Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Dream of Jenny

I'm at a writer's conference, trying to dodge the drinkers, smokers, spitters and touchers -- basically, everyone -- when I'm cornered in the only working elevator by the nastiest person in Publishing I've ever encountered.

Next time, stupid, take the stairs.

SwampBreath Nastiest Person tells me I've been invited to spend the weekend at a private retreat with four other writers, all of whom are RWA legends. One is Jennifer Crusie. HogFace Nastiest Person also makes it very clear that I can't refuse the invitation or my writing career will be roadkill. This is when I realize that I'm a) asleep and b) dreaming, but I don't try to wake up.

Come on. Jennifer Crusie is in my dream; how bad could it be?

I'm magically transported to this beautiful mountain cottage that is about the size of Hearst Castle and looks like it's been decorated by Laura Ashley. Personally. The air smells of heirloom rose potpourri, Botox and platinum American Express cards. There are no kids, men, pets or dust motes, anywhere.

Okay. This is not a dream. It's a nightmare.

I don't know why but I think that Barbara Samuel is cooking something wonderful in the kitchen. Naturally I can't find the kitchen. I can also hear the four legends talking but I can't find them because they keep moving around the cottage-palace. Jennifer Crusie is laughing a lot, not in the evil I've-got-a-chainsaw-waitin'-for-ya way, but in the good way. It's reassuring. She and the others are obviously having fun. Maybe there won't be chainsaws this time.

And maybe this time I will also escape playing the Open Heart Surgery Patient Who Stays Awake Under Anesthesia, or being the live offering to the voracious lava gods of the volcano, or becoming the evening's entree tartar (feeling pretty good about the last one because Barbara Samuel is cooking, not Fannie Flagg.)

On the other hand, I am horribly uncomfortable, and I don't want to touch anything because if I touch Laura Ashley anything there will be chainsaws. There always are. So I wander around like a ghost. I can't figure out where the other writers are or what I'm supposed to do. I should try to wake up, but part of me wants to see if it's my subconscious version of a Jennifer Crusie novel, so I still don't fight it.

Besides, I'm pretty sure it's only around 3 a.m. and if I wake up now I'll never go back to sleep until five minutes before I have to get up.

Finally I discover a room filled with unused art supplies, where I enter, lock the door and begin creating. My art seems to be defacing a wall covered with velvet-flocked pastel-colored paper with these truly cheesy cartoon flowers on it. The locked door opens, and the four legends start drifting in and out of the room, watching me but not speaking to me. Jennifer Crusie talks about her best girlfriends and cute dogs, and she sounds just like her blog.

See?

Meanwhile, I'm now using a sledgehammer to knock out the cheesy flowers, and I keep on defacing the wall but I don't say anything to the four legends because as usual I can't think of a single clever thing to say. I'm painfully aware of how I'm covered in paint splatters and plaster dust, but hey, at least I'm not naked. P.S., my art project has become a 3D Swiss cheese-ish depiction of the Jado Massacre, complete with little blue bodies floating around a massive debris field in space.

You know, there's nothing wrong with admitting you need a little therapy.

About this time the television appears in the room.

No. Oh, no. If it's showing American Idol, I'm going to use the sledgehammer on myself. I swear.

(It's not showing American Idol.)

Thank you.

(You're welcome.) The TV is one of those old-school humongous big screens that looks like a portable billboard. The program being broadcast is a glowing retrospective on various modern Presidents. When they get to Clinton, whom they show as he looked in the seventies and portray as a saint, I make a rude remark.

Rude?

Yep. Something rude.

Am I smelling some Eau de Wimpout?

All right, I refer to the former President as Saint Willie of the Wandering Penis.

Touchdown!

Immediately all four writers gather around me.

Oops. Flag on the field.

While a very disappointed Jennifer Crusie sadly shakes her head, another of the legends tells me I have to leave the premises now.

Using an anatomically correct word for the former President's or any man's pee-pee violates RWA bylaw #9,895.2 paragraph D section 9: "If the member cannot use pee-pee or another word from the list of approved euphemisms for that Male Organ Of Which Nice Girls Must Never Speak, the member shall pretend there is no such thing as a member." Addendum: a guy member, not a member member. You know, that icky thing down there. Not you.

As I slink away feeling thoroughly squashed, I hear one of them say that they expected better of me. It's not Jennifer Crusie, though. She's talking about dogs again.

And now the chainsaws!

Instantly I wake up. It's 3:15 am, and I don't go back to sleep until five minutes before I have to wake up.

Tolja.

Nightmare analysis: Minus some elements, would make a decent horror short story. It was a bit like the David Lynch version of something that happened at my first Nat'l conference. The wall/sledgehammer thing is likely due to the permanent damage inflicted by the required reading of Poe's The Cask of Amontillado during my freshman year in high school. I thought writing that scene where Nick finds Gabriel in Night Lost would help, but no, my ninth grade English teacher really did scar me for life. Setting came from being pressured to attend a romance conference, which evidently left an unpleasant aftertaste in my psyche. Kind of like Clinton's administration. I wonder what Barbara was cooking. It smelled amazing.

To prevent a repeat, I probably should stop reading business e-mail, Barbara Samuel's books and Jennifer Crusie's blog right before I go to bed.

12 comments:

  1. Wow, your art project sounds cool. Sorry you didn't get to eat whatever Barbara was cooking. And if you want people to hang out with you at a writer retreat, just invite us. I'd go to Florida to hear your rude jokes.

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  2. you have weird dreams, lady.

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  3. This was my favorite blog I read this week.

    "Addendum: a guy member, not a member member. You know, that icky thing down there. Not you."

    *snort* Thank you for clarifying. I actually love weird dreams. I find they often jumpstart my writing.

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  4. All right, I refer to the former President as Saint Willie of the Wandering Penis.

    That's where I was reminded that I should never, ever drink anything when I'm reading your posts! Because I had a mouthful of coffee until I read that. My laptop is now wearing it. LOL

    And I almost emailed you the other day because I had a dream about you. It was interesting to say the least. (and no, it wasn't like that!)

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  5. LOL!

    Glad I had finished my coffee before landing on your blog this morning.

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  6. Oh good, someone else scarred by "The Cask of Amontillado". It was required reading for me in Junior High (I was on correspondence at this point). I was totally disgusted and disturbed. I'd heard about the horrors of 'required reading' in high school. Was this a taste of what was to come in High School? If so, could I, a voracious reader and writer, please stop attending any of these classes?

    Finally I spilled it all out to my Mom. She read a little bit of the story and flew into a rage about the disgusting reading I was being force to read. She took on the teacher, the principal and then went to the state education office. (It probably helped she was a substitute teacher in my district. Maybe not)

    And the teacher came back meekly and said I could substitute other reading for 'required' reading if I had problems with it, so long as I was reading and doing the same class work on the alternate reading (this wasn't a problem. Top of my class, always did more and more complex than the teachers asked).

    Lord, I loved my Mom when I was in school!

    So in my school nightmares, I just sic my Mom on the school! Poor idiots never knew what hit them.

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  7. Oh, please, like I'd do that. Must have been an impostor in your dream.

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  8. My novel was born from a nightmare, but it wasn't as active as yours!

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  9. What a great post, Lynn! And i thought I had wild dreams.

    So Nick finding Gabriel in Night Lost really was after The Cask of Amontillado.

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  10. This made me laugh this morning, thank you! Glad I was NOT drinking anything when I read about Saint Willie.

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  11. What Charli said. I'd even cook up something wonderful smelling(and healthy). :)

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