The Porthole Dream

My late mother-in-law dominated one of my dreams last night.

I was on her ship. To my knowledge, this woman never owned a boat, never mind a large ship.

While I’d been with her, visiting, I was preparing to leave. Outside the ship, I was aware that it was heavily storming. Large waves rocked the ship. Winds howled. Sheets of rain fell from black iron skies.

I needed to go, to catch my flight, to go home. But first, well, there was the matter of my laundry. Done washing, I needed to put them into the dryer. I couldn’t open the dryer, though.

Men came to help. I gathered through conversations that they were my mother-in-law’s brothers. Appreciating the assistance, I managed to get the wet clothing into the dryer. Now I needed to get myself ready. Needed to shower and shave.

I went into the bathroom. A porthole was open. Ocean water came nearly to the porthole, terrifying me. “This should be closed,” I said to myself. I felt that I couldn’t close it without permission.

Leaving the bathroom with a backward look at the porthole, I encountered my mother-in-law in the hallway. “I was thinking, Mike.” (She’d always called Mike, her and her husband, although I went by Michael with my wife and the world.) “There’s no reason for you to go to the airport to catch your flight. You can catch it here.”

Although some part of my brain in the dream protested, I’m sorry, but we’re on a ship, that’s not possible, I said, “Are you sure? Is that possible?”


“I wouldn’t want to be a bother.”

“No bother at all. It’ll save you time.” She walked off, as was her habit, as she finished her comment.

“Great,” I answered, then went after her. “There’s a porthole open in my bathroom. I think it needs to be closed. The water is about to come in. We could get flooded.”

“Okay, go ahead and close it,” she replied.

Happily, I returned to the bathroom and closed the porthole. I felt much better about that.

“Your flight is almost here,” one of the brothers told me.

I wasn’t ready. “Okay,” I called back. After rushing through my shower and shaving, I dressed while hurrying out to empty my clothes from the dryer. They needed to be packed. I had my suitcase at hand. I was thinking that the flight was early. I was thinking, how can the aircraft land on ship? Was it going to land on the sea? I was thinking, how can it land in this weather? I was thinking, I want to pack my clothes neatly but I need to get them into the suitcase and get going. I was thinking, there’s so much to do, and I feel so rushed. I was thinking, maybe I shouldn’t go now.

Shirt not properly tucked in, wet hair uncombed, suitcase open, clothes half in it, I declared myself ready to go.

Dream end.

Stuck Song

A friend posted on FB about her clothes getting stuck on door handles. Another responded, “their way of telling you to slow down and reflect”.

That nudged my mind into singing, “Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.”

Then Simon & Garfunkel began performing “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” from 1971. I’m sharing it with you to dislodge it from my mind. Please sing along.


Another Self-Flagellating Dream

No whips of any kind were in this dream, except the brutal emotional ones most of us employ on ourselves. This was a classic mélange of frustration and anxiety.

It began as a military dream. Whether this is true, I remembering being partially awake and telling myself, “Not another military dream.”

Then I wasn’t in a military dream. I was instead outside, with others. We were all all students and were scheduled to give an all-important final presentation. We’d already done one. Using feedback, we were supposed to go back and improve it.

But here I was, not at all fucking ready. It was time to go and I wasn’t dressed. I hadn’t changed my presentation, either.

I told myself, I can do this! Others began leaving for class. One reminded me that I needed to be there on time. The doors would close and lock at eight. If I wasn’t there, I would be failed.

Sure, I wasn’t worried.

Knowing that I needed to change clothes and my presentation, I went in the opposite direction of everyone else. What was I going to wear? How was I going to change the presentation.

I didn’t have answers. Time was running out. I decided, I’d wear what I had on – a red sweater with black pants – even though I’d worn those yesterday. And, by not changing clothes, I could make changes to the presentation.

Time was running out, and I’d wasted so much of it. I rushed toward class.

A bell was ringing.

I wasn’t going to make it.

I partially awoke. Thinking of the dream, I decided, I can change the outcome. Go back, dream again, and change the outcome.

I’m usually not bad at doing this. Today was a failure.

I went back. Time was running out. I would take a short-cut to get to the room. Rushing down a long flight of stairs, I came to another hallway.

It ended.

It was the wrong hallway. I couldn’t reach my class room from there.

A student and a security guard were sitting there, talking about another, but the details reflected my own situation. The student asked, “What if they’re late?”

The guard replied, “It doesn’t matter. I close the doors and lock them.”

“But what if they’re really trying?”

“Doesn’t matter. The doors are locked, and they fail.”

I started back up the hall to head for my class room. I found myself there.

The door wasn’t locked. I opened it and entered.

Everyone looked at me. The teachers (two) looked at me. A classmate said, “You’re in the same clothes. You didn’t change.”

The dream ended.

The Box of Clothes Dream

It was Friday, just after noon. Dressed in casual work clothes, I was walking through bright and airy offices. It could’ve easily been one of the new buildings from one of my employers in Redwood City and Mountain View, CA, or Atlanta, GA.

Two parties were planned. One was to fete a team project, and the other was a birthday party. Although the parties started here, it was understood that the parties would continue elsewhere. Visiting with friendly co-workers, I decided to change clothes. Producing a box, I put on my workout clothes.

I now looked just like I did in high school. Tables were set up and food was arriving. I walked along eyeing it. A vast assortment of fruit and veggie trays were arrayed, along with cookies. One set of cookies were shaped like hearts and outlined in pink, red, or white glitter. The cookies were on sticks and arranged as a bouquet in a red glass vase.

I declined to eat anything for the moment. Then, abruptly, I worried, where’s my box of clothes? I asked several people if they’d seen it: no. I thought I’d left it in the hall. Then I recalled where I placed it.

Rushing down a flight of stairs, I went to a corner. There was my box. I picked it up and opened it, confirming that everything was in it.

Music began. I realized the song was “All Night Long (All Night)” by Lionel Richie. Someone said that he was there. Some people began dancing.

The dream ended.

A Crooked Path

Well, how was he here? How?

He’d been feeling really good, like AAA bond good, a comparison that he’d picked up from his late stepfather (stepfather, yes, but the only person who’d ever successfully plugged in as a father). (Don’t even get him started on the two previous impostors, which included his biological father.) (He was still getting over his stepfather’s death (from brain cancer after a long illness) two years ago.)

First, he’d finally got out of debt, which was good. His veteran’s disability amply covered his nut. Moving closer to Mom helped, too. He’d hooked up with a good support group and therapist, and was on the right meds. Things were so looking up. He’d found a nice little apartment for him and his cat (Sam, just Sam, a sweet young black cat) (not far from Mom’s house, where he could go do his laundry). (And socialize!) (And eat, yeah.)

Where had the hole come from, then?

Yeah, the shower, yeah.

The shower clogged. He’d told his landlady ’bout it, but she was eighty, and forgot. He waited, though, but he couldn’t use the shower, so he couldn’t shower, so he didn’t shower, waiting for it to be fixed. He was just going through clothes, though. Changing clothes every day (he’s not a friggin’ animal), he wasn’t able to go over to Mom’s house to do his laundry because he’d not been able to take showers, and now he smelled bad (geez, his hair was getting matted) (and his beard was a mess).

Without being able to shower (and do laundry) and without clean clothes, he’d quit going out. He missed his support group meetings and then had run out of meds. He couldn’t get out to get more meds because he was filthy and embarrassed. (And he was running out of food and household goods, and losing weight.)

Christ, it’d taken just two months, two months from being triple A good to being in a shithole of despair.

What was that whole thing about, for the want of a nail?


The Clothes & Garage Dream

I had a large new home which made me proud and happy. Then, dream switch, I was visiting with Mom.

Mom wasn’t home. She and the girls were out. I was about my current age. Mom’s home was the small brick ranch style house where I lived from 1965 to 1972 in Pittsburgh before departing.

In the dream, she had coats hanging up outside, like on a clothes line that stretched from the house to a pole by the street. It was a temporary thing, but she’d had this going on for several days, and it bothered me. When it lightly rained and the rain then turned to ice, I decided that I needed to move them into the garage. However, the garage still needed to house Mom’s car. It was a one-car garage, so that would be a challenge.

Going through the garage, considering angles and materials, I began thinking about how I could do it. My little sisters (who had been out with Mom) arrived and commented on my plans, expressing doubts that it could be done. (They were their current ages and appearances, and in the dream, I wondered if they as little girls were with Mom while their adult selves were present in the garage.) I was gaining confidence that it could, then, and passed off their objections with jokes. They left.

As progress was being made, TC arrived. He and I had been stationed at Onizuka together. The same rank, he retired a few years after I did and moved away.

In the dream, he was coming for a visit. I was expecting him. He showed up in an exoctic burnt orange car, not the kind of vehicle that he would ever drive. He had young twin children with him. I played with them as we exchanged greetings. The car then went off and I realized that he’d been dropped off.

I returned to working on hanging the coats in the garage. I could show progress. TC asked what beers I had. I’d been planning that moment and replied as a joke with the names of a number of cheap American beers such as PBR, Schlitz, and Old Milwaukee. He always drank Miller Lite, and I knew that’s what he wanted.

Then, in a move that surprised me, he said he was going to the neighbor’s house. He said he and the neighbor were friends. As we discussed this, I stepped outside. The light rain had ceased. A car drove by on the street. Dusk was falling. My Mom’s neighbor was at a table in his yard, waiting for TC, who walked toward him.

The dream ended.

The Quest

Like many, I awoke this morning and began pondering the eternal questions, like, is my head getting smaller?

I wasn’t being facetious. My new Tilley hat had arrived. When I put it on, I discovered it was much larger than my other hat. I confirmed the other was a seven and a half, so the two hats were the same size.* Ergo, my head must be shrinking.

Walking about with my oversized hat on, I entertained the other questions that often plague modern humans.

1. Am I gaining weight or are my pants shrinking?

2. Are my pants getting longer, or am I getting shorter?

3. Is it possible for me to be both gaining weight and getting shorter?

4. Can my pant legs be getting longer while my pants waist is shrinking?

5. If something really had 1/4 the fat of the regular stuff, can I really eat four times as much?

6. How much beer can a beer drinker drink if a beer drinker only drank beer?

These are serious questions. The one about my shrinking head especially worries me. I can see myself as a man walking around without a head. People would probably soon start head-shaming me, shouting, “Hey, there’s little head,” whenever I pass.

There’s family precedence. My mother, who was much taller than me when I was a child, now seems to be about the size of a garden gnome. She appears to be shrinking more in every dimension every time that I see her. I figure that soon, we’ll be able to hear her, but not see her, unless she stands at the right angle and in the right light. It’s like, “Okay, I see her shadow. Let me just trace that back to her.”

Alas, like others, I found no easy answers to these questions. That’s probably why they plague us.

The quest goes on.

*Editing note: Yes, I know that not all sizes are equal sizes during the modern industrial age. Most people must try on several sets of garments or shoes of the same size before finding one that fits right. Hence, there was one shortcoming to the Tilley replacement hat process: it’s predicated on the idea that all of their hats are the same size.


Unflooftested (floofinition) – Objects, locations, or people who have never been exposed to animals once they’ve been acquired as new.

In use: “She worried about her new black sweater and how it would fare; Kathryn had two cats and one dog, and the sweater was unflooftested.”


Floofmaging (floofinition) – a pet’s attempt to claim a person by putting fur on the person’s clothing, typically by sleeping on clothing when the person takes it off and puts it down.

In use: “As soon as he took off his coat and put it on the chair, two cats approached, intent on floofmaging the coat for themself.”

Rebel, Rebel

As I was dressing today, I decided to wear brown shoes.

Like many people — not — my shoes choice drives my attire. As my grandmother used to say, “Start at the feet, and dress up.” (She didn’t.)

Season, weather, and plans drive my shoe choice. I’ve found that I’m uncomfortable in sandals in the fall and winter, usually because the day starts out nippy and doesn’t get warm. I’m not much of a sandal person anyway. 

Which takes me to the brown shoes. 

Once I decided to wear brown shoes, the pants and shirt were easy, since it was cool, forty degrees, sunny, with sixty-two degrees anticipated as the high. Since I was wearing brown shoes, I needed a brown belt, right?

Time out. Wait. Hang on. 

Why did I need a brown belt?

Because that’s how I’ve been socialized, normalized, and conditioned. Brown shoes, brown belt. I heard it from Mom, wife, girlfriends, and others. It’s like, why? WTF difference does it make? 

So guess what this rebel did?

If you guessed that I put on black shoes and a black belt, you’re wrong. I’m wearing a black belt with brown shoes. 

Yeah, pretty far out, right?

I’m such a rebel.

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