Bad Dreams

I have bad dreams.

I don't have any recollection of pleasant dreams at any point in my life.  When I was young, I rarely remembered my dreams at all.  When I did, it was a nightmare or a jumbled mess of confusion.  Some of the nightmares were so vivid I remember them to this day.  There were also a handful that unfolded in an interesting way.  At the end of the nightmare, something terrifying would happen.  I woke up, crying/screaming from the fright, and my mother was there.  She comforted me and calmed me down.  Then I woke up for real.

The comfort mini-dream only lasted a few seconds.  It was enough for me to get my wits about me.  When I really woke up, I was still distraught but not nearly at the level I probably would've been had I just straight woken up.  As I mentioned before, this only happened a few times --- and when I was real young, like 10 or 11.    I still had bad dreams, but nothing unfolded like those few dreams.  As I grew up, I remembered my dreams more often but the content didn't get any better.

Today, I had one of those dreams-within-dreams for the first time in twenty years.  I was somewhere with my family, and Dad was there.  It was a confusing jumble, mostly, though at one point we clasped hands and danced down a hallway in a manner reminiscent of Jake and Elwood near the end of The Blues Brothers.  We were both laughing.  At the end of that dream, he began to fade like Marty in Back to the Future.  I woke up, realized he was gone, and scream/cried.  Mom was not there to console me.  I just lay there.  Then I woke up for real.  I had a moment of shock as I realized the familiar pattern, and then finished dealing with the wave of grief that came from the original dream.

This has been a strange journey of emotion.  I feel like I'm dealing with the majority of them well, but then I run into walls like this.  The same thing happens when I am at home alone and The Iron Curtain of Divorce drapes across my shoulders and makes itself known.  Are these setbacks?  I don't really think so.  It feels like a pressure release once I'm out of the other side of it.  When I'm in the middle of the storm, though, it feels like it'll last forever.

I listened to Sweet Home Chicago on the way to work today.  It helped me get past the hurdle and appreciate the dream for what it truly was.  A few more moments with Dad.


Old Boxes

In less than two weeks, I'll be in Atlanta, GA for Dragon*Con.  For those that are unaware, it's a 40,000+ member multi-genre fan convention that is spread out over five hotels in the downtown Atlanta area.  Went last year for the first time and had a total blast.  On the last day of August, I pile into a van with my friend Nikki, Brad, Niki, and Heather and road trip out there.  I assembled the best Marty McFly costume possible and will even spend a day wandering around in costume this year!  I get a little more excited every day.

In preparation for that road trip, I went to Mom's yesterday to sort through an old box of Dad's hats.  Dad collected them for awhile and had a ton to choose from.  Most of them were related to various grocery products or golf tournaments he attended.  Many memories flooded back as I sorted through them.  I laughed, smiled, talked to Mom about them.  It was good.  As I drove home with a paper grocery sack full of my favorites, I had a strange moment.  I almost turned to the sack of hats and said something, like I was about to tell Dad something.  Or tell a friend something about Dad.  It's hard to explain.  For a very brief moment, I completely forgot where and when I was.  I didn't get upset or anything at the time.  It was just odd.

Later in the day, I was watching an episode of The West Wing with my friend Amanda.  There's a moment where one of the characters is celebrating a political victory in a primary election when he suddenly gets a phone call that his father died, which obviously stops him in his tracks.  As soon as it happened in the show, I had another moment, where my head tilted slightly.  I'd seen the show before, but it's been awhile.  The moment was very similar to the phone call I received, ironically, precisely seven months prior to watching the episode.  I didn't realize what day it was.

After the show was over, I sat in my room for a bit and, well, just sat there.  I wasn't weeping or anything, or even overly sad.  I just felt a little disoriented.  It's like that moment of realization where you say, "...oh."

I feel like I'm moving forward alright, but the setbacks are disappointing.  For example, last week I had a dream where I re-married Indi.  I woke up and was angry at myself for feeling that way.  I went for a run to get past it and pushed myself a bit too hard.  Also last week, my team had a little meeting where we talked about how things were going and one piece of feedback they had for me was that I expect too much of myself.

But if I don't expect a lot out of me, who will?



Today has been unexpectedly full of Dad stuff.

I was searching my Gmail account this morning for some information I'd sent awhile back and found an old chat log between Dad and me back when I was in Indonesia.  It brought a smile to my face and I suddenly thought, "Hey, wait.  If this was saved, are there others?"  A quick search later and I was face to face with about a dozen conversations with my father, frozen in time and waiting for me to find them.

I can hear his voice when I read the words.  We talked about food and Dad's experiences in France and Portugal.  We talked about his job and how he was scraping by trying to divert product.  We talked about Grandma and how she was doing with her cancer treatments.  We talked about Lucy (our family dog) being put down.  He gave me advice on taking care of my house and the renters that had left it in poor shape.  He was genuinely happy to chat, even though I know he would've greatly preferred a phone call.

Dad was never a skilled typist; some of his messages suddenly become ALL CAPS and later return to normal without explanation.  He wasn't the greatest speller in the world.  He tried to explain to me what Pineapple Upside Down Pie was ("it's like cake, but it's pie")  Some excerpts:

7:29 AM me: It's 9:30 PM
7:30 AM Dad: Wow, it's 7:30, Ijust milked the chickens.
 me: Early!

11:39 AM Dad: I have already packed and am ready to go
  Gail says Hi.
 me: Tell her hi back! How is she doing?
 Dad: She loved your card

8:46 PM me: just getting up for breakfast. It's cooler here than it is there - I hear ya'll are having quite the heat wave.
8:47 PM Dad: Yep, 100 today
 me: That's rough.
8:48 PM Dad: no, 140 is rough
 me: Well, that's true.
  Any diverting luck?
8:49 PM Dad: IT'S 140 IN IRAQ

9:11 PM Dad: SHE IS TAKING PILLS, PILLS . she can'teat garlic or get out in the sun
9:12 PM Was that too tough for you to understand
9:13 PM She doesn't eat steak, steaks scare her
9:14 PM me: ...
 Dad: She has to quit smoking, because of her cofin
 me: Well, that would be a blessing.
9:15 PM Dad: Dont say Blessing or holy water
 me: because of the garlic, right?
 me: I'm caught up now

Some of it makes me laugh.  Some of it makes me tear up.  All of it reminds me that I miss him.  But it is getting easier.  Finds like this helps.  I also got the call that Dad's grave marker was finished and placed.  Since his last 'story' that I heard every time we talked was about someone at Reasor's asking him if he was THE Tony Martin, Tyler and I found it only fitting to mark his final resting place.

Dad closed all of his IM conversations with 'Love ya, Nuff Said'.  It was nice to hear your voice again, Dad.  I love you.

Nuff said.



I walked into a courtroom for the second time this year and talked to a judge about a recent loss.  After six years, four months, and eight days of marriage it's officially and legally done for.  Yeah, it's been coming for a long time and has essentially been over since November...but getting the documents signed and filed means it's truly over and done with.  I have looked inwards and discovered a strange sense of uncertainty.

Not about myself.  I feel more sure of myself now than I ever have in my life.  But I've been dealing with death and divorce for so long there will truly be a gap that I'm not used to having.  My hope is to recharge the ol' emotional Duracell's and return to a place of understanding and stability.  I no longer have to organize and plan around the legal system and that's definitely going to be a de-stresser.  The last of the related bills are paid or scheduled in a way that I shouldn't have any additional craziness over and above the typical day-to-day random expenditures that crop up.

I've done all this and maintained relationships with my friends.  Thank you all for sticking with me during these ups and downs.  It's not over, but the worst has definitely passed.  I've started exercising regularly and feel good about it.  I am doing well at my job and am seeing some doors open thanks to my hard work.  I feel cared for and know that I have a network of people to lean on when the night is unfriendly.

Time to move forward.