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Dream (nightmare): 8.31.2015

August 31, 2015

I’m shopping with a group of guy friends at a plant nursery store. Suddenly a guy I sort of know pulls out a machine gun and threatens to kill random people. I freeze up; time falls into slow motion.

Guy with gun approaches me. I can’t think or talk, I’m so scared.

He’s yelling. He motions with the gun, makes me perch on a stool, with my upper body draped over a stool in front of me. I’m very uncomfortable — my face is pressed into a flannel pillow, and I can hardly breathe. I’m trying to figure out how to unobtrusively move my head a little, when the guy jams the gun into my neck.

Everything becomes very clear.

I’m afraid to move at all, in case the gun goes off.

A tiny part of my brain kind of wants the gun to go off, just so the screaming tension will end for me. But I don’t want to die like this; I don’t want to die right now. If it happens, I hope it doesn’t hurt. I hope it’s quick. I hope no one else is traumatized by seeing it.

= = =

A guy friend who escaped without injury escorts my parents from their car towards the store. He tries to reassure them that I’ll be okay (although he has no idea what’s going on inside the store).

Then my mother starts talking ‘in my voice’ {my characteristic words & inflections}, narrating my stream of consciousness thoughts.

She doesn’t seem to know she’s doing it. All 3 of them keep approaching the store.

= = =

Later, it’s over, and I’m alive. The lights everywhere are like strobes; the colors are way too bright. Sounds are muffled; I can’t understand words. I’m in shock, wandering around. No one is paying any attention to me. I’m not even sure anyone can see me.

I grab a bottle of white-out from someone’s desk. I open it, and gulp it down.

Abruptly, I come to my senses. I spit out what I took in. I wipe off my tongue. I keep spitting.

Part of my brain is wondering what the hell I thought I was doing?!?! This stuff is poisonous!

I wonder about what’s available to be a ‘purgative’, which I vaguely recall means it’ll make me vomit*.

I don’t want to die from this stupid thing I just did to myself!

I peer into a mirror to see if my tongue is still coated in white gunk.


I wake up.


*a purgative is actually a laxative.


“If it happens, I hope it doesn’t hurt. I hope it’s quick. I hope no one else is traumatized by seeing it.” That’s actually what I do hope for my death, whenever it comes.

Death has never seemed far away. I have a robust survival instinct (which has been tested multiple times), but sometimes I wonder why I keep fighting so hard to stay alive.

Curiosity, mostly: What else might happen?

” I don’t want to die like this; I don’t want to die right now” is almost word-for-word the last lines of the only poem I’ve ever written about 1985.

Does that mean I’m on the verge of (more) cataclysmic upheavals?

= = =

They say that dreams about your mouth or teeth or voice symbolize Being Heard (or Not) In the World.

I recently decided that I won’t be submitting any more poems to any publication for the foreseeable future.

I haven’t written anything keepable since June; I haven’t written anything poetic in August.

= = =

I’ve been releasing dreams I had of Making a Splash. (Not necessarily in the world of poetry.) Just, at all. 10 years ago, I thought someday I could be a policy wonk at US EPA.

That would never have come to pass — I can’t play politics.

I don’t actually care about policy that much, it turns out.

I can’t conform. Following rules is… really difficult for me, even for the rare occasions that I want to.

= = =

This spring I insisted that I was going on my own trip, and we should also do a vacation. Later, I decided I could forgo my trip until later. Spouse, though, got into the spirit of a Real Vacation, and we progressed to poring over maps, buying books, and deciding which cameras to take.

And then, Stuff interfered. No vacation again this year. All good reasons, and yet…

= = =

I’m not sure what I believe in anymore.

= = =

Because of my upbringing, I staked my faith, so to speak, in what I believed. (Not necessarily religiously.) I chose to believe, or not, in various things; I sought out things to believe in. I defined myself by What I Believed.

Becoming a Pagan in 1986 was the first milestone of this sort. Out of it flowed changing my surname in 1992.

But also, trying to find a way to become a scientist, 1996–2013.

Trying to become a designer/inventor of tangible things.

Trying, always trying.

Failing, mostly.

{{ Most things don’t work }}

= = =

Spouse was looking for SpecificThing over the weekend, so we both unpacked some of the 18 remaining boxes from our move last November.

I gave away 2 huge bags of cut fabric; one of the bags was a plastic bag I obtained in the former Yugoslavia, during a trip in 1988. Also, a sweater that Gramma bought ‘for me’ — embarrassing long story, but I never really liked the sweater. I felt guilty about it. Sunday, I realized, how I felt about the sweater ~ how I felt about the houseplants (before I gave them away 3 years ago).

The color of the sweater is part of the problem: cognac brown. I almost wrote: “one of the few ‘classy’ colors I liked”, but even that’s not true.

Cognac brown was a compromise. I love many shades of (medium and dark) brown. I don’t love, or even like, any ‘light brown’ colors. Beige and tan are amongst the colors I hate most, in the whole world. Camel, I can… sort of stand… in very small doses.

It is definitely ‘classy’, camel, but in a very ‘elegant’, ‘classical’ {am I barfing yet, because I want to!} way. Burberry. All that.

I hate all that stuff. That’s not like me at all.

And yet. My mother.

Once I started to understand my own tastes…. I stopped wearing black, at all. (The Most Classy Color, per my mother.) I don’t really like navy, but indigo is awesome.

Brown, though, is a comfort color, for complex reasons. Dating back to childhood.

‘Cognac brown’… has ‘brown’ right in the name. But it’s…. wrong…. somehow.

Medium to dark Browns are thick and creamy and smooth and deeply soothing. Molasses, maple syrup, deep amber honey. Fudge on the stove. Hot cocoa. They nourish, they nurture, they replenish.

‘Cognac brown’ is not that kind of brown, no matter what the color name says.

‘Cognac brown’ is thin and bitter. Astringent, sour, vinegary, but not in a good way.

‘Cognac brown’ is regrets and unfulfilled promises and ‘making the best of’ something awful.

In the first flush of cash at my last job, I spent ~ $100 on a leather portfolio. The color was important. Black was out. Navy was out. The only brown they had was ‘distressed bomber style’, so Big Fat No there. Certain shades of red or blue-green could have worked; green or yellow-green would’ve been great. They didn’t have any of those. (Lipstick red is Right Out.)

They did have… ‘cognac brown’, and that’s what I bought.

I paid extra for my monogram in the corner.

Those aren’t my initials anymore.

I could have taken copies of my resume and visual handouts to an interview at the National Botanic Garden, or US EPA, or USGS…. But I never actually got any interviews at those places.

Those potential lives are dead. The person who wanted those jobs… doesn’t exist anymore.

= = =

Last night, I was reading a book for older kids on glacial geology. Once I finished it, I was planning to dive into any of the several hardcore books on glacial geology and geomorphology that I got from Inter-Library Loan.

I’m so smart, I read stuff like this for fun!

Except that, the book for kids made my brain hurt, was depressing. I could feel my will to live seeping away.

I stopped reading it. I’ll be taking all the other ILL books on that subject back, unread.

I’m still smart. I’m still curious about the world. I’m still interested in many kinds of things.

I don’t have to prove that I ‘deserve to exist’ because I’m smart. Gods.

That’s what grad school turned out to be about, unconsciously: Can I convince my parents that I deserve respect because (at least) I’m smart? The answer is No.

But it’s the wrong question.

= = =

I can’t convince my friends to send me an email or a letter once in a while.

My ‘persuasive skills’ seem to be nonexistent.

Also, it’s not possible to ‘persuade’ people to respect you. Maybe your behavior could, possibly, convince them (for their own reasons), but stuff you say is irrelevant.


If I’m not spending gobs of my limited energy on Trying to Convince Other People to Respect Me (Because Reasons)… what would I be doing?

Sleeping. Thinking about stuff. Going for walks. Photographing. Living my actual life, as the person I really am.

If I can’t impress someone with how smart I am, I feel like… I don’t exist at all. Definitely I don’t think I deserve to exist. That’s my value in my family of origin: being a walking encyclopedia. Not being a person.

Being a resource. Being available to listen, whenever someone wants/needs to infodump their Very Important Lives. My life? Not interesting to anybody.

Except me.

I don’t count.


Before I began writing, the line “I’m at a crossroads” popped into my mind.

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