Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nightmare 8.28.14

Note:  I was going to title this post "What's in a Dream" but realized as I  started to type that this was really more of a nightmare and one full of symbolism and snatches of my reality and what's going on in the world at present.  I'll have to  ponder this one for a while.  
Mrs. B

I approach the door of my family home.  As it opens, I see that another family is living there, and a family that is not supposed to be there at that.  For lack of better term, I’ll refer to them as a terrorist family.  There is definitely something ominous about their presence.  Snaky.  Oily.  Over perfumed.  Threatening.  As I stand in the doorway, the male of the house, I presume the father figure, gestures me in.  There is a dog standing nearby, not my dog but some sort of standard poodle thing; not my favorite dog at all.  I look around and spot my dog, my Lucy; off in a corner.  She looks decidedly miserable; downtrodden, beaten; probably literally.  She is mangy looking and, pathetically, chews on an old stick.  I wonder where all of her toys are; her bunny, her squirrel, her hedgehog, her flea?  She sees me and her tail starts to thump on the floor.  With some show of her usual enthusiasm, she jumps up and races over to me.  As she approaches, the slimy man yells harshly at her and she cowers.  My heart breaks.  She tries to slink towards me but he keeps her from getting close to me.  He starts to take his belt off and holds it menacingly in his hands saying, “I guess it is time to really show this dog who the master is.” I begin to protest, fear rising inside of me as I anticipate what this man is going to do to my dog.  He moves towards her and I splay my hands out in a pleading manner, asking him to please leave my dog alone; to just let me take her away and she’ll be no more trouble to him.  I have no thought, really, for the house, or its contents; only to save my dog.  After some time of this, an achingly long moment when I wonder if he’ll insist on dragging her outside where I’m sure he’ll beat her to death, he, amazingly, relents.  But, there is a condition; I am to take her away, yes; but I must come back within a few days with some amount of money, a staggering amount which I know I can never raise, and, worse, I know that this money will go towards something that is not good at all.  Yet, I agree, my only thoughts to get my dog out of that house and away from this horrible person.  As we walk together out of the house; me, my dog and this awful human being, I wonder how it is that we are in the cul de sac where I grew up; even as I recognized the house as my parent’s house in San Diego, I am startled that we are IN San Diego.  We walk towards the part of the cul de sac the leads to the primary artery street where my car is parked.  As we progress, the man reminds me of my duty.  We reach the car and I get Lucy settled in the passenger seat next to me; something I’d normally never do but I want her nearby.  She is so cowed and timid at this point, she hardly moves; just places her head onto her paws and regards me with eyes that express a combination of wariness and joy.  We drive away and I immediately begin to wonder how I can possibly raise money for whatever the man has in mind.

The scene switches, and I am in an apartment, I guess it’s mine, going through all of my things with an eye to keep only exactly what I need and to sell the rest; presumably to raise money to give to this man.  There is another woman there with me; I am unclear of her relationship to me but she looks an awful lot like the actress Scarlett Johansson.  As I go through my things, I notice several suitcases packed and standing off to the side.  She says, “I went ahead and selected a few things for me, as you told me I could.”  I nod, but stop and walk over to the bags.  I held up my brown leather satchel.  “You can’t have this one.  I need this one, and also the other valise you packed plus my red wheelie.  Any other suitcase you can have,” I tell her.   She says, “I didn’t know.”  I open up the bags to remove what she has packed in them so that I can take the empty bags for my own use.  I notice that she’s packed a lot of my slacks, a few sweaters, and, for some reason, the sock monkey slippers that my stepmother bought for me a few months before she died.  “You can’t have these,” I say, holding them up.  “They are the last things Margot bought for me before she died.” I tuck them away. I feel a sense of sadness of losing so many of my things but also realize that I don’t care all that much.

The scene switches again and I am back at the house.  This time, there is no family there; in fact, the place is deserted and nearly destroyed inside.  It is a wreck; furniture tossed to and fro, all of the food pulled out of the refrigerator and freezer and tossed in the backyard; some of it is floating in the swimming pool.  Although the people are gone, I still feel a sense of unease, a bit of desperation that they may return before I can get the place secured.  Mark is with me now; we begin together to sort the place out.  Although when I was there the first time; when I met the horrible man and saw Lucy I didn’t wonder about the cats, now I am concerned what happened to them as I see them nowhere.  I worry that that awful man did something to them but also believe that they were too wily for him.  As Mark cleans up inside, I go outside, thinking that perhaps they are out there.  After a few moments, I see one or two of them on the outskirts of the property, in the canyon.  After some time, I managed to coax them all inside the gate and into the backyard and get them into the house.  This is when I discover all of the meat we’d had stored in the freezer tossed around the backyard; expensive roasts, pounds of hamburger, steaks.  I wonder at this blatant disregard for food, for money; especially in light of the fact the man seemed to need and want money.

The scene switches yet again and I am in my familiar dream of being at an airport, being dropped off at the terminal, and being late for my flight.  I have to walk the long path to the check in counter, then the never ending walkway to the gate.  I’ve been in this place in my dreams so many times, it’s very familiar to me.  As with all the other times, I have a desperate sense of needing to get onto that plane so I can get away.  This time, there are two women with me, and they are exclaiming that there may be a problem with our three seats; that perhaps they’ve overbooked and we won’t be able to get on the plane after all.  I look at my ticket and see it’s a seat in first class.  I tell them there won’t be a problem, they never bump the folks in first class.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

My Heart Sings: A Concert of God's Word

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the Earth.”
Psalm 100:1

When I was a little girl of eight, my parents had me take piano lessons.  Playing piano was not something that came naturally to me and I plodded throughout my daily practice time.  My teacher despaired of me; assigning me only the simplest of tunes to play.  Within a year or two, we all gave up on my piano lessons.  

Several years later when I was a young teen, I wandered over to the family piano one afternoon and sat down.  I picked up my old piano lesson books and began to pick out the familiar melodies.  For whatever reason, this time I was interested in learning to play.  Daily, I practiced and re-learned every song.  Eventually, I progressed to playing more advanced pieces and eventually had twenty or so tunes, melodies, hymns and etudes memorized.  I loved to sit down at the piano after school and either play certain pieces that fit my mood, or sometimes to go through my entire repertoire.  My mother, working in the kitchen, told me years later that, although in the beginning I stumbled and hesitated; over the months, the music found its way into my heart and the joy, enthusiasm and love for what I was playing rang throughout the house.  Because I’d memorized the songs, I carried them with me wherever I went; no lesson books or sheet music required.  One special afternoon while on vacation in the country-side of England, I performed an impromptu concert for the other residents of the B&B as we were all stuck indoors due to inclement weather.  

Decades later, I find myself going through the same procedure as I memorize selected scripture verses.  I initially stumble and bumble my way through the memorization process; making mistakes and forgetting the words.  Even after I’ve correctly memorized it, it sounds mechanical and robotic when I speak it out loud.  Yet I persist, and at some magical point, the scripture moves from its place in my head and takes up residence in my heart.  As I pray or recite the verses, either the ones that fit my mood or circumstances or every single one I’ve committed to memory thus far; the words come pouring out of my mouth with even more joy, enthusiasm and love than those songs I played long ago on the piano.  

Alas, I’ve long since given up playing the piano, but God’s Word is something I’ll never give up.  Who knows when I might be called upon to perform a much-needed impromptu concert?

“I treasure your word in my heart, so that I will not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

Mrs. B

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Journey I'll Never Forget

Front of the apartment building 
 Side view
 Tiny little austere bedroom
2nd bedroom.  Note the clothes "drying".  The infamous outfit  I wore three days!

On this day eleven years ago, I was newly arrived in Verona, Italy for a month long total immersion class. All my visions of experiencing an  exciting, dreamy and perhaps romantic time in Italy, a la "Under the Tuscan Sun" (or the later "Eat, Pray, Love") went quickly by the wayside when, upon arrival in Verona (after an extremely frustrating and definitely non-romantic layover in Paris), I discovered my suitcase did not make it to Italy with me.   I waited in vain all weekend for luggage to appear; all the while wearing the same pair of blue jean shorts,  a sweaty icky travel stained tee shirt and big old clunking sneakers (because, of course, everyone knows you wear your clunky shoes on the plane, you don't waste precious suitcase space on them!)  By the time I wrote this particular entry, I was in a near panic state; on my way to begin "school" looking like a slob with no clear idea how I'd ever be reunited with my luggage.  I'd arrived at my destination but wasn't so thrilled with the journey so far. Thus follows a classic example of God's sense of humor and a reminder of who, really, is in charge!
Mrs. B

18 August 2003, 7:30a -- My Apartment
My suitcase did not arrive.  I spent a fairly miserable, self-pity filled evening alone.  I was afraid to go out lest my suitcase chose to arrive at the moment I left.  Because I didn’t go out, it didn’t show up.  That’s the way things work.

No matter what today, I have to figure out what’s going on with this.  Because of the language barrier, I’m not 100% sure my landlady was telling me they’d deliver it or if she was telling me, “Sorry, too bad, figure it out yourself!”

I hope the people at the school will help me get this taken care of.  I don’t think I can manage one more day like this.

I’ll try to think positive but right now I’m starting to wonder if all of this was such a hot idea.  Time to leave and head over to school.

Random Thoughts Written on the Back of the “Lost Luggage” Instructions the Airline (Air Dolomiti) Gave Me

18 August 2003, 8:30a  -- Caffe al Teatro on Via Roma

·      I am sitting here an hour before I am due at school.   This is where I met Eva yesterday (the young lady who was kind enough to let me borrow her cell  phone to call the airline about my luggage).  I’m wearing the same stinky clothes.  This R&R Hall of Fame tee-shirt is getting a lot of mileage.  I am wearing my Tommy Hilfiger blue jean shorts, too. They are probably not appropriate for school, l but I have nothing else.  I refuse to wear my sweatpants and swelter to death.
·         Italians are a bit aloof.  I stand out like a sore thumb and they notice and look down at me.  Of course, they can’t know this isn’t how I intended to appear!
·         No one looks into windows as they walk past.  I’ve sat at my window for hours last night, watching.  Eyes straight ahead, no glancing up, down, left, right.
·         I can’t believe how noisy it is at my apartment at all hours.  Street noise.  Cars passing, people walking by talking, etc.  Except this morning it was quiet.  Funny.
·         It’s real humid here.  In addition to making me a sweaty, icky mess, it’s rendered my appetite to next to nothing.  If anything, with this situation and all the walking (Eva said I should rent a bike), I should manage to stay in good shape.
·         I used the carta telefonica this morning to call regarding my bag.  It worked, amazingly enough.  Too bad it hasn’t been so easy to get my bag returned to me.
·         It only took me 15 minutes (or less) to walk here.  Good to know.  Why take the bus (except to learn how, I guess)?

Later, 8:45p -- Caffe Colonial (near Ponte Nuovo)
Woo-hoo, my suitcase showed up this morning!  During the afternoon break, I ran back to my apartment and was able to change clothes!  Glorious!  Now I feel a bit more “at home” and able to relax.

And school was fine; but when they say “Total Immersion”, that is exactly what they mean!  The staff and teachers try not to speak any English.  Yikes!  I ended up (I think) in a very basic class.  I’ll know for sure domaini (tomorrow).

The good news is, everyone is very nice, including most of the other students.  The bad news is, I comprehend about ½ of what is being said.  Ok, more like ¼!

There was a 2 hour lecture this afternoon on the city of Verona, ancient cities in general, arenas, gladiators, etc.  The instructor, Andrea, (a man),  speaks very fast Italian, says “va bene” a lot and reminds me of Cesar (a friend from my TRW days). Luckily, he also throws in some English so you can somewhat follow what he’s saying.  He also gave a 2 hour walking tour of Verona which was good to get oriented.  I think I understand, basically, how to get a bus ticket and where they go; also, where to buy groceries (there may be a store closer to my apartment but I haven’t found it yet) and what the best wines in Verona are.  He also told us a lot about the Arena di Verona.  Maybe I will see if some of the other students would like to see an opera.

I left the tour when we got close to my place.  I said, “Parto, abito (I'm leaving , I live ) plus  (the word for “over there”, which I know can’t spell, sounds like “la jew”)

I went home and unpacked/got organized.  Now I’m out having dinner (pizza and a beer, I figure I deserve the beer).  I’m not too worried about drinking too much over here, it’s too hot to get drunk.

Yes, it’s steamy, steamy, steamy qua (here).  I’ve never sweated so much in my life.  I need to buy a fan for my room.

Tomorrow I have to buy a notebook.  They haven’t provided me one.  My notes are all over the place.

I hope now that school has begun, I will start doing things in the evening with other people.  I didn’t come here to hang out by myself.

I’ve made myself go to restaurants, etc., by myself and it’s ok, but, other than Eva, I’ve yet to see any other “single” women.

I would also like to find the gym, but we’ll see.  I need to get the Internet thing figured out soon, too.

And, I need to remember that I am here to learn and grow.  Who knows what direction this will take?

Monday, August 11, 2014


I've got writer's block.  For the past several weeks, I've tried and tried and tried and tried to write "something"; it's so frustrating when I have these ideas swirling around in my head that sound really great to me, until I attempt to capture them in words.

So, because I want to try and get the creative juices flowing (and I'd rather do this than, say, any of the number of things on my "To Do" list), here is a bit of miscellany which I've jotted down about myself (prompted by randomly opening the book, "101 More Conversation Starters for Couples" by Gary Chapman to various pages).

Here goes!

Random Prompt #1:  Name the person you know who most personifies perseverance:
My (step) dad Daryl.  From modest beginnings, he eventually ended up graduating with honors from Purdue University; obtaining a bachelors, masters and PhD in Electrical Engineering before he was 30.  He co-raised a blended family of five children and  had a successful career in the defense sector and was at least partially (if not totally) responsible for inventing GPS. Although this may sound more like the answer to, "Who is one of the most successful people you know?", I attribute all his success to the fact he was persistent in reaching his goals, especially in light of the fact that circumstances were not always optimal in his early years, his first marriage, and later with various crises within our family.  

Random Prompt #2:  What is the hardest phone call you ever had to make:
I will change this to the  plural; "calls".  Calling people to tell them that my stepmother Margot had passed away.  Still reeling myself from her death, having to tell people (even though my calls were not unexpected) and waiting on the other end to experience and share their grief was almost more than I could bear.

Random Prompt #3:  One of life's great delights is surprising someone. Recall  participating in a wonderful surprise:
My dear friend Kathleen recently celebrated a major milestone birthday while on a cruise.  Prior to their departure, I enlisted her husband's help in obtaining their RSVP and stateroom number so that I could arrange for their stateroom to be decorated and a bottle of Champagne to be delivered.  I was so excited, I couldn't wait to hear how she reacted!

Random Prompt #4:  David was tormented by an ungodly King Saul.  Recall someone who had authority over you whom you found very difficult to respect:
My first boss at TRW.  Her name was Faye and she was by far the worst boss I ever had, hands down.  Many of us who had the misfortune to work for her referred to her as "The Crazed Psycho Bi$$h from Hell".  Believe, me, that's not much of an exaggeration! She was lazy, took credit for other people's work, insensitive, rude, and at times out and out cruel.  In hindsight, I believe she had some significant emotional problems and I suppose I can feel pity for her now but at the time, I could barely tolerate working for her.  In fact, I actually decided to go into a secretarial program for six months just so I could get away from her until I figured out what to do next.  

Random Prompt #5:  Name someone with whom you have lost contact over the years and wonder how that person is doing:
When I was in 6th grade, our family moved to Lexington Kentucky so that my (step)dad could realize a dream he'd had of teaching college (see the first prompt ;-) )  In short, all of us hated living there, including my dad, so we eventually moved back to California.  However, I made one really, really good friend that year, also named Amy.  She was tall and thin to my (then) short and squat (we were like Mutt and Jeff!) And, like Mutt and Jeff, once we met and became friends, we were always together.  We crammed a lot of relationship in that brief period of time. After I left, we continued to keep in touch via letters and phone calls.  She visited me in San Diego one summer and we picked right up where we'd left off.  Alas, we did eventually lose touch and I have absolutely no idea what ever became of her.  I'd love to find out!

Ok, can't put off the chores any longer, especially as I have pets clamoring to be fed their dinner!

Mrs. B