Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lollapalooza of Lions

“Gosh. The Minnesota Zoo sucks!” I said in one of my dreams.  A few friends of mine were joining me on a trip to the good ol’ Zoo to see what was new.  It was clear that the Zoo had lost its funding and was going down the tubes fast.
This was the Minnesota Zoo…in the future.
Okay, I won’t send that message again, like I did in Just a Flying Frog in Paris. In this particular dream, the Zoo just sucked. That’s it.
(Let me say right here that I love the Minnesota Zoo and it’s awesome and clean and awesome.)
My friends laughed as I overplayed the Zoo’s inadequacies, which is so me. I had a moment of Okay, Brian…You’re not fourteen anymore. Stop yelling. So I calmed it down and just tried to enjoy the Zoo.
Nothing was really blowing my mind until we turned a corner to check out the lion’s cage.
Ooh, lions.
But this experience with lions was different than the usual, “Look-at-that-lion-sleep-at-the-back-of-the-cage,” or the, “Whoa!-I-think-I-just-saw-it-move” experience. There, in a concrete enclosure with straw on the ground, bordered by two layers of nine-foot-high chain-link fence, was a family of about eight lions.
When the eight of them saw me and my friends, they licked their lips and, one by one, jumped the two layers of fence.

(I should probably mention at this point that when I was in fifth grade I won the “Young Authors” award for a book I created called The Fraidy-Cat Lion, a story—which has sadly vanished from my house—about a lion who had a crippling fear of just about anything. The story ended with the lion realizing that if he just wore a helmet everywhere he went, he could face his fears more easily. It would have won more awards if I had a better publicist as a ten-year-old. Anyway, the lion that I drew in that book remains the best lion I can draw, so you’re going to be seeing a lot of it in this post.)

[That's me in Fifth Grade with my book. If anyone sees a book that looks just like that, give me a call.]
Holy shlaMOLY, I’m pretty sure I thought as the giant felines sauntered over to us.  The trainers also sauntered over—they didn’t run, mind you, just merely moseyed with a look of Oh crap, we’re going to have to do something about this, aren’t we? Hopefully this zoo didn’t have a “Leave Your Comments” box, because let me tell you, they would be getting a nice big one from me for this kind of service.
This is when I decided it would be best for my friends and I to leave.  Getting eaten by a bunch of lions was not on today’s itinerary. We retreated to a dreamfriend’s house (I say “dreamfriend” because this person seems to have been created just for the sake of this dream) and sure enough, his house was full of lions!
Are you serious?
I had had enough of the freaking lions. They were big and dangerous and getting in my way and I was not in the mood for them anymore.  I stormed back to the Zoo to make my complaint.
As I slalomed my way through the hundreds of lions at the Zoo, one of my friends came up to me and said, “Oh, Brian. I was just told by the trainers that all of these lions know a phrase that sends them back to their cage.”
“Oh really?” I said, “How about you tell me that so we can get these damn lions away from us.” My friend laughed as if I was being sarcastic, but I was completely serious.
“The phrase is, ‘Go home, lions,’” she said.
You’ve got to be kidding me. 
Don’t you think, at some point in my frustration, I would have said, “Go home lions”? 
So I said it, and sure enough, the thousands of lions turned away from me and strolled back to their cage.
For crying out loud.

And then I woke up. I’m sure some of these dreams mean something, but I have yet to figure out what. 

Friday, August 28, 2009

[prolonged sigh]

Well, it’s almost over, my friends.

Summer.

They days are calming down, I’ve got Chaco lines on my feet, I’ve got boxes waiting to be stuffed in my van and driven up to my junior year of college, and I’ve eaten more corn on the cob and drunk more sweet tea than I care to mention. (The answer is a lot.)

Yes, summer’s almost over.

This may be the last time I get to sit in my hammock until next May.

[sigh]

Well, it was great while it lasted.  And the cool thing about seasons is that they keep comin’ round, so no worries.

On to sweaters and cocoa and scarves and leaves and…homework. Hoo boy. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'd Like To Read Everything in the World, Please.

I took another trip to The Pearl Street Bookstore in La Crosse the other day. Though I have very little money and have a reading list the size of my arm, I still check out what’s new in the store so I can buy it and write it down somewhere near my armpit.

And, as is quite common when I spend a half hour browsing in that place, I end up with a stack of thirty or more books that I would be totally willing to lay down the dough for (if that dough existed).  And then I leave. Empty handed. Longing for the capability to just sit in a chair and read every book ever printed in one afternoon, and gain the knowledge and insight and philosophy and satisfaction my heart has always ached for.

But that’s not the case, unfortunately. Technology and Science have become too focused on making a better iPod and curing cancer and not focused enough on what I want: to read every book in the world. And what’s worse: people keep writing books! What in the world am I ever going to do? 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's a busy, noisy afternoon at Jules


I'm meeting a friend at my favorite coffee house in La Crosse. The place is noisier and more crowded than usual. However the chai remains delicious.

Here's something that wasn't sent from my Blackberry Smartphone provided by Alltel. This is a picture that was taken looking through a mirror out a window at a guy sitting outside of the coffee shop.  His right wrist sported a strange sunburst-looking tattoo and he was complaining to a woman who was much younger than himself about politics when I entered Jules. 

Pictionary This: Scrabble with a Twister! It's so Taboo! Sorry!

It's happened many times before:  "Man, I wish proper nouns were allowed in Scrabble.  I have the best word!" 

Well, Christie and I tried it. We decided to play Scrabble using only proper nouns. It should be easy, right? We always wish we could use proper nouns. This will be a breeze. 

Not so much. 

Turns out not being able to use real words is insanely difficult. We played through half a bag of letter tiles and quit. Here's our outcome. 
My favorite is the name "Fergie," and I think "CW" (the television station that plays shows like One Tree Hill and Dawson's Creek reruns) is pretty hysterical.

I think we'll stick to regular old Scrabble from now on. 

(And as far as the title of this entry goes, I'm sorry about the corniness.) 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just a Flying Frog in Paris

The other night I took an unconscious adventure in Paris.  It was not the Paris I know, however; this Paris was crammed with towering, dusty skyscrapers and crumbling, gray industrial buildings instead of the charming and historical buildings and simple but elegant parks I’m used to. 

This was Paris, in the future.

Okay, I was never told that in my dream, but let’s just clamp on an environmental message to make things interesting.

Somewhere in the mess of city the itty-bitty Eiffel Tower was squished and hiding beneath the other buildings.  (For those of us who have seen the Eiffel Tower, we know that a good-sized building could fit underneath it.  But this is my dream, people. I can’t take responsibility for what my head does on its own.) My only guess is that the Arc de Triumph was now a Burger King.

Despite its drastic differences, Paris remained its crowded, touristy self even in my dream. Travelers with cameras hanging from their necks swarmed like flies to different sites around the city. I was annoyed to be among them.  Following one of the groups, I came to a new attraction called...

“What is this about?” I asked the person manning the attraction.

“It’s your opportunity to see what it feels like to push over Roman ruins!”

“What?”

“We had this attraction in Rome, but the real ones got to crumbly. So we moved here to Paris, where you can push over these replicas! Go ahead; give them a push.”

This is weird, I thought, I have to try it. The attraction was a series of Romanesque columns, about 36 of them, lined in a 4x6 square.  Fancy.

I gave it a timid push and, like giant dominoes, they crashed onto one another and all fell to the ground in a non-messy, plasticky heap.

Pretty dumb.

I looked around for the attraction attendant, but he was nowhere in sight. Umm…I have to stand these back up. I tried to lift some of them into their original positions, and even though they were not heavy at all, they were too cumbersome to align perfectly. I cautiously tiptoed away, hoping no one saw.

OH MY GOSH! ALL OF A SUDDEN I HAD TO GO SOMEWHERE REALLY FAST!!

(Don’t blame me for the choppy storyline. Blame my brain.)

There was no time to take the metro or a car.  No time! I needed something faster!

I needed…

…my helicopter.

(Cue the James Bond theme.)

Yes, my helicopter.  It hovered down, piloted by Christie, to where I was standing. I jumped in and took the wheel. (This helicopter had a wheel.)

We flew low, past the old dusty city. Everything was going well until the helicopter’s spool of string fell out of the side door. Apparently this helicopter was some sort of kite. I watched it drop, and drop, and unwind, and unwind. Reaching out to grab the string wouldn’t work; it would just keep unwinding.

Now some of you readers may not know that if you have a helicopter with a string, it can’t fly correctly unless the spool is in your control. So we were forced to land atop an old apartment building. Luckily for us, our helikite had an emergency setting that allowed us to bound from building to building—like a frog. An Amphibihelikite, if you will. So we leaped our way along, trying to get to that certain place we had to go. Boing, boing, boing.

Finally, someone on a roof caught the spool of string and began to wind it up, and in effect, bringing Christie, me, and our Amphibihelikite down. We landed safely on the roof.  Jumping out, we took the spool from this kind man’s hand an began to hop back in our flying frog/kite thing.

“I’ve been expecting you,” said the man on the roof in a croaky, deep voice. On the far side of the roof, a large glass door pssshhed open, steam rolling out from inside.

And then I woke up, fell back asleep, and had a dream about using the toilet in the middle of a crowded hallway.

Oh, my head. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

In Love with La Crosse

A few days ago I decided to explore downtown La Crosse, a place I tend to frequently fairytale-ize to others. The truth is that it’s really just a grimy old city with a brewery and a big, dirty smattering of bars.  (Actually, I was told once that La Crosse has more bars per capita than any city in the U.S. How flattering.) But still there’s still something lovely about this place that warms my heart when I speak of it.

Here’s what I found on my La Crosse excursion. There are only three things, but still I think they’re fun.

I was on Pearl Street when I saw a man sitting at a very colorful table. A lemonade stand! It’s my lucky day! Turns out he was promoting Gay Pride Fest. Who knew La Crosse had a Gay Pride Fest! Needless to say, I bought a button.

(They would have the coolest button.) I’ll be there this weekend for a bit, but I’ll most likely bring my girlfriend since I still suffer from a slowly declining case of homophobia. And yes, that is my muscular chest beneath that guitar-inside-a-pine-tree shirt.  Hands off, ladies; this guy's been claimed. Any complaints you have can go directly to www.crispinator.blogspot.com

As I walked down a street I can’t remember now, I found this old billboard that was obviously covered up for a long time and now was bare and awesome. The old advertisement is pretty hilarious.

I hope no one ever leases it. It makes me laugh.

Next to my favorite coffee house is an aged, musty bookstore that I explore whenever I get the chance. On the bestseller pile in front of the store, I found this book. 

La CabaƱa = The Shack, in Spanish. I would highly recommend this book, by the way, in whatever language you speak.

The city of La Crosse holds an endless amount subtle gems like this. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy being among those scuzzy bars and historical buildings so much. There’s always something new and interesting to find down there. That something may smell like beer, but it’s still pretty cool.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Free Samples for One Euro

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s GO!!” My mom urged as she clapped me and my family out the door. Dreams are usually unrealistic, but this one had started out just like true life.  We were going to a show, some small theatre with an unknown cast.  Of course, as it is with my parents—and is beginning to be with me—we were becoming too late to be obsessively early. If we lollygagged any more we would end up being on time. 

God forbid. 

My dad has a way of getting lost in places sometimes.  For example, when we were touring my university, he tried to find his way out of the dining center and wound up wandering the kitchen. Perhaps that explains why my family entered the theater through a back door, which brought us into a backstage dressing room.  A poster for tonight’s show hung on the wall.  Something about Jesus.  A musical.  Jesus Christ Superstar? Oh gosh. I blushed as I walked through.  Excuse me…Sorry…Sorry…Gosh, I hope no one’s naked in here. Actors in sequined costumes, half bronzed and eyelinered looked at us and rolled their eyes. Sorry.

We squeezed through the actors and finally reached the door. Of course, that was the door to backstage.  We apologized to the tech crew and slipped along the right side of the stage and down the stairs to where the audience was seated.  “If we had gone earlier these people wouldn’t have seen us,” I could feel my dad thinking. Because I was thinking it too. Maybe my aunt was right about me becoming him. I still vote democrat, Dad. 

I was about to do the awkward Excuse-me-my-seat’s-on-the-other-side-of-where-you’re-sitting Dance when a friend from college came up to me. She explained to me that other friends of mine were hanging out outside of the theatre and I should say hi to them.  Outside, I found that they were wandering around a cute little pastry shop. If you followed my other blog, you would know that I love pastry shops.  Especially when they have free samples.

And then my dreams came true.  There, resting beautifully on a tall table, were scrumptious squares of sweet somethings, sprinkled with powdered sugar.  I had no idea what they were, but I knew for sure that they would be delicious. I ate one—okay, three—of those spongy little cakes and praised the heavens for party that was going on in my mouth. 

My friends then pointed me to a door at the back of the shop.  “Go check it out, Brian,” they said. But I had learned my lesson about eating small things and going through mysterious doors from Alice and Wonderland, so I refused to go in.  “Just do it,” the urged again, and since I am peer pressure’s female dog, I gave in. 

And then I was transported to a wonderful land with flowers and fairies floating through the sweet air, and—

No, that didn’t happen.

It was actually as if I had just walked through the front door of someone’s shabby, could-be-nice-if-they-fixed-it-up house.  The door closed behind me as Jon Stewart bounded through the entryway with his six bulldogs. (I’m pretty sure Jon Stewart doesn’t own six bulldogs.) He said something funny, like, “I have a bunch of bulldogs!” (I guess you had to be there) and he left. 

And I remained in the entryway.  I turned to my left to go into some sort of old living room.  Couches with torn upholstery and dusty bookshelves surrounded me. A rather modern-looking fan blew some of the stale air around. 

Turning the corner, ran into my friends Carol-Ann and Anthony, a mother and son from New Zealand who gave me a free place to stay while I was in the south of France this summer.  “You’re staying at this hostel too?” they asked.  Weird. This is a hostel.  I was pretty sure I was done with those after I came back from Europe. They walked me around the house, showing me their crappy room and the crappy room I would be sleeping in.  Well, it works for the night, I thought, a phrase I had said to myself many times while traveling in Europe.

Then Carol-Ann and Anthony took me to the basement. We walked through piles of garbage and broken furniture until we reached the T.V. room. “Oh my gosh!” I said, “This T.V. room is just like the one in my basement at home! Our television is a little bigger, though, and the slipcover on our couch is different, but besides that, it’s identical! How strange!”

“Umm…cool, I guess,” Carol-Ann said, apathetically.

“Come on! Isn’t it amazing? I need to call my parents and tell them about it!” I said.

“Whatever.” Anthony said back.

I was pretty frustrated that they didn’t care about this.  We continued our tour around the house (just more garbage) and arrived back at the door from which I had entered earlier.  I had had enough of this hostel, and I knew that I had already missed the show that I was supposed to see. Walking through the door, I noticed that my friends had left. I’ll just grab one more yummy cake thing before I leave. I reached down to take another, and someone violently grabbed my wrist.  It was the storeowner.

“What are you doing?” He demanded.

“I—I’m taking a free sample.” I said, startled.

“There are no free samples here!”

“But they’re sitting out on a – ”

“I don’t care! They cost one Euro each.”

“One Euro?! You charge one Euro for a tiny piece of cake…in America?"

“Yes.”

“Lame.”

And then I woke up.  Another strange and seemingly meaningless dream. My mind is a crazy thing when it’s unconscious. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Merp Merp


I drive my dad’s old ‘99 Buick Century. It’s gold. That makes it look expensive.

Dad thinks it’s a bitchin’ ride.

His words, not mine.

All I can think of is the fact that every time I pass another gold ’99 Buick Century, I see a tiny old blue-haired woman peeking over the steering wheel. Every single time, people, without fail.

The other day I pulled up alongside another Buick at a stoplight. For some reason I felt like this would be my lucky day and there would be maybe a young man with blue hair inside instead of an old woman with blue hair. When I peered over, however, I saw literally the oldest man I think I have ever laid eyes on.

Drat.

I considered revving my engine, flicking him off, and peeling out when the light turned green, leaving him cursing and shaking his fist in the cloud of smoke I left behind. I abstained, but I definitely made sure to accelerate faster just in case anyone was looking.

I don’t find it prudent to listen to Z93 (“today’s best music – WIZM-FM La Crosse”) in this boat made for the ground. Nor do I find it fitting to use iTrip with my iPod. (I call it the “BriPod”…a friend of mine also named Brian calls it that. If you’re listening, Brian, KUDOS.) The only appropriate music-listening resource I’ve found is 102.7—the greatest hits of all time—playing oldies from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I roll down the windows, crank up that retro tunage, lean back in my chair, and roll on down the street.  Maybe I’ll even honk the horn a few times. It doesn’t go beep beep like regular horns, though; it’s more like merp merp. 

B.A. That’s all I have to say.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To Prom on a Giraffe-Sized Bicycle

Some dreams are just ridiculous. 

The other night I dreamt that I was going to prom.  It’s been almost three years since I’ve been out of high school and one promise that I made to myself was that I would never do anything that resembles prom ever, ever again, so why I dreamt this, I don’t know.

It seemed quite natural at the time that this prom had two parts: two dining parties with a three-hour rest time in between.

As I put on my tux, preparing to go out for the evening, I shook my head.  “Gosh, and I thought Christie,” (you know her by now, right?) “would never drag me through something like this.” Tuxes suck.  They just do. The pants are thin and the shirts are too starchy.  And who the hell wants to deal with cufflinks?

(Have I said that I hate prom yet?)

Once I got ready, I hopped on my bike (yes, my bike…it was strangely tall, though, like it was crossed with a giraffe) and pedaled up East Laurel Place to go pick up my girlfriend.  Maybe my giraffe bike had a sidecar or something.  As I stopped at the stoplight, which apparently is required of someone riding a giraffe bike (Giraffike? Bikraffe?), a large cableless cable car pulled up beside me. Seated inside was everyone popular I had ever met. I think even Zach Efron and Taylor Swift were mingling in there. The popular kids saw me, but pretended like they didn’t see me. I felt my tie shorten and twist in to a bowtie and grow unfashionably large. They just laughed and laughed at their own popular jokes, and sped off. Jerks.

Picking up Christie on my Giraffecycle and pedaling to the first dinner for some reason was not included in my dream, but I’m sure it was very romantic.

I must have pedaled a long way that night, because we ended up in the gym of my college athletics building in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was decorated to the hills. Each table was a booth resting in a giant seashell; heavy red curtains adorned with strings of mermaid lights surrounded each one for privacy. Christie and I met up with another couple from college and sat with them waiting for a meal that I don’t think I ever found out, though I have a feeling I was expecting fondue.  This prom wasn’t turning out too shabby after all!

Jump to the three-hour break between dinners. I changed out of that horrible tux, and sat around in sweats and my undershirt. I originally planned to watch some television, but soon realized all I wanted to do was take a nap.  Why I dreamed this immensely boring part and not a Bicaraffe ride, I have no idea.

If there’s anything more annoying than changing into a tuxedo, it’s changing into a tuxedo again. I shook my head, Darn it, Christie, and started longingly at my sweatpants. Oh, to feel their 100% Cotton hugs around my skinny legs again! It would have to wait. On to the second dinner.

This one was going to be good. Famous Dave’s was catering a barbeque on a tropical ocean wave-splashed beach somewhere in the Arden Hills, Minnesota area. Maybe not the best location for a bunch of men in uncomfortable suits and women in poofy dresses. Nonetheless, I was excited; I love Famous Dave’s.

As I swaggered down to the beach (does anyone else ever feel the urge to walk in a way that you think looks “cooler” when you arrive to a gathering of a bunch of your peers?) and took a seat on one of the couches—yes, couches—on the shore. It was an L-shaped couch with a fun black, white, gray, brown and pink pattern on it. This seat was near the grills, that’s why I chose it—a front row seat and the possibility of being served first.

I relaxed, watching all the people I know mingling around, talking in their circles, with what I think were beer bottles in their hands.  (I may be wrong about this, because it was a Bethel University function, and we signed a covenant against drinking.)  Maybe it was root beer. Out of the corner of my eye, however, I saw a very large man by the grill who I knew was Christie’s father (even though Christie’s real dad looks nothing like him) slam his spatula down and stomp over to me.  In one swift motion, he grabbed the back of my seat and flipped it forward, sending me face-first into the sand with my section of the couch on top of me.  “This is MY seat!” he barked.

Jeez!

I pushed the couch off of myself and shook the sand of my tux.  I felt a strange burning on the skin of my lower back, right at my belt line. Two dogs, one cute and the other tremendously ugly, came up and let me pet them for a quick second. I decided to go home.  This party was over for me.

How I got back to my house I don’t know…maybe on the Bikeraffle.  I still felt the burning along my belt line, so I took off my pants to take a look.  (I don’t know why I decided to completely take off my pants; simply twisting around and taking a look would have been fine.)  As I slipped off my underwear, which were, strangely, whitey-tighties (I’m a boxer guy), the elastic band along the top of the backside was covered with blood. Apparently the whities were a little too tighty and cut the top of my butt in the scuffle I had with Christie’s dad.

Oh great, I thought, Now I’ll have to throw these away.  

And then I woke up.  Not in a cold sweat or anything, just a profound feeling of “what the heck was that?”

Like I said, some dreams are just ridiculous.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The bananas went bananas.

The other day I pulled a banana from the banana holder-thingy and all the other bananas decided that life wasn't worth living without the banana that I took. So they all peeled themselves.


Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Can't Stop.

Sorry, I just can’t do it.  I can’t resist the urge—nay, the need (and a quite new need, may I add)—to keep blogging.

It’s just so darn cool.

It all started with the idea that I would document my travels during a two-month trip in Europe.  Great idea, right? I gained 21 followers, and wrote about 35 entries, and fell.

In.

Love. 

It’s that simple.  I started reading other people’s blogs, and was terribly impressed and humbled by some, and terribly disturbed and baffled with an overwhelming feeling of “uh…what?” by others. And I thought mine was okay…I mean, it was a nice little blog, written by a mediocre writer, with a bunch of pictures from Europe scattered about. Not bad.

(Bee Tee Double-You, if you want to read about my travels, the old blog is still up.  GodCallIsAbroad.blogspot.com.)

But it all came to an end.  Within a few hours of posting my final entry, I began to feel the withdrawal.  Blog withdrawal. Blogdrawal. Withbloggal.

My girlfriend Christie just started a blog.  It’s awesome.  More inspiration for me to write another one. I visited the Blogs of Note page and felt a hunger I have not felt for something in a long time (besides yesterday before breakfast), which is that of the desire to be like one of them. I watched the movie Julie & Julia and it got my blogjuices flowing—which I’m guessing it did for millions of others now that it’s been released; Julie & Julia is going to do to blogging what Across the Universe did for the song Blackbird.  Everyone with a little hint of skill at the guitar (or, in this case, computer) will be trying to recreate it. Heck, I may be one of them. If at any point I find that I’m just adding to the noise, don’t worry, I’m outta here.

(I loved Julie & Julia by the way. Incredible acting. That Meryl Streep is going to be something someday.)  

So here I go.  Blogging again.  This time, with no considerable goals—just a scattered mind and a few things I’d like to share with those who will listen. The only loosely thought-out goal is to keep my life interesting enough that people will continue to read—that means that it must interest me, too, and I don’t want to read someone ranting about politics or their f***ing friend Lila who won’t stop hitting her boyfriend when she’s drunk at parties, so I promise to avoid those types of subjects at all cost.  I’ll just talk about life, and an occasional dream, and see what comes of it.

Good idea? 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Popcorn Day!

I had a very peculiar experience one morning as a high school senior. 

I rose out of bed, happily rested, over an hour before my alarm sounded.   Just as Tracey Turnblad wakes up in the opening song of Hairspray: The Musical, “Good Morning, Baltimore,” I was up and out of bed with enthusiasm and fervor and ready to face the day.  This was a day like no other day.  I sang in the shower, made myself a hearty breakfast of smiley eggs and bacon, sat down at the kitchen table and checked over my homework from the night before. Given that I did the last item on that list, I can say that yes, this was definitely a day like no other day. 

Since I had gotten ready so early, I decided that I would walk to school. It usually takes about ten minutes to drive from my house to school, so I set out for a nice, long walk. It was like I was walking through an Enzyte commercial (“…looks like Bob is still enjoying the big lift he gets from using Enzyte—natural male enhancement…”) except completely out of context, of course.  The sun, happier only to get higher in the sky, opened its arms and hugged the morning as if to say, “Today is going to be so awesome.  Birds took those words to song as I came to a quaint, charming neighborhood.  Small, uniformly white houses stretched along a street whose name I cannot remember now, but I am sure it would be something like “Walnut Lane,” or “Sunny Pancake Drive.”  Picket fences and daisies decorated the sidewalks on both sides; the grass was the kind of green that is only seen in fertilizer commercials.  The neighborhood was a picture of my happiness, and my happiness was a picture of the neighborhood.   

As I walked through, however, I noticed that each house was ornamented with a hanging basket in its doorway.  Strange, I thought, as I moved closer to one of them to see what was inside (naturally; why take time to smell the roses when one could be a completely different kind of nosy). I peered down into the basket, and found that it was filled with popcorn. 

When I saw this, I heard a rustling behind me, and I looked into the street to see discs like tiny asphalt manhole covers sliding away from a hole that they had formally covered.  Then, speakers the size of standard pop-tarts boxes on poles rose out of each opening—fifteen or so spread out across the street.  I heard the feedback of an adjusting microphone as the speakers clicked on, and then a voice—a voice with the tone of Ed McMahon, but the enthusiasm of Richard Simmons—exclaimed....

Before the word “day” had even gotten a chance to trail off, swing music circa the 1930s began to pour out of the small speakers.  People poured out of their houses as well and began dancing happily down the street, laughing and eating and throwing popcorn into the air—hundreds of them.  I watched in utter amazement, and Gloria Estefan was right when she said, “the rhythm is going to get you,” because it got me, and before I knew it I was dancing with them, in pure joy, down the street. Now I am not someone who would usually dance in public with people whom I do not even know, but that morning I came alive—a kind of alive that I had never experienced before. The happiness was heavenly.  

I arrived—with the crowd—at my high school, and was pleased to find that everyone inside had caught the jitterbug as well.  Popcorn filled the halls there, too, and students and teachers alike all danced in delight to the music being dispensed through the intercom. We continued this behavior until the bell rang.  The last kernel of popcorn fell to the ground, and we all went to our regular classes.  We were not disappointed or sad, but instead we were rejuvenated and excited to start the day. 

And then I woke up.  My alarm pierced the air and I fumbled for the off switch.  I slid out of bed and took a shower. I did not have time for breakfast, or to check over my homework (which, at that moment, I realized I had not even finished).  I hopped into my minivan and drove ten minutes through the February cold.  The sun had apparently hit the “snooze” button as I passed yards with chain-link fences and odd bumps of gray snow that hinted that there were dead plants and flowers underneath.  And in the middle of these yards were dirty, haphazard houses, all unlike and forgotten for the season.

But in my mind there were baskets hanging in every doorway.  It was Popcorn Day, as far as I was concerned; and I was still dancing down the street.

This is a blog about my dreams, both asleep and awake; about all the things that make me “Popcorn Day Happy” and all the other things that make my life mine. I hope you enjoy. 

Brian