Dreamscapes: The Whole Foods Mall of Japaris

Feel free to make what you will out of THIS crazy dream!

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I was in a huge, cavernous shopping mall of some type with some of my friends (I couldn’t tell which ones). I didn’t know exactly where the mall is, but somehow it was a cross between Japan and Paris.

The mall was an odd shape, with a narrow stairwell (it reminded me of being in Notre Dame, with the steep concrete stairs and little windows looking out on the world) that would wind its way up to the next floor. Along each stairwell there were open buckets of all kinds of goodies—candy, toys, small fun items (like the bulk section of Whole Foods), and I understood that you were supposed to take what you wanted and bring it to the nearest register. But it was so tempting to just take a few small things and stick them in your coat pocket. I didn’t . . . at least not yet.

Even though it was indoors, everyone was wearing coats. It was so tight in that stairwell, people were jammed together in two lines, like going up the escalator from the train to the main floor in Penn Station. When you reached each floor, the space was wide open and there were vendors everywhere. No actual stores, just people at kiosks or just standing there selling their wares. It reminded me of the artists lined up along the streets and bridges in Paris.

Each main floor of the mall was so huge, it echoed. At each floor there was some kind of performance, and the point of each performance seemed to be to scare people into thinking they were going to run into you. One group of performers was dressed up like huge robots or transformers, all in black and on stilts. They were terrifying.

At the next stairwell, I couldn’t help myself and I took a handful of Swedish Fish, but for some reason each one was on a stick. Swedish Fish Skewers. I kept trying to get them in my pocket, but the stick was in the way and the crowd kept shoving me. I dropped two, and held onto one, hoping there were no hidden cameras.

At the next open level, one of my friends wanted to go look at something and I tried to follow her but instead I went looking for a trash can to throw away the Swedish Fish so I wouldn’t get in trouble. A group of performers on bicycles appeared, careening all around me, and one came to a skidding halt right in front of me.

I ran, but realized that I dropped the Swedish Fish. I looked back and saw it on the floor, and for some reason I was so sad, but I kept running.

And that was it.

Dreamscapes: Applying for a Job

I’ve been feeling a little stagnant on my blog. For some reason I’m not feeling that creative lately. But my brain has been very creative, delivering vivid, complex and bizarre stories every night that I remember in detail the next day.

I figure my brain is trying to tell me something. I have tons of great stories in me, they are just having trouble coming together cohesively. So my brain is giving me bits and pieces, little puzzles that, when I figure them out, will be the start of some really interesting stories.

This is one of many from last night. I can only guess what the imagery and recurring themes are telling me about myself. I don’t want to put too much thought into it right now, though. I’ll just blurt out everything I remember and later, maybe the stories will start knitting themselves together.

Applying for a Job

There was an open job at the school, and I went for an interview. I brought a little pamphlet with me that described the job. I was met by a guy (no one who works at the school in real life) who took me to a kind of dusty attic atmosphere place in the school with an old, beat up wooden desk. Nothing else around. I was wearing an old-fashioned dress.

He asked if my test was scantron. I looked down and it was now a tri-folded test with the little dots. Apparently I was supposed to fill it out for him to know whether I was a good fit for the job. I felt so unprepared and embarrassed.

He asked why I thought I would be good at the job, and I forgot what the job was, except that it had something to do with surveying, and I was good at doing surveys. Plus, I have an advanced degree so I could probably adapt quickly. I tried to cheat and look at the title of the job on the other side of the paper, but I could only see part of it, and it didn’t make any sense.

Suddenly I had a couple of those round thin chocolates (the kind that would normally be covered in foil, but these weren’t), and they were melting in my hand. I tried to get rid of them but one fell out of my hand and rolled under his desk. I tried to look and see if it had touched his shoe. I couldn’t tell, but he didn’t seem to notice.

I shoved the other chocolate in my mouth and tried to swallow it but it was all over my face, and it got worse when I wiped my face with the hand with the melted chocolate. I was trying to keep my composure while he talked, but I couldn’t hear anything he was saying.

Finally we sat there in silence for awhile.

He walked me out, and it was the exit to a different school I had seen in other dreams, similar to my own elementary school but I had only been able to see the exit in previous dreams.

Then I was in my house, but it wasn’t my house. It was a huge, grand room, all wooden from top to bottom, like an attic, with slanted ceilings and nice furniture, leather chairs. No other furniture around that I could see, it was like there was a spotlight on the center of the room.

For some reason I was thinking “If only the interviewer could see this beautiful room, and my beautiful house, he would have a much better impression of me!”

Then I thought “I should have talked to him about the job, admitted that I knew nothing but was confident that I could handle it, show him that I have previous business experience, get him talking and show him that I’m not just a mute dummy covered in chocolate.”

The room narrowed and turned into more of a crawlspace, and I had to wriggle my way through. That’s all I remember.

Not a resolution. An evolution.

 

I was at the gym the other day, slogging along on the Precor without much enthusiasm, and noticed that World’s Toughest Mudder was on one of the TVs. As I watched the elite women and men making their way through the course, mile after mile, hour after hour (and day after day!), hurting but still going strong, I started getting motivated and pedaled faster.

One by one they crossed the finish line and I cheered for them. By the time I finished my workout, I had actually gotten a workout, instead of just going through the motions.

A moment of inspiration struck: I will do a Tough Mudder this year!

WAIT. I have already done a Tough Mudder. Two, in fact. So I know that I CAN do it. In some ways just committing to do one is harder than actually completing the course. And to be fair, it’s been five years since my last one. At a certain age, five years makes a difference. (Sigh . . . knees.)

No matter. I will do what it takes to make sure I’m in the best possible shape by October. I might not be able to make it up that damn half pipe at the end (WHY do they put it at the end????), and I know I won’t be able to jump into the dumpster of ice water. I have too many emotional and spiritual scars from the first time.

I know my limits, but I also know that they don’t need to hold me back. Just like an obstacle I know I can’t conquer, I can walk around things I know I can’t do (even if there are people on the sidelines booing you), and go on to conquer something different. Like jumping from the platform into the lake. I couldn’t do it the first year, and it took many false starts the second year, but I eventually did it.

This is not a resolution for 2018, it’s a commitment to keep evolving. Keep trying new things (or old things I haven’t mastered), keep learning, keep going.

Whatever you are working on this year, just keep going! Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and rewarding 2018.

An ode to crazy hair and Hormel turkey pepperoni

My daughter has a nest of baby hair that hovers at the top of her head. No matter how much she brushes, smooths, or sprays, that collection of shorter hairs gradually stands up to form a breezy little dirty blonde halo.

I call it her nimbus.

One day in the car she told me that she could feel the baby hairs moving when she turned her head, like they were a separate entity. I told her to think of them as pilot fish. They are a colorful, happy little tribe of fish that follow her around as if she were a benevolent girl shark.

In fact, they are also her biggest fans. They don’t just follow her because they need her for sustenance, they actually adore her! Can’t you hear them all cheering as they dart back and forth, I told her, keeping up with your every move! Go, go, go! We love you!

That gave us a good laugh. At least she has a sense of humor about her appearance, which is unusual for a 15-year old.

It also gave me an idea for a children’s book about a little girl who hates her unruly hair. Her mother tells her about the pilot fish, and also suggests that her crazy hair could be a special halo of flowers that she takes with her everywhere, or butterflies. Many scenarios about what her hair could actually be ensue, and the little girl eventually decides that it’s more fun to be special. Of course it has a happy ending, it’s a children’s book.

This is one of many children’s books I think about . . . Another one stars Pepper Lonely, a girl who loves Hormel turkey pepperoni and the Beatles in a time (the present) when neither one is in fashion. I personally think both are always in fashion, but in the book, we would be in some faraway land where neither thing exists. Maybe a kingdom of some kind. She would be Princess Pepperlonely. Listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band over and over.

The lessons would be (1) Hormel turkey pepperoni is very, very good. And so versatile. (2) The Beatles are cool, even if you live in a faraway land and have never heard of them. (3) It’s ok to be different. Be like Princess Pepperlonely.

And Hormel would pay to sponsor the book, which would result in a happy ($$) ending for me as well.

One of the days, I will actually write these stories. Now I just need a good illustrator.

 

 

 

What I Gained by Giving up Weekday Drinking

Here’s my second finalist article for the Parent.co monthly writing contest. I don’t think either of them won, but it was fun to enter–and always nice to see something you wrote published!

https://www.parent.com/what-i-gained-by-giving-up-weeknight-drinking/

 

Sometimes you just can’t explain human behavior

It’s my favorite time of year: Cooler days, falling leaves, pumpkin picking, apple cider donuts . . . and people acting really, really weird.

I was recently at a friend’s house for a casual get together, and I brought my 15-year old daughter. She had nothing else to do that day and wanted to see how my friend had redecorated her house, so why not?

There were a few people I knew there, many that I didn’t, and everyone was wrapped up in conversation, so my daughter (let’s call her Joy) and I hung out in the kitchen, munching on snacks. I spotted someone I know (let’s call her Gerty) in the living room talking to a group of people and gave her a polite wave.

Gerty was dressed for this festive occasion in head-to-toe black, her slight frame barely solid enough to hold her steady on impossibly tall black boots, hair characteristically pin-straight, her mouth a bright red gash. She can be a little severe, our Gerty.

Suddenly she was right in front of me. How did she cross the room so fast? Did she glide? Not possible in those boots, I would have heard her clumping toward me.

“Hi there,” she said. “Hi!” I responded, then gestured to Joy, who I don’t think she had ever met. “This is my daughter, Joy.”

If things didn’t already seem a little off, they were about to get weird.

Gerty turned toward me, eyes wide, moved in so close I thought she was preparing to lick my face, and said with a tight grin, barely moving her lips:

“You brought . . . CHILDREN?”

I really had to think about my response. Mentally I looked around the room to make sure I hadn’t misjudged the audience. There was food, there was wine, there were lots of people about my age engaged in loud, happy conversation. There were no strippers, no gimps, no one was cursing, no one was naked. Why not bring a child?

My next thought was: Technically Joy isn’t a child. She’s close to 16 and could pass for 18. In fact, one of the guests had previously (jokingly) recommended she have a shot since we lived close and could walk home. He had no idea she wasn’t even old enough to drive.

I opened my mouth to say . . . I’m not sure what . . . Probably “Uh?” and Gerty, who was sandwiched between me and Joy, turned her back on Joy, effectively pinning her against the stove. Joy looked over Gerty’s shoulder at me with a slightly panicked expression. I shrugged, as if to say “She’ll move along soon, I’m sure she’s not aware that she is suffocating you with her black turtleneck.”

Then Gerty spotted someone she knew on the other side of the kitchen, and although the distance was only about 8 feet, she started bellowing to get their attention. Meanwhile, she hadn’t moved. Joy was still pinned, holding a cookie up in the air, unable to get it to her mouth since Gerty was leaning against her.

That’s when I went from puzzled to angry. When you introduce someone, the absolute minimum response required in a civilized society is to say hello and make eye contact. Ignoring the introduction and then turning your back on the person you’ve just been introduced to is beyond rude. But then preventing them from moving while shouting to someone else? To me, that’s baboon behavior.

Thankfully Gerty tottered away before I could smack the physically passive aggressive personality right out of her body. I considered tackling her but there wasn’t much room and I would most likely take other people down at the same time.

Instead, I told Joy “She’s just . . . a little unusual. You know some people, not aware of their surroundings. Loud talker. Close talker. Socially tone deaf.  I’m sure it was nothing personal.”

For all I know, that’s true. But it doesn’t excuse the behavior. And it made me wonder: Are some people just hard wired without basic human empathy, or the skills needed to analyze a situation and behave accordingly? If so, is the ability to act like a social animal something that can be learned through intense training? Or are people like this just destined to go through life offending everyone, yet fortunate enough to be oblivious to the negative effect they have on others?

So many questions. But I don’t want to spend too much time pondering them. If my observations are accurate, at least one out of 5 people seem to have the makings of a true sociopath. From now on, I’ll trust my gut and walk away instead of waving at them.

Why do I save spiders?

Ok, I really thought I had gotten over my fear of spiders. At least to the point where I could remove them from my kids’ rooms when needed. You always know when it’s needed. There is no shriek quite as piercing as a child spotting a spider in his/her room, or–even worse–in the shower.

My newfound confidence went right out the window this morning when I was sitting in bed, working on my laptop, and saw movement along the baseboards out of the corner of my eye. Maybe it’s just a cricket, I thought.

Why would a cricket be any better than a spider? Actually, it would be worse. You can’t catch those things, and they JUMP! At least spiders don’t jump. Not spiders this big. Dear god . . . That IS a spider, right?

I crept out of bed and put on my flip flops, then decided to take one off in case it decided to attack. Then I put it back on, because . . . that thing was huge. I didn’t trust my aim with a tiny flip flop against a behemoth arachnid. Smacking at it might just make it mad.

I ran (as quietly as possible) to the kitchen to get a large plastic cup, heart pounding. What if it wasn’t there when I got back? What then? It could be ANYWHERE! Oh my god. The cats were perched on the dining room table as usual, but looking concerned. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s just an enormous spider. You would be helpless against it. Besides, it looks poisonous.”

Back into the bedroom. It was still there. Thank god. I crept closer, and closer, trying to get the cup in position before it spotted me. How do spider eyes work, anyway? Do they have more than two? Can they see in all directions? I feel like I really should know this before trying to sneak up on one.

No matter. The cup is all I’ve got. I brought it down slowly, slowly. It didn’t move. Plunk. Got it! Too late, I realized that the cup wasn’t flat on the floor. It was propped up on the–what do you call that thing at the bottom of the baseboard? A kickplate? My years of binge-watching HGVT failed me. In horror, I watched it go scampering under the door of the closet.

I paused outside the door, cup in hand, for a very long time. Damn it. What now? I can’t start poking around in the closet, it’s sure to drop on me from whatever it’s attached to. I opened the doors and just stared. Eventually I worked up the nerve to slowly push aside a 4-pack of paper towels, expecting it to come charging at me from the other side of the package. Nothing.

I stepped back and noticed the flashlights on an upper shelf. That’s it. I’ll be able to see it better without having to physically enter the closet, and maybe I could paralyze it with the light. I didn’t know if that was possible, but I really, really hoped so. It happens with deer, right? Spider in the headlights?

Just then Betty (cat #1) entered the room. She loves chasing lights. I trained the light on the closet floor, and she ran right in after it. “No, Betty! Don’t scare the spider!” I turned off the light. But before I did, I saw something right there on the floor, in the open, that looked a lot like the spider. I turned the flashlight on again and kept Betty at bay with my foot. I think that’s the spider! Just sitting there! Why is it doing that? Oh my god, it’s actually paralyzed by the light! It was like I had discovered fire.

I brought the flashlight closer and closer, testing the light paralysis theory. It didn’t move. PLUNK. Just like that, he was trapped. Hooray!

Now, how to get him outside? The old “slide paper under cup” trick worked, but I couldn’t pick it up because the paper was flimsy. One wrong move and he would make a break for it–probably down my arm. I had to slide him across the floor, inch by inch, trying not to jump out of my skin listening to him skittering around in there. Six agonizing feet later, I remembered that there was a rug between me and the screen door.

What would McGuyver do? Duct tape. We have duct tape. Feeling accomplished, I ripped up what little duct tape was left on the roll into small strips, and started folding the paper up the side of the glass and taping it in place. Almost done . . . and then the tape ran out. One section of paper was going to be loose when I picked up the cup.

Sigh.

Holding that section tight against the cup with my hand, I maneuvered the screen door open. Carefully, gingerly, I walked him (or her) to the very far end of the yard and put the cup down. It ran around the inside of the cup, but didn’t find the loose section in the paper. Dear lord.

I untaped a few sections and put the cup back down. Thankfully he/she/it found its way out this time.

Hopefully it will not find its way back in the house! Because I’m all out of duct tape.