“Molly Campbell's writing will pull you out of a rough day and put a smile on your face. Mommyhood is hard work, but Molly reminds me to laugh, take a deep breath, and find the humor in everyday life.”
Elizabeth Spann Craig, Delicious and Suspicious (as Riley Adams) http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com 

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I have recurring dreams. They are very strange. I guess some of them are common. I have looked some of them up on “dream analysis” web sites. What I have learned about myself isn’t pretty. But some of my readers might share these dream topics, and so I thought I would share my dreams and their meanings, in case you want to know yourself better.

Something terrible has happened, and you need to make an urgent phone call, but you keep getting the numbers wrong, and you have to start over:  You need reading glasses. Also, you might have control issues. You are probably bossy and need to be taken down a peg.

You are in high school, and you forgot your textbook. But you can’t remember your locker combination.  You have control issues. You are probably way too concerned with keeping all your ducks in a row. It is upsetting to you when something escapes your notice—like that dust on top of the ceiling fan that your son-in-law pointed out yesterday. You feel worried about how people perceive you.

You look down at your chest in a business meeting and realize that you are not wearing a blouse—or a bra. Just your boobs.  You have control issues. You worry about how others perceive you. The fact that your daughter pointed out that you have some stray chin hairs yesterday has made you anxious.

Somebody is chasing you, but you can’t run for some reason.  You saw that burglar alarm commercial one too many times. Plus, you have control issues.

You look in your living room, and there is a bear sitting on your sofa.  Your husband has control issues. He remarked this morning that five cats is too many, and that you are absolutely crazy to want that dachshund puppy on Craigslist.

You are in front of a huge audience, standing behind a podium. They applaud wildly, and then look at you expectantly. You have absolutely nothing to say. You are worried that you are getting old and passe. Your kids don’t seem to listen to you when you give them advice. Your husband interrupts your conversation to insert one of his own remarks.

Good God, you have CONTROL ISSUES.




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Remember Dear Abby? She was incredibly wise and down to earth. People with all kinds of problems wrote her letters (actual letters; this was way before technology), and they described all sorts of icky problems. They had awful mothers-in-law. Their spouses were unfaithful. Their children used swear words. I bet back then, having a seven year old say “damn it” was shocking. Of course, now, the entire second grade at Everytown Elementary slings around the F-bomb at recess. But I digress. What do people do these days when they have problems? They Google them. And who has the answers? Bloggers who post all sorts of clever solutions to everyday problems. And they call them “life hacks.”

Now, first off—these life hackers address problems like how to squeeze lemon juice without getting seeds in your salad. They tell you how to use common household items like vinegar and baking soda to eliminate scratches in your furniture and crow’s feet around your eyes. They don’t tell you what to do if you discover that your cousin Ella is having sex with your husband. I guess because no amount of baking soda will solve that one. When you have a fidelity problem, you have to just wish for the good old days when Abby would help you. Oh, I guess Dr. Phil is the go-to guy for things like this now. But how many people can afford to get tickets to his show and fly out to Los Angeles?

I like to read the life hacker blogs. I have tried a few of their suggestions myself. And I have to say that some of their hacks are useless. That olive oil and vinegar solution did not restore the finish on my dining room table. And it still looks oily.

But some of the hacks (I wonder how these helpful people came to call themselves hackers, anyway) are logical. I particularly like the one that says you should peel bananas from the opposite end. That was genius.

But how on earth do these people come up with their hacks? I asked my husband. He is an “outside the box” thinker. He said, “Well, if I wanted to be a life hacker, I would get some rubber bands, a sieve, some talcum powder, a paper clip, a bar of soap, and a bottle of vinegar, and I would go down to the basement and play around.” Of course, that is what he does anyway, but I didn’t say anything.

I pictured this. Joe Flinker, life hacker, is tinkering around with some sea salt and his wife’s perfume (she naturally doesn’t know Joe took her flagon of Chanel) in the laundry room. He accidentally spills some of the mixture on his hand. He rubs it off, along with the top layer of skin. After he finishes cursing and rinsing his hand in the washing machine rinse cycle, he notices that after the redness dies down, his hand looks smooth, young, and smells great. Eureka! Exfoliation is born! Now Joe and Zoe Flinker are wealthy. Because their YouTube video got a billion hits, they won Shark Tank, and now get millions in royalties. Zoe drives a Beemer and wears Michael Kors sunglasses. She has few wrinkles. And Joe spends even more time in the basement now—with stuff like essential oil of orange, cotton balls, witch hazel, and borax.

So if you have a household trick that your Aunt Mabel gave you for getting sweat odor out of leotards? Do you have a feeling that nut shells are under- utilized? Have you ever wondered why more people don’t wash their hair with baking soda? Do you save rubber bands? Well.  You may be a life hacker and you just don’t know it. Get down into the basement, pronto! And tell your wife to start shopping for a new car, for heaven’s sake. But if you wonder whether your meter man is seducing your wife? Life hack, no. But there may be an app for that…

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Have you seen the web sites and television shows about the “tiny house” movement? Fascinating. Here is what people are doing: they are getting rid of just about every single thing they own except for three outfits, two pairs of shoes, four pots with lids, a toothbrush, and their favorite pillow. The rest of their stuff they are tossing or donating or giving to their friends. Then they are going off to live in a teeny, tiny house that they can attach to the back of their SUV.

I am not lying. These houses are just the cutest things. They are about 200 square feet of efficiency. They have tiny, little stoves, tiny little heaters, two drawers, one chair, a table that folds into the wall, and a sleeping loft.

The ones I have seen are really cute. What they lack in space, they make up for in innovative and artistic stuff like onions hanging from the ceiling, bookshelves for three books, knotty pine paneling, and hand thrown pottery. Well, one piece of hand thrown pottery.

The concept is simple: you don’t really need a house. You should live outside your house, after you park it somewhere. Then, after you empty the toilet tank (you should really pay more for one of those composting toilets—much easier) and set up your solar panels for energy (park somewhere sunny, you fool!), you can run through the woods and frolic. Or if you plan to stay awhile, grow your own veggies. If it is cold or rainy, then I guess you have to stay inside the tiny but cute little house and read one of the three books.

According to Joe Blow, who was happily married at the time of his interview, “We have learned to really respect each other’s space (There is actually enough space for each of you?). We have learned to put our things (you mean thing?) away after use. We actually like being cozy and mobile.

Well, I have never equated being cozy with being mobile, but here is the thing: I think Joe and his wife probably spent their honeymoon in that tiny house. He and his wife Martha had an idyllic time in the loft, and romping in the woods, yes. And on that one rainy day, they read a book, ok.

But my theory is this: Martha wanted to get a good night’s sleep, but Joe’s snoring resounded against the knotty pine. There was about a quart of water in the tiny, little tank, so Martha had to take sponge baths, even though there was a “shower” in the house, but it required standing on top of the composting toilet, holding a wand resembling a hairbrush. Joe sneezed and the front window broke. Martha got tired of hiking.

So Joe and Martha put their tiny house up for sale on Ebay for three thousand dollars. A hermit bought it. Apparently, all the hermits just adore them.

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The world is a very small place, all of a sudden.  In terms of the span of time, I mean. For millions of years, there were only grunts or smoke signals. Then we evolved a little–if you wanted to talk to somebody who wasn’t in your line of sight, you might have to write a letter. And then that letter might take weeks to reach your friend. More progress: Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone. POW. We were in real time, baby! As long as you had either a land line or a dime to put in a pay phone, you could chat right then with another person who might be miles away. Just a second—did you notice that I said “land line?” That just slipped in. Of course, Mr. Bell had no idea that someday we might need to distinguish between a “land line” and the internet. Because now, we have iThings.

With our iThings, we can go on social media and chat away. At any time of the day or night. This is great for me, because I can’t sleep very well most nights. But thanks to my iThing, I can get on Facebook and see if my fellow insomniac, Amy (www.witfaced.com) is online. She always is, because , DUH,  she can’t sleep, either. We have discussions in the dark, I beside my sleeping husband, and she beside her snoring one. Chicago and Dayton in the wee hours. We have monumental discussions. Here are some of the topics we discuss:

Night sweats; are there hypoallergenic cats; why is Goodnight Moon a classic because our kids hated it; did you know that watermelon has only 35 calories per cup; my husband gets up to pee three times a night; why does the camera add ten pounds when it could just as easily subtract ten—geez; I am sick of all the Facebook quizzes telling me which Breaking Bad character I am, but maybe you should write a quiz about which porn star you would be hahaha; what is your favorite movie; My God I hated that movie; I tried that “natural deodorant” but immediately got BO; hey, do you have a good recipe for leftover corn; and what are you doing tomorrow if you manage to actually go to sleep tonight.

Yes. I know. Thanks to  the internet and social media, there was a revolution in Egypt. People shoot videos of important political events as they happen and broadcast them immediately.  That guy whose name I forget made the world aware of just how much snooping our government is doing. As a matter of fact, G-men are probably reading my emails right now. And we see police brutality and world hunger in real time—just in time to do something about them. Or not.

Because I have the sneaking feeling that the majority of the world population who have iThings spend their time deep in the velvet darkness of night asking one another critical questions like whether or not they have ever considered smothering their snoring spouse with a pillow.

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Life is messy, stressful, and complicated. The older we get, the more it hits us. I think retirement comes at a great time—just when you are getting really tired of getting up every morning and putting on suits, ties, or business casual; and after you have fought that millionth traffic jam only to walk into a business meeting where everyone is at one another’s throats, you get to chuck it all and go home.

Home. It’s the place you have been jamming full of throw pillows, soccer balls, dog toys, frozen entrees and citronella candles for years. It is finally your haven. You get to stay here all day long. You can sleep in or not. You can make a really detailed grocery list. It is great.

But suddenly, you look around. Or at least we did. And my husband had an explosive burst of clarity: if we don’t start getting rid of some of this stuff that we have been shoving into closets for thirty years, our kids will hate us when we die. Well, I don’t buy that: they know who changed their poopy diapers and drove them to all of their extracurriculars all those years. Plus paid for college. But I did think that those mittens and shin guards in the front hall closet were just a bit extraneous.

So we have started getting rid of things. My husband has felt a great sense of triumph getting rid of the seventeen bags of camping equipment, basketballs, and science projects (but that volcano really worked!) in the basement. He is now turning his sights to the attic, where there is one box full of junior high lecture notes that I am sure the girls still value. They would be furious if he threw those out. I am certain of it.

What am I doing about all this? Nothing. I am thinking about it. For me, this place is full of memories. I remember the days I watched riding lessons and fell asleep. Good times. So I hate to get rid of that old riding helmet. It’s vintage, and it makes me remember that little horse-crazy kid. There is one entire bookshelf full of plays. But the older girl was a theatre major! And she was so dramatic! I am not ready to throw those in the recycling. I like having them there.

So life goes on. I look out of the windows of this old place where we had pizza nights, forgotten birthdays, arguments and all that family stuff that we all relish. So I remove certain things from the Goodwill bags behind my husband’s back.

But the day will come. Maybe I will stumble over a memory and twist my ankle. It might be the catalyst to finally divest! We will finally have the freedom to look into our golden years unencumbered! I will go on a housecleaning rampage!  Apparently, this turning point happens to everyone. I may just come to it a little later than average. In the meantime, I just live in the moment. Here in this great, old, house full of stuff. Our stuff.


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