eye, she caught the shiny, platinum blonde hair of what looked like the head of her CEO. Wait, was that her CEO? She rose up from her seat to get a better look.

It was.
 
Charlotte’s hanger swelled within her as she watched the CEO laughing and smiling, as though the CEO’s employees weren’t out in the world suffering because of her draconian work policies. The CEO was seated in one of the reserved areas and was immediately brought a basket of bread, a basket of bread that should have been on Charlotte’s table. Charlotte’s lips curled up into one of the saddest frowns ever to appear on anyone’s face in the history of mankind, ever. With that frown, another strange thing started to appear on Charlotte: dark, greenish-blue leathery skin and sharp, hard scales. She wasn’t aware of these new formations, as she was attempting another round of mindfulness.

As she finished her last exhale, her whole body was covered in the leather skin and scales. Concerned stares and whispers emerged from the other patrons of the restaurant, which didn’t help matters at all. In fact, Charlotte’s temper began to flare as she shot angry glares at the innocent by-eaters.

While you’re staring, why don’t you offer me some of your appetizers? Huh? HUH?

Murmurs filled the restaurant as Charlotte grew to be about 1.5 times her size and as her fingers turned into sharp, claw-like phalanges. The wait staff and nearby patrons began to leave the area, leaving plates full of food and empty glasses of wine to create a smell smorgasbord that riled Charlotte up even more. She shot a dirty look in the direction of her CEO who was, at that point, stuffing her face with the exact same appetizer that she’d ordered and had yet to receive.

That was the last straw. Charlotte flipped her table and terrible roar and began to stomp over to the CEO. Neither the CEO nor her guests had any awareness of what was taking place in the restaurant. As Charlotte strong-armed tables out of her way, her teeth turned to fangs, sharp canines now protruding from her mouth. Everyone from the CEO’s table dived out of the way once they saw what had arrived.

The CEO was taken aback and almost ran herself, but there was something familiar about this creature. She squinted her eyes and ran through all of the faces she held in her memory rolodex, until she saw the one of the quiet girl from the morning project meetings.

“Charlotte…Wellston? Is that you?” The CEO placed her hand on her chest.
Charlotte let out an unintelligible grunt, and before the CEO could say another word, Charlotte opened her now abnormally large mouth as wide as it could possibly open, and fit the whole CEO inside of it. In just a few munches, Charlotte was satiated; her hunger was finally gone. 

Day 4 – Your Dance

The atmosphere is a little dry, reminding you of your middle school principle’s office – no prospects of fun anywhere. The DJ isn’t making things better either, what with her 101 BPM songs she’s been playing. Everyone is simply standing around, drinks in hand, either conversing, avoiding eye contact with other people, or avoiding eye contact with the dance floor. You want to leave, but you just dragged yourself out of your apartment where you’ve been feeling that autumn/winter funk, that maybe-I-should-finally-invest-in-a-UV-machine-funk. It had been ten days since you’d gone out for anything other than groceries and to check your mail in hopes of receiving a letter from you-know-who. Yeah, your ex, the one who disappeared into thin air last year and finally showed up in your Instagram DMs saying they flew to Nicaragua to find themselves and would write you soon.

No, no. You can’t go there, otherwise you’ll definitely leave.

The crowd is starting to get a little thick. The bar/club is one of those split level joints, with the Top 40s playing upstairs and the more dirty, underground House music playing in the basement. People from all over the city come to chill, dance, meet up with friends, dance, probably do some illegal paraphernalia, dance. Summertime you would be all over the place getting down. No drink in hand, sober af, making love to the dance floor. Maybe you’d have your shades on doing double duty – making you feel invisible and invincible while also blocking out the ridiculously bright laser lights. Like, who’s in charge of those anyway? You’ll never know since the security guards never talk to you when you try to spark up conversation.

The DJ’s spun 2 whack songs so far, but she’s mixing in something…something…something kind of funky. There’s this slightly spastic yet warm, familiar feeling happening in your glutei. The song is deep and the kick has this knock to it, knocking on the door to your heart. It’s got a bit of an off rhythm, one more beat between every 3rd and 4th, with the bass humming right between each kickless spot. It starts growling a little bit, then it goes back down, then starts again. Nasty animal. Your neck’s got a little roll going to the beat. Those random snare rim hits, the high pitched ones that are like sprinkles sprinkled all over the track, the ones that make you lose your mind, their volume is increasing slowly.

Your booty spasms get stronger and your legs start doing rolls, inching you closer to the dance floor. Oh no, no no no. A shiny synth just brushed over the top of the intro. Your torso tells you “goodbye, I’m doing my own thing” and starts gyrating, no cares. Then your legs and your torso and your head get together to make a cohesive dance unit, pulling you right up to the DJ booth. Your eyes are closed so you can’t see the DJ smiling and nodding at you, nor the followers you’ve called along with you.

You let go as though you’re in a church giving yourself up to the Holy Ghost. But for you, the club is your church and the dance floor is your pulpit. The congregation can’t take letting you have all that spirit to yourself, so they join you on the dance floor. Yes, you finally leave your worries on the altar, and let the beat carry your burdens away.

Learning the Art of Writing Well

“I already freaking know how to write!” I used to say to myself when I felt my writing was monotonous, but wasn’t honest enough with myself to take ownership of different possibilities to change things. “To hell with going to school to get an English degree or whatever!”

While I am still pretty adamant about not returning to school to get a degree, I am pretty jazzed about the fact that you don’t really need to go back to school to brush up on your writing and English skills (or other languages if you write in a language other than English). There are so many programs that offer the exact courses you need to brush up online. These programs are either standalone MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, or live on platforms like edX and Coursera.
 
Through my state I’m able to get the certificates from Coursera for free (which you normally have to pay for), so I use that platform for all of my learning needs. With these programs and platforms there are no more excuses. If you want to be a writer and you don’t feel like your skills are up to par, there are free curricula out there to help you get better.

Now that we’re in the 2020s getting a college degree for career paths like writing and such may be a bit unnecessary. Unless your parents are paying your way through school, you get a ridiculously amazing scholarship, or your schooling is somehow paid for, I personally wouldn’t go back to school for a writing degree in any form, whether it’s English or Communications or what have you.
 
Some young people might want to go for the college experience, but if you’re like me and way past college age, it’s probably best to stick to the resources available, whether they’re free or cost a teeny, tiny little bit of moolah.

It was a hard pill for me to swallow, not having a writing degree tied to my name and with no intention of attaching one, but at the end of the day, becoming an author doesn’t really require that. Many of my favorite authors did not go to school for writing. Some of them didn’t go to school at all. It’s all about perspective, perseverance, attitude, and a willingness to fill in the gaps on your own.

∞ Aminah Jamil

Day 3 – A Vessel for a Trip

She sat in the passenger waiting area, her frustrations deflating from walking behind inconsiderate individuals unaware of their surroundings, those people who’d stop right in front of her to look at their phones or to turn around or to pull scarves out of their pockets to blow their noses. Despite a pandemic having changed the travel industry, it did not, unfortunately, increase those people’s awareness.
 
The passenger area was less chaotic, though, not too many people traveling these days. She feared that she might be labeled ‘crazy’ for not having a ‘proper’ reason to be traveling. What was ‘proper’ though? Should she sit around in her hometown, in between comfort and discomfort, waiting for something to happen that never would? On top of that, should she allow some disease to prevent her from living her life? Or, in the least, figuring it out?
 
She wasn’t as young as she used to be – old enough to drink and have lived through those days, but young enough that, unless she had the misfortune of having had acquired a secret terminal illness, she wouldn’t be dying any time soon. She was tired of life making all of her decisions for her, no matter what in the world was going on.

So she sat, and waited, and watched the people. The people with their faces covered, the people who ushered children, the people who talked on cell phones a little too loudly, the people that hugged one another, the people that social distanced. She was, for the first time in a long time, comforted. And comfortable with her decision to fly over halfway across the world to a country she’d never visited before, to teach English to children.

In a way, she felt she had to go. To end the monotony of her life, she had to go. 

The airline attendants began their preparations for boarding. She could tell they’d done this many times, for instead of it being a mechanical display, they were almost fluid, water-like in the way that they opened the terminal door, announced any last-minute standbys, and began pushing those in wheelchairs up to their designated waiting spots. This was their thing. She felt solidarity with them as she went to go find out if teaching was her thing.

She got up and walked over to the window where she could see the giant bird she’d soon be embarking. This is it, she thought, I’m about to leave this country for a year. And, almost ceremoniously, she placed her hand on the cool glass in a silent goodbye. 

Day 2 – An Unrequited Love Poem

I almost forgot to post this today. Tsk tsk tsk.

Gritty, like the feeling of crumbs in my bed,
Is what I feel when you return my smile on empty.
Empty, is what I wish I feel when your eyes don’t
Linger as long as love permits them to,
Instead of my stomach reminiscing of
Roller coasters and fast elevator drops.

My bullet train heartbeat,
Slow down,
There is no destination here.
Before we find ourselves, you and me,
My heart,
Unable to escape
The unfathomable abyss
That is this.