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Dream: 12.23.17

December 23, 2017

{My unconscious is clearly working overtime, but I remain confused.}

What I recall:

I’m an adult in midlife, but not quite as old as I am now. I’m apparently back living in Illinois because I’m situated in my parents’ house. My sister is also living there.

When the dream opens, 2 of my women friends are visiting, for a sleepover. One of them didn’t bring night clothes, and my mother insists that of course I have pajamas to lend her. I get anxious right away: as far as I can think right then, I have one mismatched pair of pj’s, and 1 nightgown, and I’m not sure either of them have been laundered recently. Maybe I can sneak a load in when nobody’s paying attention. (If I can even find them…  Ugh.)

The woman who needs pajamas, CJ, currently lives back in Indiana, where we met. Her car has Indiana license plates, and she is wearing a T-shirt that says “McCordsville”, an Indiana town, in old-timey lettering.

There are also, inexplicably, 2 young girls hanging around, wearing colorful clothes. They are somebody’s nieces, but I don’t think mine because, well, I don’t recognize them, or know their names or anything about them. Maybe they are friends with my sister.

I want to spend time with my friends alone but somehow my sister or my mother, or the 2 little girls, or random other people keep wandering in, distracting us. It’s annoying, but I don’t put a stop to it; I go along resentfully.

At some point I am informed “it’s been decided that” the 3 of us will sleep in my sister’s (basement) bedroom, which has had all the furniture removed. She smugly shows off the space, which is quite large.  When she leaves the room momentarily, I explain to my friends that my mother joined 2 rooms together, knocking out the middle wall, to create this large room for my sister. I say, “it should’ve been mine”, just as my sister returns. I’m mortified that I’ve been caught out again, looking childish and ridiculous.

Later, somewhere else in the house, I’m alone with my 2 friends. CJ, in the dream, stayed on at the workplace where we originally met, so she’s now been there > 10 years. She says management has changed again, and now the working culture is just a mess. She relates a recent anecdote where she got reprimanded for something really stupid. She clearly hates working there now, but feels trapped for some reason, and won’t be leaving because of this crap.                           I am heartbroken. I cry and cry, finally sobbing out, “All this time I thought at least IDEM was a great place to work, out in the world, and now I find out it’s just as bad as everywhere else??”



My sister, her room, CJ, the 2 little girls, pajamas, Indiana, IDEM, working.

I don’t want to be rivals with my sister, but somehow we always have been. And somehow, when I do a private reckoning in my head, she’s always on top. Even though it seems like things should advantage me, at least sometimes. But they don’t.                           {This description strongly calls to mind my mother’s relationship with her older sister, that I heard about ad nauseum growing up. On paper, at least, it seemed to me that my mother was far ahead of her sister, but my mother herself never saw it that way, and was always trying to “catch up”.}

The room is empty and therefore, pregnant with possibility. Anything might happen in this room. Why didn’t I receive a room like this? (Even though the carpet is ugly. And the tracks running around the perimeter that so impress everyone else seem dumb to me.)

CJ is a real person whom I’ve recently reestablished contact with. She really has moved back to Indiana, where she is originally from. But she left IDEM before I did, got married, and is now the mother of 2 sons.

I have 2 nieces, whom I last saw in 2011, when they were a little older than the girls in this dream. I know of them, but I do not know them, and they do not know me. I regret that, but it’s out of my control. I kept waiting for them to show interest in me as a person, and, since they never did, I stopped trying.

I practically live in pajamas now, like any writer who works from home. I would never volunteer these comfortable, but disheveled, clothes to anyone else to wear. They’re “good enough for me” because I’m a slob, and “only care about comfort” [patently ridiculous concerns, amirite?], but sharing them with other people — even under duress — would just broadcast how inadequate and pathetic I am. I Must Keep Up Appearances {even though that’s my mother’s mantra, and has, I’ve always thought, never been mine. Hmmm.}.

Oh, Indiana. So many good things happened there, that never would’ve happened anywhere else. So many cool people I met, sometimes became friends with. Some many awesome natural places. And yet… I felt “buried alive” there, and was ever desperate to escape. I almost didn’t care where we went (as long as it wasn’t IL or OK), as long as we left Indiana, which we did in 2008.

IDEM was, hands down, the “best job I ever had”. I was really really happy with ~1/3 of the aspects of working there, and quite unhappy with the remaining 2/3. Nobody understood me there, or cared that they didn’t. But I kept thinking (up until the last miserable year anyway) that I could somehow customize my working experience to suit me. And I really couldn’t. So I left.

I have a love/hate relationship with the whole idea of working. My father always said anyone could find a job they love, but I never did, and I sure looked everywhere. I liked always learning, and striving for subject mastery. I liked being a resource for other people. I liked being respected, being acknowledged to be smart (in a place that was valued). I liked earning money which I could put to my own purposes. I liked the variety of people I came into contact with. I liked that people gradually got accustomed to me, and often came to like me at least a little, after long exposure.                 In the case of IDEM in particular, I liked where the building was located: I could, and did, take walks to the courtyard (trees, forbs, songbirds, chipmunks), the canal (catalpa trees, among others; fish, frogs), the “prairie” at the Eiteljorg (meadow plants, butterflies, bees). I dearly loved that I was part of a broad collaborative effort to protect and defend Indiana’s waters.                    But the actual job was… disappointing. And, for me, it was clearly not going to lead anywhere. I left there, too.


Putting it all together:

{I kept feeling like this was somehow about social media, but clearly, it’s not that at all.}

I want people to judge me on what I still remain capable of doing, even though I’m not actually trying to do any of that. Hence the resentment.

And what I am doing, most days actually [writing, photography, conceptual art], I feel doesn’t measure up to how “the world” has always judged me. I’m “working below my potential”, I’m “lazy”, “a slob”, I’m “not actually working”, I’m a dilettante, a hobbyist, a pathetic child.

What if all of those judgments are irrelevant?

I am Mea of Maryland, a person of water, of trees, of rocks. I like slime molds, salamanders, and spiders. I wish (some of) my hair had leaves, so I could photosynthesize. Maybe I’d turn green! That’d be cooool. I wear pink and orange and blue, sometimes all at once. I respect everyone in my household, and try to apply that standard outward.

I am childlike in a lot of ways, and I love that about myself.

And clothes can be fun, so it’s even more important that they also be comfortable. (I’m wearing ½ pajamas right now, and they’re sooooft.)

This is who I am.


Dream: 12.22.17

December 23, 2017

{Having recently read one of Gayle Delaney’s books on dream interpretation, I’m going to try something different here.}

What I recall:

My sister has recently returned from a trip with my mother to Lithuania. I keep stumbling across either mementos they acquired on the trip, or letters from the people they visited (written partially in Lithuanian, although I can somehow read some of that). I’m angry I wasn’t included.

My sister and I are going through our stuff, and I keep discovering items I’d long forgotten I even owned. Lots of beloved, tattered old books too. Astonished that they were somehow saved from my mother throwing them out!

At times, my sister and I squabble over just who owns the books we’re finding.

My mother and I set off on a driving trip that’s supposed to console me for not going on the other trip. Except… I have been allowed no say in where we’re going. My mother’s car been outfitted with a weird proto-GPS system in which pre-programmed routes will appear, in text, on a screen on the dashboard, and I’m to read the words to my mother.

At some point, I can feel an epiphany about all these things making me angry and upset trying to erupt from my unconscious mind. I need some solitude to sort it all out, and then I’ll know what to do!                    But instead, I rush back into the scrum, subconsciously hoping they’ll recognize how they’ve wronged me, will apologize (!), and I can keep ignoring my inner self indefinitely.

I’m feeling especially aggrieved over the trip my mother and sister took to Lithuania, because the soonest my mother and I could take a similar trip would be 2018. (The dream seems to be occurring in 2015. My parents’ vacation for 2016 is already set, then they have a ‘world cruise’ in 2017.) I’m convinced that the elderly Lithuanian women relatives I should have met on the trip I didn’t take will have all died by 2018. This is so unfair!  My sister smirks about how I wasn’t even invited to go, and now whatever trip I would take will be hopelessly inferior to her trip.


I wake up with this thought running through my head: “Why am I so angry about not receiving something I would ordinarily have no interest in?”


Elements to consider:

HBs: My sister, my mother, “elderly Lithuanian women relatives”.

Things: the trip to Lithuania, childhood books, letters written in English & Lithuanian, my mother’s car’s GPS-thing, “the scrum” of my noisy contentious family, the potential trip in 2018.


Descriptions of elements:

My sister once, infamously, described me to me as “a paler, less interesting copy of [her]”, which infuriated me, not least of which because I’m 3 years older. I happen to think I’m way more interesting than my sister is, but “being interesting” is not at all prized in our family, so it’s not as though me being more of it would afford me any social advantage. We have loathed each other since childhood.

When I was a kid, my mother and my sister seemed to me to be twins mysteriously born 30 years apart. The same self-absorption/narcissism, the same histrionics and dangerous tempers, the same obliviousness to anyone else’s feelings (unless they were manipulating you just for the fun of being mean), the same aversion to logic.

(I don’t know how old I was in the dream, but) Any “elderly Lithuanian women relatives” would be well over 100 by now. No one in 3 American generations could possibly have met these people, or know anything about them except for words they told us in letters. There’s no stories about them anyone grew up hearing.

The “gift” of a house figurine from my mother was purchased on her first trip to Lithuania, which she went on with my father, her 2 siblings, and their spouses. (Nobody’s kids.) I’m not entirely sure when it was, as I was already estranged from them. I have never wished I’d gone on it.    I did take a trip to Eastern Europe with my mother, though, when I was in my early 20s and she was in her late 40s. After the first part, and the last part (getting ourselves back to the airport), our itinerary was left open to whatever interested us. We had maps and a guidebook, I could navigate, I’d learned a bit of Serbo-Croatian (and had a phrasebook), what more could we need? We had a blast.

Letters from people I’d never met, writing in a (heritage) language I have a love/hate relationship with, and only know a few words of… This feels like the issue is my inheritance, and getting cheated out of it (even though I don’t think I even want it). Why was I bothering to decipher these letters at all? Yeah, they were ostentatiously on display, probably so they’d grab my interest, but… I never met any of these people, nor knew anything about them. We had zero relationship. Why would their letters be interesting? And they weren’t interesting, but they did make me mad (no doubt the reason they were there).

The scrum is going back to approaches that have always failed, but at least they’re familiar, and don’t require me to rethink who I am, and what matters to me, and why.

Beloved-amazing-books-from-childhood-rediscovered has been a motif in my dreams for 40+ years. I recently reorganized my bookshelves such that my childhood favorites have pride of place in my studio, while books I came to love as an adult are on the shelf below. Books were how child-Mea escaped the misery of my childhood, and grew into a different kind of person than anyone I’d ever met.

The projected 2018 trip really reminds me of… one of the last holidays I spent with my nuclear family, my mother made a scrapbook of my brother D’s accomplishments for Christmas. My sister eagerly put dibs on one for herself, for the next year. I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no point in even asking. My mother probably doesn’t even remember anything worthwhile I’ve ever accomplished (or we’d completely disagree on what’s suitable to be included), and the photos… I know she’d pick all awful ones. I know it.”


Putting it all together:

Instead of seeking out things (like best-beloved childhood books) to help me steer a course towards what truly matters to Real Mea, I’m falling back into destructive old habits of letting myself get wound up by things I know are bad for me, things that, in fact, prevent me/my unconscious from making the connections/realizations I need so I can improvise my way further.

Following a plan is bad enough, but following someone else’s plan — that I had no input into — is super bad. And then judging myself harshly because this super-bad plan I followed isn’t nearly as satisfying as an original improvised route would have been? Recipe for, well, alienation, frustration, bad coping habits. Rinse, repeat.


I can’t figure out the specific issue that I’m mishandling though.

And I feel like there’s also something connected to “inheritance”/ ”heritage” that I’ve overlooked.

changing houses

December 20, 2017

Some years ago, I unexpectedly received a “gift” from someone I’m no longer in contact with: a little ceramic house, around 3-4 inches tall. I didn’t want to keep it, but I felt conflicted about what to do with it. I shut it up in a bin, stuck it in our storage unit; it stayed there a few years. At some point, I allowed it to migrate into a bin in our apartment, where it coexists with letters from people I’m no longer in contact with.

I think I’ve had it for 8 or 10 years. When I looked at it recently, I believe that was only the 3rd time I’ve ever seen it. It wasn’t as fearsome, or as ugly, as I remembered. But it went back in the bin all the same.


3 years ago, I received 2 house figures from someone else. Much bigger in scale, and attached to each other.

I was initially pleased, but living with a structure that large, I began to feel… surveilled. I stuck the figures in a back closet. I don’t know what to do about them, and no matter what I decide, I feel like I’m already in the wrong.

I need to figure out what’s going on here.


I wish conversations with people (who are not Spouse, and not psychologists) were more satisfying, and, more to the point, I wish I could have a conversation with someone about this issue where the other person would actually say something helpful, rather than clueless, condescending, or worse.

Since that’s not possible, I must write.


There is someone in my extended family whom I receive gifts from on an irregular basis. This person has given me earrings made from peacock feathers 3 separate times.

I got my ears pierced at 15, and happily wore funky earrings for many years. Until my earlobes developed an allergy to something, and regretfully, I allowed my piercings to close up. That was 20 years ago.

3 times, I’ve had to write thank you notes to this person explaining, yet again, that while the earrings are lovely, I can’t wear them.

It doesn’t seem impossibly hard to remember that I don’t have pierced ears. And yet, somehow, I guess even that little tidbit is too much work. And/or, remembering it about me is too much bother.


I have different preferences for things. My taste is not like other people in my family.

For me, “it’s the thought that counts” is ridiculous, gibberish. If you’re going to give me a “gift”, and it sucks, then please just don’t give it to me.

When I was still part of my nuclear family, I kept trying to get the adult kids to stop exchanging Christmas gifts for exactly this reason.


I don’t like gifts that don’t take into consideration what my preferences are.

If, every time I think about a gift you gave me, I clench my teeth, get a sick stomachache, and/or fight not to cry… Is that really the reaction you were going for?

(And if it is, maybe you’re an asshole.)


I believe I have 2 main problems with the 2 connected houses: scale; and that they are permanently joined.

I do have several figurines, made from various materials. A small smiling clay pig Spouse gave me when we were dating. A small carved wooden bear from the Smokies. A small glazed-clay baby tapir that I bought from someone I followed on Twitter. Each of them is about 1 inch tall. They fit nicely in my hand, where I can examine them closely, but mostly they sit on my desk or shelves.

They can’t loom over me. They can’t crowd my space. They are not aggressive. We coexist peacefully.

Figurines a foot tall, 2 feet tall… I don’t think there are any circumstances under which I would pick out something that size.

And then there’s being permanently affixed. That means I cannot handle the figures individually. I hate that. And there is no one that I am so fond of that I would want to be permanently adjacent to them physically. It’s just gross, and wrong.

And it, inevitably, dredges up comparisons to my mother thinking I am her appendage, rather than a separate person.


It doesn’t matter that I like houses, both as figurines and as real things in the world. I would never, in a million years, have picked out this particular item for myself.

And, given how the 1st house came to me, I can’t be 100% sure that my mother wasn’t also involved in this gift, in some fashion.

Hence, that creepy feeling of surveillance.

So this particular item is triggering for 3 separate reasons.


And yet I still feel guilty and ashamed that I don’t want to keep it. That I don’t like it.


This year, for the 1st time, I’ve bought myself gifts for Yule. I know that I will like them because I picked them out, according to my tastes and preferences. I’m looking forward to opening them! Using them! Being delighted by them!

Reading List 12 of 2017

November 5, 2017

Covers the period from 10.14.2017 through 11.4.17

I/we own 5 of these items. I saw 9 movies, videos in the cinema/on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/YouTube. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 10 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 8.



  1. The Blue Sky by Galsan Tschinag, translated from German by Katharina Rout
  2. The Nature of Home by Lisa Knopp {Goucher College}
  3. Writing the Sacred into the Real by Alison Hawthorne Deming
  4. [Graphic novel] Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo, illustrated by Christa Cassano and Shamus Beyale


Visual Art:

  1. The 21st Century Art Book by Phaidon Press
  2. Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-popping Postal Art by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler
  3. Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation by Mindy Johnson
  4. Mapping It Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies, edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist


Visual Art {videos}:

  1. Painter Njideka Akinyili Crosby | 2017 MacArthur Fellow {Nigerian-American}
  2. Julie Mehretu | The In-Between Place {Ethiopian-American}
  3. Julie Mehretu: “Mural” | Art21 (2010)
  4. Joan Mitchell: Portrait of an Abstract Artist
  5. In the Studio: “How to Paint like Willem de Koonig, Part 1”
  6. In the Studio: “How to Paint like Yayoi Kusama”
  7. In the Studio: “How to Paint like Agnes Martin”



  1. Beauty and the Beast, directed by Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise
  2. Marshall, directed by Reginald Hudlin
  3. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, directed & written by Angela Robinson



  1. American Gods, 10th Anniversary Edition, by Neil Gaiman
  2. Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, edited by Sheree R. Thomas
  3. The New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
  4. Storyteller [apprentice bard, 6th century Wales] by G R Grove
  5. The Wonder Woman Chronicles by William Moulton Marston



  1. The Art of Flavor by Daniel Patterson and Mandy Aftel
  2. Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
  3. The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World, edited by Alison Hawthorne Deming
  4. Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World by Linda Hogan {FN–Chickasaw}
  5. [YA] I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
  6. Let’s Not Keep Fighting the Trojan War: New & Selected Poems, 1986–2009 by Edward Sanders
  7. Native American Sign Language by Madeline Olsen, illustrated by Ben Carter
  8. Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary by Juan Williams
  9. The Work of Poetry by John Hollander


Dream: 10.31.17

October 31, 2017

Had echoes of dream on 11.6.15.

A long corridor-like mall, somehow situated near 63rd & Hobson, in a marshy area. Strange encounters inside, with various beings.

Something about Makmik.


When I woke up, I immediately thought “Makmik” must be related to the Mi’kmaq people, but I had them confused in my mind with Indigenous people living in northern NY/southern Ontario.


I think some patch of land is trying to communicate with me, but I don’t know who, or where. And when might be appropriate as well.

Reading List 11 of 2017

October 13, 2017

Covers the period from 9.15.2017 through 10.11.17

I own 14 of these items. I saw 5 movies, videos on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/etc. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 11 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 6.


Ways of Knowing where you live:

  1. Knowing the Day, Knowing the World: Engaging Amerindian Thought in Public Archaeology by Lesley Green and David R. Green
  2. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache by Keith H. Basso
  3. [Poetry] Collected Works by Lorine Niedecker


Nonverbal communication:

  1. Autism is a World, directed by Gerardine Wurzburg
  2. The Language of Light: A History of Silent Voices [Sign Languages for the Deaf] by Gerald Shea
  3. [SFF] Silent Dances by A. C. Crispin and Kathleen O’Malley



  1. A Change of World by Adrienne Rich
  2. A Stranger’s Mirror by Marilyn Hacker
  3. The Best American Poetry 2017, guest editor Natasha Trethewey
  4. Burning Bright: Passager Celebrates 21 Years, edited by Mary Azrael & Kendra Kopelke
  5. Irish Poems, edited by Matthew McGuire
  6. Oxygen by Julia Fiedorczuk, translated by Bill Johnston
  7. Poets and Dreamers, Studies & Translations from the Irish, 2nd edition, by Lady Gregory [1903]
  8. Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews




  1. The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter
  2. Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, directed by Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen
  3. Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins
  4. The Optimistic Art of the Impossible – talk at University of Regina symposium, 2015, by Linda Tuhiwai Te Rina Smith [Maori ~ Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou]
  5. Unknown (stories from a anishinaabemowin speaker), featuring Cyndi Bergloff — directed by Jayce Kolinski



  1. After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper
  2. An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King
  3. On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis [autistic MC]
  4. Provenance by Ann Leckie
  5. Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip
  6. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
  7. Will Do Magic for Small Change by Andrea Hairston


Debut dystopian novels that I disliked:

  1. Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
  2. Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey



  1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  2. [YA] Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
  3. Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren
  4. Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren
  5. Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker
  6. Keeping Time: 150 Years of Journal Writing, edited by Mary Azrael and Kendra Kopelke [Baltimore, Md.]
  7. Signs on the Wind: Postcard Collages by Lenore Tawney
  8. The Wrong Way to Save Your Life: Essays by Megan Stielstra



Reading List 10 of 2017

September 14, 2017

Covers the period from 8.21.2017 through 9.13.17

I/we own 3 of these items. I saw 5 movies on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/etc. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 12 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 7.


Memoir & Biography:

  1. Life Work by Donald Hall
  2. The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds by Pete Fromm
  3. The Pawnbroker’s Daughter by Maxine Kumin
  4. Poetry Will Save Your Life by Jill Bialosky
  5. The Price of Illusion by Joan Juliet Buck
  6. Red-Inked Retablos by Rigoberto González
  7. Remembering Randall by Mary von Schrader Jarrell
  8. Tamed by a Bear: Coming Home to Nature–Spirit–Self by Priscilla Stuckey
  9. Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry by Donald Hall
  10. Why Not Say What Happened? by Ivana Lowell



  1. Fever & other new poems by Bella Akhmadulina, translated by Geoffrey Dutton and Igor Mezhakoff-Koriakin [1969]
  2. Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
  3. New York City Haiku – from the Readers of the NYT
  4. This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson [[Anishinaabe]]



  1. Amélie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  2. Gifted, directed by Marc Webb
  3. The Intern, directed & written by Nancy Meyers [in Towson]
  4. Lion, directed by Garth Davis
  5. Their Finest, directed by Lone Scherfig
  6. This Beautiful Fantastic, directed by Simon Aboud



  1. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
  2. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde



  1. All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
  2. Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay
  3. Kraken: An Anatomy by China Miéville



  1. [Fiction] Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
  2. You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages by Carina Chocano