Dreamlettes

  1.  There was an arm. A toddler’s arm. Wrapped in a tarp. In the back of my car. I’m driving around trying to figure out the best way to get rid of it. It can’t be anywhere on my property no matter how deep the hole is because of the forensic dogs. But the hole has to be deep. Somewhere.  Fade to black.
  2. The school counselor is pissed. Somehow, I converted an entire high school to Scientology and got her fired. She throws all the papers in her office in the air and gives me a death stare. I’m proud of myself. Aerosmith plays a concert at the high school. But all their songs are slow songs. Fade to black.
  3. I’m marching in a pro-choice rally. Everyone is wearing an index card safety-pinned to their shirts with aborted fetuses superglued to the card. “We know what it looks like, and we don’t care.”

It was freezing in my bedroom when I woke up. At least the song matched this time. On a related note, I did not realize “dream journaling” was a thing. Hmm. This might be interesting.

Fustercluck (Dream Series #2)

I can’t even begin to explain what happened last night. I have no words. None.

So, I’m not going to use any words. Just a collage of pictures, soundtrack included.

You form your own conclusions.

starfish  eels

Starfish and tiny eels.

chickencoop

Stored in a chicken coop, which I bought at a gas station.

jennifer

I followed up on an ad in the newspaper for a room to rent. It turns out, it was Jennifer Aniston. But, the room for rent was hers. More to the point, she was actually renting out the other half of her bed. It felt strange, but I just went with it.

……. And woke up with this playing on a loop in my head.

Welcome to my world.

The Soundtrack

Am I the only one whose dreams have a soundtrack?

Yeah, it’s weird. As far as I can remember, it’s usually only one song, a different song every night. The song seems to have nothing to do with the dream, and it sticks in my head for the rest of the day.

My dreams are always strange. They’re a menagerie of different snippets of stories.

I do go through phases when I don’t dream, or I don’t remember my dreams, for months at a time. And then suddenly, I’m transported to all sorts of LSD-esque worlds with color and sound and plots and characters. They have a pattern usually. There is the “main dream” which tends to begin with a clear problem and follows itself out to a resolution, and then there are snippets of other stories and ideas and conversations, completely unrelated to one another, that follow the main dream.

More often than not, I can bet the farm that at some point during the night there is going to be some dystopian sci-fi and/or space travelling adventure going on.

A lot of it makes sense to me, even after I wake up, but it’s hard to explain to other people, so I just don’t. Last night, the sci-fi dream had something to do with two different planets, each primitive and advanced in their own different ways. One planet got a hole in it. No, really. It just got a hole in it. So, all the people from that planet had to go to the other one while the hole was being repaired. Once the hole was repaired, all of its people came home, but because they’d stayed on the other planet so long, they’d made friends there. So, unlike before when each planet tended to leave the other alone, now there was a lot of travel back and forth by friends visiting one another. All that sounds great, but I remember feeling a bit sad because now, a little bit of each planet’s culture meshed, as it naturally would when two cultures spend a good deal of time with one another. I was sad because I felt like neither planet was “pure” anymore.

Because I’m always the watcher, never a participant, I just see the whole thing play out as though I’m watching television. And I just thought to myself, “things will never be the same again.” On the planets, that is. I don’t know why that made me sad. There isn’t anything wrong with cultures blending or rubbing off on one another. I guess part of me thought there was.

But none of that has anything to do with the soundtrack. Or the song, I suppose would be the better word. Because there is usually only one that I can remember. And I really need to start writing this stuff down because some of it is really story-worthy shit.

I remember listening to this song when I was a little girl and always giggling to myself when he sang “rollin’ like thunder, under the covers.” I was a precocious little fiddler.

A Little (Frozen) Cheese with My Suthun’ Whine

When it comes to winter, there are three kinds of people.alexcornell-antarctica-3

1.) People who love winter; ergo, love the cold.

2.) People who’d prefer it be a little warmer, but they can deal.

3.) People who JUST. CAN’T. FUCKING. DEAL.

The third group are kind of like people who hate mornings. Or wasabi. Or democracy. Or super close-up pictures of things that trick you into thinking its a vagina when it’s really something totally unrelated. I think I got off-subject a little there.

Needless to say, I’m in the third group. I hate the cold so badly that I can’t even look at pictures of Alaska or icebergs or Greenland and see anything beautiful about them. It’s kind of like when people watch Obi-Wan and Anakin battling on Mustafar and think “What kind of hellish planet is this?!” That’s exactly what I see when I see pictures of cold places. And when I hear people talk about the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness or Norway or sailing through the North Atlantic, I feel exactly the same kind of confusion as if someone were to describe Mustafar as “the beauty of nature.”

My husband and I chose to live in South Carolina because we kind of have a strange comfort zone. We don’t really like the ambiance of the Deep South (K, we hate it), but we’d go on a killing spree if we had to live in a place that was perpetually cold for months on end.

Of course, cold is subjective. It really depends on where you were raised, your preference, what you’ve gotten used to over the years, all sorts of things. My definition of cold will no doubt elicit laughs from most. If I start seeing the weather forecast dropping below 60, shit starts getting real. If I have to put on socks to go check the mail, the mail will not get checked. Here, let me give you an example. Here is a screenshot of the 10-day forecast for the city I live in.

weather

As you can see, today (being the 9th of January), is hell on Earth. That is completely fucking unacceptable. Unfortunately, Wunderground doesn’t let you go backward or I’d be able to show you that the weather has been this way for the past 3 days. What this means for people like me is something called “temporary soul death.” In fact, today is a little bit warmer than the past couple of days. During these times, we do not revel in the “beauty of nature.” We don’t go on brisk winter hikes and watch the squirrels do whatever they do. We don’t go down to the beach and get tore up and go polar-bearing.

No. We binge-watch Netflix, sit on the couch under 3 blankets with socks, and wonder why God has forsaken us.

My creative juices are frozen inside my brain like those little patches of morning dew that never really thaw out because they’re stuck in the shade.

The entire back of my house is windows, almost floor-to-ceiling windows, that open out into my backyard and a little lake with a pretty water fountain that lights up at night. I have two palm trees with hummingbird feeders on them. I have a covered porch with a $300 radiant heater and a huge stack of firewood for our fire pit.  I have cushioned Adirondack chairs. I have a nice little patio table with an umbrella in my yard.

That all sounds so nice and idyllic, no? A fire pit, a radiant heater…. everything I’d need to enjoy the outdoors in the winter. But THIRTY FUCKING DEGREES IS NOT A NORMAL WINTER! No, No, AND NO.

For those of us who truly believe that winter, not banishment, is Adam and Eve’s punishment from God, all of those wonderful outdoor accouterments are meant to be enjoyed should the weather dip a touch below the 60s and perhaps there’s a slight breeze.

And if you still don’t understand where I’m coming from, let me give you a few examples of how I came to this point:

-When I was growing up, I wore sandals and shorts to school in January.
-When my youngest son was born on January 2, I came home from the hospital and had to turn my air conditioner on. And that was just fine with me.
– As you can see in the forecast above, my air conditioner will probably be used sometime in the next 10 days. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.
-I’ve canceled and rescheduled appointments because the temperature was in the 50s.
-I’ve never seen snow chains and have no idea what they look like.
-If I am forced to leave the house in 30 or 40-degree weather, my teeth start chattering so badly that I can’t talk. My husband finds it hilarious.
– I’ve been snow-skiing once, when I was a kid, in Tennessee (where they have to make fake snow), and I was so miserable that after the first 30 minutes or so, I went back inside and ate pizza for the rest of the day.
-It doesn’t matter what the thermostat inside the house says. Right now, I am sitting on my couch under two blankets wearing a sweatshirt and socks.
– When the weather forecast predicted snow last week (although it did not materialize), I did consider that it would be interesting to watch it snow on the beach, but my plan included simply driving there, not actually getting out of the car.

Clearly, as you can tell, cold weather- for me- is the most physically and mentally paralyzing of all natural phenomenon just short of natural disasters. In fact, when I see the temperature go down into the teens, I consider it a natural disaster….. probably because I grew up in the south where the states actually declare a state of emergency during those times. Temperatures in the single digits are completely foreign to me.

Thinking back upon my entire 40 years of life on this planet, I don’t think I have ever experienced single-digit temperatures.

Of course, having said all this, I will revisit the subject sometime in the middle of July when the heat index climbs up around the 120-degree mark and I have to start cancelling appointments because my poor ass will melt to the leather seats in the truck, and I have to make sure I stay on the grass when I check the mail because my driveway will cause third-degree burns on the bottom of my feet.

But I’d choose the third-degree burns over this 30-degree bullshit any day of the week.

 

Founder

TWO thousand sixteen was really not my year for much of anything.
I may or may not have some kind of problem with seizures, but I’m too afraid to have it worked up. I may or may not have had another little one a month or so ago. That, or I simply passed out for no discernible reason.

I was diagnosed with diabetes. If someone asked me for my idea of the last thing in the world I’d ever have, it would be diabetes. To say I was shocked, and a bit frightened, would be an understatement. And, as if to smack me in the face a second time, I also have a certain GI issue that whittles my “diabetic” diet down to almost nil.

Instead of that magical, universal, existential view of life that breathed a poetic sense of creativity into my soul that poured out of me and onto pages and pages of thoughts molded into beautiful turns of phrase, I’ve just been paralyzed.

Instead, my thoughts linger on the arbitrary number 40. The reminder that life is too short to be afraid of what is going on inside my body, but that what is going on inside my body might make my life even shorter.

I am so much more than this. There are so many more lives I have left to live. I have so much more left to give. I don’t want to leave this world forgotten. I don’t want to leave it with only a handful of people who know what I was capable of but are left disappointed because they have nothing to remember me by.

I don’t want to leave without inspiring someone to create something they never thought they could, or love with unrestrained passion, or find their Duchenne smile and never let it go, or step off their prescribed path to travel the unmapped paths they never knew existed.

There is a Me I’ve lost somewhere. A Me with no boundaries. A Me who found talents I never knew I had. A Me with tangible thoughts and ideas that people held in their hands with awe. A Me who loved myself without pretense, the kind of love that shone a light in the darkness, a light that drew others into it who needed me as much as I needed them. A Me who gave as much as I took. A Me who made others feel as though they weren’t alone in this world. A Me who was so full that she never asked for more than what others were able to give.

There is a way to find her again. I’ll figure it out.

Viscera

I’m going to try this post again. I’m just not happy with the first go-round.
I sounded redundant and bitchy and entitled, and while I am probably all those things, I can, at the very least, express it in a more existential way.

My birth certificate tells me that in 5 weeks I will have spent 40 years as a human.

Yes, I’ve been a bitter human at times. I was the epitome of the little girl who always wanted to be a big girl, always wanted to “do it all by my own self,” and viciously hated authority.

I look back at my childhood and, although much of it was idyllic, the bitter parts still sometimes invade the idyll in my memories.

I can do it all by my own goddamned self. And I still viciously hate authority.

I guard my heart with a fucking cement wall because when you are a child, your heart belongs to whomever thinks they have a legal claim to it.  My fear of abandonment is so palpable, even now, that I still feel the only heartbreak I’ve ever experienced. I feel it to my core. I internalized it. It became part of me. I hate myself every day for the one and only time I let that wall crumble at the feet of someone who wielded so much power over my heart that I couldn’t understand how to let go and dance with it. It scared me. And I think I scared it right back. I wish I could dance. I wish I could just let go and dance. To fall, let go, and just be.

You see, in the Big World there exists a special kind of vampire that feeds off the fledgling spirits of the Little World. Even the kindest and gentlest grownups in a child’s life cannot protect them from these toxic monsters. .

It is a kind of toxicity that permeates everything and lingers long. It is anger and narcissism and complicated neediness piled upon a child at an age when she is still trying to define her own feelings and should never be shouldered with the responsibility of someone else’s emotional and mental health.

Her spirit is slowly drained of its sanguine vitae by these vampires who, when challenged, are always able to conveniently provide proof of legal consent. Legality always equals morality when it suits their purpose, and when it doesn’t, they simply vomit words until one of them hits the bull’s eye.

I look back on that time in my life and feel the same rush of anger and urgency as a claustrophic stuck in a storm drain. It’s a feeling that guides my decisions on an almost daily basis. It is why I raised my children with as much free agency as was practical, short of letting them dance naked around a fire throwing rocks at Piggy.

It is why I refuse to fake a friendship, pretend to love, or show respect to those who haven’t earned it.

It is why I refuse to be guided by social expectations for their own sake.

It is why I show love by giving more of myself to others than by what I can take from them.

More than anything else, feeling as though I had no agency as a child was the most poisonous pill to swallow. There was always someone who thought they knew better than I did what was best for me physically or psychologically. Children have no choice over who they spend their time with, who is allowed to influence them, who is allowed to frighten them, who is allowed to raise them. If they’re lucky, they can at least voice their opinions, but in the end, the government knows best.

At almost 40 years old, I am still angry. Angry that I had no choices, no right to my own body, time, or space; that my wishes, my needs, and all attempts to hold them sacred were taken away by people who used equations to map out my childhood, replacing my name with an anonymous variable and making choices for me that had zero basis in what I wanted or needed.

I am angry that there were people in my life who thought they had a right to tell me who I must love and respect. Because I was a child. And by law, I was required to hand over my soul, the one thing that was my own and belonged to no one else, simply because they believed they have a right to take it.

I am angry that my childhood was fractured into two camps- the sane and the insane- and I was legally required to sleep in both tents. Because I was a child. And I couldn’t possibly know insanity even as it screamed in my face.

I am angry that I was told what I should and shouldn’t, what I could and couldn’t, what I will and won’t.

Yes, those things still make me angry, but I have learned how to use that anger. I use it when I give something I have to someone who needs it more. I use it when I fearlessly defend the hearts of the people I love. I use it when I show my children how much I respect their ability to make their own decisions by allowing them to make those decisions. I use it every time I admit I am wrong, every time I consider an alternate opinion, every time I hand the reigns to someone else because they’d rather go their own way for a little while.

But because that anger is so real and so visceral and so present, the number of people I love enough to hand the reigns to is so very, very small. Or maybe it’s because, in point of fact, there are so few people who deserve it. Both could be true.

Once upon a time, there was a peach tree sapling in the middle of a desert. Its roots were strong, its branches lithe, but it could not run or hide. Its voice was but a whisper of rustling leaves. The man who helped plant the tree was a broken man, spiteful and jealous; he felt entitled to every peach dangling from her tiny branches. He was deaf, starving, and did not know nor care if she needed water, shade or warmth. He couldn’t hear her begging for it even if he chose to listen, and would have refused to spare the little he had for himself even if he could’ve heard her.

When the rain and shade or sun came to her rescue, they would plead with the starving man to give her a chance to grow. He would drool, grunt, posture like a rabid animal, then strip her limbs bare.

Was he afraid that if she was allowed to grow unharmed, she may become stronger than him? (She did.)

Was there truly no more substance to this man than the hollow shell of a pseudo-human? (There wasn’t.)

The water, shade, and sun stood strong and reliable. In every direction the little sapling’s branches could reach, all three were there. They nurtured and soothed her. She knew love because she felt quenched, fed, and safe. They were everything the little sapling needed, but none of them could stand against the fury of the starving man.

He said he loved her with every peach he stole. Juice running down his neck, he muttered small words as he ripped and tore, gnashed and snarled.

One day, he said to the sapling, “Oh, how I have loved you. I travel here every day to see you. That proves how much I love you. I have admired your beautiful fruits. That also proves how much I love you. I even helped to plant you! Why don’t you bow your branches to me the way you bow to the rain and the shade? Why don’t you throw your branches toward me the way you throw them toward the sun? Have they turned you against me? Don’t you love me, too?”

She thought about this for a while. The man became anxious.

She knew one kind of love, the kind she felt from the rain and sun and shade, the kind that asked nothing from her but that she grow strong and solid and real.

Yet, her mind could not wrap itself around this other kind of love, the kind that is demanded, expected, and taken. She thought about this a while longer, putting the pieces together in her little mind.

Soon, the answer became clear. The sapling then told the man, “I’m sorry, but I cannot love you. You have no peaches for me to steal.”

How to Question Everything

confirmation, confirmation bias, idiocracy, election, opinionated, social media, clickbait, bias, sources

At some point in our lives, someone will inevitably give us the clichéd advice to question everything. As we grow into adolescence, we may begin to have a vague understanding of what exactly question everything really means. Yet, only a very few people are able to get down to the nittiest and grittiest depths of the question everything axiom, where the very ground beneath us becomes itself a question.

Conspiracy theorists are those who veer far off the path of the question everything mantra and into the realm of “factual information is purposefully hidden from us and nothing can be trusted, especially if it disagrees with what I [think I] know to be true.”

Others, though not as extreme as conspiracy theorists, have  such tightly held beliefs that almost nothing will ever change their minds. Humanity has an inherent revulsion toward being wrong, and many are doggedly opinionated believers whose very identity hinges on the veracity of the beliefs they hold. For these people, the realization that they may be wrong could span a wide range of emotions, everything from simple humility and/or humiliation to the utter loss of the very essence of the self. The easiest thing to do is to push that possibility aside.

Nothing illustrates these points more than a lame-duck presidential election year. I’ve reached several conclusions.

-Most people will vote along party lines regardless of anything.

-When those whose ideals about their candidate are so irretrievably shattered they will, for the most part, stop defending their candidate but continue attacking the other candidates.

-Most people have a penchant for desperately clinging to any and all information that proves they are right.

-Totally objective and non-partisan conscience voters are becoming extinct.

-Sensationalist media is malignantly implicit in making people lazy when it comes to fully educating themselves on our country’s political process, the ability to objectively discern for themselves the issues that matter and those that don’t, how to weed out fact from fiction, trustworthy and untrustworthy sources,  and the ability to take themselves off of autopilot and be an active and objective participant in the search for real information.

All of these aberrancies in human behavior are much more immediate threats to democracy than any individual political candidate. These are the problems that are fueling our downward spiral into Idiocracy, the consequences of humanity’s loss of judgment, the loss of free will and individual thought, the loss of the ability to self-educate and to find equilibrium from our own inner strength and intellect rather than depending on Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

In this vein, I am going to leave you with the following questions, not necessarily to be debated or answered definitively by the reader, but merely to be thought about. It is frightening that people seem to have lost the ability to think for themselves, that they rely on blatantly biased articles on blatantly biased websites, clickbait, unflattering magazine pictures, comedians, and sound bites to prove an opinion held with such ferocity that even if God himself appeared in tangible form and said “you are wrong,” they still would not believe.

To those who are either actively or passively interested in politics, political candidates, and the search for truth, especially those who share, post, or retweet articles on social media, reach out to friends and family through emails with links to information found online, or use information found online to debate politics face-to-face with neighbors, friends, and family, I leave you with these questions:

  1. When you come across an article online that confirms your political beliefs, opinions, or points or view, do you immediately find yourself excited and share it without a second thought?
  2. Do you ever look at the source of the article (the name of the website or the author of the article)?
  3. Do you ever conduct any independent research on the source of the article (website) and/or the author of the article?
  4. If you do, are you capable of recognizing when a source or an author clearly has a biased motive for writing the article?
  5. If you recognize bias, do you actively search for articles with an opposite leaning bias in an effort to gain a broader picture of the subject matter?
  6. Does it ever occur to you that the source and/or author’s bias colors the information represented as fact? Does it ever occur to you that the information represented as fact may, indeed, not be factual?
  7. Do you know how to not only fact-check information, but also attempt (as much as possible) to fact-check the fact-checking websites in an effort to discover if they themselves have their own biases?
  8. Have you ever felt absolutely, unequivocally certain about a particular opinion or fact, only to later find information that proved you wrong, and you actually changed your mind?
  9. Have you ever been taught how to properly source information and spot self-serving hyperbole, speculation, conjecture, and loss of context?
  10. Do you realize that for every single opinion or belief that can possibly exist, you can easily find someone in the world who agrees with you, as well as purportedly factual information on the Internet that would seem to prove you are right? (Flat Earth Society,FoodBabePsychiatry: An Industry of Death,Total Video Proof of Moon Landing Hoax).
  11. Do you know what confirmation bias is? Considering all that you have just read, can you retrospectively recall incidents when you may have unwittingly become victim to it?

I truly do have faith that the concept of an informed voter is still alive, but each time I see a careless piece of garbage sensationalism shared and reshared by those who proclaim it as gospel, little by little, that faith is chipped away. What I am suggesting is a call to arms that creates a nation of knowledge where the individual holds the power of truth and not the media.