Posts Tagged ‘nightmares’

Quest for wifi

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Greetings from outside The Coffee Bean, the world’s only coffee shop without wifi. Of course.


My mother dropped me off here for a few hours while she gets her hair done, so I could use their (non-existent, but free!) wifi. However, I have found a weak and moody signal coming from The Bon Bon Hair Salon next door, and with any luck the fates will smile on me, and I will be able to share my continued tale of woe with you.


This is obviously not my mother, but this is kind of like what her hair looked like when she drove up.

This is obviously not my mother, but this is kind of like what her hair looked like when she drove up.

So, my mother just came screeching up in her car with foils in her hair, because she found a place with wifi. I explained that – thanks to Bon Bon– I was just fine. As she drove back, she was yelling out her window, “Don’t put this in the blog! I don’t want to read about this in some book someday!”




But the thing of it is, she doesn’t read the blog, so I figure no harm, no foul. If it will even mildly entertain you, it’s going in the blog. Moreover, as I’m sure you will agree, it was very nice of her to come mid-hair coloring session to try to help me out like that. As you know, I generally leave my friends and family out of the blog because I don’t want to offend them or reveal things that embarrass them and mostly because they don’t really have a way to state their own side.


However, when they start dying off? Look out. There will be some hard-core tell-all memoirs hitting your closest book stand. Augusten Burroughs ain’t got nothing on the yarns I’ll be spinning.


Meanwhile, I have pretty much no amusing stories to share with you, so let me tell you about this crazy scary dream I had last night (which somehow I ended up telling like a comedy when I was telling my mother. I don’t know why this happens. I can apparently never be serious).


Any amateur dream interpreters out there? Feel free to have at it:


Okay, so in real life I watch this show “Big Love” on HBO about this family living in plural marriage in SLC, Utah. It’s really well done and fascinating, and I guess that information was somehow in there with the other items tossed into my dream salad? Thus, in the dream I was one of many wives, and I had twins who were about 8 months old, and we all lived in this huge old house together. I put the twins down to nap, and was upstairs in my room when I became aware that this evil force was in my room. It scared me, and I went to leave the room, but it somehow made it such that I couldn’t reach out for the doorknob. I felt like I was arm-wrestling someone.


So I went to this old armoire in the room and opened it, and the entity (as it will henceforth be called as I tell you this story) had made this vacuum cleaner sitting inside the wardrobe start smoking. I threw a glass of water on it, and started screaming and screaming for someone to come help me because I couldn’t get out of the room.


Eventually this older man came in the room, and I recognized him as a leader of a different polygamist group (not the one we belonged to), and I wondered what he was doing in our house. However, I was so freaked out by the entity, I didn’t care. So I told him what had happened, and he looked around and everything seemed normal. Regardless, he appeared to be very shook up, and the next thing I knew, he had run out of the house and was getting in his car and driving away. I watched him leave through the window.


I should mention that I wasn’t ‘me.’ I was younger and looked different and had the twins that I already mentioned. So anyway, I was still in the bedroom, and the entity started slamming the doors of the wardrobe, and there was this intense feeling of pressure in my body, and I started to think I should get out of there. It was like the entity was trying to take over or possess me or something, and it was everything I could do to fight it off. I kept screaming at it to leave and leave me alone, but it seemed like it kept getting stronger.


I called a friend and told her I would be coming over and bringing the children, and she started fretting about how small her room was, but I figured if I could get out of there, I’d go there regardless.


I managed to get out into the hall, and there was another room adjacent to mine. It was a bathroom with a clawfoot tub, but also all my clothes were in there. I went in to grab some things, and somehow the vacuum cleaner (the one from the closet in the other room) was sitting in the middle of the room, and it turned on – unplugged – and came toward me and sparks were flying out of it and it was smoking. I briefly considered throwing water on it again, but decided to slam the door and run out of the room and just leave.


Then I heard this awful banging I presumed the vacuum cleaner was banging up against the door to get out, but it turns out in real life the door to my room was banging in the wind, and I woke up.


And there you have it. A little glimpse into my twisted subconscious.


With any luck, something funny will happen in the next twenty-four hours, and I’ll have some good tales to tell when we reconvene tomorrow for the next installment. Or if not, I’ll just have to see what kind of wacky trouble the people of the world are getting themselves into now…

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At least I’m not that guy

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

We all have bad days. Some worse than others. I had some creepy nightmares that my recently deceased dog came back to life, and I was so happy to see her. However, it turned out that her body was badly broken, so whenever she would try to run or play, she would end up as this mangled pile of bones and fur, whimpering in pain. It was unbearable to watch, and when I took her to the vet to beg them for pain medication to ease her suffering, they checked her out and explained to me that she would be dead again within weeks. Plus, her pain would increase exponentially until she finally died (for the second time). Look out, Stephen King. There’ s a new demented dreamer in town.

Anyway, during the course of this nightmare I must have twisted myself into a funny position, because now I kind of feel like I’ve had a stroke on the right side of my body. Seriously. I have pain from my neck to my calf, but only on the right side. How weird is that? I’ll tell you: weird. Then throw in the general strangeness of not working or being productive (or at least not in a way that pays), and the occasional negative thinking that I’m out of my mind and only a selfish, delusional lazybones would even attempt this career change, and the fact that I’m writing this in the complete dark (a total power outage)…and taken altogether it’s thrown a little bit of a dark cloud on my mood.

Luckily, I have my father to remind me of what isn’t wrong: I’m not completely batsh*t crazy. Actually, I talked to him yesterday when I was in a great mood (moody much? Why yes, I… Hey…why!? You want to make something of it!?!?), and he reminded me about this guy who lived in the apartment upstairs during my first year of college at UCSC.

To explain, UC Santa Cruz is broken into eight? ten? who knows how many at this point? smaller sub-colleges to minimize the ‘gigantic university’ effect. Each of the sub-divisions has its own flavor, and I chose the hippie experiment, Kresge. Kresge was built in the late 1960s by the people who went on to found some communes and invent some reality TV greats like The Real World and Big Brother. Well, I don’t know that for a fact, but it’s quite likely.

Unlike typical college dorms where you get a roommate and a meal plan, Kresge put seven strangers into one weird commune-style apartment. There were two toilets in stalls (like public restrooms), a shared kitchen and family room, and one shower with three heads. Very Playboy mansion. Pile in a motley mix of teens of varying emotional maturity and stability, and you’ve got one hell of a social experiment.

Thankfully, it more or less worked, and no one was severely traumatized…except maybe the guys that lived upstairs from us. You see, they got a roommate named Dill, and Dill had some rather extreme eccentricities.

For starters, he would only wear white. I suppose if you have enough Clorox around, that’s not totally outer limits. However, and (this just occurs to me now), perhaps in order to keep the white clothes sparkling, he would only eat white food. Plus, he was nocturnal. So his roommates would hear a ruckus at two or three in the morning and come out to find Dill cooking up a big pot of hominy or Cream of Wheat or maybe some kind of chowder or bisque. As my dad put it, “If he didn’t get some vitamins into that diet, he’s dead by now.”

Actually, I’m more inclined toward institutionalized. As I remember it, Dill’s Kresge student housing experience came to an abrupt end when a roommate made the following discovery: Concerned about the strange smell emanating from Dill’s room, the roommate entered while he was downstairs making his midnight mashed potatoes and rice pudding. As it was retold to me (by a different roommate), he found mason jars with dead birds and squirrels in them, and the jars were filled with water, so everything inside was rotting quite spectacularly. I believe there were varying dead things that hadn’t yet found a home in a jar, which was probably the source of the smell, and also (not surprisingly) the source of the eviction.

The moral of the story? On those days when life gets you down and you have sad dreams, bad dreams, busted dreams, or no dreams, just remind yourself: At least I’m not that guy.

And then go have yourself some colorful food.


Did I mention I’m in the middle of some localized power outage? At the moment, I’m sitting in the dark outside an apartment building, having hijacked the wifi of someone fortunate enough to have power!

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The horror… The horror…

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
Just me and the Baltic Sea

Just me and the Baltic Sea

Small Lithuanian market's vast ketchup offering

Small Lithuanian market's vast ketchup offering

Having never been the kind of girl that ‘gets around’, I can recall very few (if any) experiences in which I awoke in a strange and repugnant place early, quietly packed up my things, and burst through the door into the cold morning air feeling as though I’d just pulled off a prison break. This was such a morning, and I don’t think I would’ve felt more relieved had I just swam to shore from Alcatraz.

I’ve never slept in a homeless shelter, but now I kind of feel like I can say I have – only I paid good money for the experience. Old men continued to pile in throughout the night (one arrived at 2am, two more at 3am), each adding their own brand of phlegmy cough, chainsaw snore, urine-soaked smell, and moaning – moaning like you might imagine in a medieval dungeon – to the terrible symphony. To my own utter amazement, I managed to think myself asleep by practicing some relaxation techniques I know from hypnosis. Admittedly, I was still awoken every couple hours and it would always take another 45 minutes to work through the range of emotions (horror, disgust, fear, misery, despair, etc.) and fall back asleep again.

It was also incredibly cold, which didn’t help. The hostel had no heat (of course not. It wouldn’t qualify as the single worst lodging on earth if it provided any kind of human comfort), and I don’t remember being so cold in the night except for a couple times I went camping without proper equipment. I used to have this 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia and one time my boyfriend at the time and I went to a Native American ceremony up on Orcas Island in the San Juans. After a really long, strange, nauseating 18-hour ‘ceremony’ in a smoky teepee (the fire wasn’t set up right, apparently), we stumbled back to the van to sleep. I woke up many hours later and my hair had frozen. Condensation had built up in the van from our breathing and gotten in my hair and it was like a solid block of ice in some places. This hostel was not quite, but almost that cold. And louder.

Anyway, when I woke up I saw that one of the guys had opened the windows. It was 6 Celsius out last night (about 40 degrees for those of us, such as myself, that know all but nothing of the metric and Celsius systems. I know that 40 celcius is over 100 and the Europeans consider that the same as melting in hell and 0 is freezing. Does anyone know: Why do we still use all those antiquated systems in the U.S. – ounces, miles, degrees?? Because we’re stubborn?). Anyway, it was damn cold out there, but someone opened a window anyway. It sounded to me like some of those guys had emphysema or at least tuberculosis, but it’s their funeral, I guess.

The worst of it – and I hesitate to mention this because the emotional scarring is still quite raw – was something I saw. For those of you easily nauseated, you may want to skip ahead. Okay, last night I left the room and went into one of the bathrooms to wash up, brush my teeth, and change into pajamas. At the time, the two men I originally mentioned (down and out Dennis Hopper and his friend) were not on the premises, It was my goal to get to bed before they returned. I had heard Dennis Hopper wheezing on the couch earlier (while he was awake), and figured we were in for a loud night.

Anyway, the door to the room (a room for ten people, despite the fact that my reservation was for the four-person room, and I’d paid extra for that) was ajar, and I walked in to find the two men standing there in black briefs (the cousin of tighty whiteys – tacky blackies?). and with obvious boners. As if just seeing them naked but for their underwear wasn’t bad enough.

The calm before the storm...chilling by some Lithuanian dunes

The calm before the storm...chilling by some Lithuanian dunes

After I got over the relief that witnessing such a horror hadn’t immediately turned me to stone, I realized they were talking to me in German and giggling like schoolgirls. I averted my eyes in what was intended to be a VERY obvious “I am so disgusted it is all I can do not to throw up” kind of way, put my toiletries in my bag, and climbed up to my bed (in a first, I moved myself to an upper bunk. I figured it would be harder to mess with me – the only woman in the whole joint besides the very heavyset and unfriendly Lithuanian girl in charge, now locked safely in her private heated room).

Okay, so do you ever have nightmares where something bad is happening and you cannot scream? Someone has come up on you in the stairwell of the hotel (this was a common one for me when I used to travel a lot for business, I would always take the stairs, and I guess on some level I was always a little afraid that something bad could come of that?) and you know you have one chance to alert someone else before this goes bad, but you can’t make a sound? This is, of course, because your body paralyzes you while you’re asleep so that you don’t act out your dreams and hurt yourself.

Anyway, last night I dreamed that those two horrible old black underwear boner men were trying to molest me. One of them was reaching under my blanket and the other was climbing up the stairs to the bunk, and I tried and tried to scream and nothing would come out, and I was so disgusted and horrified and violently opposed to this that I put out one final effort and let out a blood curdling scream IN REAL LIFE. I swear to God. I screamed like I was being murdered at around 4am in a hostel bedroom because I’d seen two sleazy old men in their underwear five hours earlier.

I was asked in about six different languages if I was okay. Thankfully, I was. Moments later, the snoring and hacking and nose blowing and moaning recommenced.

So I’m out of there now, and slowly calming down and feeling better. There are some fun British people on the bus singing, “Riga, Latvia” to the ‘Viva Las Vegas’ tune. It’s a rare and pleasant treat to be in an English-speaking majority (and a bunch with such sly senses of humor), and I’m relishing it.

When we got on, the local newspaper (Bakaru ekspresas) was in all of our seats, and the woman across the aisle from me was leafing through it. One of her friends asked what she was doing, and she replied, “I’m catching up on a bit of the local news. I’m looking at the pictures, if you must know.” Then she flipped to the back page, “Look, the stars! Diane, I’ll read them to you!” Apparently my sign, Libra, is called “Svarstykles” in Lithuanian. I recognize one word in the last sentence: “Taclau vakaras zada romantikos.” I’m assuming that means, “You are not feeling the least bit romantic” or maybe, “You have just suffered unspeakable torment and may never experience romantic feelings again.” Either way.

As for Lithuania itself:

  • They have a real thing for miniature Yorkshire Terriers. It’s like the national dog or something. Every third person has one – in a basket on their arm, trailing them in the grocery store, under the seat on the plane, perched on their arm like a parrot. If only I could’ve borrowed one for a few days, I could’ve really “gone native.”
  • The ketchup obsession continues. Latvians have it too. I’ve started collecting photographic proof.
  • I went to the “Curonian spit” (the peninsula of land between Klaipeda and the Baltic Sea, where they bandy about the word ‘spit’ as if it’s a common term we use for land). The area is famous for the amber that washes up on the shores and the extensive sand dunes along the coast. Apparently it’s a big vacation spot in the summer. However, as you can see, it’s vacant come winter…uhhhhh, September.
  • I stand by my earlier post – friendly these folks are not. However, I’ve given it some thought and I offer them an out: For the last 225 years, the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) have suffered greatly at the hands of Russia and Prussia (Germany). As near as I can tell, those who weren’t rounded up and killed, rounded up and put into concentration camps (and then killed?), rounded up and sent to Siberia, or rounded up and put in Russian prisons (and then killed?) still didn’t have it very good. I have kind of a mental image of some guy toiling on his farm and a truck comes by and someone screams out “You are Russian now!” and then fifteen years later they come back, “You are Lithuanian again!” and then ten years later, “You are German now!” and then again, “Lithuanian!” “Russian!” “Lithuanian!”

All this with a lot of bloodshed and suffering and loss and they’re kind of a people that have hardened their hearts. They see any obvious signs of outsiderness, and they don’t like it. Sometimes they’re a little extreme in their reaction – I met a couple guys from Hong Kong who were chased down the street with people screaming at them in Riga. (They could only figure it was because they were Asian.), but we’ll give these battered souls a couple generations to (hopefully) soften and come around.

Eastern Europe is a constant reminder of the worst of humanity (Hitler, concentration camps, the KGB, Siberia, communism, the Holocaust, etc.), and I can only hope that what I take away from all this horror could somehow contribute something good back to the world.

Case in point: I walked around the Pokrov Cemetery in Riga today, and there was a group grave for about a dozen orphans who died because the Nazis drained all their blood. I feel sad because the really nice guys from Hong Kong (who looked out for me last night in the weird hostel turned homeless shelter situation) were made to feel so terrible by people who probably didn’t realize how racist and thoughtless they were being. I don’t even know how to process people torturing children.

This I suppose, is both a good and bad of travel : Getting up close and personal with horrible things you kind of didn’t want to know and the related desire to make a true positive difference in the world.

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