Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dick, George, Barack, and me--a nightmare in one act

On my recent vacation, I had nightmares every night. I suspect that had a lot to do with the fact that there has been significant stress in my life lately and my brain hadn’t had a chance to process all of that until I had some long-overdue “down time.”

Here’s what the National Institutes of Health have to say about dreams:

Some scientists believe dreams are the [brain] cortex's attempt to find meaning in the random signals that it receives during REM sleep. The cortex is the part of the brain that interprets and organizes information from the environment during consciousness. It may be that, given random signals from the pons during REM sleep, the cortex tries to interpret these signals as well, creating a "story" out of fragmented brain activity.

Well…on the last night of vacation, my cortex decided to create a humdinger of story…

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I am in a fancy office. It looks like the photos I have seen of the Oval Office in the White House. Richard Nixon is telling me that George W. Bush has decided to run for a third term against Barack Obama. (Of course, this is completely unconstitutional—but it’s a dream!)

Dick has decided that I should be Dubya’s running mate.

Even in the dream, I am flabbergasted. My first words are “But he’s ANTI-CHOICE! How could that possibly work?!?!?!?”

Dick is insistent. My jaw is on the floor, but I pick it up and tell him, “We don’t agree on anything!”

Dick sees that as a positive, rather than a negative. Apparently he believes that if Dubya and I run together, the nation will see that completely divergent views do not keep people from working together.

I continue to remonstrate with him. There is simply No.Freaking.Way. that Dubya and I can run as a team.

And then I look out into an adjacent room, and I see Barack Obama getting ready to announce his new running mate. Apparently Joe Biden has been kicked to the curb, because President Obama has asked an African American woman to be his Vice-President. She is standing in the wings with her husband and a teenaged son. I do not recognize her.

My thoughts are racing. “Great! Obama has chosen an African American woman, and so it will be the white man/white woman ticket against the black man/black woman ticket. And I don’t agree with Dubya about anything!”*

Then I wake up. And I am very, very grateful that it was only a dream…

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*IRL this is not quite true. I did agree with George W. Bush about one thing--the need for the PEPFAR program. I only wish he had been as interested in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation...

I spent my summer vacation planning my funeral.

I guess that seems odd. As far as I know, I am not dying. I recently celebrated my 48th birthday. With the exception of a bad case of reflux (exacerbated by my addiction to Diet Coke), and a few aches and pains in various joints, I seem to be in remarkably good health.

But I have been thinking a lot about death lately.

Maybe it is because so many people I have cared about have died in the last few years. My regular readers know about the death of my friend Terri-Lynn two years ago—a death that left a big hole in my heart. Her death still enrages me and fuels my political activism for universal healthcare.

But there are others. There was Maria—the first of my Invisible Friends to die. She was posting and e-mailing me one day—and then she was gone, at age 45, from lupus. There was Kate (age 55), Lisa (age 50), Kathy (age 49), and Sharon (age 47)—all dead from cancer, between October 2007 and March 2010. There was Roseann (age 56), who died of kidney failure. And, of course, there is Kirstin (age 40), who died July 1 of metastatic melanoma, and Goran (age 57) who died on July 29 of prostate cancer.

In the midst of life, we are in death….

If the actuarial tables are accurate—and my family history is any guide—I have many more years left on this planet. But life is uncertain…and I travel a lot. For the past couple of years, I’ve had this nagging feeling that I should plan for my death.

So that’s what I did.

Dear Friend and I made wills and signed advance directives and Powers of Attorney for healthcare and business before we got married—so we had already taken care of those things.

It was the stuff I knew would be problematic in the wake of some kind of unexpected or traumatic death that worried me. Would my family know how to cash in my life insurance policy? Would they know where all the bank accounts were located? What about the credit cards? What would happen with my blog and my Facebook page if I died?

There will be surprises if I die suddenly—no one can foresee all the issues. But my family now has a complete list of accounts, contact numbers, and instructions about what they need to do in the aftermath. I’ve even set out a basic set of instructions about the funeral—I felt an irrational desire to ensure that no one would decide to include liturgical dance [shudder] as a final practical joke on me…

All in all, it was a cathartic experience—not sad or depressing at all. I highly recommend that you do it yourself.