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One Day…

27 May

A few weeks ago, over some post-run sushi in the park, my lunch companion asked me what my dream job was. I thought about it for a moment.

You mean like, for real for real? Like if I could have any job in the world what would it be?

Yeah.

He said it so nonchalant. Should I admit that I had spent the better part of my adult life agonizing over this very question and felt no closer to an answer? Probably not. Lucky for me, and for him I supposed because an angsty Rebekah is not the best Rebekah, I had recently come up with something that seemed like a thing I would like to do. Without going into the long, drawn-out backstory that involves my Master’s thesis I told him about how I had always been interested in post-disaster reconstruction work. I feel somehow drawn to being one of those people who goes to places after horrible things happen and then sticks around long after many of the first responders leave. I want to be there to help communities rebuild, after the international aid ends and our global conscience moves on to the next thing because there is always a next thing. I want to be there to shame the disaster tourists. Of course I have absolutely no medical knowledge and, truth be told, get queasy rather easily. Recently at work I had to take a 5 minute sit-down because a piece of glass protruding from my thumb made me so nauseous I turned green.

Back to the drawing board, perhaps.

But, of course, my thinking about it didn’t end there. It never does. The hamster that occupies the wheel in my brain has a never-ending supply of energy, that little bastard. And in the time I spent thinking I realized that, sure, I have all sorts of lofty goals. I would like to have something I write published somewhere that people have actually heard of and be paid for it; I would like to be on the Ellen Show (don’t ask); I would like to perform at The Moth and maybe one day, one wonderful day, be featured on The Moth Radio Hour on NPR that plays on Saturdays from 7-8pm and hear myself on the radio and just be in the car all alone and be like, wow, there I am and just smile to myself; I would like to travel so much that I need new pages for my passport; I would like to be part of a group of women (and some men) who make feminism an inclusive part of the conversation rather than something talked about as its own issue. It effects us all. All those things, though, sort of exist on this other plane separate from where I am right now and so let’s bring it back down to reality, back to the present. And so now I will ask myself:

Rebekah, what is your dream job?

And here is my answer, in list form.

  • I want a job where I am respected.
  • I want a job where people aren’t constantly telling me what I am doing wrong and how to do it better even though they have never done what I do a day in their lives.
  • I want a job where people don’t throw objects or insults at me on a regular basis.
  • I want a job where people don’t whistle at me, clap at me, hiss at me, snap at me or flash their cellphone flashlights at me to get my attention.
  • I want a job where no one ever calls me “ma” or “beautiful” or “sweetie” or “baby.”
  • I want a job where I can go to the bathroom and there isn’t piss all over the seats that I have to clean up because people are animals.
  • I want a job where people don’t ask me, while I am working at my job, what else I do because I can’t possibly just be a bartender.
  • I want a job where photographs of me taken without my consent do not end up on Yelp. Or better yet…
  • I want a job where people don’t take photographs of me without my consent. At all. Ever. End of story.
  • I want a job where people don’t hit on me or ask me out and then refuse to tip me when I say no.
  • I want a job where my awesome male coworker doesn’t have to step in and deal with people who treat me like garbage because I am a woman.
  • I want a job where I am not treated like garbage.
  • I want a job where I don’t have to keep my relationship status secret, when there is a status to keep secret, because it will likely effect the amount of money I make.
  • I want a job where I am respected. Wait, did I say that already?

Here’s the thing: my job could be all those things if people would just learn how to act because, if you noticed, nothing on that list had anything to do with my job, really. There was nothing about the weird schedule and late nights (though that isn’t my favorite), nothing about being on my feet for hours and eating the majority of meals standing up, nothing about looking up and seeing eyes upon eyes upon eyes on me all needing and wanting something when I only have two hands, nothing about coming home smelling of the liquor that I didn’t drink but has saturated my clothes and my skin over the course of a busy night. Those are all parts of the job and they are okay. They are how it is. And there are a lot of really cool things. I have met some amazing people, both customers and coworkers; I have learned a lot about myself and others; I think I have become a better, more understanding person. I think that my job, although it isn’t responding to a disaster and helping those having the absolute worst days of their lives, has some amount of value and, to be honest, I think I am pretty good at it. I don’t know. It’s all relative I guess. And maybe the job I want, the job described in that list above, doesn’t actually exist. Maybe it isn’t out there. Maybe my realistic dreams are just as lofty as one day being on the Ellen Show or normalizing feminism. Maybe this is another project my hamster needs to spin her wheel about. And so, until then….

Hi, what can I get for you?

2016: My Year So Far

14 Jan

A few things have happened since I last posted on this blog.

(1) It became the New Year! 

That’s right. It is now, and has been for the past 2 weeks, the year 2016. It’s kind of wild, right? Do you all remember Y2K? That time when everyone was certain that computers, despite their abilities to do all sorts of crazy things, would not be able to comprehend the fact that the year section of the date line would all of a sudden read 00? We were pretty sure the world was going to end. Well, some people were, anyway. Some smart people, as it turns out. I was pretty sure we would all be okay despite my not knowing anything about technology. I was right. All that being said can we agree that (a) we are happy that the world didn’t end but at the same time (b) it has been a pretty fucked up 16 years and 14 days? And things are only going to get more fucked up from here, I am afraid. So let’s brace ourselves, friends, for the rest of our lives.

(2) I went to Puerto Rico with my friend Dee and it was great!

It was kind of a last minute thing. Basically, Dee said she was going to Puerto Rico, I said I was jealous, and she said, “well, why don’t you come?” And so I did. That is one of the perks of my job. As long as I can get my shifts covered (and of course can afford it) I can more or less do what I want. The downside of all that is that I am oftentimes unable to sleep because I feel as though my life has no meaning. So, you know, there is always a trade-off. (This does not, of course, detract from the fact that I have the most kickass friends in the universe who invite me to join them on all kinds of incredible adventures.)

(3) I decided to reread Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America”* and holy shit.

Oh my god. So for the record when I started rereading the book I was totally PMSing and when that happens I get more teary than normal. And if you know me, like really know me, then you know I am tearier than the average bear. Not that I cry a lot, but I just get really emotional about the state of the world. It is such a fucked up place and we do really horrible things to one another. Anyway, so the book. Have you read it? Because you really should. It is basically about what would have happened if Charles A. Lindbergh had defeated FDR in his third bid for the presidency and kept the United States out of World War II. Lindbergh, if you recall, was the first person to do a solo transatlantic flight and also his first son was kidnapped from his crib and murdered, causing Charles and his wife to go into voluntary exile in Europe. Anyway, in real life Lindbergh eventually came back and, as it turns out, was very busy impregnating women the world over. In Roth’s book, his (real life) beliefs in isolationism and anti-semitism led him to become a Nazi sympathizer and almost co-conspirator which, as you can imagine, led to some really fucked up situation for the Jews in the United States since he was the president. It was very upsetting. Not only because I am Jewish and still sort of believe that everyone (okay not everyone but a lot of people) secretly and also not-so-secretly hate the Jews, but also because the hysteria brought about by Lindbergh’s rhetoric reminded me very much of what is happening in the United States right now with Trump and his anti-Muslim sentiments. It’s really scary and against what supposedly makes America, well, America. I really don’t like the idea that to some people the slogan “Make America Great Again” means let’s deport all the brown people. And I especially don’t like the idea that there are a lot more people who believe that than I had originally thought and that Trump has cleared them all out from under their rocks! Well, anyway, read the book. It made me cry on the train and this really nice man in a 3-piece suit saw me looking all upset, touched my leg and said it would “all be okay” before he exited at Jay Street. I thought that was a little to optimistic from where I was sitting but his heart was in the right place. Thanks man in the 3-piece suit. You’re swell.

(4) I have further solidified my status as crotchety old person.

But for real. So I came home from running errands yesterday and I noticed that my downstairs neighbors had, at some point in time, received something in a box, emptied the contents of the box and then disposed of the box. No big deal, right? Wrong! Because you know what they didn’t do? They didn’t take the bubble wrap out of the box nor did they break the box down and put it in a bag with all their other paper recycling. They simply carried the box down the stairs and dumped it on the ground right in front of the paper recycling bin that is conveniently located for us to dispose of our things in a reasonable fashion. And here’s the thing. We don’t live in some doorman building or like one of those places where you pay a maintenance fee. We live in a regular building with regular people where we pay regular rent and we take care of regular things, like our garbage, ourselves. But not my downstairs neighbors, no sir. They are too special to break down their boxes and dispose of the bubble wrap (or jump on the bubble wrap and then dispose of it, like we do in my house). And that is what is wrong with this city nowadays. People think they are too good to do things themselves and so they make someone else, who is not getting paid to do those things, do it for them. Entitlement. Man, it’s the pits.

(5) I have an infected hangnail on the thumb of my right hand and it really hurts.

I don’t feel the need to expand on that. It just hurts. I don’t think I will have to have it amputated if that’s what you were worried about. Because last night when I couldn’t sleep because I felt like my life had no meaning I also kept thinking about what would happen if I had to get my thumb amputated. Nothing good except that maybe, maybe, I would get to be a guest on Ellen which as we all know is my one life goal.

Okay, that’s it. Here’s to the many more exciting things 2016 has to bring.

*Wordpress changed the way the blogging feature works which sucks on so many levels. One of those levels is that the option to underline no longer exists. What if I want to underline and book title, according to the rules taught to me in grade school. Or what if I want to bold and underline something in order to bring double attention to an important point? I can’t do those things. Fuck you, WordPress.

Tell ‘Em Large Marge Sent Ya

17 Aug

So things have been crazy the last week or so.  I have been working so very much.  Like, 8 shifts in 6 days sort of working.  I know that lots of other people work this much all the time because of necessity or having Important Jobs, but I am lucky enough to have cheap(ish) rent and inexpensive taste and also do something that I don’t believe to be life altering in any way.  Mind altering, maybe, but life altering?  Not so much.  Anyway, I am generally satisfied working 3 shifts a week and having enough savings to buy a house in Kentucky.  But this week all of a sudden all the things happened at once and I found myself working in the morning and until the morning, and sometimes missing one job because I had already committed to another one.  It was silly.  Really, really silly.  Needless to say that as of yesterday mid-shift I was completely and entirely burnt out.  Like, wow.  I would find myself just blankly staring at nothing.  Also, I kept going outside to get a breath of outside air and there is a ramp outside my bar and I would stand there and watch people but I was like, actively watching them.  As in I would see them a block away and then just watch them as they approached the bar and then follow them as they walked past.  I got some awkward smiles.  No one saw me staring and thought

“yea!  Let’s have drinks at that bar!  That creepy lady out front looks especially inviting!”

I did get a whole group of people from some sort of drumming group, drums and all.  Not sure if they were a drumming circle or a drumming line, but they were definitely drummers who organized themselves into some shape or another.  I’m getting bogged down in the details here.  The real story is that the last few days have been weird and that weird has spilled out into my dreams.  I have been having very strange dreams.  Angry ones, even.  So as I mentioned in my last post, for the past few years I have been feuding with my neighbor.  The feud began when he threw a three day long party of some kind with no warning to any of us living around him which resulted in me having to go to work and be nice to people on very limited sleep.  He threw another one of these parties this weekend, leaving me extremely displeased, to say the least.  As a result of my displeasure, and the fact that I was woken up at 2:30am the Saturday morning before my 8th shift in 6 days, I had a really crazy dream.  But let me actually just add here that I am not exactly certain where real ends and dream begins.  It is distinctly possible that I actually, in real life, got out of bed, opened my window and screen, and stuck my head out the window and stared down at the guests of the party with the meanest of mean looks I could muster.  I imagine looking back that my neck somehow became longer than normal and I was able to get way closer to the guests of the party than my 3rd floor window would actually allow.  I am pretty sure I looked something like this:

large-marge

 

Okay so that might actually have been part of the dream.  The part that I am about 95% certain was dream was when I leaned out the window and screamed

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!!”

and then poured a huge bucket of water out the window and all over the guests.  I know this was part of the dream for the following four reasons:  (1) I am a total long game type of girl and I very rarely do things that feel good in the moment in exchange for slow burn revenge.  Sort of like the slow burn that a bottle full of cat urine would unleash on the plants in front of my neighbors house; (2) I don’t have a bucket in my room at the ready in case someone (or someones) need a serious dousing; (3) I don’t know that my aim in the middle of the night would be particularly good, especially on no sleep, and so I would probably just end up watering the tomato plants that live under my window; and, perhaps most importantly (4) there was a Big White Tent which would have protected the guests from any projectiles, liquid or otherwise.  Even though I didn’t actually throw water on my next door neighbors party, I did wake up feeling slightly accomplished.  I suppose sometimes evil deeds in sleep are almost as satisfying as evil deeds in real life and with the added bonus of no repercussions.  (Note:  I don’t actually ever commit evil deeds.)  I did see my neighbor on the street yesterday at some point and I sort of giggled to myself because only one of us knew that I had completely ruined his party in my sleep and that one of us was me.  Sucker!

The other thing that happened this week was that my favorite coffee shop closed.  I have been going there since I moved to the neighborhood almost a decade ago.  It was a great little spot.  The coffee was good and fresh, the service was oftentimes somewhat crabby and, most importantly, none of the “cool kids” from the neighborhood ever went there.  I like my coffee scene-free, hold the pretension.  I know that I am interested in sustainable agriculture and that I have worked in some form of food service for like 13 years, but the reality is that coffee tastes like coffee to me and I don’t need a whole lecture about where the beans come from or get a side-eye from someone cuz I drink mine with milk.  I like milk in my coffee.  Sue me.  Also, I think cold brew is silly.  And wasteful.  Do you know how much coffee it takes to brew that shit?  Sustainable my ass.

I got distracted.  So here’s the story.  I went into the coffee shop to get my morning cup on my way to training at this new spot that I am going to be working at and the owner who I have known forever said

“This is the last day.”

I literally thought she was going to follow that with a loud

“APRIL FOOLS!”

But then I realized that it is August and there is no such thing as August fools.  Not that I know of, anyway.  I couldn’t stay and chat because I was running a little late but I was really sad about it so I called my friend Ben and he was also sad about it.  He went down and bought beans.  Now he Has Beans (I didn’t just capitalize that for no reason.  It’s funny, for those of us In The Know [which I capitalized for no reason]).  So all that happened in real life and now I am left scrounging around for a scene-free coffee place.  I tried the bagel shop but I don’t know, the service is a little lackluster.  I could go to the bakery, but then I have to cross the avenue to the side that I don’t really have to be on most of the time to get to any of the places I am ordinarily rushing to in the morning.  I could just make my own coffee which I often do but….sometimes I want my coffee out!  I’ll figure it out somehow.  So the dream!  This is actually a nice one.  I had a dream last night that all us neighborhood folk who went to this shop reopened the shop and ran it ourselves!  And it was so nice!  And then the owner came in and her heart was warmed because she realized how beloved she was in the neighborhood amongst those of us who are a little bit crabby and not dressed particularly stylishly.  Anyway, it was nice and then I woke up and realized it was all a dream but I did feel a little bit fuzzy inside knowing that my dreams aren’t all about revenge and eating peanut butter.

So, that’s it.  I am hoping this coming week will be less weird but if it isn’t that I continue to have dreams that bend my understanding of reality and/or leave me feeling good about myself and my community.  The end.

Nick. monsters. dead? ask him.

9 May

So, this is funny.  Last night I had a nightmare during which my friend Nick was killed by some sort of a monster.  In my awake state, I imagine this monster as being sort of a comical creature — big, green, hairy, lots of drool — and the whole thing being more of a cartoon than anything else.  I imagine that Nick’s downfall was something like him slipping on a banana peel in the midst of his escape from the monster.  In reality, I haven’t had an actual monster nightmare since I was little and had this reoccurring dream that these aliens would come and kidnap me from the top bunk in my brother Aaron’s room.  It was a terrible dream.  I would be in Aaron’s room with him and our friend Matty, playing around.  One of them always ended up cutting their arm on something and they would both leave in search of a bandaid, leaving me all alone in the room.  The second the cut happened my dream self would start to panic; I knew what this meant.  As soon as Aaron and Matty left the room the aliens would land on the front yard in their huge spaceship and abduct me. The thing about it that made it SO horrible was that despite the fact that I absolutely knew this was going to happen, and I became very agitated and afraid and I screamed for Aaron and Matty to come back, I could not for the life of me wake myself up.  I would just have to go through it over and over and over again.  After a while I was almost afraid to go to sleep.  Those aliens were the absolute worst.

Anyway, so last night.  Last night I had this dream that my friend Nick got attacked and maybe killed by a monster.  I woke up mid-dream and scrawled the following thing on a piece of paper near my bed:

“Nick.  monsters.  dead?  ask him.”

So, I asked him and I am sure you will all be pleased to know that he is not, in fact, dead.  He was, however, less than excited about the fact that he may or may not have been killed in my dream and didn’t seem terribly flattered by the fact that my half-asleep self was worried enough about his well-being to write a note to my future awake self to ask him about it.  Can’t win ’em all, I guess.

In other news, I just saw a picture of some of my old coworkers at the bar I used to work at all grouped in front of a cork board that has always held photos and newspaper articles and the likes.  There used to be photos of me on there but I guess someone threw them in the garbage.  I can’t say I am terribly surprised but it is a very odd feeling to be completely erased from a place that you spent so much of your time.  It’s like, 5 1/2 years of my life almost didn’t happen, or people want to pretend they didn’t happen, or something.  People, as a rule, are weird.  Myself included.

Poop, Ghosts and Baby Chickens

10 Dec

Alright you guys so here’s the thing.  I know it might seem, through this blog, that I am an at least passably interesting human being.  I have a job where things happen that people like to read about.  I have an ant farm that at first provided me hours of entertainment which then morphed into soul crushing guilt (slight exaggeration).  Also, sometimes I write letters to people hoping that some solution will come from an unjust situation.  Sometimes the letters help.  Sometimes, not so much.  For someone that goes through life turning mundane activities into adventures, I have quite possibly the most boring dreams ever.  There was that time that I dreamed about waiting for the bus.  And also that time that I dreamed about hoarding peanut butter. (Do you like how I am shamelessly promoting all these past blogs in hopes that at least one of your will click on them?)  Anyway, so in the past few nights my boring dreams have returned with a vengeance.  Okay, well, they weren’t all boring.  One was really boring.  One was super weird and maybe a little bit creepy. And the last one involved a baby chicken.  So, here they are.  Enjoy.

The Boring Dream

So in this first dream, my childhood dog, Buckwheat, came back for a visit.  For some reason, Bucky, who has been dead since the fall of 2001, decided to come and visit me in the city.  He was his fun, silly, slightly stupid Bucky self instead of the scary tumor-pressing-on-the-personality-part-of-the-brain Bucky that made him growl and snap at us.  Anyway, Bucky came to the city and I was running late to meet up with a friend for a drink.  I decided to bring Bucky.  Seeing as how he has been decomposing for the past 12 years, give or take, he was slightly out of shape and was having a hard time keeping up with my brisk New York pace.  Also, he had to poop.  Like, really bad.  So, in the middle of 9th Street he stopped and took a big old shit and it was right then that I realized that I didn’t have a bag to pick the poop up with.  I searched all over, hoping that someone had gently place a plastic bag atop the mountain of garbage that had accumulated on the side of the road.  (I guess in Rebekah Dreamland the sanitation workers were on strike.)  I couldn’t find a bag but I DID find a newspaper which I used to cover the poop and carefully scootch it towards the garbage mountain, in hopes that no one would step on it.  Immediately, someone did.  Bucky and I ran away and then I woke up.

The Weird/Creepy Dream

I’m sure this happens to everyone, but sometimes dead people visit me in my dreams.  Like a few months ago, my grandpa, Papa, came for a visit.  He asked me how my running was going.  I asked him how being dead was going.  He said it was okay but that the cars driving by his grave constantly were keeping him up all night.  I thought that was funny because my grandma, Bama, had been very concerned about the noise level near his final resting place.  I guess she was right to raise the point.  Anyway, a week ago yesterday was the one year anniversary of the passing of one of the bar’s favorite regulars, Mary.  It’s safe to say that she has been on all our minds recently.  On Sunday night, after work, I road the bus home with my friend Glen and we talked about some of the things that make us think about Mary.  For Glen, it was simply riding the bus, the same bus she used to take home to her residence on Atlantic Avenue.  For me it was the smell of tomato vines and the appalling consistency of a vat of blue cheese dressing. You know, the usual.  Anyway, that very night Mary came to me in my dream.  There she was, sitting at the bar, wearing her favorite Christmas sweater with a big Christmas tree broach on it and a few flashing lights.  Mary loved pins.  She had this great baseball cap she used to wear with all these silly pins all over it.  Anyway, she was sitting there, in her favorite spot a few seats to the bartender’s left of the taps, with a snifter full of brandy.  She liked the way it burned her throat.  And boy, did it burn.  After she passed, my coworker/friend/boss Sasha and I each had a glass of it in her honor.  The smell was so harsh it made our eyes water.  We were full-on weeping after we sipped it.  This year we upgraded and had fancy brandy.  Significantly more palatable.  Anyway, as I was saying, there was Mary sitting in her spot.  She just appeared out of nowhere, looking just like she had before she fell ill.  I turned to Sasha and I said “Hey, Sash, look who’s here!  It’s Mary!”  By the look on Sasha’s face it was quite clear that she could not see Mary.  Sasha and I continued right on dream working while Mary and I shared our little dream secret.

The Dream About the Chicken

Last night in my dream I received a box full of eggs.  Naturally I distributed the eggs to all the people near me and then I sat on a chair and looked at the egg gently resting in my hand.  It started moving and breaking.  I thought to myself, “I am basically the worst egg mom ever because I have had this egg for like than 15 seconds and it already has a big ass crack in it.”  I gave the egg to my boyfriend, Pete, and he chipped away at the shell to reveal a teeny, tiny little bright yellow chick.  It was the silliest chick I have ever seen. For some reason that I cannot quite understand, the egg remains ended up in my mouth and it was terrible.  Like, the worst thing.  They were crackly, they tasted bad and the longer they were in my mouth the more space they took up. I had to run to the bathroom to spit them out in the sink and during the interim the chick escaped!  It was just like, bopping around!  This little yellow ball of fluff with itsy bitsy feet and a HUGE beak.  I went searching for it high and low.  I mean, how far could a chick really get.  Just as I was about to admit defeat I saw a little yellow cotton ball on the floor.  Only it wasn’t a cotton ball at all!  It was the chick! So I materialized a box and some newspaper, ripped the newspaper up, but it in the box and then gently placed the chick inside.  All was right in the world.

I guess that’s it.  But because I need some sort of concluding idea, I will leave you with this.  The other day, someone said to me “I never know what is going on in that head of yours.”  Well, now you have the answer: poop, ghosts, and baby chickens.

It Turns Out I’m Boring

10 Jun

I have always kind of figured that interesting people have interesting dreams.  If you’re interesting it seemed  likely to me that the things that went on within the confines of your skull reflected that.  You would imagine things in your sleep that would make fantastic trips to a psychic or great conversations at parties.  When I had interesting dreams this idea made me feel really happy about my prospects as an “interesting person” but recently my dreams have taken a terrible turn and I have come to the realization that either my lifelong theory is wrong or else I am actually really boring.

A few months ago I had a dream that I was waiting for the bus.  There I was, outside the stop near the bar in which I work, patiently waiting for the bus I take home after my day shifts.  The bus wasn’t coming but I continued to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And then I saw my bus approaching in the distance and I became really excited.  Finally, Dream Rebekah could make her way home.  But then my bus, as it sat waiting for the light to change, morphed from the bus I needed into the bus I didn’t need!  Then, as the bus passed by me the driver leaned out the window and screamed “SUCKER!”  I shook my fist at him and kept right on waiting.  Then I woke up.  The sad thing about this is that I had this dream not once but twice and the second time there was no morphing bus, it was just me waiting.  The whole dream, just standing there at the stop all by myself…waiting.

In another recent dream I got a dog.  He was a brown dog and I named him Sir Todd Allen.  I introduced Sir Todd Allen to my mom on a walk around my hometown and when my mom asked me why I had named him that I told her it was because I thought the name was very “stately.”  Then Sir Todd Allen told me to fold my laundry.  Leave it to me to have a dream in which my new dog talks and he tells me to do something so incredibly dull that it takes all the magic out of it.

Anyway, I would write about more of the boring dreams I have been having but I am afraid it would put all of you readers to sleep.  So instead I will just sit here at my desk, trying to work through my new found anxiety that I am one of the most boring people alive.  I think this is going to be a very fun day.

A Fear of Fire and Ice Explained?

28 Feb

This might sound strange to some of you but I am fairly convinced that in a past life I died in a fire.

For those of you who have spent a significant amount of time with me, I might have mentioned to you this discomfort I have with extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.  I’m pretty sure the dislike of cold, and more specifically of ice, stems from an experience I had as a young child.  I was 3, maybe 4 years old, and I accompanied my mom to the grocery store, something I still do when I am home.  I love, I mean love, the grocery store.  I was wandering the freezer aisle with my mom while she put whatever it was that she needed into her cart — I imagine it was Welsh Farms Coffee Royal Ice Cream, now discontinued, but I could be wrong — when I decided I wanted something from inside one of the freezers.  I somehow opened the door, reached in to grab the thing that I desired, and promptly got my lower lip stuck to the metal shelf.  I shrieked.  My mom had to quickly pull my mouth off the icy structure.  There was screaming, crying, bleeding.  To this day I can’t eat an ice pop without first washing it in hopes of melting that first sinister layer of ice and I simply cannot sit through A Christmas Story without getting queasy.

The fire thing I cannot explain through past experience.  I remember when I was younger I had this reoccurring dream of being locked in my house, although it wasn’t my actual house and I wasn’t actually me, but I knew that I lived there and even though I didn’t look like myself I was somehow still the same person.  Know what I mean?  I would be locked in this house, at the window, and I would be looking outside as someone got into a car, preparing to drive away and leave me unprotected.  Right as they closed the door to their vehicle I would smell smoke, turn around and see fire entering the room.  I would try as hard as I could to unlock the window but nothing, it was locked.  I would bang on it and bang on it as the fire got closer and the smoke got thicker and then, right as it approached me, I would wake with a start, breathing heavily and sweating.  I had this dream at least once a month, with slight variations, for years.

And then there was this other thing.  You know how sometimes people talk about out-of-body experiences?  I only had one of those once.  I was in the kitchen of the house I lived in from the middle of fourth grade until I went away to college, baking cookies.  They were raisin drop, if memory serves.  We had one of those two-tiered ovens and I was using the one on top.  I had decided, and this is something I would never ever ever do now because it is like playing with fire (no pun intended), to put the cookies in the oven without using oven mitts.  I figured, whatever, the oven is hot but the cookie sheet isn’t.  As I prepared to slide the cookies into the oven I said aloud to myself,

Okay, Rebekah, don’t burn yourself.

It was at exactly that moment that I saw myself from above.  It was like I was floating up by the ceiling but then corporeal me was down by the oven, mittless, holding the cookie sheet.  I saw myself slide the cookies into the oven and then I watched, in horror, as my body panicked, my hands lifted with a jerk to touch the top of the 350 degree oven and the cookie sheet tipped back, all the small blobs of dropped dough sliding back towards me and onto the floor.  As quickly as I left my body I was back inside it, looking at the mess on the floor and feeling a dull throbbing on the tops of my hands. That was literally the only time I really burned myself and the only time I saw myself from the outside.  I honestly don’t think it was a coincidence.  It was if something in me, my soul maybe, knew what was about to happen and was protecting itself, if not its physical manifestation, from the inevitable.

I literally haven’t thought about all that stuff in years.  I also haven’t had one of those fire dreams since I was in grade school.  But New Orleans is a spiritual city and I guess, when you spend enough time around all that unseeable energy you can’t help but engage with your own ideas and experiences with life and death and whatever comes in between.  Anyway, as I said, I am fairly certain that in a past life I died in a fire.  Let’s hope this go around ends slightly less painfully.