An American Dream

This is what I want from my life: I want to publish my thousand-page novel. It’s likely too odd to become a bestseller or to win any awards. But I’d like it to mean something to somebody, and I’d like people in the future to say, “Here was a person who gave all of her art to opposing the fascism of the day.” Then I would like to use this book to get a job occasionally teaching creative writing somewhere. This doesn’t have to be an Ivy-League gig, and I don’t even need tenure. (I wouldn’t like the pressure of that anyway. ) Maybe I could find a little college, where I could have a little office that had a chair that was comfortable enough for a kid to feel safe. And I’d have a shelf of books that I’d loan from, and on top of it would be the squid that my sister knit for me—three feet long and with Nerf-ball eyes. And I’d go to the football and basketball games. And I’d have stragglers over for Thanksgiving. And I’d live in the country, with an old grain bin, or some such, that we converted to a library. And my husband would have a studio, where he could play his drums. And we’d have cats and plants. And we might have a kid, somehow. And maybe this wouldn’t even be a baby goat. And our friends would come out to the farm, and my students would come out to the farm, and our family would spend holidays, sometimes, making dinner in our farm’s butcher-block, root-cellar, walk-in-pantry kitchen. And I’d have a studio in the tip of the granary, on top of all my books. And I’d write there at night. And in the fall, I’d look up, and the harvest moon would be so large that it would startle me.

What a Lovely Place

This morning I dreamed that I rode my bike home from downtown Iowa City. The trouble was that between downtown and my house sprang up mountains. When I got to my neighborhood, everything was so jagged that I had to carry my bike. But there, cutting across the face of the steepest mountain, was a semi-private path. I figured a little semi-trespass was appropriate when a person had to carry a bicycle, so down the trail I went–until I realized I had entered somebody’s arbored garden. Well, mush, Meggie. Act like you know what you’re doing. The arbors turned into a tunnel, and the tunnel turned into a passage that branched into three cinderblock paths that were clearly now, under the house. I was in these people’s cellar. I turned to go back, but of course I’d lost track of the entrance.

So there I was, standing next to a me-sized pile of dusty shoeboxes. A prong from a young deer’s antler stuck from a hole in one of them. I wandered. I heard footsteps overhead. I found a clutch of weathervanes in a corner, pointing every which way. I stepped over a knee-high wall that comprised of the connected feet of several beds, where along the front, someone had tacked old album jackets of The Mamas and the Papas. I entered a room full of stacked cathode televisions, which glowed softly with their green. I kicked a matchbox car, and found a floor of hundreds of them, all arranged in as if in parking lot. 

Every now and then I came to a locked door. Some were glass, and the light came in. Others said, KEEP CLOSED, or NOT AN EXIT. I opened one unlocked door, and a stuffed horse head met me on the other side.

I left that door, and pried open a glass one that led to the outside. I entered a garden. I’d find somebody. I’d apologize. I’d get the hell out.

A stick-thin woman with brittle hair lay in one of those 1970s chaise lounges. 

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I tried a shortcut. And I know I shouldn’t have, and I got lost.”

“Sure thing.” She lay back, and splayed her arms at her sides.

“I just don’t know how to get out, is all.”

“No problem.” She closed her eyes.

I looked around. The yards had knee-high weeds. It had clothes on the line that looked as if they had hung there for months.

I went back inside. I found a scatter of basket-weaving reeds that leaned against the wall and curled away in a sort of wave. Somebody strummed a guitar.

I followed the sound past empty gerbil and bird cages. A young man with long, brown hair sat on a red velour bed with his shirt off. He played an Alvarez, and looked up without stopping.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m trying to get out.”

He looked at me. He stood. “Capo, capo.” He rummaged the sheets.

Then I awoke to James’s alarm. 

I lay there. I scruffled the cat. I told James the dream, and he sat up.

“Whoa,” he said. “You found the Hotel California.”

(Originally posted May 20, 2018)

Give Me a Kazoo, and I’ll Try It

In my dream, Carrie Fischer wasn’t really dead! She was hiding an an attic. And if you extended the pulldown ladder so that it reached all the way to the floor, and then put a kitten at the bottom of the ladder, and then played the Princess Leia theme song, you could get Carrie to come down. 

I kind of like my brain’s version of necromancy, or conjuration, or whatever this is.

(Originally published March 1, 2017)


Gonna Be a Heartache Tonight

My dream started with a real-enough situation. In my English class, the students have to google themselves while they write their practice resume. It never hurts to know. In my dream, I googled myself in solidarity with the students–and I found a video. It was a grainy, surveillance film from the Taco Bell that’s way south on St. Petersburg, Florida’s Highway 19. It showed an extremely drunk Megan singing “Peaceful, Easy Feelin'” at the top of her lungs, to none other than Glen Frey, who was just trying to eat his chalupa. Apparently, I was appalled that he was eating at Taco Hell, as I called it. I paused between verses, reached into my front jeans pocket, and handed him half a chicken McNugget. 

That’s all that was on the tape.  I looked from the google, to James. I said, “I don’t remember this at all!” And he said, “Well, you were pretty blotto. And we decided it was best not to tell you.” I thought of all the authority I try to establish on the first day of class–all of it felled by alcohol, easy listening, and a chalupa.

(Originally posted February 22, 2016)