After reading Stephen King’s IT in high school, I had to sleep with the light on for a month. I also refused to use the bathroom sink after dark—fearing what might call out to me from the pipes—and developed a serious aversion to clowns.

Growing up, Stephen King novels weren’t the only thing keeping me up at night. Nuclear war, The Exorcist (and exorcisms in general), and several Twilight Zone episodes vied for the attention of my overactive imagination in the wee hours of the night. I often needed to fall asleep with the TV on or headphones in my ears.

The Twilight Zone

October is a good month to blog about fears. Mine have changed as I’ve gotten older mostly because they’re more grounded in reality. I had a writing professor in college who said that real life is often more interesting than anything we can make up. I would submit to you that real life is also scarier than fiction. Pennywise the clown has been replaced in my psyche by things that can actually happen or have happened already. I find my new set of fears difficult to talk about and even harder to write about. But at least fiction allows me to place my characters between myself and those fears—to wear a mask as I try to sort out what scares us both.

For this post though, I thought I’d keep it light and share with you my run-of-the-mill fears—the kind that make me laugh and keep the big ones at bay.

Fears like…

Running out of coffee. Followed closely by running out of wine and toilet paper. I tend to stockpile all three.

School picture day. For the past six years, I’ve organized the photographing of 550 students ranging in age from three to ten at my child’s school. The process has sent more than one brave parent running.

Laundry. It never, ever ends. Tell me that’s not a nightmare.

The guy in my fitness class who wears spandex shorts from 1986 and cropped tops from the same era. Neither offers ample coverage or support.

And along these same lines is my 90-year-old neighbor who bares his milk-white legs as he sports only a bathrobe and slippers when he walks to the driveway’s end every day around noon to retrieve his newspaper.

Spider crickets. I encountered one of these gargantuan hopping creatures in my kitchen one morning. Trying to whack that thing with a broom at 6 a.m. was like battling Smaug. I’d post a pic here, but it would only give me nightmares. Google them if you’re curious. Be warned. They ain’t pretty.

The scale in the doctor’s office.

Public speaking. I delivered gave a 15-minute speech at Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus conference on Saturday. It was a tremendous honor to speak there, but my knees shook the whole time. Who knew that knees really do knock together.


Derek Jeter’s retirement and George Clooney’s marriage, cause both may signal the end of the world as we know it, right?


Donald Trump’s hair.

The Honey Boo Boo mom’s feet.

Scraping the seeds out of a pumpkin. Though I love just about everything else about pumpkins including carving them and their faux flavor in my latte.

Missing a deadline.

And finally…

Reviews. Particularly from The Magazine That Shall Not Be Named.

What are some of your fears? Find me on Twitter or Facebook and tell me all about them.

Twitter @jdoktorski