Friday, August 8, 2014

Random and Dreaming

Last night, I dreamed that I was doing yard work with Brad Pitt.

That isn't a euphemism for anything.  I was actually doing yard work, and Brad Pitt was my co-worker.  We worked for a landscaping service together.  And the woman running it was kind of mean, actually--she yelled at me about something, but then Brad Pitt came over and helped me, so I think it worked out okay for me.

I know where the bit about "yard work" and "landscaping" came from, because I have a chunk of it to do.  I'm not sure how Brad Pitt got involved in all of it, or why exactly he and I had a long conversation about whether or not I'd ever change my name and the pros and cons of changing one's name in general.

In a different dream sequence, I apparently married royalty, although I never actually met my husband the king.  (Apparently, I have a great deal of social mobility in my dream world, because I go from working-class to "Her Majesty" with little or no problem.)  For some reason, I was also flying coach while I was married to royalty, and the flight was delayed (you'd think we'd have our own plane, right?  Apparently not.)

I'm pretty sure I know where this dream bit came from: I spent the last week reading Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams (Yale UP, 2014) by Margery Heffron.  It's about John Quincy Adams' wife.  She was a very interesting person, needless to say: she had 9 miscarriages, a stillbirth, and 4 children.  (One child died as a toddler, one died in his 20's of an apparent suicide, and one died in his 30's of alcoholism.)

Louisa Adams was an extremely adept hostess and diplomat.  Her husband served as Secretary of State as well as ambassador to St. Petersburg and London, before becoming President of the United States.  Although she was given very little credit for years and years by (male) historians, in recent years, scholars have come to realize that in many ways, John Quincy Adams owes what (little) popularity he enjoyed to her.

She was definitely the preferred spouse.  When she died in 1852, both houses of Congress adjourned for the remainder of the day as a tribute to her--this, despite the fact that she wasn't actually born in the United States and she never held political office.

At one point, in September of 1822, Louisa Adams goes to Bordentown, NJ and visits--of all people--the exiled King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. 

That's right, Napoleon's brother moved to NJ.  Of all places.

So this is something that I read right before I fell asleep the other night, and I'm pretty sure that's where the "royalty" angle of my dream came in.  Because I kind of wished that I could spend a month visiting exiled royalty on their estate in Bordentown, but such has not been my lot in life, apparently.

I also had an interesting conversation with my neighbor's daughters a couple of weeks ago. (This is not part of the "dreaming," this is the "random" part of the post).  They explained to me the use of the phrase "no homo"--that men say it to another man if they've said something that might appear to have a "homosexual" intent.

As in, "Wow, dude, I really like that shirt.  No homo."  That kind of thing.

We rolled our collective eyes over this, of course, because really... how stupid.  It's like you're still back in 1982 or something--ooo, be careful, if a man compliments another man, maybe he's... gay

Give me a break.

On a side note, I don't think women ever really worry about this kind of thing.  I mean, I can go up and say to another woman, "Oh my god, you looking amazing tonight--I love that dress on you" and she'll say "Wow, hey, thank you!" and we will in no way feel compelled to clarify our sexual preferences to one another.

It's called a compliment, guys.  That's all.  And not every compliment means someone wants to have sex with you.  (At least, not when they're being offered by mature individuals with fully-functioning brains.)

Anyway, I digress.  After explaining the phrase, my friend told me that in fact, she'd come up with a better one. 

"No psycho."

Now this is one that women can use.  So, for example, I say to a friend, "Yeah, so when I drove by his house on the way home from work today, there was a car I didn't recognize in the driveway.  I think he's seeing someone new.  No psycho."

I really like this.  Because it's a phrase that speaks to a level of self-awareness, all the while acknowledging the emotional realities that are swirling inside of and around you.

This is key, because if you've ever had to deal with a psycho, you know that they tend to lack self-awareness and an ability to accurately process reality, in its myriad forms. 

"No psycho" suggests, yes, I know I'm coming close to a line here, but I'm aware of where that line is, and no, I'm not going to cross it.  It tells the other person, yes, I know I'm going to need to pull back a bit from this situation emotionally, but in the meantime, I'm just sayin.'

Because if you say to me, "I went on Facebook and left her a string of comments saying how he loves me, not her, and then I Googled her and called her office and told her to f*** off," you can't really follow that up with "No psycho." 

Similarly: "I hacked his password and read his emails to other women for months after we broke up."  No way that's "No psycho."

If you described your actions to someone else and viewed them through another person's eyes, you'd maybe see that. 

And you might come to realize that, if you're always acting this way, other people will never see you the way that you see "You."  And this might be a problem later on down the road when you really want to pass for something other than "psycho."

Self-awareness and a recognition of life's realities, good and bad.  No psycho.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."