Day 24

Write about a dream you remember.

I remember all of my dreams. I have been told that this is a sign of disordered sleeping — you are not supposed to remember many of your dreams; if you do, it means you’re waking up in the wrong stage of your sleep cycle, which indicates you aren’t getting into the deeper no-dreams part of the cycle at all. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but I am always dreaming when I wake up regardless of how long I’ve slept.

Most of my dreams are just recurrent anxieties working themselves out, so not especially interesting to hear about. I have the same types of dreams over and over.

For example, last night, I had one of my “I’m on the roof” dreams and one of my “can’t pick a city” dreams. The “on the roof” dream is where I’m walking through a crowded city street and I have to go up on a ledge or ramp to avoid some street detritus or something, and without realizing it, the thing I’m walking on goes up to the level of a very high roof and becomes the edge of that roof and suddenly I am 40 stories up on a tiny little ledge and looking down.

I have this dream constantly; I do not know what it means. Often, I get down from that ledge only to somehow find myself on another one, and this continues throughout the night.

In the “can’t pick a city” dreams I’m back in my early 30s trying to decide on a new course for my life, and I’m trying to pick a city to live in and maybe something to go back into in school. Usually, this is a bad situation — like, I will in this dream own a small house somewhere that I’m realizing I don’t want to live in, and also have signed a lease back in NYC and be out of work. Or I will have gone back to school and paid a ton of money to earn a degree that I then don’t remember why I wanted it. Or both. Sometimes in the middle of this dream, I suddenly remember, hey, wait, I don’t need to go back to school at all, I earn enough from this tech job I have now. Like, I’ll be trying to figure out how to fit my real life current job in around some old part-time job like waiting tables and then I’ll suddenly realize I don’t need to wait tables at all, I can just do the tech job.

This is probably a boring post to read, though, because dreams are one of the most boring things you can ever talk about (the other being drug trips). If you’re someone who often tells your friends about your dreams, stop now. It’s like the most boring conversation ever because you are literally describing something that did not happen and has no plot and that you “had to be there” to understand why it even felt significant, and the feeling of significance was a trick of your own brain, so it’s not possible to convey it even if the other person was there. Because of Freud (wrong about everything, a total quack), we all have been misled into thinking our dreams are really significant, but they are not.

I especially hate dream sequences (or drug trips) in books and movies and things. They are completely pointless and such a cheat on the writer’s part because they can literally be anything, it’s totally arbitrary plotting, the laziest. So many times a writer will do some long symbolic dream sequence as a shortcut to revealing some backstory or pushing something forward that they’re too lazy or talentless to work in in an organic way. It’s truly the “a wizard did it” of plotting, I hate it. Plus it’s always so boring to watch. I cannot think of a single good example. If you can, comment with it, and I’ll explain to you why you’re wrong and it is actually bad.

Day 23

Interview a fictional character.

Me: “Hi, Elizabeth Bennet.”

Elizabeth Bennet: “Hello.”

Me: “Which is your favorite Housewife franchise?”

EB: “I do not understand the question.”

Me: “Right. Bye, Elizabeth Bennet.”

Remember what I said last Sunday about how Sundays are for phoning things in? Sooooooo tiiiiiired. Thank god I go back to work tomorrow and can get some down time in.

Day 22

What is your favorite quote and why?

Today Edith and I were at the park on our usual bullshit — Edith trying valiantly to eat woodchips and me blocking her every attempt — when a couple little girls and their Mom arrived. The older of the two girls was clearly very interested in Edith. I could see her showing off for her and looking her way from the playset. Sure enough, eventually she came over to us and we had the following conversation:

“Hi! Can I try to hold that baby?”

“Hmm, no, I don’t think so. She’s still pretty little.”

“I am very careful with babies.”

“I’m sure you are. I really like your outfit.”

“Thanks! It’s new. Can I try to hold that baby?”

“No. Her name is Edith.”

At this point the little girl’s mom and sister arrived.

“Mom, the baby’s name is Vida. Can I hold her?”

“No, honey, you can’t hold a baby,” her mother said. “Hi, Vida! You really love those woodchips!”

Later as they were leaving, Edith’s hat fell off and the girl said in a stage whisper to her mother, “She doesn’t have any hair??” She sounded horrified.

“Well, she’s a baby,” her mom replied.

“She’s working on it!” I said, feeling strangely defensive. (Edith does have hair — beautiful, shiny, bright red hair. But it’s light in color, and it’s not very thick yet.)

My favorite thing about this interaction is that this little girl genuinely thought that her mother — Boss of World — had the authority to compel me to hand my baby over to her. I hope Edith is as convinced of my supremacy when she’s old enough to have hair.

Day 21

If you could, what year would you time travel to, and why?

I mean, it’s the eternal answer to this dumb question: I’m a woman, so I wouldn’t.

But I guess if the question were “if you were an upper class white man and you could time travel, what year would you visit and why?” I would say…I don’t know, to be perfectly honest, I really don’t enjoy experiencing things physically. I much prefer to read about them. I don’t even want to be in the present day, I just want to read about it from the comfort and solitude of my cozy bedroom.

When I think back over history, all that really springs to mind are just an endless series of wars. And everything would smell and be really uncomfortable and time-consuming. I like modern luxuries and conveniences and having my own income and streaming media and effective pharmaceuticals and queers.

History? No thanks! That’s what I say.

Day 20

What is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

Well, all my favorite photos have me in them, so they are by definition photos others have taken.

Just kidding, all my favorite photos are of my baby. Having a baby really does make you incredibly dull, every answer to everything is just your baby.

What’s your favorite photo? This one of my baby.

What’s your favorite thing to do? Hang out with my baby.

Who is your favorite person? My baby.

What do you care most about in the world? My baby.

So, setting aside my stunning, remarkable, perfect daughter who reveals a new facet of herself in every photo or video I take of her, and who is so fascinating that my mother and I spend an hour every night after she goes to bed looking at photos of her from earlier in the day and talking about them, I like a lot of the photos I took on my travels when I was younger, which were taken pre-smartphones, so I had to lug around an actual (little digital) camera. I don’t think I really have a favorite, though.

I like this one a lot:

I like the framing and that everything is slightly tipped to one side, which captures the chaotic feel of what visiting Angkor was like (THRONGS of people of all stripes, all behaving insanely). I like that one of the monks is whispering something to the other one (a ton of the monks in Cambodia are young boys who join monasteries because it enables them to have free room and board in one of the cities, and you often see them just messing around like any young boys would). I like the school group beyond in their dorky matching clothes, and that you can tell just from his position and general posture that their chaperone is completely over this. And then the famous, ancient temple beyond and the pretty sky.

Day 19

Write about something mysterious.

One time, I was at a gathering in someone’s apartment in Chicago and one of the hosts mentioned that there was a building next door that they had decided was a government front. It was a private residential building, presumably, but it looked very weird — it was a big concrete box with no windows and a weird big square industrial-looking front door. This wouldn’t be odd in a warehouse district, but this was Lincoln Park, a cute little neighborhood of traditional looking houses. The roommates who lived next to this box then talked in hushed voices about the various things that led them to conclude it must be a government front.

I was curious, so I went home and googled “weird box house in Lincoln Park” and similar until I dug up what it actually was. It was the first freestanding building in the US built by famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Ando is known for designing spaces that safeguard privacy from busy city environments and that use natural light creatively. This house looked like a dark concrete bunker from the street, but on the inside, it opened out into bright atriums and open air walkways.

That was years ago, but more recently an interesting-looking Ando gallery has been built next to the house (which I believe is still a private residence) to host exhibitions on architecture.

I never told my friends about the house’s actual story, because it would spoil the fun and if they wanted to know, they would have googled it themselves. So this is a good example of how (a) I am driven to ruin mysteries, and (b) the actual explanation for mysteries is frequently more interesting than the speculation (at least I personally found the actual explanation for this one more interesting).

Day 18

What book is next on your reading list?

This isn’t so much a prompt as a question, but it enables me to reveal one of my many eccentricities: my reading list is a spreadsheet which currently includes well over 2000 rows. These rows are individual authors, many of which include more than one book. I started this spreadsheet when I worked at the law firm in Chicago, and I remember it was the old building (the firm moved while I was employed there), which means I’ve been maintaining this list since around 2003.

Sometime last year, I decided to start over, since with a baby my time is more limited, so I began a clarified spreadsheet of books I especially want to read.

It is now 583 rows and counting.

I have never understood people who are like “I need book recommendations!” Who doesn’t know what to read, who even are you? I will never need a book recommendation. Ever.

As far as which thing to read next, I went through a period when I lived in Albuquerque of compulsively buying cheap used copies of books that were on my list from Powell’s through the mail, so I have something like 500 unread books in my possession, and I just go through the stacks pretty much at random.

Then, last year when I had Edith, I had to switch to ebooks, so as I explained previously, I started sort of combing through the sale section and compulsively buying whatever books were super cheap. Currently I have 76 unread fiction books in my ebook “pile” and 41 unread nonfiction. And I’ve just been reading them basically in order of purchase.

To answer the explicit question, the “next” book in each pile is probably Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews and The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand.

Day 17

What is a superpower you’d love to have?

Common answers include flight and invisibility; however, neither of those are actually useful imo. For flight, you just think “ooh, soaring through the air!” but it’s physical activity and probably really hard, like swimming or running. Plus, it’s cold up there! If anything, the fun part would be free-falling and then pulling up. But I do think that would eventually get old, and it’s not a practical skill. With invisibility, I just don’t see how any advantage you’d get out of that would be ethical. The older I get, the more I appreciate being left out of shit that isn’t my business.

The thing is, this question does not pose that your life would change in any other way. So the question is really what sort of power would be of most use to you in your actual life? Super strength might be nice in some rare situations, but I don’t really need to be able to lift a car.

There’s really only one answer that I can see: apparition. I don’t travel anywhere near as much as I used to, but I would if I could simply apparate. Think of how much better your life would be if you never had to physically travel between any two locations ever again! Never entering an airport? Never driving anywhere? Your whole life would just open up. I can hardly conceive of how much better everything would be. There are all sorts of wondrous implications for adventure and fun, but it’s also a practical cost- and time-saver for your actual life.

Right now, I’m trying to determine when I will be ready to travel again for work. If I could apparate, it’d be no issue at all. I could simply zap myself home during breaks and after dinner and be with Edith, then be back again for the next meeting.

Day 16

What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?

Well, reproductive rights, but I certainly do not have the energy to write about that after a long weekend of parenting.

In fact, as I stare at this blinking cursor, I’m finding I do not really have the energy to write about anything at all. I can’t even think about what I would write about if I did have the energy.

So, here are the last five Tweets I faved:

One cause I feel strongly about is phoning it in on a Sunday night.

Day 15

What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?

The other day, I was playing with Edith after work, and I paused to give her a big hug and say, “Edith, I missed you so much all day today!”

At which point, Edith hitched herself up so that her butt was directly in my face, issued a long, low fart, and crawled off.

Anyway, I think most people need to get more comfortable with being mildly disliked by others.