Remembering Oma 30 Years After Her Passing

The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
30 years ago today (26 February), my Oma passed away from intestinal cancer, 1 month shy of her 66th birthday and about 1 month after the diagnosis. I was nearly 13 when she passed away, just shy of that age where you start appreciating the stories and history your parents and grandparents share with you, if you’re interested in family history and that sort of thing.

A few months ago, one of my cousins asked me what Oma was like, and one thing that struck me recently was that out of all my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family, probably only my brother Brian and I remember or knew Oma the best.
Read Remembering Oma 30 Years After Her Passing

2 Years Ago Today, Our Lives Were Turned Upside Down… Again

Unit 8, Amuri Park, Christchurch, 13 June 2011I woke up in the middle of the night.  It was one of those half-awake, half-asleep moments, where you seem to be somewhere between dreaming and waking.  After the 22 February 2011 quake and subsequent aftershocks, I hadn’t been sleeping very well at night, so waking up several times a night was more normal than not waking up at all.

But at about 2 AM on 13 June 2011, waking up was something different.

Read 2 Years Ago Today, Our Lives Were Turned Upside Down… Again

More Strange Dreams

As part of my blog revival, I think I’m going to write more about my dreams in 2008. These will primarily focus on the dreams I have the night before, and I welcome everyone to give me their input into what they might mean, or share their dreams. I strongly believe dreams are an extremely interesting part of who we are, sometimes revealing that 9/10s of the iceberg known as us and our subconscious that’s stuck under the water.

* * * * * * * * * *

We were in Australia, driving in a rented white minivan similar to the one I own. I was driving; Noel was in the passenger’s seat; and Don and Soni were either in the car with us or in another car.

We were approaching the area where a major road meets the interstate highway, where a bridge goes overhead and there are stoplights and intersections with ramps to get onto the interstate. Our car was waiting at the red light, ready to proceed forward on the road, when the dashboard lights started coming up, like a miniature red and orange-lit Christmas tree.

“Oh no,” I said. “Not again. This car is so disappointingly unreliable for a rental.”

Noel said, “Calm down. Look, there’s a McDonalds over there. Just park the car and we can grab something to drink and eat while we let it cool down.”

The light turned green and I slowly steered the car (now having a bit of trouble) to the parking lot. I went in the wrong entrance (at that time I was stating I didn’t give a shit) and found some shade to park the car under. We got out of the car (Noel commenting on how proud my Mom would be that I found some shade) and went into the McDonalds.

I remember thinking how cool the interior was (in temperature) but it was one of those 70s style McDonalds that hadn’t been remodelled yet. We made our way to the counter and Don and Soni ordered first. Don went to take a seat with Noel (at a table near the service counter) while Soni waited for his order, and I started to order mine. For some reason, I ordered McTacos — I didn’t even know McDonalds made tacos — but I didn’t have enough money, so I had to ask Noel for some.

He was so busy in his conversation with Don that he gave me the wrong money so I had to badger him for more. I went back to the counter where the nice girl behind the counter said that they were almost all out of McTacos and they might not have the supplies for more, so would I mind having a two cheeseburger combo instead because that cost the same? I said I didn’t mind… and to be honest, I like McDonalds cheeseburgers just fine.

The dream seemed to end with me still waiting for my food and a chocolate milkshake I seemed to have a very large craving for!

* * * * * * * * * *

It was a warm, fine day in the United States, and Noel and I finally arrived at what I believe was my cousin’s house.

The houses where the party was sat on a slight bend in a wide road with another road meeting it in a Y shape. There was a car dealer or some sort of low-rise commercial building on the opposite side of where the two roads merged.

I parked the car somewhere and next thing I knew we were walking up a slight hill on a path with lush green grass on either side of it. Two or three large trees shaded the front yard and the sidewalk. The house itself was a dull grey-blue (more blue than grey) and the window frames a sort of yellowy-cream. Some windows were stained glass, beautifully absorbing and reflecting the light coming in to the side of the house. I felt the house was built sometime in the early 20th century by its architecture.

We were welcomed in by whom I assume was my cousin Jack (it just felt like it was Jack and Ginny’s house) and asked to join everyone in the back. Someone was graduating — I had a feeling it was my brother Brian from university — and we joined friends and family in an addition onto Jack and Ginny’s house.

The room had a vaulted ceiling, and was somewhat long in width but narrow in length. There were floor-to-ceiling windows, only broken by where a normal ceiling would rest. A fireplace sat in the middle of the far wall, breaking the wall of windows. We had to step down a few steps from the old part of the original house into the new part. On the walls running perpendicular to the hole in the wall we just stepped through there were sets of glass doors leading to a patio on the right-hand side (the other side led to a sidewalk to the detached garage). Through the back windows I mentioned before, you could see a lush green lawn, a large maple tree shading the lawn near the garage, and a greenway or forest behind the house. Through the doors on the right-hand side, you could see the neighbours’ lawns and houses for a few houses down.

Friends and family were laughing and looking through photos and congratulating Brian and his friends on graduating from university. Something in the back of my head told me I’d need to withdraw from all the high school courses I’d signed up to take earlier in the year — my mind sourcing an earlier dream from months ago where I decided to sign up for classes at my old high school — and I felt a bit disgruntled because I wondered how long the process would take and how complicated it would be. (I was withdrawing because I was taking university classes at the same time and couldn’t afford to put my mind to both).

After mixing and mingling, Jack told me his brother Bob and wife Diane lived the house after the next one, so I should go and visit them because the party was also taking place there. Noel and I went back out the front to walk to Bob and Diane’s place, but we stopped and marvelled at the house in-between.

The driveway led up a steep small hill to another early 20th century house, this time white in colour. A pergola stretched across the driveway with beautiful flowers and vines growing up it. There was a low hedge and wrought iron fence separating their section from Jack and Ginny’s, but the house was beautiful and immaculate with wonderful gardens hugging the house. The neighbours two cats and dog were playing outside or enjoying the sunshine. Like Jack and Ginny, the neighbours had a tree in their front yard, a wonderfully large tree, but it only shaded part of their front yard.

We never seemed to make it to Bob and Diane’s as Noel and I were talking to some of Brian’s fellow graduates on the neighbours’ front lawn. It was a good laugh and a great time and we enjoyed it, although I started to get worried about how we would get back into Jack and Ginny’s place if they had locked the front door.

* * * * * * * * * *

We were with the staff in some sort of dodgy apartment building. Standing in a line against a hallway wall that led to two different hallways running parallel to either side of the tight lobby in front of us, we were all solemn and quiet. Noel’s brother Bob had called us here because Noel’s sister-in-law Joan had passed away.

Standing as a guard, silent and sombre, Bob came out with a dark navy blue casket. He was for some reason dressed similarly to my grade school’s janitor, Mr. Jump, who always reminded me somewhat of what an old school train engineer would be dressed like. We bowed our heads and paid respects as he and another man took the casket and placed it on the floor in front of one of the two elevators, waiting for it to come to this floor and open up.

A door opened, and two of Bob’s daughters spilled out. One immediately stood aside, gasped, and remained silent. The other tripped over the casket then gave her father the message for leaving the casket in her way. She stepped over the casket and stormed off.

Bob and the other man, both shaken, took the casket and entered the lift, one of Bob’s daughters in tow. And the doors shut.

Noel’s cell phone went off and he answered it: it was his niece (the abusive one). She turned around and asked him where she could get some watermelon. Noel was pissed off, trying to contain his anger at her. He calmly but sternly stated that Joan, her mother, was dead and why was she thinking of watermelon at a time like this? But the daughter was adamant she wanted watermelon, so Noel told her where she could find some and hung up the phone on her. He was very angry, and the staff at the school said they couldn’t blame him.

* * * * * * * * * *

We were in Australia again, Noel and me, and we were sitting at an outdoor cafe at a table that was in front of a hairdressing salon. The hairdresser had a cheeky sense of humour and she was placing a funny sign in her window related to a big rugby match going on. We were laughing at the sign.

Our friend Marg, who many of you may know has divorced her husband and decided to move to Sydney to be with her boyfriend, arrived to say hi and join us for dinner. She arrived with a man who wasn’t her boyfriend, to Noel and my astonishment. We chatted away and I asked everyone if they wanted something to drink or eat, and Marg’s friend said he wanted a pastie, while Noel and Marg wanted beers.

So I made my way down to the bar of this outdoor cafe — this part of the outdoor cafe was covered by a gazebo or something similar — and ordered the things. The guy behind the bar seemed like a nice Middle-Eastern guy, who was chatting away to me. Another group of guys at a table behind the bar asked me if I could get them a mini-football game from the man behind the bar, so I asked him and he obliged. What struck me was how friendly and nice everyone was, and how non-threatened I felt even though I was out of my element.

I didn’t get the order, though… I woke up!

I Believe I Can Fly

I dreamt last night that I could fly.

I’ve only had flying dreams a few times in my life, and I remember the first one was in my teenage years. It felt so free, so unrestricted, so absolutely liberating that I was sad to wake up and find out I couldn’t actually fly.

So last night, in my dream, Noel, my brother Jeremy, another guy (who I can’t really remember who he was) and I were walking down a street in Auckland towards another group of shops when I thought, stuff this, I’m going to fly there.

And so I did.

It was so liberating. I was doing dips and flips and all sorts of things. Until Jeremy somehow got into trouble for something very unjust.

Now, as some of you may know, New Zealand is no longer the very free country it was when I got here. Helen and company have turned it into “Helengrad” or the “Nanny State”, and, to be honest, I hope there’s a change of government at the next (upcoming) election to get rid of the old lot.

(Do you know that under the oppressive and non-democratic Electoral Finance Bill, passed by Helen and co, I can only speak my piece like this in my blog? If I launched a Web site saying not to vote for them, or carried a placard down Colombo Street that I could be arrested if I don’t “register” my interest with the Electoral Commission? Isn’t the whole point of democracy to be able to express your opinion freely and without hindrance? That’s why this current government is dangerous and needs to be voted out.)

Anyway, the Helengrad police attacked Jeremy for no good reason. Noel and the other guy were trying to help, but were losing an uphill battle. And that’s where the flying powers came in handy.

I knocked the lead cop to the ground, and he was terrified. For some reason, I discovered I had telepathic and telekinetic powers as well (hey it’s my dream, I can have whatever superpowers I want!) so I held him down to the pavement with force, kept his eyes open and implanted the thought that Jeremy had done nothing wrong. I also implanted the thought that what was happening in this country was wrong and he, working from the inside, and his three colleagues would fight the injustices. My thoughts broke through because he called off his cronies.

Actually, as Noel, Jeremy and I were making our way back on our path, past the old abandoned toy store and a large store that sold dancing/jiggling Christmas trees (out of season), we noticed the cops were now so liberated that they were doing a conga line.

Well, at least the flying part was fun to experience!

Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (As Usual)

Noel and I, with some of our friends, were trying to keep our balance on the deck. The sky was that moody dull grey it gets when a storm is lingering, and the cruise ship we were on was bobbing up and down, struggling to keep pace with the large swells in the ocean.

The weather must’ve been cold-ish because staff on board were wearing their coats, but I didn’t remember feeling the cool gusts of wind, mainly because I was too busy trying to stay standing upright. People around me, other passengers and some crew, were marvelling at the ocean’s roughness, a low uneasy chattering making it only slightly audible over the waves crashing on the side of the ship.

An announcement from the bridge: “Ladies and gentlemen, the ship’s horn will sound the emergency signal; this is not a drill, nor should you abandon ship. Report to your muster stations immediately.” And then, the horn sounded, the short bursts followed by one long burst, the sound reverberating deeply within me as we made our way to the stairwells to get down to our cabins to recover our warm weather gear, medicine and lifejackets.

As we passed two crew, a blonde Australian entertainer said to her foreign counterpart, “Don’t worry… I’ve been on the ship in much rougher weather than this. One time, off the shore of Sydney…” I started walking down the staircase and lost the conversation.

People were orderly and quiet. Some people looked pale. Noel and I entered our cabin (after climbing several flights of stairs) and I started packing my medicine and clothes into my backpack. A tinge of sadness: would the ship sink? Would my belongings go with it? I was most worried about my notebook, where I jot down stories and logs and ideas. Would I remember it all? Should I take it with me just in case? And then I thought, these things can be replaced.

We ran into Don and Soni in the purser’s office. Soni looked pale, and Don didn’t look very much better. They were quite calm externally, and it amazed me because Don usually panics in an emergency. We made our way to the muster station.

For some reason, I made my way back up to the open deck again. My hands gripped the railing as the ship pitched and rolled with the ocean, and the feeling of sea-salt sprayed and dried onto the hand-railing irritated my palms. The ship seemed to slow its props, anticipating a wave or three, then plow on.

Four tugs and three flatter boats (the flatter boats sporting a Navy-coloured grey hull) appeared in an armada on the horizon. They approached seamlessly and, the captain announced over the loud-speakers, they were there to help us. We were moving to a small island in the vicinity to wait out the massive storm.

Somehow, there was a jump in events. Maybe this was because I woke up and dozed back off to sleep; I’m not sure.

I headed back down towards the muster station and got lost. For some reason, I was in a capsule of sorts, kind of like the cockpit of the space shuttle combined with the runabout’s cockpit from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. There was a pilot sitting in the main seat, with two or three other officers sitting behind a wall behind the pilot. A man came in, stating something about the officers abandoning the crew, and what made them think they could survive the rough seas? One officer responded they were just preparing the capsule just in case and if they launched the capsule, they could get help quicker for the passengers. I thought it best I leave before I heard any more of the conversation.

The captain announced we were near the island, so I headed back upstairs to peer over the side again. In the ocean were sculptures and monuments carved out of rocks of amazing colours. Some were purple, some were reddish-purple, some were blue, some were red. Some were shaped like thin obelisks, an intricate circular pattern carved on them. Others were flat and round, like a pebble, ochre in colour with a delicate flower-like pattern carved into them, making them appear to be large mono-colour marigolds. The ship was steered in between these sculptures, and the water was noticeably calmer.

The dream jumped again. We were at the island, in some sort of shelter, waiting out the storm. The ship’s crew and colonists (if that’s what they could be called) put out coffee and tea and whatever food they had. Noel was sitting in a sweatshirt and shorts on the floor, others we knew surrounding him on chairs or on the floor. Clasping his cup of tea or coffee (in a white mug), he said to me that I needed to get a long sleeved undershirt out of the box in another area.

I made my way over and was chatting to a lady who was also a passenger, more worried about finding her and her husband some shirts than me (because I was still warm). I found their sizes, but I couldn’t find mine, so I settled on a men’s shirt a size smaller than I normally wear. The strange thing about the shirts were they were all green with patterns or stripes made up of varying shades and hues of green as well.

The dream jumped again; somehow, we were back, berthed in Auckland, next to the Prince’s Wharf Hilton. The ship was damaged, its decks littered with debris and quite wet. We were all waiting to disembark the ship, and, for some reason, my high school friends Karin and Kari were there with one of our beauty therapy graduates from our school here, Alicia. The four of us were recording a TV spot about the 25th anniversary of some show, founded in 1979 according to me. We’d screwed up the first shot, so we started again. The finished product was great; we were ready to air it.

The chimes for disembarkation sounded; it was time for our group to go. Noel and I walked past a large plank of wood covering some piece of machinery or damage, and he said that had we been in a major catastrophe, he’d have used that to float on until rescued. I thought perhaps a lifeboat would have been better, but I guess beggars can’t be chosers when a ship sinks. My mind raced at the prospect of going on another cruise, how I thought maybe this was too close a call for me and I’d not want to go on another ship until the memories faded. I shrugged, picked up my backpack, and headed towards the exit.

Badgers, Swollen Streams and Snow (Oh My!)

Another weird dream from you-know-who (you all love me and my weird dreams, right? Right?)

Noel and I were walking through a field full of tall grass, the “flowers” grass puts out (that smooth, almost silky, growth at the top of a long stalk of grass); it stretched on as far as the eye could see. On the horizon, a storm was brewing. No lightening or thunder, but the dark storm clouds rolled slowly towards us. We walked slowly just the same.

We came to a stream, swollen by melted snow or maybe rain from the storm itself. Noel crossed it on a wide wooden plank, but I marvelled at how clear the water was, how it rushed by without making much noise, and how deep the stream was, only a foot or less from the bank. The grass went right up to the edge; there was no mud or slope, just a drop into the stream.

And then, two badgers, floating on their backs and holding hands or paws or whatever they have, glided on by, under the make-shift bridge then off into the distance.

I looked at Noel, and he said, “Were those beavers?”

“Badgers, I think,” came my reply.

And with that, another two, holding paws, came by, happy as Larry, floating down the stream.

Glancing further down the stream, I see pairs far down the winding stream. Shrugging and keeping an eye on the approaching storm, I cross the stream.

We keep walking until we reach a house. It’s an older house, a wooden one-storey farm house, painted white like the house we used to have next door to us on Wairakei Road. But this house was dilapidated, not taken care of, and we pushed on the door handle and went inside.

They were waiting for us. Jamie and his mother stood there and saw us and said hi. The conversation was somewhat muted — even in my dreams, I was still simmering with anger towards Jamie — and Leigh (Jamie’s mum) turned to complain about a new subdivision that went up across the street from them. The dark clouds still rolled over but now snow was coming down.

That’s pretty much where the dream ended.

So why am I telling you about this?

For some reason I checked on my Dreamer’s Dictionary on the symbols in the dream. I found:

The swollen stream represents the life force and how strong it flows through me. The badgers mean prosperity beyond my wildest imagination will come to me. Snow symbolizes wealth and the fact it will come quickly and without warning (basically when I least expect it).

So watch this space about that!

Weird Dreams

I had weird dreams last night, which is probably not different from most nights, but last night I remembered them.

One of them was rather personal so I won’t get into it (and to be honest, I can’t remember too much of it), but the other was rather strange and surreal and I will share that with you.

I was back in high school, but the auditorium/theatre was different. Instead of the seats going from front to back of the room (from the stage), they went from lower seats on the right to higher seats at the left. The proscenium arch was lower than in our high school, draped with rich red velvet curtains (the swoopy kind that are held back with gold braided cords and are longer than normal so they and their gold tassels drag slightly on the floor). Also unlike the original theatre, the seats were also covered in the same bright red fabric, almost as if they were taken from the Sapphire Princess and not the high school.

My brother Brian (as he appeared in the early 90s), my best friend John (also as he appeared in the early 90s) and I were participating in an American Idol-like competition. John and I performed some song (which I can’t totally remember, but I am pretty sure it was “The Aeroplane Jelly” song!!!) and got a luke-warm response. The theatre, admittedly, was quite empty.

The next group got up. They were brilliant. I felt a bit uneasy but the next song we were to sing was a Sheryl Crow song I liked and knew all the words to, so it would be great, as it was serious (unlike the nostalgic, somewhat funny Australian song we’d just sung)…until I went to talk to Brian, sitting towards the back of the sideways theatre, who had a list of lyrics from what I thought was a Nirvana song written in his notebook, and he was adamant we were singing that song, not the Sheryl Crow one.

Scary thing was, John didn’t know the song. Neither did I. But the funny thing was, despite normally being scared out of my wits during a dream like this — and I hate being unprepared — I was fine. I just got up there and let Brian do all the singing and mimed it like I was singing.

Maybe it symbolises that the stage of my life where I had such stage fright (although I never really showed it outwardly when I did perform) is finally coming to an end. It could also have been a follow-on from a quite serious talk Noel and I had with Jamie about things — his latest thing is his girlfriend has asked him to move in with her at her mother’s place, to which, understandably, both Noel and I are very upset and angry about — that 16 year olds should not entertain let alone do. Maybe the parenting side, where I really speak my mind instead of being a bit nice — and let’s face it, as Noel said last night, Jamie is my nephew by marriage, and I didn’t have to say yes to take him in — has kicked in as well.

We will see!