If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said, “I had the weirdest dream!,” I could put the economy back on track. I’ve had colorful dreams, mind-bending dreams, foodie dreams, sensual dreams, flying dreams, falling dreams, kung fu dreams, prophetic dreams, and bone-chilling nightmares.
When I was eight-years-old, I dreamt my dad was one of the Wild Things, a giant, furry green Thing with horns, who lived in a tree. In college, I dreamt the “L” train outside my dorm window derailed—three days later, it did and in the exact spot I had dreamt it would. Then there was the dream I had of my Grampa B a few months after he died where we hugged for the longest time. Armchair psychologists could have a field day with what my nocturnal brain cooks up.
Last Sunday’s dream was no exception: I was engaged to a beautiful bleached-blonde woman who wanted me to become a man before we got married. Maybe I watch too much Dancing with the Stars, but I told her, if that’s what she wanted, I’d do it. I got male hormone injections and even scheduled my reassignment surgery, which seemed to please her, until I held her hand.
“Put your arm around me, instead,” she said. “I like that better.”
“Sure.” I followed her instructions. “Whatever keeps you happy.”
“Hold me,” she beckoned.
So I hugged her, but as I did, I couldn’t help but notice the giant baseball scoreboard behind her (apparently, they’re everywhere in the dream world). “That reminds me,” I said, “I need to call Jeff and see if he wants to play baseball on the Xbox this weekend.”
My beautiful fiancé pulled away and looked at me, dumfounded…or was it incredulous? “You’re thinking about baseball while you’re hugging me??”
What? I’m a man now! I’ve got testosterone coursing through the veins of my ever-expanding biceps. I’m in need of a monster truck rally. I want to buy a sectional couch and set up surround sound. How am I not supposed to notice baseball? I apologized for the error and decided it best to keep my dude thoughts (i.e. sports, gadgets, cars, women) to myself. But it was quickly dawning on me that I really liked being a woman. I wanted to stay one. Why was I changing my gender for my beautiful, blonde, nagging, demanding, demeaning, high-maintenance fiancé? Wait! Come to think of it, I was liking her less by the minute.
I woke up laughing and couldn’t wait to tell a sleeping Hubs that I dreamt I had a nagging wife. He and I would finally have something in common! It was like the gods had gifted me with this insight into the opposite sex: Men like shiny things. I would now use this knowledge to become a less demanding spouse, I vowed. I’d let him watch football without reprimand and refrain from scolding him if he hugged me with my back to the television so he could watch SportsCenter over my shoulder. This dream was going change our lives, I tell you. Our lives!
It was only when I was out walking The Beast that morning that I realized the dream was actually symbolic. Not cigars and train tunnels symbolic, but my-subconscious-is-trying-to-work-out-some-deep-sh*t symbolic. Basically, the Universal (capital “U”) lesson to be learned from this: Don’t change who you are to please someone else. Chances are, once you change a part of you, they’ll find something else to dislike. It hit me like a bolt of lightning right between the eyes. (It just galls me that I had to be man to figure this out!)
Sure, if you’re a jerk, and someone says, “Stop being a jerk,” do some soul-searching and decide if that’s good advice. But don’t deny the qualities you like about yourself just to make another person happy. As the great philosopher Dr. Seuss says, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Some good food for thought as we shift from sleeping dreams to waking ones: November is National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org/). 30 days of writing that novel that’s been in your noggin for years. 30 days dedicated to getting it out on paper—grammatical errors and all—and seeing what you’re made of. 30 days of plunking away at what Anne Lamott calls “shitty first drafts.” Who’s with me?
My friend Paula and I formed a writing group four years ago. We took a three-year hiatus after her move to Los Angeles, but, through the magic of Skype, we’ve revived it and are now egging each other on to hurry up and write. NaNoWriMo has perfect timing. Several friends and a few What’s Camille Dewing? subscribers have also expressed an interest in signing up for this undertaking (you know who you are—do it!). If you’re participating, or if you’re interested in signing up, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know. We can start a NaNoWriMo writer support group.
Even if you’ve only written your name, but have a great story in you (everyone does), give it a try. It’s like I told my friend, the worst thing that can happen is…the worst that can happen is…uh…gimme a sec…the worst thing…okay, I’m sure I can come up with the worst thing that can happen to you if you tried to write a novel, but, in the meantime, start writing.