forgetting and remembering


I keep having dreams in which I lose things or have them stolen: credit cards, my purse, a huge backpack from a train platform. In each dream, the same thing happens as soon as I realize the loss: my stomach sinks in that oh-no-I-can’t-believe-it kind of way. This is always followed by shame. How could I have let that happen? How could I have been so careless?

These dreams aren’t new to me, but I don’t usually have them in succession. So what’s going on? I imagine it has something to do with stress. I have a lot on my plate right now with teaching and writing. I’m also trying to work on some grant applications and get ready for my older sister’s wedding (which is in a few short weeks). I have reduced childcare this week, four kid parties to attend in the next two weeks, and evenings that I have booked with writing groups, volunteer committees, and socializing. I’m sure I’ll forget to write something on my very long to-do list, so each night I play out this worry, this carelessness. Unfortunately, these dreams don’t diminish the stress; they heighten it.

It doesn’t help that lack of sleep and lack of estrogen make me very forgetful. (That’s where I’m placing the blame, anyway.) I forget events, things I said I would do, but I also forget words, phrases. The other night in one of my classes, I was trying to think of a word. I knew the meaning of the word I wanted, knew there was a word that meant what I was trying to say, but I couldn’t reach it. I stumbled, tried a few others, but they didn’t fit. Finally, one of my students said it: deliberate. That little word was the one I needed, but I couldn’t pull it from the recesses of my mind.

It is very rare that D will say, “I already told you that. Don’t you remember?” Usually I am saying that to him, not the other way around. The first few times this happened I protested. No way, you didn’t tell me that. Now I simply shrug: Really? Oh. Oops.

But even though I’m busy and forgetful, things are still good, better than they have been in a while. I am enjoying teaching so much—I leave both classes feeling high, looking forward to the next week. I’m finally writing again, even if it is only a few hours a week, and I’m excited about what I’m writing. The work is slow, but it’s moving. And my daughters are lovely, wonderful. Zoë is seven months old and the most joyful baby I have ever known. Oh, she has her moments, certainly, but she mostly very happy, sending these loud squeals out into the world. I am stopped multiple times at the grocery story by people commenting on her disposition. (She is especially happy strapped to my chest in the Baby Björn.) And Stella seems so much older to me these days. Yesterday while Zoë napped, we played in her invented world, she chattered excitedly, I did as I was told (stay on the ship; eat this appetizer; don’t put your foot in shark water), and we had such a nice time together.

Last weekend D and the girls and I went up to my mom’s cabin, just the four of us. He’s finished traveling for the season, and this was our celebration—a weekend away. It rained most of the time we were up there, but still, I felt so happy. We were together for three whole days, and his Blackberry wasn’t ringing and beeping and vibrating the whole time. (Who knew I could hate a phone so much.)

There was a break in the rain both Saturday and Sunday, and I was able to go running. I usually run on the hilly dirt road that we named “the whoopee hills” when we were young. It was flattened and widened years ago, but it’s still hilly, and I love being at its high, far end, the moment I turn around to see the lake on one side and fields and fields of corn on the other. Unfortunately, there are some aggressive dogs that live along this road now, and their owners let them run free. As I pass the house, they charge me, teeth bared. I like dogs, but not when they are snarling at me. These dogs actually scare me, and this weekend I didn’t want to have another encounter with them, so I ran along the shoulder of the busier road.

I was disappointed at first, but as I headed out, over a small hill, I came upon the farm where my older sister used to take horse-back riding lessons from a young woman while we were in grade school. I had completely forgotten about Jill and her farm, but as I ran by, I could almost see Rachel and me sitting on the tall wooden fence around the corral, watching Sara do laps, her face set in concentration.

I continued to run, passing a field of cows, fields of dry corn, more small farms. In the distance, fields gave way to trees: bright orange and yellow, deep red. The sky was slate, and I couldn’t get over it, how brilliant all those colors looked against that dark gray. I ran and ran and then turned around and headed back to the cabin, not missing the whoopee hills at all.


  1. Yes, I know how this feels. I mean, your memory not being yours and struggling to find what you know you knew. It is kind of strange. And, I agree with you it is being tired….and more than tired. It is also kind of interesting that the word you couldn’t remember was deliberate. As in you cannot be deliberate these days in terms of remembering things that you need to say. I really enjoyed reading your account of running in the country. Thanks. Also, I am looking forward to that online class…is still in the plans?

  2. Lovely post, Kate. Your happiness comes through, despite the troubling dreams.

  3. I had a dream that everyone was getting hit by cars. What does THAT mean? I also have this dream A LOT…that I am back in school, about to get my report card, when I realize that I never went to any classes. What does THAT mean? But my best dream is the one where I order a fruit cup for breakfast, and then say, “I should have gotten the hash browns. I can eat them now. It is a dream. YOu can eat hash browns in a dream!” ANd well, yeah…I KNOW what that one means!

    Sweet dream tonight…

  4. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have found your blog. I am a new mother and a writer (who hasn’t written a thing in years). Your blog is such an inspiration. I happen to live in Minneapolis, and so will definitely be taking your class at The Loft. Thank you, thank you. Thank you for reminding me it’s still possible.

  5. I’ve been so busy lately and not spending much time to rest, when I do sleep, I sleep hard and don’t recall dreaming

  6. Thanks, all.

    Ines, I still hope to do an online version of my class. I’m trying to figure out logistics.

    Laura, I have that same school dream. It’s almost always a math class and I realize I’ve skipped the whole semester and I know I’m screwed.

    Beverly, welcome! I look forward to meeting you in person sometime!

  7. Two briiiiiiliant Kate Hoppers-both with blogs…how can the world get any better?
    Keep writing and teachin’, girl!

  8. I loved reading this post. Also, I thought you should know I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night fighting things that I think are in the bed. Sometimes faceless wormy things. Last night it was a giant web. I sprang out of bed and turned on the light and whipped around to start my kung fu moves before I realized it wasn’t real. It’s a good thing James is a night owl or he may have gotten one in the jaw.

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