Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mid-spring dreams & dramas

Three moments have scared me in the last 48 hours, coming fullgrown out of my unconscious. I'm writing the most difficult portion of the book (I'll say this about every portion but remind that chapter two was a bitch) & I think, given how instinctive these two dreams and a response are, I'd better finish the bitch & get on outta Dodge to happier stuff.
Tuesday night's dream:
M. (who I've never met) & I went dinner at a fancy French restaurant where we were "seated" with another couple in conjoining bathtubs. Flash to after dinner: M told me he wasn't interested in me because (direct quote) "You aren't good enough for me."

Man, did I rage. "You don't even have a master's degree," he said, to which I replied I certainly do, from Cornell University ("Cornell University"). "So do I!" he said but went on to disparage me for not being able to afford the restaurant, to which I pointed out I'd paid for my own meal. I think he then pooh-poohed me for walking dogs & having no intellectual life or something of the sort & I yelled that I'm almost famous, that he'd verified my voice with that of the CBS clip of me online.

He decided we should try once more, by having drinks at a hilltop fortress, a club sort of place, because the original restaurant had been a failure. I climbed & climbed in the fortress & finally found the bar, which had young clubby men & women in it but there was a terrace that led onto a huge green lawn, where I took a table and sat, waiting...
(The name of this blog, BTW, comes from just such a scene in Joni Mitchell's song of the same name -- He said he'd be over three hours ago/I've been waiting for his car on the hill.)

Phone call at 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday:
"G. went into labor last night & she's going in for a C-section now. Can you take Hero for the night?"
"Of course I can."
"I have another favor to ask. We're expecting a bureau to be delivered between 9 and 12 this morning. Could you be there to let them in."

[Hesitation as I think about morning dogs.]

"You can say no. We can ask somebody else..."

"I have four Labs this morning," I say. I can cancel Mellie but not the others.

"That's fine. You can take `em to our place."

"Four Labs, S. Think about it."

"They'll have a great time. Frances, I gotta go -- "

"Of course. Yeah, I'll be there. I'll lock `em all in the bedroom or something when the delivery comes."

"Hey, Frances -- you know we love you, right?"

"Yeah. I don't know why, but yeah."
Wednesday night's dream:

I have begged Alix to take me back and said she can pay me whatever she wants, less than the summer intern if she'll just take me back. She agrees and I'm given the least wanted, most trafficked desk in the office. But I have so much stuff to take home: suitcases of clothes & books, open jars of water to pack. How am I going to do it? I ask co-workers from my previous job. They're off to the Frankfurt Book Fare & have no suggestions, only more stuff for me to get home, Fare stuff like catalogues & galleys & rulers that say Heinemann or Loganesi on them. How will I ever get it all home in one trip on this one night & why am I working here again for yeoman's wages?
I'm looking at the dreams as being part & parcel of that hideous response to S: I don't know why he and G. would love me. I keep Hero all day and adore the fur off her head; I carry up packages & newspapers when I come in; I leave a running series of photos I've taken of her; I bring over my Big Sky Journals for the fly fishing porn; I gave Hero a George Dubyah squeaky toy for Christmas...

What's not to love?

Why would I beg to go back to work at a place I hated and felt hated? Why were there once-loved friends/co-workers in that office to witness my mendicancy? Why would -- or is "should" the correct verb? -- I argue my worth and my equality with a man I've never met who said this terrible thing (which he would, adamently, never do. If anything, he loves my brain)?

I found this overwhelming at about 1 p.m. this afternoon when I was stepping into the shower after two rounds of the dog run, saddening enough that when I snuck out on the three dogs, I couldn't get it together to do anything. It's not having three dogs here or the tiredness of antidepressants or even, really, depression.
It's the chicken and the egg of self-loathing. I can do everything in my power not to admit it to myself or show it to the world, but it falls out of me at night and in response to random compliments. It's keeping me from working on my book today and it's keeping me from thinking carefully about dinner, which is always a dangerous time.

And I don't like it.

And even if S. had said, "Hey, Frances -- you know we loathe you, don't you?" that's still not a reason to loathe myself. I grant myself that permission and what has my self ever done to me?

I'm looking at definitions of self:

1. The total, essential, or particular being of a person; the individual...
2. The essential qualities distinguishing one person from another; individuality...
3. One's consciousness of one's own being or identity; the ego...
4. One's own interests, welfare, or advantage...
5. Immunology. That which the immune system identifies as belonging to the body: tissues no longer recognized as self.

Of the five I like the last best, at least for the purposes of this blog. Take all that other stuff -- essential qualities, individuality, consciousness, identity, interests, essential tissues -- & I cannot recognize it as me.

Do I substitute food for "me" or "I"? ("Me" being the indirect object, the self that is acted upon, versus the subject pronoun "I," which does the acting upon "me"). Do I let depression become "I"? Have I substituted men (not a powerful current in my life right now) for "I"? Clothes, tchochkes, books, music, jewelry, mahjongg, obsessions like Christmas, eBay and housework for "me"? Even the dogs for "me"?

Have I substituted obesity and thinness for "I"?

Yeah. I don't know why, but yeah.

But not, quite, tonight. Tonight Daisy can whine a little as I finish this post. Tonight I'm talking back to all that stuff. And I'm saying "I" write.

I even took the photos.


Lori G. said...

See, I found this fascinating. What is the ME for all of Us? On our inventory, there's the question of what makes us feel feminine (which you know I changed to feel human for my own purposes). And every day I ponder that question.

And I looked at your five definitions and it's still hard to answer.

Perhaps I hide "me" and only let certain people see aspects of it or perhaps I am like Chekov's "The Darling" twisting my interests into whatever or whoever I'm around?

Do my possession reveal who I am or do I hid myself with possessions? I don't know.

Good post to think about, Frances.

Anne M. said...

Wow. Oh Wow. Very introspective and revealing post, especially about what you (We) have substituted for "me". I fill up my life with things, with food, to minimize my own "I" because I don't really like her - in part for filling up my life with things instead of figuring out who I am through the pain as well as the delight.

Lots to think about.

Cindy said...

I love to examine dreams. Messages from the deep. Sometimes there is an obvious meaning I take immediately from a dream, and then others keep me pondering and analyzing and even become the subject of entire therapy sessions. What stood out to me in your first dream, is that you directly addressed the "not good enough" accusation, and argued on your own behalf. That would be monumental for me. A really good sign in the battle between me and me. It is interesting that compliments, and expressions of admiration from others, can be challenges to our own idea of self. In the past few years, I have spent more time wondering who my "self" really is. I keep peeling back layers to get to it, but maybe the layers are all a part of it. Thanks for the food for thought.

Anonymous said...

You are famous. At least to me. I've read your book at least 8 times already. I have pages bookmarked and underlined. I identified with so much of your story, I think I cried through much of my first 4 readings. It makes me want to join a 12 step group, but then again I don't because I don't want to give up my food. You are an inspiration to me, Frances, and I was thrilled when I found your blog. I mean, this person who I look up to, who I thought, "wow, if she could sponsor me..." has a blog that a mere mortal like me can comment on? Wow. I am eagerly awaiting your next book on relapse.

You rock.


Unknown said...

I think that your connection of the "why do you love me" with the dreams is right on target, but thought I'd share what went through my head as I read this:

Sitting in a bathtub with a man and having him reject you -- being naked and being told that you're not good enough -- seems more literal, and then going to a hilltop world filled with chubby people where you are left waiting and alone.... that all seems literal enough.

Your dream about Alix reminds me of the fairy tales where the unloved stepdaughter has to pick lentils out of the ashes, or level a mountain in one day with a flimsy spade, or take all the water out of a lake with a leaky spoon. In those books, the stepdaughter always had a magical being who came along and helped her with her impossible tasks in the moment she gave up and decided she couldn't handle it alone. I am not sure if this relates to your dream or not, but it gives me the idea that maybe it's time to admit that you haven't been able to sort out all your baggage from that job or get all those open jars of water under control on your own... it's a very 3rd step message.

My more mundane mind wants to know what the words on the rulers mean to you.

I think that some of your nightmares have to go into FB -- they definitely give a really clear picture of where your head is right now.

Vickie said...

This might not be right - but your post made me think of this one that Charity wrote a while back.

I have been dreaming of WWIII - of having notice or having insight to realize that all worldly luxuries are about to end - that existance will go back to trying to feed ourselves and stay out of elements. Oddly - this isn't a scary dream - it is like having advance warning to "get ready."

Coincidentally or not - I have stopped emerging myself in food and things - am stripping them away - just continuously - like trying to get down to my own - true bare self - and perhaps start over.

Maybe therapist? Maybe getting down to final weight and finding it like a landing - not a bouncing this time - but a very soft landing. . .

Middle child chose Saint Brigit - has her own cross and prayer and is special saint for the babies - plus we are Irish Catholic - so a very good fit all the way around - thank you.

Trying to remember a book for the oldest to read - terrible disease kills of most of the population - world wide - small band of people try to re-education and re-populate (not Stephen King one). The main character is a man - who ends up being the last one alive that knows how to read - and knows to look things up at the library. He has one son - that he hopes will carry on "knowledge" - but son catches something and dies in another epidemic. At the end of the story - the city - perhaps somewhere in California is burning to the ground - and with it all the books - and he is being carried on the back of one of his great or great-great grandson's - and they are leaving the city - to become roamers (like American Indians - sort of). Can't remember the title or author. I read this book about 20 years ago - and still think about it several times a week. . . oldest wants to read it.

Unknown said...

Any new dreams? :)