Friday, January 24, 2014

Dream diary

I have a recurring dream theme in which there are rooms in my house I’ve forgotten about or just never use.  The rooms can be as small as an extra sitting room or are grand as a whole wing of a house with spacious rooms and beautiful furniture.  In these dreams I’m only using a few cramped rooms in the house with a desperate need for more space.  When I realize the other rooms I am so relieved and excited it’s like having a whole new house.   Sometimes after one of these dreams, in that bleary state between asleep and fully awake, I am convinced the rooms are real.  I’ve also had this same type of dream about cars.  I’ll have left a car parked somewhere for years and then one day remember I have it and I am so excited to have an extra car.

This reminds me of a story my mother used to tell about her paternal grandmother, a stern Italian woman.  She said her grandmother wanted to come and live with them but my mother’s daddy would tell her no, there was no room for her; there was barely room for his ten children to share.  But she would point through a window out onto the porch and tell him that was the room she could stay in.  He would lead her to the porch and show her it was not a room and then she would point through the window again, this time to the inside and argue THAT was the room where she could stay.  There was no convincing her there was no extra room in the house.

Back to dreams, another recurring theme is I find out I’m not really married, that something happened and my marriage was never legal.  In my dreams my husband is usually in no hurry to make it right.  What’s THAT about?   I usually wake up from these dreams angry and look for my marriage license to make sure it was signed.  

Sometimes I wish the dream of the extra room would come true.  My house is pretty straight forward and every room has a purpose.  It would be nice to have a guest room where I could keep all of my books and use it as a getaway where I could sit quietly to read and write.  

I don’t have an extra room as such, but I do have an odd foyer that I’ve always considered an extra room.  It is enclosed on each side by open doorways with transom windows made from leaded-glass bookcase doors that came out of a house once lived in by Harper Lee in Monroeville.  That story might not be exactly true, but this is the story I stitched together about them from real facts.  It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

After the Christmas tree was packed away I decided to arrange the furniture slightly differently so now it feels like an actual room instead of a walkthrough.  All it really took was turning my piano at an angle and moving the resident lamp and a chair to the other side of it.  It’s amazing how changed something can be when you look at it from a slightly off-kilter angle.

My chair is an antique my pesky sister must have really hated because she tried to sell it in a garage sale for $10 and nobody would buy it so she gave it to me.  Maybe it’s the 1980’s turquoise/salmon Southwestern-pattern upholstery that makes it so unappealing to others.  It appeals to me, though, so I’m now using it for real sitting instead of a coat-rack.  I even bought it a squishy pouf that clashes so badly it works.

Next to my seating I made a makeshift table by stacking some old suitcases and a wooden box and topping them with a wooden tray.  It’s wobbly, but it serves a purpose of looking purposeful.  Now I can sit here away from the television, away from my bedroom which constantly beckons for a nap, and read and write in a room I created on a whim but inspired by dreams.

I once read that extra rooms in dreams represent gifts God has waiting for you to receive.  I think I’ve always been a little bit afraid of what God has in store for me.  Maybe that’s why He’s sending me signs in dreams, to ease me into reception.  I get it.  My fears are waning.  Maybe tonight I’ll dream I’ll find a mansion. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

On teeth, dresses, and church

Today was a day full of mixed emotions for me.  It started with a final trip to the dentist for my permanent crown which completes the work to repair the accidental damage my mouth suffered on Mother’s Day.  Lying on my head (he puts the chair waaay back) in the dentist’s chair I listened to him croon to me how good it was turning out, and how pleased I was going to be with the final product.  The thought that kept going through my mind was that I would look like my Daddy again, and the familiar lump in my throat began to form and water dripped from my eyes.  I wiped it quickly away so my dentist would not think he was hurting me.  He gets very upset if he thinks he’s causing pain.  I really like my dentist.

Later this afternoon I went online and browsed for possible dresses to wear to my nieces’ weddings in March and May.  The thought of finding two dresses for two weddings two months apart is a little more than I can handle.  My mental capacity for the thought of wearing not just a dress, but a dressy dress, was too much for me, and I had to lie in bed and shop on my tablet for lack of energy.  The last time I wore a dress was to my daddy’s funeral.  I generally do not wear dresses or skirts.  They make me look like a bell; a really big bell, like the Liberty one, not a belle like a Southern one.  I want to feel good at the weddings, not like I could clang at any moment.  I’m thinking of going Stevie Nicks style, with a flowing dress with lots of scarves.  I could be the weird aunt no one talks about, the one who thinks she’s Stevie Nicks.  It’s better than being a bell.

I drug myself out of my funk in time to go to the inaugural mass of the new St. Fabian Catholic Church.  I have been very excited about the thought of having a church close to my home.  In all honesty I have not been a regular attendee at mass for awhile now.  It’s not because I have fallen away from God, or do not believe in going to church.  One reason is I use the excuse of the distance to church and it became a habit.  Another reason is I’ve just never felt like I belonged anywhere.  I can walk into mass at any given time at either of the Catholic churches in town and walk out without having spoken to a single person or had a single person speak to me.  I want a place where I feel I belong and I hope I can make St. Fabian’s that place.  I’m going to try, anyway.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one excited about a new church.  In a room set up to hold a little over two hundred people there ended up being twice that many plus a few extra.  There was energy in the room and I liked the way it felt.  It was a feeling of the Holy Spirit at work, gathering together a body of people to start something new to give Jesus a greater presence in the community.  When I have these feelings I tend to get emotional and the lump forms and the eyes fill.  This happened a few times tonight, and like in the dentist’s chair I managed to keep it under control.  But this time I had an audience.  

There was a man standing in front of me holding his very young daughter.  As children are apt to do she stared at the person behind her - me.  I wonder what she was thinking.  Did she think I was sad?  Did it frighten her to see a stranger about to cry?  Once she even clapped her hands at me as if to say, “Snap out of it, lady”.  Nah, I think on some level she knew what I was feeling.  I think children are naturally intuitive.  I think they can see through a person to their soul.  The Cousins and I have had many discussions about this, so I know it’s true.

Tomorrow it’s back to work answering phone calls, answering email, answering questions.  Tomorrow I’ll have all of the answers.  Tonight, however, I’ll go to bed with questions.  Does my new tooth look natural enough that no one will know the difference?  Is my faith leading me to a new place where I can feel I belong?  Am I finally hearing God’s voice answering my prayer to make me useful?  What would Stevie Nicks wear to a garden wedding?  My mind is never quiet.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Something to laugh about

There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t laugh about something.  I can’t take life too seriously or else I might find myself in a dark place too far below the surface to pull myself out.  There’s a fine balance between the evil and the good in this world.  I try to tip the scales in favor of the good as much as possible, and part of that weight is my attempt at adding the strike mark through the dash and turning the negative into something positive and find something to laugh about.

Besides, I like funny.  

I have favorite movies, television shows, and comedians that make me laugh, but I find the most comedy in myself.  I can make myself laugh more than anyone or anything else.  It’s because I do such stupid things when I’m alone and no one’s watching.  These are things I would never do in mixed company.  My singing, for example, can be so bad that I have to stop in mid-song and laugh at the awfulness of the sour notes and crackling voice.  I don’t need to watch American Idol audition shows for entertainment when I can just sing along with the radio in my car.  My singing in the shower, however, is totally different.  The acoustics are so good in my shower I can convince myself I could be another Patsy Cline.  Those listening on the other side of the door may disagree, but I refuse to ask.

Don’t even get me started on my dancing.  I never dance in public.  Believe me, no one wants to see this body move to a beat.  But home alone or sometimes in a grocery store if the piped in music is good enough I have moves to beat.  Nah, not even alone do I dance well.  Only in my mind am I graceful.

I spend at least an hour in my car to and from work every day so I need some entertainment to keep me alert.  That’s usually when I find my best material.  I emote greatly to music in my car.  I’ll pick out someone around me and the song will be all about them; hand gestures, facial expressions, the whole package.  And when I realize how absolutely ridiculous I must look on the outside looking in I crack myself up.  Then I wonder what other people think I’m laughing about and the cycle starts all over. I am my favorite performer and audience.  I can still find things to cry about in my car, usually by accident when I hear a sad song or poem, or a 9/11 tribute, but mostly I’m just trying to entertain myself to stay awake on my drive home.

You really should be with me when I’m alone.  I’m as colorful as a field of flowers in full bloom.  I’m great entertainment.  It’s when I’m around other people that I’m a general dud and take on the characteristics of a wallflower.  That’s the irony of introversion.  No one finds you interesting enough to get to know you, but if they knew you they would find out very interesting things about you.

Hence, I write.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


A new year dawned today.  I’ve never been one for making resolutions because I’m not likely to keep them.  Broken resolutions equal failure and prick like thorns on a dewberry vine when you go to pull them from the garden.  Even with gloves on they find their way into skin.  Nor I have ever been one to make plans too far into the future.  I think that is one of my negative personality traits, actually.  Had I made future plans years ago perhaps I would be in a better station in life today.  Oh well, I am what I am.

Instead of looking ahead I can’t help but look back on something that happened last week.  It has been nagging at me ever since and anytime I’ve sat down to write about it I’ve drawn a blank.  I might draw one now too, but let’s see what happens.  

Only a week ago it was Christmas Day.  If I were Scrooge I would have looked into the window with The Ghost of Christmas Present as my sisters and brothers and our families spent the day together like we have done my whole life.  It was good.  At some point during the Middle Child pulled out that tin of video tapes again.   She must have found the missing link because this time she was able to play them on the television her favorite son gave her for Christmas.  So, instead of watching my younger self on a two inch camera monitor I got to see me on a 50 inch widescreen.  Not good.

The Ghost of Christmas Past made an appearance as she played a tape from a Christmas long ago when we all still piled into my parents’ living room and total mayhem ruled during the gift exchange.  I think it might have been Christmas 1998 or ’99.  The first thing I noticed is how detached I seemed to be from all that was happening.  I watched my son try to show me his Buzz Lightyear toy and then give up and take it to his dad instead.  I call those years the Lost Years because when my children were little I lost touch with the outside world and basically lost myself.  I know now, with video tape as evidence, the  years were not lost because of my children, they were lost because I was depressed.  Or maybe it was because it was Christmas and I was stressed as always trying to keep up with what my children were unwrapping to make sure the giver was given acknowledgement.  Maybe it was the chaos of the moment.  Maybe it was for a hundred other reasons I do not even remember now.

But that is not what has been bothering me all week.  

A pause in the tape and the scene skipped to my mother’s kitchen later in the day.  My family must have left because none of us were in the scene and the rest of the house was quiet.  My mother washed dishes, my brother played his guitar, my nieces sang and danced, my sisters danced, and my daddy sat at the kitchen table and cried.  No one seemed to notice he was crying, but there he was, with videotape as evidence.  At one point the camera panned the room and even settled on him for a second and I could see the telltale signs; hands rubbing his red face and a glisten of water in his eyes.  As if the videographer was embarrassed to capture that moment the camera shifted away.  A moment later a grandchild caught his attention and he perked up and played it off.

Why did my daddy cry when he in the middle of a happy moment surrounded by his children and grandchildren?  Maybe he was remembering the Christmases when we were all children and it was magical.  Maybe he was missing his parents.  Maybe he was missing the daughter he lost a few years earlier.  Maybe it was for a hundred reasons I will never know.

I think I know why but I can’t express it in words.  I think he cried for the same reason I cried during mass on Christmas Eve, as I have done every year since my sister died, and then him, and then my mother.   It’s a feeling of loss and hope at the same time.  It’s a feeling of sorrow and joy.  It’s a feeling that doesn’t make sense.

Why do I continue to look back instead of looking  forward?  Why is it easier to see the past instead of planning for the future?  I think it’s like reading a really great novel over and over.  Every time I read it I find a new meaning or discover clues in the beginning that play out in the end.  The past offers clues for the future, and like the gift of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come I can see my shortcomings and make changes for a better future.  That and because I know the future is not a given.  I have videotape as evidence.