Dreams


UntitledSince my book came out, everybody I know says, “How exciting!”

This, of course, is a very typical American reaction. You tell somebody that you’re going for a bike ride on the weekend, and they say, “How exciting!”  Or you ask someone how they feel about starting a new job, and they tell you, “I’m excited!”

When I first came to this country, I thought that Americans must be the most excitable people on earth. Even now, after having lived in the country for twenty-four years, this inexplicable American enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me. You see, I’m from Russia. We never got excited. We got drunk. Or, when we felt something “exciting” come over us, we got into fights. That was it.

Of course, I personally don’t drink much, and I don’t fight either (well, only rarely, usually with my husband:)). But every time I hear “How exciting!” I feel like saying: “Exciting? What are you talking about? I’m stressed out and anxious!”

And the publication of my book is no exception. In fact, it has made me even more anxious than I usually am. Why? Because there are so many things that first-time-authors have to do when their books come out – publicity, marketing (when you spend five years of your life writing a book, you do want people to read it!), begging friends and colleagues to “please, if you like my book, submit a short review of it to Amazon.com!,” asking established authors to read your book (those, of course, never respond), and waking up at night because there was something you should’ve done but you haven’t, or because you’re obsessing about something that you have done.

This last one really got me last night. The thing is that even without my book project, I rarely have restful nights. One reason for that is insomnia, which, as I age, bothers me more and more, another — intense dreams that fill my nights when I finally fall asleep. Sometimes these dreams are continuation of the daily events — so realistic that I have a hard time in the morning discerning what was and what wasn’t a dream. Sometimes they are nightmares, and often, they are reminders of the things I could’ve done better. And that was what my dream was about last night.

In it, I was reading reviews of my book at Amazon.com (I’mreview told that I should have at least twenty of them, but I have only nine so far), trying to figure out whom else I could to ask for one, when I noticed a new review that I hadn’t seen before:

“It’s a good book, daughter. Thank you for writing it. Mom.”

This is strange. Mom doesn’t write — or read! — in English, — was my first dreamy thought.

She must’ve asked somebody for help — was my second.

No, wait! This must be a mistake! Mom is dead!

This last thought woke me up and I mentally went over the calendar. Mom died exactly two years ago. Two years before my book was published. Two years before anybody could write a review of it. And yet, the message seemed real; seemed like something Mom could say. Something I’d love to hear from her but never will.

I couldn’t go back to sleep after that, and I couldn’t get up either. In this twilight state, in my mind’s eye, I began turning pages of my book, one by one. She was there – if not on every page then in every story. She was a young doctor carrying a bag with a stethoscope, injection bottles, and other shiny medical things. She was there exclaiming “Look how blew the sky is! And the air, it’s so fresh!” She was the one wh1-IMG_1315_1o, when I tried to skip school on account of being sick, told me that “only dead people have no ailments.” And she was the woman crying over the burial of her own mother, my grandmother, the way I cried over hers.

I tossed and turned, and tried to go back to sleep, but finally, I got up, grabbed my book, and opened it. Under the title and other required information, it read: “To Alex and Amelia.”

Even before I finished my book, I knew that I would dedicate it to my grandchildren. To my wonderful grandchildren whom I love so much but see so rarely. It just seemed logical to do that, to pass a so-called “torch” to the next generation. But, was that the right thing to do?

Alex and Amelia, who are now 10 and 6 respectively, may never read my book. Hopefully, they will take a look at the pictures of their forebears, but being so young, they’re unlikely to be interested. Of course, there is a chance of them finding my book later in their lives and, if I’m very lucky, reading it. But will they even notice the dedication? Should I have dedicated my book to my mother instead? Or does it even matter?

She’s gone, and nothing I do will ever reverse that.  Of course, I have my memories of her, some of which I put in this very book. Many of those memories are good, some funny, but some are regrettable. For, as Mom aged, it was easy to get upset with her for saying things that were not “politically correct,” for being not as sharp in her 80s as we, her middle-aged daughters were in our fifties, for her extreme candor — undoubtedly a result of life spent in the country where everything was black and white, with no half-tones allowed.  It was easy and it was understandable. And yet, for two years now, I have been ashamed of those memories.15-svet_17

Well, too late now. Mom will never know about my regrets,as she’ll never know about my book. All I can do is to open a page with her picture and say, “Forgive me, Mom. The way you always did. As for this book, even though it’s not dedicated to you, it is as much about you as it is about me.”

©Svetlana Grobman. All Rights Reserved

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215 thoughts on “Dreams

    • Thank you very much, “The Unrefined Wife”. I really appreciate your comment, and I wish you all the best, too!

      P.S. I think you should call yourself “The Ingenious Wife.” A person who makes her own seasoning definitely deserves that title:).
      I myself have not ever made a seasoning, but I’ve never followed any recipe preciously — I always substitute one thing or another:).

      Cheers,
      Svetlana

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  1. Congrats on your book! Very touching post. I know exactly how you feel. I often think about what my mother would say about my poems and paintings. I hope that somehow she does know about my blog and that I have written several poems about her. Dreams many times are quite revealing. Keep writing and one day when you least expect it you will know that your mother has seen your achievement and is very proud.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved what you wrote. I think i am too young to comment. But there was a sense of attachment i felt. A sense of connection. Being a girl of 21 i pictured myself when i read this. Beautifully expressed!! I think we all have gone through some kind of neuroticism.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Totally identify with your feelings about being published for the first time. So much marketing! I didn’t know at first that writing was only half the part of this whole being published thing. The other half that no one told me about (marketing) still is a new thing 🙂

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  4. Had to say that 😀excited to read your book — such a funny yet accurate reflection – us weird Americans – but true that we tend to make turn things into: amazing- exciting- wow. My Norwegian Uncle thought it was funny how so many Americans use the word Amazing fir everything. He would walk around and softly say amazing as he looked at this and that … amazing.

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  5. Your words caught me up in a moment desperate to read on for the next insight and outcome- so relatable and human. I identify with those extremely vivid dreams – I go to the movies when I sleep too. Sometimes good but mostly strange and haunting. I am excited about reading your book – and you can be sure – I will. You are gifted – and I will be watching for more. Thank you.

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  6. I’m sure will find it one day.. where do dreams come from??? Your mind of course but how does it come into your mind and take over your body?? A full grown human should be smart enough to stop this.. maybe like our body fights infection.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know what I need to say. No matter can I feel your situations or not, I would prefer to put your biography to one of my book lists . Because the people’s emotions is so complicated from different people, I hope I can feel it through your true story!

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    • Thank you, Platuschan!

      You’re right. People’s emotions are complicated and everybody is different. Yet despite all our differences, we still have a lot in common. If you ever read my book, I hope you’ll come to the same conclusion.

      Yours,
      Svetlana

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    • Not quite. We are products of our culture. Many things we do, we do automatically — not out of emptiness but out of habit. When I first came to this country, I thought that people here are shallow (many Russians think so). Yet having lived here for almost 25 years, I no longer think so. While it’s true that American are more enthusiastic than Russians, it is also true that they are MUCH more altruistic.

      It’s not bad to be enthusiastic — even if somewhat artificially. In fact, I’ll take superficial enthusiasm over sincere hatred (which is so-o-o prevalent in my home country) every time.

      Thank you for reading my post!
      Svetlana

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If you ask any author to share her experience about writing her book, she would tell you that she had left a part of herself in every page of her book, her guilts, her fantasies, her dreams and her realities.
    You and your life become a part of it. And at the end of it( like today for you), you find yourself there with someone you didn’t think of while writing but he/she reflects in your book. That, my friend, is the best part of writing a book.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Way to go on your book publication. Authors (as all artists do) fret over their work. We want to believe it is good and that others will find it so. Nothing could be more natural. But, first and foremost, you wrote it, actually completed it, and published it! So pat yourself on the back about that!

    Now you will do all in your power to “reach your audience.” As you should.

    More important than any of that, I believe, is that you are already working on your next novel. Which will be even better. As will the one after that. It will be your stories, the constant improvement of your craft, that will ultimately do the “reaching” for you. And therein will be your greatest satisfaction.

    Write on!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Everyday Voices and commented:
    A good observation about Americans being the most ‘excitable’ people on earth. I was told that by Russians I met too. We, as Americans are too easily excited, too optimistic and as a result never ready for what life throws at you. The Russians are right up my alley. Like Russians, I have a thoroughly misanthropic view of life, though I do give way to being too excited for no reason at times too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having lived in the this country for almost 25 years, I no longer have a high opinion of the Russian way of life (actually, I never did — that’s why I’m here). I’m not saying that everything about America is good. Of course, not. But being miserable and being a good person are two different things. Russians tend to be pessimistic, which doesn’t means that they are good people (some are, of course). In fact, in my 39 years in Russia, I don’t remember anything even close to the altruism that Americans demonstrate every time a disaster strikes.

      If you ask me, it’s okay to be excited “for no reason.” It shows that you’re alive:).

      Liked by 1 person

  11. maam, i’m very sure your mom knows about your regrets and would love for you to not dwell on them. also, as sure as i’m sitting here with my naughty son playing with his toys, i have no doubt your mom read your book. and who knows, she’s writing a great review right now (glowing with that surreal light of pride grinning her teeth out with joy). congratulations! would love to read your book one day…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Autumn!

      Also, I’m glad that you put your mind “over injury” and came the right conclusion in the end:). As a much older person, I have to tell you that being constantly embarrassed is a part of growing up (I was exactly like you at your age). People who are never embarrassed are total jerks.

      Cheers,
      Svetlana

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a superbly honest, heart warming and thought provoking piece. We never truly appreciate moments until they are gone,it’s the fault of human nature. I guess the flip side is the gift of retrospect and seeing all for what it has truly worth, at some point, be it a little late…

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    • Well, it’s hard to appreciate the present. We are too busy, too envolved, etc. Also, it’s like with pain — physical or mental. Unless you experienced pain, you wouldn’t know how lucky it is to live pain-free.

      Thank you for reading,
      Svetlana

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  13. Beautiful. I love your tender and honest description of how complex love can be between a mother and daughter. Also: I’m inspired by your five-year journey to achieving your dream. In addition to our enthusiasm, we Americans often expect things to happen immediately! Thank you for the reminder that good things are worth working and waiting for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much!

      I don’t know about other people’s experiences. All I know that nothing ever came easily to me. That is fine, though. I learned to work hard:)

      P.S. I just came back from a vacation in Oregon, and I must tell you that you chose a beautiful state. I may live there one day, too:)

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  14. I dont know if i’ll ever become a writer good enough to write about the things i love and hate about my mum or anyone as such. It takes a whole lot of courage and bravery to do that and i’m only just able to face Lions (the bravery needed for that is far less) one sentence: I envy your courage

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  15. Congratulations on your memoir’s publication. I’m so excited for you! 😉 My money’s on Americans sharing your stress and anxiety but wanting to be excited–and so saying that we are. Thanks for sharing your beautiful dream of your mother! What a gift!

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  16. This is the first blog I have read! Wonderfully written and moving..My Mother and I have just become close again after being seperated for some time. This topic is the basis for wanting to write my own book. I have been advised to start a blog first so here I am.. there is nothing like a relationship between a Mother and child I’ve rediscovered and most do, believe in our dreams! Congratulations on your book publication!

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  17. How riveting and poignant. Written straight from the heart. Dreams! I have one every morning and when I say “You know, I had a dream the other night” to anyone who knows me, the response is usually a smile as if to say, “you and your dreams!” I receive messages too from those close to me who have passed on. During one very difficult time in my life, the night before I dreamed that my mother, grandmother, an old lady who lived next door in Bombay and who I was close to enclrcled me and held me in their arms and the love and warmth I felt is beyond description. It was only later that, my difficulty resolved, I recognized the dream as a message to me that “…we will hold you and keep you safe with our love.” I am sure your mother communicated. I will definitely read your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much!

      The dream you described is just beautiful! I don’t believe in afterlife, but there is something magical about dreams. Where do they come from? What do they manifest? Hard to know… One thing I believe, though: memories are very important. As long as our dead visit us in our dreams, they are not really dead. And as long as we live, they live, too.

      P.S. I agree with you about the woman in your last post. She is beautiful!
      P.P.S. Forgive me for my late response.

      Like

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