Picture
I’ve always been fascinated by dreams. When I took high school psychology, I loved the chapter we studied on dreams. It was amazing to read about the different things dreams could symbolize. I believe dreams can have significant meaning. The Bible is full of examples of that. I’m glad, though, that my dreams have never come true. It would be a weird world we lived in if they did.

Mr. Everything says his dreams are normal. Of course they are. He says people look like who they are, and things happen logically in his dream world. Of course they do. He’s nothing if not logical. In his dreams, apparently, there are car chases and fights and other scenes that could be right out of a movie. In my dreams, no one looks like they do in real life, and weird things happen.

Once, right after we were married, Mr. E punched me in his sleep. He said he was dreaming about a fight. Uh-huh. As you can imagine, I certainly have not held the fact that he punched me over his head when I needed guilt material. Oh, no. Not me.

Of course, I can beat that. The week after we got home from our honeymoon, I wet the bed. I woke up, horrified, and went to get a towel. I was hoping he wouldn’t notice. He woke up and said, “Please tell me you did not just do what I think you did.” He stayed with me anyway. Now, that’s love.

When I was a little girl, I had the most vivid dream that I still remember to this day. I dreamt my mother, my sister and I were driving in a car. I was in the backseat, and my mother and sister were in the front. Suddenly, there was a choir of angels in the sky. I can’t remember what they were singing, but it was, well, angelic. My mother passed out. I told my sister she would have to drive. Then, she passed out, too. I had to lean from the backseat to the front so I could steer. Then, I remembered I was six and I couldn’t drive, so I woke up. I have pondered many times what that dream could possibly have meant. I still don’t know. It’s either a really good sign or a really bad sign when angels sing to you in your sleep.

When I was a teenager, I had another dream that has stuck with me all these years. (According to my kids, that’s like 100 years ago…) My mother and I decided to rob a bank. We didn’t make any plans. We just went for it. As we were climbing the wall using one of those rope thingies you throw over a wall to climb up, the sirens started going off. (You can tell I’m a real criminal…I don’t even know what those rope thingies are called.) My mother said it would be fine. She said to keep climbing. I, being the ever-obedient child, did what she said. Then we went to jail. Honestly. There was no arrest. We just popped into jail. Then, I realized I was only 15 and they wouldn’t put me in a cell with my mother, and I woke up. The next day, when my mother asked if I want to go to the store and the bank with her, I graciously declined.

I’ve had the horrible dreams where I’ve woken up crying. I hate those. Usually, they involve my kids. They are too bad to even discuss the details of. Let me just say that if any of those things actually happened to my kids, I wouldn’t cry. I would do permanent, excruciatingly painful damage to the person who hurt one of my bear cubs. Then I would cry.

I had a dream once that I had a pet baby giraffe. It was so little and cute, and I kept in my bathtub. The problem was, I couldn’t find anything to feed it. I kept asking around to see if anyone could help me feed my baby giraffe. No one would help. No one had any answers. No one would feed the giraffe. Then, I remembered my ceiling wasn’t tall enough for a giraffe, and I woke up.

When my mother and I discussed that dream, she said she was pretty sure the baby giraffe was our pottery business. It was starving to death, and no one would feed it. She said, “Oh! I’m sorry! I’ll feed your giraffe!” Thanks for trying, Mama. And just so y’all know, the giraffe died. Then it burned. Good times.

Of course, there's the recurring dream that my best friend, Willow, convinces me to go to school naked. She insists that it's Naked Day and everyone will be naked. I take her word for it and show up in my birthday suit. I quickly find out I'm the only one celebrating the day. Even Willow has on clothes, but no one seems to notice the fact that I'm naked. I'm not sure what that says about my physique. I usually look around the school hallway, realize there's no way I would be naked and wake up.

It's pretty obvious that these dreams mean I have feelings of betrayal. I'm not sure what Willow did to me (or if it's really even her). I can't recall being betrayed!  She and I have laughed about this dream, though, because there is no way either of us would have ever considered going to school naked. We barely even wore shorts above our knees!


I have one dream over and over again, and it really freaks me out. Throughout my adult years, I can’t count the number of times I have dreamt that a big freaky spider, or sometimes lots of little spiders, were falling on me in my bed. On a regular basis, I jump out of bed, fling the covers back and flip on the lights. Mr. E has gotten used to it. He doesn’t even stir anymore when it happens.

The funny thing is, I’m really not afraid of spiders. I mean, I don’t want to love one and take care of one and name it George or anything, but I’m not scared of them. As long as my shoe is bigger than the spider, I’m good. So, the fact that I am so terrorized by these big spiders in my sleep is very strange.

The other day, I decided to Google the meaning of that dream. It turns out, many people believe having that dream is a sign of being overwhelmed or stressed out. Ya think?

So, while some people wish for their dreams to come true, in my case, I can honestly say I’m glad mine haven’t. If they did, I would be a naked bank robber, covered in spiders, leading a skinny giraffe around while a band of angels sang to me. No thanks. I think my life is interesting enough without all that excitement.  -Al


 
 
Picture
So, I’ve waited a few weeks to allow my brain to process this experience so I could tell to you properly. Alright. That’s a lie. I’ve been procrastinating about writing it because I haven’t had time to breathe. True story.

Anywho, guess what? Recently, Mr. Everything and I became spies. That’s right, my friends. He can add “espionage” to the long list of things he can do well. The man truly can do everything (thus the name).

This was sort-of a mystery shopping assignment, but it was more like a mystery shopping assignment on steroids. (No, we didn’t take steroids. Don’t do drugs, kids. And stay in school.) No, this was the mac-daddy of all mystery shopping assignments, and thank goodness, it was in Mr. Everything’s name and not mine. In case you don’t understand that last statement, that means he was responsible for completing the paperwork instead of me.

This assignment involved going to two places. Actually, it was two assignments, but they were for the same company. We were not to focus on customer service. In fact, it didn’t matter at all how the employees treated us. No, we had other information to get on this mission. We were going to be spies. What were we looking for? I can’t tell you. Well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Let’s just say it involved photographs, videotapes, license plate numbers and an affidavit. Good times.

Now, the first step of being a mystery shopper (or spy!) is to learn how to blend in. You have to be a chameleon. I’m pretty good at that. Since I look like an average housewife, no one pays much attention to me. Little do they know how un-average I am! Mr. E and I together can typically blend in any situation. Unless there’s dancing involved. Then, we’re in trouble. One thing not on the Everything list is dancing. The man has no rhythm.

So, for our first mission, we had to go to a bar. No problem. We’ve blended in there before. I can’t say I’m completely comfortable in a bar setting, but I’ve gotten pretty good at acting natural. Sometimes, our normal mystery shopping assignments involve going to the bar of a restaurant before or after the meal. No problem. However, in this case, the bar we went to was not a bar. It was a club. The only time I’ve ever been in an actual nightclub was when I was 17 and I went to Europe. I didn’t even speak the language, so I certainly did not fit in there.

We honestly thought we were walking into a sports bar or pub-type place. We were wrong. When we arrived, we first thought the place was closed. There was no one there but a man who was working on a laptop. We opened the door and went in. I asked if they were open, and he said they were and to come on in. The man was really nice, thank goodness. However, I quickly knew “fitting in” had gone right out the door.

This was a night club. They didn’t even sell food. (What kind of place doesn’t even have nachos??) The music was blaring at a deafening volume. The words coming from the music? Well, let’s just say someone needed his mouth washed out with soap. It was bad, people. Really. Between the ‘N’ word and the ‘F’ word being thrown out on every beat, my head was spinning. My instinct was to run, but we had a job to do. Within 5 minutes of being there, the nice man who was running the place completely confessed to what it was we were there to gather evidence about. Unfortunately, he said it before Mr. E had a chance to get his video camera up and running on his phone. Too bad. It would have been a beautiful confession.

Instead, we sat there for a few minutes. It felt like we were there for at least 3 days. I tried to act natural. Um, yeah. 41 year old mother of two bouncing along to the ‘N’ word, ‘F’ word music. That’s natural, right? Mr. E ordered a drink. Every time the employee would walk away, I would say under my breath, “Drink it. Drink faster. Get me out of here.” We had expected to be able to show up, eat a burger and hang out to get the information we needed. Instead, we sat awkwardly, alone at a bar in a night club. Ah, the memories.

When Mr. E felt like he had enough video coverage of what he needed, he told me he was going to go the restroom to check it. “You’re leaving me??” I said. He pointed out there was no one there. I told him that made it easier for them to hide my body after they killed me. I offered to go to the bathroom with him, but he said that might make us a little memorable. So, I waited. Awkwardly, alone at the bar in the nightclub.

When Mr. E came out, we paid and left. We had to drive around and take some photos of the outside of the building. In that time, I’m not sure how many times I said, “NEVER AGAIN! That was the worst experience of my life!” Little did I know, we were just getting started!

Our second assignment made the first one look like child’s play. At least the guy at the first place was nice and was not creepy. At the second place, the hair on the back of my neck was standing up during our entire visit. (And for those of you who don’t know, that’s a mama thing. We KNOW when things aren’t right.)

The second location was not a bar. I was excited about that. However, by the time we finished, I was begging to go back to the bar. Oh, no, the second place was an E-cigarette store. As in, smoking. As in, those stupid looking, pen looking things people are now sucking on instead of cigarettes. We thought it was going to be sort-of a bar setting. I pictured a bar with people sitting there, trying different vapors. Not the case.

No, no, no. This was a store. Literally. It was in a grocery store strip mall. It was brightly lit and had a glass window store front. It was not a bar. At first, I thought that was a good thing. I was wrong.

As we walked up to the door, we realized the store hours said they closed at 9:00. We were there at 11:00 PM, but they were clearly open. I knew, going in, that we had to have a good reason for coming to their store on a Saturday night at 11:00 PM. I searched my mental database of reasons, but I had nothing. However, we were now standing in front of a well-lit store, and the people inside could clearly see us. It was not like I could stand there and think of a reason without being obvious, so in we went.

One employee greeted us, and the hair on my neck immediately stood at full attention. He asked if we were there for the special event. I knew what the special event was based around (since this was part of our assignment), but I did not know the details of their event. So I went with “No.” Then, by the look on the employee’s face, I knew I had just raised suspicion since we were not there for the special event but we were there. I quickly recovered by saying I had intended to stop in for weeks but hadn’t. I told him, we were driving by and saw the lights on and figured then was as good of a time as any. He seemed to buy it.

For the next 7 hours (Okay, we realized later when we watched the video that it was only 3 minutes, but it sure felt like 7 hours), I distracted the employees while Mr. E got the video he needed. I did this by acting like the dumbest potential smoker they had ever met. Actually, I didn’t say I wanted to smoke. I knew I couldn’t be believable. Instead, I said I was there to get information for my father. (When all else fails, through the parents under the bus.) I asked question after question after question, coming up with anything to keep the employee talking. While I did this, I saw another employee lurking around. (They were all lurking. They were creepy. Thus the neck hair salute.) He went to the back room, and when he returned, another bigger guy came out with him. (Uh-oh. SECURITY!) The big guy went and spoke to Mr. E, trying to figure out what we were really doing there, but Mr. E maintained the story I had created. Then, the big guy came up very close behind me, under the premise of getting food from trays beside me. However, I had no doubt he was trying to intimidate me. (Cue the Tom Petty song, “I won’t back down,” playing in my head.) I took a big step to the side and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Was I in your way?” He just looked at me. He didn’t smile and did not answer me. It was a good thing we had stopped at Taco Bell on the way for me to use the bathroom. Otherwise, I might have just embarrassed myself.

I never missed a beat in talking to the first guy about the many fascinating ways to vape. (Yes, that’s what they call it. Vaping. As if it could sound any dumber.)

When Mr. E approached and touched my arm, I knew he had what he needed on the video. I thanked the nice young man, and we left. (And the academy award for best acting role in a weird situation goes to….) I resisted the urge to run to the car. I knew they were still watching us.

The challenging part was getting the photographs we needed of the outside of the building. Then, even worse was gathering license plate numbers. As we were finishing that, the big guy came outside. He was looking right at us (or at least, in our panicked state, we thought he was). Mr. E kept his composure, backed up and left. The big guy got in his car, and at first, we thought he might follow us. Later, we laughed at ourselves for being so nervous that we thought so. He was probably just going to get a real cigarette from his car.

When looking back at the video of the vaping experience, I realized I’m a pretty good actress! As I listened to myself, I knew I was panicking, but I couldn’t even hear it in my voice. Perhaps I missed my calling. Maybe I was supposed to be a famous actress, or better yet, maybe I was supposed to be a spy!  -Al


 
 
Picture
Here’s a confession. I love Easter candy. There, I’ve said it. Don’t judge me. While you may think you understand this statement, you might be wrong. I might not love Easter candy for the reason you think I do.

Don’t get me wrong. I love sugar. I love chocolate. I love anything sweet and ooey-gooey, but I can get that all the time. Okay, well, I can’t get Cadbury Crème Eggs or marshmallow Peeps all the time, but I can buy them and hide them for later. (Ignore that last statement, children. There is no candy hidden in our house. No need for you to go searching for it…)

I really have always loved Easter candy. When I was pregnant with the Beetle, I craved Peeps. Back then, they only sold Peeps at Easter time. There were no Valentine’s Peeps and Christmas Peeps like they have now. I wanted a marshmallow bunny so badly I could taste it, but they weren’t available in the stores yet. Then, I found out I had gestational diabetes, so I could not eat sugar. After my appointment, I went to Wal-Mart, only to find Peeps for sale. (I’m pretty sure Wal-Mart did it on purpose. Another reason I don’t heart Wal-Mart.) I pined for Peeps throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. I talked about them non-stop. After Easter, when the Beetle was born, my mother, my sister and Willow all came to my hospital room and threw boxes of Peeps onto my bed. (I’m pretty sure the phrase they said was, “Now, eat them and shut up.”) Ironically, once the Beetle was born, I no longer wanted Peeps, and they didn’t even taste good to me.

Although I love Easter candy for the flavors, I love it more for the colors. I love to walk down the Easter aisles at the store (not Wal-Mart – I don’t love anything about Wal-Mart).  I love the bright colors. I love the ducks and bunnies. I love the happy little chicks staring at me. It’s a candy wonderland.

I also love Easter in general. I love dying Easter eggs. I love new dresses (although I hate shopping for them). I love to see little girls and old ladies in hats. (Maybe I should get a hat to wear…) There is a freshness in the air, and the world is happy. It’s spring. It’s new. It’s Easter.

I think dying Easter eggs is fun to me because it reminds me of one of my favorite childhood pass-times. I’m not sure how this started, but when I was probably about 8 or 9, I started mixing colors. My mother gave me food coloring and all kinds of bottles, glasses and containers to use. I would go in the bathroom, fill the containers with water and start adding dye. I would see what new colors I could discover. This provided hours of entertainment. Now, I’m not sure if my mother was a genius or if she just got lucky and found something that kept me from saying, “I’m bored.” Either way, she gave me the key to colors, and I loved it. Little did I know, this was actually hands-on training for my future occupation as a paint-your-own-pottery store owner. The knowledge I had picked up by playing with water and dye in the bathroom came in quite handy when customers wanted to know how to mix the perfect shade of green. Brown? Red, yellow and a dot of black.

Hiding Easter eggs is fun too. Though I would not have agreed with this statement when my kids were little and wanted me to hide the eggs for the 100th time on a Tuesday afternoon, I now can say it is fun. My babies don’t want me to hide eggs for them anymore, and that makes me a little sad. However, when I’m taking a nap on Easter afternoon, I won’t feel too bad about it.

Easters when we were little were spent in the swimming pool. I didn’t grow in up in Florida where it’s summer by Easter. No way. I grew up in South Carolina where, though we didn’t have to break the ice, the swimming pool certainly wasn’t warm enough for us to go swimming. My sister and I did not care, though. If Daddy opened the pool, we were in it. Once, I literally saw my sister’s legs turn blue from the water. It didn’t matter. We swam anyway.

One Easter when we were still in South Carolina, I had a pink dress. I remember it. It was much frillier than anything I’ve ever managed to dress the Goose in. I was probably 7 or 8 at the time. I had a white frilly hat and white gloves. (It was the 80’s. Don’t judge me.) We went to the First Baptist Church in our town. It was technically our home congregation, but I certainly never felt at home there. No one was nice to me. One girl, whose name I can still remember (though I can’t remember a person I met yesterday), used to glare at me during the prayers. I never knew what I did to her, but she did not like me. Since I worried about what everyone thought of me, I let this ruin any chance I had of enjoying church or wanting to be there.

This particular Sunday, though, I had another incident that is forever burned in my brain. A boy in my Sunday school class was making fun of my gloves. (Apparently, he didn’t know it was the 80’s.) He kept trying to write on my white gloves with a pencil every time the teacher looked away. Evil little creep. Finally, he reached over and stabbed me with the pencil. The lead of the pencil went through my glove and pierced my skin. It left a black mark in my skin that I could still see until just about a year ago. I can’t say I held a grudge, but it’s kind of hard to forget being stabbed by a pencil when you’re still carrying around the mark! It’s funny, though, that I was more outraged about him messing up my white gloves than I was about being stabbed with a pencil.

I never wore gloves again after that day. That little jerk made me self-conscience of my style.

It’s funny how, even now, as I think back to Easters past, these are the things I remember. I’m sure we had traditions, and I’m sure my mother worked to make Easter special for us. I know we dyed Easter eggs. I wouldn’t have missed a chance to make a mess. However, it’s not any of those traditions I think of. It’s being stabbed with a pencil and turning blue while swimming that come to mind. Since my kids have been born, I have tried to make Easter memorable for them. I wonder, though, what they will actually remember about Easters past.

I know one thing the Beetle will always remember (and the Goose loves to tell). It happened the year the Goose was born. With both kids, part of my “nesting” rituals was to get prepared way ahead of time. When the Beetle was born in April, I had already bought gifts for birthdays through August. I guess I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to leave the house. I’m not sure.

Anywho, when the Goose was born, I went weeks ahead of time to find an Easter outfit for the Beetle. She was actually due after Easter, but she came early, so it was fortunate I had planned ahead. The Goose came home from the hospital the Saturday before Easter, so there would have been no time to shop.

The Beetle loved purple. He lived for the color purple. I suspect, though he won’t admit it in his manliness now, he still secretly loves the color purple. He was turning four soon after the Goose was born, so he was not yet ashamed of his color. I went shopping for an Easter outfit for him, and I decided to stop at a local consignment shop. There, in the boys’ department, was the most awesome pair of plaid overalls in purple! They were his size. It was meant to be. I bought the overalls and found a shirt to go with them. The Beetle looked so cute.

So, Easter morning came, and I dressed the Beetle in his new outfit. I took pictures. “Stand by the tree and smile!” “Look this way and smile!” “Quit scaring your newborn sister and smile!”

I sent Mr. E and the Beetle off to church, and I stayed home with my 3 day old baby Goose. When Mr. E and the Beetle got home, Mr. Everything was laughing. I asked him what was funny, and he said, “Since when do we dress our boy in girl’s clothing?” He said the Beetle was wearing a girl’s outfit and people at church had noticed. I insisted it was NOT a girl’s outfit. The overalls were in the boys’ section, and people needed to get enlightened to the fact that purple could be a boy’s color too. Mr. E called the Beetle over and had me look closely. The buttons had hearts on them. Oops. Well, at least my boy was manly enough he could pull it off. He still looked cute, and to this day, that is one of my favorite Easter outfits for him.

Now, the Beetle loves (as you can imagine) to hear the story of the year he went in drag for Easter. I’m sure this will be one of the great Easter memories I’ve created for my kids. At least they didn’t get stabbed with a pencil.  -Al