Well, I’m Back!


Oh, those words! How they stir my heart each time! Today has been a day of awesome firsts and dreams come true. Today, I voted for only the second time in my life but for the first time in a presidential primary. If you’re wondering, I voted for Bernie Sanders, though, if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination, I will definitely turn out for her in November.

13139339_10153585710983133_4363788591045689663_nAfter voting for Bernie, I made my way to the local campaign offices for Hillary Clinton and hung out there for a while, with a singular purpose. Sean Astin was to be campaigning through our state today for Hillary and I have wanted to meet this extraordinary man for most of my life but especially the past sixteen years. Like most of my peers, I have grown up watching him on the silver screen, but it was his portrayal of Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the RIngs that has filled and stuck with my heart and soul. Sam is a character to whom I would dearly love to emulate in my lifetime. A dear friend calls me “her Samwise” and I strive every day to be worthy of that moniker.

After chatting with folks at the campaign headquarters and playing with my daughter for a little bit while we waited, Sean arrived with Senator Joe Donnelly and worked his way through the small waiting crowd, shaking hands, taking pictures, and signing autographs. He took a moment to laugh and proclaim, “I’m just going to dance with the kids,” and then proceed to do so with my three-year-old daughter and her new little friend who were bouncing around him little Tookish little hobbit children.

When it was finally my turn, I shook Sean’s hand, said how wonderful it was to meet him, and asked if he would sign my copy of Forgotten Leaves. I explained that the book contained my first academic publication, an essay on Tolkien’s heroes. I’m sure I babbled more than a bit as I tried to explain how I had examined all of Tolkien’s heroes with their differing characteristics, triumphs, and failures, and had found Samwise to be the one who 13173798_10153585711198133_4453832520624279180_nmost embodied the traits that Tolkien considered the embodiment of heroism: loving service, loyalty, devotion, and sacrifice. Being as self-deprecating as the character he so brilliantly and lovingly portrayed, this dear man signed my book “Sean Astin. “Sam”, 1 of the heroes”. Fittingly, he signed on the dedication page which simply says “To the Professor”, which I thought was amazingly appropriate.  After taking a photo with me, Sean pointed at my “I Voted” sticker and exclaimed, “At last! I’ve been all over this state today and this is the first one I’ve seen anyone actually wearing! Well done, you!” That sticker now resides in my journal where I will recount today in all my geeky joy with more than a few squees in bold letters on the page.

And did I mention that he tweeted back at me a little while ago? Squeeeeeee! It’s been a really, really good day! I have to smooch my hubby extra much to thank him for alerting me to all of this going on today so I could be a part of it.

Sean Astin tweeted me!! ^_^

 

Snyder, Melissa. “He Who Would Be First Must Be Last: Tolkien’s Heroism in Lord of the Rings.” Forgotten Leaves: Essays from a Smial. Eds. Jessica Burke and Anthony Burdge. Staten Island: Myth Ink Books, 2015. 7-28. Print. 

Store Link: http://mythinkbooks.storenvy.com/products/14307147-forgotten-leaves-essays from-a-smial

 

For the Gaining and Gift of a Dream


Vulnerability alert! Last night, my husband asked me an innocent question: “What is your dream?” As I sat there and thought, I found myself bursting into tears. I cried. Oh, how I cried. As I thought, I couldn’t find anything that fit what I would call a “dream”.

When I was a little girl, I dreamt of being a teacher. I have done that, in some way, shape, or form, from age 16 to age 29.

When I was older, I dreamt of writing and being published. I have done that. (Though I have never quite been so Jo March to declare, “I shall write great books and make barrels of money.”)

I dreamt of finding deep, understanding love and partnership. I have found it.

I dreamt of holding a child in my arms. I do.

img_2035dreamYet, now, at almost 32 years of age, I do not know what my next dream is, what my next step or my next path in life is. And so I cried for a long time last night. It was a despairing cry; one never wants to think that they are dreamless. Soon, Elizabeth will be old enough for preschool and I will be back to work, but what work? Shall I return to the classroom, shall I search for a position in a library, or shall I try to step into something entirely new? I do not know and not knowing scares me.

It has also been suggested to me that I could make money from my writing. That is also an idea that frightens me, although I know it can be done. It would be a step of faith, a step of courage, one that would lead to some of the hardest work I’ve ever done and perhaps some of the rewarding work I have ever done. However, I’m not sure it is one that my family can afford, with what we are planning for/needing to be done in the future. Not as a sole method of breadwinning, that is. But…could it still be worth a try?

Ben asked me another poignant question then (it was truly the night for them): “Why do you write?” And so I answered honestly, perhaps the most honestly I ever have. I write so that there will be evidence that I existed. I write so that there will be a record that I lived, breathed, felt, thought, learned, created. However selfish it may sound, I write so that there will be proof of me. And maybe, just maybe, someone will find comfort, help, or encouragement from what I have experienced and shared. I did find something that I said in reply to him a touch curious, though. I told him that I do what I do in life because I feel as though they are what I must do. I write, share, post, sing, dance, and talk but I have not necessarily looked at those things as “dreams”. They are just a part of who I am.

Then Ben asked me if I had talked to God about it. When was the last time I asked Him for a new dream? I couldn’t answer, which was an answer in and of itself. And so, in the midst of my tears and clutching of my husband’s hand, I did what I should have done in the first place: I prayed. I thanked God for the dreams He has helped me to achieve and told Him of the despair I was feeling at the thought of not having a dream to aspire to, a path to set foot on. My heart cried out and I asked Him for a dream, for guidance, for light. I know and trust that He will be true to His word as I seek His dream for me. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So I shall continue to pray and quieten my heart continue to listen as I look, hope, wait for, and walk towards a new dream.

When You Wish Not to Dream


I don’t often post about my dreams but this one has managed to stick with me, whereas that is far from the norm. Most of my dreams evaporate even before my eyes open, once my mind is woken from sleep, regardless of how detailed or long they have lasted throughout the night. Not this one. This one I remember just about every details, every emotion, and that might be because this was a nightmare.

I stood in line with Elizabeth at bakery or a deli, waiting for our turn to order and pick up what we wanted. Behind me, a man started to play with my hair, pick at it, saying I had “nits” in my hair. I was extremely uncomfortable and turned, telling him not to please not touch me. He just grinned in an unsettling way and reached for my hair again, which garnered a more forceful, “Don’t touch me!” A good Samaritan standing nearby interjected, reiterating to the man who I had said not to touch him. When the offender, simply shook him off and turned for me again, the man trying to help grabbed him up by the collar, dragging him from the line and away from me. I grabbed hold of Elizabeth’s stroller and tried to get out of there; I was scared, no doubt.

The first man, however, shoved off my defender and pulled out a weapon, a gun, which immediately set the store into a panic! I huddled in a corner near the door, covering Elizabeth in her stroller with my own body. I felt like I was drowning, my heart was pounding so fast and I was so afraid. The man with the gun grabbed another nearby woman. Holding her as a hostage and shield and pointing the gun at those gathered in the store, he ordered that everyone was to get down, no one was to call the police, and he was leaving. As they backed out the door, I clung to Elizabeth’s stroller for dear life, trembling. I heard him stop next to where I was crouched near the door, mutter something intelligible, and then the gun fired. And I screamed. I can still hear my scream, can still feel the bullet tear and burn through my lower back again and again.

I awoke in a fright, sitting up in bed. I turned towards Elizabeth’s room but hearing no disturbance there, I rolled over and grasped my husband and just cried, forcing myself to stay awake for as long as I could manage before exhaustion claimed me again. All day, that horrific nightmare has stuck with me. I can still hear myself screaming, I can still feel the burning pain in my lower back. It’s the only dreams lately that I have had that I can remember, and I really, really wish I could forget it.

Maybe writing it down here isn’t necessarily conducive to forgetting but I am trying to exorcise this from my brain so, hopefully, I can get some relief from it.

6-1-13: Deserted Dreams


There was once a little girl who did not like to sleep. She hated closing her eyes on the world, missing all the exciting colors and activities, the games to be played, the books to be read. She did not like to sleep.

But, this little girl did love to dream. She loved the worlds that blossomed from her imagination, given space and life. She loved the adventures that her dreams left her with to exclaim about to her mother. So her mother told her that her dreams required sleep.

“If you don’t sleep, my love, you cannot dream. Then you’re dreams get lonely. They need you, you see. Without you, there is no one to give them life, no on to help them be alive. If you don’t sleep and visit them and have your adventures with them, your dreams will grow weak and, eventually, they will disappear altogether.”

The girl did not believe her mother and staunchly refused to nap, would put off bedtime for longer and longer until she finally collapsed from exhaustion into a sleep so weary that she did not dream. This was the habit for more than a week.

Finally, one night, Mother placed the little girl in her bed and told her, in no uncertain terms, that she would be in a great deal of trouble if she left her bed. “I will hear you if you do,” Mother warned, and the little girl knew this to be true. Her mother’s hearing was unparalleled by anything in her world.

So there she sat in bed, her eyes opened as wide as saucers, refusing to give in to sleep. But the room was dark and shadowed softly by the glow of her nightlight, her nightgown was fresh and smelled of lavender, and her little bed so comfy and soft with her favorite blanket. She cuddled down onto her pillow, holding Vela, her velveteen rabbit, on her tummy. She would talk to Vela, that’s what she would do. But what about?

As the little girl thought about topics for conversation, her eyes began to grow heavy and a little yawn escaped her and then an even bigger one. Before the little miss knew it, she had fallen asleep in her little bed.

And, tonight, she dreamed; but it was not like her other dreams.

This place was different. It was bare and broken, dry like a desert and empty of life. The sand made sounds like broken things as she walked on it.

“Where am I?” she asked, hoping to sound brave despite the tremor in her voice.

A little head poked out from behind a ruined tree next to a dry spring. “You. You left us behind,” it says, scooting out into the light. The deer was small, its coat matted and its brown eyes sad. “You abandoned us.”

“No, I didn’t. I’m here!” the little girl insisted.

“You haven’t been. We grew lonely and didn’t know what to do. The world grew dark and dry and scary. My friends disappeared. You didn’t dream, didn’t play with us or visit us. You left us.” The little deer’s ears drooped and it stretched its nose towards the ground that was devoid of green, and, for the first time, she could see how gaunt and skinny the poor thing was.

Beset by grief and sadness, the little girl threw her arms around the deer’s neck and hugged it, tears filling her big brown eyes. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you!” she cried, hot tears coursing down her cheeks and splattering onto the deer’s coat. “I’m sorry! I’ll be good!”

Suddenly, the deer disappeared from her arms and the world melted away. The little girl found herself in her room, in her own little bed, though the tears on her cheeks were real.

“Sweetheart…” came her Mommy’s voice above her, her warm hand on the girl’s face, “Sweetheart, wake up, you’re having a bad dream.”

The little girl threw herself, sobbing, into her Mommy’s arms and, on her shoulder, poured out the story of the last few minutes.

Mommy just hugged her baby girl and comforted her, cooing, “Oh, darling, it’s OK. It’s OK.”

“I’ll be good, Mommy. I’ll go to sleep. I don’t want to hurt my dreams.”

“Oh, my precious, you won’t hurt them. They will get better and be hale and whole and everything will be fine. I promise,” Mommy said softly, reaching out for the velveteen rabbit. “Here. Hug up Vela and close your eyes and think about your happiest dream. Everything will be fine, you’ll see.”

Scared though she was, the little girl crushed her velveteen rabbit to her and nodded quietly that she’d do what her Mommy wanted. Lying back, she took a deep breath as Mommy pulled her blanket up to her chin and tucked her in with a kiss.

Mommy then leaned over to the nightlight on the table next to the bed, cupping her hand next to her mouth, and whispered softly, “Little light with your golden glow, protect my girl where’ere she’ll go. Give her dreams that are soft and sweet and may she smile when next we meet.”

Amazingly, the little girl felt lots better and her sighs turned into even breathing as Mommy’s weight sat on the bed next to her until she drifted off.

And you know what? Mommy was right.

What on earth is “cupcake writing”?


So I got out of bed around 5am, not that uncommon right now as I’m in my 3rd trimester and getting awfully close to having this baby. Having migrated to the couch and watched TV and surfed the internet for a while, I eventually fell asleep again, only to dream. In this dream, one of my many cousins and I were in the house that I grew up in, getting ready for school (so I assume we were teenagers). As I came into my room from the bathroom, I saw her standing at my night table with my journal in her hands, reading as though it were just any book on the shelf.

I asked her what the hell she thought she was doing and snatched it out of her hands. She just sort of shrugged.

“You usually would have fought me for that,” she said, “Your writing, though! What’s wrong with you? It’s all cupcake writing.”

I didn’t know exactly what cupcake writing meant but I could feel the implications: trite, stupid, inconsequential, and it hurt. “Shut up and get out!”

Again, she just shrugged as though my privacy and my feelings really didn’t matter and strolled out of my room, grabbing her bag to head off to school.

= = = =

When I woke up, I felt really insulted. I know that my cousin didn’t actually say that but, still, it hurt. I take pride in my writing and enjoy pouring my thoughts on paper, even when it’s hard. Journaling helps to unburden me, helps me work things out in my mind to put in practice in my life. Blogging helps me share my writing in the hopes that it might interest and help someone else. Forgive me for indulging in a little bit of childishness but it’s not fair that, even if it is just in a dream, someone finds my personal thoughts and feelings just “cupcake writing”.

Believe you me, subconscious, my writing is anything but trite. Without it, you often don’t get a say, so…kindly shut up.

The Taste of Dreaming


Dream of Stars by `zeiva (http://deviantart.com)

I am a sensory dreamer. Those are my favorite (and most terrifying) type of dreams: the dreams where I can feel, smell, hear, and taste things. I can never quite “see” very well in my dreams, oddly enough, but my other senses can be needle-sharp at times. I can feel a person hug me, smell them near me, hear their voice reverberate in my ears, and feel kisses and touches tingle along my skin. I can feel the warmth of the tears that roll down my face, feel my chest swelling with the heat and sting of crying. There are times that those tears have even spilled over into real life and I have awoken sobbing, unable to stop. Even though that can be difficult, heartbreaking even, I still love those sensory dreams.

I have dreamt about my daughter before, years ago. I dreamt of rocking her in her nursery in the middle of the night, watching her in the moonlight as she settled down to sleep in my arms after eating. I could feel the soft, warm, sleight weight of the child in my arms, hear her little coo as she yawned, and watched her scrunched up her little fists under her chin.

I have dreamt dreams of such peace and beauty and love that, even while dreaming, I struggled to burn them into my memory so that I could remember them when I awoke. I have jolted out of bed in the middle of the night, so compelled by a dream that all I could do was get up and write it down. One night in grad school, I spent an hour sitting on the edge of the tub, writing down a dream in the bathroom so that I wouldn’t wake my roommate. The images and the story were just so powerful and moving that I refused to lose them. I have dreamt dreams that are so detailed as to amount to a memory. I have been reminded of them by the way the sun shines, a certain smell in the air, or particular words that someone might say or a look they might give me that strikes me with a certain déjà vu. I remember looks and kisses as if they had really happened, events and encounters as though they were facts.

We are told that dreams are our subconscious working out the things that we do not let to the forefront or things that lie dormant within our minds. I do not know what parts of me all these dreams are trying to reveal but I will admit that I do love and enjoy these dreams and the lasting impact they have on my memory.

Quasi-Daily Writing: January 16, 2012


On the TV is “History’s Mysteries: The Legend of Arthur and the Knights of Camelot”. As I listen to this, I begin to wonder back to my childhood, to a time when I truly believed that chivalric knights and princes on white horses existed, and that, one day, one of them would find me, recognize that I indeed had worth, and carry me off to love me for all of time. Just like the fairy tales. Even despite the fact that, for a while, I found the villains far more alluring than the princes. But what can I say? I was five at the time.

As I grew, I began to grow out of that attitude, finding no evidence of such princes and knights in the world around me, at least not amongst the males who mattered: the boys at school. They had never heard of chivalry or even good manners, it hardly seemed to me. Thus, the dream of the prince on the white horse began to fade as I realized that I couldn’t wait around for him, punctuated by several failed attempts to find said prince from the meager stock I had available to me.

As I progressed through high school, regarding myself as little more than an old maid. It may seem odd that I thought of myself as such at 17 years old but I had been much a mother figure to my friends all through school that, truly, what else could I think of myself as? Ironically enough, it didn’t bother me. I didn’t need the prince now. I would journey to lands far away on my own, build my own new life. On my own, no prince required.

As I began college, I began to meet men with this fleeting dream called “chivalry”, young men who wouldn’t let me walk back to my dorm alone, who defended me against naysayers. Then I began to dream again, ever so slightly, that one of those chivalrous men might be for me some day. Five years and what (I thought) were four possibilities later, I came to the point where I was content to live and stand alone. Or so I thought.

Needless to say, my prince did come along, though he did not lift me up onto his horse but met me where I was on earth. I reminded him how to fly and he encouraged me to dream. So…just because you cease dreaming it, doesn’t mean that the dream isn’t real, isn’t still there.