22 Dec

A Who’s Perspective

What can I say? We are heavy sleepers. The tinkle of a glass ornament as it drops off the tree, the crackle of a tray of ice cubes, the scraping of soot in the chimbley — these things don’t wake us from our slumber. Our dreams are far too captivating to succumb to such distractions.

I remember mine that night. It began with the sound of footsteps trudging through the snow, a loud staccato crunch. It was so loud, I covered my ears. But then I realized I had no ears. I was, in fact, the footsteps — or rather, the boots marching through the snow.

And then it stopped. All went silent and white. The smell of snow was overpowering. I felt light and airy, like I was inhaling a long, intoxicating breath of the freshest air. Everything was so white. And it was so quiet, I didn’t realize right away that I’d been falling through the air beside enormous structures of crystalline ice. I was a snowflake.

I fell toward a horse pulling a cart. And naturally, I became the horse, huffing in the winter air, feeling the strength of my body as I trotted along. I became the cart, creaking under a load of timber. I became the wheels of the cart, meeting the road with my never ending surfaces. I rolled over the earth, became the stones, the gravel, the dirt. I rumbled with the vibrations of each speck of dust, each grain of sand and grit. And then I fell through a funnel of an hourglass and landed amongst my family and neighbors in the town square.

We were all specks of dirt at first, but our faces materialized over a span of long minutes and hours. And then we told our stories.

The communal dream happens every night. But it seldom has the same clarity it had that night. Everyone arrived having journeyed from earth to sky and back again. Emily Sue had been a flash of lightning, a lily pad, a crocodile and a rainbow. Lulu had been an oaktree, an acorn, and a crow. Uncle Stu had been the fog, the mist of waves crashing on rocks, a gull, and a green hermit.

We all had achieved the Who ideal. We had lost ourselves amongst the grains of creation.

When we woke up the next morning, just a few nails and wires remained on the walls of our homes. There was so much space, so much emptiness. It was miraculous. Having dreamt about everything, to wake up to nothing thrilled us.

We leapt from our beds and convened at the town square. There was nothing left to do but to grab the hands of our children and siblings and parents and sing. “Fah who forays! Dah who dorays! . . . “

20 Aug

The Beginning of the End

It starts with the ridiculously early back-to-school sales. I heard reports of some at the beginning of July this year. Three weeks into summer, for God’s sake! Must have been because of the recession. Retail is freaking out, creating sales/hype for whatever reason they can think of. Halloween sales start on Labor Day. Scary ha ha*.

The next phase is the mailing you get from the district. There’s something in there from everyone — the superintendent, the assistant to the superintendent, the principal, the assistant principals, the regional manager, his assistant, and then various committees, like the social committee, who wants you to bring something for the potluck lunch on that first staff-only day.

From there, it’s all downhill. You get more and more emails from staff full of claims that they’re excited about the upcoming year. You run into colleagues at the grocery store, who say, “See you in a couple weeks!” And all the fake cheeriness makes you so self-loathing that you just go ahead and check your class lists online.

And then the dreams come. Oh, the dreams. Your class is huge, completely unmanageable. The room is one you’ve never been in before. You’ve forgotten to bring textbooks or handouts or anything else you should pass out to the students. You’re teaching a subject you haven’t prepped for. You’re late to every class period. You’re not wearing pants. Scary strange*.

*(I’m coining two new phrases. You know how the word funny needs clarification? Funny ha ha or funny strange. Well, I think scary needs a similar distinction. Scary ha ha is the type of scary that deserves derision; scary strange is the kind that sends a chill down your spine.)

15 Sep

The Bureaucracy of Dreams

This morning, just after hitting the snooze button, I proceeded to have a dream in which I was staring at a piece of paper that read, “Thank you for returning to sleep, please check all that apply.” What followed was a checklist of several statements, including “I have pressed the snooze button on my alarm clock” and “I had an interesting dream I wanted to get back to.” There were several others that I checked, but I can’t remember them all.

11 Aug

The dream at summer’s end.

My brain just processed the entire summer in a single dream.

I was at my cousin Mike’s “house,” which was huge, and was housing everyone in my extended family. We went body rafting down a river. Head first. And then we got ready for the wedding: my sister Jamie was getting married to a guy named Scottie, who was the younger brother of a girl she went to high school with. When I voiced my misgivings about Jamie marrying someone while she was already married, it was calmly explained to me that she had actually divorced Rick already and would continue living with Rick and the kids, but she would be married to Scottie.

The guy that was going to be officiating the ceremony wasn’t alright with this, so they asked me to do it. I said okay.

How is this representative of the whole summer, you ask?

The summer began with my officiating my brother’s wedding. Scottie is the older brother of one of my brother’s high school friends who was at the wedding. My cousin Mike was at the wedding and provided a steady source of laughter. Later in the summer, I was in Colorado with the family, body rafting down a river. In Portland, a good friend of mine informed me of an unconventional family situation, in which he and a friend (not his wife or girlfriend) were thinking about raising a kid together. In Idaho, my friend Ben told me about a crazy, dysfunctional wedding he attened this past year.

30 May


I just woke up from a strange one. I had Osama bin Laden as a guest speaker in one of my classes, and I was getting annoyed because a lot of students were bored and not disguising it.

Osama was indeed pretty boring, but there was one interesting conversation:

A student: Are you going to kill us all right now?
Osama: No.
Me: Why not?
Osama (paraphrased): Because I’m not a suicide bomber. I’m needed for the cause. (He went on and on for a few minutes, but that was essentially all he said.)
Student: Are you going to kill us all as soon as you leave the building?

At this point, a different student, named Neil, got up and started walking toward the door. I shouted his name and told him to sit down. Then I went over to him and told him he was being disrespectful, and I slapped him. He was holding an unlit cigarrette, and I took it from him.

He was laughing, but when I took his cigarrette, he said, “Hey, you can’t take that!”

I said I could and he went off on this little rant in which he swore at me, so I tore up the cigarrette.

He was shocked. “Aw, man. I was just quoting some lines from Dazed and Confused,” he said. “Haven’t you seen that movie?”