Not Celebrating

13 May

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are miserable after your parents die. In less than an hour, this Mother’s Day will be behind me. This will be the third Mother’s Day since my mother’s death in March of 2016. It hasn’t gotten easier.

So many businesses inundate the Internet—including my inbox—with ads that say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” and urge me to buy gifts for my (dead) mother. This is what greeted me this morning, after I finished writing in my dream journal. I wanted to scream at all these businesses. NEWSFLASH: NOT EVERYONE’S PARENTS ARE STILL ALIVE! Their behavior seems not merely inconsiderate but downright cruel. I unsubscribed from three email lists.

In the late morning, I took a walk in my neighborhood under a too-bright and relentless sun. As I walked past a neighbor’s house, I noticed a lilac bush in their front yard, so I leaned forward and sniffed the beautiful aroma.

I recalled that during my childhood and adolescence, a vacant lot was across the street from our house, and in that vacant lot were two lilac bushes. For years, I picked lilacs on Mother’s Day and gave them to my mother.

Remembering this on my walk today choked me up, after all that anger at the internet. I kept walking and knew the high for the day was supposed to be eighty-three degrees, and it felt like it had already reached the high. It must have been the sunlight, because as soon as I got home, my smart phone indicated that it was only sixty-six degrees, which I could hardly believe.

This ended up as a day of bereavement more intense than I anticipated, especially since I was closer to my dad, and my mother was a narcissist. Even if your mother was a narcissist, you grieve for her…and sometimes for the nurturing mother you never had. I spent the afternoon napping, meditating, and reading. I managed to finish reading three books in one day. This evening especially, I’ve allowed myself to be with the grief. The anger I felt earlier is gone.

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A Dinosaur with a Dollhouse on its Head

7 May

I dreamed I was in a large room with two other people, one my brother (in that reality—he wasn’t Francis, and I think we were both in our twenties) and the other a flamboyant male music teacher or mad scientist. The latter was giving my brother lessons. They were ignoring me, and I walked to another part of the room. We heard a sinister growl coming from just outside the room; I looked toward a large window but didn’t see anything.

The floor wobbled alarmingly.

Next the perspective was completely different, outside the house…which was balancing on top of the head of a dinosaur. And the house I occupied was a dollhouse.

The dinosaur was inside a huge sailing ship, or just inside the ship. The dinosaur had a very long neck. The ship was tall enough to hold this dinosaur and was painted deep blue and dark brown.

Rare Thunder Causing Sleep Deprivation

6 May

At about three in the morning, a loud boom of thunder snapped me out of a dream.

Last time I checked the weather report, there was nothing about thunder and lightning; only rain, which—after years living in Portland, Oregon—I assume to be quiet, gentle rain. I rarely heard thunder in Portland, and when I did it was faint and distant.

I wish I’d turned on the light and sat up to read ghost stories, but I was very groggy and just wanted to get back to sleep. I wished to be well-rested before attending a matinee performance of the opera Maria of Buenas Aires, so I just wanted to get back to sleep. Also, being forced awake before a dream is complete always increases my grogginess, and I was extremely groggy. I drifted off to sleep…GRUMBLE! More thunder! I drifted off to sleep for a few minutes…BOOM! More thunder!

It’s easy to look back when I’m fully awake and wonder why I didn’t give up with trying to sleep. It would have been a really good time to read a ghost story. The thunder and lightning were so dramatic!

Campus Dream/ House Dream

3 May

I was a grad student and was in a classroom full of students. The instructor was a middle-aged Tibetan man (I’m currently reading a travel memoir). Someone announced a protest march on campus, and people started leaving the room. I was confused, because nobody said where or when to meet for the march. I was slow and one of the last people in the room–everyone packing their backpacks and rustling and bustling–and finally I asked someone a question such as what’s going on or where do we meet. The person, I think a young male student in black, looked at me like I was an idiot and just repeated the info that there’s a March. He glared at me suspiciously. ‘You are attending, aren’t you?”

“Yes, of course!”

I wandered through the building and saw other students hurrying away.

Next I dreamed that I bought a large, quirky, somewhat old, two-story house out of pocket. Inside the new house, I found a sort of hidden crawl space…where there were a lot of things still inside, bags and boxes and a big fake gargoyle that startled me when I first came across it.

While I was looking through stuff, I suddenly remembered the political march and felt guilty that I was missing it and wondered if I could join it in time. (There was no break between dreams, and this suggests that the campus dream and the house dream were one and the same.)

While looking around the house and going through stuff, I talked on the phone with my mother, who informed me–she didn’t ask permission–that she and some other relatives were moving into my house.

Upstairs, I had an odd bedroom–at least, the long, narrow bathroom attached to it was odd. It was covered in tiny yellow glass mosaics and included a curved corner cabinet that swung open near the door to the room. Right next to that was a closet where I had several bright calico tunics hanging.

I took off my shirt and began putting on two of the tunics together, when I heard a door opening and voices; family members were as already there, at least my dad and brother.

I was anxious to be neatly and fully dressed before anyone found me; I was struggling to button up the multiple tunics (or shirts) I was wearing.

Soon a bunch of relatives were stomping around the house and claiming their bedrooms. It was harrowing. My brother and dad were okay so far as I was concerned, but my mother, Aunt Asshole and Uncle NRA, and Batshit Aunt Bev were all invading and claiming bedrooms without my permission. I was in shock and wanted to enjoy my new home. They somehow already had beds and other furniture in “their” rooms in no time, and one of them was lounging in a queen-size bed and watching a loud tv. The evil relatives paid pretty much no attention to me. Remorseless, empathy-less, and self-entitled as ever. They had absolutely no permission to invade and move into my new home, obviously.

After seeing them and hurrying back to the big empty room with the odd crawl space, I was able to begin thinking. I reminded myself: I bought this house for myself and for my cats. I didn’t invite these monsters. I don’t owe them anything—quite the contrary, they owe me my mental health, self-esteem, etc. (okay, admittedly, this last sentence wasn’t actually in the dream and just occurred to me). They had no right to take over my house.

My brother joined me, and what may have started as an internal monologue became a conversation with him. He agreed with me but was passive and probably wouldn’t do anything to help; I knew I had to do it all myself, but I didn’t know what to do. They’d already moved in! They had their furniture already in my house! I was freaking out. As large as the house was, there’s no way in hell that I was going to live with these nightmarish monsters. This was yet another betrayal.

At some point in the dream, I was showing my brother my quirky bathroom, swinging out the curved corner cabinet and all. Most of the house wasn’t painted—indeed, most of it, from what I remember, was wooden and the color of unpainted wood, even the walls (which, realistically, would be plaster).

A striking element of the dream was that my parents were still both alive, but that often happens in my dreams. Sometimes I dream that even though I’m an adult, I’m living with or moving in with my parents.

Because of the toxic relatives, what should have been a happy dream turned into a nightmare. Of course, something like that wouldn’t really happen, because I’d be at the door locking it before the monsters could get a single foot through the door, and I wouldn’t care if one of them ended up with a broken foot. Realistically, the front and back doors wouldn’t have been unlocked while I was upstairs looking around. Post-2002, I wouldn’t have let such toxic relatives have a key to my house.

Just recently I was thinking about how two evil aunts stole a house from me… but the joke is on them, because I now have a bigger house that’s far away from any evil relatives and that has absolutely no associations with toxic relatives. A home is supposed to be a haven—not to mention a home rather than only a house—and the house an uncle left me was never truly my home and haven, thanks to toxic relatives breaking in whenever they pleased. (I’m sure that if I were the same person then as I am now, I would have changed the locks and thus prevented Evil Aunt Ethel from breaking in…well, except for the fact that she was usually my cat sitter.) Not only do none of them have a key to my house, but they’re not invited (and some of them are deceased now). When I think of putting a “no soliciting” sign in my front window, I also think of adding: “No sociopaths, no narcissists, no fundamentalist xians, no creepers, no trespassers, no meth addicts, no assholes of any sort, especially not manipulative assholes.” In short, such thoughts probably helped to conjure that dream. Something else that influenced the dream: I’m often distracted by my home and cats (that’s my family) and haven’t been to a political rally or march in a while. I need balance.

Middle Grade Fantasy Issues

21 Apr

I stumbled upon this journal entry from March of 2014:

My latest rejection letter concerning the Rowanwick Witches hit a discouraging note. The editor claimed that they’ve published and have been receiving submissions of too many novels in which a relative teaches a young person witchcraft. This got me suspecting that if this one publisher is getting that many manuscripts with the same premise, then presumably this is common in the publishing industry in general right now. (The irony is that I wrote the original version back when I was a teenager in the 1980s, and the novel would have stood out.)

I confided in a friend, who suggested I alter the Rowanwick Witches so that someone other than a relative is the teacher. Perhaps, for instance, a tree could be the teacher—something different and unusual. I don’t want to do anything like that with the Rowanwick Witches, which has been near and dear since I was a teenager, but I got to thinking I could come up with a different Middle Grade series (or one at least one novel) of that ilk and attempt to get it published traditionally (as opposed to self-publishing).

Since writing the above, I haven’t written that other Middle Grade novel or series (though I have a cunning, if somewhat vague, plan for one). Getting published is very hard, and the publishing industry doesn’t care how attached you happen to be to certain fictional characters and how much time and effort you’ve devoted to them. The focus of agents and publishers is what will sell, what readers wish to read and on what they’re willing to spend money. It makes perfect sense intellectually.

However, because I felt compelled to get Rowanwick Witches published, I went ahead and self-published the first book on CreateSpace, the publishing platform for Amazon.com. The first book, available on Amazon, is Rowanwick Witches, Lesson 1: Spells and Enchantments. I’m currently working on the next two books in the series.

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Random College Party Dream

19 Apr

I had a dream that was from different characters’ perspectives, mostly college kids, maybe a professor.

There was a huge party/concert at a large, modern, glass-doored building that I think was on campus. A straight-laced black male student, probably a senior, was supervising this event, making sure people who arrive had invitations or such.

The end of the dream was entirely from the perspective of a petite blond girl (who looked exactly like a specific British actress, Hannah Murray). She showed up with her skinny black boyfriend. They were both high or became so during the course of the evening. At some point, they were lurking and giggling in the main hallway, and she called her dad and in a cheerful voice asked him to get her birth control (or a condom), “because I don’t want to get pregnant.” Oddly, her father soon briefly showed up in the lobby looking clean-cut, in his thirties, and wearing a navy-blue business suit; he seemed to be in a hurry. Her dad barely noticed her as he kept walking, and they didn’t interact.

At the far end of this lobby, which could also be called a big hallway, an open door on the left led to the huge room where the party/concert was taking place. The lighting was dark and blue, and that room was very loud and packed. At the far end was a stage on which a band was singing and playing. The blond girl hovered near the doorway with her boyfriend but was reluctant to go inside.

They’d apparently been there for a long time. The clean-cut black student suddenly showed up and glared at them. “Are you still here?” he asked sternly. He then said something else, while the half-unconscious boyfriend hid behind the blond, and she got nervous and backed away while hiding her boyfriend, threw on a yellow and black silk robe, covering both of them, and pulled up the hood as she turned and hurried out, with her boyfriend seemingly hidden behind her—at least, she believed he was successfully hidden. He was able to keep up with her despite his half-unconscious state.

They went out the front glass doors with her still in the lead. Outside, dawn had come and mostly gone; it was sunny with a pink tinge. She walked along on pavement and was looking down and seeing various dry autumn leaves scattered on the pavement and bright green grass. A few other students were walking along, coming and going. Still leading the way while they both wore the robe, she decided to head for her boyfriend’s dorm room (or apartment—it seemed more like an apartment in my mind’s eye). The last image I recall from this dream was a grey concrete-looking door surrounded by vines.

This was one of those dreams that just don’t seem to have any interpretation and seem quite…out of the blue. And maybe that’s not entirely true, since college/university has to do with learning, and in the past I’ve had college dreams that were definitely related to how I was, at the time, learning a great deal about Buddhism and about my mother’s side of the family. Additionally, a party suggests that I’m not being sociable enough. The actress still seems random, and I don’t know if there’s anything odd about how I often dream about—and from the perspective of—people I don’t know in this reality.

An Architecture Dream

12 Apr

I dreamed that I was visiting a slender, elegant, blond woman at her apartment and wasn’t the only guest; the other was a friend who arrived with me. We sat down to a long table in her dining room, where the paneled walls were an old and faded mixture of off-white and pale green. They may have been solid green originally, over 200 years ago. I became really fascinated by a particular wall, because matched into the paneling and not quite fitting together were two large, tall rectangles, also paneled like the rest of the wall. It was as though two rectangles had been cut out of the wall and later replaced. Gazing at this wall in fascination, I said, “They used to be windows!” We talked about that for a bit.

The old building belonged to this arrogant white man, youngish and good-looking and blond–he could have been his tenant’s brother. I think it was before I was in her dining room, there was a scene in a very large room with him overseeing and yelling at workers.

An eighteenth-century apartment was on wheels, each room folded up so that they were all these tall, upright, paneled, wooden boxes on casters. The boxes were much larger than coffins. These workers were moving them around. Some of the upright wooden boxes were blue, or white, or paper yellow. The workers were moving them around, lining them up.

While we were in the dining room, we were disturbed by something pushing against a wall. The tenant was annoyed with her landlord and pushed back.

Next, the scene was back to the landlord and workers with the apartment on wheels, and they were perplexed that one of the rooms moved slightly on its own.

It seems that the room we occupied used Time Lord technology (which only just occurred to me–not in the dream), because it was one of the boxes on wheels. It wasn’t a large room, but based on the exteriors of the rooms on wheels, we couldn’t have all fit in there, and the dimensions were off.