The Best Burgers Ever (or: BACK UP YOUR STUFF)

As a writer, it’s important for me to remember to back up my work at regular intervals so that I don’t lose hours of precious writing when a file gets accidentally deleted. As a mother, it’s important for me to back up my photos and videos so I don’t lose tons of precious memories because a hard drive decided to have a violent hiccup. And as a wife, it’s important for me to back up my recipes…lest I lose a super-important one and my husband subsequently has heart failure.

We all make mistakes sometimes, but this one lost recipe – which I had on my computer but had never actually written down anywhere – is one of my husband’s absolute favorites. It was discovered as part of an old file full of super-old cookbooks, and when I realized I’d lost it we spent hours trying to track it down again. Luckily my husband did eventually manage to find it on a recipe-sharing site, and I’m sharing it here today both as a method of backing it up for myself, and also because you guys deserve to try out the best burger recipe in the world (totally unbiased opinion).

Credit for this recipe goes to Rhoda Troyer, of Glenford, Ohio, who won a “World’s Best Burger” competition with it some years back. It seems pretty basic (the recipe is mostly the sauce), but trust me when I say it’s absolutely delicious.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.tasteofhome.com

Sauce:

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp prepared mustard
1-1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/8 tsp pepper

In a small saucepan, mix all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and let stand. Protip: if you’re a molasses lover like my husband, you can reduce the ketchup and add in more molasses. It doesn’t change the consistency of the sauce, but it gives it that bit of a stronger flavor.

Burgers:

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup quick-cook oats
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1-1/2 lbs ground beef

Mix all ingredients together, then add in 1/4 cup of the sauce you prepared earlier and mix in well. Protip: I usually bump the oats up to a 1/2 cup instead of the 1/3, to help hold the burgers together a little better, since the sauce makes the meat a little less consistent.

The original recipes calls to form the meat mixture into six patties, but if you do so those patties will be pretty enormous. The last time I made this recipe my husband got me to make eight patties instead and they were the perfect size. Another protip: after you’ve formed the patties, through them in the fridge or freezer for a little while to get them nice and cool and keep them formed.

Finally, barbecue (or fry, or grill) to your liking, using some of the leftover sauce to baste. You’ll still have tons of sauce left over, but trust me when I say to stick it in a container in the fridge and hold onto it for a while. It goes great on pretty much anything you might want to barbecue.

Finally, slap those burgers on buns and top as you like! We usually throw on some bacon, cheese, and onions, and oh man…there are no words.

So, in conclusion: back up your stuff. And make these burgers. And let me know when you’ve made them so we can gush together about how awesome they are.

Authors Answer 29 – Tapping the Inner Child

TraceyLynnTobin:

It’s been a while since I remembered to share an Authors Answer post, so please feel free to visit Jay’s site and read back through them!! Today is #29, in which the authors and I talk about how adults can write from the viewpoint of children.

Originally posted on I Read Encyclopedias for Fun:

There are many books from the point of view or featuring children and teenagers.  But children and teenagers don’t write those books. Adults do. This week’s question comes from aclmohle.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 29: How do adult authors write from the point of view of children/teenagers so well?

Paul B. Spence

You’re assuming that they do write well from that viewpoint, which I haven’t seen be the case, most of the time. However, at least you can say, well, they were kids once, right?

S. R. Carrillo

I think it’s all a matter of remembering, very well, even while realizing how ridiculous it all was, the experience of being younger, feeling trapped, thinking you know everything, fancying yourself invincible… It’s easy to tell when an adult is trying too hard – recall the shittiness and freedom of being a teenager to write like one well. Otherwise… it’ll show.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

This…

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Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for April 2015

What? A Loot Crate that’s a month behind? Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with that either. Unfortunately Loot Crate has been showing up a little later every month for the past few months, until finally last month it hadn’t come by the time I was leaving for out West. I hate when that happens, you really have no idea. But I can still do an unboxing and review anyway, because that’s just the way it’s gonna be.

Check out the video!

So, starting out I was a bit concerned about the tiny stature of the box, but it wasn’t all bad. Let’s take a look at the breakdown:

“Dungeons and Dragons” shirt: Now, on the one hand, a shirt like this can be a little disappointing because I have never once in my life even thought about playing Dungeons and Dragons. But on the other hand, it’s actually not a bad shirt, and since there’s no words on it, as far as I’m concerned it’s just a dragon shirt, so I’ll definitely still wear it. My ignorance may annoy real D&D geeks, but ya’ll can kiss my butt, ’cause I’m still gonna wear it. Standard t-shirt value: $15

“The Princess Bride” playing cards: This is one of those items that I have mixed feelings about because it’s a cute idea, but it’s also something that’s probably going to end up at the bottom of a drawer in my house. We don’t play card-based games often enough to get much use out of these, and a deck of cards can’t really be displayed on a “nerd shelf”, so there you have it. Regardless, this deck is part of a larger set of decks created through Kickstarter, and this one particular deck retails for almost $10.

“Dungeons and Dragons” bow tie from Black Tie Geek: This is another one of those weird items. It’s kinda cute, and I appreciate what Black Tie Geek are trying to bring to the table, but it’s not something that will ever get any use in our household. The previous tie we got was the standard style, and that at least has a chance of someday being worn somewhere, but no one in this house is going to wear a bow tie, least of all one covered in little dragons and dice. But nice try. Since Black Tie Geek’s website still isn’t properly set up, I have no way of knowing what this tie is worth, but based on similar items I’m going to go with about $15.

Inflatable Crown: At the risk of sounding grumpy, this item actually bothers me. Call me boring if you want, but little, cheap, junky things like this in my subscription boxes makes me want to scream a little. I’m paying for geeky stuff and collectibles, not for cheap children’s toys that can be found at the Dollar Store. And that’s the value I’m assigning this crown: $1.

“Harry Potter” 9-3/4 Bag Tag: Now this is more like it. It might not be as cool as a collectible that can be displayed on our shelves, but I can appreciate this item. I love Harry Potter, and I do a lot of traveling, so this item will actually get some good use. A thumbs up on this one, and believe it or not this bag tag retails at $15.

“Game of Thrones” House Sigils magnet set: While I don’t want there to be magnets in all of my subscription boxes all the time, I can appreciate the occasional good ones, and these ones are definitely acceptable. I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones, and these sigil magnets will absolutely have a place of honor on my fridge. The full set straight from HBO actually comes with 7 magnets for $12, so after doing a little bit of math we’ll say that this set of 4 is worth almost $7.

Direwolf Head 4GB USB drive: The best for last, in my opinion. I love this little USB drive designed for a direwolf head, also from Game of Thrones. Maybe I’m a bit of a loser, but for some reason I love USB drives, just like I love stationary and pens. Maybe it’s a writer thing, I dunno. Either way, I’m loving this item. I believe it’s a Loot Crate exclusive, but based on similar items and accounting for the size of the drive, I’m estimating a value of about $10.

Approximate total value of box: $73
Total cost to me: $37

So right off the bat, we have to address the fact that this was the highest value Loot Crate I’ve ever gotten, which is surprising considering that my initial impression was of a tiny box that probably didn’t have much in it. However, we also have to address the fact that many of these items retail for prices much higher than what I would pay. The deck of cards, for example, is cute, but I would never pay more than $5 for it. The bag tag is another example; I really like it, but I figure it’s worth $7 or $8 maximum. And the bow tie is another thing…it adds (at my guess) about $15 to the value of the box, but it’s something that no one in my house will ever use, making it’s value kinda negligible. That said, even when taking into consideration the pricing of everything, if you add up what I feel everything is worth, you’re still looking at about $50, which isn’t bad.

All in all, there wasn’t much in the box that WOWED me, but there were a few items I rather like, and the value was there. Long story short, I give a “not bad” and a thumb up to this box, and I’m looking forward to the next one (which will hopefully come on time!).

What did you think? Did you receive a Loot Crate for April 2015? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? Did you like the theme? Are you excited for May’s box? Please share!

Horror Block Unboxing and Review for April 2015

I do so love doing these super-late unboxing-and-review posts, but until I can convince all of the subscription box companies to ship around my work schedule, this is what we’ve got to deal with.

Today it’s the Horror Block for April 2015, and it wasn’t half bad if I do say so myself. Why not check out the unboxing video?

Not too shabby, right? Let’s go to the breakdown:

I <<Whatever>> Evil shirt: As I’ve mentioned, the hubby and I haven’t been terribly impressed with lots of the Horror Block t-shirts, but this one isn’t too bad. Evil Dead is one of my hubby’s favorite horror movie series, so you can’t really go wrong. Assigning this shirt my standard value of $15.

“Dr Peter Venkman” Funko Pop: Ya’ll know I loves me my Funko Pops, and though I do already have a Venkman Pop, I will happily accept this one as part of my Horror Block since it’s technically different from the one I have. The price of Funkos can be pretty random depending on where you’re getting them and how rare they are, but as this is a common Pops I’m going to assign it the value that it usually costs me to buy Pops when they show up at the local shops: approximately $13

“Killer Shots” Skeleton shot glasses: These are actually super-cute, and it’s always nice to get something in these boxes that is useful. That’s not to say that I use shot glasses on a day-to-day basis, but it’ll be fun to make some bright white shots in these glasses when we have friends around. Two thumbs up, Horror Block. You can get a four-pack of these little guys for about $14, so I’m calling to the 2-pack worth $7.

“Bates Motel” mug: Sometimes getting mugs in these boxes is cool, but I’m not terribly impressed with this one. It’s pretty plain, and actually kinda looks like something someone would make on CafePress using a stock image. Couple that with the fact that we just have so many mugs already, and I’m not horribly happy with this item. I half-heartedly allow it a standard mug value of about $10.

“Overlook Motel” coasters: I’ll admit it…these are kinda funny. It would be interesting to just throw them down during a party and see if anyone realizes what the pattern is that’s holding their beer. But they’re not exactly a game-changing addition to the box. Just a junky little thing that’s kind of amusing. I can’t find these online, so I’m estimating based on the fact that they’re paper coasters, and come in cheap plastic packaging. Let’s say…$3.

Rue Morgue magazine: Finally, as always, the magazine that I never read. Maybe someday when I’m bored I’ll actually take a look through some of these magazines, but for now I personally see them as an item that could be something a lot cooler for the same value. These go for $10 a piece.

Total approximate value of box: $58
Total cost to me: $38

So a couple of things… One, the value wasn’t too shabby. There have been a couple on the low end the past few months, so it’s nice to see that number work its way back up a bit. Second, though I technically don’t much care for the last three items in the box, the first three make up for it. Every box with a Funko is an almost instant win for me, and the shot glasses might not be a high value but they’re still pretty awesome. Couple that with a t-shirt that might actually get worn around here, and I’m happy.

Unfortunately, when you take those three items that I like and combine their values, you’re hardly getting what I paid for the box, which is a big downer and the main reason that I’m going to be cancelling Horror Block. I’ll be getting the box for May (probably sometime after I’ve gone out West), but that will be the last one because I just can’t justify the amount of money I’m spending for the number of cool items I actually end up getting.

Impress me in May, Horror Block. It’s your last shot.

What did you think? Did you receive a Horror Block for April 2015? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? Do you feel the cost is worth it? Please share!

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.”

Ah, sleep… Something we all need, something many of us loathe, and something that is almost painfully elusive in our modern world. There are so many frustrations when it comes to sleep, because so many of us have trouble getting the right kind and the right amount at the right times, and every person is different.

What better example than right in my own household? They say that people of my and my husband’s age should get about 7 hours of sleep a night, and that kids my daughter’s age should get about 11. However, I’ve seen my husband run perfectly fine on 5 and my daughter run like a champion on 8, all while I can get 9 or 10 and still feel like I haven’t slept in a week. My husband and daughter both seem to need background noise (like a TV show playing) in order to fall asleep in the first place, whereas I could pass out in minutes whether there’s a party going on next door or the world is complete silence. My daughter rarely mentions anything about having dreams, and when my husband has a dream it’s usually something very boring and benign, but I have these full-length motion pictures in my head that are usually completely off-the-wall and so vivid that, if given the chance, I can write pages and pages about what I remember.

I also seen tons of variations when I’m on shift at work. As I’ve mentioned, I work out West on the Alberta oil sands, and the way that works is that my coworkers and I fly out, live on a camp for the length of our shift, and then fly home. The rooms that we live in are like tiny little dorm rooms with – let’s admit it – pretty crappy beds and super-thin walls, and we each have to share a washroom with the next room over. This makes for tons and tons of poor sleeping conditions. Some people sleep like rocks, complete with earth-shattering snoring, which means that their neighbors often spend night after night crying into their pillows. Some people wake up multiple times throughout the night and need to use the shared bathroom, which in turn wakes up their neighbor who otherwise would have been sleeping just fine. Other people just can’t seem to get comfortable in those beds, no matter what they try. Still others just find it difficult to get used to sleeping alone when, at home, they’re used to having their spouse by their side. Where do I fall in all those categories? Well, let’s just say that the beds are awful, my husband isn’t next to me, and there’s enough noise to jolt me back to wakefulness every time I just start to fall asleep.

But every so often, the stars align. My bed will be particularly comfy. The temperature in the room will be just right. My husband won’t wake up in the middle of the night and jostle me as well. My daughter will sleep clear through the night without once stirring and yelling for me. Even the two cats will decide to sequester themselves somewhere instead of running around like maniacs at two in the morning. And for whatever reason my brain will actually turn off for a change, so I won’t have exhausting motion-picture dreams. I’ll sleep, I’ll sleep well, and it will be glorious. And that one good night will keep my body from falling apart for the following twenty bad nights.

Hey, we all get along somehow. :P

What is your nighttime routine like? Do you need noise or silence? Lots of blankets or few? Do you dream a lot? Get up multiple times throughout the night? Or are you lucky enough to sleep like a drugged rock? Please share!

Reading and Writing (but No Arithmetic, I Promise)

So I found this questionnaire the other day and thought, “Yeah, sure, why not?” The questions are mostly related to reading and writing, which interested me, so here we are. I found the questions on Things Matter, but they originally came from Blu Chicken Ninja, so check out both sites!

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#1. What is your favorite book?
I’ve answered this question before in other posts on this blog, and the answer hasn’t changed. Though I have lots of favorites, the one that I always return to over and over again is “Invitation to the Game” by Monica Hughes. It’s a short novel, but she managed to pack a lot into it, and I absolutely love her version of a dystopian future on Earth. It’s absolutely, definitely worth a read, I promise you.

#2. What are your goals? For the year? For life?
If you follow my blog you already know what my goals for the year are: to take better care of myself, to build my readership/viewership, and to write a lot. But what about my life goals? Mostly they’re pretty simple, common things: raise my daughter to be a good person, keep my marriage strong and happy, avoid ever getting into any kind of debt again, stay healthy. But there’s also the one that’s always niggling at the back of my mind: become a successful writer.

#3. Are you a writer? If so, tell me about your work.
Obviously the last question gave this one away. Yes, I am a writer. I have completed and published one novel (so far), a zombie apocalypse story called “Nowhere to Hide”. It’s a story of survival, mixed with lots of horror and a little bit of psychological drama, and I’m pretty proud of it to be honest with you. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, both from friends and family as well as complete strangers, so I feel confident that I did, in fact, write a good book. Now if only I could convince several more thousand paying readers of that fact. Ha!

#4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I don’t think I really have one answer to this question. I mean, if I had no ties, no responsibilities, and didn’t have to worry about money, I’d probably visit a lot of different places, but I don’t really think there’s one particular place that I desire to go above any other place. And if I’m being totally honest with you, being a fly-in/fly-out worker has given me one hell of an appreciation for home, or wherever my husband and daughter are. So seriously, if I could go anywhere, it would just be wherever the three of us can be together.

#5. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre, and was it worthwhile?
I have a horrible memory, and I’m sure my husband while correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the last movie we saw in theatres was “Guardians of the Galaxy”. And if I’m correct, it was absolutely, totally worth it. Going in, hubby and I didn’t really know much about the Guardians other than the fact that Rocket Raccoon was one of them, and also some talking tree thing. We came out totally hooked on the characters. The movie was awesome; it was tons of fun, didn’t take itself too seriously, and also told an epic story. I’ve since watched it multiple times, and it’s even become one of the little missy’s favorites.

#6. I’m curious, are there any books that you’ve tried to read and simply couldn’t finish? This is a no judgement zone.
Lord of the Rings. There, I said it. And I feel like I lose geek cred for admitting it. The thing is, I loved the movies because it really is this truly amazing, epic adventure, so I figured of course I’d love the books as well. So, years back when the first movie had just come out in theatres, I asked my parents to get me the books. They got me the big three-books-in-one version, and I set to it… But I never made it past about halfway through the Fellowship. I couldn’t do it! There is so much excess stuff that is painstakingly boring. Tolkien tells an amazing tale, but he intersperses it with the completely unnecessary backstories of every race in the world, along with pages upon pages of describing things like what a forest looks like. I actually, literally, fell asleep with the book on my chest one night because my brain couldn’t handle reading any more descriptions of trees. I’ve often tried to convince myself to go back and give it another go, but I’ve got so many other books in my backlog now that I don’t think that’s going to happen for a good, long while.

#7. Are you currently working on a new book/project right now? If it’s secret you don’t have to tell me about it. If so, however, I hope it’s going well.
My current project is a four-part series that is a kind of young adult fantasy. I’m tentatively calling it “The Other World” and it involves a teenage girl being pulled into a parallel universe and finding out that she was actually born there and is the key to defeating a great evil that has taken over the throne. I’ve been working on this story for pretty much a decade, and it’s changed multiple times, but I’m confident that this is the one that makes its way to becoming a completed, published series of novels.

#8. If you could live in any of your favorite books, which one would you choose?
Oh lord…I don’t think I’d want to live in the world of any of my favorite books. Most of my favorite books are super-freaky horrors or the kind of epic tales where half (or more) of the characters die. Would you want to live in a Stephen King novel, or in the every-freakin-body-dies worlds of George R.R. Martin? No, I didn’t think so.

#9. Are there any book-to-movie adaptations that you think are just incredible? That you absolutely hated?
If we’re counting comic books, I’ll definitely have to mention “The Avengers”. I absolutely loved that movie, and I thought that the actors (particularly Robert Downey Jr and Tom Hiddleston) did an outstanding job of representing their respective comic book characters. I also thought that the first “Harry Potter” movie was amazing, and though “Game of Thrones” is a show, not a movie, I think everyone involved in it has done an absolutely astounding job.
As for ones that I absolutely hated? I could probably sit here all day and list movies that didn’t do their books justice, but the one that first came to my mind was “The Mist”. It was actually a good movie, and I really enjoyed it, but the ending (which deviated from the ending of the book) seriously made me want to kill myself. It was the most god-damned depressing thing I’d ever seen, and I felt like just watching it took years off of my life.

#10. What do you look for in a book that you want to read? What’s the first thing to capture your attention?
Monsters or magic. I love all kinds of creatures, especially the ones that are actually monsters and not just over-sexualized playthings, and anything magical or fantastical gets my attention right away. I love epic stories with evil creatures and struggling heroes. That’s my jazz.

#11. If you’re an author, what do you do when you first get an idea for a book?
I obsess over it. For ages.
Usually, when I get an idea for a book, it starts out as an idea for a scene, around which I then create a reason for the scene to exist. And once I’ve got that scene it usually takes over my brain like a parasite. I play it over and over in my head. I put music to it. I sketch it out. Sometimes I’ll write and rewrite that scene a dozen or more times, trying to get it just perfect. And then, hopefully, a book forms around it.

#12. How do you feel about different genres? Romance? YA? Sci-fi? Poetry? Do you have any favorites? Any least-favorites?
My favorite genres are definitely horror and fantasy, no question. I love the creepy and the epic. When I was younger I used to read a lot more sci-fi as well (mostly because I was obsessed with Star Wars and had to read every available novel), but that’s tapered off to pretty much nothing. Romance? Hate it. I enjoy a good romance as part of a story, but when the story is just about the romance? No go. YA I can handle as long as it’s well-written. Poetry, totally not my thing.

#13. If you could meet any writer in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t think I’d ever really want to meet any of my favorite writers. I know some excellent writers personally, so they don’t really count, but my feeling about a lot of big writers is that they tend to be very judgemental about other writers. Some of my favorite writers have said some pretty awful things about other writers, and many of them have this horrible attitude that a book has to be written in an exact formula, and anything that deviates is trash. I don’t like that attitude, and I’d like to avoid it if at all possible.

#14. Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Definitely fiction. Non-fiction has it’s place, and I do enjoy reading a bit about some historical stuff, but mostly I want to escape to another world when I’m reading. I’m all about the speculative fiction, and all the crazy stuff that is sort of grounded in reality but could never really happen. That’s the stuff that really gets me into a book.

#15. Are there any characters that everyone loves that you can’t stand? Or vice versa?
How about that twit in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books? That seems like a cop-out because, in reality, there are probably as many people who hate her as there are people who love her, but man, I really hate her. I just thinks she’s so horribly written, and her thought process makes me wonder if she’s completely brain damaged or something. Even if she weren’t falling in love with a guy with an extremely abusive personality, she’s just such a horrible character that I can’t feel the least bit of empathy for.

#16. What do you do besides reading/writing?
Well, I’m a mom, so there’s everything that that entails. I also play video games, make YouTube videos (mostly unboxing videos), and watch a lot of TV shows and movies with the hubby. It’s a pretty simple (but enjoyable) life.

#17. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

Well, I’d like to think that I’d be rememberd for being a good daughter, a good wife, and a good mother, but obviously. Aside from those, I’d like to be remembered for being a good writer, someone whose books were enjoyed by many. Hey, a lady can dream.

#18. What is your favorite guilty pleasure book?
Guilty pleasure? Gonna have to go with the Twilight books. Despite being horribly written, with idiotic characters who you want to strangle, for some reason I still find some strange little bit of pleasure in these books. It’s kinda the same idea as enjoying B-movies. They suck, but somehow they’re still kinda fun. Feel free to stone me now.

#19. Do you have a reading goal set for this year?
No goal in particular, no, but I have been trying to convince myself to read more often. Somehow, in the past couple of years, I just started reading less and less, so now I have this huge backlog of books that people got me for holidays and the like, and I’m starting to feel bad about myself for not getting around to them. In the past couple of weeks I’ve nearly polished off the entire “House of Night” series, and I’m currently working on finally finishing “A Dance With Dragons”, after which I plan to grab a couple of the Stephen King novels that have been piling up on my shelf.

#20. Tell me anything about yourself that I haven’t asked. Random fact. Weird human trick. Whatever.
Completely random fact: despite doing absolutely nothing special to take care of it, I’ve been told I have wicked-awesome hair. I rarely get split-ends, it takes, like, three or four days of not washing it before it gets greasy, and no matter how many times I straighten it it never dries out. Unfortunately I have absolutely no skill in styling it, but we can’t have everything, now can we?

Did you enjoy the questionnaire? Anything you’d like me to elaborate on? Don’t forget to check out the websites above, and leave a comment below if you answer the questionnaire yourself so I can check out your answers!

Internal Interpretations

The other day I was clicking through some daily prompts on The Daily Post and I came across this one. It piqued my interest, so I thought I’d take part.

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Do you remember a recent dream you had? Or an older one that stayed vivid in your mind? Today, you’re your own Freud: Tell us the dream, then interpret it for us! Feel free to be as serious or humorous as you see fit, or to invent a dream if you can’t remember a real one.

This prompt caught my eye because I dream a lot. I don’t know if it’s because of a sleep disorder, or if I just have a super-overactive mind, or what the reason could be, but I seem to spend an inordinate amount of the nighttime hours in REM sleep, just dreaming away. If I’m woken up in a shocking way – such as an annoying, blaring alarm clock – I tend to forget those dreams pretty much immediately, but if given the chance to wake up naturally I’ve found that I can remember so much detail that it makes me wonder if I got any deep sleep at all. I’ve grabbed notebooks and scribbled down my dreams only to find my hand starts to cramp up before I can finish.

And most of those dreams, while extremely detailed and vivid, are so odd and random that I couldn’t even begin to interpret them. For example, there’s this one recurring dream that I had multiple times throughout my last two college years. In it my husband (who was, of course, my boyfriend at the time) and I are moving through this huge building. Each floor of the building was something completely different; one floor was an enormous mall, another floor was a sprawling park. And there were no stairs; in order to move between floors we had to find a ladder or something else to climb in order to reach a trap door in the ceiling. We would steadily move upward, until eventually we would come to this one floor that was like an entire town – houses, trees, roads, the whole works – and in this town a war was going on. Everyone my age that I had ever known – schoolmates, college friends, etc – were there, but no kids and no older folks, and everyone had huge, sci-fi-style guns. My ex-boyfriend was always the one to meet us at the trap door and shove guns into our hands, begging us to help out. Everyone would be camped out behind bushes, cars, houses, and everyone would be shooting off into the distance but I could never see what it was they were all fighting. The remainder of the dream would be hubby and I trying to make our way through all the gunfire, trying to stay alive while searching through the next trap door. I had that dream more than a dozen times, and each time it was super-vivid – like, I could remember the clothes people were wearing, and which stores we ran past on the mall level – but I couldn’t even begin to tell you what it was all about. I mean, you tell me: what the hell could any of that mean?

But I have had dreams that I could pretty much interpret instantaneously. For instance, there’s another recurring dream that I’ve had for years. It’s not always exactly the same, but it’s always very, very similar, and it crops up in my mind every so often. Without going into huge amounds of detail, the dream always begins in an important place from my childhood, like my parents’ or grandparents’ houses. It’ll be early in the morning and I’ll be trying to get ready to go to school. I won’t be a kid or anything in this dream – I’ll be my fully grown adult self – but I’ll be getting ready for school none-the-less. And it will be an utter disaster. It will seem like everything in the world is trying to keep me from getting to school. Every piece of clothing I own will be dirty, the car will break down, one of my family members will show up and start demanding something of me; just in general I’ll be a nervous wreck just trying to get out of the damn house. Then, eventually, I’ll make it to school, but the school will be this enormous, winding labyrinth of hallways and staircases and I’ll have no idea where my classes are. Around this point my best friend usually shows up, talking like everything is super normal, and I’ll start following her, hoping that she’ll lead me to wherever the hell I’m supposed to go. We’ll push through hoards of teenagers on their way to class, and somehow I’ll finally wind up in a math class. But that’s not where my torture ends. Sitting in that class, I’ll suddenly realize that, somehow I’ve managed to go almost the entire school year without sitting through a single class or doing any homework. Without knowing how I even managed to pull that off, I’ll just intuitively know that I’m pretty much completely screwed and have, like, a week to teach myself the entire course in time for the final exam.

Can you interpret that one? I think it’s pretty easy myself: it’s all about stress. In the dream I’m feeling battered, lost, confused. I can’t figure out what I’m doing or where I’m going, and everything in the world seems set out to stop me. And then, just when I think I’ve finally reached my objective, I realize that I’ve completely dropped the ball and put myself into a super bad situation. The fact that the dream involves places from my childhood, school, and my best friend, is probably my brain longing for simpler times amidst all the chaos that I can’t seem to escape. My theory is furthered by the fact that I always seem to have this dream when I’m having a rough time in real life; I’ve had a really awful day at work, I’ve gotten into a huge fight with someone, the little missy had whiny, sooky day that made me want to pull my hair out…you get the idea. It makes sense, right? What better way for a person to deal with stress than to be forced to deal with even more of it in their dreams? :P

What do you think? Am I probably right, or do you have another interpretation? What kinds of dreams do you usually have? Can you usually tell what they mean or are they totally off the wall? Please share!