CHF Recovery: Day 16

Woke up at around 8:30 from a bizarre dream in which I was hired without submitting a resume or portfolio by FedEx. “What will I be doing?” I asked, concerned that they would make me a driver, as I do not know how to drive the trucks. “What have you done in the past?” the lady rejoined. “Content management, writing, and design.” “You can work on my new web initiative!” the lady said.

Later in the dream I was naked, but it wasn’t your stereotypical nudity dream. I was perfectly comfortable, walking around and talking with people at my new job site. Most people didn’t see it as a big deal. One man looked me over and said, “Whoa!” “Yes,” I replied, slightly sardonically, “I’m naked.” I belatedly made to cover my genital area, but it was out of annoyance at the man’s reaction, not shame. He didn’t deserve to see my scars, I thought, to read my life history on my body.

The man laughed and said, “You know, we really don’t have a nudist policy!” And I was somewhat relieved, as I hadn’t even thought there might be a problem with being naked at work.

  • Had protein shake and morning meds
  • Spent basically the entire day in my PJs, reading
  • It was great
  • At around 4pm I took a shower and got dressed
  • Went to Shane’s and Otter’s to get chicken strips for dinner (Sean likes Otter’s fried chicken strips because, he says, they are like Wife Saver’s)
  • Watched the currently available two episodes of Designated Survivor with Sean while eating dinner (it is a fantastic show so far!)
  • Ate my evening meds
  • Took a few hours to finish editing my story and then finally posted it
  • Took bedtime supplements and somehow managed not to stay up all night waiting for comments on my story

I was in a really good mood all day. I was relaxed and comfortable and happy with the story I had written. It was so great.

House-hunting infertility dream

Sean and I have lived in apartments the entirety of our marriage. We’ve thought about buying a home before, but the time has never been right. It’s starting to look like a good idea these days, though.

Last night I dreamed that we went to look at a house together. It was waterfront property on marshy land, such that there were boardwalks to get from the street and driveway to the door. The house was huge, and there were at least half a dozen real estate workers there to show it to people. I was wondering the whole time why we were there, because there was no way I wanted a house that size.

The house was three stories tall. I really only remember the top floor, which had the bedrooms, a kitchen, and a courtyard-like area, but we toured all the floors and they were all gigantic. Around the time we finished looking at the third floor, the head real estate agent cornered us.

“I hear you’re pregnant!” he accused me. “Are you just having fun, touring houses for for exercise?”

“Um,” I said, and suddenly Cheryl and Reid were there, overhearing.

“I hear you felt it kick!” Reid said to Sean, who nodded awkwardly.

“Yes, no, that’s our child there,” I said, pointing to a brown-haired two-year-old someone was carrying.

“I know that can’t be true; you can’t have had the child that fast!” the real estate agent said.

“Okay, fine,” I sighed. “The truth is, we just started trying.” I glanced over at Cheryl and Reid, knowing that this was news to them and that now they’d get their hopes up. “And we’re seriously looking for a house to buy.”

“Oh. All right then,” the real estate agent said, and backed off.

Sean pulled Reid aside then. “Actually,” he said in a low, unhappy voice, “Luigi told me that it could never, ever happen for me.” (Apparently in dream-canon he had a fertility doctor named Luigi.)

I started crying in the dream, and woke up snuffling a little, although not actually crying in real life.

Weird that in the dream, Sean was the one with infertility.

Twilight Zone dream

I woke up after dreaming this and had to write it down.

INTERIOR, gentleman’s clothing store. The proprietor, played by a young William Shatner, and an assistant are preparing a suit and hat for a wealthy customer and debating how to word the description of the hat. Eventually they decide that since they can’t vouch for the materials used in the making of the hat, they will give the gentleman a different one.

A young woman representing the client arrives and inspects the suit and hat, finally giving them her approval and accepting them in a box. As she is heading back to the street (off-camera) where her employer is waiting in a car, the three of them hear shots ring out. The woman races outside. Moments later, she bursts back into the shop.

“He’s been shot, and the cash he was carrying is gone. He had two bodyguards with him and they both vanished. The only way they would ever give up is if they had no way of identifying the villain. Literally no way of recognizing him.” She’s in shock and worried.

Outside, the villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is listening, holding a gun and a wallet. He starts to laugh disbelievingly to himself over the idea that he’s unrecognizable. He looks at the wallet and gun and starts grinning furiously, the laughter coming a little harder, as he thinks how ludicrous it all is, but how wonderful it would be if no one could ever recognize him.

The people inside the shop hear him and emerge. Laughing, he looks at them as if to say “You can recognize me, obviously!”

But he’s surprised when they stare in abject horror rather than sounding any alarm. The woman screams and takes several steps back. The shopkeeper says, “My god.”

Confused by their reactions, the villain starts laughing again. He steps toward them and they all back away. Still laughing, he dances in front of them, waving the wallet and gun. All the shop staff and woman can do is stare, frozen to the spot.

Finally the villain is so creeped out by this that his laughter fades away, as does his smile. He turns and runs.

Eventually he comes upon a shop window with a mirror, and he stops for a look at what in the world they were reacting to. It is now that we see him as everyone else does.

He has no face. The front of his head is a smooth, blank, oval mask…no mouth, no nose, no eyes.

Dreaming of death

In the minutes before I awoke this morning, I dreamed I had a terminal illness, with mere days, or perhaps hours, to live. At first I was out enjoying time with my family at a carnival, but as I started developing a ragged cough, I went back to a space that had been prepared for me–it wasn’t home, it wasn’t the home of any friend or family member, but it was a nice room, possibly an apartment or hotel, with a table for my laptop. I was alone, and I sat around thinking about what I wanted to do before I died.

I didn’t want to die, of course, but I was trying not to think about that. I pushed aside thoughts of family members who had succumbed to the illness before me (apparently it was a deadly virus) and thoughts of what might have been (“It’s a good thing I could never have children,” I told myself, as I wouldn’t be around to raise them). Instead I focused on setting my affairs in order.

One thought was to write a blog post entitled “I’m dying.” I went back and forth about whether or not to put a period at the end. I thought about what to say, and mostly I planned to write who got my possessions. I remember thinking that my stuff would automatically go to my parents if I didn’t specifically dole it out, which doesn’t make sense, but that’s dream logic.

I also pondered what to say about my digital footprint, my photos in particular. The free lifetime account SmugMug gave me after the fire would obviously expire when I did, so I wondered if I could–or should–ask that someone start to pay for it, to keep the chronicle of my life online. And of course there was also my blog, the hosting and such. I was uncomfortable with the idea of asking someone to pay to keep those things around, but I didn’t want them to just disappear, either.

Ultimately I woke up before I ever started writing the blog post I was planning, and I was quite relieved to realize that I wasn’t dying after all. I fell back asleep briefly, back into the feelings of missed opportunities and the desire to make some sort of tangible mark and the fervent wish that I could somehow escape my fate, and when I woke up again I got out of bed immediately.

Pregnancy dream

Last night, probably because I looked at pictures of pregnant celebrities right before bed, I dreamed I was going to have a baby. It was apparently time to give birth, so I was put into this giant helicopter (the interior was more like that of a blimp) and quickly flown toward the hospital, along with my brothers and a few other people I can’t remember. There was a grizzled man in charge of the helicopter who kept reassuring me that all was well, but I was nervous because things didn’t seem quite right.

Finally at one point I looked down at my stomach and saw that it wasn’t sticking out nearly enough. It looked just like it looks now (which is much better than how it looked in a previous dream).

“How am I pregnant?” I yelled. “Where’s the baby?”

Everyone seemed to notice me for the first time. “Huh. I guess you’re not having a baby after all,” the grizzled man said. He told the helicopter pilot to turn around.

“If I have to pay for this helicopter ride, I’m going to be pissed,” I told my brother AJ.

“You shouldn’t have to,” he said.

“But I don’t have insurance.”

“You’d probably only have to pay if you did have insurance.”

Fat dream

Last night I dreamed about going to some sort of meeting. I don’t really remember what the meeting was about, just that there was a guy who seemed to be the leader who said several things that he’d already said in the email he sent out when he called the meeting. I was glad to be there; I felt I was with like-minded people and that we could perhaps accomplish something, though I don’t remember what.

What I do remember about this dream is catching sight of myself in a mirror and being taken aback by how fat I looked. I was wearing jeans and a pink-purple sweater, an outfit I’ve worn before, and I was sitting down, which is the worst way to see yourself when you’re obese. I didn’t look the way I look now. I wasn’t 179 pounds. I was probably 260.

I looked something like this:

me at approximately 260 pounds

me at approximately 260 pounds, June 2011

It was really jarring…and yet really familiar. I recognized myself. I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t horribly depressed. I had a sort of resigned acceptance, like, “Yeah, that’s me.”

The thing is…that’s not me. I don’t look like that. I look like this:

me at 179 pounds, today

me at 179 pounds, today

And there’s another weird thing. I can’t recall ever identifying as obese in my dreams before. In my dreams, I always just identified as me. I kind of assumed that my dream self embodied my ideal self.

Maybe my subconscious is confused now that my real body is transforming into something closer to my ideal body than to my obese body, so to keep the existing balance, it’s just flipping the roles. But I really don’t want to think of myself as obese when I’m not. (Technically, I’m still obese, but I won’t be forever.) I want to have a healthy understanding and acceptance of my body as it is. I don’t want to wish for an impossible ideal or long for my known, comforting blubber.

I’ve been thinking more about how I’ve used weight as a shield. I’ve used it as an excuse not to bother learning how to do hair and makeup, because why bother to try to look pretty when you’re fat? Only now when I want to look cute or beautiful, I don’t know how. I’ve used weight as a security blanket, irrationally believing that no one would want to rape me because being fat made me unattractive, and this is now leading me to irrationally believe that I’m turning myself into a target by losing weight. I’ve used my weight as a way to avoid fundamental questions I’ve been having as to what it means to be a woman–the fatter I was, the less feminine I felt. (The infertility contributed to that, too.) I’ve quietly used my weight as an excuse as to why I’m not a social butterfly, why I don’t get invited to parties, why people all around me seem to instantly forge connections while I struggle to make one good friend. That “people would like me if I was pretty” feeling defined my high school existence and sent ripples out into my adulthood, even though I knew the real reason was that I’m simply not an extrovert. I felt comfortable getting fatter and fatter because I could use it as an excuse as to why no one ever called or texted me.

Thankfully, in recent years I have begun to deal with that last problem, so I probably won’t be shocked when I become thin and the world doesn’t come rushing to my door. I have friends, good friends, relationships that I have worked to maintain. I may not be clubbing or partying or whatever, but that’s not who I am. I’m happiest when I’m learning, discussing, hearing someone’s story, appreciating beauty, exploring. And I’ve found friends who also love those things.

But that still leaves all the other things, and perhaps more issues I haven’t identified yet.

So, right now, I reject the idea that my obesity and infertility make me less of a woman. Hell, I reject the idea that womanhood can be so easily defined, and I reject the idea that it needs to be. I reject the idea that obesity defines me. I reject the idea that it’s too late for me to learn how to do hair and makeup–please! And I reject the idea that I can or should do anything to my body to make myself more or less appealing to a lowlife rapist.

I’ll press on, one foot in front of the other. I’ll keep writing when I need to. I’ll identify these mental demons when they rise up, and then I’ll knock them the hell down.

me at 179 pounds, today

Thoughts of Birmingham

A few weeks ago, Sean and I went to Birmingham, Alabama for his work. I took two days to explore some of the city’s attractions and had a really good time, despite the cold, rainy weather.

Last night, I had a dream that I was in Birmingham looking into some fictional university. The place was huge and architecturally impressive, and I also found it to be forward-thinking. For some reason Willow, the character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was there with me. It started snowing. (These two parts of the dream may be related to my watching several episodes from Buffy season three before bed.)

Then a tornado siren started going off. Thinking back to my time living in Huntsville, I wondered whether Birmingham was also within Tornado Alley, and whether frequent storms were something I’d have to get used to. Willow and I checked out the sky looking for funnel clouds, but my good sense prevailed and we holed up in the basement of a building on campus.

In the dream, I remember being really excited to move to Birmingham. Indeed, I enjoyed visiting, and there were many places I could see myself returning to again and again, like the Botanical Gardens or the Museum of Art. And really, I am the type of person who craves change and enjoys the challenge of getting to know a new place. For a laugh, I checked Google Maps to see how far Birmingham is from my family in Kentucky compared to where we live now, and it’s not that different. Plus, the route would be new and interesting: instead of old, familiar I-75, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, I’d take I-65 through Nashville. The thought of all these new adventures is actually pretty exciting.

But realistically, I can’t say I want to move right now. For one thing, there’s no reason to, beyond my illogical wanderlust. I can’t say that I saw enough of Birmingham in the two days I spent exploring it to know that I would be happy there. I don’t know what the job market is like. Birmingham is slightly farther from my family and double the distance from Sean’s. And the base for Sean’s work is here. He may get dispatched to Birmingham and other locations occasionally, but being here is the most economical.

Still, it’s fun to have these flights of fancy from time to time. At the very least, I know that if I want to, I can visit Birmingham as easily as I can visit Augusta. And I still have plenty more to learn about Atlanta. I’ve barely even scratched the surface.

There are plenty of adventures to be had without moving somewhere new.

(That sounded convincing, right?)

A happy dream

I just had one of the best dreams I’ve ever had.

In the dream, I was active in the community and well-known and liked. The dream took place in Augusta, I suppose because out of everywhere I’ve lived, that’s where I truly felt part of a larger whole. (I knew the mayor, and whatnot.) It was my birthday, and I was out in downtown Augusta for a two-part celebration.

I was surrounded by friends. We were all eclectic and fashionable and socially-focused. Some of us, myself included, wore green aprons advocating cycling, with black and white bumper stickers on them that cautioned drivers to watch the road. Brooke was there, and so was my family, and so was David Bowie. (In the dream, you never invited David Bowie somewhere…if he invited himself, though, you could consider your event a success.)

The first stage of the party was something of a rowdy mixer, with hors d’oeuvres and music and dancing, but not so loud that you couldn’t hear people talk. At one point I overheard someone mention my friend Mari, and someone else sniff, “She’s all right, I suppose, but I just don’t understand that line dancing she does.” (Mari is a belly dancer.)

In an action completely out of character for me, I swept gracefully into the situation. “Mari is here tonight,” I pointed out to the guest. “She’s right there. I’d appreciate you not speaking badly of one of my closest friends. And as for you–” I scrutinized her face, then gave up. “I don’t even know who you are, so I’m not sure why you’re here.” Oh snap!

When the warm stage one mixer ended and people started to trickle out, I thought that was the end and was content, but then one male friend said, “See you later tonight.”

“What? Where?” I asked.

“Didn’t the invitation say…?” he trailed off, though not in alarm; apparently people were used to me blanking on details.

“Did I put something about meeting up again at the Bee’s Knees at 8pm in there?” I asked. “That sounds like something I would do.”

“Yes; that’s it exactly,” the guy grinned. “See you then!” For some reason, we kissed on the lips. It wasn’t romantic; it was a signal of closeness and friendship. (This is also out of character for me; I’ve been uncomfortable with mouth kisses between anyone but lovers since childhood.)

And so the party resumed at the Bee’s Knees (though the space seemed larger than the actual area of that restaurant). At one point my parents and brothers and I all got into an old station wagon like we used to have decades ago and took pictures for nostalgia. At another point, I decided to try tap-dancing, and discovered I was actually fairly good, despite having only taken a few tap classes in first grade. I finally woke up just as one of my female friends was starting to organize us all into groups to play games.

What I loved about this dream was how confident I was, how I stood up for my friends and my beliefs. I have always been the wallflower, and I’ve never been one to make ripples. I always stay in the shadows, watching, observing, taking care of others’ needs silently. It occurs to me that anyone can do that. Maybe this dream is an indication that I want something more.

Not her mom

This narrative is drawn from a dream I had just before waking today.


She was small, with tiny features and wispy dark hair, eyes shining dark against skin so pale it was almost pallid. But she was full of energy, hurtling through the hot spring resort so fast it was all I could do just to keep up, let alone right the chaos she left in her wake.

Girls like her always had hangers-on, and she was no exception. First there was the straw-haired boy who’d accompanied the household on this vacation, the son of her father’s valet; the two had grown up together and might as well have been siblings. The second was new, the brown-haired, deeply-tanned son of a local. She’d caught his eye the moment she’d stepped from the train, and he’d been following her ever since.

If you added all their ages, you’d need yet another child to reach twenty years.

I caught up to them in an anteroom surrounded by a cluster of single rooms. The main hallway continued straight to the springs. The family’s rooms were similarly arrayed, but in a suite, allowing both access and privacy. The young mistress was teasing her local’s son, making him blush. I saw the valet’s son watching quietly, from a distance, his head lowered.

“We’ll go to the baths!” the young mistress announced, not noticing me. “But we’ll need towels and robes; our playclothes won’t do. Come!” And she turned on her tiny heel and marched into the nearest single room. In moments she was tearing drawers open and ripping the blankets from the bed.

I don’t know what happened then. I had witnessed many such a scene before, and my duty was always the same: to make amends afterwards. I did not begrudge the young mistress the trouble it took to seek out her victims and compensate their losses. Such work was the reason I was employed by the household. Such work kept me clothed and fed, and let me see wonders and amusements throughout the world alongside the family. Perhaps it was the look on the face of the dear valet’s son. Perhaps it was the careless way with which the young mistress was rifling through the stranger’s belongings.

Perhaps it was because, in my head, I had so casually concocted a group of girls like her.

Whatever it was, very shortly, I found myself screaming.

“Who do you think you are?” I roared, hooking the girl by the shoulder, spinning her around, and flinging her down on the bed. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Those dark eyes were wide. It was not a look I had ever seen on her face before. Shock, certainly. Fear, perhaps. “I–I was just–we needed–”

“If you needed robes and towels, you have plenty of your own in your own rooms,” I shrilled. “Is this your room, young mistress?”

“M-m-my–”

“Is it?”

“I-I-I–”

“Do the things in this room belong to you? Did your mother and father check you into this room? Is your prize possession, the braid of unicorn mane, to be found in this room?”

“No,” she said finally, in the smallest voice I’d ever heard come out of her tiny mouth.

“Then what gives you the right to come into this room and take whatever you want?”

She had no answer. Her face was turning pink.

“And what gives you the right to ignore your lifelong friend as if he doesn’t even exist?”

What?” she tried to say, but a sob caught the word in her throat as her eyes filled with tears.

“Have you ever thought about anyone but yourself?” I seethed. “Have you ever thought about the people whose things you’ve taken without asking, whose property you’ve destroyed just for your own pleasure?”

She started outright bawling. “You’re not being fair,” she sobbed.

“When have you ever been ‘fair’?” I countered.

“Why are you being so mean?”

And I broke. Whatever had been driving me on was gone in that instant. Her dark eyes, overflowing with tears, reamed accusatory holes into my heart that I could not deflect.

“Oh, sweetheart,” I murmured, and my eyes brimmed over as well. I slipped my hands beneath her tiny form, lifting her from where she’d lay stunned and motionless on the bed, and drew her into a gentle embrace. “Shh. Sweetheart. I’m sorry. I just…I love you so.”

She made a pathetic noise that I could only imagine signaled her bewilderment.

“I know. I know. I know I’m not your mother, and I never could be…but sometimes I feel like I am, I really do.” She shook quietly in my arms. “And I just…I don’t want you to be a bad girl.”

Odd dream

As I was waking up this morning, I dreamed I was out with a friend (B) and a former coworker (C) in Augusta for dinner. Except it didn’t look anything like Augusta. It was a college town where school buildings mingle with downtown buildings, more like Lexington. Lots of red brick and grass, though. Anyway, we were at this lunch counter type place ordering food. I had apparently been there for lunch and had a salad, so I already knew what they had available. C ordered a plate of peas (he’s a vegetarian but that seemed a little extreme so I said, “All you’re getting is a plate of peas?” and he said yes). I wanted peas too, so I asked if there were going to be enough. It’s here that things got wonky.

The girl at the counter started looking trough all the food trying to find peas. They didn’t seem to be anywhere. Worse, I kept spotting them and pointing them out only to have them seemingly disappear when she looked. “There’s some, with carrots,” I said, pointing, and she went to that tray and started pulling out grape tomatoes. I was so frustrated I asked, “You do know what a pea is, right?” She stared at me and I tried to make it as inoffensive as possible by blurting things like “You never know!” “In this day and age?” she responded mockingly, then sliced off a piece of specialty cheese for B and placed it in a bag. I wasn’t even sure when B had ordered.

The girl moved down to help some new customers. I still hadn’t ordered my peas, let alone the rest of my meal (I wanted a pork chop). Infuriated, I left.

I stalked down the street and into a courtyard near the corner. It was there that I encountered an odd creature that I’m pretty sure I’ve dreamed about before. It’s kind of like a deformed kangaroo, same height, same big legs and small arms, same tail for balance, but a stubby face wholly unlike that of a kangaroo. Still, “What’s a kangaroo doing loose in the city?” I asked aloud as it charged toward me.

The courtyard was filled with trees and corners, and for some reason, while I knew the kangaroo could and would hurt me, I wasn’t afraid. I simply backed into tight spaces where it couldn’t reach and started taking pictures of it. Soon the flash seemed to scare the thing off and it fled the courtyard. I watched it bound back and forth down the street outside, its movements punctuated by the screams of those who spotted it.

I cut through the courtyard to a perpendicular street and found a restaurant, where I got a table. I was settling in when B showed up and joined me. “If she comes back, I want water,” I said. “I need to use the restroom.” “I’d rather we wait to order until you’re back,” B responded. “And we’re having you pay for this.” I realized she must be mad that I left the lunch counter. “Okay, but I didn’t even order anything there. And the service was awful,” I said. “I seriously don’t think she knew what a pea was. I was so mad I couldn’t stand to stay there.” I went on to explain how I’d run into the creature. I was in the middle of describing it when I noticed B was stiff and pale. “Don’t worry,” I said. “It won’t hurt us.” There was no real reason for my being so sure of this other than my innocuous earlier encounter. “You’ve obviously never been bitten by him,” B said, sounding angry and scared. “A says he knows someone who has and it was really bad.” (A is B’s ex in real life.)

I didn’t know what to say to this, and I really did need to use the restroom, so I woke up.

Last night’s dream: An odd journey

In my dream last night I was on a journey, exploring sprawling lands dotted with preserved historic manor homes. I had left one of the manors, traversed a long dirt road with a sign at the end that changed from “Wopat” to “Cary” when the light struck it at a different angle, and met up with a large collection of my family for some sort of antiquing crawl when I realized I had thoughtlessly taken a china plate and a small figurine from the house. As everyone else pulled out and began to organize envelopes filled with cash gifts, I hurried to both return the items and find my own envelopes.

I turned back down the same dirt road I’d used before, but when I got to the cluster of buildings where I thought the manor house was, it was nowhere to be found. I entered a door and found myself in a Victorian-styled shop. A woman holding a baby was standing at a counter, and she accidentally dropped 10p (yes, pence, not a dime). Two scruffy, lazy-looking men dressed like Mary Poppins characters laughed and mocked her as she tried and failed to stoop down and retrieve the money. One of the men picked it up himself and then embedded it in his mass of thick curly hair with a jeer.

I could not let this stand, so I marched up to the men and told them off. Somewhere during my rant their victim shifted from being a woman holding a baby to being a pregnant woman. I made a big deal about this, yelling at the men that a pregnant woman has a hard time bending over. One of the men countered that she was only in her first trimester, at which point my speech was derailed and I wondered confusedly why she’d had trouble picking up the coin.

Meanwhile, the woman had run off, abandoning her 10p. It became clear that I was now the focus of the men’s attention, and I knew if they figured out what the plate and figurine were, they’d use them against me.

Suddenly I hit upon the perfect plan. “I took these from a manor house somewhere around here. I can’t remember which one,” I told them, handing the items over. “I’ll leave them with you. Now everyone will think you stole them, unless you can get them back to where they came from.” And I turned and slipped out, sprinting away from the store.

I had made it a good distance away and was stalking across a steep hillside partially covered with tarps when the men came running up to me. “Okay, you win,” one of them panted. “Just please take the plate and figurine back.”

“So we’re even?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said.

I retrieved the items and kept walking, and for some reason the men joined me. We ended up back in town. The man who’d given me the plate and figurine back seemed to think we now had a bond, and as we passed a stable, he spoke up.

“I used to use this livery all the time, but I’ve been banned. Can you just walk through there like you’re going to use it?”

I obliged. As I strolled through the stable, a small pack animal appeared beside me and, conditioned by years of habit, trudged up a ramp that led to a harnessing area. As stable hands began hooking up the tackle, the man who’d spoken grabbed a wooden cart and wheeled it out to the other side of the barn, where the other man stood waiting. I found myself abruptly lost in a maze of fences and wooden corrals–I had to turn back or crawl through a tiny space to get to where the men were with the cart. As I attempted the crawl, gave up, and doubled back, I muttered something about avoiding dust.

“Dust,” one of the men said mockingly. “According to your TARDIS, we’re all dust.” This made me slightly uncomfortable as I wondered if the men had designs on my TARDIS. (I had a TARDIS? Where did I put it? And how did it form its own opinions?)

Outside, stable hands hooked the cart up to the pack animal. I shrugged and placed the things I’d been carrying in our new cart, and we all continued on our journey. The original missions of returning the plate and figurine and meeting back up with my family seemed to have been forgotten; I’m not sure where we were going.

Before stopping to rest for the night, the man who’d done most of the (civilized) talking and I both purchased the same book from a roadside vendor. At this point the dream shifted into third person, and I saw that my character was a tall, slender woman with straw-colored blond hair that fell in thick, gentle curls well down her back, bright blue eyes that were set rather close together, a prominent but not large nose, and a somewhat long face. Her thoughts began narrating as both she and the man settled in to read before bed, she sitting at the window of her room at an old West-style inn, he outside propped up against the cart.

As the two of them read, cremated remains began piling up around them, appearing out of nowhere. It appeared to be a side effect of the story they were reading. Neither of them took much notice as the ashes buried their backs up to their necks and began spilling over in front of them. However, both frequently glanced up from their books to stare through the window at each other.

“The seduction happened then,” the woman’s narration intoned as she lowered the book into the ashes and, with a slight look of worry or discomfort, closed two sets of ineffectual, sheer lace curtains. She was still perfectly visible to the man and it was obvious she could tell as she resumed reading.

“As I read, the remains piling up around me, I felt the hands of other men,” the narration continued, and skeleton hands appeared from the ashes, stroking her shoulders.

I was really rather fascinated by where this was all going–for some reason the remains and the skeleton hands didn’t scare me at all–but alas, my alarm clock went off.

Well, that was a neat, if frustrating, dream

Last night I dreamed I was meeting a bunch of friends for some sort of high tech convention and movie premiere at this (fictional) amazing exhibition center in Cincinnati. Mom was there, and so was Brooke and her mom (and a saber-toothed tiger that was apparently the family pet), and Brooke’s sister-in-law Dorothy and her daughter Allison were there, and my friend Dawn from Malaysia and my friend Roderick from Singapore, and then my friend Hai from California was going to meet us.

The event was huge. We passed through a long hallway lined with high tech toys and geeky crafts we could buy. There were lots of paper art products that were packaged flat but you could unfold and put together into mathematical shapes and pop culture designs. And of course there were plenty of gadgets.

Once we were in the center proper, we saw that a giant cylindrical core ran the length of the building. It was extremely big, such that it was large enough to house several whales, who entertained us with their song as they swam up and down from floor to floor.

We walked around for a long time looking for our seats. I’d bought very good tickets. Finally we found the VIP check-in. It was a white table manned by a few guides and equipped with several videoconference machines, allowing the conference hosts to interact with us as we checked in. Koji Kondo was the one to take my ticket. “It’s an honor to meet you, sir!” I told the little screen above the ticket scanner, and he smiled and bowed.

Brooke and her mom got distracted at one point trying to get the saber-toothed tiger to cooperate. It was fixated on an area near the top of the building that looked like a gas station. Meanwhile, Mom and I tried to go to the bathroom, but despite the sheer size of the place, the line was really long.

Finally we made it to a table. I’m not sure if it was the spot I’d reserved for the show or if it was just a waiting area. Regardless, we set all our stuff down, including my expensive camera and a bunch of goodies we’d purchased as we wandered through the exhibition. Then I got a message through the fancy PDA I’d been given at check-in. There was a picture of Hai and a message from one of the hosts that read, “I want to ban him for life!” Apparently Hai had tried to get through to us but there was something wrong with his ticket, and the hosts were contacting me to let me know and ask if I did actually know him.

I couldn’t figure out how to send a message back through the PDA. “I’d better go get Hai,” I announced to the table. I started to gather up my things…but the others just got up and left without taking theirs! I was suddenly all alone at a table filled with belongings and rare items.

And then a huge family of panhandlers came up and surrounded the table.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you,” I told them.

“Come on, we’re starving.” They were not starving; they looked well-fed and clothed. They may actually have lived inside the ginormous convention center.

“Good, good, but no,” I said. When they kept it up, leaning in and gazing hungrily at all the stuff on the table, I shrieked, “SECURITY!”

They seemed to frighten off, but they only moved away about five feet to make sure security wasn’t actually coming, and then came right back to hover over the table again.

“SECURITY!” I kept yelling. “Help, security, please!” But no one ever came. I knew that if I could just figure out how to use the stupid PDA, I could send a message that would get someone here to help…but if I looked down at the PDA, one of these people would make off with something from the table.

It was at this moment of crisis that I abruptly woke up.

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Dream

I had a dream last night that my boss and our two main anchors got swine flu. I was the one who noticed and I told them to go home. They refused, even to the point of working really late and then all sleeping in the same bed together.

Because I stayed around them trying to convince them to take care of themselves and stop risking others’ health, I ended up getting sick–though I’m not sure it was swine flu, because my face was covered in boils.

I also dreamed last night that Tom Welling guest-starred as Superman in a musical episode of a sitcom. When he started to sing, Neil Patrick Harris’ voice came out.

I always have the best dreams when I’m off the CPAP. Or at least, I remember them…

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Ben Franklin’s perversion

This is a dream I had just before waking up this morning, but I thought I’d write it as a narrative and give the characters names.

Cherry was mumbling something as we stepped into the room. She always seemed to say something when we did a time slip. I never could make it out. The first part sounded like random letters and numbers. The last part was definitely a phrase. It sounded like the last word was “day”.

I could ask her about it later. The most important thing was the box.

The room was a comfortable study. Brass chair rail ringed the richly stained wood walls, ending at an expansive stone fireplace. On the right of the entryway was a cluster of small plants done up in red bows and Christmas lights. I made for the rolltop desk just beyond that. The object I was after sat innocently atop a mess of papers, as if it were being used as an oversized paperweight. I picked up the box gingerly and sat down on the floor near the fireplace to examine it.

It was about the size of a cigar box, but it was heavy and made of cherry wood and brass. The box was plain, unmarked save for some small brass tacking. I flipped open the lid and let it fall back and hang on the thin chains that secured it.

Cherry had been surveying the room, but now came to crouch beside me and peer over my shoulder.

“Tools and surgical implements,” I pointed out, running my forefinger along the row of silver screwdrivers and scalpels. “But what are they for?”

“Seems weird to have them together like that,” Cherry agreed. After a moment of staring into the velvet-lined case, she straightened and stepped further into Franklin’s office. “Maybe there’s something else here we can learn from.”

As she started rummaging through a bookshelf, I decided to disassemble the carefully-arranged box to see if that would help. I’d started gathering up the tools when I noticed the odd way the velvet gathered at the edges of the box. “Hmm,” I said aloud, cocking my head to one side and frowning. “I wonder…”

I picked up one of the flathead screwdriver tips and wedged it between the velvet and the box. A little leverage, and the fabric started to rise. It was apparently tacked to cardboard. “Look, this is a tray,” I said excitedly. “It lifts out.”

I felt Cherry step back in my direction, but I was intent on the box as I pulled the tray of tools up and out and set it aside.

“Whoa.”

Jackpot.

“Here’s a bag of transistors,” I said. “There’s some wiring. But what’s this?”

I picked something out of the box that was about the size of a coin, with a yellow, rusty looking wedge jutting from a silver root. “A root?” I asked aloud. “This is…”

“A tooth,” Cherry breathed.

We both knew the implications of what we’d found. But there was no time to discuss them. Our window was closing.

I quickly reassembled the box and set it back on the desk. Moments later, we felt time slip away…

I blinked and looked around. We had time-slipped, hadn’t we? But we were back in the study.

Cherry looked at me curiously. “Why are we back here?”

“I don’t know,” I was saying, when suddenly we arrived. Or rather, the us who had been there before. We were standing by the fireplace; Us’ abruptly appeared in the doorway.

“Roman!” Cherry hissed, grabbing my arm.

“Why are we here again?” I whispered frantically.

Me’ came striding in, intent on the box. I gaped at him for a moment as he turned his back to us, giving me a rare view of the back of my own head. I considered idly that my auburn hair was getting a little shaggy, and boy was it ever curly in the back.

“Everything’s the same,” Me’ informed Cherry’, glancing around at her. “…wait. Where’s the wallscreen?”

In my shock at reappearing where we’d just left I hadn’t noticed. I glanced over my shoulder. “He’s right,” I told Cherry. When we’d first arrived there had been a flat panel screen above the fireplace. “It’s gone.”

Turning back towards our dopplegangers, I saw that Cherry’ was looking at the Christmas decorations. I abruptly noticed they were different as well. This time there were no bows, and the plants were much smaller.

“What’s going on?” both Cherrys said at once.

“Oh, wait, I forgot to say my stuff,” Cherry’ cried, and then she was rattling off a long list of nonsensical letters and numbers. I was hearing the code, the thing she was always muttering, clearly for the first time. Not that it made any sense. “And let the other guys be gay,” she finished.

I blinked. “What the heck does that mean?”

“Oh,” Cherry’ said, “that’s just so I don’t fall in love with anyone while I’m traveling and neglect to do my duty.”

I wheeled on Cherry, who had turned bright pink. “They shouldn’t be able to see us, should they?”

“Why wouldn’t we be able to see you?” asked Me’ calmly, lifting the tray of tools from the box and examining the cyborg oddments beneath.

“Because,” I spluttered, “Paradox Theory…”

They weren’t us.

They looked like us. They were even wearing the same clothes. Cherry’ had on that dress Cherry loves, the one that comes to just above the knee, with the marbled red and black pattern. And she was wearing Cherry’s trademark knee-high leather boots, with the platforms and five-inch heels. And Me’ was in the same suit I was wearing, tuxedo-style but dark purple, with copper buttons and a pocket watch chain visible upon one breast.

I had assumed because they looked like us, they sounded like us, and they were here just as we had been, that they were us. But…

“That’s ridiculous,” Me’ responded. “Paradox Theory doesn’t have anything to do with dimensional slips.”

Dream

Last night I dreamed I had two sons, who looked almost exactly like Connor and Logan. The first part of the dream involved me trying to spend time with each of them individually, and also teaching them how to share with each other.

Later, I realized that I kept calling the older one “Connor”. I tried and tried, but I could not remember his actual name. “What’s your name?” I asked him, but of course he wouldn’t tell me–either he thought I was joking or he was shocked that his own mother didn’t know his name. Eventually I discovered that his name was Sandy. (I would never name my son “Sandy”, but whatever.) The name just didn’t suit him, and I was sure I would forget it again. “Now that you’re grown and I know your personality better, how about we pick a name that fits you?” I asked him, but he was too busy playing with his video game to answer.

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