Friday, April 30, 2010

Scary, Isn't It?

My friend the Item said that this might be the blogpost to get people commenting on my blog (actually on my blog and not on facebook) again. And he only heard the first part of it.

For the last five to seven years, my recurring dreams (when not about math or Starbucks) have involved one or some combination of the following themes:
  1. being back in London or India (although the dream versions are usually fairly unrecognizable)
  2. riding public transportation somewhere and missing the connexion and either having to get on another conveyance than the intended one, being stuck where I didn't want to be, or having to walk
  3. hanging out with a big group of people, only one of whom I ever actually know (and that only in the dream, usually), at some sort of potentially sketchy meeting or event, and wanting desperately to leave early.
I suppose it wouldn't take a moderately creative person very long to come up with some hypotheses as to what my subconscious is saying through these themes. Besides that, I can usually figure out pretty readily where certain specific elements in my dreams (even the non-recurring ones) have come from in my day to day existence. But about two or three weeks ago, I had a dream which combined all three of the above themes and yet I'm still clueless as to where it came from.

This, roughly, is what happened in it:

I was back in London, with a friend of mine, and we were going to go out with a big group of other people for some other friend's birthday. I didn't know the Other Friend very well, but this Friend of Mine said I was more than welcome to come along, and it would be fun . . . and I'm pretty sure she was wanting to try to set me up with somebody. (I don't think I ever found out who, though.)

So we got on the Tube and went to this bar where everyone was meeting first to have a drink. And then we were apparently going to get on the Tube again to go to some other restaurant in a completely different part of the city for dinner, but we missed the train. Turns out, in this particular dream, there were these independent train drivers who could somehow just drive trains whenever and wherever, kind of like taxis, so we found this guy and paid him and got on his train. Just as we were approaching our destination, I happened to notice a severed human head--maybe two--on the railroad tracks. I kind of thought I must have imagined it, or maybe it was some kind of really realistic and creepy Hallowe'en decoration . . . so I didn't say anything.

We went to the restaurant and then got back on the train and started heading back. But as we were going, I began seeing more and more severed heads. It was frightening--even moreso when somehow one of us divined that it was our train driver who had severed them, and he was waiting to cut off our heads, too. In fact, there he was--coming at us with an enormous hatchet. (Can hatchets be enormous? Are they by definition small? I don't know. Hatchet sounds better to me right now.)

Somehow we managed to get off the train and get to the rest of the birthday party which had now converged on someone's house, but those of us who had been on that particular train knew according to the unspoken rules of the dream that our demon train-driver was going to hunt us down for our heads, so we spent the rest of the evening . . . and the dream . . . looking for weapons with which to pummel him to death. Someone told me to go find a baseball bat, and someone else would lure him and lull him into a false sense of security at which point it would be my job to bludgeon him. "I don't know," I said. "I don't think I can bludgeon anybody. Can I lull him instead?" At that point, or some other point shortly thereafter, I woke up. You can imagine both my amusement and consternation at having discovered such disturbing contents of my subconscious.

This week, I had a frightening dream of a totally different kind, although I have very little idea what it was about. I was driving home from work (that really should be all I need to say, but I'll keep going) and I was really really sleepy. I really didn't want to pull over, and the roads were busy so I wasn't really sure where I could have pulled over, and so I just concentrated on keeping my eyelids open and persevered. (Don't yell at me.) I was almost home, and suddenly I said to Oscar, "Well, I'm glad I ended up with the doggie."

At that moment, I mentally snapped to attention. I had had my eyes open the whole time. I had been very aware that I was driving and should not allow myself to drift off. It wasn't one of those scenarios where you drive the whole commute without really paying attention to it and you wonder how you got from point A to point B, really. I was very aware of where I was the entire time. However, some part of my brain had evidently sneaked off to have a dream anyway, and there was some sort of bargain at the end, during which I ended up with "the doggie."

So I'm asking you. Which of those two dreams was more scary? Hmmmm?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's in a Name?

I should be researching for a term paper. Or if I'm not researching, I should be sleeping. But I haven't blogged much, and I haven't read anyone's blog lately, either, and . . . this is clearly important. Watch.

There's a house around the corner on my way to work where they sell vegetables and rabbits all summer. Yesterday, while driving by, the rabbit hutches caught my eye and I thought, "I wonder if I should get a rabbit and housetrain it sometime." Dear Friend Paulina has a rabbit named Tivoli. I have not met her (the rabbit), but she sounds adorable.

When I got to work there was an email from Miss Annie, asking if anyone wanted an abandoned domesticated rabbit which had been found in the woods and is evidently litter trained. Weird.

I didn't answer the email, because hopefully someone else will. I'm not sure how Oscar would deal with a rival animal that wasn't a dog, and besides, on the rare occasion I can't take him with me somewhere, it's sometimes tough to find dogsitters. How would I find a dog-and-rabbit sitter? Besides, when I actually can take Oscar with me, what would I do? Bring the rabbit along, too? I don't think they make car harnesses for rabbits. (It would be kind of fun to say I'm taking my dog and bunny show on the road, though.)

Anyway, this morning I was thinking about this and about my looming term paper while I was drying my hair, and I decided that if I were to lose my senses completely and get a rabbit, and I was still taking grad classes, I would have to name the rabbit Turabian. Then I started thinking of all the other names I would like to give to animals for fun.

Like, I have this penchant for ancient Assyrian names. I think they mostly sound like cats. Tiglath-Pileser, for example. Also, last week I went and heard They Might Be Giants on Earth Day and they sang, "The Mesopotamians," and for almost a week now, the soundtrack in my head has been singing, "We're the Mesopotameeeans--Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashubanipal and Gilgamehhhsh . . . " I think you could name cats those names, too. If I ever got a hamster (which I don't think I ever would), I might like to name him Sennacherib, for a joke. 'Cause it kind of sounds like you're talking about snacks--and hamsters are snack-size.

Did I mention I should be in bed right now?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Acts of God

The last time just my mom was here without my dad, there were "acts of God," too. You know. Those things that insurance companies like to hide behind so they don't have to fork out any money.

None of you work for insurance companies, do you?

The last time, I was getting ready to start radiation therapy, and my mother came out earlier than my dad for Christmas, to provide some moral support. This turned out to be a good thing, because worse than the radiation was the Ice Storm that happened while she was here, and the 6 days without electricity. Given everything else that was going on at the time, I probably would've curled up into the fetal position and become incoherent if she hadn't been here.

This time she came here because her mother just had cataract surgery. Her mother only has one eye to begin with (you really can poke someone's eye out, you know), so it was kind of a big deal. The plan was that my mother would stay with Grandma Madeira for a week or so, drive back up and stay with me for the weekend, and fly back to my father and Ireland yesterday. Then that unspellable Icelandic volcano erupted. So . . . she's stuck here indefinitely, and it's starting to stress her out. Fortunately we have electricity over here this time, but all the same, she's here and my dad's not, and she has responsibilities on the other side of the Pond that she can't take care of, and . . . I'm pretty sure she's sick of wearing the same three or four outfits over and over again.

If the Milk Guy and I were interacting regularly anymore (which I wish we were, but we can't be), he would say, "Well, Jenn, Who controls the volcanos?"

My mother says she's been having similar thoughts lately, and I don't blame her. I have similar thoughts pretty often about lesser things. But we both agreed there's something about the Christian perspective that makes things bearable (or get-through-able) no matter how bad they get. First of all, there's the whole world God's taking care of--not just us; in the end it's kind of a relief almost to know that the universe does not revolve around me and my perceived needs. But more than that, it's also a relief to know God does care about us as individuals, and He knows what we need and what we can take and whether He causes the perceived "bad thing" or not, He's in it, to redeem it and us and make us whole.

I still don't think there's a way to talk about this stuff without sounding hopelessly trite, and when I used to talk like this to the Milk Guy, he always thought I was trying to convince myself that there was a bright side to situations where there isn't one. Sometimes I probably do that. But I do think it's true all the same. Maybe God did and maybe God didn't set off that volcano Himself. Either way, though, He is in control of the volcanoes, and He knows our times and our seasons and what we (and those around us) really need. I think it's Him, actually . . .

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Swords into Ploughshares

Clearly when God inspired Isaiah to write the fourth verse of his second chapter (in whatever way He did it), the image was meant to be one of reconciliation and peace. Leave it to me to turn gardening into a contact sport.

So we've had a lot of rain lately, but also a lot of sun, and last week it even got kind of warm for a while, so I've been trying my hand at the gardening thing. On Wednesday I decided to go into the bracken at the side of the house and see if I could dig up some ancient compost from when my parents used to live here and tried composting, before the composter self-destructed.

What I should have done:

Gone into the garage, retrieved some shears, hacked myself a path. But no. That would have been both too easy and too much work. Instead, even though I was wearing shorts (on account of not being able to find the jeans I dedicated to gardening last year) and even though most of the previously-mentioned bracken is actually brambles, I decided to forge ahead, pathless.

Keep in mind that not only was the brambly bracken pretty dense, but also, my destination was on a slope, and I had, somehow, to wrest the remainder of composter off the remainder of compost. This was a little tricky, but I managed, and then I came up with the bright idea that the composter lid could be placed on top of the bracken so as to protect my exposed legs and make walking easier.

This might have been a good idea in theory. It was a terrible one in practice. The lid was smooth and therefore slippery, and my sneakers are about six years old and have been walked in pretty consistently, therefore lacking anything resembling traction. I stepped on this lid, set to the compost with my shovel, and suddenly went flying. If I remember correctly, both feet shot into the air (though that might be a later addition in my head). In any case, a nice long blackberry shoot slashed the back of my leg, and the ribs on my right side smashed, as I pitched down the slope, into the side of a tree at the bottom of it.

I didn't bother to get them checked out. They don't do anything for ribs anyway. I did disinfect the scratch. A few days later I was at Camp Selah helping with a clean-up day. Raking is tough on bruised ribs. But at least I managed to stay upright on all those pine needles.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Canine Revenge

This is probably not an appropriate topic for Waiting Saturday, but it's too funny, and when else am I going to tell you about it?

I just love my dog.

Yesterday I began a two-thirds-hearted attempt at planting a garden in the big patch of weeds where my dad used to have an actual garden. It was a beautiful day. I made Oscar come outside with me. He usually spends the first half hour of any extended time outside trying to get back in the house, because he doesn't seem to know what to do with himself instead. I suggested to him he could just sprawl out on the grass like he does on the carpet, but he didn't really take me up on this.

After the first half hour, he lay down in the pile of woodstove ashes I had chucked outside a few days ago. Then he went for a wander in the undergrowth between my house and Neighbour-Justin's. By the time I was done in the garden, the knees of my blue jeans were not blue anymore, and Oscar was covered in burrs and other unidentifiable forest-detritus.

"Sorry, buddy," I said. "You need a bath."

I don't think he's entirely latched onto the word bath yet, but he might be getting there, because he's had about three within the last month or so. And he pretty much hates them, in a miserably-resigned kind of way. After his bath, I towel-dried him, but his fur is so thick that the towel got drenched and he still was. He doesn't like the hair-dryer much more than the bath, and it was a warm day, so I decided to let him air-dry a little. Plus, now I needed a bath. I don't normally take baths--preferring showers--the reasons for which could make a blogpost in themselves, but I was pretty grubby and Folk-Musician-Gale gave me this really fantastic bath oil once and I felt like using it. So I started running the water. Then I decided to go downstairs and make a cup of tea.

As I entered the living room, I noticed my soggy doggy lying on the couch. This is pretty normal for him--I think the couch wicks the water away or something, and it's kind of an old couch, so I don't really mind. Only . . . he was lying at my end of the couch. He never lies there. He started to get up with a look on his face that said he was anticipating my yelling at him, but I just burst out laughing instead. It was too perfect. There it was, a nice, already very damp spot on the cushion where he knew I was likely to sit all evening.

"That's okay," I muttered under my breath as I went to make the tea. "I'll just sit on the other end of the couch tonight."

He looked pretty well ensconced as I went up the stairs with my tea for my bath. Some time later, I came back downstairs. There was Oscar, still on the couch. On the other end. There was the big dark bath-water spot on my end. He may not have figured out that the point of Good Friday is forgiveness, but the outworking of his vindictiveness was pretty hysterical.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Rock So Big He Can't Lift It?

I have a feeling this question that crossed my mind this morning is kind of like the "rock" question in that it's missing some pieces in the logic department, but I kind of got on the merry-go-round of circular thinking while I was praying this morning. I'm sure glad my salvation is dependent on what Jesus did and not on my figuring out all the crazy things that go on in my head.

All the same, it was kind of an intriguing question. It started like this: I was thinking about the crucifixion. And I was thinking about some stupid, faithless, waste-of-time stuff I allowed myself to sink into this week, and so I kind of asked God to make me worthy of His sacrifice.

Then I thought, "Not that that's actually possible."

Then I thought, "There are a whole lot of verses that say all things are possible with God."

Then I thought, "But nothing can ever compare to or measure up to what Jesus did for me on the cross all those years ago."

That was when I thought about the "Can God make a rock so big He can't lift it?" question.

Now I'm thinking that God has answered the unanswerable question after all. Because of course, the point is that it is impossible for me to be worthy of Jesus' sacrifice. If I could pay it back, I wouldn't have needed it in the first place. I couldn't make myself worthy, and God "couldn't" either because to do so would be to undermine His design of our free will. But He Himself is worthy, so, as Isaiah 59 says, "His own arm worked salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him." His own sacrifice makes me worthy. He has changed my nature. I am a new creation. He has made me worthy. I just didn't have anything to do with it myself.



I hope the worthiness starts becoming more and more evident, is the thing. Because He is worthy.