Archive | September, 2013

Construction and Constructing

27 Sep

With a construction site inches away from my apartment, I haven’t figured out which disturbs me more: the construction noise (including the BAM! BAM! BAM! of hammers), or the music (noise pollution) the construction workers listen to. Yesterday they listened to something that sounded like country music or pop music or some sort of inane amalgamation of the two. Since I’m a writer (and since I’m attempting to complete some consignment craft items, namely green cloth Goddess dolls/sculptures), I tend to work at home. It keeps my cat happy.

 

Fortunately, I’ll attend a group meditation this evening. And tomorrow I’m participating in a crafting get-together, so some of that consignment crafting will be far away from the construction noise (never mind that so far the construction workers haven’t worked on Saturdays and Sundays).

 

Early this morning, I had a dream in which I had a low-status job in a large, new publishing company. I was new on the job, and so was just about everyone else. The boss of everyone, the top of the totem pole, was a white male in a navy blue business suit. I felt like I had to be very cautious—to act like a robot, keeping as quiet as possible and pretending I had no emotions (gee, that’s exactly what I told myself to do in Kansas right before I moved there!), and I felt insecure about my job, as though I could easily be fired and replaced at the slightest whim. Smile and nod, humor the power-tripping white male on top.

There was a long narrow hallway with a row of glass-walled offices, to the left of the business. To the right was a large space where people operated big letterpress machines and such—the heavy, dirty work.

Toward the end of the dream, I was doing something just outside the boss’s glass office. A tall white guy who looked Dutch came along and dropped off his resume, saying something about the kind of work he wanted. After he left, there were two white males (including the boss) in the boss’s office, and I overheard one of them say, “A lot more people want white-collar jobs in this company. Have you noticed?”

“Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with that.”

The way they both spoke sounded so patronizing and stupid! I was really tempted to open my mouth and say, “A lot of people my age have back problems, so they don’t want to be operating heavy machinery and bending down all day. For that matter, even people younger than me, in their thirties.” But it occurred to me that they wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say, so I kept quiet.

Next, the dream involved images of people working in the large building. And then there was a cartoon-like, sideways image of poor black women living inside what looked like a giant burlap rice bag, and one of the women is so desperately hungry that she starts eating away at the opening of the bag. I can sense that one of her companions is about to chastise her, because if she eats the whole bag, they won’t have anything to live inside. There were similar such scenes—a bunch of workers in blue shirts (not white, since they weren’t white collar) walking away from the big building, in rain and mud.

Wow, that was a dream about patriarchy! More specifically, it was about white male supremacy and class. I didn’t realize how threatening and sinister and depressing it was during the dream—it’s occurred to me now that I’m awake and writing about it.

Indoor Dreams

25 Sep

I had a dream in which I was reorganizing the In Other Words library, but all the books were people.

The library was a large white-tiled and white-painted room with some long white tables, and all around the books—people—stood in rows surrounding the long tables. There was of course a Queer section, and in that section were a whole bunch of Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese members of the Queer section wanted a specifically Vietnamese section within the Queen section, so I proceeded to move them around by directing the book-people to stand here and there.

 

I had a dream in which I was with a bunch of people inside a large and beautiful building, I think a mansion. Maybe it was a haunted mansion.

At some point in the dream, five or six of us were gathered in a remarkably huge room that contained no furniture. It was probably a ballroom. We were getting together and coming up with a plan for something, but I forget what. My memories of this particular dream are rather on the vague side.

I seem to recall at some point suddenly thinking, “If my mother knew about this, she’d piss her pants.” I think it was something gothic-oriented, probably. Maybe the house was just so spooky, or maybe I thought that just because I was wearing black from head to toe and/or because I was hanging out with a bunch of queers, something my mother would definitely not appreciate.

Dream of Fantasy Authors

18 Sep

I had a dream in which I was Jane Yolen’s roommate (and we lived in a house that looked like my parents’ house). I unexpectedly met Neil Gaiman in the kitchen and had a very brief interaction with him (an exchange of greetings), before I wandered down the hallway to my room. I ran into Yolen and she whispered, “I’m about to interview Neil Gaiman.” I went to my room and whipped out my smart phone, ready to post and tweet that I just met Neil Gaiman in my kitchen.

I had a dream in which I knew of a Buddhist stupa, a modern one, and that I took a close friend there. On the way, in the car, she explained that she went there during an anniversary (of the death of one of her friends) and found the place very comforting.

We arrived there, and it was a huge white stupa, something like the Peace Pavilion in Lumbini, Nepal. Some southeast Asian women were sitting at a picnic bench in front of the building, several yards in front of it, and they were centered there and talking together. They glanced at me. To their left was at least one table piled with boxes, boxes with labels that indicated that they contained things that were used as offerings, such as special cakes. I stopped at the table and started to tell Audrey, “Some Asians put offerings of cakes and other food in front of shrines,” while thinking about the offerings I saw in Tibetan Buddhist temples and the butter sculptures I saw in Bodh Gaya. However, something interrupted me, I think Audrey telling me about her previous experience of this place or expressing an opinion of it. We started walking toward the stupa itself, from the left in order to circumambulate it, when my alarm went off.

Dhamma Dream

12 Sep

I had a dream in which I was taking a college course taught by Sakula (who’s the head of Portland Friends of the Dhamma). She was at a podium or large desk, and there were five short rows of desks with a bunch of young people sitting at them—a very small class, actually, and I’m tempted to say that we were outdoors, since there were no walls anywhere near the desks. In the back row was a very pretty and bratty prima donna who in a Valley Girl-like voice asked a question that indicated that she had thought this would be a really easy class and she wouldn’t have to make any effort into getting good grades…and to her entitlement shock discovered this wasn’t the case.

Flustered

9 Sep

That awkward moment when you visit the public library and stumble upon a fantasy series you wish you’d written….

On another note, tomorrow is my birthday, and I’ve been extremely unmindful, distracted by my mental to-do list. This morning I spilled cat food on the kitchen floor, tipped a pan of leftover basmati rice and spilled some rice on the kitchen counter, set the stove on fire, and grabbed a bottle of water by the lid only to discover it wasn’t properly screwed on and spilled water on the living room carpet.

Lucid Dreaming

6 Sep

I do believe I just had my first lucid dream.

In the dream, I worked at a theater, and the play that night was Rigoletto. I had never seen it before. I was in the lobby or some such place, standing behind about five rows of empty red velvet chairs with rounded backs. A few staff members hovered around. An older woman with authority stood nearby. I turned to her and asked, “Is it OK if I just sneak in and find a seat? Are there enough seats left?”

She equivocated. She said, “I’m not sure that’s appropriate,” even though it was appropriate at every previous theater I’ve worked at. She got distracted by someone and turned away, so I sneaked off and headed for the auditorium. The theater looked a lot like Powell Hall: lots of white and gold paneling, and lots of red velvet.

Next I was in the back of the orchestra level and saw many empty red velvet seats underneath the balcony. Eric Gaston (jerk!) appeared and asked me, “Where are you sitting?” I looked around and said, “I’m thinking over there,” indicating the group of at least twelve empty seats to my right. “It looks like there are plenty of available seats.” I think we were whispering, since the show was about to start. I led the way, wishing I didn’t have to sit with this jerk, and I picked a red seat. He chose the seat next to it, which was faded and had a torn seat. Though I felt aversion toward him, we behaved civilly toward each other. He even seemed happy to have my company.

Soon, strangely, I was standing rather than sitting, and I was right up close to the stage. There was a roughly constructed wall with a cut-out door right in front of me—a one-level, plain white wall made of chipboard or some such flimsy material. Beyond this wall, I saw a staircase rising. In front of the wall were a few people, I think actors, males in black evening dress. I felt excited and privileged to be this close to the stage. An actor went through the primitive DIY door, and I followed.

Next I was climbing the staircase. It was a pale color, almost white—actually, I would say off-white or ecru. Here and there people stood on steps, people in elegant evening clothes, such as a 1930s pale green satin gown. Up above hung larger-than-life cupids or pootis, one to the right and one to the left, at the top of the stairs and hovering just above the stairs. Everything was remarkably vivid and real, or so I thought (even though now that I’m awake, I don’t remember hearing my feet pounding on the steps).

On the stairs, I thought, “This is a very vivid dream!” and kept moving forward of my own choice. I’ve never had an experience like that while dreaming—I actually knew it was a dream and mentally commented on this. But then I was afraid the dream would end because I figured out it was a dream; normally if I realize it, then I wake up. But that didn’t happen.

Next I was backstage. While the opera continued in the background, I was with a few people or observing a few people who were backstage, literally backstage—directly behind the stage and scenery. Here were many of those flimsy walls, but they were covered with old, faded wallpaper. I was following around and observing a couple of men who were attempting to peel away the wallpaper.  I wanted to return to the audience and see the show, but this was no longer a lucid dream, and I didn’t have any choice in the matter. This was frustrating. I was vaguely aware of a mystery or conspiracy going on that had to do with why these two men were sneaking around backstage and scraping away at wallpaper. One of them grabbed a wall from the top (it was quite low) and was doing something to a hinged corner of the wall. I believe that’s when the dream ended, while I was missing the play and suspicious of these two dodgy men backstage.

(Gee, the phrase “two dodgy men backstage” makes me think of sneaky, corrupt politicians. I should analyze this dream. I know that ascending stairs is a positive experience in dreams, like you’re going up in the world, and it’s significant that I had full control of my ascending those stairs.)

 

I seem to vaguely recall dreaming something about being around people I didn’t want to be around—I think relatives. I also had a dream that took place in an office, with men in suits. But that’s all pretty vague after that last vivid dream.

 

Another dream finally came back to me, nearly half an hour after I wrote the above.

I was at what I think was supposed to be my parents’ house. My dad was there and wanted to just watch TV. However, Buddhist teachers—including really major ones, such as Pema Chodron—were showing up for a meditation retreat, and I was a combination of excited and nervous about it, while my dad showed no interest whatsoever. Maybe it was a hotel rather than my parents’ house; I don’t think my mother was in the dream.

I remember being in a large room, something like a hotel lobby, and Buddhist monks and nuns in robes (particularly mustard-yellow Theravada robes) arrived, walking along or even gliding along in groups, sort of a line, heading all in the same direction (probably a hallway leading to their rooms). I felt a bit awed and intimidated, with a sense that I’m not worthy and not a good Buddhist.

Later, I was getting anxious for the retreat to begin—it was morning, and the Buddhists would be gathering into a large room before long, perhaps around 9 am. I was in a room with my dad—it looked like the master bedroom at my parents’ house—and he was completely oblivious and indifferent to what was about to occur. He was sitting on the bed, eyes glued to the TV. I felt mildly annoyed at his shallow attitude, and I was pacing and impatient for the gathering to begin.

I think there was another point in the dream in which monks and nuns were walking around in my presence, but I don’t think the dream ever got far enough along for the gathering to actually start. I believe it ended with the anticipation.

I think the dream was contrasting my dad with Buddhism. Buddhism is about being instead of doing, and my dad is about doing instead of being. Around my parents, I feel as though I have to behave like a workaholic, because otherwise they’ll think I’m lazy–and my mother will accuse me of being lazy, as toxic relatives have in the past. I feel pressured to work, work, work, and while I was at their house I had to sneak behind their backs in order to meditate.

Adventures with the Rowanwick Witches

5 Sep

Lately I’ve been busy writing, mulling over, and reading relevant more or less research, for the sake of my Middle Grade fantasy series, the Rowanwick Witches. It’s a spin-off from a novel I wrote as a teenager. The original was set in Victorian England, because at the time I considered that escapist. The new version is set in modern-day Portland, Oregon.

I’ve completed the first draft of the first volume, in which Violet first meets Aunt Amaryllis (because her sister Rose dares her to meet their “wicked” witch aunt). Aunt Amaryllis informs Violet that she is the next in a long line of witches, and she begins teaching Violet witchcraft. Meanwhile, the messenger dragon Brimstone informs Aunt Amaryllis that bandits have abducted the king and queen of the desert Kingdom of Barren, so Violet accompanies her aunt on an adventure to this peculiar kingdom.

I’ve also been working on other volumes and mulling over them. I’ve particularly started writing the second and third volumes. I’m expanding a magic chart for the series and otherwise jotting notes.

From the first volume:

“Do sit down. I’ll ring for tea.” Having said this, Aunt Amaryllis takes hold of a long strip of needlepoint that ends with a tassel, and she gently pulls it. A real live bell pull. I’ve read about those.

From nowhere appears a small table next to me, and I suddenly sit up and stare. It’s topped with a white tablecloth and a tray laden with a china tea set, scones, filberts, grapes, crackers, and a small dish of mango chutney. I blink and slowly say, “How did you do that.”

“Magic.”

Centurylink Continues to Harass Me

4 Sep

Months ago I thought I resolved the situation with that evil company, Centurylink. Unfortunately, I went through my mail and discovered that the scam artists have actually sicced bill collectors on me. Back in March, I thought for certain my letter, detailing everything that happened, would convince the scam artists to leave me alone and admit that they’re wrong and that their behavior is overtly inappropriate. But no, indeed, they probably destroyed my letter rather than finally take me seriously and admit that they’re wrong. Until I received the letter from the bill collector, I was willing to give Centurylink the benefit of the doubt; in other words, I was willing to believe that Centurylink is the most incompetent company in the galaxy, rather than scam artists.

 

The following is the letter I sent the bill collectors:

 

Southwest Credit

4120 International Parkway, Suite 1100

Carrollton, TX 75007-1958

 

Dear Southwest Credit,

 

I DO NOT OWE CENTURYLINK A CENT. I just received a letter from you proving that Centurylink is STILL attempting to scam me. They are trying to charge me for restarting my internet service, even though  I made it quite clear that I was ENDING MY ACCOUNT, NOT RESTARTING MY SERVICE. The last representative over the phone actually claimed that Centurylink would send me a check, not a bill. This scamming behavior is disgusting and outrageous.

 

Below is the last correspondence I had with Centurylink:

 

5/16/13

 

I am wasting a stamp since Qwest-is-now-Centurylink has proved that no matter how many times I call, you continue to pretend that I owe you money.

 

Centurylink disconnected my service on March 26, at about the same time that I went through a pile of snail mail and found a bill for $107. I promptly paid the bill right before the service was disconnected.

 

On April 5, I opened another bill from Centurylink, this time claiming that I owed $40. I paid that immediately. Afterwards, I kept checking my Internet on my laptop computer, and every time I did this I saw a message on my screen in which Centurylink claimed I hadn’t paid my bills. This is a false accusation. For three weeks, I repeatedly made futile attempts to log onto the Internet, every time seeing a message that I couldn’t use the Internet because I hadn’t paid my bills, even though my bills were completely paid off as of April 5. This went on till April 23, when I finally called up (on my smart phone, the only phone I have used since December) and ended my Centurylink account.

 

Long after my account was completely paid off (on April 5), Centurylinkstill refused to reconnect my service.

 

On the same day that I ended my account (4/23), I received another envelope from Centurylink. For obvious reasons, I didn’t feel inclined to open it. Two days later, I opened it: a bill for $35, for Internet service I never had.Centurylink disconnected my service, refused to reconnect it, and kept pretending as if I hadn’t paid; afterwards you pretended I had Internet service that entire time, and you even billed me for Internet service I never had.Every attempt I made to log onto the Internet proved futile: I have had no Internet service from Centurylink since March 26.

 

I called Centurylink yet again, two days after I called and made it quite clear that I don’t owe anything and that I’m closing the account. I discovered that the account was still “live” and that it claimed I owe $35: another false accusation. While the customer service representative was on the phone with me, she put me on hold to go check something…and the phone hung up while I waited.

 

During a second call, I thought I finally resolved everything. I spoke with a different representative, one whoseemed to promptly take care of it. He claimed that the records really will show that I no longer have an account and do not owe $35. He furthermore claimed that I should disregard the last bill and that I shall receive a credit in the mail.

 

Going through another stack of mail, I just opened not a credit, but in fact a completely inexplicable bill from Centurylink. Now you’re pretending as if I paid a portion of the $35 that I “owed” for nonexistent service, and you’re pretending I owe twenty-five dollars. I don’t owe Qwest-is-now-Centurylink any money whatsoever, and I would not be in the least surprised if in fact you owe me money.

 

Cordially,

Susan E. Wiget

Wall-Eye Mart

4 Sep

Do not ever praise Wall-eye Mart (otherwise known as Walmart) in my presence, unless you want to convince me that you’re a sociopath. Yesterday, someone promoted Wall-eye Mart and said to me, “At least Walmart is cheap!” Clearly she needs to see the documentary Walmart: the High Costs of Low Prices.

Corporate America sucks as a whole, no matter what store you go to, and I’ll admit that most of us are guilty of sometimes shopping at one corporate business or another, whether it’s a department store or grocery store or cinema. And Wall-eye Mart is probably not quite as evil as Halliburton or Enron. Still, I highly recommend avoiding it if at all possible, regardless of the low prices.

Wall-eye Mart violates child labor laws and treats its female employees so horrifically that it was the subject of the largest sexual harassment suit in history. It not only owns sweatshops in China and Bangladesh, where it pays women a few cents an hour, but in addition to that actually owns the extremely cramped dorms that those slaves—yes, I don’t think it’s exaggerating to call them slaves—are required to occupy. Wall-eye Mart moves into small towns in the U. S. and forces the local businesses to close. A family of sociopathic billionaires owns Wall-eye Mart. Unless you live in a small town in which Wall-eye Mart is the only place you can shop, you have no excuse to support Wall-eye Mart.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FV4kocCPgM

I’m irritated with myself for feeling this irritated over that insane comment about Wall-eye Mart being cheaper. There’s something intensely disgusting about that attitude. I realize that many people are poor and desperate and in many cases get an employee discount by shopping at that evil store, but unless this is your situation—and unless you live in an area with an extremely limited selection of shops—you have no excuse to shop there. If you live here in Portland, Oregon, for instance, you have a great many other shopping choices.