Stephie Smith never dreamed of becoming a writer until a series of her humorous essays about family were published behind her back. Unlike most things done behind her back, this one she actually liked.
And now she writes.
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Monthly Archives: September 2011
Last night George Clooney came to me in my dreams. Well, he didn’t come to me. He was just there. Sleeping. On the couch. In his underwear.
WHAT? you must be thinking. You dream about George Clooney but he’s asleep on the couch wearing clothes? Yes, that’s right. He’s sound asleep (doesn’t even know I’m there), wearing a t-shirt and boxers. And there’s no room on the sofa for me.
This is pretty much the way my dreams go, and last night’s dream brings to mind one I had 10 years ago starring Richard Gere. I had recently undergone a hysterectomy, so I was having the dreaded night sweats. In my dream Richard Gere appeared near the foot of my bed wearing a tuxedo, an intense stare, and a sexy half smile. He reached toward me with his hand and said, “I want to make love to you.”
I would have fainted if I hadn’t been asleep.
So what did I say? “No, thank you.” Really. Then I elaborated. “I mean, not tonight, if that’s okay with you. I mean, can you come back tomorrow, or maybe even later?” All the while (in my dream), the thought is running through my mind that if Richard Gere gets into bed with me, he’ll notice how sweaty I am, and that would be so embarrassing. Even in my dreams I worry about what other people might think. My mother would be so proud.
When I told my sister about the dream the next day—because let’s face it . . . the excitement of Richard Gere standing at the foot of your bed in a tux proclaiming he wants to make love to you is a difficult thing to keep to oneself—my sister said, “What were you thinking? You could have gotten in the Jacuzzi and he’d never have known you were sweaty.” I reminded her that I don’t have a Jacuzzi, to which she instantly answered, “It’s your dream. You can have anything you want.”
Evidently not. Evidently I won’t let myself have the good things of my dreams, or I’d have had Richard Gere and George Clooney … and a few other things I can think of.
As I end this blog it occurs to me that the very last thing I did before I went to bed last night was walk into the kitchen, turn on the light, and stare at my family room where my “new” sofa—the sofa in my dream—sits. The sofa belonged to my sister and it was new and in perfect condition when given to me, but I never cared for the pattern. So this week I pulled out the cushion and pillow covers that I had saved from my previous sofa, the sofa I’d had to throw out because a pygmy rattlesnake died in the bottom of it (thank you, mischievous kitties), and I put them on my sister’s sofa, and I rehung my old valances, thus changing my room back to the colors and patterns I love. As I stood there staring at the sofa, I said out loud, “Could that sofa possibly look any better?”
I guess the answer is Yes, it could. With George Clooney on it, even if he’s sleeping in his clothes.
I decided to fix my broken washer, or at least troubleshoot it in case I could fix it. The fixing part didn’t happen because like so many things I try to do as a homeowner, it came down to having strength. I couldn’t turn the washer over on its side to check the voltage of the drain pump, so all I really accomplished was draining out the water, learning how to remove the back plate and finding that I couldn’t get to anything I needed to get to. But what I did find out while I was back there was that the dryer vent was broken. The aluminum tube in the wall had cracked in half, and the hot air and lint from the dryer was blowing into the wall, right up into the main electrical line and the back of my new electric panel.
I went to post on my Facebook wall about it and I started my status post out with the words “Everything happens for a reason.” Then I stopped. I remember saying those words to a friend who was in the battle of her life with an aggressive form of cancer, and I remember seeing the look she exchanged with her husband. I had been talking about a situation involving me (getting a great agent who wasn’t able to sell my book), of course, not her, but she could hardly help but think about how her own situation related to that statement. It didn’t. And neither does it relate to so many other things that happen. What kind of reason can there be for a child running playfully away from his grandmother and getting hit by a car? What kind of reason can there be for someone to get a rare but fatal disease?
When you think about it, “Everything happens for a reason” is such a cavalier statement. I think we make that statement because we want to think God or the universe is looking out for us, sending us signals to help us in the journey of life. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s true part of the time, and other times things just happen and there is no reason.
Someone once told me that I needed to look for something I could take away from a heartbreaking experience I had, something that might help me in the future, because otherwise I was going through the pain for no good reason. If I could find that person now, I’d say, “Guess what? Sometimes there is no good reason.” Because really, what helpful thing was my friend able to take away from the experience of losing her little nephew when he was killed by that car? If you can think of something, let me know.
I didn’t want to be cavalier, so I changed my FB post and started it with “The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways,” but the instant I saw the words I realized it’s just another way to say things happen for a reason. I thought about the (quite possibly) house-saving bit of info I learned about my dryer when I was trying to fix my washer, and I realized that I had noticed the last two times I dried clothes that my lint screen was lint-free afterwards, and in a house with 4 cats, there’s just no way that happens. I should have known right then that something was wrong with my dryer vent, but I had foolishly passed off that info as unimportant.
So then I changed my post to start out with the phrase, “God takes care of fools and children,” but that brought me right back to my friend and the tragedy involving her beautiful, loving, little nephew whose life was cut short for no good reason. My friend is on FB, and you’ve gotta know that the second she reads those words, that’s exactly what she’ll think about.
So I never posted any status. I couldn’t come up with anything to say about my experience except the fact that it happened (which seemed too boring to write) because life happens and you deal with it. And then it happens again and you deal with it again. As human beings we want to fit every experience neatly into a compartment, but there are some things that you just can’t cram anywhere because they don’t fit.
I do think some things happen for a reason. I think I didn’t sell my book (even though I had a fabulous agent who loved it and thought she’d get into a bidding war with it) because the book wasn’t ready, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t really want to publish the traditional way . . . take your pick; all those statements are true. But everything doesn’t happen for a reason and we should know that for this simple reason: Whenever you use a qualifier such as everything, nothing, always, or never, you can just figure that you’re gonna be wrong because somewhere there’s someone who can give you an exception.