My subconscious is more creative than me.

This past week, I had a very cinematic dream.

Like this, but not.

Like this, but not.

I had been pulled through a vortex into an alternate dimension.¬†Upon arrival, someone told me that the only difference between the alternate dimension and my own was my existence (similar to It’s a Wonderful Life), but I started noticing changes that had to predate my birth. Like, dinosaurs were still around. I don’t think that had anything to do with me. I came to realize that the person responsible for creating the vortex was somehow manipulating time to make things like the extinction of the dinosaurs a thing of the past.Also in the dream, I was staying with my wife’s family, but since I didn’t previously exist in the alternate dimension, my wife was not my wife… yet. The problem was that I wasn’t sure whether I should try to woo her or try to return to my original reality where my real wife was waiting for me. I remember that the window of opportunity on a return to my reality was rapidly closing, but I don’t remember why.And the really fun thing about the dream was that, because I was in an alternate reality, my mind had to create alternate versions of everyday things. For example, I saw a Sony Playstation in my dream that wasn’t square, it was bulbous. And the dinosaurs that I saw weren’t any that I recognized from Jurassic Park. It was what dinosaurs might have looked like had they continued to evolve into large reptiles instead of small birds.

I never got to find out if I returned to my reality, wooed my pseudo-wife, or thwarted the machinations of whoever opened the vortex. I woke up too soon.

One of my first waking thoughts was “Why can’t I pull out that level creativity when I’m awake?” It’s probably bad to be jealous of my sleeping self, but there are times when I’m writing where I just can’t think of what’s supposed to come next. But dreams don’t just stop because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And don’t even get me started on how it’s possible for us to be surprised by twists in our dreams when they are happening inside of our own brains.

Anyway, now I’m thinking about developing the dream into a readable story. Would you want to read that story?

If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave.

9780062104182My wife and I are big fans of books by Mo Willems. We’ve been taking bi-weekly trips to the library with the girls, hoping to find new Mo Willems books to read to them. Most recently, we picked up Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.

I don’t want to spoil the book for you, because you should read it yourself, but one of the two morals for the story is, “If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave.” I won’t tell you what the other moral is, because you really do need to go read the book. But that moral got me thinking about what it means to be in the wrong story.

Does it get Coulier than this?

When I was younger, I used to wonder what I would do for a living when I grew up. When I was a fan of rock collecting, I wanted to be a geologist. When rocks lost their hold on me, I wanted to be an astronaut. When I realized how horrible it would be to die in space, I found inspiration on television and wanted to be just like Dave Coulier from Full House. In high school, I was such a band geek that I considered becoming a high school band teacher. In college, I looked back on my times as a camp counselor and pursued a degree in Recreation. And where am I now?

I work in a bookstore, planning and marketing events. I am a writer, waiting to be published, but I honestly don’t know whether to devote my time to memoir, flash fiction, or YA fiction. I have a beautiful family, wonderful friends, and a good job, but aside from knowing that I am happy, I don’t know where my story is going. I don’t think I’m in the wrong story, I just can’t see the plot of the story that I’m in.

Have you ever found yourself in the wrong story? Do you know where your story is headed?

The Melted Owl

One of the fun things about being a parent is watching your kids experience new things for the first time. Unless it is the first time they wake up screaming from some kind of strange nightmare involving an owl that lives under their bed and they refuse to go to sleep for hours, even though it is the middle of the night. That isn’t as much fun as you’d think.

This, unfortunately, was the situation a few nights ago when my oldest daughter started screaming like a banshee at 2am. Of course, it wasn’t until the afternoon of the next day that she told us about the owl.

“Did something scare you last night?” we asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

“What was scaring you?”

“The owl,” she said.

“What owl? Where did you see an owl?”

“Under my bed,” she said, nonchalantly, “in Cole’s bedroom.”

“Hmm,” we said.

Cole is our dog. We have an unfinished basement divided by a concrete support wall, one side of which is reserved for our dog, and it is the side directly beneath our oldest daughter’s bedroom.

“There are no owls under your bed or in Cole’s room,” we said. “We’ll take a look together.”

And so we looked. I didn’t see anything. She didn’t see anything. There were no owls to find.

“He’s gone?” she asked.

“Yup,” I said. “He’s gone. No owls are going to trouble you tonight. He probably went back to his house on the other side of the world, far away from your bed.”

“Okay,” she said.

The next night, we double-checked under the bed and in the dog’s room for owls. We didn’t find any, but my daughter insisted on sleeping with her door open (something she hasn’t done before) before she agreed to get into her bed.

Around midnight, she woke up screaming again. It took a few minutes to get her calmed down, but once she stopped screaming, we asked her about the owl.

“Did you see the owl?”

“No,” she said. “He’s safe?”

“Um,” we said.

“He’s safe in his house?”

“Yeah,” we said. Somehow, my daughter went from being afraid of the owl living beneath her bed to concerned for its well-being now that it had been kicked out and sent to it’s own house on the other side of the world.

And then things got weird(er).

“He’s empty?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“He melted?”

“Um. Yeah, but he is very happy in his new form. Very happy.”

“Hm. Okay.”

Man, kids are strange. I have no idea where she got heard about owls in the first place. So far as I know, none of her books feature owls as characters (other than Winnie the Pooh, but it has been quite a while since we’ve read that to her), not to mention the fact that owls don’t usually melt. Ah well.

At least it is happy in its new form. I just wish it would leave my daughter alone.


I am a twisted dreamer.

Hitchhiker's_gestureI had a dream last week. In it, my wife and I picked up a hitchhiker. But rather than taking the hitchhiker as far as we were going and then leaving her somewhere where she might be able to hitch a ride further, we brought her to our house.

I don’t think my wife or I had kids in the dream, or if we did, they were somewhere else. All for the best though, since within a few minutes of getting into our house, I realized (in a fit of dream logic) that the hitchhiker was going to kill us.

How exactly we became her captives, I don’t remember. All I know is that my wife and I were at her mercy. When her phone rang and she turned her attention from us for a moment, I grabbed my wife’s hand and we ran out of the house.

Knowing that we had to get away far and fast, we ran toward the garage.

The garage door is open! I thought. We normally keep it closed, so I was pretty happy.

My keys are in my pocket! I thought, patting my pocket. Great!

We jumped into the car, knowing that we just beat death. But as I turn the key, I realize that our hitchhiker had rigged our car to explode. My wife and I die.

I didn’t see that coming! And it was my dream.

As I thought about this, I remembered an episode of RadioLab that I once heard that included a bit on Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and other classics. Stevenson’s dreams were also not always predictable.

Anyway, it was a great episode of RadioLab, so I’m linking to it here.

Do you ever have unpredictable dreams?