Tag: dreams

Krill As Pets and Other Nightmares

night becomes

If you look really closely at this picture, and you have spent over $100,000 on a medical degree or you’re a clairvoyant, I bet you can see the shadow of death in my eye already. There’s probably evidence of type 2 diabetes to the naked professional eye.

What I see is that I need to get my eyeliner game up 10 notches and stop taking pictures of my eye bags at 11pm.

The only death I’m not afraid of is one I’m in control of.

profile in sepia copy

If I was a musician I would either be a classical pianist or a Chinese hip hop artist. No contest, no in-between.

The human population most in need of moral support, in my opinion, are those of us who suffer from mental illness and those of us who suffer contact with other human beings.

I wanted to wear a black band for Bowie but my black band doesn’t fit me anymore because my arms have tripled in size since Myrna Loy and my racist misogynist grandpa Tom died. I haven’t had the heart or energy to make a new one. I feel guilty about this because I didn’t cry when Myrna Loy or my grandfather died. Even though I loved my asshole grandfather. I didn’t cry when he died.

I’m not winning my personal battles, in case any of you are keeping score. I’m losing big time and part of me is crushingly scared. The other part of me knows that this is just part of whatever my legacy and life are supposed to be. I’m sad. I’m sad I’m not the person I was 20 years ago in many respects, but in other respects I’m so much better now even with my dreadful failings and losing of personal battles that may result in my death.

My nightmares last night were awful and lingering. Not vividly or specifically, they have lingered insidiously without specific shape, sound, or words. All I know is that there was an unconventional school library and neighborhood I was traveling through and hiding in that felt bone rippingly fraught and personal.

Someone had krill as pets.

It was one of those nightmares where you wake up knowing you’ve left half yourself in peril in the underworld but still have to go through the motions of working, of caring about the corporeal world.

I spent a million years tortured by my nightmares and poor sleep habits.

Can any of you understand me when I say that these horrible terrifying manifestations of my subconscious self, of my other life, have become necessary to me? That even though I’m completely haunted by them snaking through my head all day toying with my comfort and sense of reality, I’ve come to see them as the couriers of my spirit?

Is it acceptable, possible, believable, that the nightmares that plague my “sleep” and wake me at 4 in the morning are the most important connection I have with life outside my own muscle and blood?

Is it too on-the-nose to be okay with the tiger taking the gazelle down?

Is it too on-the-nose to be okay with being the gazelle every single time?

So much of what we’re taught in life is to fight. Fight authority, fight people who fight authority, fight the status quo, fight those who challenge the status quo. Fight your instincts, fight weakness, fight until fighting kills you. Fight every natural urge you’ve ever had because somehow humans have become the dark lords of all flesh.

We’re animals, like all other animals.

I’m almost certain I have: cervical cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, high blood pressure, imminent death disorder, brain tumor, rough patch of cancerous skin, breast cancer, bone cancer of the foot and elbow, eye jaundice, blood alcohol times 10000, 2 dying teeth, necrotic tissue masquerading as a disgusting yellow bruise, lung cancer, and tuberculosis.

Philip has just assured me that if I was to experience life without frequent nightmares and poor sleep I would not miss all that. He said the words “Stockholm Syndrome”. I don’t know. Does that syndrome apply to a terrorist like poor sleep and frequent, persistent, life-long nightmares? How does he know that part of his spirit might not be enhanced by being haunted his whole li-


I’m sitting here considering the potential damage of trying to seek extra mental/emotional support through Kaiser. I’m not sure how much of my haunting can be unloaded on a therapist’s couch. Not sure Kaiser even has therapists available for just listening. They always want to send me to groups even though I’m allergic to groups more than I’m allergic to poorly designed forks.

Ah shit. I keep hitting my own raw nerves.

It’s true that my nightmares follow me through my waking hours, that they dog my heals wherever I go, but sometimes they offer something I’ve never found in waking life that I treasure more than gold, glitter, or beer: safety and respite.

Buried in most of my nightmares are secret pockets of safety, places of temporary refuge for my spirit and skin from the fiends chewing relentlessly at my edges. These moments, seconds, pockets of complete safety are like cocoons, like beautiful tiny ships of complete silence and peace. Moments where I am completely invisible to the howling of my ghosts and the reach of my living nemesis. I never feel these blissful safe moments in real life. I never feel this brief beautiful sense of invincibility, of spiritual protection, of total and complete uncomplicated universal love as I do during many of my worst nightmares.

The Cumberbatch and Ackles Dream Edition

not much headroom

People aren’t much different or smarter than a bunch of sardines. I mean, sardines don’t pack themselves into tin boxes voluntarily the way humans do. We like to think we’re so smart and so superior but I think this is proof of our collective stupidity as a species.

There’s a tuxedo kitten galloping all over my office. Geronimo the not-so-feral-anymore foster kitten is having a mega battle with my striped tennis shoe. We’re talking full-body wrestling match. I love the way kittens will flop down with sudden exhaustion in the middle of play.

I opened my manuscript yesterday for the first time in weeks. It felt awesome. I did very little as I had a lot of other stuff I had to do. I started organizing my kitchen pantry and cupboards. It’s a huge job. I also started doing the same in my office. But I’m glad I took an hour to write. This must happen a lot more. But my prediction that getting a day job would mean giving up my novel writing has so far proved correct. My family needs me, I need to work, and then there’s very little time left. People with more general energy than me can cram a lot more into their time. I’m not those people.

Trying to get my apothecary products to sell also takes time but will hopefully result in becoming a viable part time business eventually.

One of my main financial goals is to make enough money to put some aside for old age.  Being poor and old is one of the worst things I can imagine. I may not have Max to take care of me and Philip. Maybe he won’t be able to. Then what? Life sure is a fragile piece of shit.

Whoa – I just saw a white kid skate by who had a mullet/afro combo. That is something I have never before seen.

I am reminded of the last time I was at Kaiser and the woman in front of me had a baby on her back in one of those baby backpacks. But as she was fighting with the pharmacist I noticed the baby didn’t move at all. Not a twitch. Even for a sleeping baby that seemed kind of off. The more she stood there arguing in front of me the more I stared at her baby pack and started worrying that the baby might be dead. Then she flounces off in a huff and I realize the baby is fake. Not a baby doll, just a stuffed baby snow-suit with hat and no baby and no doll. I can’t tell you how I could tell but I’m telling you that that woman was carrying a faux-baby on her back. It was like those teddy bear back packs but human. It was disturbing. I got a flash of her in my mind replacing her own dead baby with a faux-baby because she can’t accept her baby’s death.

I injured my leg two days ago and can hardly sleep because of it. It’s not in constant pain like it was the first night. I just can’t get my legs comfortable. In spite of this I did manage to have an epic dream in two parts last night. Here are the highlights that I can remember:

Jensen Ackles and I were running from someone and heading to a safe fort that was high up a rocky hill and in the trees. We were transporting onions. The onions had to be brought with us. Suddenly, right when I needed to climb up and over a very steep bit of tree limb I was hugely pregnant. I was the one carrying all the onions and between them and my belly I couldn’t quite climb over the place I needed to. Jensen helped me climb over but still made me carry the onions. What a handsome douche-pickle! We finally made it to the hideout and I commenced to make soup. To attempt to make soup. I was no longer pregnant but definitely didn’t give birth. Other people were joining us from other places and we were no longer that isolated. People were coming by bus and having bus mishaps. While I was trying to make soup. One of my internet friends, Déborah, joined us and wanted some of the soup. But I noticed I had accidentally put chocolate in it. Not a lot but enough to ruin it. I stirred and the chocolate turned it brown. She tried some anyway, laughing about how chocolate makes everything better. A sentiment I don’t share, not really liking chocolate myself. We agreed that even if it was awful it must not be wasted. Wasted food is no okay.

Later I’m dressed in a snazzy dress, really done up, hat and all. I don’t know why. Quite a few things happened in this second dream segment that I can’t remember. They led up to me joining Benedict Cumberbatch and some other friends for a picnic (or something) in the park. I go looking for them and find them playing games. I don’t play games but everyone else is dressed to the nines too and I decide to keep tagging along. In real life I enjoy Cumberbatch’s acting, I don’t have a crush on him. In the dream it was clear that we were mutually interested in each other. No, I wasn’t married in this dream so don’t worry about Philip. Anyway, nothing but disappointment follows as the group moves to new spots in the park the park becomes more like an underground maze with little lawns on different levels and I realize I’ve left my purse where I first met up with the group and I go after it. But then I can’t find the group again. Before it could turn into a real stress dream or nightmare, I woke up.

It was nice not having a stressful or scary dream. I mean, parts of it were, but only mildly like in a suspenseful movie, not where I’ve got palpitations and panic and bad shit happens. I call that a good dream.

It’s 1pm so I think it’s time I logged off and got back to organizing my office. Or my pantry. I have tons of jars to clean. Or plant my garlic cloves. SO MANY CHOICES. I would write but I’m trying to get everything clean and organized in order to make it easier to write more often, as I mentioned the other day. Now, while I have a week off from work is the best time to do the household stuff. Otherwise I’m too tired for big projects after work.

Off I go! I hope you are all having a great Monday! Or at least a good one. Or one that doesn’t completely suck would even be acceptable considering how many people are back at work today.

Secret Messages on Pancakes

tiny GJ plane

The last thing I did before waking up was write a plea on a pancake to be broken out of prison. I signed my pancake note with spun sugar. Right before that there was a strip of desert and a bunch of people hunting snakes but the last pair of people who galloped after a snake ended up killing a deer. Before that there was an epic terrible time in a small Scandinavian town in the mountains that was also connected with the ocean. I was there to visit a friend and hide out from some bad people looking for me and I sat on a bench in her shallow pool surrounded by artwork trying not to be pulled over the edge of the pool into the ocean or the abyss or some sort of death related scenario. I returned to her living room, a cramped (cozy) little bridge of a room under which you could see her garage. Which was on fire. We couldn’t put it out. It seemed certain she was going to have to relocate and I knew she wasn’t going to. There was a point where I wandered into town for some shopping but it turns out the shopping center was in Australia or New Zealand.

I truly don’t have restful dreams. Maybe no one does. At least it ended with a note on a pancake, you know?

During this week of not writing much at all, again, I did come to the realization that I need to change a few details that mean going back and making a lot of adjustments. It means more rewriting when I haven’t even gotten past chapter 11 yet. I will be working on that today so I can move on to chapter 12. The changes are good and will make the story much better. Designing a post apocalyptic prison life is harder than you’d think.

I have been doing some serious thinking on so many things these days my head hurts.

Yesterday afternoon I started having sharp chest pains and joked about my end of days, as I always do, but after a couple people tried to convince me it was either gas or heartburn, other people were more alarmed and suggested going to the doctor immediately. This fed my initial irrational fears of having a heart attack and made me question my decision to not take it seriously. I’ve had this happen before and I was fine. As a person with clinical anxiety I have to constantly find the line between hypochondria and medical neglect due to fear of just being a hypochondria. When your very first thought with every single pain or weird body thing is: IT’S PROBABLY A TUMOR THAT’S TOO ADVANCED TO OPERATE ON AND I’M GOING TO DIE, or I’M PROBABLY HAVING A HEART ATTACK AND AM GOING TO BE DEAD BY TOMORROW MORNING, or THIS IS THE DAY I FIND OUT THAT WEIRD PATCH OF SKIN IS THE BEGINNING OF MY SLOW PAINFUL DEATH BY SCLERODERMA , you learn to stop and discuss with yourself the vast unlikeliness of any of those dire reasons for the little headache or the weird rough patch of skin.

I can’t afford to go to the emergency room unless I’m so obviously sick or bleeding out that the biggest medical skeptic in the world would be scared for my life too. In my big effort not to give in to hypochondria I am sometimes at greater risk of not going to the doctor when there’s a good reason to do it. Going to the doctor and being gently laughed at for what turn out to be nothings makes a hypochondriac feel like total and utter garbage.

I’m still having the small stabby pains in my chest this morning. I don’t really know what to make of it but since there are zero other signs of problem I’m still telling myself it’s just some kind of anxiety thing. I am simultaneously considering calling the doctor on Monday to see if I should be worried for real.*

The season of artificial cheer has already filled me with the desire to rip down all Christmas decorations I come across and blast Laibach’s “Let It Be” cover album in every place I hear horrible Christmas music.

Every time Philip tells the dog to be “Calm” and repeats it over and over I get increasingly less calm.

I sold 7 salves in the last couple of days thanks to being included in The Kitchn’s list of stocking stuffers.

15 Stocking Stuffers That Don’t Suck

I’ve sold out and am making a new batch. This reminds me how much I love making potions. Doing apothecary work is deeply satisfying. This fresh batch includes some of my home grown comfrey so that’s an extra level of excitement! Oh, and some of the plantain was wild harvested by me and Max. I’m finally going to make my lip balm this weekend too. The oil infusion has been ready for weeks but I couldn’t decide on a couple of other ingredients until now. I’m going to do a peppermint and a chocolate version.

In my wildest dreams I make an actual living selling my herbal remedies and my novels. This week the fantasy is pretty healthy. It frequently dies in my heart during bouts of uncertainty and depression caused by lack of sales or interest from others. But I always bounce back. Been bouncing back from crippling bouts of self doubt since 1980.

My mom goes into surgery again on Monday. They need to fix a hernia and also move her insides around to pull her abdominal muscles back together because they have separated. I’m not scared this time around. This is a much less risky surgery than the previous ones and it’s semi-elective. The hernia isn’t hurting her now nor causing any problems – but if she doesn’t get it taken care of, it’s a time bomb.

It’s been raining a lot in the last two weeks and I love it. I LOVE IT! I hope we get a lot more. I’m greedy for rain. GIVE ME ALL THE RAIN.

It’s time for me to sign off and prepare to get some writing done before switching gears to make potions. I hope you all are having a great Saturday!

Know someone with a bad case of book ennui? I have the solution! Get them a copy of Winter; Cricket and Grey:

Need a great wound salve on hand? Winters Apothecary 3x strength wound salve is the best one you can buy!

3x Wound Salve

*Do NOT attempt to diagnose me, or alarm me, or in any way interfere with the delicate balance I’m trying to achieve between my mental illness and my body.

Is It Enough That I Came Back?


The boat had torches, and I lit the the soaked cloth with convenient flame and floated on water clogged with movie images I was living, but not living. I came back. I came back too late to catch the end of the short French film. Was it worth it? Was it everything to find the broken treasures on the stairs to nowhere only to have to come back to earth for floods and lunch meat? There were pathways to the water and secret stairwells from which I could see the world and its end unfold. We celebrated what was left of the minutes, the wet waves, the light filtering through the rustling leaves, until we almost walked across the miles together. There were invisible hands that held us aloft when the air sunk and the water rose too high, we rose with it and watched the other boats drift with flickering lanterns into a blurry imagined horizon.

You saw Paris ahead of us and I saw swamp sucking the light down into mud whorls. People mired on the banks, looking for beacons reminds me of tailored wool coats and whiskey. Of fragile winters and atomic bombs, banks littered with bones. I touch your cheek, just as I always do, to make you look at yourself through me, and you see the struggle as though it’s new. You see yourself through this hazel light bristling with the dark of the shredded edges of the world. The place everything stops, the boats drift nowhere, the cups are empty, the torches dim to useless moth-blind pools of memory.

Then there’s this peal of life that rings down on the silence so loud I mistake it for death, this sorrow of mine screams so loud and grabs me by the spleen until I’m bleeding out in my sleep. Just another night of bleeding out in my sleep.

I can’t care about sex when there is this breath leaning into me, this weight spreading through my muscle, this anvil cutting across my thoughts not unlike the swath of retribution, of punishment for things I was never ashamed of but think back on now with the pitchfork raised against the slightest hint of everything you revile. But it’s only for you. Without you I live innocent, I live blamelessly when there isn’t you to answer to. When you aren’t the horizon rising with the water to swallow every slight deviation of light.

I am the boat, I am the torch, I am the choked river.

A New Watershed


In my dream last night I was in some situation where a bunch of people were staying in the same house and there wasn’t enough room for everyone and people had to share beds and it was stressing me out and I was trying to get people to stop telling others they could stay with us.  People had to double up in beds and use couches.

I left the building and walked down a path to some public park where there was a natural pool guarded all day.  I tried swimming in it but it was unsatisfyingly shallow.  My friend Tracy, however, disagreed.  I agreed to keep an eye on his basket with his sleeping child in it while he got changed in the abandoned-ish department store abutting the pool.  I continued to watch his child while he swam out of our sight.  I sat with her on the banks and was surprised when she woke and was not a baby at all but a small child.  I had to find out why Tracy was gone so long and told her to stay put (I’m a terrible babysitter apparently) and walked back toward the pond only to discover there was an uprising of park workers having a protest in the middle of the pond.  Most of them were older black men.  Around to the back of the pond’s guard building there were a few homeless guys who I backed away from very quietly.

I finally discovered that Tracy was changing back into clothes in the department building and his child, back in her basket, was outside his changing room.  I said he needed to hurry to catch the train.  I needed to catch it too and so we walked together.  We were walking (his girl was now walking with us) in a wildly industrial built-up urban environment with streets passing over streets and different trains and buses everywhere with little signage and we kept missing the right trains and continued walking the industrial roads and asking where to go to catch the next one.

Tracy and his daughter were gone and I was part of some complex of people and my mother was working in a deli that was actually only fronting as a deli and they took all their calls on vintage telephones and they always had tons of people waiting for food.  I needed to find food for Max and was walking towards the deli to see if they had anything, checking out other diners and delis on my way down the street.  I lost a little gold hoop in traffic, after picking up walnuts from the gutter, and watched three cars run over it.  I didn’t want to get entangled in my mom’s deli and the stuff that was going on there.  But I ended up there anyway and my mom kept trying to suggest everything on their menu to me and I was getting impatient and then someone found out I was there who shouldn’t have and so I had to do something about the phone they take orders on.  But I didn’t have time to do it right there.  I needed to rewire it without them knowing.

A couple of guys who were my allies took off with me on my mission and we agreed to keep an eye out for a restaurant with food I could get for Max.  I wired the vintage phone into a dress while Bill Hader, one of my allies, played with some pastel colored heaps of jello while supporting my efforts and discussing with our other friend what the hell we could get to eat that wouldn’t  be awful. I was trying to wire the phone into both side seams of the dress and one side seam was uneven and so I trimmed it but then realized that I didn’t have enough seam width to do the wiring.  Then I realized, with relief, that I only needed the phone to be rewired on one side.  Some part of my dream self also realized that the phone didn’t have to be wired into the dress at all, just to itself.

This morning: woke up with splitting headache, worried about the phone wiring job I was doing in my dream, and also, I lost 3 pounds in 5 days.

Turns out Bill Hader is just as sweet in my dreams as I imagine he is in real life.  At this point I think it would send me over the edge to discover he’s an asshole in real life.

I wonder if the whole cast of SNL will eventually end up visiting me in my dreams/nightmares?  I’ve already forgotten who visited me last but it was recently.  (Was beer holding my memory for me?)  I’d like to know why the fuck nearly every dream/nightmare I have involves either packing and moving debacles, tons of people staying in the same place in which there isn’t sufficient room, or a complicated mess of missing buses and trains.  I don’t think I’ve had a dream without one of those elements in them for years now.  EVERY.  FUCKING.  NIGHT.  And the highways between all my dreams continue to grow.  Dreams of the past forming connective tissue with the dreams of the present.  Old characters, new places.  New situations, old buildings.  Same dream segments easing into new chapters.  Remembering the old dreams in new ones.  I don’t care how ordinary that is to anyone else, it continues to fascinate and kind of twist my brain around.

So I haven’t had any alcohol in five days.  Today is day six.  Here’s something I’m sure of: going completely without is the right thing.  Not just because, obviously, I tried drinking less before and couldn’t do it.  Not just because, as I’ve admitted, it’s become a problem needing correcting.  It’s the right thing because I have much to learn from this sobriety.  I don’t like it, I find the evenings depressing and tedious without beer.  When I used to not drink a few days a week I didn’t feel this way because I had beer or wine to look forward to come Friday.  But I have this feeling that the austerity of cutting myself completely off is something my spirit needs.  Not because alcohol is bad.


I have always believed that to be lost to hedonism is just as unhealthy as being ascetic.  Health, real health, is in the balance of things.  To have such severe self discipline that nothing passes your lips that your body doesn’t strictly need, that isn’t completely pure of toxins such as sugar or alcohol or unhealthy fats is to mistreat your body, mind, and spirit, as much as it is to overindulge in such things to a point where it makes up half of what you consume.

I know a number of people who are obsessed with their diet as a means of reaching extreme “health”, to live as long as possible, to be as fit as is humanly possible, to be PERFECT and thin and not age and I listen to them evangelizing their diet and their exercise like its a religion and their obsession with health strikes me as being as unbalanced as my love of alcohol and cheese.  I have witnessed the dark side of extreme “health” in people for most of my life* and believe me, you can have a liver as pure as a newborn baby’s and be stripping yourself of other vital things.  Sometimes it’s your brain and your spirit you are strangling.  Sometimes it’s the austerity of your diet that is secretly taxing your system in ways you can’t tell until complications arise.  That feeling of lightness and alertness?  Might just be your body reacting to an unnatural amount of meat or raw food or lack of variety or not enough balance or not enough bulk to support your physical and mental activities.

For some people the whole point of living is to live as long as possible and as healthily as possible, and anything that gets you closer to immortality becomes a drug.  I don’t care about living forever.  No amount of health will make any of us live forever.  If you spend your whole life in the pursuit of extra years of life you miss a whole lot of living.  It takes as much energy and time and commitment to turn your body into a temple as it does to turn it into a landfill.  Real health, mental/physical/spiritual, is a balance between hedonism and asceticism.

I have been dwelling in the territory of complete hedonism.  A huge unhealthy imbalance.  I have gone so far into that territory that it’s important to pull back with electric force.  I’m seeing that I was right in thinking that the only way back for me is to be completely sober for a period of time.  It’s like putting on the emergency breaks physically.  I’m not going completely in the extreme because I still have my coffee (albeit, only partially caffeinated) and I can still have sugar (not a real vice for me) and I haven’t cut myself off from cheese (major vice).  But the alcohol is my real joy, my real pleasure, my real indulgence and I don’t want to lose it forever because I love making liqueurs and I want to learn to ferment my own brews, and sharing such beverages has the same power as breaking bread to take down barriers between people, cross broken bridges, and warm bones in the thick of the killing winter.

I need to feel what it is to live without it so that my body has this memory to hang onto.  I need to feel what it’s like to be completely dry so that when I let alcohol back in my life I will hold this feeling up every time I start getting close to the line again.  I’ve been on the other side of the line for too long and my body has been lost for so long in pain, some part of me gave up on it so long ago that the feelings of health that used to keep my hedonistic pleasures within healthy limitations are too weak to guide me.

Today I’m remembering the time I felt healthiest and most balanced in my life.  This is what I need to focus on because it’s my goal.  I was 32 years old.  I had finally had my mental illness officially diagnosed and was taking medication for it which was a life changing relief, I was drinking moderately, I was going to the gym at the Y alternating with jogging and cycling myself and Max all over the place, I was finally shedding the pregnancy weight, and I was eating really well (moderate portions and great variety and hadn’t given up cheese or other pleasures – just ate them in smaller amounts).

By the end of the year I had actually gotten below my pre-pregnancy weight and was down to 164lbs and the best part was that by that time I’d long since stopped counting calories and I was just living in a comfortable routine that felt good.  People like me don’t live life (ever) without experiencing plenty of internal drama and ups and downs but, compared to my whole life before, I was doing so well.  I wasn’t smoking cigarettes anymore, medication for my mental illness allowed me to enjoy my time with Max a lot more, and I was enjoying exercise because it made me feel good.  I hadn’t weighed myself for a while when my neighbor Eddy commented on how great I was looking and I wondered what was different and that’s when I weighed myself and was so pleased to discover I’d exceeded my goal.

I felt so good.  Mind, body, spirit.  I was the happiest I’d ever felt in my life.  Life dramas never stop, no matter how healthy you are, and our life had plenty of that but when you feel good in your bones, when you feel good in your mind you can take the drama in stride much more gracefully.

The funny thing is that at 164 lbs I was almost 30lbs over the suggested ideal weight for my height (5’7″ = 135lbs).  Fuck that shit.  Yeah, so I was chubby-ish but I had a waist and I could wear the styles of clothes I love, and I FELT GOOD IN MY BODY.  I tossed the shoulds and recommendations  by the medical association and asked myself what was right for me.  What’s right for me isn’t to be really thin and fit enough to make an athlete proud.  What’s right for me is to live a life that includes indulgences and pleasures that I couldn’t have if I wanted to be that thin.  Anyway, I look too thin at 135lbs so doctors can shove their “ideal” numbers up their asses.  I have always emulated women whose bodies have substantial flesh on their bones while keeping a lovely shape.  Marlene Deitrich rather than Nicole Kidman.  Rosiland Russel rather than Maggie Q.

What makes life worth living for me is a balance wherein exercising and drinking beer are equal parts pleasure and health.  Where both contribute to my well being and my sense of a life being fully lived.  I don’t want to live forever, I just want to live richly and fully.

To return to that place I have to lose 110lbs.  That’s the full picture.  Last monday I had 113lbs to lose.  I haven’t been thinking about losing weight at all this week because I’ve been too focused on how much I dislike evenings now that they are so empty of beer.

I’m doing it.  I’m doing it because I miss that sense of joy I used to feel after a long walk or a jog around the abandoned weed filled high school track after having pushed myself to do one more lap.  I miss that happy anticipation of an evening with friends in which the wine and beer would flow freely and I could drink as much as I wanted without guilt because I knew I would go a few days without soon after.  I miss getting up in the morning and asking myself if I feel more like a French beatnik or a repressed secretary from the 1950’s and then dressing up accordingly.  I miss getting dressed and made up and then not thinking about my body or my appearance again for the whole day.

I’m doing it.  This time is different than all my previous efforts for the last several years.

Because this is my new watershed.

*My mother and many other adults in my life were doing juice fasts and smoothies and raw food long before any of my peers were and I saw what that can result in.

Using My “Other Life” for Fictional Inspiration

dried carrots

This week in my other life:

Blimps racing decrepit planes to get to a family compound in Louisiana full of surly “relatives” of Philip’s.  Black cats everywhere and also Penny.  One especially angry “relative” continually questioning me about everything, completely hostile.  Nothing has changed for 5o years.  Hard to believe there’s good corn out there in the fields.

An apartment building stacked impossibly high with stairs leading right up into each other at moments.  Opened door to Max’s room only to find two young boys making out in their underwear, neither of whom were Max.  Was doing something on the tiny deck lying down, trying to grab something or fix something, just as I roll and scootch my way back inside the door comes apart and I realize it’s because the deck is now disconnected by about a foot from the building.  Not sure what’s holding it up.  I go to report this.  I end up on the street with Philip who is introducing me to his fundamentalist Christian bosses who also live in the building and he’s indicating to me that I should imply we’re also conservative and I realize that not a piece of my skin is showing aside from my face.  I realize that our building is full of different flavors of fundamentalists and don’t know how I didn’t notice before.  I continue the charade wondering just how long I can keep it up, being ME.  We enter a gym-like room at the base of the apartment building.

There’s something that happened before that is now connecting up.  There was work at the base of the building.  My scooter – an expert said it needed work and took it apart and I couldn’t leave.  Someone in the vast downstairs complex was flirting dreadfully with scooter fixing man.  So back to the gym – I was taking notes and maybe even gambling.  As I exited the gym to head back home (which I never did) I peeked into the apartment of the fundamentalist bosses and the woman has taken off her  habit-like head-gear and underneath her whole head is bandaged up like her head will fall apart if she doesn’t tape a bunch of padded  bandage around it.

There’s some other business I’m supposed to be dealing with from earlier in my dream.  Only now I’m not married and have no child.  I’m in my early twenties.  I have to go find someone and so I’m riding my bicycle and other cyclists whizz by me and finally I get to a big brick building and start climbing some stairs.  I’m all dressed up in heels and know that they (whoever they are) is not expecting me – and doesn’t know I don’t always looked scraggly.  A guy comes out the door at the top of the stairs and I start saying that I know they probably won’t use the stuff I dropped off and I’m here to pick it up and I’m apologizing but he cuts across it to tell me SHE has used my seeds and plants and I can check on them.  I know he’s looking at my shoes and suddenly I feel self conscious.

I don’t know the rest.  It all evaporated too quickly.

I want to start writing the details of my dreams down the minute I wake up.  If nothing else I feel the seeds of fiction in them.  What is terror or strange and memorable in them would make for good stories.  Never in entirety since dreams don’t work that way.  But I do often feel I’ve just lived a whole wild narration in my sleep.  I enjoy trying to get some of it down because sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s creepy but it’s nearly always something for me to chew on.  Images that are sharp and if I can get them in writing they don’t fade away – I don’t have to lose them.

I think that strange primordial soup that dreams are is where poetry comes from.  I want more of that in my fictional work.

I would like to write some fiction today.  I have had so little time and so little brain space for it as I’ve been struggling with many other things that need dealing with.  Today I don’t have much paid work to do as I opted to work a long day yesterday.  Chapter one of the second book of Cricket and Grey awaits.

One other fiction related thought I’ve had in my head that I’d love to hear other writers weigh in on: do you write organically, just seeing where the story takes you?  Or do you work with an outline and know exactly where the story is going and what each chapter is going to contain?  Or are you somewhere in between?  I want to know how others do it.

I’ve done it both ways.  I wrote Jane Doe organically and let it take me where it wanted to go which was into a ditch of impossibility and also, sadly, stupidity.  No, that’s being too harsh.  It tried to be two things that don’t mix.  Three or four years later and the core story still haunts me but I can’t figure out how to make it work.  Then I wrote Cricket and Grey using an outline and doing a character analysis for each character and wrote it from beginning to end with 4 major rewrites in two years.  Completed book.  So it seems that outlines and planning work best for me but I’m attracted to writing organically again.

If you have thoughts on this, please share!

Angry Predatory Owl in a Knitted Cozy

Copy of IMG_3998

Teddy bears, heart balloons, hookas, and sex.  It takes all kinds.  Hearts and flowers and porn stars – nothing like it!

In my disturbing dream there were many things but the last thing before I woke up was that I saw a predatory owl in a knitted cozy swoop down to a group of kids to steal their crusts and crumbs and it saw me and tried to keep me from photographing him.  I gave chase.  He flew low and scrambled towards another group and got distracted by more food to grab but I finally cornered him against a food truck where he suddenly turned into a young blond boy with a black eye, dirt covered face, and enormous breasts squished up in his knitted vest.


Other features of the dream:

I was just trying to get ready to catch a bus to go to work.  I was hungry but didn’t have time.  I decided to eat my lunch of scalloped potatoes (which I was hurriedly stuffing into a plastic container and making a mess of it) because it would be faster than making eggs.  I was digging for enough dollar bills for the bus and realized that my mom’s cow was eating all the cords in the apartment.  I started collecting the various items with cords and attempted to shove them out of the cow’s reach but she kept getting at them.  When my mom showed up I explained in great exasperation that her cow was getting into things again and could she PLEASE DEAL WITH IT?

I put some water on outside for some reason.  I think to water the lawn growing at the curb all the way down the street.  Within seconds the entire street was flooded several feet deep and everyone started talking about the flood.  I knew there was no way I could have caused a flood with the amount of water I had used.  Then there was a manhunt on for the culprit with posters tacked to poles with the number of my apartment on them and my apartment building super finally called me with the water company and started interrogating me and I said I’d heard that thousands of gallons of water were wasted and there was no way I could afford to pay for it.  I was practically in tears when they said they knew it wasn’t me.  That someone had used my key to the water to let out a flood.

There were some other things but they are already vaporized in my head and I can’t catch them and give them words.  They now belong to the part of my head where such forgotten bits of dreams collect like flotsom in a crevice of rock just out of reach of the mean surface of the sea.

I lost 8 month’s worth of photographs.  I did back everything up two months ago.  I had to have done something really weird to have only lost my photos between May 2012 and December 2012.  I was really bummed.  But then I let go.  I keep taking more pictures and everywhere I go there are interesting store windows and sidewalk scum and graffiti and views.  I absolutely love taking digital photographs.  I usually use my favorites for blog posts or put them on flickr so I never lose all of my pictures no matter how many times I have to learn not to trust my technology or myself.

Owl in a cozy.  That’s ultimately going to be the most interesting thing in my day.  The thing in my dream.

Also – I think we might be watching Shaun of the Dead this evening for family movie night.  I never thought I’d get the whole Zombie thing.  I totally get it.  It’s a favorite family past time to plot out how we’re going to survive a zombie apocalypse.  One of the best movies ever made is Zombieland and one of the best shows ever made is The Walking Dead.  I didn’t expect to like either and resisted watching both of them and only gave in to Max’s never-ending requests that I watch them with him.  Zombieland is his favorite movie.  Now it’s one of mine.  I hope Shaun of the Dead doesn’t disappoint.

One last thing – last night I watched the romantic comedy “The Decoy Bride” and it was fabulous!  It stars Kelly MacDonald who is quite possibly the most beautiful woman in the world and David Tennant.  If you haven’t seen it and like romantic comedies that aren’t completely stupid – give it a try.

I am so inconsistent with how I write titles.  Sometimes in quotations and sometimes not.  I need to look into that.

Happy Sunday to you all!

My Other Life Keeps Calling

 grainy antique calling device

I have thought of writing a book based on my nightmares called The Nightmare Club.  Either that or I could take each nightmare individually and spin them into separate novels.  I call my dreams my other life because they are so unrestful and draining that often I wake up more tired than I went to bed.  And then I am haunted by them all day long.

Here’s a tidbit from last night that I shared on facebook:

Dreams featuring old boyfriends are unsettling. Nightmares in which I have to cut kittens’ ears off are horrible and also unsettling. Dreams in which old boyfriends talk about previous dreams in which they were featured is even more unsettling. I did not sleep well. My brain feels more asleep now that I’m awake than it did all night.

When I cut the ears of the kittens off I didn’t cut enough off but it was so dreadful to have hurt them at all and I knew it was something I had to do but I felt worse because I couldn’t remember why and it was pointed out to me that I hadn’t cut enough off but I couldn’t bring myself to hurt them further.

I may have mentioned the really bizarre dream within and dream within a dream I had a couple weeks ago but just for fun I’m going to recount a little bit of it again:

In my dream I was  sleeping and dreaming that I was sleeping and that dream of my sleeping self was also dreaming and she had a dream in which she had to go to the bathroom and she worried that if she dreamed she had to go to the bathroom she might actually have to go and if she didn’t wake up soon enough she might go in her bed.  The dream self of my dream self’s dream self did, in fact, poop in her pyjamas and so my dream self’s dream self woke up out of the embarrassing nightmare hoping to find she hadn’t also pooped in bed but she had, in fact, done the same so my dream self woke up terrified to discover she had too and, as you can guess, she did wake up filthy in her bed. 

I, the only dreamer left unaccounted for, woke up out of my dream and happily found that I hadn’t pooped in my bed nor did my body need to relieve itself in any way.  My heart was pounding but I fell immediately back to sleep to find my dream self seeking out a shower to clean up in and had the chance to discover that I (she, whatever) was living in a trailer on a little rectangular piece of land and I started mentally planning out a raised bed garden to grow food in because I didn’t have a lot but I wondered what I could grow in such a shady space and just as I was figuring this out I was in danger and I don’t remember more than tiny snippets of the rest of my dream that night.

My dreams are so powerfully connected to my waking self that it always feels as though I’m living two lives.  Nights with no remembered dreams are bliss.  Not all of my dreams are nightmares, strictly speaking, but nearly all of my dreams are disturbing to me.  I rarely have what I would classify as a “good” dream and often these are ones in which I feel completely safe, usually because someone is protecting me from something, so the dream might have been a nightmare if I hadn’t felt protected.  Truly good dreams are even more rare.  Happy dreams.  I have two main happy dreams (that aren’t marred by violence or anxiety or anything creepy) where I find antique stores that have not been picked over yet and I find lots of treasures or dreams in which I find amazing hats and clothes that obviously fit me.  The other mostly happy dream is when I return to 361 Scenic Drive in Ashland Oregon, my childhood home, and find 25 years of mail collected in the mailbox.  However, this dream is often shadowed in other parts, but the mailbox full of mail always makes me so happy and I wake having enjoyed my dream even if other darker things happened in it.

I have the nightmares regardless of what’s going on in my life and I have been having them steadily and frequently at least since I was 10 years old.  One thing I DO know is that they do become worse and more frequent the more I am exposed to the news of the world.  I believe that I have had much too much exposure to news through friends on facebook than is good for me.  I have stopped reading news links that friends share unless I think they will be uplifting in some way.  This is something I must work harder on.  But there are many things posted that you don’t have to click on to see that are dreadful.  One that is haunting me now is a picture of two teen boys holding up a dead puppy they had obviously strangled.  This kind of shit is candy for an already unquiet mind.

I don’t want to give up face book because I have so many happy connections there with friends I can’t see in my everyday life.  I love the casual chatter of face book.  But I may need to limit the time I spend there a little more than I do now.  I feel I must do this to protect myself from too much incoming stimuli of a negative nature.  I already hear all the voices in the world as a low buzz in my head that I can’t shut out but facebook lets a lot of extra noise in that is not healthy for me.

While I would like my dreams to take a happier turn – I must confess that if I didn’t dream as often and as vividly as I do I would feel that part of me had died.  I have become so accustomed to having bad dreams that I’m scared to wish them away – it’s like when you get used to abuse to the point where you can’t imagine a life without it and wonder who you would be.

It worries me that I think not having so many nightmares would make me feel abandoned and emptier inside.

My second life keeps calling me and I keep picking up the phone.

One good thing about all my dreams is that I am never fat in them.  Never.

It occurs to me that my dreams are the only place I can completely be myself – I don’t have to pretend to be other than I am or protect anyone from my own thoughts and fears.  Everything has full expression in my dreams and I am always my core self in them.  In my dreams the bad shit I fear is real and so I’m never crazy for fearing them and everyone else is experiencing the same world with me.

Perhaps the best thing about them is that no matter what happens in them I wake up and find I haven’t killed myself or been dismembered by a serial killer or been raped or cheated on my husband or lost my child or cut the ears off kittens.  There is nothing quite like living through a tsunami to wake up and discover that your house is dry and too far inland to be wrecked by one.

You might even say that my bad dreams are my real world and my waking life is just a good dream I’m happy to experience again and rest in after all the horrors of my sleep.

You might say that, if you thought I was really crazy.

Stockholm Syndrome for Dreamers

I think it’s uncool for meat-eaters to get chirpy and self satisfied when a vegetarian eats a piece of meat.  I can promise that this vegetarian will not be secretly loving meat nibbles ever.  But some vegetarians do slip up or indulge or fall off the wagon because most of them weren’t always vegetarians and meat tastes good to them.  There should be no war between meat-eaters and vegetarians.  There is no need.  It’s stupid.

Still, I have to admit that I’m prone to my own juvenile moments.  I’m sure if you’ve been hanging around this blog for long you’ll already be able to count many proofs of this on your hands, so I’m not going to give you more right now.  Let’s just say that it has been confirmed this week that a local person I knew didn’t like me doesn’t like me.  It doesn’t bother me because I don’t like this person either.  We were never friends and it’s pretty much a non-tragedy that we never will be.  I think we’re both pretty happy with this arrangement.  However, this person has actually snubbed me pretty sincerely and after quite a few snubs I finally gave up doing the polite, cause there’s only so many times you can bother acknowledging a person who pretends not to know you.  So I engage in some small wicked fantasies about a future in which things are different and I have the opportunity to very politely make this person feel like total shit for being a total shit.*

The point is: a very small number of meat-eaters are total shits who are waging a juvenile war against people choosing not to eat meat and I can point my finger all I want but I know I play my own juvenile games and so I think I’ll fold my finger right back up and redirect my attention.

I’ve been having lots of bad dreams lately.  I have spent a lifetime learning the subtle differences between bad dreams, disturbing dreams, and nightmares.  It really doesn’t matter what you call them unless you spend a lot of time in them because when you do you need a rating system to describe (even just to yourself) what level of fear or depression or horror you spend all your sleeping hours experiencing.  I wonder if I have a version of Stockholm  Syndrome with regards to my life of bad dreams and nightmares?  They have held me and my subconscious captive my whole life and at this point I think I might freak out more if they stopped than if I continue to have them the rest of my life.  More than that, I think I’ve come to think of them as part of the fabric of my being.  Who would I be without the haunting?  Who would I be if I had mostly good dreams or no dreams at all?  How would I take my own psychological temperature?  They keep me in a constant state of unrest and they chain me to themes I have thought I’d like to be free of.  But it has come to a point where this macabre landscape of desperate sleep is like a spiritual imprint.  A tattoo on the psyche that glows in the dark.

There’s a part of me that believes that all dreams are real in an alternate universe and if the nature of my dreams completely changed it would be like dying.  I don’t like the bleak borderlands of crows I walk in my sleep but I’m used to it in a way so that when I’m still walking them in daylight I know it’s my two lives crossing each other and nothing has been undone.

I’m trying to slow down the gears of preservation.

It’s been a phenomenally long day.  I’ve worked all day so I don’t have to work so much tomorrow.  I took a three hour “break” to make a double batch of corn chowder and slow roasted tomatoes.  It’s late and I must now commence “wind down time” which takes about two hours.  I can’t go from focused activity to sleep without a very long period of numbing my brain into enough stupefaction that it will accept sleep without demur so that I can launch myself into the road again to save an infinitesimal kitten and a stupid puppy both bent on dying and an old boyfriend who wants to play tennis while an old friend accuses me of stealing everything from furniture to cheese.

You have no idea how much anxiety those things caused me last night in my parallel reality.

Good night.  I hope you go to bright calm places in your dreams.  I hope you don’t see me in mine!



*Yes, it’s all cloak and dagger here.  Remember what a small town I live in.  A few of you actually live here too and I’m terrified that in spite of my careful vagueness you have already figured it all out.  But you can’t.  There are only two people who know the details and we’re very SPY.**

**Remember that many people in this town don’t like me and more than one person has snubbed me.  You are not SPY enough to dig my secrets out of my subconsciousness.***

***That is not an invitation to try.