Dear Jack: Your First Scary Dream, Which was Based on Actual Events

5 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: Your First Scary Dream, Which was Based on Actual Events

Dear Jack,

Tuesday at 1:00 AM, I shot straight out of bed and ran upstairs. I didn’t use to have such stellar hearing when it comes to a child crying in the middle of the night, but that skill has evolved over the past 5 years.

When I arrived in your room, you were sitting up in your bed. You explained, “I had a scary dream. The house was on fire and the fireman came.”

I quickly assured you, “Well there’s definitely no fire in our house. I’m here. It was just a dream. There are no firemen here. Just us.”

You and I both knew why you had that bad dream. The morning before, as our family was about to leaving for school and work, we all noticed a strange chemical smell in the garage.

I thought it smelled like nail polish remover; you thought it smelled like chlorine in the swimming pool.

After Mommy pulled her car out of the garage, much of the smell went away; though the smell was still very strong inside my car.

Our plan was this: When we get home, let’s not park in the garage. Instead, let’s keep the garage door closed, that way we can walk into the garage through the smaller door, to see if the smell has replenished itself.

That is indeed what happened, but I also had Mommy call the non-emergency line for the fire department.

When I arrived home, you and Mommy were sitting in Mommy’s parked car in the driveway; as the fireman explored our garage, and house, in all their fancy equipment.

Dear Jack: Your First Scary Dream, Which was Based on Actual Events

Interestingly, after their thorough investigation, they found no sort of gas or chemical leak. They found no reason for concern.

The best theory they, or we, could come up with is that we had recently opened the box for Holly’s new stroller; and somehow the “new smell” from that accumulated into the garage, which is on the other side of our living room.

This marks the first time I ever remember you having a scary dream and calling me up. I wish you didn’t have to dream that, but I’m glad we had our place professional inspected to make sure we truly are safe.

Love,

Daddy

Why This Dad Dreams About Losing Teeth

December 17, 2011 at 10:59 pm , by 

13 months.

Last night, in a completely believable dream, I lost a tooth for no good reason. I thought, “With this being the weekend, how am I going to get this fixed?” Then I lost another tooth, and then another; it was like a falling house of cards but with most of my teeth instead.

This has been a reoccurring dream I’ve been having since I graduated college; but now, as a dad and husband, it’s so much more vivid.

Dreams are interesting in that they reveal something that our subconscious is trying to sort out while we are asleep. When I Googled “dream about losing teeth,” the most consistent interpretation was not that this dream tells of a preoccupation with one’s vanity, but instead an ongoing worry about money.

Do I worry about money? I’ve said it before, “I hate money.” I’m the kind of guy who could never buy a brand-new car. I refuse to pay for cable TV; surviving on the 8 dollar a month Netflix package through my Wii. At least half of the clothes I wear are over a decade old. My iPod was bought refurbished off of Amazon.com 4 years ago and its screen is completely covered in a spider web-like crack.

But while I don’t care about money, it’s pretty obvious that my subconscious knows something that the rest of me is not so aware of: Like a lot of people, I’m sort of terrified on a daily basis of not being able to provide for my family; of being without a job, again.

Yeah, I know it- that’s nothing knew. Most people throughout the history of the world have felt that way. It’s what drives the free market.

I’m not assuming I have a unique story, but I do feel scarred from my not-so-distant 4 month stint of unemployment. I call it my “Vietnam.”

Perhaps another reason I keep dreaming about losing teeth is the fact that my personality and skill set have led me to a life where quotas and statistics matter.

I’m horrible at math, science, or anything technical. But when it comes to carrying on interesting conversations, influencing people’s opinions, and translating engaging thoughts into blog form, I’m your man. That’s one thing I can do with confidence.

Or is it?

Both my “real job” in sales where I’m on the phone all day in an office and my “side job” writing for The Dadabase on Parents.com have something very serious in common: My performance and livelihood are measured in numbers.

At my sales job I am highly pressured to “meet quota” every month in order to remain employed. As for daddy blogging, the pressure is applied by myself, not my editors, as I check my “views” at the end of every day, hoping to see that more readers are tuning in to The Dadabase than the week before.

In fact, it’s my personal goal each day to write a Dadabase post that beats August’s, “The Half Abortion: Only Keeping One Twin.” Nearly everyday, it remains the #1 viewed post.

Despite not being a numbers guy, numbers measure my income as well as my sense of career accomplishment. So yeah, it’s a wonder I don’t dream about losing my teeth every night.

If only in the dream I could remember to read this exact blog post so I could remind myself that I didn’t really lose my teeth and that it’s just me subconsciously worrying about money again.

Then the only dreams I would have to worry about then would be the ones where I wake up completely bald or where I’m only a few weeks away from graduating college but forgot to attend that final math class all semester.

I was an English major. You do the math.

Image: Man in Santa hat, via Shutterstock.

Unexpected Bonus!

Speaking of not worrying and just being happy, it’s time for a book giveaway. Hurry Less Worry Less at Christmas, by Judy Christie, is a book to help us get out of that frenzied, out-of-control frame of mind that we can find ourselves in during the holidays. This book helps us begin to have a deeper understanding of the joy of the Christmas season and how that can be a starting point for a more abundant life in the New Year.

dad from day one: Funny Faces and Baby Dreams

Week 1.

If you’re not good at winning staring contests, you should try being in one with an infant.  It’s pretty easy to win because there are no “overawareness” issues.  Baby Jack is dedicated to the game; I’ll give him that.  But typically I win because he either smiles or sneezes.  There’s nothing like staring at a baby’s face.  It’s amazing how long you can do it before you realize you’ve been doing it that long.

Of all the funny faces he currently makes, my favorite one is when raises his eyebrows like wants to be part of the 1950’s Rat Pack.  There’s also the “Elvis sneer”, the “surprised Dana Carvey”, the “Paul McCartney”, the “ancient Chinese man”, the “drowsy poet”, and the “Mac the alien” (a reference to a mostly forgotten E.T. copycat movie called Mac and Me.)

He often slips in and out of sleep when I stare at him.  I try to imagine what he is dreaming about, as his face tells the seemingly same story every time.  The dream starts out with Baby Jack petting a friendly puppy (Jack always starts his dreams smiling).  Then a mean dog comes along and scares Jack and the friendly puppy (that’s when Jack has a worried look on his face).  Lastly, the dream ends with him drinking milk or pooping (as he either starts “rooting” or grunting, accordingly).  What else would a baby dream about anyway?

“I wanna wake you from your dream.  I wanna know just who you’re talking to when you’re singing in your sleep.  I wanna find out what it means.  I’ve got marbles in my mouth.  Thousand words I wanna say but it’s impossible to spit ’em out.”

-Guster, “Do You Love Me?”


Some Picture Examples of the Weird Houses I Dream About

From “mirror mazes” to “crazy mansions”, it’s often the wacky building itself that is creepy with its peculiar layout, strange placement, and whatnot.

In between bad dreams and good dreams are the ones that are just plain weird.  And while all dreams we have are a least a little strange, some of them specifically can not be classified as negative or positive; for me, I’m specifically referring to the dreams where I’m at an odd location.  It could be a dream taking place in the Swiss Alps (I still remember a dream I had in the 10th grade where I was greeted by a mountain goat on the top of a mountain in Switzerland- it wasn’t significant in any way, but I will never forget the randomness of it) or a remote village in Thailand that I barely remember driving through on a motorcycle from back in 2004.

But I would have to say the most subtle weird dreams are where I am in an unusual house, where it is so odd it’s almost spooky.  Like when I dreamt that 250 townhouses in the development were all attached: The only way to get to mine in the middle of them all was to crawl through hundreds of other people’s living rooms and kitchens, because evidently there were no front and back doors on everyone’s townhouses anymore- just two hidden exit doors for the entire 250 connected homes.

When we think of “spook houses”, our minds often go to some cheesy place we pay $10 to visit around Halloween called Slaughter House! where ultimately a subpar Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and gorilla with a chainsaw (with no blade) jump out at us in the same quarter of a mile stretch.  To me, those obvious caricatures of villains are not scary, because they’re so predictable and anticipated.  Take away the men in costumes, the motorized mummies that pop out from the wall, and the eerie sounds effects streaming from an iPod somewhere.  What’s left is a building.  That, to me, is where the potential lies for spookiness.

And I’m not even taking this to the extreme of an old abandoned house that is rumored to have spirits and ghosts.  I simply mean that the place has a weird layout in which the exits are not obvious.  It’s the idea that I could be lost- and I guess for me, being lost in a strange place is still scary, despite the fact I’m no longer an 8 year-old boy.

If you’ve ever dined at a Buca di Beppo restaurant, you know exactly what I mean: all the kooky black-and-white photographs on the wall, the spumoni type colors of the interior of the walls, the random LP records glued to the ceiling featuring unheard of Italian singers from the 1950’s.  The place is a maze; the first couple of times I went to the restaurant, I got lost finding the restroom, but I had trouble finding the table where I was sitting.

Much less scary than the reality of demons dwelling in abandoned buildings or even the cheap thrills of popular Halloween spook houses, there will always be the kooky and creepy dreams where I’m in a weird house and I don’t know how I got there.  And as for Buca di Beppa- though their Italian food is good stuff, man, their restaurant buildings give me the heeby jeebies.


dad from day one: Lamaze Classes Have Begun

Thirty-two weeks.

Until this week, I didn’t even know how to spell “Lamaze”, or even more importantly, what exactly it meant.  All I knew is that it involved breathing techniques for women in labor.  Monday night we had our first Lamaze class (out of six) and now I have a better understanding of what this is all about: Lamaze (named after a French doctor) classes help expecting parents to prepare for the birth of their child ideally without the use of medical intervention (AKA: going natural).

I think our take on “going natural” with this birth is currently along the lines of “let’s just see if we can do it”.  Ideally, we won’t use pain medication, and a C-section won’t be necessary.  But we obviously recognize it may not happen that way.  We half-way joke with each other that if we can do this without an epidural, we’ll spend that saved money on a trip to Maine.  I’m seriously planning on printing off a picture of us on our honeymoon at Kennebunkport to take when we go to the hospital, as inspiration.  But we’ll see how it turns out in reality.  I’m starting to care less either way.

With us starting Lamaze classes, it takes us to a whole new level of “Wow, this is really happening!”  We’re both having weird, off-the-wall dreams, evidently fueled by our subconscious anxieties.  I recently dreamt that Jack was born with light blonde hair and blue eyes, which I think is near impossible given our particular genes, though Uncle Jesse and Aunt Rebecca from Full House had blonde twins (and I could never get past that).

We both have sore backs these days, as it’s hard to sleep comfortably for either of us because my wife has to sleep sideways now with about five pillows, meaning I’m limited to a smaller sleeping space.  But hey, I’m not complaining.  I just want to do anything necessary to help her feel a little more comfortable during the pregnancy.  And we are starting to feel this sense of unsettledness as we count down these final eight weeks or so.  It’s getting to the point where we are both thinking, “Enough of this pregnancy stuff, I’m just ready for him to be born already!”

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


What Percentage of Your Day is Spent on Entertainment?

It’s not as simple as logging your TV and movie time: Entertainment is much more complicated, subtle, and encompassing than that.

When my sister was born in January of 1984 (I was about 2 ½) she gave me a Garfield stuffed animal as present.  I realize that the idea of a newborn baby giving her older brother a gift the day she is born may seem illogical, but my parents’ idea to keep me feeling special that day worked.  Because I didn’t question the rationale of my sister’s gift until high school.  That Garfield doll ended up being one of my favorite childhood toys.  I dressed him up in my dad’s whitey-tighties; they were Garfield’s diaper.

A major part of being a kid is being strung along by your parents.  It’s a constant, endless series of countless waiting rooms, strange places, and unfamiliar people.  But all I could really think of was eating, drinking, and peeing.  And when I checked all those activities off the list, that meant I must be bored.

So I needed something to entertain myself.  During the younger years, Garfield in my dad’s underwear did the trick.  I eventually graduated from the stuffed animal circuit to video games and action figures.  Then to playing guitar by the time I started junior high.  Evidently the worst thing in the world was to be bored.  So I always had someway to entertain myself.

*This explains the psychology behind Swiss Army SUV (Nick Shell’s Turtle Shell). Click that title to read more about it.

But I have to imagine that most people, like me, carry this idea of constantly entertaining themselves into adulthood, for the rest of their lives.  And as Ive learned by now, a tangible object isn’t necessary for entertainment- though something as subtle as checking for new text messages 33 times a day is a popular form of fighting subconscious boredom.

I learned as a child to use my imagination to daydream; while I still do that on an hourly basis, I’ve also made a habit of planning my future and coming up with ideas for my life.  And I figure I’m not the only one.  I figure that most people find some way to entertain themselves throughout the day, despite the busyness of life.  In between the busyness of life.  And during the busyness of life.  Even if it’s just while waiting in line, sitting at a red light, or zoning out at work (and often even not realizing we’re doing it).

Heckler-reader yells out: “Bahahaha…You just wait ‘til you have a baby, that’ll all change!”

Yes, life will change and my time will be spent in different ways and I will be functioning on less sleep.  But no matter how preoccupied I am with life and all its responsibilities and distractions, there are still moments throughout any day, even if it’s while I’m falling asleep, that I fill in those moments of fading consciousness with random thoughts like, “What was Grimace supposed to be, anyway?”

So how what percentage of my day is spent on entertainment?  It’s pretty much a trick question.  Because at least for me, my mind is constantly in entertainment mode.  Even when I’m asleep, dreaming.

Movie Guy, at Your Service: Inception

A captivating, culture-relevant movie that explores the mysterious capabilities of the human mind and the weirdness of our dreams.

I realized that the movie Inception would be an inescapable movie for me after at least 37% of my facebook friends had a status update praising it the moment they walked out of the theatre.  Then my sister and brother-in-law told me it reminded them a little bit of LOST; at that moment it became official that I would not only see Inception but that it would be a movie worth writing a movie review/recap about it.

In my first official Movie Guy post (click here to read it: Movie Guy, at Your Service: My Top Ten Favorites), under the “Basic Do Not Watch” criteria for movies I listed “simply by watching the trailer for the movie, you fully understand the plot and possibly the resolution”.  That definitely wasn’t the case with Inception.  When I first saw the preview several weeks ago all I knew was that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was having some trouble finding the floor while for Ellen Page accompanied by Leonardo DiCaprio the floor was becoming a wall.  Perfect.  That meant it would be worth seeing.  Though I had no idea what the plot was.  Perfect.

While the movie does have a strong plot, I see Inception as a vehicle for interesting theories which attempt to explain and explore the mysteries of the dream world and the human body (especially the mind) as it is in a dream state.  For example, the facts that often we usually wake up from dream if in the dream we are falling or if we get killed in the dream are vital to the plotline.

Surprisingly, there were two ideas about dreams in particular I have written about before (which I thought were unique) which the movie touches on:

1)     Years after the memories are made, what really is the difference between a good memory from an actual event and a good memory from a dream, as long as in that moment of the actual event or dream you were truly happy and it remains in your mind as a positive place you can return to when you remember it?  Read Adventures in Thailand: Man Cave Time Machine.

2)     A dream only last a fraction of the time that the dream seems to take place (in Inception, five minutes equaled one hour).  Therefore, if a person could be forced to be trapped in a dream, it could be a horrible type of punishment for a person.  Read Lowercase Punishment.

Aside from being a little like The Matrix (which I never really got into, even after seeing it twice) and LOST, it also reminds me of Vanilla Sky, The Butterfly Effect, and even The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  There is nothing not to enjoy about this movie: A+.

Bonus: Ethnic Backgrounds of the International Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio (as Dominic Cobb): American- 1/2 German, 1/4 Italian, 1/4 Russian

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Arthur): Jewish-American

Ellen Page (as Ariadne): Canadian of English descent

Tom Hardy (as Eames): English of English and Irish descent

Marion Cotillard (as Mal Cobb): French

Cillian Murphy (as Robert Fischer): Irish

Ken Watanbe (as Saito): Japanese

Tom Berenger (as Peter Browning): American of Irish descent

Dileep Rao (as Yusuf): American of Indian descent

Pete Postlethwait (as Maurice Fischer): English

Luke Haas (as Nash): American- 1/2 German, 1/2 English

Michael Caine (as Miles): English

The spinning totem started to wobble before the screen cut to black. While there easily could be a sequel, I believe the totem ended up falling over.