Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dream Work and Witches

My sixth grade report card. The year of my play Looking for Mrs Peel (

My family moved a lot and then my parents got divorced, and I went to school and changed apartments every 6 months for about 7 years, so I don't have many mementos of my childhood and youth.

Some people do. Like my husband whose parents lived in the same house since 1952. When his mom died and his dad sold the house, we found it filled to the rafters with memorabilia, from my husband's generation and generations before that..

That's why this Flo in the City blog exists. The 1000 or so Nicholson letters were stashed in an old trunk in the basement of that house.

Anyway, when I was cleaning out my own father's home in 2000, when he got too sick with Alzheimer's and had to be institutionalized, I did find one document about my past: my 6th grade report card.

The school year was 1966/67, the beginning of the best year ever, Centennial Year, Expo Year.

My teacher was a Brit, Mrs. Bryant, who told us students that we should go to Expo as much as possible, as we'd learn more there than at school. So I took her at her word!

Not that I went to school much outside of the Expo months. This report shows 36 days absent (and none in May and June when Expo was on). You'd think I was sickly, but I wasn't. I was bored by school. So I stayed home and got my education watching the American game shows.

Anyway, when I first saw this old report card I was a bit shocked about how little is revealed. It was almost a blank slate. I was one of the 'good girls' who didn't make waves, so there was no need to write anything about me.

Perhaps, had I gone to some private school, a concerned career teacher might have remarked on how my potential wasn't being realized, not by half.

But not in 1966 at the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal.

Anyway, I am doing some spiritual work right now, using certain New Agey techniques and I decided to scan this report card and print out many copies and fill in some of the parts my teacher left blank, and to add new subjects, like dreamwork and the Power of Intention and Gratitude.

I am pretending that school wasn't a soul-deadening experience, sort of rewriting the past. (And Mrs. Bryant was an exceptional teacher. Our classroom was often a riot, but she was constrained by the system.)

I'm also keeping a dream diary - again. In and around 1980 (when I lost my direction after graduating from McGill) I kept a dream diary for 2 years. I filled up books and books and you know, I stopped when the dreams became, ah, clairvoyant. And there was no question about it, the truth was written right there on the page.

But then I got a job in radio, that was both exciting and poisonous and then I met my husband and got pregnant and had children and raised said children and tried to keep up a writing career. No time for dreams.

But I'm ready now to continue the dream work. It's an excellent exercise to stimulate creativity, if nothing else (and it can be much more,if you can handle it). Maybe I can this time.

Here's a weird thing. Margaret Nicholson of Flo in the City was a devout Presbyterian, but some of the 'old ways' had stuck with her. In her letters she often remarks about 'having a dream' and you can tell she puts great store by what the dream says to her. I imagine her Mother, Sarah, born on the Island of Coll in 1825 who was illiterate, was a bit of a witch. Or maybe the Whole Thing.