Saturday, February 28, 2009


My son had a dream that he was drinking the most amazing icy water from a glacier source last night. The first thing he did when he woke up was to run downstairs and fetch a glass. Naturally, the ice and water from our fridge did not measure up to the frosty potion he had dreamt about. What a drag.

Some dreams come to us at night when we are sleeping and some are merely daydreams. We daydream about winning the lottery, fitting into jeans we used to fit into, going to Belize or Fiji or some such tropical getaway spot, phantom lovers and fame. Some of us confuse our fantasies and wild imaginings with the here and now. This may cause trouble.

I often dream about houses. Sometimes I find these houses, sometimes my husband or brother are the ones to find them. Never average or ugly—oh no—and they almost always stand above or near bodies of water—usually the ocean. We make our way through them room to room, and wonders are revealed, like secret hallways or attics full of treasures.

In one such dream we pulled up to a Spanish house, parked at the curb, and I boldly pulled my husband inside upon finding the entry door ajar. The living room ceilings were vaulted and beamed. There was a huge fireplace, and a charming balcony at the top of the iron staircase. The dining room had crystal laden wall sconces that matched a magnificent chandelier. The kitchen had majolica on display, and an arched picture window that looked out over a pool and cabana.

About a month later we were on our way to visit friends, driving in a town called Whittier just outside of L.A., and I spotted that very same house! A realtor was placing balloons and flags out front, a sign read OPEN HOUSE NOON TO 5:00.

I told my husband that it was the house from my dream. The one I had described to him in such detail over coffee the following morning. He said we must have driven past it before and that’s what triggered my active imagination. I agreed.

But, explain this, I had never been inside, and the interiors and yard were exactly as I remembered. The claw-foot tub, the lemon tree, the whitewashed pavers and hardwood floors, an upstairs bathroom with turquoise tile and a built-in vanity, that incredible view of Los Angeles’s skyline from the backyard—an exact replica!

The house was for sale but for an incredibly high price. We climbed into the Fiat and drove away lost in our own thoughts.

I have had other dreams that are difficult to explain and many like the one my son had last night. He was just incredibly thirsty and needed to hydrate.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Modified People

I was an all-knowing freak from the beginning. When I was little I knew what the grown-ups thought I didn’t know, and I saw what they thought I couldn’t see. That’s what fucked me up. I’m sure of it. It’s damn near impossible to have a happy go lucky childhood when you realize that your mother loves your father’s brother and not your dad. It was hard to relate to other children, the other kids in the neighborhood seemed so clueless about so many things. I wanted to ask them why they were so oblivious but knew better than to do that. Take my older sister for example. Brenda never could figure out what was really going on, she was too busy playing jump rope and planning her future wedding to Prince William, (yes, she was convinced that they would marry. Even though he lived clear over in Jolly-Old-England, and we lived in boring with a capital B Sandusky Ohio.) I kept my opinions and observations to myself. I harbored deep dark secrets.

Now I work in an office and I see what my co-workers think nobody sees. Marvin for instance, he’s gawking at porno on his Dell when he should be making cold calls. And that bitch Fiona, she was banging our married boss Shep after happy hour every Thursday. Don’t ask me why I know but Fiona had to have an abortion last month and won’t sleep with Shep anymore. Trudy makes long distance phone calls to her ex husband out in California on the company dime. Lest you think that I enjoy being the person that knows—I don’t—it’s a never-ending burden.

So, when I read an article in People magazine about a renegade doctor that specializes in modifying people, I didn’t waste any time signing up to be on his extensive waiting list. After a few months I finally stepped foot into his posh office suite in Long Beach for a consultation. I longed to be like everybody else. Focused on sex and money and status and all that regular stuff. I told Dr. Armstrong to shorten my nose and perform a little liposuction, and while he was at it, could he teach me how to flirt? I’d always been shy around guys. I confessed that I was sexually repressed and still a virgin. Dr. Armstrong said it would take about two years to modify me. Did I have the patience? He wasn’t so sure. I made a pledge, if there was one thing I had going for me, it was patience.

He began to renovate my personality and characteristics. We had a rough road ahead of us, he explained, because I was the sum total of all that had formed me. He would do his best to undo the damage. Hypnosis was Dr. Armstrong’s tool. Luckily, I was highly susceptible to suggestion.

You could say that these subtle changes happen so slowly you aren’t even aware that you are changing. One day Sadie from accounting asked me if I’d noticed how much weight Darla in sales had put on recently. And I hadn’t! My lack of interest was a revelation. I hadn’t been hitting the chocolaty snacks either. I preferred carrot and celery sticks to Hostess cupcakes. My energy level had skyrocketed. Happy Hour held no allure, alcohol no appeal. On the anniversary of my first year with Dr. Armstrong we celebrated by scheduling my nose job. He suggested I straighten my teeth as well and I went for it. Why not?

Do you love happy endings? Because I do. When Dr. Armstrong was finished with my modification he asked me to marry him. It seemed that I had become the perfect woman. Did I mention that I also had breast implants and completed schooling to obtain a nursing degree, so I run his office now? Well I did and I do. We live in a lovely home in Palos Verdes and I am expecting our first child. Life is amazing. I’m so lucky to belong to the exclusive club, to be one of the modified people.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Blues

Stupid Lists

What’s wrong with my life? So many things. I’m compiling a list on this dreary Monday morning. I’ll start with a pertinent question, who names their kid after an unpopular president? I couldn’t be a William, or a Thomas Nixon? No, good old Dad chose Richard. And now that damn movie’s out, the one Opie directed about David Frost’s interview, so Nixon’s on everybody’s mind again. Great. My brother-in-law’s taken to calling me Tricky Dick. I go by Rich. Looking back, I should have changed my last name a long time ago.

I lost my job last year. I was riding high, managing a giant warehouse, busy selling flooring to high-end, and not-so-high-end customers feverishly willing to spend their equity money like water. But the bottom fell out of the housing market and now many houses in our neighborhood are in foreclosure. So, here I am. To make ends meet I took a job with my maniacal brother-in-law Steve. He’s a commercial electrical contractor and I’m his glorified he’ll-do-anything-I-ask-him-to-do-flunky-monkey. I should have gone to college. Too late now. Got a wife that isn’t interested in working outside the home, (she’s a Dr. Laura groupie), three kids, four goats, a horse, two dogs and God only knows how many cats. All these creatures are relying on me for support.

I stopped into 7-Eleven to pick up my customary giant cup of coffee, and just my luck, I run into Mr. Perfect. Sam Waterhouse stands before me at the coffee station. We used to live on the same street when we were kids. He’s a doctor now. Works over at Loma Linda, drives a sleek black Mercedes, and likes to make small talk whenever we meet. “How is Monica?” he inquired. He’s married to an internist, and she’s got a face like a hawk. I wasn’t surprised when he asked after my fetching wife, he always does. He took Monica on a date in junior high.

“Monica’s good,” I say. Please don’t ask me anything about work.

“Still home-schooling the kids?” He’d already poured three sugars into his travel mug, whoa that’s a lot of packets.

“Yes.” I subtly began to back away. I really was going to be late for work and Steve would berate me in front of the crew for sure.

“We’re trying to get pregnant,” Mr. Perfect volunteered.

“Cool. Good luck with that. Oh, man,” I said, looking at my watch in a blatantly conspicuous manner, “excuse me Sam, got a meeting, and I’m running late.”

As predicted Steve really laid into me, I was only about ten minutes late but he carried on as if I'd showed up at noon. He took off. Got to keep bidding on jobs, especially in this economy. I’m supposed to be combing over these invoices but I’m too busy listing out what sucks about being me.

Did I mention that I put on weight? I eat donuts, hamburgers, Cheese Curls, anything and everything that’s handy. And I don’t exercise. I’m too depressed to exercise. When I get home from work I watch TV. I like Dirty Jobs. The Food Network. Sports. Monica rolls her eyes as she heads for the gym. She encourages me to join her but I don’t. So I’m a fat dismal failure at the ripe old age of thirty-four.

My parents sold their spread for big bucks before the bubble burst and they moved away, to Arizona. They live in a cookie cutter house that resembles all the other cookie cutter houses. I identified theirs by the garden gnome that Mom's owned for years, after I spot him standing in front of a cluster of cactus. Dad retired, he plays golf now. Mom works in a scrap-booking store. I miss dropping by to see them after work. I think about driving out to see them again but I know that Monica will squelch that idea. We’re too broke. We’re too broke to go to the movies, or out for breakfast. We’re too broke to buy a lift-pass so our oldest might go snowboarding this year like he usually does. We can’t even afford cable but I insist that we keep it. I will give up every other luxury, but I won’t give up cable. I point this out to Monica, she’s still paying her gym dues—still hitting that treadmill. Well, I need my couch and TV.

Sure, it crosses my mind. Monica could meet some Mr. Body Beautiful at The Fitness Factory, and leave me for him. But Dr. Laura would frown on that kind of behavior so I don’t think Monica would even go there. She’s a loyal, sweet wife. I’m lucky to be married to such a great girl.

I should probably stop with the self-loathing and focus on what I have going for me. At least I have a damn job. Many don’t. We haven’t lost the house. Our kids are great. The animals are getting fed. We own our Honda and my Ford pick-up truck free and clear. Things aren’t so bad as all that. I crumple up my stupid list and get back to work.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.