I dreamed last night that I was back in high school and of course there was an enormous science project that I had to do in a class that I only vaguely remembered.
I was in the class and everyone was discussing what sort of project to do–chromatography of various liquids or determining whether some tiny particle had six gears or ten (apparently on some subconscious level I believe that subatomic particles are made of tiny interlocking gears) and I realized quickly that I was simply not equipped to do any of these things.
So I went to the teacher and said “None of this is really playing to my skillset. Can I maybe write a travel guide to the laboratory? A pop science piece explaining subatomic particles? Something?”
He said no. I gritted my teeth and explained again that I had no idea how one did the thing with the gases and the light spectrums and my grasp of the perfect gas laws was shaky at best.
“No,” he said, “and you’d better figure something out, because otherwise you will fail the class and then you won’t graduate.”
And then my sleeping brain said “Wait just a damn minute here.”
“Actually,” I said, “I’m an author. I’m already supporting myself and nobody cares if I graduated or not. I’m just here to get my diploma so all the paperwork’s in order.”
This irritated him. I left the room and wandered off, thinking I am late for another class and I don’t know where it is and then so what? why the hell am I here, anyway, I should probably be writing a book and then even if I fail every class this semester, I am an adult, I am nearly forty, I can go by the office and explain and re-enroll, there is paperwork to handle this circumstance, possibly I can just take a test and opt out anyway, they are not going to take away my books and my house because I did not pass high school physics.
This is the second or third time I’ve had a dream like this and suddenly thought “Wait, this no longer applies to me, does it?”
I suspect that in anxiety dreams we’re the people we believe we are, and perhaps slowly, as I get older, I start to believe that I really am an adult, or at least no longer a person who is a single sheet of paperwork away from failing utterly at life, and that my worth is not hinged on a single grade from decades past.
Sadly, if my anxiety dreams are to be believed, I am still a person who is constantly moving between houses and trying to pack everything on a shoestring, and I am still angry at a number of people from my past, and my teeth are prone to falling out occasionally, but at least I am slowly overcoming my fear of missing class.
Transcript of office communication, notes, & loud yelling provided by Intern Brittany!
Sid, what is this?
We went out after that owl. – Sid
I recall you going after the owl, yes.
It’s not a very nice owl. – Sid
According to the initial report, the farmer out that way said that it called every night, “The gods are gone, the gods have abandoned you, you cannot make new gods fast enough, all will fail and fall.”
Yeah, more or less. But it said it in a owl sort of way. Like it hooted “you” a bunch of times. And then it sort of sniggered. The farmer says it eats chickens. Marla wanted to run it over with the truck, but it was in a tree. – Sid
Marla has a somewhat single-minded approach to unexplained phenomenon. Now, did the farmer have any kids?
No? Well, uh, maybe? We didn’t ask. I mean, you don’t go around saying “Hey, we’re here about your evil talking owl, and by the way, have you fathered any children that might not be in the house?” Didn’t seem relevant. – Sid
Not quite what I was getting at…
Oh god, you don’t think the owl was his, do you? Like he had a horrible owl-baby and he kept it in the attic so people wouldn’t know and then it escaped and now it’s lurking around the farm mocking him? – Sid
Maybe the owl was his wife, like in Jane Eyre! – B
It could be both! His owl-wife is in the attic having owl-babies and then one got loose and–
EVERYONE SHUT UP ABOUT OWL BABIES. I was trying to figure out why there’s a child’s scribble of an owl in this file!
Oh, I drew that. – Sid
I suspected as much, but hope springs eternal.
It was dark! We couldn’t take photos! So I did an artist rendering. – Sid
In the future, please just include a note with a verbal description.
But what are we going to do about the owl-wife in the attic? – B
The love between a farmer and an entirely hypothetical owl is not our business. Just file the…the thing. Please.
Artist’s rendering and transcript filed under “Hostile, Probably Not Extremely Dangerous But Someone Who Is Not Sid Should Probably Deal With It” by Intern Brittany!
Filed under “Probably Benign But That Isn’t To Say It Couldn’t Kill Us All Horribly In Our Sleep Someday.”
Transcript of post-it notes, memos, and one memorable in-office discussion provided by Intern Brittany, who does not get paid for this, by the way, and yes, I know the economy has more or less collapsed to a barter system but an IOU would be nice from time to time, maybe?
Sid, explain this!
Right, so it’s just this set of arches hanging out in the middle of the field. And according to this old-timer who lives nearby, this was built by a bricklayer who’s wife died, and he built a portal to the next world to try to see her again. Except his wife–the old-timer’s, not the bricklayer–said that the bricklayer never married and hated people and was trying to build a portal to get away from seeing anybody ever again. Anyway, the point is it didn’t really work very well. – Sid
About the ducks….
I mean, you can walk right through it. It doesn’t go anywhere. Nothing happens unless you’re a duck. – Sid
You walked through it?
I was bored and it was hot. Also, not a duck. – Sid
With the understanding that I already regret asking, what about the ducks?
Ducks vanish. But then they come back, sort of. – Sid
Sort of, you say.
Well, they don’t have organs. – Sid
So the ducks come back dead?
No, that’s the alarming thing. The ducks eventually show up again and they’re just sort of solid all the way through. They act normal. I mean, insomuch as ducks act like anything. Ducks are just kinda ducks. But they don’t speak in tongues or anything. Marla is totally weirded out. – Sid
I assume you dissected a duck to find this out.
Sort of. – Sid.
We were standing there looking at it and a bunch of ducks suddenly came out of the opening and Marla panicked and hit one with a tennis racket. – Sid
This is not proper scientific protocol.
It was what we had. – Sid
In the interests of not having my blood pressure rise any further, we will assume that you had a perfectly good reason for carrying a tennis racket, which you do not need to explain. Ever. So she hit the duck with a tennis racket.
Right, and then we had this dead duck and the guy we had been talking to was all “Are you gonna eat that?” and Marla was all “Don’t eat things that appear out of thin air.” – Sid
Sound advice. Yes. Good for Marla.
So anyway we looked at the duck, and it was not from around here if you know what I mean. – Sid
Well, it had extra wiggly bits under the wings. – Sid
Wiggly bits. Of course it did.
But it was mostly a duck. Anyway, you know how Marla is about things with wiggly bits, so she ran over it with the truck. – Sid
Marla never liked the wiggly ones.
And that’s when we found out that the whole duck was basically made of…I dunno, Spam or something. Undifferentiated pink stuff. I wanted to put some in a jar to bring home, but Marla was all “burn it with fire, we have to burn it all” and you know how she gets. Also, she had the keys to the truck. – Sid
Good woman. Yes.
report filed June, 15 PD also by Brittany.
Image located in the file “Horribly Dangerous.” Following discussion (see transcript) it was refiled under “Sid’s Crap.”
The large stack of post-it notes and written correspondence that accumulated on this image made filing unwieldy. Transcript provided. Where chronological order could not be determined, best guess made by Intern Brittany, which would be easier if more people wrote their name on their notes.
Sid, what is this?
Horrible creepy kid statue, obvs. -Sid
Why is it in this file?
Look at it! You know it eats people or moves at night or giggles or something. -Sid
Do you have proof?
I actually agree with Sid on this one
Your opinion is noted. I repeat, Sid, do you have any proof?
Did you look at it? -Sid
The world is full of creepy statues. They don’t all eat people.
Most of them do. -Sid
No, they don’t.
Do so. – Sid
Can we have Marla smash it anyway?
Marla says she didn’t spend twenty years get pepper sprayed on the picket lines to go around destroying lawn ornaments.
–Break in correspondance. Accompanying stains indicate someone spilled tea and mopped it up with notes–
Well, something ate the Brogans. – Sid
Unless you can prove it was this statue, you have to file the photo somewhere else.
Fine. When this thing is writing “Hide and Seek” on the wall in our guts, just remember I told you so. – Sid
That threat was really effective the first five hundred times.
I still think we should smash it.
Transcript of notes prepared by Intern Brittany, June, 15pd, filed accordingly.
Image found in a file folder in the historical society archives, under “Miscellaneous.” Other items filed under “Miscellaneous” include numerous manuals for appliances, somebody’s tax return (you know who you are), an extremely moldy grilled cheese sandwich and a birdhouse completely covered in duct tape.
The birdhouse was removed and filed more safely. The sandwich was thrown away.
Two versions of the Bryony cover today–I have heard and obeyed the lack of love for the slant! I have slanted much harder!
I am skeptical about the bee. The problem is that clockwork bees are inherently small and fiddly, and it just doesn’t read all that clearly. But I do think it needs something in that dead space. So some fiddling around with petal shapes over there. (I have tried putting words in. Words don’t seem happy there at all…)
Adding the black border makes it read a little bit more dark fantasy to me, weirdly enough. That may JUST be me, though. And I know, I know, borders are like licking your knife in public. SOMETIMES I LIKE THE TASTE, OKAY!?
(I, uh, have no immediate plans to replace all the existing covers, for the record. I won’t swear that I won’t at some point, but I’d need to put matching covers on all three and that’s so much work that I shudder to contemplate. Though I’m pretty pleased with the Greenteeth one.)
Y’all know–I hope!–that I value your input by now. (Lot of conversation on Livejournal on this one, if you’re hoping to join in!)
Livejournal was hopping with good advice, which led to this:
and that led to this:
For this next one, a reprise of Bryony, I wanted to use the same font, but a rather bolder graphic approach. I have no idea if it works at all visually, but I gotta confess, the thumbnail reads better than the actual cover. (Sure, that’s just what I need to do, redo all my back catalog covers. In, y’know, MY COPIOUS SPARE TIME.) Thoughts, as always, welcome. (I just don’t know about the author name there–it really gouges the line of the rose. Maybe I should yank out one of the stems on the right and put it in there in black instead…)