Archive for the ‘My Life’ Category

The Noah And Logan Summer Tour, Part 1: Pulaski Public Library and Fulton High School

Saturday, May 30th, 2015
Here I am with the second "Noah and Logan" book at the Pulaski Public Library for their Disability Awareness Day.  The mural on the background wall is much larger than this photo may make it seem, and it is indeed very vibrant and colorful!

Here I am with the second “Noah and Logan” book at the Pulaski Public Library for the Disability Awareness Day.

I stand next to my first "Noah and Logan" book at Fulton High School, May 2015.  The classroom has a projector, very handy for showing my book to the entire class.

I am standing next to my second “Noah and Logan” book at Fulton High School, May 2015.  I love that the classroom has a projector.  It came in very handy for showing my book to the classes.

Hi, everyone!  I’ve got some news regarding the Noah and Logan series.  First of all, the third book in the series, “Noah and Logan Tie Their Shoes,” is coming soon!  I can’t wait to introduce it to everyone!  Secondly, I am beginning a mini-summer tour of local libraries and organizations where I’ll be introducing and reading  “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean” and “Noah and Logan Learn to Share” to audiences of kids, parents, and anyone else that is interested, and I will also discuss my life as a person with autism and being a writer.

The tour was inspired by a recent Disability Awareness Day event that I participated in at the Pulaski Public Library.   There were stations set up that helped visitors understand what it would be like to have certain disabilities by engaging them in activities designed to simulate certain aspects of diversified disabilities.

I really enjoyed discussing my life, how my books came to be, and, of course, reading my stories to the event’s attendees!  I loved being able to share my books with the children and adults this way.  I am quite comfortable with discussing my life and work with a room full of people, and also in one-on-one encounters such as those I had with the people who came to my table.  I didn’t feel anxious at all, not even with the thought of sharing so much of myself.

I took this as a great accomplishment, and discussed with my Mom the possibility of participating in more events like this.  We decided to see if other libraries and organizations in the area would be interested in letting me share my stories.  To our delight, quite a few libraries we reached out to expressed great interest in having me be part of their upcoming activities; many more than I had previously thought possible.  Many have slotted me in for spots in their summer programs, with a few others reserving my presence for next fall.  I will keep you updated both here and on my Facebook pages regarding how they turned out.

In fact, another opportunity for sharing my work came to me just this past week.  I shared my stories as well as two of my poems with two classes at the Fulton High School and fielded questions afterward.  The students and teachers seemed very interested in what I was doing.  They were very receptive to my stories and poems, asked good questions, and were a very attentive audience.  I hope the people I meet this summer will be just as enthusiastic.  Again, I was very comfortable sharing myself and my stories with these groups; by now, it feels like second nature to me.

This summer is looking very promising for meeting new readers in all sorts of places and with a third “Noah and Logan” book on the way, there will be plenty to talk about.   If you are interested in coming to one (or more!) of these events, please keep an eye on this blog and the Noah and Logan and Benjamin Kellogg Author Facebook pages for information on dates, times, and locations!

UNO and Royal Rumble

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Paragon Fantasy Wrestling ArenaI turned 24 years old a few days ago, but to be quite honest, I still think of myself as 23 (and 22 feels like a long time ago).  My family and I had a little party this past weekend to celebrate.  It was a good get-together: we had some cake and ice cream, played a few hands of UNO, opened some presents, blew out a few candles, and generally had a grand old time.  The next day, I watched the WWE Royal Rumble wrestling pay-per-view with my cousin and best friend.  That show was, in a way, also a great present and a fun way to end my birthday weekend.  A lot of excitement was had by all with plenty of great stories to tell.

The UNO game was a real highlight of the party for me.  It’s a quick game to pick up and play that doesn’t require a whole lot of equipment.  My family and I have played it a lot in the past.  The interesting thing about playing this time for me, though, was figuring out new game-playing strategies for the first time.  The game’s instructions show how to play a simple five-hundred point game where numbered cards are worth the same amount as the number on them (zero to nine, to be precise), cards with words are worth twenty (Draw Two is great for you to have and play, terrible if you’re on the receiving end of it), and wilds are worth fifty (if Wild Draw Four were a military weapon, it would be either an atomic bomb or orbital laser, whichever floats your boat).   This past weekend, I started to look at UNO in a new way and to add a bit more strategy in my approach to this timeless card game, one which my family and I gainfully employed to varying success during the party.

The strategy I gleaned from basic gameplay boils down to two important principles.  The first one: Get rid of your word cards as soon as you can.  These cards are ticking time bombs ready to rain points down on you if another player empties their hand first, and at twenty or fifty points per card, they can add up all too quickly.  During the party, I saw firsthand the devastating results of having several such cards in your hand once the dust settles.  One of my uncles kept getting stuck with hundred-point hands.  After a while, though, we were all numbed from the pain from these types of hands and more often laughing at how the fickle finger of fate dealt these cards to us.  (I do find that word cards have good uses.  If you want to keep other players stuck with lots of cards in their hands, Reverse and Skip make for excellent “traffic controllers.”  The Draw Twos and Wild Draw Fours are great for this, too, but their high point value makes them very risky to keep in your hand for too long.  Be careful how you use them!)

The second principle I gleaned from our UNO games, and this one did come as a bit of a surprise to me, but it does make a good lick of sense: Track the colors!  Depending on what your opponents play/call for when playing a wild, you can get an idea of the colors of the cards in their hands and which ones they want to get rid of.  Once you know this, you can change the color on the discard pile to something they don’t have, forcing them to draw more cards.  The discard color became a serious point of contention during our play time, as it meant being able to free ourselves of a surplus of cards of a dominant color or to switch up the color to break a streak of discards from an opponent about to empty their hand.  It was almost like a boxer switching from one stance to another to confuse their opponent and make a few adjustments; catch them off-guard and then score a KO.  This was a very interesting point to me, one I will have to investigate and practice more during future UNO games.

Speaking of strategy, the one WWE used for putting together this year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view was one my cousin, my friend, and I spoke about quite a bit while we were watching the show.  The Rumble is one of my favorite shows to watch each year, usually because it’s so hard to predict and brings a lot of surprises.  One undercard bout this year really surprised me and my viewing buddies: scientific wrestling whizzes Tyson Kidd and Cesaro pulling out a major upset victory over Kofi Kingston and Big E of the New Day faction.  It was the first match of the night and a bit of a shocker; normally, Kidd and Cesaro, the bad guys, would be booked to lose the opening contest so the audience could have a feel-good moment to start the show, so seeing them pull off a win was very unexpected.  Good job!

The WWE World Championship match between John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Seth Rollins was likewise very delightful.  All three men did a great job of bringing intensity to this top-level contest.  Cena played his customary hero role to the hilt, Rollins was a desperate man looking to break through in a big way (I’m not a huge fan of his, but this was certainly his best match to date), and Lesnar steamrolled both opponents like the nearly unstoppable monster he is known to be.  Lesnar won the match in the end, but all three made this one worth watching.  This quickly became my favorite match of the night, and judging from the reactions of my viewing partners, the highlight of their evening as well.

The Royal Rumble Match itself, however, which came right after the world title match, was somewhat less enjoyable for us.  It started out strong for sure with some big-time returns from the likes of tag team specialist Bubba Ray Dudley (who sadly did not break any tables but did pull off a sweet 3D Driver with an assist for R-Truth standing in for the strangely absent D-Von; where did that other guy go, anyway?), WCW legend Diamond Dallas Page (who pulled off several Diamond Cutter stun maneuvers on everyone he came across; great move that ranks right up there with the DDT and RKO as my go-to moves of choice), and even the worm-chewing creepy-yet-cool Boogeyman (who didn’t seem to have any worms on him this particular evening, sad to say; anyone want to bet his favorite book is How to Eat Fried Worms?).  These special guests, as well as the regular superstars who entered, delivered a lot of great action for a few minutes and had me and my guests feeling confident that this year’s Rumble would be something worth remembering.

All that changed once Daniel Bryan was eliminated about halfway through the match.  You see, Bryan is one of our favorite wrestlers, a real crowd-pleaser who always puts on a memorable show, but who has gotten an astonishing amount of resistance from WWE’s higher-ups both behind the scenes and on camera.  Our hopes were on Bryan to mow through this year’s competition and earn the top spot at Wrestlemania, or at least to come in a close second to our other mutual top pick, Roman Reigns.  Instead, Bryan got tossed out in short order, a very disappointing result to the Philadelphia audience as well as us watching at home.  Why WWE did not let Bryan compete longer than he did, or at least make it to the final four remaining contestants before getting eliminated, I would surely like to know.  After numerous years of following D-Bry, we wanted to see him go far, not trip over a stone miles before the finish line.

After Bryan’s unexpected exit, almost all the energy was sucked out of the match.  I mean no disrespect to the other guys who stayed in the match after Bryan left, but his removal was a sore point not easily healed.   Roman Reigns, of course, won the bout, but the Philly crowd and us home viewers were still a bit too numbed to truly accept him as the next big kahuna of the WWE landscape.  Granted, he entered the Rumble well after Bryan left, but, in my opinion, D-Bry’s is one of the hardest acts to follow in wrestling today.  Reigns did win the match in an impressive fashion by tossing out both Big Show and Kane at the same time (they’re both huge men, so lifting them both up and over the top rope in one fell swoop is an awesome feat indeed).  He also got a big-time assist from his close cousin the Rock (yes, that Rock, the star of all those movies and a legit legend of the squared circle) in fending off a post-match attack from a still-vengeful Show and Kane.  However, because Roman’s ascent came at Daniel Bryan’s expense, neither the crowd nor me and my viewing buddies could really accept the result on that particular night.  I’ve had some time to think about it since then, and I am now willing to accept Roman’s position as WWE’s top good guy if he is ready to fill it.  I have to admit, though, that until this point, I had still been on the fence about whether Roman could ever live up to the hype.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best.

After all was said and done, I’d have to say my 24th birthday was well celebrated!  I’m looking forward to how 2015 plays out for me. I’m still working hard on my various writing projects and will be sharing news on them, as well as anything else I do/come across, with you.  Have a happy and safe new year, and I will see you in the next blog post!

A Quick Update

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Hello again, everyone!  I just wanted to give you a quick update on what’s been going on in my life.  My second e-book, Noah and Logan Learn to Share, is now available for purchase for your Kindle or other device.  This one has been in the works for a long time, and I am proud to see it out in the world along with the first book in the series, Noah and Logan Learn to Clean.  At only a dollar each, they make for great digital stocking stuffers for the readers in your life.  There are more Noah and Logan stories on the way!  Please give them a look and tell me what you think of them in the comments.

In addition to Noah and Logan, I am also working on a pro wrestling novel, the origins of which can be found on this very blog.  Paragon Fantasy Wrestling: The Novel is based on the serialized saga I began in the early days of Kellog Thoughts about a fictional pro wrestling league and the men and women who compete in it.  I’ve taken some of the characters from those early posts and expanded on them quite a bit for the novel, as well as introducing some new guys and gals to the mix to keep things interesting.  I am planning on making PFW: TN into a twenty-chapter story, maybe more if I feel some parts need expanding on.  Right now, though, I am in the middle of chapter ten and I am satisfied with what has come so far.  I will keep you all in the know with where I am in the novel-writing process and, if everything goes well, I’ll be able to share it with you soon.

Of course, I’ll keep Kellog Thoughts going as well with new content.  During my brief time away, I have had a plethora of new ideas I wanted to bring to the blog.  Prepare for new Random Top Fives as well as my perspectives on books, TV, movies, cartoons, comics, games, and other things I feel need to be talked about.  I look forward to seeing what you have to say as well.

Thanks for coming to Kellog Thoughts.  I sincerely hope you enjoy your time here!

My New Book: “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean”

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
I actually like blank covers on books a little bit, too. It adds to the mystery of what's inside.

Read all about it! My new book is here.

Hi, everyone.  I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve had a busy schedule lately.  I hope to get back to doing regular posts soon.  Before I do that, however, there is something important that has happened in my life that I would like to share with all of you.  My first children’s book, “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean,” is now available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle!

In my book, Noah and Logan, two characters based on my young cousins, work together to clean their playroom and put their favorite toys away.  My mother handled the illustrations (I think she did a great job; let me know how you feel about them in the comments).

Even though I’ve been working on my children’s book series for a few years now, seeing the first book out in the world is still quite a surreal experience for me.  I am very happy to see that it has taken flight, and I am working on other stories to follow in its footsteps.  I hope the Noah and Logan series will be of help to other children with autism.  Each book will feature one of the social and life skills I struggled with as a child, and I hope my books will help readers have an easier time with these skills than I did.

There are more Noah and Logan books coming, and I will introduce you to them here on Kellogg Thoughts as each one is published.  Let me know what you think of the series, and Learn to Clean, in the comments.

Pop Culture Haikus: Disney Renaiisance Edition

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

When I was growing up during the 1990s, there were a lot of great entertainment options available to me.  Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Fox Kids, and Kids WB all had great lineups of live-action and cartoon shows that could keep me entertained for hours before and after school.  I subscribed to a host of interesting magazines (Nick Mag and Disney Adventures, you will be missed!) and read through an endlessly-growing collection of books.  One of the most memorable entertainment sources for me during this time, though, was the long string of fantastic animated films released by Disney during this time.  This period has become known as the Disney Renaiisance because the quality of the animation, artistry, music, and other elements of these films were amazingly high; I was a bit too young to appreciate such finer details, but I did really like these movies.  As a small tribute to this period from 1989 to 1999, I present the following Pop Culture Haikus, one seventeen-syllable poem for each film released during this time.

The Little Mermaid

Sea girl meets nice boy./Mean witch steals ocean girl’s voice./Witch becomes fish food.  Nice boy is confused./”Why does the nice girl have fins?”/Just kiss the girl, boy!

The Rescuers Down Under

Aussie boy is kidnapped./Cute U.N. mice rescue him./Boy saved by vermin!  This had an eagle/that the Aussie boy flew on./That’s all I recall.  (Still, that eagle ruled!/Come on, a freaking eagle!/I ride eagle next?)

Beauty and the Beast

Girl meets furry boy./Beast defends her, loves her true./Aw, they got married!  Gaston was a jerk./He didn’t treat Belle nice much./Furry boy much nicer!  Feel bad for Gaston, though./Being thrown off cliff must hurt./Hope landing was soft!

Aladdin

Boy meets nice princess./Boy uses magic to impress./Girl likes real men more.  Jafar wants power./Magic makes him more snake-like./Audience: “Boo!  Hiss!”  Genie is funny./True, he turns into weird things./Still, he’s pretty nice.

The Lion King

Mufasa has son,/Dies at hands of jerk brother./Can son become king?  Son gets two new friends./They tell him, “Not to worry.”/I think he should care.  Simba faces Scar,/Surrounded by hot lava./Better than Ali fight!  Peace reigns in Pride Lands/Because Simba won the battle./Life’s circle rolls on!

Pocahantas

Princess meets nice boy./It’s reverse of Aladdin!/Disney recycles plots!  John Smith is nice man./He loves native princess much./Doesn’t quite get girl.  Radcliffe big, greedy./Cares nothing for natives, only gold./He’s a blowhard jerk!  Pokey and John meet,/Get along though differences/Keep them both apart.

Hercules

A kid from the gods:/”Greece is chock-full of monsters./Let me save it, please?”  Hades, big bad guy:/”Jerkules wins, I burn up./Get me an aspirin!”  I like the muses much./Best Greek chorus ever filmed!/”That’s the gospel truth!”  Pegasus was neat./Large white winged horse impressed all./Rainbow Dash still coolest!

Mulan

Legendary girl/Saved China from the Hun hordes,/Also found husband.  Mushu is cute help./He’s rivals with small cricket./They’ll soon get along fine.  Shang is big captain/In fledgling Chinese army./First big test is Huns.  Mulan can help out./She’ll go as a boy soldier./She’s tougher than most!

Tarzan

Legendary man/Raised by apes, king of jungle/Heard this all before?  Terk’s Tarzan’s best friend./Brooklyn accent in Africa?/Normal for Rosie!  “Trashin’ the Camp” song/Backstreet Boys sing great doo-wop!/Too bad the camp’s trashed…  Clayton hunts big apes/Tarzan says, “That’s not okay!/This hunt is postponed!”  Ape man meets Jane girl/Ape man likes Jane girl heap lots/Maybe they’ll elope?

Do you like Disney?/How about these haikus?  Hmm?/Leave comments below.

Thank You, SEPTSA

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
The biggest puzzle I'll ever have to solve.

Autism awareness: a cause close to my heart.

I would just like to say thank you to the members of the Special Education Parent Teacher Student Association (SEPTSA) for allowing me to speak at the most recent meeting for Autism Awareness Month.  It was an amazing opportunity that I was glad to take and it was great hearing what the other speakers had to say about their lives with autism as well.  Each of us had a different way of telling our story: one speaker had a conversation with another person to illustrate how their autism affects the way they communicate, another used a PowerPoint presentation to emphasize key facets of her speech, and I gave a written speech.  I noticed that there were a lot of similarities between their experiences and my own such as difficulty navigating crowded hallways, the need to maintain daily schedules, certain sensory issues, and slowly adjusting to big changes in one’s life.  It was interesting for me to hear about our shared experiences, and I admire the other speakers for having the courage to stand up and talk about their lives.

I was also impressed with the large number of people who came to hear us speak.  There were a lot less people at the last SEPTSA meeting, so seeing many more people was something I had not expected.  I am glad that so many people are interested in the welfare of special needs children in my community, and I hope they attend subsequent meetings.

It felt great to me to deliver my speech.  I had practiced it a few times, but seeing and hearing the audience’s reactions at the meeting was a very special experience for me.  Their eyes lit up as I spoke about how my mind works and they laughed in all the right spots.  I was surprised that the speech went over so well; I had not expected all the support, at least outside of my own social circle, but I am glad that so many people appreciated what I and all of the speakers at the meeting had to say.

I would like to say thank you one last time to everyone who came to the SEPTSA meeting, including my family, teachers, and other members of the community.  The great thing about these meetings for me is the ability to learn new things about my community through the testimonies of the group members and the special presentations that are presented at each meeting.  I think SEPTSA plays a very important part in this community, and I hope it continues to prosper for many years to come.

Classes and Speeches and Trips, Oh My!

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Hi, guys.  I just wanted to provide a brief update about what’s been happening since my last post.  There’s been a lot going on with me lately so it has been hard to find time to write posts.  I don’t like these hiatuses myself, but considering what I’ve got coming up, I am finding they can’t be helped.  My schedule for next week looks particularly busy, so here’s a small look at where I’m going.

Starting tonight and for every week for the rest of spring and summer, I am taking a series of elective classes at a local college.  I’m taking a different class each month in subjects I’m interested in, such as creating better short stories and fictional worlds, formulating strategies for my career path, and (this one’s just for fun) the impact superheroes have had on the world.  I took an elective class on voice acting last year at the same college and I found the small, intimate atmosphere of the classroom very pleasant and fun.  Hopefully, this year’s classes will be just as good.

I am also working on a speech I am going to give at a local special education PTA meeting next week about my life with autism.  I’ve already written about it a couple of times for my AutismAfter16 column, but I feel a little funny now that I’ve actually written the speech and I’m just a few days away from delivering it.  It has felt like a distant thing to me for a while, but it’s only just hit me that I’m going to give the speech very soon.  I sure hope the speech goes well at the meeting, because it is only then that I’ll know if all my work on it was worthwhile.

I’m going to be on the road for a few days this week.  My dad needs some help with his work as a belt and hose salesman, so he has asked me to come along with him.  I have assisted him several times before, and I greatly enjoy it because it allows me to get out of the house and see a portion of the world I normally don’t get to see.  It looks like we’re going to have some great weather on the trip, too, so that makes me even happier. 

I also have to get my column for AutismAfter16 done for next week!! 

With all I’ve been doing lately, I’m starting to think of this trip as a much-needed break from my normal routine.

I’m planning on writing on here again in a few days, so stay tuned!  As always, leave your thoughts in the comments.

Random Top Five: The Stuff of Nightmares (and Worries)

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Not-so-pretty pictures.

Welcome to my nightmares…

Last night, I went through a grueling battle with a nightmare, dealt with nagging worries, and laughed about a funny recurring dream.  It has become a tradition for me to sometimes toss and turn in frustration at night because I can’t help but think of all of the problems I will have to tackle in the future.  They play out in front of me like a TV “funniest home videos” show full of my most nagging worries, some hopes and aspirations, and sometimes things I liked during the day.  Most of the time, I tend to be annoyed with being reminded of my worries, but sometimes reflecting on them helps me to figure out how to make them go away and think of better things.  The following is a laundry list of fears and concerns which weighed heavily on my mind last night, as well as one “funny” dream which distracted me from these worries for a bit.  These visions tend to stay with me during the day, too, but I find them a bit irksome when they interrupt my sleep at night, so I’m thinking about how I felt when I originally saw them to best present them to you. 

5. Job interview prep

For quite some time, I have been reading books and studying YouTube videos regarding how to prepare for job interviews and how to handle some of the trickier questions that may come my way during an interview.  To be quite honest, I can’t imagine what a job interview might be like considering I’ve never participated in one and because of what I’ve done with my life so far, but if it can lead me to better opportunities, then I’m willing to learn.  I have figured out that the best things I can do during an interview are:  to give honest answers; to talk about experiences which are relevant to the job, the employer, and their expectations; and to make sure all of my answers can be given in sixty seconds or less so as not to waste the interviewer’s time with long, boring speeches or irrelevant information.  All of the tips I have received have been very helpful, but there is one thing which bugs me about the materials I have studied so far, an important detail which my nightmares rudely reminded me of.  Most of the examples of good answers given in the materials reflect people with a moderate to large level of formal work experience.  Beyond one small section for recent college graduates in one book that I read, there wasn’t a lot I saw which reflected anything in particular that I have experienced.  In my nightmare, I saw myself in a formal job interview in which the interviewer kept asking me for examples of workplace experience which I simply did not possess.  All the questions he asked were straight from the books, but I had no suitable answers to give him.  Some other guy got the job while I was back out on the streets, looking for another interview to start the humiliation all over again.  After the nightmare ended, I thought about what experiences I might use to prove my points in job interviews.  I figured I have about five or six really significant or useful examples I could bring up and reduce to sixty-second anecdotes, but I don’t have a clue as to what context to put them in or how to introduce them when the time comes to do so.  I hope to figure these details out soon because in the world of job interviews, you only get one shot at a good first impression, and I want my first swing to lead to a home run!

4. The sleeping bugs in my bedroom walls

Last fall, an army of hornets built a nest inside the walls and window of  my bedroom.  I didn’t really notice them until a few of them started flying around my room.  My family and I killed any hornets we saw for the next couple of days until the infestation grew so bad that we had to call in an exterminator to get rid of them.  Even though he was successful in killing most of the invaders, there were still plenty left over that had largely taken over my room.  In addition, the exterminator had used a foul-smelling substance which was too overpowering for me to sleep comfortably in the room, so I was forced to sleep in other areas of the house for the next few weeks.  When cold weather came and the bugs went into hibernation, I went back in and have stayed ever since.  I worried last night about what will happen when spring comes and the bugs wake up.  I keep thinking I’m hearing the hornets buzzing about inside my room’s walls, and I’ve had enough of this silly fear.  If they do end up taking over again, we will have to call another exterminator to handle them.  I sure hope we can get rid of the bugs permanently, but hopefully next time, a method we use to kill the buggers won’t force me out as well.

3. Mom’s car breaking down

A common theme of recent trips in my mom’s van has been the vehicle threatening to shut down completely once we get underway from our home.  Last Saturday in the middle of our trip, the car began to slow down and rattle.  This has been extremely disconcerting to my mom to say the least; without that car working right and if no one can give us a lift, we just aren’t going anywhere.  We’re taking the car up to a local repair shop to have it looked at for the umpteenth time in the past few weeks.  Last night, I thought about what we would do for transportation if the car is still acting like this.  My dad is out of town, and we need that car working or else we’ll be confined to the house.  Here’s hoping it gets repaired quickly and permanently! Come on car, I’ve got things to do!

2. High school math

I’m taking some elective classes at a local community college over the next few months.  I’m not trying to get another degree for the time being (That’s one struggle I’ve already fought and won!), but I would like to broaden my insights into certain fields of expertise, so I am looking forward to these classes with great expectation.  I still have recurring nightmares, though, about one of my old college classes in a subject I have always had a hard time with.  Last night, I kept imagining I would have to solve algebra problems in one of my new classes, even though I know the subjects of the classes don’t directly involve math.  I have never really understood algebra very well.  I did very well with it when it was introduced to me in middle school, but somewhere around the use of multiple integers or quadratic equations (I’m not sure which, but it did involve a lot of numbers to keep track of), I found myself unable to keep up with what the math courses were teaching me.  This went on all through my high school years and right into college, where I did well with every other course except advanced algebra.  It’s one of the few academic courses that I had a hard time understanding.  To me, it’s as hard to wrap my brain around as the “Potent Potables” category on Jeopardy.  I won’t let my fear of algebra run my life, though; I’ve been doing pretty well without it so far.

1. My mom’s head on an octopus body

For some strange reason, I’ve had a recurring dream for many years, and sure enough, I had it again last night.  In it, I am at some sort of party at the old house of one of my aunts.  I am very young in the dream, probably six or seven.  I am standing on top of the central staircase looking down in the direction of the living room; I can barely reach the railing to support myself.  Some people are talking in that room, but I can’t make out what they’re saying.  My mom pokes her head out of the room and looks up at me, saying, “Wait there, Ben.  I’ll come up and help you get down the stairs.”  (The central staircase in the house was very steep, and whenever we visited, my mom often helped me to go up the stairs to get to my cousins’ rooms and down again when it was time to go home.)  Mom turns to go up the stairs, but for some reason, her head is on a giant purple octopus body with tentacles flapping everywhere.  Knowing this isn’t how my mom usually looks, I end up screaming, and then I wake up and realize I’ve been having the same stupid, funny dream again.  I don’t mind having this dream as much as my more frequent “worry” visions because it reminds me of a more innocent and fun time in my life.  I actually want to have more dreams like it to make my nights happier.  Dad as Barney the dinosaur riding a jet ski through flaming hoops, anyone?   

I have grown sick of turning my worries into nightmares, but I can’t seem to get rid of them.  I can accept them for what they are, though.  They are just worries, and they have no meaning whatsoever with how my life is now.  They are not rational and I will not let them rule me.  Do you have any nightmares of your own, any from when you were young?  Have you ever had a funny dream which cheered you up or made you laugh?  What do you think they mean?  Let me know in the comments.