Shopping on Mars

Dreams are strange things.

Dreaming Light by RHADS


They can be exhilarating, romantic, horrifying, puzzling, and often, to me, inexplicable. Many people describe recurring dreams that they have when stressed or anxious. You know, showing up naked for an exam you aren’t prepared for, that kind of thing.




My anxiety dreams often involve either driving or swimming. I avoided learning to drive and getting my driver’s license until I was in my 30s. I’ve never really learned to swim and am afraid of water. It’s not just the idea of drowning, but all of the things that might be lurking under the water. I don’t take long baths, and stick to quick showers, avoiding with all my might getting water in my eyes. Don’t worry, I do stay clean!



dunn dunn


I don’t mean to single out sharks. I don’t fear them in particular. There are lots of tiny little toothy things in the water that can nibble on you, too.




The other night, I was having a rather enjoyable dream that I was going on a shopping trip to Mars. The planet Mars. The Red Planet, named after the God of War. Not your usual shopping destination.




Note that I am not one who likes to go out shopping. Online shopping has transformed my life. I rarely have to go into an actual brick and mortar store. I haven’t resorted to having my groceries delivered. Yet. But a trip to a mall is my idea of hell on the planet Earth. I do enjoy perusing small local shops when I travel, but that’s not nerve wracking and annoying like going to THE MALL.


This is NOT my idea of a good time.


But in my dream I was very happy to be going to Mars for my shopping expedition. I was on a space shuttle-like transport that looked a lot like the Swedish subway system. It was clean and quiet and not very crowded. In fact, I was the only passenger. Perfect!


Swedish subway system


I wasn’t wearing a space suit. I guess the whole gravity thing had been figured out. Hey, it’s my dream. I don’t have to wear a space suit and get helmet hair if I don’t want to!


helmet hair 2
Is it?


I’m all for equal opportunity and women as astronauts. Go for it! But can we get Project Runway involved in a more flattering space suit?


I was happily anticipating my arrival on Mars. The shuttle was starting to vibrate as it approached the station. And just as we were about to dock I woke up (groggily) realizing that at 2:40 a.m. we were experiencing a real-life earthquake. It’s California. They happen. This one was 4.4 magnitude. We live on the Hayward fault. The epicenter of this quake was the nearby Claremont Hotel. As far as I am aware, there were no reported injuries or damages.





I pretty quickly went back to sleep after a brief wait for either a bigger jolt to come or aftershocks, but I never got to find out what my shopping experience on Mars would be. What would I be shopping for? I imagine if I were to be shopping on the moon, say, I might find a cheese store. A vegan cheese store at that, since there aren’t any dairies on the moon and I only eat vegan cheese anyway. I’d be like Wallace, when he goes to the moon on A Grand Day Out with Gromit and they picnic on moon cheese. Einstein can fill in for Gromit.



In my mind, I would enjoy my Mars shopping experience because it would be quiet, not crowded, and I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. Except maybe to ride on a Rover. That might be fun.




I found a company online that purports to sell land on Mars, but I don’t need to be a land owner. Mars isn’t anyone’s to sell that I know of!




Another site tells me that 200,000 people have signed up with the company Mars One for a one-way mission to Mars. Should I say 200,000 gullible people?


dressed up


Back to my shopping trip. Who would set up shop on Mars? I don’t want it to be kitschy souvenir stars with key chains and mugs and pencil sharpeners or televisions shaped like space helmets.


JVC Videosphere


No advertising slogans like “Out  of this world deals!” It will all be understated and tasteful. Again, I think I have Mars confused with a Scandinavian country. Only brown and dry.

By Scandinavian, please don’t think IKEA! I mean the expensive, gorgeous housewares and furniture of my dreams. Not DIY particle board furniture and Swedish meatballs.



My Mars shopping experience must include: delicious vegan chocolate, coffee, books, gorgeous ceramics, amazingly comfortable yet flattering shoes, and a kitchen store beyond all kitchen stores. And perhaps a pet supply store. Otherwise it’s not worth the approximate 300 day trip. In my dream, I think it only took about 20 minutes, but still, for me to put on shoes, get to a shuttle, and go into stores, it’s gotta be good.

Chocolate. Luxury Martian chocolate. In the shape of planets and fun little Mars rocks. Dark chocolate. Mmmm.


amore di mona
Amore di Mona luxury vegan chocolate. It’s a thing.


Coffee. Can’t travel without it. The shuttle to Mars will have a barista and coffee bar, naturally.


Coffee bar design by Starbucks (!) for the Swiss Federal Railways. I’m not a big Starbucks fan, but I like the coffee bar.


mars coffee
The coffee bar when you arrive on Mars. (Image: Mapo House.)


Books. If it takes 300 days to get to Mars, I assume it takes the same amount of time to return to Earth. (Maybe I’m wrong. I avoided any courses in physics throughout my academic path.) I am going to need a lot of books! As much as I love Powell’s City of Books (3 stories across an entire city block) in Portland, Oregon, I think my Mars bookstore should be a bit more, I don’t know, sleek? Celestial? Breathtaking? I’m voting for Prologue Bookstore in Singapore to take on the Mars venture.


My favorite bookstore.
Prologue, Singapore.


Ceramics. I am envisioning ceramics along the line of Heath Ceramics (based in Sausalito, California), only made of Mars dust.

heath 4heath 3heath_010610-00016heath-winter


Shoes. Good shoes are so important to health and happiness. I wasn’t born with the shoe obsession my mother and a lot of other women seem to have, but shoes can make or break your day.


Spotted in Oakland, California. Not my car.


I work at an animal shelter and am on my feet all day. My shoes have to be practical and comfortable. I am tired of shoes that make my feet look like clown feet.



If you are bopping around on Mars, you have to have good shoes. I want them to still be cute and petite looking, while not hurting my feet. Currently, I mostly wear Skechers or clogs, which are fine, but give a girl a break. I’m a girly girl at heart. And a vegan. Finding cute, practical, comfortable shoes that are vegan friendly ain’t that easy. Please don’t suggest Crocs.


How many ways can I say NO to this look???


White shoes, not going to work for me.


Cute but not practical for the animal shelter.


I’m leaning right now toward the Mars store being an outlet of Insecta shoes from Brazil. Cute, ecologically minded, vegan. I haven’t tried them on yet to gauge the comfort level, but I am intrigued. They are made from recyled used clothing and plastic bottles.



The one kitschy souvenir idea I am behind–socks with images of Martians, space ships, etc. You have to have the sock wardrobe.

mars socks


Kitchen store. Kitchen gadgets, accessories, and cooking tools–yes! I adore a good kitchen store.


Faraday’s Kitchen Store, Austin, Texas. 


Some people claim that the 190-year old store E. Dehillerin on Rue Coquillière in Paris is the best place on planet Earth for buying cookware. If it’s good enough for Julia Child…There’s also the highly rated Kitchen Bazaar on avenue de Maine in Paris. I’m thinking I should take a little research trip there soon.


E. Dehillerin


Pet supplies. Should I take any of the resident companion animals along on the shopping trip? Einstein gets motion sickness, so he might not appreciate the shuttle trip to Mars. Marble could maybe handle it if I took enough crunchy food along for him. Sara is too old; at 19 she’d rather stay home and get updates in the comfort of her warm bed. For some reason, I see Misty coming along for the trip.

cat in space


Once we get there, I’ve promised her a beautiful blue jeweled collar as a memento of the journey. So, we will need an awesome pet supply store on Mars, too.


Misty looks like a high maintenance diva, but she’s a tough girl.
pet boutique
Pet boutique.
If I try to put this collar on Misty, I am going to need a Martian medic!


space medic
I hope there are medics in space.


I imagine this celestial shopping journey is going to cost a pretty penny or two, so I better get out there and start saving up! But a girl can dream. So I will.

space for girls


Hiding from the horrors of life

California is on fire, and I am hiding in my guest bathroom.


Not from the fire, but from the despair I feel about the world right now. I’m not just sitting in the dark on the floor in the bathroom. I have the current foster cat family in with me. Or they are letting me hang out with them. It gives me comfort. But still, I consider it as hiding.


I want to help, but I don’t know how. My anxiety keeps me from making a move. I can easily donate money (not much, but some), but I want to DO something. Yet here I sit, playing with kittens, feeling defeated. The most I’ve done is obsessively share Facebook posts about resources for help. Cooking also gives me comfort. But instead of volunteering my services to help feed evacuees, I cook for the 2 of us, and we eat in front of television.

The things I “should” be doing today seem so unimportant. Folding laundry, who cares? I could be writing scholarly papers for school; my PhD is important to me of course, but I can’t focus on anything. It seems trivial when people are losing everything, some even losing their lives.

People do come forward to help in emergencies. Volunteers are helping at evacuation centers. Animal rescuers are helping find shelter and foster homes for displaced animals. Others are organizing donations of supplies for the evacuation centers and animal shelters. I want to be one of those people.

Evacuation center at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga.

The world seems like it’s falling apart. The hurricanes and the continuing devastation left behind, especially in Puerto Rico. The Las Vegas shooter. The never ending issue of racism and inequity in this supposedly civilized country that treats its own people like garbage. A “president” who couldn’t care less about anyone but himself.

Trump throws paper towels at the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

It’s like the modern-day Fall of the Roman Empire, or how I imagine it.


I was already feeling it. Whenever I drive around Oakland and Berkeley, I see more and more homeless encampments. Oakland is turning into Tent City. I despair for my own city and its people.


We’ve been watching the Ken Burns series on Vietnam, which I am finding so painful to watch. I am ashamed of how ignorant I am about the times in which I was born and raised. It hurts me to see the the death and destruction, not just of the American youth sent to fight a senseless war, but the countless civilian deaths of the Vietnamese on both sides of the fight. Children killing children. Hate mongering. Old white American men thinking of lives in terms of numbers and “kill ratios”, and continuing a war for their own egos.

Ken Burns.png


Vietnam PBS

And now a place I hold dear to my heart is being destroyed by fires. (Why can’t the idiots in power face up to climate change? It’s for real and the effects are being felt right now.) I lived and worked in the Napa and Sonoma areas not so long ago. I didn’t want to leave to live in Oakland, but life doesn’t always work out the way we think it will. I still have friends in the area, some of whom I know are safe as I write this. Others I haven’t heard anything about, and it scares me.

my backyard
The backyard of my former house in Napa, circa 2005.

And lest I get complacent thinking I’m safe, the fires continue to spread. I never think it couldn’t happen here. It did happen here. There was a fire not so long ago that destroyed a large swath of the area where I live now–the Oakland Hills Fire in 1991. It’s only about 40 miles from Oakland to Napa, and the fires are now approaching the rural area around Fairfield, among other places.

Oakland hills 1991
The Oakland Hills Fire of 1991.

I don’t have an emergency plan. We’ve never prepared any kind of earthquake kit (the usual recommendation in California) or thought through how we’d get all of the animals and ourselves safely out of here.

My heart is breaking for the world, but I bury my head in the sand. I care, and caring is a good first step, but sometimes we have to do something with that caring. It’s is too close to home this time.

Stay safe.