Dreams, Family, Health, Letting Go, Love, Memory, Music

Age is just a number

In a dream last night, a woman older than I asked me, “So what do you say when someone asks you how old you are?”

“I say, ‘I’m 41.'”

“Do you?” She pressed.

Do I? I considered.

I don’t remember who the woman was, but I’ve been dreaming lately about Diane, the psychic massage therapist, and the woman in the dream resembled her. They had the same hair. This is often enough, at least in a dream.

Also there was music. An old song off a mixed tape I made once by pressing the button on the box radio in my bedroom the instant a song I liked, but didn’t own, began playing.

“Without You” could have been the song. It would have made sense, since the previous night my oldest son and I watched the reboot of National Lampoon’s Vacation and that song is on the soundtrack.

No, it was another. A B-grade memory attached to a C-grade song. No isolated scene, no captive smell, just the box radio on the lavender carpet next to the vent in my bedroom. Just that girl, just that me. I’m embarrassed for her now, but also want to hold her and place my hand on the small of her back. “A basic touch point,” Ariella called it yesterday in the library when she touched me there with the palm of her hand.

In the dream, Shoshana grabbed a tower of cassette tapes from her car and carefully balanced them between her two hands as she carried them inside to the party where I knew no one well, but everyone by-the-way.

This morning, I sense I am close to the answer, but not close enough. I understand and almost accept there will be no answer, not today, but that an answer may in fact be close.

In formation, I might say.

If pressed, I might say, “in formation.”

 

Childhood, Dreams, Letting Go, Relationships, Writing

What of the mountains?

I don’t know if I said it because of the dream or if I dreamt it because I was bound to say it later, but I said it and only after did I realize that it didn’t matter if the dream preceded the belief or the belief the dream.

*  *  *

What matters more than the man in the dream — a composite of men I have loved — is the woman who jumped so high as to be seen from the carved out window of the plane I was flying in.

She is not me. She was too tall to be me. And yet her hair …

What am I supposed to glean from her loose and long dirty blond hair, from the bohemian dress that floated up above her knees like a parachute each time she leapt from the valley as if the earth below was her trampoline? And what about the mountains, which were not the mountains of Denver, Colorado or the Golan Heights, mountains I have seen directly, both from above and below, but were, I am certain, the mountains of a European country, Spain or Portugal, a country in which there are less Jews than in the countries I am familiar with, countries I might even dare to call my homes?

What matters more than the man in the dream — who brought me to near tears with his collection of short stories recognizable as anecdotes from his childhood — is the woman who was sitting in the row ahead of me on the plane. She, too, saw the leaper, but she was not fazed. “I’ve seen her before,” the woman ahead of me noted. “We’re friends.”

She is not me, either. She was not Jewish enough. And she was also tall, even when seated.

Perhaps, what matters more is the man in the dream — perhaps, he is me.

*  *  *

Perhaps, I believed it and dreamed it both. Neither one before the other. Neither one bound to be first.

Dreams, Family, Letting Go, Love, Memory, Mindfulness, Poetry, Relationships

They said this outfit was 3D

I had the dream again last night in which it’s you and me and him and her at a dinner party and the lighting is for grownups, but for some reason there are children in the room. I made meringues for the children for dessert. They came out fluffy and perfect and I wanted them to stay that way – the meringues – except, inevitably they deflated. “No matter,” my husband said in the dream. “They’re still sweet.”

The dinner party is awkward even though the lighting is good. Like the last time I dreamed us at an awkward dinner party, the lighting is mostly by candle with a touch of track over a brick mantle and the scene is set for adults, which is to say there are things nearby that may be broken.

She is in black as she always is. As for me, I picked out something new to wear just before arriving. I tried it on for my husband in the store, invited him into the dressing room. “The tag said the outfit was 3D,” I told him, but only when I take my glasses off am I able to see the shapes moving in the mirror.

Dreams, Memory, Music, Poetry, Spirituality

The call for submissions to end all submission

I am a sucker for signs. I see evidence for action in unusual places: on the bumper sticker that says “I miss you!,” on the tractor trailer in front of me on the highway, or in that dream in which cats have snuck into my hotel room and eaten up all the free pastries left on a tray by the door, or when Nina Simone sings “For Myself” at the same time an article on the Self written by Maria Popova pops up in my feed.

This week, old houses keep popping up, too — mine and others’. In poems I haven’t written yet, but also in my waking life.

* * *

Clue #1: After my middle son finished Key to the Treasure the other day, I was certain he was going to choose Clues in the Woods because choosing Haunted House would be very unlike him — he, like I am, is scared to be scared, especially before bed.

But he chose Haunted House, and after checking in with him to make sure this was the one he wanted to read next, we began.

Clue #2: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: “Leonard had grown up in an Arts & Crafts house whose previous owner had been murdered in the front hall. The grisly history of 133 Linden Street had kept the house on the market for years.”

Clue #3: This article from December about memory and mentally mapping our homes — it showed up at the top of my Twitter feed today. More than the study results, I was struck by the dollhouse image used to illustrate the story.  Dollhouses have a way of being so inviting and so terrifying at the same time. Like old hotels. Like Stephen King. I felt this way before I read The Dollhouse Murders and long before I saw The Shining.

Clue #4 is a secret. I won’t tell it, but no matter.

* * *

I am going to enter the contest to win a bed and breakfast in Maine.

I haven’t figured out yet how to explain to Janice in 200 words why it feels as though I am already the winner.

This makes me sound like a narcissist and I want to sound like a dreamer. Or at least like someone who lives her life one foot atop one pole and one foot atop the other.

I want to explain to Janice that the word Maine is blue and that I love that northern state because I spent four summers at overnight camp there, three of which I spent in love and that this is a good thing, not a thing that makes me crazy, but makes me the type of person who other people — guests — will be happy to see in the morning. And anyway, my husband will be the one cooking breakfast and serving pancakes in the shapes of native birds. Once he served our dinner guests sweet potato pancakes with a dollop of wasabi sour cream that was as delicate as a meringue. I will be the one who organizes the books in the library each night. (There will be vintage National Geographic magazines and perhaps a set of Encyclopedia Brittannica, too.) I will be the one who changes the sheets. I will keep the ghosts appeased. I will invite them to have tea in the garden so they don’t frighten the guests.

* * *

I had a dollhouse once. It was this one. Not this exact one, but its doppelganger.

(photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/magnoliasra/kh/)

* * *

I still love miniatures.

I love it that my husband sneaks into the bathroom before bed to set up clever scenes with the Playmobil my daughter left behind after her bath, with the purpose of surprising me when I happen upon them before brushing my teeth.

I especially love the miniature toilet and the European style hand shower: Bathroom appliances were never furnished with the dollhouses I played with as a child.

Which brings me back to the dream of the cats eating pastries in my hotel room.

I had been in the bathroom when they snuck in. They took advantage of my uniquely human need to relieve myself in privacy.

I was angry at first, but I couldn’t blame them. After all, I had left the front door open.

Books, Childhood, Dreams, Family, Home, Letting Go, Memory, Parenting, Relationships, Writing

Key to the Treasure

I keep dreaming of my childhood home. I won’t bore you with the details; with the recalling of the coat closet next to the front door; the fur that once lived there, but didn’t appear in my dream. In my dream, my mother pulled out a vintage polyester shirt draped over a wire hanger steam-pressed and plastic wrapped years ago, now eager to breathe. She handed it to me, “Do you want this?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer.

= =

My middle son is reading a musky-smelling original hardcover edition of Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish. It’s not the edition I read when I was nine — mine was paperback. But mine was lost in the Flood.

= =

I know for certain someone somewhere is reading my copy of New York Then and Now on a toilet. It’s a book meant to be read on the toilet.

They call them coffee table books, but no one has time for coffee anymore. They ought to be called toilet books. This is where I go when I want to pore over pictures from then and now.

Why can’t I manage to hang on to my books? Especially the ones I sought out, hand-picked, then coveted?

I found some of my lost New York books at The Strand last December. I had an urge to buy them all in an effort to once again build a carefully curated collection. This would have been a redux since once before — on weekday afternoons at Bookman’s in Tucson — I spent my lunch hour scanning the children’s section for the titles lost in the Flood.

= =

I say it, but I don’t yet fully believe it: That there is something worthwhile in losing.

==

Except this.

I accept the hardcover original edition of Key to the Treasure, but I do so with a gentle stab of reluctance. I understand it’s the story I was wild about when I was nine — Jed and Bill and Liza and the feathered bonnet and the sorrow of missed connections passed down through the generations — not the texture of the pages or the color illustration on the cover. And yet, I want back what was once mine.

After all, if I had wanted to part with it I would have. I would have piled my copy of the book on top of the others that were going to Good Will. But I didn’t. I kept it on my shelf and then placed it in a cardboard box which I labelled “Jen’s books” before my father carried it down to the basement.

Those books, I believed, were meant to be found again one day.

= =

I say it, but I don’t yet fully believe it: That there is something worthwhile in losing.

= =

I can have almost anything I want: a Fisher Price Sesame Street set, a pair of gently-used docksiders, a Speak and Spell, an autographed pull-out poster of Mackenzie Astin. People are buying and selling my faded memories…and yours… all the time.

I can have almost anything I want.

==

And yet, there is something worthwhile in the losing. In the being lost.

Childhood, Dreams, Love, Memory, Music

What is a classic?

What is a classic?

The Giving Tree in English. But not in Hebrew.

What is a classic?

The Wonder Years. Especially the one in which Paul becomes a bar mitzvah. Or any episode with The Byrds as background music.

What is a classic?

Mighty Love. Let My Love Open the Door. All You Need is Love. In My Room.

What is a classic?

Cornbread. Warmed.

What is a classic?

Square dancing in gym class. Sorry, more Wonder Years.

What is a classic?

I don’t know. Classics are supposed to be timeless and yet some classics have changed for me with time.  Like, The Giving Tree used to be IT for me and now I suppose The Missing Piece is. But that just happened 15 minutes ago. Can it be a classic already? Moby Dick is not a classic, and yet it is, just not for me. Not yet. But it might be one day and then I will look back at today and realize I was ignorant of the classics. The Wizard of Oz is a classic, but I’ve watched it too many times and now it is a classic, but stale.

Like The Shawshank Redemption.

Like TBS.

Like Apple Pie.

I suppose if I had to say, a classic is that which makes me cry when I am not sad.

What is a classic?

The tune to My Darling Clementine.

Mint.

Feet in the sand.

The Barbie Dreamhouse with the elevator.

Jim Croce.

Half-burnt marshmallow on a stick.

Josh and Jodie.

My dad’s green fiat.

Pepsi Free.

Yesterday.

That time my Bubbi cried at Denny’s because her eggs were runny.

That time my brother threw a rootbeer bottle at me.

That time the car was stuck in the mud in a rainstorm, but I only remember that one in a dream.

What is a classic?

Forgot my locker combo.

Forgot to study for the final.

Left my passport at home.

What is a classic?

“These poems do not live: it’s a sad diagnosis.”

What is a classic?

“In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of we, of you
we found ourselves reduced to I
and the whole thing became silly, ironic, terrible.”

What is a classic?

“It is startling
to realize that
some of our most cherished memories
may never have happened — or may
have happened to someone else.”

What is a classic?

What is         a classic?

——–

The above contains poetry by Sylvia Plath (“Stillborn”) and Adrienne Rich (“In Those Years”), and commentary on memory by Oliver Sacks

Dreams, Letting Go, Poetry

The Situation

I don’t write about it because

writing about it

would be like the abortive attempt I made

in my spiral bound notebook —

the one with the mandala —

to describe the scene

with the wedding gown,

in the ground floor shop

of my dream last night.

The one with Winona Ryder who

donned a 1920s inspired

off-white sleeveless gown

(really, they were cap sleeves).

I opened the curtain of

the dressing room to find her

half-naked due to the

deep and dramatic V

reaching down her abdomen

revealing the

underscoop of her breasts

and half of one nipple.

“It’s beautiful,” I told her.

“But you’ll need to have it altered.

I’m worried they won’t be able

to maintain the look

once it’s fitted to your frame.”

She didn’t listen.

She told the seamstress to

press on and then, of course,

the dream shifted to the scene

in the ice cream shop

where the chiropractor I used

to know was offering me pills —

rat poison packaged as RU486 flavored

jelly beans.

They were red, with the taste of cherry,

and they made me gag as I chewed them.

So you see why

I can’t write about it.

There is beauty

and there is darkness

and they blend together at times

in a way that’s describable

but only to the point of

surreal not to the point

of understanding.

Not to the point

at which you know

you have  navigated

directly into my thoughts.

 

Books, Childhood, Dreams, Family, Letting Go, Memory

Throw my suitcase out there, too

The best coworker I ever had was the one who every morning sat with me for a half hour while drinking our morning coffee and did dream analysis with me.

She was good.

So was I.

Coffee + dream analysis = best way to start the morning.

I’m pretty decent on my own, but it’s more fun to analyze your dreams with a friend. I also really enjoy showing people the obvious connections they are missing. It’s pretty hilarious as a listener to understand immediately that your friend is simply exploring her fear of intimacy in her dreams of lesbian sex with the boss, when she can hardly sputter out the words, “sex with….”

Anyway, last night I had a version of a recurring dream I’ve had since moving to Israel 3 1/2 years ago. It was a few hours after waking, however, during shavasana (the deep relaxation at the end of yoga class) that I understood it. When I got it, though, I laughed out loud it was so obvious. Had I shared it over coffee with an experienced dream analyzer, she would have understood it in 30 seconds.

In the dream, I am in my childhood bedroom. I am an adult. I am there with two black duffel bags. I am packing for Israel. I realize that I have forgotten to pack my childhood books to send on the cargo shipment by boat. The books will certainly put me over the 50 lb weight limit the airline allows. I also realize a lot of my clothes are still in the drawers. Clothes I could use in Israel. Thick socks and the like.

I start making piles.

Piles to bring. Piles to part with.

Some items are easier to put in the “part with” pile than others.

I resent this process. I want it all to come with me. Not the old, stretched out long sleeve tees, but I want the socks and the books. Why should I have to leave them behind?

I notice, too, the formica furniture set is still in really good condition and I wonder why we didn’t ship it to Israel. We could have used it there.

But the furniture, I am able to let go of pretty easily. Not the books, though. I continue to make piles.

Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

My 5 year old daughter appears. She has some extra room in her duffel. She lets me put books in there. I am grateful. I rearrange some of her clothes to make more room. I wish I had a bigger bag — a large sturdy suitcase would allow for more weight than this duffel.

Suddenly, I am on the plane. I have a white cardboard box, the kind you use to store files, and it’s filled with paperback books. I am able to lift it up into the overhead compartment despite its weight. I worry the flight attendant will call me out on this, but she does not. Instead, she gives me a resigned look and allows it.

I wake up.

Feel free to leave your dream in the comments and I will be happy to give you my analysis in return.

Thanks to Corvidae in the Fields for inspiring this post with his recent one on the “Cube test.

 

Memory, Philosophy, Poetry, Spirituality

The after-taste of a dream

My dreams are poems

Righting themselves upside down

in Not-for-long Ville.

 

Still fresh with relief

when I wake I take a pen

so I may keep them.

 

But the poems fade

faster than the dream even

when I whisper, “Don’t.”

 

What’s left then, but last

night’s dream, which will never be

anything more than

 

 

 

Culture, Spirituality, Technology

Do your dreams predict your Facebook feed?

I’m entering dangerous territory.

Dreamland.

Dreams — and how they figure into our waking lives — fascinate me. I don’t remember which came first —  my vibrant dream life or my wonder for that version of reality. But both have been with me since childhood.

What’s curious to me these days is lucid dreaming and predictive dreaming, both of which I seem to be getting better at.

The other night, for instance, I noticed I was in the middle of a super frightening nightmare, and I willed myself awake.  Not bad, I thought, when I woke up in a sweat. Now how do I start teaching myself how to fly?

For the past year or so, I’ve occasionally (a few times a month) experienced deja vu during the day in which I am certain I dreamt the interaction already the night before. Nothing momentous; in fact, regular every day occurrences that have a particular interesting twist. Not just the regular drop off at my daughter’s preschool, for instance, but one in which her classmate starts to speak to me in Russian.

I’ve read that such predictive dreaming is, in fact, not uncommon. Famous physicist Russell Targ (most well-known for his work with the military on remote viewing) writes about his own experience with precognitive dreams “predicting” newspaper headlines that he’d then read the next day.

But here’s a peculiar phenomenon I haven’t come across yet in reading on the subject of dreams, and I’m wondering if any of you have: Sometimes I dream my Facebook feed before it happens.

I have 851 Facebook friends. I’m pretty well aware of the 50 or so who appear regularly in my feed. So that when I dream of someone far away — who is not present in my day-to-day interactions and who is not one of the regular 50 people who appear in my feed — and that person shows up in my Facebook feed the next day, I am … to say the least … startled. Like, “Hey you, weren’t you just randomly in my dream last night? What are you doing in my Facebook face?”

Is there an algorithm to explain that experience? I say that only half-facetiously. There probably IS an algorithm to explain that. (If so, please share it, and if possible, in graphic novel format, which is how I best understand geek.)

In addition to dreaming about someone the day before they show up in my feed, I have, on multiple occasions, been talking about something with my colleague at work during the lunch hour — something seemingly obscure — only to find the topic being explored in an article posted by one of my Facebook friends in my feed when I return from lunch. As if Facebook was eavesdropping on our conversation.

Is there an algorithm for that? For overhearing a discussion on, let’s say, the ecosystem of the gut after eating meat or milk? Is there an internet worm crawling from our ears, our minds, and back into “the system?”

I know that readers of this blog span the spectrum of futurists believing we already live in the Matrix to religious devotees who believe the Bible literally happened. (And I appreciate that diversity!)

So tell me:  what do you think? Does this ever happen to you, too?

Is it more common than I think,  this transmission from mind to physical matter (our computers) and back again?

Or am I naive to think of “the internet” as matter, at all? Isn’t it, too, mind?

 

Philosophy

The space between dreams

Fevered dreams
Unfulfilled chills
Can’t shake ’em off.

The space there
between awake and asleep
Hot outside
Cold inside
A mystery understood only by the archetype of me.

If I could write the space there
between awake and asleep
it’d be a bestseller.

The book of the month for vampires and demons
that dwell inside the space
between dreams.

Spirituality

Turning away from evil

I had a dream last night.

An epic, Joseph Campbell/ CG Jung type dream.

The part I want to share with you involved a snake.

Back off, Freud wanna-be. Before you go analyzing me, let’s take a journey together.

It wasn’t really a snake — more like a supernatural serpent demon type thing — the body of a serpent but the head of a monster — that most everyone else around me was mistaking for an interesting, but somewhat harmless boa constrictor.

In the dream, I was safe inside an enclosed car. The serpent thing couldn’t really hurt me. I knew this, but I also knew he was a threat. My boss was in the car, too. He noticed the evil behind us and suggested we high tail it out of the forest we were in. Smart thinking.

As I looked back, however, I saw the serpent make its way towards another car — an open-topped convertible– in which a young child sat alone strapped into a car seat. I screamed as I watched the serpent begin to devour the child.

I turned away then.

I urged with my eyes my boss to look too, but he refused. He knew what was back there and knew there was nothing we could do to save the child. We drove away.

As we often do in dreams, I suddenly appeared in a different setting with different people, but the serpent still loomed. This time, I wasn’t shielded by the metal frame of the car. I was in an old kibbutz building. The roof and windows were open. I knew it was only time before I would be in grave danger again.

Obviously disturbing, I soon forgot the dream when I woke up this morning. But I recalled it just now as I also recalled the incident that happened to me in real life yesterday that likely inspired the dream.

On my way to work yesterday morning, minutes before arriving at my destination, I had slowed behind another vehicle as we were both approaching a traffic light.

Suddenly, I saw the driver, clearly a grown man, reach across to the passenger seat and strike violently at the person sitting there.

I couldn’t tell if the passenger was a child or a small woman. All I knew is that the person was small enough that his or her head didn’t reach above the head rest, and that what the driver was doing was very, very wrong.

My mouth gaped open in shock. It was that jarring.

Immediately, the person in the passenger seat reached out in a defensive swipe back at the offender and the driver returned to the road.

Moments later, as the light turned green and we inched toward it, the driver did it again. Struck at the passenger violently with his right hand, while his left remained on the wheel.

This time, horrified, I honked my horn. The driver looked up into his rear view mirror.

He understood I was honking at him. That I had seen him.

But my seeing him did not stop him. Not for long.

As we drove through the green light, his car swerved a little from side to side as he again struck out at the passenger.

Beside myself, I started to feel my heart in my throat. But my left turn into the industrial park where my office is located was approaching. I quickly memorized his licensed plate number before making the turn.

And then he was gone.

Evil. There in front of me.

Me. An observer. Powerless.

Now, of course, I don’t know what was taking place in that car. I don’t know the words exchanged or the history between the passenger and the driver.

But I do know one thing. In the back seat, sat a young child …strapped into a car seat …witnessing the entire ordeal.

So, no matter what was taking place in the front seat, the child in the back seat, like I, was exposed to something horrific.  The child, in a sense, had been devoured, while I watched in horror.

I didn’t do anything with the license plate number. I didn’t report the incident. In fact, I did everything I could to forget about it as soon as I parked my car and walked the steps up to my office.

But clearly, I couldn’t forget about it. The experience haunted me in my dreams. It haunts me still.

What is my role when faced with evil in the world?

When can I be an active force — not a hero, per say, but a force — against evil?

And when am I compelled by time or by space or by powerlessness to remain a spectator? Left behind with only my heart in my throat and a deep sense of regret that there is some evil in the world in which we must simply turn away from.

Acknowledging it exists. And hoping that in the acknowledgement, we have done something small to stop it in its tracks.