We Can Talk. Or Not Talk.


The U.S. Civil War has been making recurring appearances in my life. Given the situation in the Arab/African world right now, I’ve been thinking, (if I’m thinking of war at all) about that area of the world, and not about my own country. But I was flipping through the channels on live TV the other night (something I almost never do) and there was a Ken Burns documentary on PBS. I was hooked within a minute. It was riveting. I had a million other things to do that night, but I couldn’t pull myself away. Besides which, Garrison Keillor was narrating, as was Morgan Freeman. And who can resist their voices? Then, about a day later, a friend mentioned the Civil War on Facebook. (whaaa??) Then Ancestry.com sent me a newsletter and said I should thumb through their newly released Civil War records to look for my ancestors! (Ah, but Ancestry.com doesn’t know my people are relatively new to this country). Since I am on a path, these days, of reading into every little thing that would otherwise be called a “coincidence”, I’m taking this as a sign that my United States of Being are at war with one another. I think I need my own internal Abe Lincoln to stand up and give a two minute speech to say how regrettable it is that so many had to die to get this whole living as a unified entity right. Or something like that.


I accidentally left an event Saturday night without my phone. I couldn’t get it back until Monday morning. On Sunday, I ran the gamut of electronic-device-withdrawal: first I was annoyed, then panicked that it would be stolen, and finally, resigned to the fact that I was going to have to spend ONE WHOLE DAY (Oh! The humanity!) without my phone. I stopped in at one of those dizzying Here, This-didn’t-sell-at-the-department-store-so we’ve-marked-it-up-from-its-department-store-clearance-price-and-shoved-it-on-this-shelf-with-an-egg-slicer,-a-no-name -candle, and-a-frying-pan stores. Doesn’t that sound like a bargain hunter’s dream store? (and a Type-A’s worst nightmare?) I realized about halfway through browsing that I was actually sort of bracing myself for my phone to ring. Seems most things these days are interrupted by a beeping or dinging of some sort, right? But the phone didn’t ring. And I eased into this sense of peace I have not known since 1999 or so. It was remarkable.


But Sunday was also the day I had set aside to call all the various financial entities that autodebit my account and tell them that I have officially dumped the jerks at Chase Bank and would they kindly autodebit my new bank account? And I didn’t have my phone. I felt like I was missing a limb. The whole part about not having a phone is that you can’t TELL anyone via phone that you are missing your phone.
Me: (sighing heavily) I don’t know where my phone is.
Burdy: Maybe it’s in the house and you just can’t see it. Do you want me to call it?
Me: Sure. Go ahead.
Sound of dialing. Sound of silence.
Burdy: Well, did you call the event center to tell them you think you left your phone there?
Me: blink. blink blink.
Burdy: Oh. Right.


I’m spending lots of time these days inside my own head. I am doing what the head shrinkers call “a lot of processing”. One of my head shrinkers told me yesterday that I need to “give voice” to stuff I’m keeping in my head. In other words, I need to get out of my head and into my vocal chords. I need to turn my internal editor off, and just let ‘er rip. I can worry about the fallout AFTER I’ve insulted everyone in the room. The important part here, kiddo, they say, is to just say what’s on your mind.

So, this morning, I’m having a dream. I’m knitting a sock while I’m having an argument with my dad. My dad is telling me to get a job. I tell him that I don’t want just any job. We go back and forth for a while. The anger builds. He tells me I should apply for this one job, this job that seems completely improbable. But you need a degree for that, I shoot back. No you don’t, he says, eyes ablaze with fury. And then, in my sleep, I snarl, at the top of my lungs:


I wake myself up and Burdy too. I’m smiling because I feel triumphant! and vindicated! Take that, overbearing dream dad! I’m smiling, too, because I have just yelled at the top of my lungs in my sleep, something I have never done in my life, and holy crap is it funny! Burdy, meanwhile, is trying really hard not to laugh. He spends a few minutes lying very still. He eventually stirs and I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling and start to spell “ophthalmologist” over and over in my head thinking there is some code word embedded in the letters if I just rearrange them. Burdy, unsure if I am fully awake or not, asks me if I remember what I just said. Yeah, I say, impatiently. I DON’T WANT TO BE AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST. And we break down laughing. We laugh for a fully minute. This is going on the blog, isn’t it, he asks. And I think for a moment and say no because then I will have to explain why yelling in my sleep is so profound and that I am seeing therapists to help coax all these words out of me and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is “I don’t want to be an ophthalmologist”.

And then I think: fuck it. I’m going to take the advice of those head shrinkers and worry about what everyone thinks later. So, yeah. I think I’m finding my voice.