Dream Recollection 25: The Race

I’m supposed to be running a race but I am taking care of Watts’ baby boy. Finally race day arrives and it is both foggy and drizzly. Part of the race is on a gently sloping overpass. Part of the course is indoors, the final leg in a ballroom with hardwood floors. I pass an open bar, district employees including a higher up who radios for my running coach. At one point, four of my work friends, including Work Mommy, throw a heavy canvas tarp over me. I growl that its not funny and that I need to keep running. I crawl through the final carrel.

Dream Recollection 14: The Changing of the Guard

from audio transcription

Monday August 6, 6 something in AM.
I was an AP at a slighly different campus. It looked like an old school shopping center or my old elementary school combined. S.R., former student, was there helping me along with a girl wearing a T-shirt that read “Pacsism” and covered with pacifiers, maybe a Simpsons reference. The other AP was Paradox, whom I knew from a Catholic group I used to belong to, but he looked sickly and wimpy. There was no 3rd AP. Their office was locked.
It was strange, felt like a hotel or a mall. There was a dance on the blacktop. We stepped away for a minute. When we returned, only three kids were dancing.
“Where are the rest?”
“They must be fighting.”
We ran. S. reported there were fights in two areas.
I couldn’t run. I had to use a skateboard. I felt desperate. My throat was sore.

In another part of the dream, it was reported that Paradox wanted to hurt a male friend of mine, not sure who or how. The quote from S.R. was “he’s looking to lose some weight, some 100-something pounds.”
“There’s going to be a hit.”

I feel discombobulated. Freaking out about work and the usual. I hate having enemies.
I’m frustrated. These dreams are not even nightmares but I wake up rattled, torn and confused. I am making progress but I feel lost again.
I deserve to get through this.

Dream Recollection 12: The Storm

approximately 3:40am July 27, 2007

Norma, Lisa, and I are in New York but it looks like Peru: broken walls, dirt roads, no roofs on some rooms. We are at a club that is crowded and ghetto. Norma and I lose our shiny pumps as the club closes for the night. We are pushed out into a rainstorm. I pad barefoot out onto warm, wet cement but the dirt road is a flooded, gross mess. Norma says she is leaving because her hotel is furthest. All the club patrons make a mad dash for taxis. Lisa runs out into traffice. Cars swerve and honk. One almost hits me. I lose sight of Lisa. I shout, “Lisa, Lisabet” at the top of my lungs to no avail. Several people grab onto the end of a garbage truck. There are long lines at the cab stands. I tell a black woman that I’m not sure how to get back to my hotel on foot. She says to follow the crowd.

I go back to the club. Ramon, a friend I used to know from the Endup, is being roughed up by a policeman with a nightstick. Kids I know from work, rival gang members, engage in a tense verbal argument. Some of their fathers are present and they too challenged each other. One boy, named Gonzalo, stabs one of the men with a small knife in the back, and carves gang tags into his flesh. “Sleepy” is the first name in blood that soaks through the man’s shirt. The man gurgles, falls to his knees. I watch the scene in silence, my voice temporarily gone. Shots ring out. Everyone falls to the floor. The rain has stopped.

I wake up, pulse racing. I miss Soldier.


I am heartsick.

Don’t worry. It’s not over what you might be thinking.

Today I am gloomy because I am NOT READY for Sunday’s half-marathon.

As GI Joe used to proclaim, “knowing is half the battle.” I can admit that I have neglected my training program for several weeks, mostly because I was in an out-of-state city on Saturdays. My longest run has been 6 miles which I did on my birthday three weeks ago. I considered running 9 miles today but my ex-coach advised against it, given that my last run was in New York nearly 2 weeks ago and only 2 miles. So I ran 2 miles at hilly Lake Chabot this morning and am feeling a growing sense of dread about Sunday.

Failure has never been comfortable for me. I know I often set myself up for failure by overextending myself, overanalyzing myself and others, or overimagining failure/rejection/abandonment. But I don’t enjoy failure in a masochistic sense. I detest and dread it. So did I set myself up to fail in preparing for this half-marathon? I don’t think so. I was undisciplined and now my weak ankles may pay the price on Sunday.

Part of me would like to donate the $65 registration fee to the many charities spo, onsored by the San Francisco marathon. But then I tell myself that failure teaches. So, as nervous as I am, I’m going to show up in my running gear in the chilly Golden Gate Bridge fog at 6am Sunday and if necessary, I’m going to crawl across that finish line, medal or no medal.

Dream Recollection 11: The Cancellation

early morning of July 23rd

In the dream, I miss my therapy appointment due to my sadness. Owl(my past and current therapist) is curt on the phone with me. There is nothing she can do. I ask for another appointment. She does not reply. The silence continues until I hang up.
Crying, I leave the Hayward Courthouse(where I was on the phone, across the street from her office) where strangers argue near a yellow school bus in the parking lot.
I head to a work party for Ms. Morris*, the art teacher. Brett’s brother is in attendance and looks at me solemnly. Ms. Morris is drunk and she gives me a kiss on the cheek before she nearly falls backwards. I look at the time and I realize I will be late to my appointment with my psychologist at the hospital.
At the hospital, I run into the Myers sisters, Martha and Nicole. Nicole is restored to health and offers to be available to talk.
I rush away, anxious to make my appointment. I realize I am letting my emotions get in the way of what I have to do.

*Names have been changed, if there is no code name.

Making it official

My partner in crime, my work mentor, has taken a job in a neighboring district. How could she pass up only two night duties and a three-minute commute? It sounds like my dream job. While I support her choice, I can’t help but feel scared about this coming fall.

Goodbyes are hard for me. The thought of being abandoned is even more difficult. But I know that Mentor will stay in my life, that our friendship which has endured for nearly 12 years will continue.

After our lunch at her home today, I cried on the drive home. Yes, it’s a familiar scene, me falling apart all by myself, after parting with a loved one on positive terms. But I did not let it overwhelm me. I called Izzy and he helped me refocus. I used my Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques to monitor my thoughts and create alternative ones. By the time I got home, I felt alright, if a little drained.

Izzy said something very wise and valuable this afternoon. He pointed out that I have kicked ass for years, that my anxiety disorder has been a part of my life for years, and I have done well living with it. I am committed to managing it so that I can handle goodbyes and changes in a more healthy, balanced manner.

The support of good friends doesn’t hurt, either.

The key, a quarter, and a weekend in heaven(and other places)

What is the key? Soldier found a key in the second of my rental cars Saturday. But that’s not the key I mean. No, what is the key to me? Sometimes I lose sight of myself, even when I’m experiencing joy, excitement, and gratitude. I get lost in the fog of my own self-doubt. But this problem is temporary. I am willing to strive to find the key. After 5 days in Nashville, I feel the effort is worthwhile.

My summer vacation started out rough, to make a huge understatement. On the first day away from work, I learned that my mentor and partner in crime at work has taken a job in another school district. While I was excited at the prospect of learning to come into my own at work on Tuesday evening, I panicked on Wednesday afternoon when she gave me the official confirmation. I spent the rest of the day, pacing rooms, second-guessing my skills, constantly close to tears. I couldn’t wait to get to Nashville.

Imagine my dismay Thursday evening when I couldn’t locate Soldier. Due to miscommunication, he did not know I would be arriving then and I did not know he had changed his work schedule. His phone was off. More panic. I got lost on Nashville freeways in the worst thunderstorm I have ever seen. Cars and trucks were pulling over to the shoulder to be safe in the torrential downpour. My heart pounding, I kept inching my rental car forward, even as I struggled to see. Eventually, I made it to my hotel to a rough night of tears and worry. Silly me, so quick to believe the worst.

Friday morning, I wandered the Country Music Hall of Fame, my stomach in knots. The brightest spot was seeing Johnny Cash’s guitar. More tears. More panic. I called the airline and booked the next flight out. As I rushed out of my hotel room, I fell and twisted my ankle. I turned in my room key, my rental car, and cried in the airport to my best friend. Then Soldier called. Within an hour, I was checking into the beautiful and memorable Renaissance Hotel, site of my first visit to Nashville. By midnight, despite Soldier’s “cloud of negativity”,which included a flat tire on his bike, we were together and all was better in the universe.

Saturday featured several firsts: German food, leaving a movie before the opening credits, my first major panic attack(this one involved numbness in each of my extremities, my torso, and face), a midnight walk in a park, singing along with a favorite Cure song at Cabana, and other new experiences. Saturday became Sunday. Arrived in heaven.

What is heaven like? Heaven is getting out of bed around 2 in the afternoon. It is lunch with not-so-great food, but sharing lots of laughter. It is a silvery Art Deco building where worldbeat lounge music plays. Soldier leads me by the hand past intriguing and beautiful art. We speak French to one another. Heaven is several good night kisses given, hidden behind the open drunk door of a rental car, a playful smack on the bottom. It is an unexpected text message Monday morning. Heaven is Soldier caressing my right hand because after all, the car is an automatic. In the shade of a tree and in the front seat of a car, Soldier and I shared truths and kisses I won’t soon forget. The harvest moon he offered me as comfort on the phone Monday night.

And what of the other places I visited this past week? There were times when I felt I was in limbo waiting, in purgatory repenting, in hell suffering but I know these places were of my mind’s making. I don’t remember them all, thank goodness, and I can only hope that I can be forgiven.

On Sunday, I thought I lost the quarter. Now the quarter is not the key but it is important to me.The quarter is a talisman Soldier made for me in April. It is an ordinary quarter “engraved” with his initials. I found it Sunday night after I thought I had lost it. It is back on my nightstand, next to a wooden yellow bird Soldier bought me on Sunday. A villanelle I wrote for Soldier includes the line, “I wish I could wake to find you near.” My talisman and memento will have to do for now. Along with that invisible little bird that lives in my heart, my good old friend, hope.

Waiting on a different kind of silence

“Have the lambs stopped screaming?” Silence of the Lambs

I don’t like the quiet. Silence is different. It is peaceful, contemplative, calming. The quiet is just that: too still, too empty, too eerie. The quiet could be when you don’t hear from someone for days, their phone disconnected or voicemail brimming over. The quiet can occur in a crowded high school hallway, kids talking and laughing, iPods blasting, games being played, while underneath the current of violence moves forward.

A pretty girl lies in the street, her face a bloody mess. Her mother joins her in the ambulance as police cars surround the scene.

This morning, one of my favorite students came to see me. Dressed in one of her typical trendy 80s retro outfits, she earnestly described her fears. She’s had bad blood with two notorious sisters, typical girl drama over a boy. Her so-called brother(I believe he’s her “friend with benefits” though she denies such a connection) told her that the sisters would jump her this week, even today. She assured me she’d keep walking away because she’s trying to change. Her applications for class officer and cheerleader prove that she has an interest in being more than just another hoodrat. She was scared. And now she’s at the hospital.

Why didn’t I do anything? My colleagues say I had no power in this situation. One of the sisters had been dropped from school to independent study. The other wouldn’t have listened to any warnings or threats from us. I can’t help but feel that my silence helped hurt her. I want so badly to help people, whether it’s my kids or my loved ones. Whenever I can’t, I feel lost.

I miss Soldier. His voice and his words always soothe me. But he’s unreachable.

The quiet hurts. Right now, I don’t feel sad or hopeless. I’m scared, nervous, on edge. The quiet stretches on.

Goodbye heartache, hello fear

I make grand statements about myself often. Sometimes they are true, open and real like I strive to be. Other times, they are generalizations, melodramatic gestures. I have labeled myself as a depressed basket case, an enraged hardass, and a trembling coward. I am all of these and none of them. Monday is not the best day to ponder my emotional essence.

Every day, along with the Liturgy of the Hours and the making of my bed, I have been doing cognitive behavior therapy exercises. I am charting my moods and activities daily. I am now charting my thinking about strong moods I have. Patterns are emerging and I am better able to control my emotions. A definite trend is the decrease in my depression–and the increase of my anxiety. Now I don’t think I’m going to break any more pottery or consider taking my life. But fear, nervousness, and anxiety have taken the place of sadness and hopelessness.

I am also reading a book my therapist recommended about relationships. The book, also cognitive behavior therapy based, explores the obstacles we face in romantic relationships. I know what my biggest obstacle is: me. Specifically speaking, my overwhelming fear of rejection. I am so scared of being hurt that I often don’t even try or I try too hard. (I can’t believe I’m writing this! Maybe I’m not so scared after all.) There is a layer of depression in that fear: I am scared I am not likable or lovable. While job stress and the incredible amount of energy it is taking to manage my thinking and moods could be reasons I have heightened anxiety, I am definitely scared of what is happening in terms of my romantic inclinations/desires/hopes.

But it is Monday and I have not done my controlled breathing other than this morning. Pilates should help.