Weird Dream No. 1: Dean of the School

I think I may share some of my dreams here – especially the really bizarre ones that leave me scratching my head. Like the one I had last night.

I was the dean of a prestigious, private Presbyterian school. I can’t tell you the name, because I think it was made up, and I don’t remember it. But it was a small building perched over the edge of a steep canyon. It rested on long poles and was attached to the top of the cliff by guy wires, and presumably other methods (or maybe not – it was a dream, after all). Whenever the wind blew through the canyon – which was often – the entire building swayed and shuddered.

I was coordinating a series of volunteers who were to take phone calls from donors who wanted to keep the school going. Other volunteers would be calling donors from the past to try and encourage them to donate again. My wife was one of the callers, but there weren’t any other people that I recognized there. I was not going to be able to help them with the telemarketing efforts, though – I had to speak with the Presbyterian council because of a “controversy.”

The council wanted to talk to me about my position at the school because, for some reason, it had “recently” come to light that I was not a Presbyterian. In my dream, I distinctly recalled telling them that when they called me on the phone to offer me the position. At that time, they didn’t care – God had told them that they needed to offer me the position of the dean of this private school. I accepted the position just out of curiosity. In my dream, I wasn’t too concerned about this meeting with the council – in fact, I had been expecting it.

Even if they decided to let me go – which was likely – I thought to myself that my position at the “prestigious” school would be a fantastic inclusion to my resume. Also, it would be nice to work in a building where I didn’t have to worry about the place falling several hundred feet into a canyon.

I woke up before I could actually meet with the council. But I had no idea what inspired the dream, or what I can do with the ideas it presented. It didn’t have enough details to make a good story, and was too bizarre to make any sense of.

It could make a funny blog post, though!

 

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Hooray for Idaho!

I typically refrain from posting political thoughts here in this blog – I save my Facebook feed for that. But yesterday was the Idaho primary, and the results were quite pleasing.

Ted Cruz is the clear winner in the Republican primary, beating Donald Trump by more than 30,000 votes. This should come as little surprise to those that know Idaho, though. The people here are fiercely independent, and aren’t terribly fond of big government. Candidates who spout off about new laws and regulations are more likely to turn off voters, rather than attract them. Even Democrats running in this predominantly Republican state know that, if they’re anti-gun, they don’t even have a glimmer of a hope of getting elected.

The Republican nomination may end up going to a different candidate, and the President may be someone other than the Republican choice. But I find it comforting that, here in Idaho, I’m typically surrounded by like-minded people. People who value personal freedom over big government “security.” People who have the attitude of “if you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone, and we’ll all get along.”

It’s friendlier that way.

Do butterflies dream?

I was reading through a probate the other day when an idea for a story hit me.

Yes, I read through probates as part of my job. No, the idea was not about zombies.

In any case, I jotted the idea for my story down, then transferred it to an ongoing file I have on my computer to stew over later. I have several ideas on that list, some of which have been crossed out because I’ve turned them into stories. I never actually delete an item from this list because, as outlandish or stupid the idea may seem, there may be something in it that could inspire me later.

It’s often been recommended to aspiring writers to keep a notebook nearby to jot down ideas, and I heartily second that idea. Some people also keep a “dream journal” next to their bed, to write down what they can of their dreams before it vanishes under the pressures of the day. Ideas are fickle, flighty things, and if you don’t catch it when it flutters its wings in front of your face, you may never see it again.

So that’s my advice to my fellow aspiring writers today – don’t go outside without your trusty idea “net” tucked into your back pocket. Or purse. Or computer bag. Because the world is filled with hidden butterflies, and you don’t want to let the most colorful ones get away before you can catch them.

Happy hunting!

Cinderella the Slacker

A couple nights ago, my wife, my eldest daughter and I sat down to watch Disney’s live action version of Cinderella. Of course my daughter, being 12, loved it. (My younger two kids decided it would be more fun to go play together in another room. They didn’t break anything, so I figured the night was a success.)

Myself? I wasn’t terribly fond of the movie. But then again, I’ve never been terribly fond of the story of Cinderella, anyway. That’s because Cinderella is an extremely passive character. Throughout the entire story, she spends most of her time reacting to what’s happening around her, rather than actually trying to do something to change her circumstances. No matter which version you read, she typically only makes two choices – to go to a party, and to say yes to the prince. And that last point can be debatable, depending on the version. After all, he is the prince. If the choice is to get married or spend the rest of your days locked in a dungeon, what are you going to do?

In my opinion, Cinderella is a terrible princess for young girls to model themselves after. It presents the idea that, no matter how rough life gets, just wait and eventually a prince will come along and sweep you off your feet.

News flash, ladies – there are only so many princes in this world, and out of those princes, most aren’t looking for love. Or are handsome. And if there is a handsome, eligible prince out there, unless you’re working hard at looking good, there’s an excellent chance he’s not sweeping you up off your feet.

In terms of Disney princesses, there are many others that are much better models to emulate. One of the first that comes to mind would be Mulan.

mulan-disneyscreencaps-com-3154
Dude looks like a lady. For good reason.

Here we have a character who defies social norms to do what she believes is right – protecting her family. She’s willing to risk her honor and her life in order to defend her country and to prevent her crippled father from basically committing suicide. The Disney movie definitely plays with gender roles, but in a positive way. Sure, people may have different roles because of their genders, but that shouldn’t stop them from doing what’s right.

Another great example would be Merida from Pixar’s Brave.

merida_ripping_the_family_tapestry_in_anger
Which redhead tropes apply? Yeah… pretty much all of ’em.

Yes, due to her short temper and her stubbornness, most of Merida’s troubles are self-inflicted. But she also shows a willingness to learn from her mistakes and tries hard to atone for them. She changes over the course of the movie, mainly because of her experiences. And she doesn’t have to rely on a prince to bail her out of trouble (yes, I’m looking at you, Ariel and Aurora. Come on, ladies – step it up!)

So if my daughter – either one of them – is interested in trying to model herself after a Disney princess, I certainly hope it’s a more dynamic one. A princess who is willing to step out of the “damsel in distress” role and go make something of herself. In other words, not Cinderella. Yes, she may make mistakes. But if she’s willing to learn from them, then it’s for the best.

But I feel pretty good about my eldest daughter. She has expressed some interest in learning how to use a bow. That could be partially inspired by her recent discovery – and love – of the Hunger Games novels, too. Then again, Katniss was motivated by a desire to protect her family as well, now that I think about it.

I think my daughter has chosen well.

There are zebras in my head.

Zebras are rather interesting creatures – much more than just stripey horses.  When you look at them, it doesn’t seem like they should survive. They’re black and white and live in an environment that is primarily brown, with some green from time to time. When it comes to natural camouflage, zebras suck.

However, when they band together, things change. No, they don’t blend in with their surroundings or anything. But when there’s a threat and they all start moving, it’s almost impossible to tell one from another. If a lion tries to stalk a particular zebra from the herd, it’ll just get confused trying to plunge into the middle and grab one. That’s why they pretty much stick to the edges and pick off the sick or old ones that can’t keep up with the rest of the pack.

For a writer, the ideas in his or her head are a lot like zebras. A writer will get to the blank piece of paper or the computer screen, ready to write… and then just freeze. Which idea will be the one to lead to the next great work of prose? That one? Wait, where did it go? Maybe that – wait, or that – maybe – AARGH!

Well, fellow writer, let me assure you of one thing. You are not a lion. And those are not zebras. Don’t get sidetracked by their evasive tactics! Just reach in there and grab it! Pin it down! Analyze it, dissect it, plant it and make it grow. As you can see, there are plenty of other ideas, just like a herd of zebras, but you can ignore them once you’ve captured one of them. When you are finished with the one you have, or grow tired of it, you can go for another one. But while you have the one, relish it and enjoy it. You have something to write about now. Don’t let the blank page intimidate you.

Go get ’em, tiger! Erm… lion. Whatever, just get writing!