Stress dreams about manual labor

So my wacky dream about Chinese communists (that’s a really unoriginal “enemy” and I’m disappointed in my own psyche on that one) taking over the US, stealing my iPhone, and making me engage in manual labor with no real rewards most certainly has something to do with how exceptionally tired I feel. I feel like I’ve been lifting bricks. And sleeping on logs. And inhaling chemicals (the last of which is true).

I don’t normally complain much about pain. A brief tangent is warranted here to remind you that I’ve broken two bones in my life, but in each instance waited 3-4 days to even go to the doctor. I’ve walked about on a fractured fibula (leg). And I ignored a broken wrist and concussion in college (stupidly) until the wrist started turning colors and my inability to read letters and numbers from left to right scared me into the doctor’s office. Point = I have a high tolerance for pain and I don’t like to complain of it.

But Saturday it felt like a claw was gripping my rib cage from the inside out. And the muscles in my hand started cramping, tiny pins shooting through it and begging me to put down the damn paint brush. I’m not trying to be dramatic. Ok, maybe a bit.

More context is warranted. My mom and I deep cleaned the main bathroom in my new house. My mother deserves a congressional medal of honor for going up against the crud in that room. It’s hard to exaggerate how sick it was, and how sick I felt scrubbing every inch of it with a scrub brush (and some pretty insidious chemical cleaners) only to come up against what appeared to be giant balls of phlegm stuck in various places on the wall, tile, tub, as well as mounds (literally) of a person’s hair seemingly glued into the paint. I don’t think I could make a room that dirty if I tried. And I’m a slob. Here’s what came out of the tub drain. Congressional medal of honor worthy, yes?

By the end of Saturday – that is, after waking up at 6, teaching yoga, and then working at the house from 9:30 till 7pm (plus painting the last bedroom all evening on Friday night – a lovely blue color by the way) – I was starting to lose it. White paint was streaked through the front of my hair and I was too apathetic to wash it out. My back hurt so bad that it hurt to take a deep inhale. (It still does. I should probably figure out why.) I was spouting off to Mike all the things we still needed to do, how overwhelmed I felt, how I barely felt like I could drive myself home, when my phone rang. It was my dad. “I’m going to come over in the morning and start laying the granite for the fireplace… and we’ll get the drywall fixed in the basement…. I have a key and I’ll get there early…. and your mom said she’d help you deep clean the fridge/stove/dishwasher….” I couldn’t even hear what he said next. By that point I was weeping (quietly) and just managed to say, “mm hm, okay… thanks. see you tomorrow.” Seriously – I don’t know what we’d do without them.

If I have any semblance of a work ethic whatsoever,  I learned it from them. My dad lays flooring for a living and works day in and day out (many weekends included) but still has made time to do an extraordinary amount of work over at our house. Unlike me and Mike, who get to wake up and sit at a computer and desk on Monday, he’ll go do more back-breaking work tomorrow. He’s barely had a break. Today he did this to the fireplace:

So, all of this is to say that I’m feeling tired and emotional (irrationally so) but so, so grateful. My dream makes me laugh, inasmuch as I’ve only had a handful of stress dreams like it in my life. It’s got to seriously get ingrained in my brain to start showing up in dreams. The only other stress dreams – which I still have from time to time, even years later – are ones about waitressing (typically I’m at Bob Evans and I have like 100 guests and am flying around the restaurant serving eggs and biscuits, but people are complaining and telling my manager I’m doing a bad job) or teaching (same thing really – I have like 35 kids and 10 of them are losing it and throwing books around the library and my principal is standing at the window). So there we go- for the next 10 years I may dream of painting and deep scrubbing phlegm from the walls and cursing the people who lived there before us and didn’t have the courtesy to run a vacuum over anything or tell us there was mouse shit in every kitchen cupboard. (But I guess that will help our cats get over the transition?)

Anyway. I’m grateful for my parents, and for the satisfaction that comes with hard work, and for having cats to catch mice, and for this beer I am drinking, and for tiger balm and (hopefully) working from home tomorrow. And for almost being done.

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