I’m over at the Contemporary Romance Cafe today, talking about the wonderful aspects of being a career writer that I had no ability to dream about.
I’m over at Word Whores, crowing about THE MARK OF THE TALA being #25 in Fantasy, right up there with George RR Martin, and indulging in big dreams of what I’d do with his kind of money.
It’s one of my standard dreams – you know the familiar ones you repeat over and over. Like the being on stage and not knowing your lines one. Or taking the final exam without ever having gone to class. Or being naked in public except for some feathers and a beak.
What, you don’t have that one?
At any rate, Water World is a water park in Denver. No, this has nothing to do with Kevin Costner. It’s one of my very favorite places to go, though I haven’t been in the last couple of years. I love riding the donut tubes down all the different swirly slides. It makes me feel like a kid again, to spend the day in my swimsuit. At the end of the day, my hair is wet and snarled, I’m sun-baked and water-soaked, deliciously exhausted.
Damn, now I want to go!
My Water World dream is one of those “going there but never quite making it” dreams. It’s not a a bad or frustrating dream. We just spend the day going through the admissions turnstile and getting different color wristbands. We get distracted and have to go save people or find treasure. We spend a lot of time in the parking lot, seeing the rides from a distance. Elements from Elitch Gardens, the amusement park of my youth, which has since been relocated and transformed into a Six Flags conglomeration, find their way in. The giant rise of the wooden roller-coaster always figures prominently.
It’s actually a fun dream, full of the anticipation of arriving. I’m eternally poised to have the best day ever. It’s also familiar and, in an odd way, comforting. It’s part of who I am. The sum of so many experiences.
These are the kinds of qualities it’s difficult to give characters. Someone recently told me that common wisdom is that novels about dreams rarely work well, because dreams inherently have no structure, which gives the story a “mushy” feel.
I can totally see that.
In fact, one of the “rules” writers like to cite is that you should never have dream sequences. That editors hate them. I suspect this is the “mushiness” coming into play. Usually if a character has a recurring dream, it’s a nightmare, as JD Robb’s heroine, Eve, experiences. Of course, she has the marvelous latitude of an ongoing series to use that dream as a theme, a device that reveals where Eve is emotionally.
Now I totally want to do something like this. Damn the rules – full speed ahead!
“Manic,” I mutter under my breath.
I dream sometimes about missing holidays. I know I’ve mentioned this before from time to time.
It’s one of my standard anxiety-dreams, along with the one about taking a final without having been to class all semester. (Why is it always Calculus?? It wasn’t as hard as Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry. Yet somehow I have this lingering idea that there’s one semester of Calculus I still “owe” somebody, somewhere. And of course I never have studied for it…)
The other night, I dreamed that I forgot stocking stuffers. Everyone was at our house; everything was ready. And I realized I had no stocking stuffers for anyone. Off I went to buy some, which segued into the long dream of the strange and endless store which morphs into some kind of haunted Victorian mansion with a boat at the dock I never seem to reach.
You guys have this dream, too, right?
Anyway, the stocking-stuffer deal is pretty much mine in the first place. I suspect the rest of the family would drop it if I let them. Which I won’t. I love the touch of magic in it. Playing Santa. I like that we have to sneak around, trying to avoid each other late on Christmas Eve, or early Christmas morning, to tuck little gifts in the stockings. Generally they’re silly things. We each find three per person. It can be stuff like lottery tickets, candy, mini-screwdrivers, and iTunes gift cards. Sometimes someone gets frisky and does a more expensive small something – jewelry or tech devices.
It’s fun and a challenge to see what people come up with.
But, because they have to be small, require inventiveness and because they’re low-key, people put-off acquiring the stocking-stuffers. Then you have to keep track of them without nametags and keep the unwrapped things hidden. Just a bit more effort.
Every year someone asks “are we doing stuffers this year?” hoping we can drop the tradition. Always I talk them into keeping the magic for just one more year. Let’s not let it slide just yet.
Last night someone said to me on Twitter that her family is thinking about Denny’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I’d been teasing someone else about whether Southerners knew how to to a “real” Thanksgiving and passed her when she assured me they have pumpkin pie, not sweet potato pie. This other gal jumped in to tweak me with her Denny’s deal. I obliged her with crying blasphemy and she said she knew – that’s why they like it.
But is it really being iconoclastic? Breaking tired traditions for the freedom and energy of it can be a terrific thing. Sometimes though, we just don’t feel like putting in the effort, so we dress it up as being rebellious.
I usually find the results are worth the effort. It’s tempting to let things slide, to let competing projects, like crying baby birds demanding to be fed NOW, take priority. But it’s not always the loudest, most obnoxious thing that deserves our attention. It’s up to us to choose.
And, to whomever I owe a semester of Calculus, I swear next time I’ll study.
I should note that she said this before the time change.
Yes, due to popular demand, I’ve started writing down what the crazy lady at the gym says, in my little notebook where I keep track of weight lifted and distance run. On those occasions when I don’t have the solace of my earbuds, I sometimes catch what she’s saying to some other poor soul she has trapped in conversation.
Clocks and time have been on our minds this week. At least, for all of us in places who embrace the antique custom of Daylight Savings Time. For the record, we just went off DST and back to real, actual, dictated by the cycle of the earth’s rotation time. Amazing to me how many people don’t know which is which.
Yes, it does so matter! (This message brought to you by the People In Favor of REAL Time, aka PIFORT.)
People have been feeling the pain of the time change for the last several days, complaining of lost sleep, children awaking early, pets being a pain. It seems that we shouldn’t feel the impact of the autumn change (back to REAL time), because we get to sleep an hour longer in the morning. Well, yes, this would work great, except that we’re staying up later.
Instead of acknowledging that we feel sleepy and ready for bed earlier, we look at the clock. Hoo boy, no! we chortle. It’s *way* too early to go to bed. But our bodies know, regardless of what the clock says.
Changing our clocks reminds us, rather brutally, of our circadian rhythms. Otherwise we tend to ignore our animal selves in favor of our tech selves. We stay up late, with our lights and our TVs and our computers, working into the night and ignoring the sleepies.
In the morning, the alarm sounds and we force ourselves from bed, to meet our carefully detailed schedules.
It’s not really what Ben Franklin had in mind at all. We’re not taking advantage of shifting the pattern of our days to take advantage of the light so we can work in the fields more effectively or save on artificial lighting. And yet, our representatives in the House and Senate voted to expand DST as an “energy-saving” measure.
Yes, our PIFORT lobbyists are working on this.
The truth is, I think, that we’ve made the clock king. The digital readout, not how we feel, runs our lives. Sleep science has long shown that we spend more time in healing Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) in the early part of the night and more time in REM sleep (Rapid-Eye Movement or dreaming sleep) in the morning hours. You can really witness this if you sleep during the day at all. Sleeping in late into the morning produces lots of dreams. Afternoon naps are heavy and dreamless.
So, if we don’t go to bed until late at night, guess which kind of sleep we miss out on?
Sometimes I think it would be interesting to live a non-electronic life. I think people must have slept long hours in the dark of winter, which is what my body wants. Once black night fell and you fixed and ate supper, you wouldn’t sit around by the fire knitting or whittling or reading for all that long. Even if you woke at dawn to feed the chickens and milk the cows, you’d still be sleeping maybe ten hours a night?
I think about this sometimes, when I look out the windows and see the slanting glare of our electric lights spill into the night.
Then I go back to whatever brightly lit thing I was doing. I reset the clocks, but that doesn’t mean anything.
There was a controlled burn yesterday in the Santa Fe National Forest. We could see smoke billowing up to the east of us all day. They’re good here, though – they put up highway signs and send tweets telling us that’s the case. Over night, the smoke all settled down into the valley.
It smells like a campfire today. Only without the marshmallows.
I’ve been having different dreams the last couple of nights. Unusual images. Monday night I dreamed that David and I were driving over a bridge, the kind of high, arching white ones that span the waters between the mainland and barrier islands. David was driving. I looked down to see that there were whales teeming in the water below. Great blue whales, hundreds of them. They raised their heads out of the water, splashed their tails, rubbed noses, feeding and frolicking. David asked me if I wanted to pull over to take pictures and I said yes. As I was walking back to the car to change lenses (I know – look at me, even dreaming about changing lenses now!) I saw David talking to our daughter Lauren, her guy Damion and our grandson, Tobiah. I was surprised to see them there, to see there were tons of people there now, and Lauren said, oh yes, people were coming from all over to see the whales, such an extraordinary event.
Last night, the dream seemed more like my usual quest dream. I think we were running around saving kidnapped people. There were Russians involved and a maximum security prison. Your dreams are like this, too, right? Anyway, at the end of the dream, David reached into his bag and pulled out this enormous black frog. From this drawing you should conclude that, yes, my MS Paint skills suck, and that it looked like no real frog on earth. It was glossy and turgid, like one of those balloons you can get at the grocery store.
The frog looked unhappy, so I told David to put it in the sink and fill the basin with water. The frog lay submerged in the water, watching us with crystal blue eyes and smiling.
Yes. Frogs can smile. Especially the big, black ones.
At any rate, I’m taking this as things welling up from my subconscious. Amazing creatures, joyfulness and restoration, emerging from dark and hidden places.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Though I’m willing to entertain other interpretations?
Because it was in August, it was the Red Moon. Aptly named. I’d had an idea that I’d try to blog all the full moons for the next year, but then I went and missed the first one due to vacation lassitude. I’ll make it up with the September moon.
I had the best dream last night. One of those dreams that are so lovely, I’m still riding on the happy wave of it.
And, oh yeah, it was total wish-fulfillment.
I dreamed the agent that I mailed my first 100 pages to the other day called me and said she wanted to visit me to talk about my book. She came to my house and I had to pull the book from the library that had her critique notes in it. She told me they were in the Ignatius volume.
(Um, no, I have no idea what any of that means. It was a dream, okay?)
She pronounced it Ignashus and I thought maybe it should be Ignateeus, since it was Latin, but I didn’t say anything. She had me also read my synopsis to her, which I’d written on lettuce leaves. (Doesn’t everyone?) That one, I think could be related to the fact that she tweets about lunch a fair amount.
At any rate, it was wonderful, validating and everything I hope will happen. I knew that my book would be published and published well. I woke up feeling happy about it.
I’m still happy.
Even though I only mailed it on Tuesday, so I know it’s all wishing, even if it comes from the heart.
Still, Snow White is dancing around and singing, cartoon bluebirds flitting about.
Which is kind of odd, because it once meant so much to me. Last week, when David and I went to Ten Thousand Waves to celebrate our anniversary by soaking in a private tub, he asked me if I thought the new people were using the hot tub much.
I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
“Our hot tub?” he says. “The people who bought our house — do you think they use the hot tub?”
Ohhhh. The hot tub we used to sit in pretty much every night for five years. In the house we bought for love. For jts beauty and the sunlight. I just hadn’t thought about it. “They’re from California and it’s been a cold winter — I hope they’re using it!”
And then I started thinking more about how they were doing. If they figured out how to set up the pond heater so the koi in the pond will overwinter. The upstairs gets cold when it’s really chilly — I should have left a note telling them of my trick of closing the downstairs heating vents and turning on the upstairs ceiling fan and heating from the top down on those super-frosty days.
Last night I dreamed that we snuck into the old house. The person we were with — maybe a real estate agent? — knew they were out of town. So we went in to look around and all the windows were shaded so no light came in! Enraged, I went around opening shades and doors. I heard voices behind one door and there was a woman inside, reading to a little girl who was sick.
So I fled. Fortunately she didn’t see me. (How she couldn’t when I opened the door to the bedroom is silly, but that’s the great thing about dreams.)
Anyway, I think I’m connecting with the timing. It was one year ago now that we put our house on the market. I started to say good-bye then. I wasn’t sure of the date until I checked this blog post. Amazing to me how our subconscious notes and commemorates anniversaries, even if we consciously don’t.
Coincidentally, I wrote about that house (okay, that part isn’t a coinicidence – I write about every damn thing, like cats and New Mexico weather) and the essay appeared in Going Green.
Recently the Wyoming Library Roundup published an article on the anthology and they used a picture of our old house. (Look at page 9 – I can’t seem to get it to bookmark.)
So now it’s immortalized the way I liked it, for all to see. Which is a lovely by-product of writing. It doesn’t really matter if they use the hot tub, if the fish survive the winter or if they close the shades.
It’s their house now. Mine is in the book.