Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dream: Ride the Waffles...or Cake Rolls!

Several days ago I had a dream that was remarkable in its lack of disturbing content... well I guess it still disturbed me because it was so far away from my normal level of strange.

So, dream sequence begin...

I had this feeling that I was driving to Minnesota or Wisconsin, but anyway I was on a very busy highway. This was not a normal highway at all because off to the right there was a giant parking lot with a lot of fast fast food establishments. I pulled off and went to McDonalds (this should be my first hint that something is rather off). I see my husband here, but he plans on driving ahead. After taking a break I get back on the actual road and see the bright yellow sign that says to share the road with trains. Yes, there are semis and trains on this road. The trains have tracks off to the right. I get into the lane on the right near the train tracks and approach a tunnel. A concrete door drops down into my lane and the yellow sign has some sort of delayed warning on it. I slam on the brakes and as I sit in front of the yellow sign I think "Screw this, I'll use the GPS."
The GPS tells me to cross four lanes of traffic, which I do. And I get into the tunnel. This path is twisted, carnival colors and reminds me of that boat ride in the Willy Wonka movies. The tunnel itself terminates into a huge warehouse and I am removed from my car and it is taken away down some tracks. They later tell me that it's in some parking lot. I assume I have to put up with this nonsense since everyone who was on the road is probably in here somewhere.
My group follows this noisy tour guide through the warehouse and she's telling us something about candy or sweets and how this is just how they do things in whatever state we're in. State of confusion? Anyway, there's a buffet of odd Eastern European foods set up, and nothing I would eat, but the sort of thing that you'd see on "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern"--cabbage and congealed fish mostly (that may sound awesome to you, but I just can't eat pickled stuff). There's also a sad-looking Oom-pah band in faded folk garb. They look friendly enough, but the music is quiet and not all that in tune.
After the buffet that I cannot eat and the band that I mostly feel sorry for we're led to another drab concrete hallway, and a wide ledge with five railroad tracks leading to it. The tour guide tells us that we'll all have to jump soon. The ledge is about seven feet tall and I'm thinking "No f-ing way am I jumping down there." Everyone else lines up with their track as they know what's going on. As the people move forward giant waffles and equally gigantic slices of cake roll come down the tracks and pause in front of the ledge. Some of the waffles have scoops of ice cream on them--in either blue, pink or white-- and the cake rolls are all the lovely rainbow of pastel colors of the cake rolls I like to buy at the Taiwanese bakery I go to in Columbus. (Ichiban Bakery is fantastic btw)
So, now I'm looking at people from all demographics hop on their waffles or cake rolls and ride away down the series of tunnels. I see the elderly tourists who look right out of the 80's with their old cameras, then there's the punk guy in skinny black jeans, a man in a suit, and a pair of very tan teenage girls in summer clothing, etc. As I'm watching all this, all I can think is, "I'm not jumping on a damn waffle."
It's not that I really care all that much about looking stupid, but the ledge is high and I cannot believe that my brain came up with this notion. I'm left alone with the tour guide, and she says that this is the only way out of here...so I finally jump onto the waffle and see where it leads.
I guess each track went somewhere different, but I ended up in front of one of those carts, or caravans, where someone would be selling snake oil cure-alls of some variety during the 19th Century. Oh, and the guy doing the talking completely looked the part, but he was giving out gourmet jelly beans instead of quackery. He spoke of the magic powers of jelly beans to make people happy and sprinkled the crowd with them, but he tossed a full bag of them to me. They were green, and pear-flavored, and when people started trying to take them from me I woke up...

I guess what I realized in this dream is that my brain has some whimsy left in it, and at the time I had no idea why Minnesota came into play, but I do now...
Oh, and if you try to take candy from me I get annoyed enough to completely ruin the whole scene just so that I don't lose something that I feel entitled to.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Non-Fiction: Two Weeks

In all honesty I keep going over this piece and have been changing it throughout the evening, but I'm finally posting it as is...

Two Weeks

Two weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon I had an odd thought as I walked into Target. The thought that struck me was in relation to Professor Bari Watkins, and that thought was that I hadn't seen her in a while, but occasionally in the past I had run into her at Target.

On a particular Saturday several years ago I was questing for a gift to bring to a wedding when I saw her in the housewares area at Target--I believe I was looking at something frivolous like a pitcher or simple serving platter because what else would you buy someone as a wedding gift when you've waited until the last minute and everything except for a pricey vacuum cleaner has been purchased from their gift registry? Anyway... we talked about the items at Target usually being rather nice and a good value. At that time I was enrolled in the section of History 201 that she taught.
My daughter Mina was with me on this shopping excursion and Professor Watkins told her to "grow up to be really smart, just like your mommy." This is one of the greatest compliments, but something I had been silently questioning at that moment when it came to my daughter because she is Autistic, and at her first evaluations was shown to be a year behind cognitively. It is nice to set goals, but when your child has such a diagnosis things can be really shaky, and it's tough to remain optimistic when the tests don't look that wonderful. Professor Watkins knew of the diagnosis, too. (I'm pleased to say that my daughter is now eight years-old and has excelled cognitively and academically, but remains a little behind socially unless you really like talking about princesses or video games--in some circles that's quite enough points of interest though)
Upon this meeting at Target I had only taken her section of History 200, and was as mentioned enrolled in History 201, and had done very well previously. I had the habit of not doing so well on quizzes, but remained flawless when exams came up. I just knew what points that she wanted to see on the essays and the whole issue had become a joke between us. Her approach to U.S. History gave a wider breadth of information than what was taught in High School. It was an approach that brought the people back into History. When you study History it's easy to get into a habit of names, numbers, battlefields, etc., especially if you're not really invested in the study itself, but she made History personal and was able to show how History affects us now. She often brought Social History and Environmental History into the mix as well. I also appreciated her comments that in the U.S. we get to overthrow our government every four years. When we studied the Great Depression she brought in a slide show of Dorthea Lange's photography.
When I took History 201 with her in Fall of 2008 I maintained a nearly perfect grade for the entire class despite two brief hospitalizations (one of which fell on election night of 2008, and was an amusing place to watch history being made), and my final had to be rescheduled as I was to give birth to my son on the day of the final exam. I sent her an e-mail asking if it was okay for me to miss class that day, and was given an extension on that test.

Days after Tristan was born I sent out an online birth announcement with a picture of him and received some comments, and this was her personal message:

"James Tristan,
Welcome! We need to make this a better world for you to grow up in, and I promise to do my part. May you always be happy and healthy.
Bari Watkins"

The note surprised and moved me beyond words, and I committed it to memory to tell my son when he is older, but I am glad to have found the word-for-word note in the depths of my e-mail account today. I think it says a lot about her character, and as I knew her she was always involved with the world and doing her part to make a difference in everything that she did. That may sound like an empty generalization that so many people say about others, but I swear to whatever higher power there is out there that I hope to be half as involved, driven and fantastic as Bari Watkins.

So, when I walked across the parking lot at Target I had a pang of reflection on U.S. History and the professor who taught those courses. I made a mental note that I really need to keep in contact with people.
As it turns out I will never see Bari Watkins again because on that particular Saturday, April 2nd 2011, she passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Article from Lancaster Eagle Gazette
Obituary from the Lancaster Eagle Gazette
Obituary that Ohio University Posted
Lustgarten Foundation

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tell me I'm talented...No, not that way

I've been busy, and sick, and all those excuses, but wanted to provide an awkward story. This story is about sex dreams. So, you've been warned.
Oh, have you been warned...

My imagination often takes me to strange places, and most of the time I'm okay with that, but sometimes I get to the point when I question where exactly my brain conjured up a particular happening. This oddness occurs during the day, but also extends to my dreams. Sadly, my sex dreams are strange in that unfulfilling and bizarre kind of way. They're actually a bit like nightmares on the rare occasions that I have these sorts of dreams. My usual sex partners that are present in my dreams don't seem to like me, are generally disinterested with everything, or are disgusting and/or frightening. In most cases I am left wondering "Dear brain, why bother with sex dreams?" or "Why can't I get out of this stupidity?"
Not too long ago I had a somewhat normal sex dream-- well, close to what I suspect "normal" is. No one was seriously injured,there was some degree of affection and pleasure within the scene itself, and the other person involved was nice, interested, and attractive. The setting was also somewhat believable.

So, it started out innocently and cliche enough with a walk through an old cemetery. There were various paved pathways through the rows of grave, so it wasn't completely destroyed. We talked for a while and apparently were bored with talking. The ennui led to us sitting down by a large tree near a chain-link fence. This led to a bit of a handjob, kissing, hair-pulling...etc. Why does it always go this way? Oh, and there were people running through the cemetery along the paths, but not like a marathon going past. There were just a couple ladies in stupid pink shorts and sports bra ensembles. (When I told a friend about this dream she asked incredulously "People intrude on your sex dreams?" Yes, even in dreams public sexual encounters can be risky, but I guess I just have the exhibitionism thing going on in dream land.)
Back in the dream we were trying to hide what we were doing from the people running through the cemetery. Think, "nonchalance" as a keyword there, but I suppose that is a tough look to pull off while straddling someone, holding a death-grip on their hair and biting the holy hell out of the side of their neck...ahem. Yeah, so... there was some light foreplay.
We then decided to go somewhere less out in broad daylight and went to a house where I assume that the guy lived--he, at least, seemed familiar enough with the place. Various sexual escapades continued and it was an mostly "normal" dream.
Afterward, we were still lying in bed and he had this odd smirk on his face. He stared at the ceiling for a while, and then turned to me and said, "Tell me that I'm talented."
I smiled and messed up his hair. His words were kind of odd, but I replied with something along the lines of, "Oh, you're really talented in bed."
His expression wasn't as playful as it had been, "No, tell me that you like my work."
"Oh, right..."

From the beginning of the dream I had this feeling that the guy was an artist, writer, musician?--maybe all of the above. I remember bits of dialogue that drifted between books, dead people, photography, over-rated paintings, bands that are horrible, contempt for people who don't know how to wear something other than work-out wear--just standard important things to talk about. As I reached the end of the dream there was awkward silence. I had no idea what kind of Art that this guy created. I wanted to say something to make him feel better or at least reassured that I knew something about him, but didn't want to lie or get into a situation where he might ask me anything further about his work.
And that's how it ended. The attractive, and apparently talented guy waiting for a response of some sort, and me trying to figure out a graceful way out of the question.
He apparently assumed I was more acquainted with his corpus than I actually was.
I guess the moral of this story is that no matter how "normal" a situation seems it can still get weird...or maybe that in essence is "normal."
Or maybe a better moral is that I can still alienate people even in my own dreams.
Or perhaps people say strange things after sex?

Either way, I felt the dream was strange enough to share.

On a side note, I find this song to be kind of cute, and I like the photos that are with this slide show as well...