Archive for March, 2010

Freud Would Have a Field Day With This One


One thing that you need to know about me if you are going to be reading my Blog is that I have some, “Sleep peculiarities” as I think we should call them.  I better explain them to you, dear Blog reader, since going forward you will be able to say, “Ah ha!  Well, naturally!  I see why she acts the way that she does.” I think it might clear up a whole lot of things about me right off.

First of all, I drool, I gasp, I laugh and above all, I talk in my sleep.  This should surprise none of the people who know and love me because, well, I talk all the time when I am not sleeping!  The only time that I don’t talk much is when I am really exhausted.  Then I go to bed and talk during my sleep.  It is a vicious cycle that I am powerless to break.

Not only do I talk in my sleep, but also I wander in my sleep.  Many people would call this sleepwalking; I would not.  I think of a sleepwalker as being unconscious of what he is doing.  In my version of sleep wandering I am slightly aware that I am walking around, but not likely to jump out on Interstate 80 like a deer bounding out of a ditch.  No, my version of wandering is like I’m just checking out the situation, making sure that all is well around the house, yet not really caring one way or the other.  It’s sort of like a more convenient form of sleepwalking, but really one that does not lead to a recuperative, restful night of sleep.

During this wandering I often work in my sleep.  For example, when I was in high school I worked at Burger King.  One night I woke up in my closet making Whoppers and chicken sandwiches.  I was slathering mayonnaise on Whoppers, squirting mustard on hamburgers and removing chicken from the Henny Penny, the warming drawer where the cooked chicken was kept.  I’m surprised that my room didn’t smell like a fast food joint as much cooking as was going on in there!

Suddenly I realized that I was in my closet in my jammies, the people who had ordered the food were not really sitting there on my bed impatiently waiting for their orders.  What a relief!   I said to myself, “Hmm!  No more special orders tonight, I might as well go back to bed!”  I did not have to worry about putting away the pickles and the lettuce due to constraints from the health department.  It just suddenly dawned on me that I was sleeping so I climbed back into bed.  See how I cope with this?

After I was a young married wife and working at a Hallmark store, I woke up one night to Mike, my husband, shaking me to my senses.   I knew that I was in our bed.  I just thought that there were some greeting cards that needed to be scanned for the customers; I could easily and efficiently do that from our bed.  The loud beeping noises that I was making as I zipped the bar codes over the scanner nestled in our blankets did not impress Mike.   “Hello?!  I’m scanning greeting cards, Mike.  Please don’t disturb my work!”

However, I did have problems when I was nursing our small infants.  I could nurse my babies for as long as needed (sometimes a feeding went on for several hours due to my delirium) but then came the dreaded burping session.  No matter what, every time I tried to pat their little baby backs in the middle of the night, I lapsed into some sort of a sleep coma only to come out just as the baby started to fall.

With one hand under their chin, the other hand resting on their back, and in one fluid movement, I would jerk that infant forward and snap his/her head back just as I woke up.  This resulted in several cases of infant whiplash, perhaps that is what is “wrong” with my children to this day: severe brain concussion as their Mama came to her senses. Anyway, they did look really precious in their baby whiplash collars, Sears Portrait Studios preserved those moments for us.  I should not have been allowed to procreate – those poor kids are suffering to this day.

My daughter, who was ill one night, called out for me, asking for me to bring her a cup of water.  (It’s a wonder that I heard her at all- read last week’s post!)  I returned to her bedroom bringing an empty, upside-down cup and asked her, “Did you change the towels?” She had no idea what I meant, but having had her head jerked a few dozen times she was well aware of my night time proclivities.  Nothing I do anymore shocks my family.

One of my favorite nighttime antics is my ability to fly in my sleep. I don’t really like to fly when I am awake, but I do it often in my dreams.  You are most probably wondering how I do it:  sometimes I just jump up in the air.  As I come down to hit the floor, I slap my feet together, kind of like kick starting a motorcycle.  Then I am up!  I can hover just over the heads and the reach of my friends.  Usually I do this when I want to get away from someone or perhaps to taunt that person, but sometimes I just want to hover for the nighttime fun of it.  Sometimes I like to show off to people how fast and high I get into the air; people are always amazed how talented that I am.  It’s a gift, it truly is.

During one really great dream I had a long stick that I used to do an acrobatics act; I flipped and spun over the stick while I flew through the air.  That was a little more ambitious than what I am normally up to at night, usually it is just the jump and hover dream.  I don’t like it when I am doing acrobatics or gymnastics in my sleep; I wake up in the morning stiff and sore and with no gold medals.  It’s not really worth it.

This probably will not come as a shock to you, seeing that you have read thus far in this Blog post, but I also have strange reoccurring dreams.  I can’t be the only one!   What do you dream about?  One of my reoccurring dreams is about dialing the telephone: I might dial 37 numbers and then the call doesn’t go through. (should you ever dial 37 numbers?)  Or, perhaps there is an emergency and I grab the phone and there is no dial tone.  In fact, sometimes I am trying to dial on an old rotary phone and the numbers are not labeled on the rotary holes.  All of this can be pretty frustrating when one is trying while sleeping to order a pizza at 3:37 a.m.

Sleeping with me can be no great joy; that is why I went out and married me a man who snores, snorts and gulps louder than me.  When we camp with our friends they all argue where to place our tent so that no one will have to hear all that nighttime chaos.  Coincidently, no raccoons or bears enter into our campsite since the sounds scare them off.  Our friends really should be grateful.

In fact, on a Girl Scout camping trip my co-leader kept waking me in the night (she was really inconveniencing and annoying me!) saying, “Kork, you’re snoring!!”  She should have been more careful with her criticisms; I might have woken up with her tied to some totem pole with a large number of Girl Scout badges and Try-Its stuffed in her mouth.  I am not responsible for folks who are foolish enough to try to wake me out of such a sleep.  Surely there is a Girl Scout badge for sleeping- like the, ‘Watch Who You Sleep With’ badge.  I think that would be appropriate, don’t you?

Anyway, I slobber, I snore, and I am pretty sure that I have an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea, but who needs one of those stupid machines to help me sleep better?  Why, if I had to drag one of those machines around with me I’d never be able to hover right above my friends, it would be…well, inconvenient and not helpful to my aerodynamics!  Who wants to schlep a big, bulky machine around with you all night?  Now THAT sounds tiring.

Korky, the Lunch Lady


I loved elementary school, I enjoyed almost every part of it: the smells of Crayola crayons and freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils, those crumbly pink rubber erasers and especially the smell of the crisp, new Weekly Readers that we read.  That was an exciting day when we delved into them!

Heck, I even loved the smell of rubber cement which we were expressly told not to smell since it would do weird things to your brain.  I think that we can all agree that nothing weird happened to MY brain!  Isn’t it funny how smell can transport us back to an earlier time in our lives?  The smell of many of those things takes me right back to my school days in Ankeny, Iowa.

There is, however, one smell that I can’t get out of my brain and that is the smell of school lunch cooking.  Do you remember the smell of that Salisbury steak and the mashed potatoes and gluey gravy that accompanied it?  I’m still trying to purge that memory from my brain.  My daughter, crowned in a birthday hat and grinning from ear to ear, was asked by the lunch lady if she’d like an extra scoop of mashed potatoes for her birthday.  How does a mother top that birthday “gift” to her child?

Anyway, it’s now great to experience the entire school and school lunch system from my perspective as a mom when I venture there to eat with my kids.  I enjoy the fact that I am no longer forced to eat those nasty institutional peas that never seemed willing to stay in their little section in the melamine tray, but which always jumped out, with help from me, rolling all over the lunch room floor.  I can now open my own milk carton, I don’t have to raise my hand to be able to use the generic ketchup or to ask to be released from the bondage of the lunch room, only to be forced to stand in line along the wall and wait my turn to go to recess.

Elementary school is all about standing in line, isn’t it?  It’s about standing waiting to have your ticket punched or scanned, budging so that you can sit next to your best friend, waiting in line to reach into that big cooler to pull out a carton of milk, and lining up after lunch ready to march out to recess.  Once, standing in the lunch line my friend the teacher heard one of her small boy charges saying to a little girl, “Hey! Have I got a wiener wink for you!”  Yes, if only I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that old pick-up line.  It’s all about the lines in school, pick-up or otherwise.

For me a pivotal part of the school lunchroom experience was the lunch ticket.  When I was in school, we had paper tickets made out of card stock that the lunch lady with the hairnet, a juicy mole on the side of her neck, and the beginnings of a beard, would punch.  You could have the pink ticket, which meant that your mother had paid for 20 hot lunches, or you could have the small, single-day, green ticket that meant that your mother didn’t trust you not to lose the 20 punch pink ticket.   Guess which one I had?

This leads me to tell you of a racket that I have heard of that goes on in cafeterias countrywide; well, at least here in Marion, Iowa.  A friend of mine told me that her enterprising youngsters were allowing their friends to use their lunch tickets to buy hot lunch.  Then, the borrowers were repaying my friend’s children in cash.

My friend’s children then took the money in what can best be described as the elementary school version of a Ponzi scheme and bought as many Nestle Crunch bars, Pokemon cards and Bakkugan as they wanted.  They also could take their ill-gotten stash and invest it, depending on the market, on questionable real estate schemes or perhaps use it to play the Iowa Lottery’s Mega Millions (with Megaplier).  You know something is up when you are spending $350 in school lunches per month for three children.  Be suspicious fellow parents!

I love it when I hear the goofy things that my friend’s kids do!!  Send me an email and let me know if you have great stories, your ornery children are awesome!  My children are perfect, so those things never happen here.  Actually, here is the true story of what happened to my daughter when she was in kindergarten.  The part that I love about this story is that the teacher was an experienced teacher; how she fell for this drama I’ll never know:

“Come on in,” Mrs. Andrews said to Mike and me.  “Welcome to our kindergarten classroom.”  “It’s so nice to have you here, let’s sit at the tables and talk about your daughter’s progress.  Let me close the door, I’ll be with you in just a minute.”

We sat down at a small table with our knees lodged under our chins and glanced around the classroom.   I saw cubbies for backpacks and boots, hooks for the kid’s coats; I noticed that area of the classroom used for the kid’s mail station, which is part of their understanding the community unit.   I saw a weather center with an androgynous child wearing a removable raincoat; I observed that there are boots and a winter coat that could be attached depending on the weather of the day.  No wonder my kindergartener loved this classroom so much; I want to dress the androgynous child myself!

While waiting for the teacher one could wander over to the art center where broken crayons and half chewed erasers mate in the bin with short, stubby pencils and lonely scraps of paper.  Here one would find blunt nose scissors, Elmer’s School Glue with dried white crusty remains on pointy orange caps, and piles of mutant construction paper.   The mythical bottles of rubber cement could be found here just as they were nestled in the art center as in days of yore. (I have no exact idea when the days of yore were but I think it was that time period around 1970).

Mrs. Andrews comes back into the classroom and says:

Mrs. Andrews:  Well, first of all, it’s good to have you here; I enjoy it when I get to meet with both parents.

Mike:  Thank you for having us!

Mrs. Andrews:  First of all, I’d like to say that I am sorry about your puppy.

Me:  Huh?

Mrs. Andrews:  Emily told us about your family’s puppy dying and our classroom community was really sorry for your loss.

Mike:  What puppy?

Mrs. Andrews:  Well, your puppy that just died.

Me:  We don’t have a puppy.  Or a dog.  We never have.

Mrs. Andrews: (Tone rising) But Emily told us about your puppy, and how it died and how sad you all were!  We even wrote about the puppy’s death in our weekly classroom newsletter, we constructed a doggy obituary for heaven’s sake!   Didn’t you see it in the newsletter the week of January 11th?

Me:  That’s the only newsletter this year that we haven’t received.  Maybe that explains why Emily told us that you didn’t have an edition that particular week.

Now what I smelled in the classroom was the smell of a rat.  My small child had some serious explaining to do, but for right then it was enough to sit back and enjoy the smell of the scented wildberry and lemon Crayola markers and the sweat rising from my embarrassed husband as the teacher, sputtering and shaken, tried to compose herself.  She had been despondent over the death of the puppy, this is quite apparent.   This recent turn of events had shaken her to her gullible core.

I hope that you never have an experience like that during a conference.  If you do, don’t sniff the rubber cement as a coping mechanism to help you get through the rest of the conference.  It’s tempting I know, but resist the urge.