Pusillanimous

IMG_0054Today’s Daily Post writing prompt asks us to write about a time we used a word incorrectly. Well, I may not have done this much in real life, but I’ve done it in my dreams.

If you are a reader, you know I write a lot about dreams – anxiety dreams, dreams about my kids, dreams about a destination I never reach. I dream so much that sometimes I don’t even know whether I am awake or asleep.

And once, I dreamed all night long about the word pusillanimous, a word that does not sound at all like its meaning. Which I didn’t know until I looked it up in the morning.

In my dreams, I was using the word, others used the word – it had suddenly become the most common word on the face of the earth. And when I used it, I experienced the vaguely uncomfortable feeling one has when they use a word of whose meaning they are not quite certain.

By the way, it means, more or less, timid. I was really hoping for something more spectacular than that.

This episode is memorable for another reason. When I relayed it to a couple of close colleagues, I learned that pusillanimous fell into a category they called “Sarah Day words.” It seems said colleagues had coined this term to describe the not-so-widely known words I used in meetings that they had to look up afterwards in order to understand what I was trying to convey.

Huh. Well, I guess we all have to be known for something. Might as well be for others’ amusement around the water cooler.

The Slightly Hungry Games

IMG_0714The other morning I woke from a dream where I was engaged in a Hunger Games-esque contest – only the contest was filtered through the mundanities that are my life.

There was a lot of packing involved. We each had to amass a large amount of gear in a duffel bag. Then the contest got delayed. We waited and waited, until it was rescheduled and then we all had to pack again. The kicker – some people got to decline to participate. As I woke, I was asking myself, “Why does she get to get out of this?”

Yeah, sounds like the kind of adrenaline-producing, life-or-death struggle I’d be part of.

It got me thinking how other movies would be watered-down if they were filtered through my life. Here’s how I think they would play out:

Born on the 2nd of July. We can only scrape up two kids who are not at camp or on vacation to attend the birthday party for the kid with the summer birthday.

Dances with Coyotes. A coyote crosses my son’s path as he retrieves the newspaper at the end of the driveway, passing so close my son can hear its nails clicking on the pavement.

Dead Tired Mom Walking. After a day shuttling kids to the orthodontist, the mall for back-to-school shopping, and driver’s ed, I sit through three hours of evening lacrosse practice.

The Deer Chaser. After hearing crunching through the front screen door, I confront a doe who is on the front stoop eating the buds off the perennials. She calmly walks away, annoyed with me.

Life of Pie. I make a pie in order to use up some peaches that are getting soft, then spend the hour it’s cooling trying to keep the cat-who-will-eat-anything out of it.

Not-so-national Lampoon’s Vacation. Five people vie for wi-fi access in the car, and eat two weeks worth of snacks in the first six hours of the trip.

Of Mice and My Husband. My spouse declines to remove the gas fireplace insert in order to remove the dead mouse that is obviously enshrined there.

The Titanic Problem. I find a puddle of water at the base of the water heater.

I tell you, it is five-star action around here. Non-stop.

 

#1: Anxiety dreams involving my kids

desertIn a recent post, I promised to provide some advice to those whose tortured search terms hit my blog. Today’s installment: Anxiety dreams involving my kids.

My first thought when reading this phrase was, wait – don’t all your anxiety dreams involve your kids? But of course, they don’t. There are plenty of topics to disturb one’s sleep. I have lately had a string of anxiety dreams about my house, but I won’t elaborate because I think I can get another blog post out of it.

But I digress. If you have kids I’d be amazed if you didn’t have anxiety dreams about them, nor do I think it’s hard to figure out the underlying fears that cause them:

  1. You’re afraid they’ll get lost
  2. You’re afraid they’ll get hurt
  3. You’re afraid they’ll hurt others
  4. You’re afraid they’ll drive you to financial ruin
  5. All of the above

This is perfectly normal. When you awake from one of these dreams, just take a few deep breaths and decide what punishment or suspension of privileges you will inflict on your children for whatever it is they did in your dream.

Strangely, some of the most anxious dreams I’ve had about my kids have happy endings. I once dreamed I was heading down a stairwell to a basement-level restaurant with a stroller containing my infant son. At the top of the stairwell, I let go of the carriage á la the pivotal scene from The Untouchables. As it raced toward the bottom, my husband gallantly stepped up to the bottom of the stairs and caught it. Crisis averted.

One of the few dreams I’ve had where my husband was credited with the competence he likely deserves.

 

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Other anxiety dreams

line pleaseIn my last post, I relayed my newest anxiety dream involving an event I struggle with almost every day – getting my kids on the school bus. It made me realize that all the anxiety dreams I have run along the same lines:

  • I am drastically underprepared for the task at hand, but…
  • Despite almost insurmountable odds, I’m convinced that I have just enough time to overcome the situation and no one will know the difference.

Maybe this indicates a deep-down level of confidence? Or am I just delusional?Looking for a little insight, I decided to do some research to see what I could find out about these dreams and what I learned is…I feel unprepared for something in my life. Oh. I was hoping for something a little less obvious.

I did learn, however, that my dreams run along incredibly common themes. Nothing unique here, although I do have a couple of variations:

Late for a trip

I realize suddenly that I am nearly late for a plane that is transporting me to a business trip/vacation/important event. I have not yet missed the plane. Rather, I can still make it if I kick it into high gear. The remainder of the dream is me rushing around like a maniac trying to stuff items in a suitcase, clock ticking, convinced I will still make the plane.

Late for a trip, airport security version

I arrive at the airport in a rush to catch a plane. As I hurry through security I am waved out of line and taken to a table where they open my bag and systematically empty all my possessions out in front of everyone. Items spill everywhere. Underwear, cosmetics, weird things I don’t know why I packed. I’m going to make the plane, but not without some inconvenience and embarrassment. (As I recount this one, I’m getting the uncomfortable feeling that this really happened and I’ve just convinced myself it was a dream.)

Taking an exam

I am on my way to a final exam when I realize that not only have I not studied for the test, I can’t remember the last time I was at the class and I haven’t read the textbook. Convinced I have just enough time to cram for the exam I pull out a text that’s about 800 pages long – it’s always a biology textbook – and start reading.

The exam, I must be getting older version

Similar to the dream above, only in this case I’m the professor about to give an exam, and as I’m en route I realize I haven’t written it yet. The remainder of the dream is me trying to figure out how I can produce an exam out of thin air in virtually no time at all. Perhaps I can repurpose an old exam?

In a play

This one is always the same with the one exception that sometimes I am the star of the play and other times I am an understudy who has just been told I will be going on for the star in a few moments. In both cases, I suddenly realize I do not know the lines. As the curtain rises, I stand backstage trying to memorize them, convinced that somehow I will bluff my way through it. I couldn’t find any reference to this when I cruised common dream themes, but it clearly seems right up the same alley as the others – I am woefully unprepared, but I can probably fake it.

My research did tell me that there are common recurring dreams I don’t experience – thank goodness – that involve:

  • Public nudity
  • Being chased
  • Snakes
  • Tornadoes
  • …and, I think the worst one, being unable to find a toilet

But it’s clear to me that my dreams reflect the way I am living my life right now – always one step ahead of disaster. A disorganized, barely competent person masquerading as an organized competent person. Now everyone knows. (If you didn’t already.)

What are your recurring dreams? Do you know, when you wake up, what’s causing the dream?