Friday, September 30, 2005

One bad dream, one good dream

I had a scary dream the other night in which we were moving to our new place. But the new place was a sort of post-apocalyptic version of my grandparents' old house, which stood on the banks of a stony creek. In the dream, the creek roared over its banks, turning the land to swamp. I was not too worried — such flooding had happened before — until I started getting pelted with frogs.

The frogs were flying at me from all directions. At first, I thought they were raining from the sky. But then it became apparent that they were criss-crossing the field of their own volition. Were they frightened of the flooding? No. They seemed intent on smashing into me and knocking me down. I held up a book and began swatting frogs as if they were tennis balls. Then the frog volley got too intense and I started worrying about our four cats (four? we only have three) who were also out in the storm.

I put my head down and marched forward, ignoring the torrent of frogs now splatting against my torso and legs. When I moved toward them, the unlucky frogs burst like water balloons and slid stickily down my front. I called for the cats, and caught a glimpse of Love Kitty, darting under a bench. He looked oddly small. G. ran under my legs, and I knew that he was the most vulnerable, so I decided to run him into the house. The cats were sure to be flailing in their terror, so I would ferry them indoors one by one.

My grandmother's house was perfectly unchanged. I felt such relief as I slipped up the back stairs and into her kitchen. But then G. slipped my grasp and turned into a bee. Frantically, I pawed the air, trying to catch him. He alighted on the door of the stove, and I watched in horror as a slack-jowled hound dog came out of nowhere and proceeded to lick him.

I shoved the dog out of the way, but he was determined. The bee got soaked. I shoved the dog again and then tried gently to cup the doused bee — my little G. — in some paper towels. I ran a towel over his wings... and rubbed the the wings right off. The bee disintegrated in my hands and I cried out in horror. There was no reversing this mistake. G. was gone.

I woke up, shaking and upset. Then I sat on the floor of the bathroom, trying to parse such a silly dream.

[Next: a better dream]

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This is just to say...

... that I really hate what pregnancy is doing to my body.

I never had a perfect body, but it was a body that I'd learned how to dress and keep fit and with which I'd made peace. This new and nauseated body is awful. Swollen. Rearranged. Unrecognizable to me.

I can't help thinking that I now have a belly like my father's.

I can't help marveling at women who claim they looove being pregnant. Or at any woman who has been pregnant more than once.

Monday, September 26, 2005


As seen at Nels and What Now:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post that sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Here it is: "From the other room, Adam is skeptical."


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Prairie Home's New Kid Companion

We have to move again this month. My first-trimester nausea has given way to second-trimester puking. And I'm pushing my book manuscript along like an ant behind an 18-wheeler.

So, yes, my normally active dream life has exploded into something far more unpredictable and exhausting. I don't so much have REM cycles as I have whole REM nights. (That's why the yoga mat I keep in my office now sees fewer down dogs than cat naps.)

Dreams now come in prodigious, 360-degree sweeps. Most are classic anxiety dreams, but steeped in too many real-life people and details to offer the comfort or insights of distorting dream symptoms. Which is why I was so grateful for the little bit of comedy that sneaked in the other night.

Early Thursday a.m., I dreamed that New Kid on the Hallway was the featured guest on Garrison Keillor's radio show. My first reaction was, "Wow! Garrison Keillor must read New Kid!" Then I worried that New Kid would be forced to give up her anonymity. But no, I reasoned, it was a radio show. So the only people who would see her face were those in the live audience.

But it turns out that New Kid and Garrison had worked out an even better solution. The dream cut to the Prairie Home Companion stage in St. Paul. Garrison and New Kid were sharing a microphone, swapping jokes. But New Kid remained completely hidden, because she was wearing a refrigerator box.

I was mentally congratulating New Kid for her brilliance, when the refrigerator box suddenly lifted a few inches from the floor. Suddenly visible were New Kid's feet, clad in red patent-leather tap shoes. The feet began a skillful dance. A microphone leaned in closer to record the sound.

The audience and I cheered the surprise dance performance. And I had to wipe tears from my cheeks, so happy and amazed was I at New Kid's success.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Finished with something

I finally turned in an article that took me all summer to write. I surely must be the slowest writer on earth. But I was pleased with how the piece came out.

Most of all, though, I'm pleased that it's finally off my desk. I must remember this: how delicious it feels to be finished with writing.

I also want to remember to blog on writing and candy corn, but that's a topic for later in the week.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Best Monday Ever (Love Returns)

Happy ending first: After going missing for three days and three nights, Love rematerialized at 6:30 this morning.

We spent a sad weekend tramping through the forest and surrounding fields looking for his remains. We sat in silent grief at the dining room table, unable to stop listening for his cries. This morning, I'd gone back to bed at 6:15, haunted by a neighbor's confident assurance that Love's neck had been snapped by a fox. "Either that or a hawk got him," said this neighbor who knows a thing or two about this semi-rural neighborhood. "I once saw a hawk swoop down and take a raccoon right up into the sky."

It was a soggy weekend. With each new rainfall, I started to cry, thinking of Love's body outside.

On Saturday, I wrote to my best friend:
Who knew a little cat could break our hearts like this? But we really did spend every day of this summer together. We'd come such a long way (we joked he was our "special needs child") and he and his movements are so enmeshed in everything I do at home. In the last few weeks, when we started letting him go out in the mornings again, he was so, so good about submitting to the mandatory tick checks. Upon letting Love back in each morning, I would lay out a pillowcase on the table and Love would hop right up and flop down on his side, to let me do the check. And I would coo over him, and tell him "Now I'm going to check your pretty ears.... and now your pretty face... and your pretty chin..." And he would purr and purr, and would sometimes want to be held and petted long after I'd finished scrutinizing his fur. He really had become a love lately.

On the morning Love went missing, we had a tour of the new place to which we'll shortly be moving. (Strict lead laws + ancient apartment + baby on the way = yet another move.) The first thing I thought of when I saw the new house's backyard was how wonderful—and how much safer—it would be for Love. I pictured him scampering back from the tree-line, in the jaunty way he always materialized from the woods when we whistled. But Adam had whistled and whistled forever on Friday... and nothing. On Sunday, we grimly followed a set of animal tracks deep into the forest and found a fox's den. There were a few feathers around the opening, but no traces of pale fur.

We missed his body, the distinctive Love vocabulary of energy and gesture.

And then his body returned. In morning's darkness. Howling on the side stoop. He was collarless, hungry, and had a small scratch on his back. Otherwise, he was remarkably clean and dry.

Was he lost? trapped? cat-napped? We'll likely never know.

What I do know is that I'm grateful for that squirmy little form who slipped back in the house, a sleek, soft miracle. Love back in my arms, I worried that I was going to wake up from a dream.

I'm also grateful for the tender and encouraging words many of you shared here. This is one of those days when I really wish I could post pictures to share. Today I took Love to the vet, who declared him healthy, but dehydrated. She gave him subcutaneous fluids, so he looked like a little camel on the drive home. Then the fluid shifted to his shoulders, and he looked like a cat on steroids.

Love dozed all morning with his brothers on the bed. And when I finally left for work this afternoon, he was sound asleep in the fruit bowl, his new favorite spot.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Love Lost

Our cat went out this morning and never came home again. We fear the worst and, as evidence of the worst accrues, can't stop crying.

Oh Philo. Oh beautiful life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Five Questions (Question 4)

What Now gave me five questions to answer, and I've been quite pokey in getting around to them, even though (or because?) they're good ones.

Here's the list:
1) What kind of old woman do you think you’ll be? Or would you like to be (if these are two different things)?
2) Do you ever think about writing a non-academic book? What would it be about?
3) What kind of little kid were you?
4) What’s the story with your blog title? I’ve always wondered.
5) What is the current shape or form of your spiritual life?

I'm going to start with the easy one: Question 4.

What's the story with the blog title? (That's a question I want to ask so many bloggers!) Two years ago, I found myself suddenly, overwhelmingly depressed. My brother shared with me his blog, and I immediately wanted to try blogging for myself. For some reason, I started thinking about an exhibit I’d seen of Yoko Ono’s early work, an exhibit called “Yes, Yoko Ono.” My brother hadn’t seen the exhibit with me, but I’d sent him a Yoko Ono book, because he was graduating and because I wished he could have been there. The Yoko Ono book was about getting un-stuck and seeing the world in fresh ways. In my funk, I wished that I had bought a second copy of the book for myself. Instead, I set up a blogger account called “Yes, YelloCello.”

YES was an homage to an Ono piece that required viewers to scale a ladder so as to read a tiny square of paper glued to the ceiling. The paper bore just one word, a whisper in 10-point font: "yes."

The YELLO was a lament for the grim, sunless place I was living. I liked how, without the “w,” the word could stand for sunlight and protest.

CELLO is my favorite instrument in all the world. It is the instrument I took up when I was starting my life all over again back in 1999/2000. Alas, lifelong devotion to an instrument doesn’t always translate into natural talent! Bizarre though this may sound, I sometimes feel like a cello. Or maybe I feel that a cello — in moods pensive, bold, giddy, or melancholy — could speak for me.

Book report 1

Where are you going? Where have you been?

We went to Wisconsin, to mourn with a friend. By day three, I saw that she was more beautiful than I had remembered. Wrapped in her own pain, she stayed away from the Katrina coverage. But, like the floodwaters, the news it would seep. We sat in a restaurant while a CNN helicopter tossed water bottles to New Orleaneans trapped on a balcony. On the muted TV screen, the balcony people scrambled like silent gulls.

I started to keep a journal. Which means I forget to write here. In the journal, I'm mostly writing about writing. Or sometimes writing to get writing. Book manuscript due, and all too soon. At least now I have a room of my own, an office all sunlight and green.

Book report: Here's a hackneyed metaphor. If my book manuscript were a birth, I'd be at only two centimeters right now.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Spin the Light to Gold

I adore Dar Williams, but her End of the Summer CD has always been my least favorite of her albums. Blame it on the title and the somber photo on front. But the title track is striking and thought-provoking, especially when you can mentally pair the lyrics with their aching melody.

"The End of the Summer"
The summer ends and we wonder where we are
And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car
And you both look so young
And last night was hard, you said
You packed up every room
And then you cried and went to bed
But today you closed the door and said
"We have to get a move on.
It's just that time of year when we push ourselves ahead,
We push ourselves ahead."

And it was cloudy in the morning
And it rained as you drove away
And the same things looked different
It's the end of the summer
It's the end of the summer,
When you move to another place

And I feel like the neighbor's girl who will never be the same
She walked alone all spring,
She had a boyfriend when the summer came
And he gave her flowers in a lightning storm
They disappeared at night in green fields of silver corn
And sometime in July she just forgot that he was leaving
So when the fields were dying, she held on to his sleeves
She held on to his sleeves

And she doesn't want to let go
'Cause she won't know what she's up against
The classrooms and the smart girls
It's the end of the summer
It's the end of the summer
When you hang your flowers up to dry

And I had a dream it blows the autumn through my head
It felt like the first day of school
But I was going to the moon instead
And I walked down the hall
With the notebooks they got for me
My dad led me through the house
My mom drank instant coffee
And I knew that I would crash
But I didn't want to tell them
There are just some moments when your family makes sense
They just make sense

So I raised up my arms and my mother put the sweater on
We walked out on the dark and frozen grass
The end of the summer
It's the end of the summer
When you send your children to the moon

The summer ends and we wonder who we are
And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car
And today I passed the high school, the river, the maple tree
I passed the farms that made it
Through the last days of the century
And I knew that I was going to learn again
Again, in this less hazy light
I saw the fields beyond the fields
The fields beyond the fields

And the colors are much brighter now
It's like they really want to tell the truth
We give our testimony to the end of the summer
It's the end of the summer,
You can spin the light to gold.

Bye-bye, summer. (Or, good-bye to what feels like summer, at least.)

We're visiting friends for the Labor Day weekend. Will tackle What Now's five questions next week...