Acidophilus… Wow…

I had a very strange morning.

I wake up to a very strange smell. I can’t quite place it. Then I realize that my dogs are running frantically around the house, but for some reason they’re not barking, and that strikes me as wrong.

I sit up, notice that it’s 9 am, but it seems too dark outside for that. Once the dogs see that I’m up, they start barking in what seems like a weird combination of agitation and relief. And what is that smell?

I leave the bedroom, and call for Dear Husband, but get no response. Everything around me looks… it’s hard to explain. Abandoned? Dusty? Sandy? I don’t know. Surreal.

I head to the back door in search of DH, and when I open it, I’m hit by this wall of sensation. The park and woods behind our house are engulfed in bright orange flame and muddy black smoke. The weird smell gets even stronger.

I discover that I’m screaming, and I run across the back deck, going God knows where. I nearly trip over an old-school, red and black surfboard, the long, heavy kind. I’ve never seen it before. And the house is surrounded by… trampolines?

Then my husband comes around the side of the house, jumping from trampoline to trampoline, and I must say that he’s getting an impressive amount of height. He’s wearing nothing but board shorts, combat boots, and a red bandana. His hair is long, wispy and dark, as it was as in his youth (which makes me grateful that I met him later in life).

His face and torso are covered in green and grey paint. A feverish sweat is coursing down a serious case of 5 o’clock shadow on his jaw. He looks exhausted yet adrenalized, as if he might spontaneously combust at any moment. He’s holding what appears to be a supersized fire extinguisher with an unusually hardcore nozzle.

As he bounces past, and is rounding the next corner, he’s shouting, “Good morning, Babe! I got this! The perimeter is secure!” 

His words alternately fade and intensify as his head pops up above the roof-line. “DON’T worry, I’VE got THIS!”

And what is that smell?

I look back at the fire. It seems to have originated from a PBR boat that has appeared out of nowhere, and is now stranded at a cockeyed angle in the middle of the field. At this point there are balls of flame curling skyward above the tree line, and that’s when I hear the squadron of helicopters that is roaring toward us. Black helicopters. The front one is blasting the song, “Ride of the Valkyries.”

I finally realize what the smell is. Napalm. Napalm in the morning.

Then I wake up for real, gasping as though I’m coming up for air after being submerged too long.

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. I can hear Dear Husband puttering in the yard. I am buffeted by the wave-like whoosh of the cars passing by on the highway out front, and Quagmire, my dachshund, is snoring gently beside me. The sounds of home. So this is not the horror of war after all.

“The horror…”

I think, “That’s what I get for staying up late, eating too much junk food, and watching the extended and even more surreal version of Apocalypse Now.”

I decide that what’s needed is some yogurt to settle my stomach. Thus begins my day.

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Daughter Dream

What did she look like?

Recently, my husband had a dream. He went to put something in the back seat of our car, and there was our daughter, sitting in a car seat. (This was a nasty shock, because we don’t have children.) And then she spoke to him. He was stunned, and said as much. I looked back at him from the front seat and said, “Of course she can talk! She’s 4 years old!” (We’ve only been married for two years.)

I’m in my 50’s, and I am child free with absolutely no regrets. Parenthood would have made me miserable, even though I’d have done my best not to mess it up. And it’s blatantly obvious that the planet is crowded enough without any contribution on my part. So, yeah, that dream of his definitely came way out of left field.

But now I can’t help but wonder what our daughter looked like. And what did she say? What did her voice sound like?

I’ll never know. And that feels strange, too.

Onward…

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A Cystic Dream

I can handle it.

I have this recurring dream during periods of high stress in my life. I feel this painful, pressurized lump somewhere on my body, often on a shoulder, hip, or behind my ear. I try to squeeze it to no avail. Messing with it hurts, but I have to get it out of there. I pick at it. I scratch it. No luck whatsoever.

Then one day, I’m clawing away at it without much hope of success, and, pop! Suddenly it bursts through the skin. It’s still attached, still intact, but at least it’s outside my body, so the pressure is reduced. Even so, I want it gone. So I take a deep breath, brace myself, and cut it out. It detaches with a sickening, watery, ripping squelch. But it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as I anticipated. What was I so worried about?

Now I’m holding it in my hand. It’s warm. It’s actually kind of pretty, now that I’m free of it. It’s a perfect sphere. The most perfect one I’ve ever seen. It’s shiny and white, like a pearl. (That is, if a pearl were the size of a golf ball.)

I’m kind of in love with this thing, because I realize that it’s all my problems, beautifully encapsulated. I can control it. I can handle it. Best of all, I can get rid of it. So I do.

I always wake up smiling after that dream. I often go to sleep wishing that I’ll have it. I take comfort from the fact that it exists somewhere deep inside me.

It is survival.

Pearl

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Sugar and Spice? Not.

If I were a kid today, I’d be pretending to be Hermoine Granger.

One of my regular readers, Linda, whom I now consider to be a friend, sent me a link to an article entitled “Stan Lee Taught Me How To Be Amazing” by John Pavlovitz. It is a great read, as is all of his writing.

But my friend made an excellent point. This article was definitely written from the male perspective. As Linda said, “I never once dreamed of being powerful like Spiderman. There weren’t even female superheroes back then, although they did add some later.”

That made me come at the article from a different angle entirely. I love that Pavlovitz could imagine that he was Spiderman when he was growing up. I’m sure that did wonders for his self-esteem. But what was I, and most of the girls of my generation, thinking about back then?

Being rescued.

We were Cinderella, or Rapunzel, or Snow White. I doubt many of us related to Wonder Woman, as she was hypersexualized to such a degree that she seemed way out of our leagues. I read Archie Comics. Betty and Veronica weren’t exactly something to aspire to.

There was a lot of damage done to the women of my generation. We weren’t given as much to dream about. It’s not nearly as bad now. Now, we have intelligent, spunky and brave characters, like Ariel and Elsa and Mulan, Elastagirl and her daughter Violet, Fiona, and Hermoine Granger, just to name a few.

And the little girls of today have more ability to connect and learn about some of the amazing kick-ass women in real life, such as Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, and J.K. Rowling.

Lest we forget, there have always been amazing women out there. Anne Frank, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart… But my generation wasn’t taught much about them in school, except as afterthoughts and footnotes to the “real” heroes. And we didn’t have the computer access to allow us to track them down ourselves.

Now, at least, girls have more access. Now, at least, animation is catching up with our awesomeness. (Although the sexualization part still tends to rear its ugly head. There’s still a lot of work to do.)

If I were a kid today, I’d totally be out in that back alley, pretending to be Hermoine Granger. Wingardium Leviosa!

Hermione

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Our Own Private Crop Circles

Dreams. I’ve always considered them messages from my subconscious. Which makes it all the more frustrating when I don’t understand them.

Dreams. I’ve always considered them messages from my subconscious. Which makes it all the more frustrating when I don’t understand them.

A friend of mine calls them our own private crop circles. Like those beautiful and mysterious creations (whether you believe they’re man made or otherwise), we know these dreams are trying to tell us something, but what? Good question.

I’ve always kind of assumed that my subconscious knows more about what’s going on with me than I do. But if that’s really true, why can’t it enunciate, at the very least? Quit mumbling gibberish.

Why can’t it say, “Yo, you are stressed out about xyz, and I have no intention of letting you sleep peacefully until you deal with it.” I’m much more functional when my marching orders are clear.

Instead, what does it give me? Dreams about being chased by bats or  giraffes walking on water.

We share the same head. You’d think we’d speak the same language.

http _stobblehouse.com_photo_cropcircles_silburyhill2005

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No Owl Should Ask Its Name: Crawford Hoarding

The alarm woke me out of REM sleep again.

The alarm woke me out of REM sleep again. I hate when that happens. It takes me forever to shake the fog out of my head.

But it also allows me to take a peek into my subconscious, because I’m often still in a dream, and can actually hear what’s going through my mind for a split second. That was the case this morning, and it was so surreal I immediately wrote it down.

What the voice in my head was saying was, “No owl should ask its name: Crawford Hoarding”.

Um…What am I supposed to do with that? Who, or what, is Crawford Hoarding?

It almost sounds like the name of a mansion in one of those fascinating places where people name their mansions. If so, I suspect the place is jam packed with stuff. “Welcome to Crawford Hoarding! Please watch your step.”

And why shouldn’t an owl inquire about the place? (Or person. Or thing.) What would the consequences be for said owl? And since when can owls talk, anyway? Where were we? Narnia?

I think this would make a great book title. I should suggest it to J. K. Rowling. She could work her magic on it. And I could get a free ticket to the premier of the movie version.

Until then, warn any owls that you might encounter to mind their own business. Just in case.

owl

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A Cool Dream

I usually forget my dreams immediately upon opening my eyes. But sometimes they’re so fascinating I repeat them over and over in my head until I can write them down. This was such a dream.

In it, I was a writer. (Big stretch, right?) But I was living inside what I wrote. For example, if I wrote of a lush, green forest, one would appear around me. (Yes, I dream in color.) I could conjure butterflies and birds and deer and flowers.

I sat at my writing desk and I created three dimensional, living, breathing art. It was really exciting. It felt as though I was conducting an orchestra and painting a picture at the same time.

And then, I got writer’s block. So I wrote about a coffee table book, and one appeared on my writing table. It was a big, thick one, full of glossy photos. All I had to do was open the book and look at a photo, and I’d be inspired to write about it. And so the creativity continued.

I can’t describe the feeling of contentment and joy I was experiencing. It makes me happy to think that I’m now in a place in my life where such positive dreams are flowing out of my subconscious. It was a creative, problem-solving kind of place. I could have lived in there forever.

And then my dog Quagmire kicked me in the ribs and I woke up. The magical world popped like a soap bubble. Even so, I gave Quag a big good morning hug. That dream made me feel really empowered, but my dog makes me feel loved. So that’ll do quite nicely.

Fantasy Forest

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Giving Up

Not every dream you have is going to work out. Not every person you fall for is going to love you back. Sometimes you will make the wrong choices, life will get in the way, or things will be out of your control.

That was made abundantly clear the other day when I was unpacking boxes that I had been storing in my guest room. I was confronted with about 25 pounds of notes that I had taken when I was pursuing my Dental Laboratory Technology degree. Despite graduating with honors and having high hopes about buying a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina and starting my own dental lab out of the garage, here I am, a bridgetender in Seattle.

I wanted that dream so badly I could taste it. But I couldn’t convince anyone to hire me so that I could gain the needed experience, and I certainly couldn’t control the fact that 6 months later I needed surgery on my wrist that would make it physically impossible to do that work.

The death of a dream. Hate when that happens. I think I went into mourning for about a year, and despite the fact that I’ve since moved on, I couldn’t quite bring myself to get rid of those notes. I lugged them all the way across the country with me, even though I knew, without a doubt, that I’d have no use for them. I just wasn’t ready to let go.

So here was this massive pile of emotionally-charged notes that were taking up space in my guest room. But this was ridiculous. The last thing I need is a 25 pound albatross around my neck. So, trying not to think too much, I pitched them all into the recycle bin.

Well, no, not all of them. I kept my orthodontic notes. And textbooks. And tools. Because that’s what I wanted to do—make orthodontic appliances, like retainers. I know I’m being silly. I know that dream isn’t happening, ever. But it’s a part of who I was, who I am. And those tools might actually come in handy. You never know.

But it was rather cleansing, getting rid of all the other stuff. It felt like another step toward healing. It was high time.

Giving up on something or someone after you’ve exhausted all viable avenues of pursuit isn’t necessarily defeat. It isn’t abject failure, either. It means, quite often, that you’re being a mature adult who is being realistic and moving on.

There’s no shame in that. It’s a huge part of life. And if you’re lucky, like I’ve been, you can look back from a good place and realize you actually wound up right where you were supposed to be all along. You may not have been able to see it in the past, but things have a funny way of working out the way they should.

Sometimes you have to give up in order to get something spectacular. Sometimes giving up is the right thing to do.

white_flag_surrender

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Part of Me Sleeps

This will come as no big surprise, but a very large part of me likes to avoid conflict, stress, and confrontation. Decades ago, I decided that the most effective way to not deal with the slings and arrows of life was to sleep. I absolutely love to sleep. My spirit animal is probably one of those fainting goats.

I wish there were some sort of internal switch that I could flick on and off so I could just check out when I’m overwhelmed. Kind of a Sleeping Beauty effect without having to rely on some evil witch to knock me out or some handsome fool to kiss me awake again. But then I’d probably sleep my life away. Heaven knows that I wouldn’t deem housework or errands to be adequate incentive to rise.

Even when I’m alert and functioning, in times of high anxiety I feel as if there’s a part of me that is sleeping. She wants to be left alone. She doesn’t have the slightest desire to engage. She curls up. She dreams. I’m amazed I wasn’t a thumb-sucker as a child.

Here lately I’ve been feeling the urge to wake that part of me up. I want her to come to the party. I want her to live life. She’s not happy about this. She doesn’t like change. But it’s time to grow up and face the world, and experience it.

I sense there are many adjustments I’m going to have to make in order to become fully conscious. I doubt it’s going to be easy. I’m definitely a work in progress. Wish me luck.

Sleeping beauty

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Napsodizing

You heard it here first. I just coined a term that means rhapsodizing about naps. And, oh, but I can. I genuinely can think of nothing as luxurious as being able to sleep in the middle of one’s day. It’s delightful.

People who have to work hard cannot nap. People whose living situations are precarious or noisy can’t do so, either. Parents of small children consider themselves lucky if they even get a full night’s sleep.

I have planned my entire life around the ability to nap whenever possible. My work schedule is off-kilter, and I impose as few deadlines upon myself as I possibly can. I live alone, so I have no one to answer to but myself.

Most people aren’t that lucky. I’m well aware of this. So when I nestle in my comfy bed at high noon, it feels as though I’m giving myself a great gift.

I also happen to have a dog who loves to nap as much as I do. We will spoon and snore together, and before you know it, hours will have passed. It’s my free version of conspicuous consumption.

Some people will tell you that when you sleep you are wasting time that you should be spending elsewhere. You should be out there living life. To them I say poppycock. Real life exists in those moments of routine, of drudgery, of habit, of killing time, and yes, of napping. I have a rich dream world which I love to explore. I think it’s much more beneficial than watching television or dealing with cobwebs. Naps also help you heal and process your experiences.

I could go on and on about this, my favorite subject. But I feel a nap coming on.

Nap

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