There Comes a Time
When You Realize
The Only Person
Standing in Your Way
Too Many are Not
Living Their Dreams
Because They are
Living Their Fears ~
Fear Kills More Dreams
Than Failure Ever Will.
Now Sister Madly knows better than to believe every rumor that crosses her path; otherwise, she would be locked in the pantry, wailing in sackcloth over the fact that the world did not end in 2012. However, when the Professor cited an article that claimed Stilton Cheese has been known to induce dreams, she was most intrigued.
The idea of vivid dreams was like catnip to the starry-eyed moppet, as her sleep has been rather dreary as of late: even Rambunctious Shadow Kitty has been tame these last few weeks. A dream of epic proportions would be a welcome change to the recent nights of intermittent insomnia: dreams of travel, of sparkly things, of encounters with legendary creatures- anything that deviated from the current ritual of staring up at the ceiling fan at 3 AM would be greatly appreciated.
There was, of course, the possibility that she would end up with equally vivid nightmares, in which case Sister Madly would spend the rest of the night with her eyes propped open with toothpicks.
But that is the risk one assumes when dabbling with Stilton Cheese.*
* Along with the most atrocious morning breath. Indeed, it is not a Cheese of Romance.
So to ensure a night of unparalleled adventures in slumberland, Sister Madly decided to hit up the local Stilton-Dealing demimonde: the neighborhood grocer.
It’s quite sci-fi, really, the way the supermarket doors slide apart before her. She has long-since perfected her majestic stride, parading in and out of the market like a demented Grand Vizier- until that afternoon, that is, when the doors slid apart with all the speed and enthusiasm of continental drift.
Which Sister Madly failed to notice until it was all too late.
After the usual bout of stars and bluebirds circling about her head, the first thing she saw was a pair of bacon socks and bear claw slippers standing before her. Further on up, the celestial vision gave way to the wool skirt and orange poncho of the jolly transient who collects bottles from bins and feeds granola to the pigeons. He was particularly chipper that day, having just heard of a possible 5¢ bottle deposit increase, and was eager to tell Sister Madly all about it.
He then mentioned that the doors were defective as of late, and she should take care when challenging their position.
Once inside, she made her way over to the cheese counter, where she effectively avoided all staff due to the glossy ‘don’t even try talking to me’ veneer inherent in all feral Sister Madly’s. Unfortunately, the market was rather limited on their selection of Stilton; but then, certain American proprietors are rather skittish when it comes to unconventional cheeses.*
* Especially in regards to that cheese infested with maggots– seriously, Italy, that is so uncool.
While the cutesy little sign recommended a cheeky wine pairing for foodies and romantics alike, there was no advice on protocol for inducing dreams (how unthoughtful!) Apparently, dream-seekers were completely on their own when pursuing a round of nocturnal adventures.
And yet, this revelation was nothing compared to the terror Sister Madly endured when confronted by the mother of all social horrors:
The self-checkout was gone.
There is a reason that the gods created self-checkout, just as they created texting, single-passenger cars, and carrier pigeons: to pass their divine blessing upon lovely, antisocial behavior.
You know what this means, don’t you? Sister Madly has to talk to people!
And she has to talk to them about a wedge of stinky cheese.
Now this was a high-risk scenario: would the cashier deny Sister Madly this cheese knowing she was using it for recreational purposes? Were there guidelines on how to consume this delicacy for maximum dream lucidity? Is she allowed crackers? Cured meats? Some people put Stilton in a port wine sauce; however, Sister Madly wasn’t too keen on the idea of drinking her cheese- that all but guaranteed unforgivable nightmares. And what about the rind? Was there a certain magic contained within that outer layer?
But these questions answered themselves when Sister Madly woke the next morning, all tangled in bed sheets and with the world’s most terrifying bed-head.
There had been a dream, all right, one of a plucky Sister Madly sticking pins in ginger root as though it was a voodoo doll, all the while singing ‘All I Have to Do is Dream’ to her pet pinecone (affectionately named, ‘Pinecone.’) There was a vague awareness that the constellation Sagittarius was being held hostage by a man named Doug, but this was of no consequence as Sister Madly was a Gemini.
In other words, your run-of-the-mill dream. So disappointing.
TUNISIAN VEGETABLE SOUP
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic gloves, minced
- 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
- Sweet potato, cubed
- Rainbow carrots, chopped
- Celery, sliced
- 1 cup pearl couscous, uncooked (opt)
- 6-8 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1-2 tbsp Harissa, to taste
- 1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 cinnamon powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Oil, for sauteing
Saute onion and garlic until translucent; 5-8 min
Add carrots and celery; saute 3-5 min
Add spices, tomato paste, and harissa; mix
Add potatoes and mushrooms; stir to coat
Add stock and bring to a boil
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally
Add couscous (if using)
Cover and simmer until couscous is cooked; 8-10 min
THEME SONG: All I Have to Do is Dream, Everly Brothers
Sister Madly so wanted to be an orphan when she was young. The Boxcar Children can do that to a girl.
No doubt it would be a dreamy life, where she would spend her days collecting pretty rocks, cooking over an open fire, bathing in a babbling brook (but only when she felt like it, by golly!) and stocking her humble abode with treasures found at the local junkyard. She would be a pioneer in the industrialized Midwest, where she would eat nothing but jerky and Zingers- which was only logical, since these foods never spoil. Also, they were readily available at the party store down the street.
Despite its flawless beauty, there was something about this plan that offended her mother so horribly- seriously, what did being an orphan have anything to do with her mother, anyway? After all, it was a perfectly normal childhood desire to be a foundling; even her sister, Tallulah, had orphan aspirations, which were inspired by the movie Annie.
*Turns out, being an orphan had everything to do with her mother.*
Alas, the dream began to sour when it became clear that Sister Madly could never survive in a boxcar; in fact, she is reminded of her own incompetence every time she goes camping. And it’s not just setting up the tent; getting in and out of the horrid thing can only be achieved through a sophisticated network of zippers which leaves her whimpering within the confines of that canvas prison until someone lets her out. If she can’t figure out a tent, surely the boxcar would have eaten her alive. Not to mention that she has no idea where the nearest junkyard is, that babbling brooks are hard to come by, and what on earth does she know about intentionally starting fires?
But what killed the orphan dream was not only the discovery that the frosting can be peeled off a Zinger in one rubbery piece, but that it can stick to the ceiling for hours.
And that riffraff is FDA approved.
Fortunately, her plucky spirit did not die with the dream, for even prior to these discoveries Sister Madly was fascinated with the idea of alternative worlds- especially those found down rabbit holes, inside of cupboards or magic books, or behind mirrors. It is so much easier to survive in these realms than in a boxcar as one’s basic necessities are always provided for through magic, with no shortage of life lessons learned through a host of mythical creatures, arch nemeses, and lovely lunch pail trees. Sister Madly never understood why those who stumbled upon these worlds spent their entire time trying to get back home- seriously, just think about it. Magical jewelry. Luck Dragons. Ancient texts. A moon that becomes a kitten’s smile. Spontaneous musical numbers in which you instinctively know all the songs and all the choreography.
And again- lunch pail trees.
But as the years passed, her looking-glass remained inaccessible, she never encountered the Goblin King, and her mother was constantly preventing her from traveling Over the Rainbow by dragging her to the basement whenever there was a tornado in the area. Apparently, Sister Madly’s insistence that she knew exactly how to get home from Oz was not at all reassuring.
As neither her mother nor the laws of physics were on her side, Sister Madly sulked at the prospect of living out the rest of her life in the world of the mundane.
But is there really such a difference between the two worlds?
In one world, roads are made of yellow brick.
In the other, roads are made of asphalt, in which large, gaping sinkholes appear without warning and swallow everything whole.
In one, the animals speak the native language and join you for dinner.
In the other, the animals speak a foreign language and are made into dinner.
In one, certain foods make you grow taller.
In the other, certain foods make you grow wider.
In one, the moon is a smile.
In the other, the moon has a face. Sometimes.
In one, mushrooms make you hallucinate.
In the other, mushrooms make you hallucinate.
In one, animals wear human clothing.
In the other, animals are human clothing.
So Sister Madly, explain to us if you will, why should you prefer the mysteries and adventures of alternative worlds when the one you live in is just as bizarre?
Then again, there’s that whole lunch pail tree thing…
THEME SONG: Mad World, Tears for Fears
Even if the Dream
Doesn’t come True
It’s rather Thrilling
To have Dreamt it.
~ W. Somerset Maugham
Images: Leonid Tishkov
Earlier this week, Sister Madly woke up with the worst hangover of her entire human career, which was all fine and dandy except for one thing: she didn’t drink the night before. In fact, she hadn’t had a drink since the Zip It’s Inquisition.
Well, that just irritated Sister Madly. To wake up with a hangover when she did not partake in the pre-hangover festivities is so unfair. Then again, people have been known to sleepwalk and sleep eat, even sleep drive in some instances. So why not sleep drink?
Did the dog* eat your IQ for breakfast, Sister Madly? At the bottom of what teacup did you read such logic? You don’t keep alcohol in the house. Even the bit of wine you killed off during the Inquisition was what remained of the wine you cook with.
*That would be Sambo, the imaginary dog of Sister Madly’s Childhood Friend, Serafina.
Maybe she dreamt that she drank all night. Maybe this is a psychosomatic hangover.
And so once again, Sister Madly found herself engaging in 3 AM Rationale at 10 in the morning with words she could hardly spell. The last time this happened, she brought the salad dressing along with her to the Seventh Circle of Hell, known to general public as the Batting Cage. In light of those developments, she thought it best to iron out all the kinks before work that night.
Wait- what was that about working? Just what work would that be, Sister Madly?
Come on- you know she takes care of the lotuses.
Is that so. And just where do you do this caretaking?
At the pond.
For the love of all things polka-dot, Sister Madly! Who works at a pond? Botanical garden, yes, conceivably even a wetland- but a pond? Just where, pray tell, is this pond?
Now she’s stumped. It would be understandable if she couldn’t give you the exact address, but Sister Madly can’t even tell you how to get there. She could call her boss… the boss whose name she does not know… How does one address someone who has no name? How is it that she doesn’t know her boss’ name? How is it that she knows nothing about her job?
Oh, Sister Madly, don’t you see what has happened here? Surely it tickles no one to say this, but it was a dream. You dreamt that you were this Lotus Caretaker, and you believed it. Worse yet, you’ve been believing it for more than half the day. You were even going to call this imaginary job! Tell us, Sister Madly- what color is the sky in your world?
Of course, upon thinking it over, it was obvious that it wasn’t real, even though it didn’t have the bizarre elements that one cheerfully accepts in a dream; no dandelion-dispensing gumball machines growing in the pastures; no plaid T-Rexes flaunting feathered boas at the casino. It had all the earmarks of real life- there was even the scent of rain and neroli oil, which is something she rarely experiences in a dream. And she was sad, because it was a really pretty pond and she liked her job.
Sister Madly, you see, was the only one who could make the Lotuses bloom- that, right there, should have tipped her off. Sister Madly doesn’t have what they call a green thumb. Sure, back in the 6th grade, she had the largest lima bean plant by the end of the month, but that was entirely due to a boy named Benny, who took over her duties when Sister Madly was out with yet another bout of Chicken Pox.
And just how was she able to get them to bloom? By lifting the lotus out of the water and holding it in her palm until the petals fell open- prying them apart only killed the flowers. Fortunately, she did not find this out the hard way. That might have made her cry.
Sure, it sounds like candy, Sister Madly; that’s why it doesn’t sound like you. Are you certain that cartoon birds weren’t also braiding your hair? How about sitting on your shoulder, singing you a lullaby?* What about riding a magic carpet through the fireflies and the fairies? Would you have believed all this, too?
Still, Sister Madly does have to work tonight: she needs to work on distinguishing reality from her fever-induced dreams.
*Had it been real life, it would’ve been buzzards braiding her hair and a belching pelican on her shoulder. With fish breath.
POST’S THEME SONG: Fever, Sarah Vaughan
It was a young and impressionable Sister Madly who, upon seeing her first scissor lift in action, decided that she was going to master the contraption in her lifetime. She liked to dream big in those days.
And her dream came true a few years later.
It all took place at the mall, at the bistro where she worked. Sister Madly had long since become friendly with a variety of creatures on the maintenance staff when one came along on a lift, which he said was essential for making certain repairs. It only took the promise of a peanut butter cookie for Sister Madly to finally live out her life-long dream.
And she did more than just ride along: she got to take the controls, sending the lift to dizzying heights, cheerfully weaving through the ceiling fans and helium balloons, amusing herself by lowering the lift the moment Maintenance Acquaintance was reaching for a light bulb (he wasn’t particularly fond of this game.) Nothing, it seemed, could spoil the moment of a dream come true- but her optimism was brief, for there was lurking in this kingdom of magic and leaky ceiling tiles a person that could destroy it all in an instant: Diamond Dave.
Diamond Dave was one of those security guards whom Sister Madly never quite warmed up to, who thought himself suave and walked as though he charmed the world despite the fact that he had all the personality of a pudding cup. All this wouldn’t have mattered, really, had he not had a marvelous grasp of the obvious- and it was obvious that an unlicensed Sister Madly was operating heavy machinery strictly limited to the Maintenance Staff.
It is unclear as to how much trouble Sister Madly would have gotten into for playing around with this equipment, but it spelled certain doom for Maintenance Acquaintance for allowing her to do so. So to save the job of the guy who made her life-long scissor lift dream come true, Sister Madly crawled onto the roof of the bistro and hid.
Now, the bistro did not have a storefront; rather, it was a stand alone structure inside the mall, with its own roof that contained the water heater, some boxes of an unknown origin, and more dust than the lunar surface. Still, it was a small price to pay for a life-long dream, for all she had to do was wait for Diamond Dave to prance on by, then climb back into the lift and return to ground zero.
Oh, the best laid plans of Mice and Madly…
He did not prance on by, nor did he waltz, stalk, sashay or strut; instead, deciding that it was time for his hourly dinner break, Diamond Dave dropped anchor at the bistro and would spend the next 20 minutes feasting on coffee and windmill cookies while Sister Madly languished in the midst of some mutant dust bunnies. Of course, to keep up the appearance of an innocent and dutiful employee, Maintenance Acquaintance finished changing the light bulbs and rode off into the glorious sunset.
After explaining the situation through the ceiling vent to her co-worker below- who received the news without batting an eye- Sister Madly had no choice but to wait until Diamond Dave finished his confectionery banquet.
And just how long would that be?
After 20 minutes of marinating in lunar dust, the inevitable happened: Sister Madly had to sneeze. And she does not have dainty sneeze DNA, nor had she, at this point in her life, learned how to stifle a sneeze– that was still a few years away. Thankfully, co-worker took the fall like a champ, but it was clear that this charade wouldn’t hold up under scrutiny; just one look at the girl and anyone could see that she would have exploded under a sneeze of that magnitude. She was a dainty sneezer through and through.
Rescue came, however, a few minutes later, in the form of a faked call for security assistance at the far end of the parking lot. The location for this call was vital, as it would take another 15 minutes for Maintenance Acquaintance to return to the scene of the crime.
Aye, there is nothing like seeing your white knight approach in a bright orange scissor lift, driven at speeds of 2 mph through the mall.
Someone has got to learn from Sister Madly’s mistakes- it might as well be you.
POST’S THEME SONG: Your Wildest Dreams, The Moody Blues