Distorted Dreams

wp-1491007521242.jpg I wake with confusion and then I begin to understand. I know what this dream means and it has a lot to do with my lack progress on the memoir lately. I suppose it could be rewritten as a short horror story:

 

I’m on some sort of campus and I can’t find my classroom. I walk in circles around the buildings and finally find the room on the second floor of an old brick building. I sit in the chair – the kind we had in high school – single seats for right handed students with a cubby underneath for our books. Eric squeezes in next to me.

 

The teacher gives us an assignment to write. I have no paper or pen. I ask the lady next to me for a piece of paper. The pudgy lady with long black disheveled hair says, “I can’t give you this. It’s special paper,” as she grasps her notebook.

 

“Can I have just one piece of your special paper?”

 

Reluctantly she hands me one sheet of lined notebook paper. “But I have no pen,” I say. “Can I borrow one of your pens.”

 

“You don’t need a pen for the special paper. Just write it in your head.”

 

Ten minutes later the instructor interrupts our writing. “Times up. Put your pencils down. Who wants to share first?”

 

Eric nudges me. I whisper, “SHH, you can see I have nothing. Hopefully she won’t call me on it.”

 

The woman a couple of rows up stands. She speaks an unfamiliar language. The instructor with a knowing nod says “it’s okay. You will understand this one.”

 

The woman walks out of the classroom. We wait in silence for the door to open. She reappears with a stroller. She removes her wig and clothes down to a Speedo swimsuit – It turns “she” is a man. He has tattoos all over his body including his bald head, speaks the strange language, and begins to perform acrobatic tricks. As he goes by my desk, I gasp at the infant in the stroller. He is wearing only a diaper and has tattoos all over his body, matching the mans. Looking closer, I see the tattoos on the baby are painted on with markers.

 

The class sits in silence, mesmerized by the magic of his act. Who could follow that?

 

The instructor calls on me. I tell her I have no paper.

 

The woman next to me says, “You have the story. Put this in some water and drink it. Then go to that copier in the corner and press the green button.” She hands me a one ounce travel container filled with pink powder. I pour it into a glass and add water, drinking down the sweet liquid. Like a robot, I go to the copier and push the print button.  Two pages come out with scattered blocks of writing, as if someone tore up my piece and glued it into a mosaic. I try to make sense of it as I head to the front of the classroom.

 

But wait. The copier is not finished. I watch in horror as a ream full of colorful pictures print out on 11×17 paper. When I think the copier is finished, I gather up the paper, apologizing to the instructor for using all the paper.  I try to explain but she looks at me with frustration.

 

The lady with the special paper is gone. I’m looking through the paper we have now spread out on the teacher’s desk. It seems to be distorted pictures of my life. Red hats, mom, dad, friends, cars. The copier starts up again. When it shuts down we have a carton of 11×17 paper.

 

“I’ll call in our science teacher and see what she thinks,” the teacher says.

 

“No, let me piece this all together. Let me take it home and work on it. How much do I owe the school for the paper?” I ask.

 

“Nothing. This is impossible. She dismisses the class. But no one wants to leave. Instead they gather around a long table where we have begun to spread out the papers. Everyone is grabbing at pieces of my distorted life, mixing it up. Frantically I try to keep them in order. “Please don’t mess with them. I need to figure this out.” I catch one lady walking away with one of the papers. “Bring that back,” I stammer. “That could be the missing piece.”

 

“It is,” she says. When she turns, l see It’s the lady who gave me the potion. She crinkles up the paper and I grab it from her.

 

I look for a box to put the paper in. There is a huge stack of boxes by the wall but none of them fit the amount of paper I have. Near the copier I find a bigger box. I’ll take it all home, paper the walls with it, I’m thinking.

 

The class returns to their seats. The teacher stands at her podium “We still have 10 minutes left. I guess I’ll share my story.” She begins to read and stops after only a few indecipherable words. She brings out some glasses and a tissue. “I can’t get through this without crying.” Her short blond hair begins to grow. Moments later she stands in front of us with a crop of spikey green hair a foot long. She crumples to the floor.

 

Dot or . ?

Hot Jazz 2016

The Labor Day weekend drive on Highway 80 is tedious to the point of absolute boredom. No not boredom. Frustration. These ladies do not get bored. No matter what. But opportunity strikes in the middle of one of many traffic stalls. The phone rings. I see the number pop up. (983) 147-6055. “Shhhh ladies. We are going to have some fun with this one.” I turn on the speaker phone.  (warning – this gets a bit nasty)

The scammer speaks. “Hello ma’am. I’m calling from windows. There is a problem with your computer.”

“Oh no, what can I do? Can you help me?”

My passengers roll their eyes as he responds, “Yes I help you. Are you at your computer ma’am?”

“Oh yes, please what shall I do,” I ask.

“Bring up your internet browser,” he says.

“How do I do that?” I ask.

“Oh my God. Click on the little ball in the lower corner of your screen.”

“Did you say ball? I don’t see any balls.”

“There’s a little ball. It looks like an E.”

“Oh that one. Thank you so much for helping me. I did it.”

My passengers are holding back the snickers now. Our scammer comes back on the line. “See the box on top of the screen. The one where your cursor is located.”

I resisted the urge to ask him what a cursor might be. “Hmmm let me look. I don’t see it. Oh wait. There it is.”

Jeanette can’t hold in the laughter. I look at her with consternation. “Shhh.”

Scammer comes back on. “Oh my god. Just type in the bar. http://www.”

“Where’s the w?” I ask.

“OMG. under the number 2.”

“Oh I see it now. Okay w w w.” More stifled laughter in the back seat. I look in the rear view mirror, a warning look.

“Dot,” he says.

“Dot? What do you mean dot? D-O-T?” I chide back at him.

“OMG. Dot. Period. The key with the dot. One dot.”

“Okay, can we start over?” I ask. Carol and Pat are bent over in laughter.

“We will try this slowly w – w – w – dot – support…..” he begins slowly.

“Wait,” I interrupt. “S U P… how do you spell support?”

“OMG S U P P O R T. Then type slash me dot com.”

Jeanette lets out a yelping laugh. “Shhhhh.” I give her another warning look.

“Okay, I think I have it,” I say holding back the laughter.

“What do you see?” he asks.

“Nothing. The screen is black.”

“Wait a minute. Now what do you see? I need you to click on …”

I can’t understand what he is saying but traffic has now begun to move and I must end this distraction. “My screen. It is black. You killed my computer. It’s dead.”

“Oh. My. God. Wait a minute.” We listen to some foreign whispers as he consults his fellow scammers. “The screen. Is it really black?” He sounds worried. I expect him to say he can fix it.

“Yes, I yell back. You killed it.” We can’t hold it in anymore. We all burst out in laughter.

“You f***ed with me. Go shove it up your P****.” He hangs up.

A few minutes later at lunch we are roaring in laughter. The phone rings again. It’s him. “Hey you already told me to shove my computer. It didn’t fit.”  (Okay… I really didn’t say that. Didn’t think of it in time.)

 

 

Beautiful Kauai

When JJ heard that grandma was going to Kauai again there was a tense moment of rebellion. “Why can’t I ever go with you?” he asked. Funny, children never remember when they have accompanied you on trips. I gently reminded him of our trip across country to Virginia to see Uncle Don and Aunt Bonnie. I pointed to the scrapbook from our Alaskan cruise. “But I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii,” he says, arms crossed. I assured him that his day would come.

Plans changed a bit. One of our friends couldn’t go and our hostess offered JJ the spot. Who could say no? We bought the tickets. And plans changed again. This time our friend said she worked it out and could now come on the trip. A bit of trepidation ensued when JJ found out he’d now be traveling with three grandmas. Eight days is a lot of time for a thirteen-year-old to hang with three old ladies.

We managed to pull it off. JJ got his own room high up in the loft. We got the run of downstairs. We wore him out each day – shopping, snorkeling, shopping, eating, shopping, snorkeling, traveling around the island, shopping, snorkeling, eating. We’d end the day with an hour in the swimming pool. JJ escaped to the loft for refuge and slept nearly ten hours each night. We are tough old ladies.

The biggest challenge was catering to his dietary whims – for the most part. He had a brief change of heart about diet once we sent him 1/2 mile up the street to Taco Bell for breakfast on a hot, humid morning and he returned with two cheeseburgers from Burger King because Taco Bell doesn’t open until 11am. Our explanation of Hawaiian time fell on deaf ears. Bubba Burger was 1/2 mile the other direction and that became the favorite fast food of choice. Next time he may eat what we eat. For the month of July he has agreed to thirty-one days of no fast food. We shall see.

Snorkeling was the highlight. With rented gear JJ had a quick snorkeling lesson in the pool and we were off to the beaches. First up was Lydgate Beach Park, an area with two enclosed ponds, perfect for beginners. For a kid who only had one two week swim lesson session in his entire life, JJ surprised us with his ability to outswim any of us. Snorkeling is now his favorite sport.

We moved on to Poipu where we returned three times. It was the best – except for one day – the day we crossed the sandbar to the adventurous side of the beach. Maybe a little too exhausted and heading back to shore, a huge wave plunged us over to the rocky area. A little banged up, JJ missing one fin and the snorkel gear, we bumped and scooted our way to shore, a big lesson to be learned. An expensive lesson.

Moala’a Bay was the favorite beach. I promised my friend I wouldn’t advertise this one. It’s mostly private, not so easy to get to, but the most beautiful beach we visited. While it was lovely to bask in the sun there, on this particular day, it was too risky to snorkel. We tried to follow the channel out to the reefs but wind and waves warned us not to proceed. Don’t go there 🙂

Did I mention we went shopping? I tried my best to fill up that extra thirteen pounds of space in my suitcase but bottom line, I added only five pounds to the suitcase, five pounds to my body and a weighted fistful of charge slips. Of course we absolutely needed everything we purchased. JJ caught on to the math quickly – one gift for grandpa – two gifts for us – one gift for daddy – two gifts for us – one gift for mommy – two gifts for us.

While it was the adventure of a lifetime for JJ, I think he is happy to be home cuddled up with his nameless cat. JJ survived eight days of three grandmas and questions their ability to agree on anything. We three old ladies survived the teenager the only way we knew how:

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Circle Way

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Years ago, sometime in the 1990s, I had the privilege to attend the Women’s Dream Quest at Grace Cathedral. It was during this time of much strife and uncertainty that I discovered the labyrinth in this cavernous gothic cathedral. Not knowing what to expect I entered this sacred space nervous and scared but hopeful of finding a sense of spiritual peace. Sleeping bags, pillows and overnight bags lined up against one wall, eighty women gathered around the labyrinth for the opening ceremony.

I took my place in the circle, skepticism growing as we began with chants, songs and dance. Not being gifted with a pleasant singing voice or rhythm to dance I followed in awkward evolution hoping no one would notice I wasn’t verbalizing the words. When the time came to draw cards for smaller group assignments, I was relieved and yet worried knowing I would have to participate. I was assigned to the turtle group. My first thought was at least I can stay hidden within the shell.

We tossed the talking ball back and forth as each woman volunteered to reveal her purpose for being there. I waited to be last whereupon I blurted out, “I just want to sleep overnight in the cathedral.” It wasn’t exactly the truth but I wasn’t willing to share with these people I had met only a few minutes before. I’d have to sleep on it. That was okay.

After changing into our night clothes and having a light snack, we returned to the cathedral for the nighttime activities – pretty much whatever you chose to do – some art projects, meditation, blessings, journaling, walking the labyrinth. Not blessed with much artistic capability, the doll I made was simply a head with a purple robe. I still have her tucked away in my nightstand. As I snuggled into my sleeping bag on the hard concrete floor, the building was abuzz with action. Women walked, danced and crawled the labyrinth. I waited, wanting to walk the labyrinth in the dark peace of night. Soon the lights dimmed.

I slept for a bit, waking up to loud husky snores echoing from a cot on the other side of the pews. I wondered if the woman would be embarrassed if she knew. It was dark except for the candles around the labyrinth and only a few women were still wandering around. I picked up a small green rock that I had brought with me and headed to the labyrinth. Slowly I made the circuits into the center, dropped to my knees in meditation and made the journey out of the maze. I placed the rock on the altar.

At daybreak as the sun shone through the beautiful stained glass windows, Judith Tripp (our leader) strolled through the cathedral with her guitar singing Morning Has Broken. Soon she had a parade of women behind her. My sleeping bag was warm and I chose to stay cuddled up as I watched the procession in awe. When the call came for our first group, I stopped by the altar and picked up the green rock, surprised by its warmth in the chilly environment.

By noon we had finished up our small groups, had breakfast, and performed skits related to our animal cards. I felt blessed, at peace, and at ease – ready to make the journey to the hospital where my son lay deathly sick. I placed the healing rock in his hand praying that good health would return. He still has the rock.

I bring this up over two decades after the experience because I was checking the Grace Cathedral calendar for the labyrinth walk schedule. I was surprised to find that Judith Tripp has a Women’s Dream Quest this coming October. It might just be the nudge I need back into spirituality.

For more information see CircleWay and Grace Cathedral websites.

Charming

Charms
Charms

Remember the days we had charm bracelets? I was looking through my jewelry box the other day for missing earrings when I came across this. How convenient that it showed up  since my 50th reunion is on the horizon for next year. Mostly it’s a visual trip through the senior year and I suspect each one of these charms could be a prompt for a future story.

The drunk hanging on the street lamp at the corner of State and Madison streetlamp may have been added a few years later when we honeymooned in Chicago.

Yarn with knitting needles and scissors with the thimble represent hobbies. I made most of my own clothes.

Not so sure about the orange ball but I think has something to do with bowling.

Typewriter – yes I learned to type on a manual typewriter and my first job was typing address labels of all the private airports in the states. I think it was busy work given to me by a friend of my dads.

Faith, hope and charity – I am a preacher’s kid.

Not so sure about the corn cob – the trip through miles of corn fields from Michigan to California.

Diploma – obviously I graduated. Probably a gift from mom and dad.

The crutch – a little tobogganing mishap and a perfect excuse to skip P.E., my least favorite class.

Expo 67 – my senior trip.

What’s on your charm bracelet? Do you still have it?