Thursday, October 25, 2012

London: a Short Story (or Two-?)

Every time I’m in London, there is a particular restaurant I like to go to. This is a bit odd, because generally I don’t much care for the food in London. But there is that one restaurant I never let myself miss—in fact, just to make sure I get a chance to eat there during my visit to London, I might just go straight there from the aeroport.

I know exactly how to get to this restaurant from various parts of town. Up ahead to the next corner, turn right, and it’s only two blocks down the street from there. I’m not very familiar with the layout of London (it’s a big city and I’ve not been there very many times), but I never have trouble finding this restaurant whenever I’m in town.

Despite the fact that I don’t much care for the food in London, there are, of course, exceptions to this. They use Irish beef at most of their burger joints, which is very different from—and I’d say better than—American beef. Even the McDonald’s restaurants are better in London, not only because of the Irish beef, but also because they serve Cadbury Crème Egg McFlurry’s and curly fries. That said, as odd as it may sound, McDonald’s is still worth a visit whenever I’m in London.

I find it of special interest how sometimes our dreams can taint our memories, sometimes even making the two nearly indistinguishable.

An example: My first time in London, there was a specific McDonald’s I went to. I no longer remember exactly where in the city it was, but I want to say it was on a side-street off of Trafalgar Square. The other buildings all around it weren’t very distinctly marked—I suppose they must have been residences, though I’m really not sure. While at this McDonald’s, I remember thinking I’d rather work at a McDonald’s in London than have a nicer, higher-paying job in the U.S.

But here’s where it gets fuzzy:

I rather clearly remember ordering a Happy Meal in that specific McDonald’s and getting a Super Mario Bros.-based toy. It was, if I recall, a Lakitu in his cloud on wheels (for those of you familiar with the Super Mario Bros. games, you’ll recall that Lakitu is the turtle-ish creature that moves around in the cloud and throws the spike balls down at you from above. In later Mario games, he also serves as the "cameraman").

This may sound alright so far, but here’s the problem with this memory:

Yes, I’m pretty certain that this Lakitu toy is real, but it came out over ten years before the first time I was in London. In fact, I have another memory of when I got that toy, but it was in California, at a McDonald’s inside of a mall. I was with my parents—I couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old. Of course I no longer have the toy.

How did this memory get mixed up with my memory of the McDonald’s in London? I think a dream must have connected them, though it’s hard to say. But now, for whatever reason, I can’t think of that specific McDonald’s in London without thinking of the Lakitu toy, and the memory gets all muddled.

But back to this special restaurant in London

Though I always know how to get to the restaurant when I’m in town (and though I’ve been there several times), I could never give anyone else directions to it. I don’t know the name of the street it is on. In fact, I don’t even know the name of it. When I look at the sign hanging above the front door, I can’t read it. The first letter seems to be a ‘P’, but the rest is hazy…

…the classic sign of a dream.

When I woke up, I realized that the restaurant isn’t even real.

Shortly after waking up, I met with a friend at a New Mexican restaurant here in town and told all of this to her. I told it to her just as I’m telling it now, acting as though the restaurant is real before I finally drop the surprise that it’s not real; it was all a dream. I feel like it’s more fun/dramatic/interesting that way, I suppose.

Interestingly, I’ve dreamed about the restaurant several times though. She, too, thought this was interesting: Is it a sign? Does it mean something? Is the restaurant actually real, and I’ve actually been there, but I’m just not remembering it from reality?

I told her that I don’t think any of these things are the case. The entire premise was a bit silly anyway—me thinking that every time I’m in London I go to this one specific restaurant. In fact, I’ve only been to London twice. Two times hardly qualifies as saying something happens every time.

Mind you, I’ve had many dreams about London. And in those dreams, yes: I’ve gone to restaurants. And parks and malls and bus stations and aeroports and special city streets. The dreams of the malls are the most interesting, because I always happen to know where the malls are (I never stumble upon them by mistake, unlike every other type of place in my London-dreams), and they usually have crazy layouts and architecture and stores.

Also, this is especially odd because there are no malls in London.

In fact, before going to the restaurant, I went to one of these whacky malls. Weird.

A question: Is there an archetype for dream symbolism regarding unique malls or restaurants?


The other thing odd about the entire London-dream-restaurant idea is that the restaurant was a New Mexican restaurant. I don’t like New Mexican food. And there are no New Mexican restaurants in London. At least, as far as I know, there are no New Mexican restaurants in London. I certainly can’t imagine there being one (though my psyche may disagree with me on that).

While sitting there with my friend, she asked when the more recent of the two times was that I had been to London. I told her it was last night.


That doesn’t make sense.

And just how did I get to this restaurant with her? I don’t remember waking up or getting ready or agreeing to meet her or driving here. In fact, this girl isn’t even a friend of mine…

It turns out I’ve only been to London once.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Casen Buswell

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors—
We borrow it from our children.”
~ Native American proverb

Normally, I think that people use this quote in the context of being more environmentally friendly and such. Maybe that’s exactly what the proverb is meant to resonate—who knows?

But I’m using it in a different context today—something a little more immediate and more intimate.

I’m normally not one for politics or preachiness or advertisements or anything else of the sort, but I just couldn’t pass this up. I came across this article on Yahoo! News a few days ago, and it REALLY got to me.

This is about a baby boy, Casen Buswell, who lives in Washington State and has an extremely rare disease, called glomuvenous malformations plaque type. You can read the article to get an idea of what this disease does—it sounds horrific. And it is so rare that Baby Casen is one of only 14 known cases in the entire world. Yes, you read that right: 14. Not 1400 or 14000 or any other amount of zeroes tacked on to the end of it.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,

14—this one is Baby Casen

I’m not a doctor or a scientist. I don’t have any affiliation with the CDC or any medical facilities or organizations. But I’m wagering that having only 14 cases worldwide has got to make this one of the most rare diseases out there—if not the number one rarest. And, being so rare, there is only one facility in the world that treats this disease.

The problem is: it’s in Belgium.

And Baby Casen needs monthly treatments.

Baby Casen needs monthly treatments in Belgium.

The distance from Puyallup, Washington (where the Buswell family lives) to Brussels, Belgium (where the medical center that can treat Baby Casen is) is right about 5,000 miles.

The Buswell family is expecting this entire process to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. To help raise money, they’ve started a fund online that can be accessed here.

Let me make it clear that I’ve never met the Buswell family, and—pending some rather peculiar twist of fate—I’m sure I never will. But now that my son Emerson is born, seeing and hearing about other suffering babies hits me about 1,000 times worse than it ever has before. (Am I exaggerating?—maybe a little. But not as much as you’d think.). Emily (my wife) and I have been incredibly lucky the past few months with Emerson, and any time I hear about another baby who isn’t so lucky, it breaks my heart (even writing this is causing me to get all teary-eyed!).

Emily and I aren’t rich—ha! We already don’t particularly have quite enough money for our own needs. Regardless of this, we still pay tithe to our church (mostly for philosophical reasons, at least on my part). But I’m pretty sure our church could live without our little tithing check once or twice so that we can put that money towards helping Baby Casen. So that’s our plan.

To be clear: I’m not asking anyone to do anything about this except read the article. The Buswell’s goal for this fundraiser is to hit $50,000, and it’s closing November 30th. As of the time I’m writing this post, they’ve raised $18,776 so far—not yet halfway there. Really, it’s nothing to me if you choose to contribute any money to the cause. It’s not my child; he’s nobody I know; it’s certainly not like I’m ever going to ask you if you donated anything. I’ll never know what anybody does with this information. I just wanted to make sure more people hear about him and his situation, so that—just maybe—the Buswell family can get just a little closer to saving their seven-month-old son.

I would ask you to do the same thing if Emerson was the fourteenth baby in the world with this disease. Just read the article, look at the pictures of Baby Casen (there are many on the fundraising website), and do what you will.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors—we borrow it from our children.

We are borrowing the earth from Baby Casen and from my son Emerson.

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