Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Woke up this morning after a nasty night - an early-to-bedtime due to a nasty headache. Still reeling from my dreams, I stumbled out of bed to hear my son calling for me. He was ticked that we had to get him ready for preschool instead of ready for playing with his brand new ball, but hey, such is life. Got him in the car and off to school, and as I was tooling back to my house to walk the dog, I began to think about my dreams.

Why is it that people phrase their life aspirations in terms of dreams? As in, "My dream has always been..."? Because in all truthfulness, my dream world ain't like that. Daydreams, yes. Any daydream is a self-directed window into what could be. But no one says, "Hey I always daydreamed of this moment!" I think that once the lights go out and you drift off into needed sleep, you can kiss the aspiration part of your dreamworld goodbye, because the subconscious is in control. I've heard of people supposedly being able to redirect the subconscious mind and therefore, have some control over their dreams, but I think my mind running riot at night comes up with such outlandish stuff that seems to make sense in its twisted context that "redirecting" falls by the wayside. Cases in point from recent (remembered) dreams or parts of dreams:

Goosing some guy at the dog park by getting on him for his many girlfriends.
(In real life, I initially remembered this guy's dogs, because four years before, his then-girlfriend would take them out regularly. No idea where she's at these days...)

There's a big party going on at my house - all through the house, even in the other three apartments. I am the hostess, and I am charged with keeping all my guests happy. Things seem to be going very well - even the makeshift swimming pool in the backyard, which seems to have been transplanted from a friend's backyard, is a big hit. The problem is, the house has somehow gotten bigger. The staircase at the back of the house has definitely increased in size. And something is missing. It takes my regaining consciousness to realize what it is.
(i.e., waking up. My husband and son were missing from the whole dream)

And the one I woke up from this morning was the craziest I'd had in ages. Rock critic and author Chuck Klosterman was interviewing me for some publication, and in the process we got involved in getting me some cotton floss for my cross-stitch, I ended up in a corridor not unlike the ones I've encountered in college buildings, we ended up chasing and successfully nabbing a killer, with the help of some CSI people, and after I was a bystander to the killing of the killer, my last thought before waking from it all was that I was so glad my son was not here to see all this.

And then I woke up.

And it was at that moment in the car, after my son was safely in preschool, that I thought about what my son, in the real world, was here to see. About what my subconscious was incorporating into my dreamworld. Consider some of my recent reading material:

Mark Kurlansky interviewing Isaac Bashevis Singer:
MK: Do you think that the Holocaust was an anomaly of history?
Singer: No. It's a part of human history. The whole of human history is a holocaust.
MK: If that is true and there is a God, what is God doing?
Singer: (shouts with real anger in his voice) He did it! HE did it! I didn't do it! He created a world in which animals and man and God knows what else fight like hell all of the time. Fight! They fight for sex. They fight for territory. They fight for all kinds of cultures. They fight about religion.
MK:...all of the questions you have been asking all of your life, none of them have been answered?
Singer: No. No question can be. Of course if I ask what time it is and someone gives me the time, a question has been answered, but when it comes to the so-called eternal questions, none of them were answered.
MK: So you keep asking them?
Singer: I was always compelled to. We always say what did God do. And God is as silent as ever. We have to make peace with it or else.

From a recent article on Ivor van Heerden, author of The Storm:What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina - The Inside Story From One Louisiana Scientist :

On the lessons of Katrina: "Ignore the science at your peril...This could happen to you, no matter where you live...This shouldn't be happening. We're a First World country. We have great science."

On the coming hurricane season: "The levee systems right now won't contain a Category 2 system...If we had Katrina again, we wouldn't flood to the same extent. but as the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) pointed out, every single I-wall is suspect...I've already had some state officials on my back for saying that, and I can understand that they want everybody to come back...but I really dread this season, and that's part of the reason I'm disappearing (on vacation) for two and a half weeks."

All of it's enough to make one regret bringing a child into this world. Almost.

It's why I constantly have to keep with the routines. Walk the dog. Pick up my son from school. Feed us lunch. Take us to an afternoon playgroup. Clean up after our cats. Think up activities for when school ends next week, and summer months begin. Go to our local synagogue services regularly. And try to keep with the uplifting messages.

I guess it's also why I have been reading mostly nonfiction for a few years now. How does one effectively face adversity? What's it like, balancing oneself between wanting to be like everyone else and yet still being singled out as the Other? There's been a lot of the singling out in these parts in the past few decades, centuries, or so, despite the law of the land...and it's something that Mark Kurlansky writes about so poignantly in his book about the resurrection of European Jewry after the Holocaust, A Chosen Few. In reality, though, it doesn't have to be about being singled out as a Jew - it can be about being put in a state of Other because you are judged to be "gifted", or you're a woman, your sexual persuasion is different from what others think it should be, or the color of your skin is different, as is your religion or your country of origin.

And I brought my son into all this! Irony of ironies coming, so brace yourself: the best upbringing for my son involves an education in the equality of all people, tolerance for everyone's differences, and the right combination of street smarts and formal schooling to eventually enable him to make some choices on his own. BUT ultimately, he was never able to make the ultimate choice, which was whether or not to enter this world at all. We parents made it for him, and we will keep having a major hand in doing so in one form or another until he is out of high school and/or college.

We have also made the decision to bring him here, in this ruined city, which has the potential to be wiped off the map, because of our aspirations, because we feel at home here, and we want to teach him to at least appreciate the place...even though all he's known before this is the New York metropolitan area. Heck, he still points out New York in things like ads for a programming of Spider-Man on a cable network. Who knows how his aspirations will develop, and whether they'll include this longing for the northeast he seems to be clinging to right now.

Leaving this place on a regular basis come hurricane season will be woven into his life now, the way it will become woven into ours. My husband told me he would be getting us a hotel room in Baton Rouge in the event of an evacuation from a major storm projected to come our way. For another year, a New Orleans diaspora will become a reality. More acts of idiocy and more heroics will be revealed. More self-appointed authorities will proclaim the numerous reasons why New Orleans should still exist...and they'd still be right.

A Chosen Few speaks of maintaining the life-affirming tenets of Judaism in the face of something as horrible as the Holocaust and the presence and maintenance of the locations of former death camps. Though Ivor van Heerden still reels from the horrors of the aftermath of Katrina and the inequality apparent in the suffering of so many at the Superdome and throughout the city that eerily echoed apartheid in his South African birthplace, he maintains his hope that he and others like him will keep working together to make things better, because "you might as well die, because then the adventure's over."

So I guess I must keep plugging away at the aspirations for myself and my son..for all my family and friends here. Keep with the routines. Mix it up a little with the spirit of celebrating life that permeates this town in so many ways.

Sure beats my crazy dreams...

1 comment:

Missy said...

Well said.