Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

As with many of these musings, this one begins with a dream and a musical earworm. I dreamed that my family (a mixed lot of from throughout time and some people strictly from my imagination) moved into a house, an old, blue-painted, farmhouse in need of a lot of work but with some great features, and before even unpacking, my dream father-figure (one of the imaginary dream characters, oddly resembling the writer Michael Chabon) decided we were selling the house and moving. There was much interaction with realtors, cleaning up of the farmhouse, etc.

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Author Michael Chabon.

Moving has been a recurring theme in my life from the age of 10 through my adolescence and adulthood until I met Bob, who’s comfortingly happy in one place.

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Home is where the heart is.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve moved over the years. If my tally is correct, I moved 25 times between the years 1972 (Atlanta to Sacramento) and 2006 (from Napa to Oakland). Locations in between included Ashland, Oregon; Ankara, Turkey; Chico, California; and a long tour of Davis, California at 5 different addresses. I’m sure family and friends gave up trying to keep up with my changes of mailing address along the way.

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Demonic U-Haul, drawing by headexplodie.

Which brings me to the earworm, David Bowie’s 1972 song Changes. I was never a huge Bowie fan when he was alive, sad to say, but I’ve come to appreciate his work more in the last few years.

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Most of us want change at some point in our lives, whether to escape boredom or troubles, to challenge ourselves, to not be stagnant. In recovery circles, it’s called “doing a geographic”, and is not always the best approach. Such as in those 25 moves over 34 years–some were for good reasons (new jobs) and some were for the wrong reasons (unresolved unhappiness). My mother’s second husband put us through a few moves, usually for financial reasons (downward, not upward) and in one case, to escape creditors in one state by fleeing to another on short notice.

Then I went off to college and met a boy, and set off on a whirlwind of moves myself. My now ex-husband seemed to think the cure for any unhappiness or restlessness was to do a geographic. Rather than addressing the real problems in our lives, we had the thought that going to a new place would make everything better. Unlike smaller changes we make, like a new haircut that can put a spring in your step and make you feel sassy and fun, moving is itself stressful. And your friends get really sick of being asked to help.

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Some changes, like I say, are great. I went from vegetarian to vegan in the spring of 2015 and although I am not a perfect vegan, I am a happy one.

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I remember visiting my paternal grandparents in about 1971, and thinking how cool and modern their house was. I revisited years later and nothing had changed. It made me sad. It seemed old and faded and no longer cool but fusty. I look around our house now and long for new furniture, partly because the cats have destroyed most of our upholstered furniture, and partly because I don’t want that unchanging, old-person fustiness to envelop me. Unless fringed furniture becomes stylish, in which case my cats are trend-setters.

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The fringed look is great for dresses and jackets, not so much for furniture.
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Interior designer cat. Image from cattime.com.

Haircuts and hairstyles and fashion are like that too. We change with the times. And if we don’t, we can hope that what’s old comes back in style and is new again. That 1980s mullet hopefully never comes back in style! Please, never.

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The classic mullet on Billy Ray Cyrus.
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Even young George Clooney looks silly with a mullet.

My hair has changed many times over the years, long to short and back again. It’s also changed as I’ve gotten older, from thick and wavy to neither of those things.

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Me on the left with a lot of hair, my equally thick-haired sister Ellen on the right, circa 1988. My hair, sadly, is not thick and wavy anymore. The things they don’t tell you about getting older!
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Circa 1975.
1985 hair
Mom on the left, me with 80s hair on the right. Circa 1985.
2015 hair
Fast forward to 2015.
2017 hair
Getting longer, 2017. I call this my moody rock album cover photo.
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Today in hair, March 13, 2018.

Rather than moving, when I am hit with those “doing a geographic” urges, I go back to school. School is my comfort zone, my safe place, the place I feel like I belong much of the time. I’ve been back to school several times over the years, and now with online education, I can be a life-long learner from the comfort of my own home, changing mailing address or not. Someday I’ll finish this Ph.D. I’ve embarked upon, and then I’ll maybe go to sewing school or goat-herding school or who knows what.

goat herding

Another change I go through admittedly more than I’d really like is jobs, which is what really brings up the whole Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes song for me.  I’ve had jobs I loved–working as a museum technician for California State Parks in Sonoma, as Assistant Registrar in the art exhibitions department at Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa. I’ve had jobs that I disliked–my first job after I finished my Bachelor’s degree in design, working as a “scientific illustrator” for an unnamed company in Sacramento. I’ve had jobs that I was mostly “meh” about–the 11 years I spent as the Assistant Registrar at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

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Because I was “meh” about that job, I spent a long time looking for and interviewing for other jobs. I thought I landed my dream job when I was hired by the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis in late 2015. I love UC Davis and I love the city of Davis. I was sure that was the job I would retire from. Maybe it’s true that you can’t go home again, though I don’t really believe that. Maybe my clue should have been my start day on Pearl Harbor Day–December 7. Or on my second day of work when my car broke down and I was 3 hours late getting there.

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Needless to say, it didn’t work out and in the summer of 2016 I found myself unemployed. Yippee!

I felt unappreciated at first, then I tried to be positive and think of it as a learning experience.

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(From the Travelling Squid)

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A career change, that’s what I needed. I wanted to do something to make a difference in the world. Another version of doing a geographic, maybe, but in my case, it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I applied for jobs at every animal shelter and rescue group I could think of, and landed at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation in August of 2016. I couldn’t have been luckier. Or happier.

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Best job ever!

I spent a wonderful year and a half there.  I fell in love with the dogs and cats there everyday, and couldn’t ask for better colleagues or volunteers to spend my days with. I traded down in terms of a paycheck, but seriously up in terms of satisfaction and mental rewards. Like David Bowie sings, “Don’t want to be a richer man…” (woman), just a more fulfilled one. I wasn’t looking for a change.

So I applied for a job at the East Bay SPCA.

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I’m still not sure why. Needing a personal challenge? A shorter commute? Trying to go home again (I volunteered there from 2009 to 2016)? I was offered the job. I spent 5 days agonizing over what to do. I accepted the job. And here I go again, starting anew. Which starts my ear worm transition to Here You Come Again, by Dolly Parton (1977) (“…here you come again and here I go…”).

 

I hope I made the right decision. Admittedly, I miss my friends at ARF. But I seriously hope I spend the rest of this career in animal welfare with the East Bay SPCA (assuming I do a good job and get to stay). I’d like to stay put in one house and one job for a while. I can keep changing my hair. Maybe we’ll get new furniture and miraculously the cats won’t destroy it. (Do they make stainless steel living room furniture? And how uncomfortable is it?)

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Cat proof?

Before you know it, it will be time to make a big change and retire. Then maybe we’ll sell the house, move to the country, rescue some goats…

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Leanne Lauricella, one of my heroes, is the founder of the goat rescue and sanctuary Goats of Anarchy.

Keep learning, keep happy, and stay motivated to make a difference. You can change the world.

 

Shopping on Mars

Dreams are strange things.

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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Is it?

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

epicenter

Claremont

 

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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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My favorite bookstore.
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Prologue, Singapore.

 

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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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White shoes, not going to work for me.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Misty looks like a high maintenance diva, but she’s a tough girl.
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Pet boutique.
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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

 

Broken Dreams

 

I had a dream about dreams. In the dream, the one I had while asleep; the kind where you see weird stories and wake up in the morning thinking, “What was that all about,” there was a bittersweet moment in which a beloved person looked at me and referred to broken dreams, at which I smiled.

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I woke up wondering what that was all about. Do I have broken dreams? In the literal dream I seemed to recognize the reference to my broken life dreams. This sounds so sad, yet it was also a romantic moment in the dream, that connection you have looking in the eyes of another person and feeling an understanding.

Are my broken dreams educational? I did have dreams of an Ivy League university with ivy-covered old brick buildings and finally fitting in somewhere. But I went to a small state school, dropped out, and then eventually went back to a big state school, which I loved. And now I am working on my PhD, which is mostly online, so the whole ivy-covered brick building idea is a thing of the past anyway.

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Or is it my ever-downward career spiral; downward in terms of monetary rewards, not the mental or emotional ones. Yes, I had dreams there, too. Once to be an artist until I realized artists have to be really savvy at representing themselves if they don’t want to starve, Then of a museum career, which I did for a while. That dream seemed promising until it turned sour last year. And now I am in what I realize is my dream job after all—working at an animal shelter helping connect people and homeless animals and making lives better. I make almost no money, but I love going to work every day. And that is a rare gift.

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Seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’ve had ups and downs along the way in my love life, of course. A marriage that seemed good until it didn’t, and a divorce that was painful but from which I ultimately came out of a stronger, smarter person. For a while. Until I hit the next relationship bump in the road, which was really more of a mountain, but I climbed that mountain and came down sober, determined, and excited about life. Thank you, Bob, for climbing that mountain with me.

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Children. There it is. I never had children. I am not childless by choice but by the fickleness of human biology. I would have adopted in a heart beat, but in a relationship, I firmly believe that both partners should agree to as big a decision as children, so I gave that dream up. And sometimes it still hurts terribly when I see happy families and children being children. For a while, I wouldn’t go to baby showers. Now I am too old to have friends that are having baby showers. I have great-nieces and great-nephews. I am old enough to be a grandmother. And at night, asleep, I do still dream of that little girl I longed for. She’s a smart, impish, sprite of a thing, with blue eyes and strawberry-blond hair and my mother’s cute button nose. She has a wreath of flowers on her head. She holds my hand. I call her Jessa, short for Jessamyn. She sometimes seems real to me. I drew a picture of her once, but I put it away because it makes me cry to look at it.

flower girl

 

But (there’s always that but), I see how scary crazy the world is right now, and hear how for the first time in America, children will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. For so long, there was an assumption that each generation did better than the one before. That is gone, as far as I can tell. I travel through Oakland and San Francisco, even Berkeley, and there are so many parts that look like so-called Third World countries. It’s heart-breaking. And it getting worse, not better.

Would I deny myself my Jessa if I could have had her? No, of course not. But she wasn’t meant to be, so I try to reconcile myself to that. Does this make a broken dream? I suppose so. But life goes on. Kittens need to be fostered. And I can meet lots of Jessa-like children at the animal shelter, and help them meet the dog or cat of their dreams. One of my favorite sounds in the world is that of a child squealing when she or he sees the animal that is the one they can’t live without. “Mom, I NEED that cat!” I’ve said those words, and I love to hear them. And I can help. Dream come true.

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My first foster kitten, Abracadabra.

Peace and hugs.

 

 

Tim Gunn and Ruby Dee walk into a bar…

I have strange dreams. I wish I knew what they meant. Or maybe I don’t want to know! The human brain is a strange and wondrous thing. And sometimes infuriating.

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I seriously doubt I look this cute when I am sleeping. I’m more likely a Homer Simpson style sleeper.

In the early morning mash-up of what I can remember of my dreams this morning, Ruby Dee lived across the street from me and was trying to get me to weed between the paving stones leading to her front door.

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What’s wrong with a few weeds anyway?

I really didn’t want to do it, and was trying to work up the courage to say NO to Ms. Dee. I don’t think about Ruby Dee. Ever. I’m sure she was a wonderful person, and she and Ossie Davis were an awesome couple. But I couldn’t name anything she starred in and I have no idea how she felt about weedy walkways. And where was Ossie in this weed pulling debate?

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Ruby Dee
Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, photo by Moneta Sleet Jr.

Meanwhile (in the dream), I was also taking a writing class from Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn who teaches FASHION, not writing, and who is my favorite person on Project Runway. I love Tim Gunn. But he was being kind of mean to me in my dream.

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In this dream writing class, I was supposed to be writing a story in which someone agrees to do something they don’t want to do (like weeding pathways, I guess) for someone they care about. I was not inspired by this assignment. So in his “make it work” way, Tim made me go outside with him. Outside just happened to be a vast ocean, and his idea is that we  would walk on water into the giant waves. I refused. Vehemently.

tsunami

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Maybe Tim Gunn was just trying to rid me of my new old-lady habit of wearing a big old cardigan sweater over my bathrobe. Tim–it’s warm and comfy!

Perhaps Tim Gunn can walk on water, a la Peter Sellers in the wonderful 1979 movie Being There.

being-there

But I can’t. Or shall I say, we will never know if I can because I am afraid of water and will never go out there to find out. This fear is called aquaphobia (not hydrophobia–that’s when you have rabies, which I don’t).

“Aquaphobia is a specific phobia that involves a level of fear that is beyond the patient’s control or that may interfere with daily life. People suffer aquaphobia in many ways and may experience it even though they realize the water in an ocean, a river, or even a bathtub poses no imminent threat.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaphobia)

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When you Google aquaphobia, this is always the first image that comes up. Creepy, yes?

I do not desire a swimming pool, or even a hot tub. I do not soak in bubble baths. I have recently discovered that pedicures are nice, but if someone has ever drowned getting a pedicure I haven’t heard about it. If you have, please don’t tell me.

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I like to gaze out upon water, like at calm lakes and ponds (see Falling in love with frogs), preferably from a rocking chair on a porch.

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Don’t get me wrong. I am a clean person. I shower.

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You’ll never refer to me as Pig-Pen, who traveled in a cloud of dust but was actually a cool, free spirit.

Rain is good. Good for staying out of, indoors, with a mug of hot coffee, a book, and a cat.

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My perfect day.
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Hey, there’s even a t-shirt. Just make mine coffee instead of tea.

Is it a total coincidence that I woke up from these dreams to rain outside? (Cue theremin sound here:)

That’s good news–it means I don’t have to pull weeds for Ruby Dee! Now to my coffee, cat, and a good book. Perhaps Tim Gunn’s The Natty Professor: A Master Class on Mentoring, Motivating and Making it Work!

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Or maybe The Fear of Water Cure.

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But then I’d have to buy a bathing suit. Is there a word for bathing suit anxiety?

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Stay dry.