Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back-to-School Dreams

Yesterday morning, I awoke in a cold sweat, my heart was racing, and I was uncharacteristically wide awake at the chiming of my alarm. I lay in this state of alertness for several minutes before willing  myself out of bed.

I had just had my first-back-to-school dream.

There is nothing quite like a back-to-school dream from your subconscious reminding you that school is about to start and that school may just have you terrified. If you're a teacher, you've experienced this (and if you haven't, are you really a teacher? I don't think so). I've had some crazy ones - often featuring some of my kindest, sweetest students doing wild and crazy things, like throwing chairs and refusing to discuss Macbeth.

But this dream was of an entirely different sort. It was in a category of its own. I tremble to think of it.

It was about photocopying.

I'm not even kidding.

I would never kid about the photocopier. It might hear me and revolt.

I had a nightmare about the photocopier not working on my first week back to school. There were no students, only an endless journey of running to my computer upstairs and printing and then running back down and hoping that no one was on the photocopier at the time, and then having the print job not go through, only to have to run up and try again. And when it did work, and I tried to run copies, it jammed up, again and again until I was nearly crying.

There was even a sequence in my dream in which someone was walking up to the copier with me and I pretended to greet them warmly after a long summer, but I was really just trying to get to the copier before them, deliberately making my steps a little longer and brisker as we both approached the machine.

This is what fills my subconscious, friends. Photocopying nightmares. Oh, the chair-throwing dreams are sure to come, but for now, for now, my dreams are of the horrifyingly boring and technological kind.

The scary thing is, that this is reality: I have had multiple days like this - running up and down the stairs in hopes of a successful print job, of unjamming other people's print jobs from the previous day for fifteen  minutes to just get the copier to do my copies (only to have it jam) (by the way, the teachers who, at the end of the school day, "run their copies for the next day" but don't stick around to see if the copies actually printed have their very own circle of hell).

There's an old missionary joke that the kerosene fridge (they used to have those) are the true 'gods' of missionaries, because they require the missionary to get down on his knees to light the pilot light underneath the fridge, and this goes out frequently. If the kerosene fridge is the god of the missionary, then the photocopier is the god of the teacher, for I have sacrificed hours of my time kneeling in front of that damn photocopier looking for the teeny-tiny piece of paper that is caught in the mechanism, praying I can find it in time, praying for it to work.

What's your most vivid back-to-school dream? And how early do you start having them? I start, like clockwork, almost exactly one month before school starts.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Musings on a Sunday 7.19.2015

Random musings on my mind this week:
*If they're particularly strange, I'm going to blame it on the polyurethane fumes that have filled my house for the past 48 hours.*

1) I've come to understand something about myself.

The more people that I realize read my blog, the more shy I am about writing on my blog. This is not to say that thousands of people are reading this, or even hundreds. Probably more like dozens. But when people tell me that they read and enjoy my blog, I feel all this PRESSURE to say and do something cool and important when I don't really have anything cool and important to say because the point of this is not to say cool and important things but just to sort of externally process all the little nothings in my life that become somethings to me. And if these readers don't know how silly or goofy I can be in real life because they don't know me well in real life, I get strangely shy about being silly on my blog. And this blog is not supposed to be too serious. I am not trying to take myself too seriously here because I tend to take myself too seriously out there and this is one of the places where I make fun of myself.

If you can follow this train of thought, you have a truly dizzying intellect.

So, as much as I want people to read and enjoy my musings, and want more people to read and enjoy my musings, the more people I become aware of reading and supposedly enjoying my musings, the more shy I am about writing.

I'm weird.

Also, please, please don't stop reading my blog, or stop telling me that you've read it and enjoyed it. I LOVE that. But it just makes me feel like I should be saying something important, but that's me, not you - I do genuinely love that people read this silly thing, and I check my blog stats an embarrassing amount to see how much traffic my blog gets.

2) On a related "uninspired writing" note, I really, really, really want to write some fiction. I don't have a lot of background in creative writing (I know - I'm an English teacher, but when you're an English Education major you don't get a lot of time to take actual fun creative writing classes). I just don't seem to have any good ideas. The other problem is that I find one of my biggest blocks to trying to dabble in fiction is knowing that I'm going to be terrible at it, because all early writing is terrible. And I know that to actually improve I have to be willing to be terrible. But I can't stand the thought of writing terrible prose, even though I have to.

I have the same problem with learning languages - I hate the initial process of speaking poorly when learning a language so I don't improve.

My other problem is that I sometimes get my best ideas for short stories or even novels from dreams, in which I wake up, think "that would be so cool!" and then don't remember it in the morning.

And no, I will not consider getting a dream journal.

3) Have you ever thought about how sad and odd it is that an author works for years writing a book, and then it gets consumed by its readers in a a matter of days? I've read a few books this summer in a big gulp of reading - staying up late to finish, reading it as soon as I wake up in the  morning - and then I feel sad and bereft and empty when I'm finished because it's done and I'll never read it the first time again, and the author spent so much time on it only to have it finished by me in twenty-four hours.

I love nothing more than consuming a book that I've been waiting for. But then when I finish, I first of all, realize I'm going to have to wait years to get my next fix, and also wonder how the author must feel to have their hard work - their labour of love and sweat and blood and tears - swallowed so quickly by their fans. I almost wish, in some ways, that we could go back to the ways of Dickens and get our favorite novels in installments, simply to better savor the goodness. I would also hate this so, so don't listen to me, publishers. But I feel guilty when I read a book quickly, sometimes.

I have a tendency to feel guilty about a lot of things, so don't worry. Have I mentioned I'm weird?

On the reverse side of this phenomenon, as long as there is Russian literature, there will still be Great Authors Whose Books Take Forever To Read. I started Anna Karenina in January, and as much as I actually really, really do like it, I cannot seem to finish it.

4) Online dating update: I quit.

Sort of.

I mean, I don't know...maybe I'll try it again in a little while. I'm just done, for now. I even stopped using it about a month before my subscription was up. It's just not my thing.

Here's what I strongly dislike (I nearly said hate, but hate is too strong) about the whole online dating thing:

In "real life" (as in, not online), when you meet someone for the first time you are not under a ticking-time-bomb of pressure to try and size them up as a potential life partner. Let me clarify - I don't mean meeting someone on a date. I mean, just meeting someone in the ordinary circumstances of life - at church, at work, in line at the grocery store, through friends. Meeting someone in a non-romantic context.

Hear me out for a moment - I am perfectly aware that when a single woman meets a single man, or visa versa, they always size each other up in terms of attraction. Of course they do. This is not just something that happens on Friends or Seinfeld or Gilmore Girls. And if you don't do this, you're abnormal. Or maybe I'm abnormal, but even at 30, as a single woman, when I meet a straight, age-appropriate, Christian, clean, decent-looking, single man, I'm going to wonder a little bit about them. I can't help it. I hate that I do it - I wish I could just meet a straight, age-appropriate, Christian, clean, decent-looking, single man and not wonder if I could marry them and have their babies, but I do because of hormones and cultural and personal expectations and stuff.

But this typically lasts about five minutes because I'm a relatively well adjusted person who realizes how ridiculous it is to meet a single, straight member of the opposite sex and envision a possible future with them. Because I'm not thirteen years old, I can get usually get over this moment of insanity ("Maybe-this-is-the-man-I'm-going-to-marry-I-wonder-if-I'll-be-telling-my-grandchildren-about-this-oh-never-mind-he-hasn't-stopped-talking-about-sports-and-doesn't-appear-to-read-chapter-books.") and carry on a relatively decent, normal, adult conversation other than my underlying general shyness (YES, I'M SHY!) (unless the person is particularly hot, and then, let's be very clear here, I'm thirteen years old and can't bare to even meet their eyes, much less carry on an adult conversation).

Which brings us back to online dating. It seems like in the world of online dating, what you have to do is the opposite of what you should do in real life. There's so much pressure. You have to sort of determine, in only a few dates, whether or not this person could possibly be the person you could have a (romantic) relationship with.

Good grief.

That's ridiculous! In real life, you might meet someone, not really sense any chemistry or attraction, but still become friends if you are in the same social circles, and that could eventually lead to romance, marriage, blah blah blah.

But have to decide if a person has that potential when you barely know them, but to get to know them to make a more informed decision gets everyone's hopes up, even if you are both, eyes-wide-open going forward with the knowledge that you are just getting to know each other. Because you could get to know them and decide you don't foresee a romantic future, but you stay friends? No, you don't, unless you're really super duper cool and amazing and nicer than me. Which is certainly possible because I'm not very nice.

All of this rambling is to say that I have a very difficult time with the premise of online dating; with the way it seems to has to work, at least as I have experienced it, so far. And I also struggle with it, personally, to know if it's God's will for me at the moment. I wonder...if the doors for romance aren't open in the non-online aspects of my life, maybe that's God's way of showing me that it's not the time for romance in my life, if ever...and so by pursuing it online, am I sort of circumnavigating those closed doors? And the doors seemed kind of closed online, too, so right now: the doors seem closed in every realm. Not sure why, but they are. The end. This is the end of the True Confessions of Danielle and Online Dating. Until I decide to try it again (read: they send me a great coupon code) and I encounter more...wonderfully odd people and odd profiles that I simply must write about.

5) So, I sort of casually mentioned that I'm 30.

By the way, I'm 30 now.

It's strange. It's such a big deal, but of course, it isn't. It's just another birthday, just another year older. But there's something about entering a "new decade" that makes a person all thoughtful and irritatingly introspective. Aren't you glad I didn't subject you to that? Because I almost did. I'm sort of glad to be thirty because it feels like I'm finally a "real grown-up" - not that being a grown-up is all that great, but I feel like 30 gives a person some street-cred in the grown-up world. I'm sure that this is entirely in my head and entirely not true, and I'm sure I'll be saying the same thing when I'm 40, because let's be honest, the only thing that actually gives you street-cred as a woman in the grown-up world, even in 2015, is being married, and also eventually having children, but we've already covered that in #3 and I'm done talking about it.

But thirty isn't too bad. Especially when you still look 22.

*Sarcasm Sign.*

6) Lastly, I have the cutest dog in the world. The End.*

Until another day's musings, I suppose.

*Please note: my couch is not ordinarily covered with leopard-print (I'm not good at interior decorating but I'm not that tacky...! We just have everything covered in the living room because we've been redoing the floor.