Visitations: Non-Christmas Carol Versions

I’m no Scrooge, but my subconscious is worried about me anyway.

My dreams are either weird, or so real they wake me up sweating, laughing or crying.

I recently had two dreams that stuck with me – the first, a weird, “what the hell was that?” –  the second, a visitation.

First: I was downtown, late, on a dark, deserted street under the el (elevated train tracks, for you non-Chicagoans.) This was not a place anyone should be, late at night. Angelic Daughter was with me. I have no idea why we were there. The Bulgarian came out of a red door in an old office building, onto the sidewalk, then into the street. He was talking to a woman while he helped her pack her car. I overheard him say he and his wife were expecting a baby.

In the dream, he looked at me, and recognized me, but didn’t acknowledge me. I smiled, because I knew he was afraid I’d butt into his conversation, and wanted me to leave him alone, which I thought was funny.  Angelic Daughter was standing closer to him, and said hello, calling him by name, and he responded to her kindly before disappearing back into the building.

I have no idea if the Bulgarian is married, or if he is, or is to be, a father. He was very private around me (can you blame him?) But I had thought occasionally how great it would be if he had kids. He was kind and patient. I thought he’d make a great Dad; and if he had sons, they’d be adorable, burly little black-haired mini-Bulgarians, running around the unnecessarily childproofed basement the Bulgarian finished for Mike and me.

Damn, he looked good in that dream. Like the picture above.  But except for the black hair, he doesn’t look anything like that diver. No beard. He said he had tattoos, but I never saw them.  He was not as lean.

After he disappeared, I was suddenly in some dark, scary, back alley parking lot.  Leaves smouldered near a wood fence. I tried to pat them out with my hands, but couldn’t, so I tried to call the fire department, but didn’t have an address.  I panicked because I left Angelic Daughter alone while I went to look for the building number.

Freudian, much? Lost? Terrified, leaving Angelic Daughter (for a new job?) Parking lot – Stuck?

I have shaken off my ridiculous crush on the Bulgarian, but it made me feel less alone. Without it, my subconscious thinks I’m down a dark alley, in a dangerous parking lot, putting Angelic Daughter at risk. And something’s burning. Yikes.

Second dream: a visitation and a smackdown. I deserved it.

When I started my wonderful new job, the company introduced new hires in a weekly meeting, asking us where we were from, what our role was, and for a “fun fact.” My “fun fact” was that I attended the same high school and had the same English teacher as Dave Eggers. You know, Dave Eggers? McSweeney’s? A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius? The Circle?

Crickets.

I’m several years older than Dave Eggers. But apparently he’s old enough for my young coworkers not to be familiar with him.

So, I did a bad thing.  I pulled out my Chris Farley connection. My young colleagues lit up when I said I had performed with Farley. Which is true. I was on an improv team with him, nearly thirty years ago. When he showed up.

I don’t like name dropping.

Neither does Farls, it seems.

I dreamt Farley was helicoptered in to perform in some black-box theater as a ringer for the next show.  He walked through the space toward me and spoke to a woman standing next to me. Then he looked straight at me, as if he didn’t recognize me. Or as if he did, and wasn’t pleased.

I got the message. Stop dropping my name. You didn’t really know me.

Which is true. He lit the sky I happened to be under for a few months, and then was off, to light up other skies over other people. Then he was gone. A meteor, a bright flame. Flamed out.

Sorry, Farls. This is the last time I’ll drop your name. But the dream was so real, and so funny.  You looked sculpted and fit (real Chippendale’s dancer!)

I’m sure that’s what Farley looks like in eternity, if he wants to.

May your dreams be filled with loving visitations, or little smackdowns, if you need them. Or a handsome Bulgarian who has found his own love and happiness, I hope.

Still hoping for some love and happiness to return again in my life, I remain,

Your stressed out, grateful for the new job but worried about Angelic Daughter, gaining weight and not worrying about it enough,

Ridiculouswoman

Diver Image by rodolfo_waterloo from Pixabay

Perfectionist Tendencies

Perfectionism is just arrogance in disguise. Knock it off, Annie.

I screwed up in the concert Friday night.

I know the exact movement and measure where I came in two beats early, loud and clear, doubling the tenors an octave higher, when the sopranos weren’t supposed to come in at all yet. A mistake I had made so repeatedly in rehearsal that I had marked a huge dark circle around the rest – the rest that I nevertheless failed to observe, during the concert. Which will ruin the recording, no doubt.

Fortunately, I have another chance to get it right, tonight.

But that doesn’t make me feel any better.

I feel like I’m in over my head. There are voices in this choir that are as big as the ocean. I have sung in several really, really good choirs in my time, but I’ve never heard anything like this. I’m out of shape, out of practice, out of my league.

I’m wondering why they let me in.

And I keep “watering the weed,” going over and over my stupid mistake, magnifying its importance.

I have long been accused of perfectionist tendencies. I can put a lot of energy into beating myself up over the innumerable mistakes I have made, which continue to multiply, daily. Apparently, getting older doesn’t necessarily equate with getting wiser.

What a waste of energy.

Because perfectionism is really just badly disguised arrogance.

How could I be so arrogant as to think that anyone in the audience even noticed in that very live, echo-y chapel?

And who the hell do I think I am, that I could ever get anything perfect, anyway?

I’ve lived enough life now to realize that making mistakes is part of the deal. My improvisation teachers said that mistakes are discoveries. Go with ’em and see where they take you.

Perfectionism is the opposite of humility, and I’m trying to learn to be a more humble, accepting person – one who listens more than she talks.

(Stop laughing, you guys, I really am trying).

And one who doesn’t take herself so seriously, doesn’t always think she’s the center of everything, or anything, for that matter. Trying to focus on others and not be such a little-miss-know-it-all-smartypants-achiever.

Remember that sketch that Chris Farley used to do, on SNL? The interview show,  where he’d say something or ask a question and then start slapping himself in the head, “Oh, D’oh! How stupid! I’m such an idiot!”

He did that not out of arrogance, thinking that he could have been perfect, but out of humility and insecurity, feeling that he couldn’t possibly be good enough,  even though he was spectacularly, uniquely talented.

And I thought I was hard on myself.

So, I fell off the proverbial horse. Get back on and give it another go, Annie. “I’ll do better next time,” as my courageous, resilient, magnificent, magical daughter says, determined to show me she can muster a positive attitude after a setback.

I’ll do better next time, not for myself, but out of respect for the other members of the chorus.

Some of whom, it turns out, live with significant health and physical challenges, and sing joyfully, professionally and well, despite them.

Where do I get off making mountains out of my mistakes when these people carry on, with their quiet heroism, just being who they are and doing what they do, and doing it well?

So tonight I’ll watch more closely and concentrate more on counting than on the sound of my own voice. Although it is easy to space out a bit, lost in the majesty and consolation of Mendelssohn, I’ll keep my guard up and try to remember that it’s a gift just to have the chance to be a small part of it, and to follow the lead of voices far more magnificent, and musicianship far more honed than mine are at present. Working on it.

Tonight I’ll try to be OK with just being OK.

ok-1468680_640

Time to go put on the concert black, and stow the ego. I’ll keep you posted.

Until then, I remain,

Your striving, stumbling, struggling, but still singing,

Ridiculouswoman