January 27, day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I thought I would get on today’s post early rather than late. It might give my voice a different tone. I’m not always tired and bluesy. If I was a singer, it would be an asset. It would be an honour to be called the Empress of the Blues. But that title belonged to Bessie Smith. She was a renowned blues singer during the Jazz Age. She rose from poverty with a mighty and strong voice. She was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 43 in 1937. Her grave was unmarked until a tombstone was erected on August 7, 1970, paid for by the singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green, who as a child had done housework for Smith.
Her life is such an interesting story. We each have our own story to tell. They’re equally interesting. It’s in the way of telling and how we feel about our stories. I see stories in pictures. I see pictures in stories. In the same way, I tell my stories – one evokes the other. When I see the photo of our house in China, I remember playing up on the rooftop. I saw my first ghosts there. It wasn’t that I ‘saw’ but rather felt their presence. I remember my mother telling me they’re our ancestors and not to be afraid. I also ‘saw’ someone standing by our bed one evening. It was more of a shadow than anything. At the time I was still sleeping in the same bed as my mother. It was made of boards, covered with quilts. Our pillows were wooden blocks. I don’t remember them being uncomfortable though. Aren’t childhood memories/stories wonderful?
I used to write flash fiction for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Rochelle is a published author of several books and a watercolour artist. For Friday Fictioneers we write a story of 100 words to a photo prompt. It was a good fit and practice for me. I’ve learned to make every word count and to hone out needless, excessive words. We interact with each other much like on the Ultimate Blog Challenge. You read me, I read me. Then we critique each other – in a positive constructive way. The Dentist is one of my flash fictions that still has the photo prompt in the post. I’ve removed the photo prompt in most of the posts to free up room in my media library.
This is the long and short of my post. Not my best but not my worse. It has a beginning, a middle and an ending. Now I’m off to work on my watercolours. What is your story?
My favourite speech is Martin Luther King’s famous I Have a Dream. I’ve been having more dreams lately and remembering them after. They’re not anything like King’s. I’m usually screaming in them. Last night I dreamt I was in the upstairs shower. Even though I had double latched the door, a man intruded. I was puzzled. How did the door get opened? The latches were the the hook and eye type like the ones on our side gate. He was looking for someone. I didn’t scream this time. I told him to go back downstairs. There was a party going on.
It just occur to me that all my dreams are related to an intruder. In the previous dream someone stepping through the basement window. I could see the leg and the sheer curtains fluttering. That’s when I tried to scream. It felt as if I couldn’t get it out but apparently I did. I woke up the dog and the guy. In my dreams, I never see faces. The leg and the window was the most vivid picture I could recall from all my dreams. Mostly I remember screaming and calling for help. I wonder why. In my younger years, I dreamt of ghosts sitting on and paralyzing me.
The day has sped away on me. I haven’t made any progress on my intentions of transplant-ing more seedlings or starting more seeds. My work tables and desk are as cluttered as ever. They’re nightmarish. I have no excuse really except for my usuals of being tired and full of aches and pains. I’m getting sick and tired of my own thoughts and whines. I will descend and attack those areas in a short while. Famous last words, right?
But in spite of my snail’s pace, I haven’t fallen behind. I just haven’t progressed. I did skip my exercise class this morning. Why aggravate my physical pain? I will swim on the weekend. It will be easier on my joints. The lunch dishes got done and put away. Sheba and I managed to get to the park after lunch. It was easier than walking on treacherous icy sidewalk. There was lots of happy energetic dogs and their humans. It gave me an extra boost on this cloudy day. Now, I’ve shown up here, tapping out my words.
Okay now, I’m ready to tend to my work spaces. The guy has made a table for my new sewing machine. It’s like a dream come true. I’ve never had one – a special table or dream come true. It has sections that fold out or in. I will have space when I get past my 6 inch squares and into a big quilt. It will fold onto itself when I’m not sewing and fit in a small corner. It should help me organize my ‘stuff’. It might take me a long time but I can start.
I am feeling more at ease with life and myself. Hooray! I’ve noticed that I am not walking on egg shells any more. You know that feeling, don’t you? That any minute now something is going to happen. Or the feeling that you should have done something but you haven’t. It’s hard to rest wrestling with all those fears. Now that they are gone, Sheba and I don’t have to keep watch over our shoulders. We can move on.
Having said that, it is a bit strange that I am having some vivid dreams lately and remembering some details. Last night the guy had to reassure me it was a dream. I was screaming. I think I let out 2 or 3. A man was coming in through the basement window. I could see him putting his leg through. I couldn’t find my voice at first and had to work very hard getting the screams out. Apparently I succeeded! I wonder if my dream came from the book I’m reading, John Irving’s Last Night in Crooked River. It is a very good read. I’ll try not to read the ending first as often I’m unable to wait.
I seldom dream about work but last week I did. I dreamt that I had mixed too much potassium into an intraveous bag. I was trying to retrieve it and prevent it from being administered. That was all that I could remembered. I’m not sure why the dream showed up. It’s been 4 years since I’ve stopped working. Such an incident had happened many years ago. Only then it involved a dialysate solution. It was a REAL nightmare. I was happy I had good instincts and paid attention to my unsettling nerves.
The order for amount of potassium to be added did not feel right. I was assured that was what was ordered. I paced and muttered to myself all night. I had lined up the vials of potassium on my drug counter. I couldn’t make myself break them open, draw them up and put it in the solution. I checked and checked. It wasn’t till morning before I could detect the error in transcription from the Doctors Order to the medication sheet. I had not yet started the morning cycle of dialysis. Big sigh of relief.
I wonder how long things stay in our psyches to pop up in our dreams years later. I hope my psyches is cleared now and no more bad dreams in the night. It is very hard to bring out a scream in a dream. Maybe I am twice as scared in dreamland. I used to dream about ghosts sitting on and paralysing me. Only it felt very real to me. I couldn’t scream or move but I could blink. I would blink furiously to prove that I was awake and not dreaming. I would struggle to reach the lamp. If I can turn the light on, it would scare the ghost away. I would stretch and stretch. The lamp is knocked over. The cat jumps from the bed. The weight is off me. I could move. But when I looked over at the lamp, it was not knocked over. It was where it should have been.
The mystery is still a mystery. Were my ghostly visits dreams or were they real? I’ve had no more dreams or visits from Casper or other ghosts since. It was been a long time ago. I guess we do lose our sensitivity to their presence as we age.
Have I been complaining a lot lately? I probably have but it’s been a hard year. When hasn’t it been? This little sabbatical of silence has been good for me. But now I’m having a little difficulty finding my words again. There is a price for everything.
A new year is beginning. The Year of the Goat starts tomorrow. Let me start by clearing out old hurts and wounds. Let me sweep out what no longer serves me today. No sweeping on New Year’s Day. You don’t want to sweep out the good along with the debris. I am very superstitious. I come by it naturally. I am Chinese. I believe in ghosts. I dream of ghosts. I see ghosts.
Did I tell you the demon found me again? He was knocking at my door. I heard the key turned. Click! I went oh-oh. Time to be viligant. I was grateful for the warning. I had time to prepare, arm myself and erect my fortress. Still, it was a tough time. But I have survived to tell about it. I am stronger and wiser for it.
I believe there are inexplicable (to us humans) forces out there. Some of them are beneign and some are not. Perhaps some of it is generated and sent out by people like you and me, unbeknown to ourselves. All I know is I am ‘sensitive’ to their presence. I have to trust myself in that knowledge and not label myself as a little eccentric and crazy.
The demon is gone. I can let go of the vigilance a little and be myself again. I have lost a few words but not chunks of my life. I have weathered the storm well with Sheba’s help. She has taken a few hits for me. Yesterday, she ran screaming from ‘it’ in fright, legs trembling so hard that all of her shook. All I could do was hold and stroke her till she quieted down. I hope that it is over for both of us. I need to make sure I have pulled our drawbridge up and our dragon is on alert.
Sometimes I am immobilized by those ‘light bulb moments’, when I see the truth staring at me in glaring black and white. You know those Kodak moments, don’t you? I am blessed/cursed with them at the same time. I do not want to see the raw naked truth. I rather not be in the know. And that is the honest truth. Is there any other kind?
I am a bit melancholy with a bit of wine and the truth. Life looks better through rose-tinted glasses or in the dark sometimes. I am talking through my yin yang, of course. You would have to take what I say with a grain of salt. Do you know that I knew time before electricity? Yes, that is correct.
I saw my first electric light bulb when I was six. My mother and I were overnighting in a hotel in Canton, en route to Hong Kong. I had fallen asleep early in the evening. When my mother shook me at dawn, I opened my eyes to a bright light dangling from the ceiling. It was truly an Oprah light bulb moment
Do you know that I see ghosts, too, that is, when I was a child. I no longer see them now that I am all grown up. But I feel them still. They are my friends, my angels. I have learned to trust them, that they are here to look out for me.
I remembered seeing them when I was playing on our rooftop in China. I saw them standing beside my bed at night before I went to sleep. I asked my mother, Who are all the people? My mother saw that there was no one there. She said, “They’re our ancestors. Do not be afraid.”
I wasn’t afraid until I grew up. Then I started to cross my slippers by my bedside. One of my friends told me that would keep them away. And it worked! They visited me only on those nights I forgot to cross my slippers.
They do not visit me any more in the same way. I sense them when I am quiet and still. They let me know their presence when I am in need. I am no longer afraid as an adult. I am truly grown up.
It is now almost the bewitching hour. Time to stop babbling about light bulbs, ghosts and such. It is time to put the memories away and get ready for sleep and sweet dreams.
I was awake this morning before dawn. Some of you must know of these early awakenings. I tried and tried to fall back to sleep but cannot. So I tried to stay and be content. But I cannot.
So I rose, made myself a cup of tea and watched the first amber glow of the day in the sunroom. I made peace with my feelings. I made friends with my ghosts. We drank tea together. I sat and stayed. I breathed.
The morning came. I did my 18 heavenly moves. I surrounded myself with divine chi. I felt its warmth protecting me. Calmness came amid my mind’s chaos.
There is power in movement, in the doing, first one limb, then another. The cobwebs and ghosts leave with the sunlight. First one, then another, to have tea or maybe lunch at Somewhere Else. They will probably come back another day. I will let them come. I will set the table. I will use my fine china and we will honour each other. Namaste!
The sweat is running down my face. I’m sitting on deck stairs, catching the gentle afternoon breeze. I can hear Sheba panting on the deck. I lean against the side railing, closing my eyes. I can hear the whoosh of the traffic, the drone of a lawn mower.
The bread is done. The loaves are cooling on the rack. Sheba’s life jacket and her mats are washed in soap and water, rinsed and drying in the sun. Amazing how much her things can stink up the car. Amazing what a little soap and water can do.
We went out to Elbow Sunday for our first sail of the year. The mast went up and we got the boat in the water. But that was as far as we got. For one reason or another, the sail wouldn’t go up. So we gave up on thoughts of sailing that day. We ate our lunch on the beach. Sheba sat in the wet sand, dressed in her life jacket and nowhere to sail.
After lunch we got help and took the mast down, loaded the boat and got it out of the water. After an hour or so of packing and loading up, we headed home. And after another hour or so we got home. You might say we had a day of nothing or just frustrations. But I just said: That’s life.
I’m sitting in the kitchen now, tap, tapping away, keeping my heebe jeebies at bay. Sweat is dripping down the sides of my face. I wonder if other people get them. I suppose everyone has their own demons or else they are lying.
The AC is now on. Its coolness is soothing. The sweat recedes along with the ghosts. I sigh one big sigh, feeling stronger, dreaming sweet dreams of sailing.
What if I told you that I see/feel ghosts? What would you say? What would you think…that I am crazy, or would you keep an open mind?
I would be happy if I didn’t have this ability. I am contradicting myself in wishing that I’m not weird but there you have it. I am also a contradiction! Would I have been ‘normal’, I would feel no need to sit here, tap, tapping away my discomfort, my ghosts.
I do not really see my ghosts. I cannot describe them. Rather I sense them. My first experience was when I was a child, many years ago in China. I ‘saw’ them when I was playing on our rooftop. My mother told me that they were our ancestors and not to be afraid of them. The second time came shortly after that. I ‘saw’ someone standing in front of my bed. I felt, ‘saw’ the shadow. I cannot remember other incidences from my childhood.
I became afraid of my ghosts when I was a young adult. I would cross my slippers by my bed to ward off their visits. I came to no harm, but it was frightening for me to wake up with something sitting on me, holding me inert and helpless. I could not move. I could not scream until ‘it’ left.
To reassure myself of my sanity, I decided that the next time the ghost visits, I would test myself. How did I do this? I opened my eyes, blinked and say to myself: I’m awake. I’m awake. The pressure was great. I could not move but I reached and reached to turn the lamp on. I knew the light would dispel it. I stretched and stretched. The lamp toppled, the shade falling off. My cat jumped off the bed. The pressure lifted. But when I ‘came to’, all was calm. The lamp was still upright, where it had been but the cat was gone.
I kept my slippers crossed by my bed for quite a few years. Those incidents have stopped but I have had encounters of a different kind. Am I crazy? Do you believe me? What do you think?