Friday, June 4, 2010

Not Exactly an Oracle

No matter what anyone thinks of the concept of psychics most of us have been intrigued by the idea that someone could predict the future. In fact, there was a recent TV show that flopped spectacularly with that exact premise. The entire world passes out, and sees three minutes of their lives, six months in the future. It was called Flashforward and it was so unspeakably dull nearly all of the initial audience fled in the first few weeks, knowing that at least their futures wouldn't hold endless bleatings about Mark drinking in his fast forward. More than anything the show was about self-fulfilling prophecy.

We all know someone who says they woke up at the precise moment a relative, or loved one shuffled off the mortal coil, thousands of miles away. Or had a feeling of dread that kept them from doing something that ended in full scale doom for others. A ship that sank; sank without them. A plane that crashed, plummeted sans one passenger. Even small things like deciding to take a different route home that helped us avoid a huge traffic jam. Most people have something to report about feeling as if they have been warned by a cosmic force, or they know someone who has.

I'm the only person I know that has had a premonition about the comedic stylings of Janeane Garofalo, though. An entirely useless portent of funny.

I rather like household tasks in that I can let my mind wander as I do them. You don't generally need to be mentally present to do things like dust, vacuum, or unload the dishwasher. Invariably something odd will pop into my head, and I'll find myself mulling over the practice of foot binding, or how to make cheese, the French Revolution, or what Dali's dreams were like. I'm going with blazingly ordinary, in case anyone cares, by the way.

So as I put away some plates, and recalled for no earthly reason Janeane Garofalo's making fun of bar patrons tripping out into the night, hurling snowballs in an attempt to prove how whimsical, and therefore attractive they are, I thought nothing of it. Just a comedy snippet stuck in my brain from ages ago. It seemed unrelated to anything, but that's just how disengaging the brain works at times.

Last night my husband and I watched TV, and eventually found ourselves tuning into HBO's Comedy channel. Well, who doesn't need a laugh, right? I didn't even think it was odd when a half hour special, circa 1995 by Janeane Garofalo came on. She's done a bunch of shows for HBO, and clearly I like her comedy enough to just have her pop into my mind.

I didn't recognize the routine throughout. It was dated material, but I enjoy acerbic wit, and that's Garofalo's forte. About thirty seconds before she segued into the bar/snow/whimsicality piece, I realized that's where she was going, paused the TV and turned to my husband to proclaim:

"Okay, that's creepy. Creepy and entirely useless," I went on to outline that I seemingly had a random thought about an old comedy routine, and then ended up watching that routine that same night. We both agreed that it was hardly the stuff that would have either of us canceling flights, or hopping in the car to procure a lottery ticket. It was just one of those "Huh, that was strange and completely without purpose." mind flukes.

I once had a dream about the fire hydrant in front of our old house. Later that day, when I was wide awake, the fire hydrant popped a gasket (or whatever) and sent water gushing everyone in an entirely harmless manner.

My point is that Miss Cleo, of the alleged prognostication abilities wouldn't exactly want to hire me for a psychic friends network.

Just saying, if by any stretch of the imagination anyone is willing to term that a premonition, and even if you aren't, there is one thing we can all agree upon: How boring. It got me thinking about all of the things in my life it would have been nice to have a heads up for prior to something happening. Almost every sad, traumatic, or even painful thing that has happened in my life actually ended up leading to other good things. I know I've mentioned before that a particularly painful car accident, while seemingly without value of any kind in my life, is also the thing that helped put me in the time and place to meet my husband. Out of most bad situations in our lives, eventually something good comes, if not directly, then in the manner in which it changed the course of things.

Except for shocks to the system. I can't think of even one instance where having the hair nearly scared off of my head ended up being of any value. The time last week when I was underwater in our pool, popped to the surface and discovered a complete stranger standing in my backyard? Yup, served no purpose other than to make me glad that I was unable to actually fall over at that moment. A landscaper was lost, thought he had the right address, and when he realized he didn't, waited for the woman in the pool to come up for air, so he could ask for help. Thankfully he wasn't holding anything that could be construed as a weapon, or else I'd have likely screamed the sky down. Instead he had gotten "Drive" confused with "Court" and needed to go visit a cul de sac nearby.

As someone whose mind wanders whenever I'm not doing anything that allows it, I tend to have the stuffing scared out of me on about a weekly basis. Like this morning.

Head phones on, back to the street, waiting for my dog to finish up her attempts to fertilize a neighbor's lawn, I stepped forward with the least elegant of items almost always in my possession: the poo bag at the ready. It's never fun, but hey, it's the polite thing to do. Then you get to tour the world with a bag of excrement, until you reach home, which is an equally "I feel pretty" sort of feeling.

"THANK YOU!" A voice boomed over my shoulder, drowning out The White Stripes, Seventh Nation Army which is no small feat, and nearly making me take a header into a steaming pile.

I made a sound eerily reminiscent of Beaker from the Muppets.

"Meep?" As I pushed my headphones out of my ears, and wondered if it was actually possible to morph into an invertebrate as it felt as if my spine was puddling around my heels. Even the dog jumped slightly, and wagged questioningly, one paw raised in the universal canine signal of "Huh?"

"Thank you so much for picking up after your dog," the man said with great gusto, "just wanted to let you know how much it's appreciated!"

About this time he seemed to take note of the fact that even my hair looked alarmed.

"Sorry if I startled you," he said in a congenial fashion.

"Oh don't worry about it," I said as I tried to fold over the top of my doggie bag in as subtle a fashion as possible. There's just something strange about trying to exchange pleasantries while holding the least lovely of dog decorations.

My neighbor continued on, happy for a morning chat, thrilled not to have dog landmines seeded across his lawn and eventually my pulse rate settled back into its regular rhythm. We discussed a community garage sale that is being planned, which I don't have any wish to attend, but where apparently there are going to be lots of lemonade stands. This means that my neighborly duty will involve nipping across the street to buy some from our neighbors incredibly adorable children. Prevent scurvy, support your local munchkins, don't let the dog crap on anything valuable, it's all in a day's doings.

Now why couldn't I have had a premonition about that? Instead it's stupid stuff about the lengths bar patrons will go to in the quest for romance.

I'm sure someone has a great story about how they saved a bus load of people from a dire bout with food poisoning when they knew, just absolutely knew that the chicken salad at the Denny's was a stone cold killer. Not me though.

Call them inklings, foresight, messages from beyond, or what-have-you, mine are ordinary enough to be discovered by perusing the TV Guide.

Sort of pointless, really. Much like this post.


The Bug said...

I have a REALLY sensitive startle reflex - I can go off at any moment, for any reason. I might have had a heart attack in the two instances you mentioned.

As for thinking about stuff while doing household chores - I can do that with anything except vacuuming. I spend my whole time cursing at the machine.

I've had similar cases of thinking of something & then it happening later - but it's like yours. Not earth shattering. Interesting though.

Mostly what happens to me is that I'll have a gut feeling about what I should do in a situation & then not do it & regret it later. I should listen to myself more often I guess!

Cricket said...

I was watching my neighbor walking her pooch this morning, dutifully carrying her clear plastic bag of turds, and I wondered, who exactly owns who here?

I'm smiling now at the image of you skipping along behind your dog, holding your own bag, doing a pirouette and singing I Feel Pretty.

I have little patience for musicals. Watching a street full of people burst into song just ruins that willing suspension of disbelief. I'll take this, though. I may never hear South Pacific the same way again. That's probably a good thing.

I've never been blessed with premonitions to speak of. Usually my natural pessimism takes care of the need for those. Every now and then, I'm pleasantly surprised, though.

NuminosityBeads said...

I sometimes have precognitive dreams about disasters except that I don't know that they're precognitive until the event occurs so what good is that?

I also had an exceptionally numinous year of events in my own life after an astrology/Tarot card reading which culminated in my current marriage.

Interestingly just a few hours after the reading I was supposed to board a plane to Thailand and the pack that held my ticket bounced out of the back of the borrowed pick-up that ended up changing my itinerary along with a couple of other traumatic interferences that were out of my control and had me on the South China Sea rather than southern Thailand on the day of the tsunami. I had a dream about a tsunami the year before that I had detailed to my sister and I comfortably rode the wave with her and was deposited safely as I watched horror and despair on the faces of others caught up in it. But I had no idea at the time that my dream had ay significance in reality.

Sometimes I just have a dream of a mundane scene that I find myself in later. Once I had the name of my parents friend who I had never met but had made the braided rug in my living room go through my mind continually one day only to find that she had died that week. As you've experienced, it's very much an after the fact realization. So can it be called a premonition if you don't realize it?

I always love writing and it never fails to bring up some interesting material in my own mind. Thanks,


NuminosityBeads said...

That last line was supposed to say I love YOUR writing!


slommler said...

I do the mindless brain jumps as well. I am all over the are my dreams. And since my mind wanders a great deal...I startle rather easily! My husband hates that as he is usually the one that makes me jump to the ceiling. HA!

Vera said...

Enjoyed the way your mind wandered your way through the piece, making it an interesting read.

Clowncar said...

In the spirit of your wonderfully long, rambling comments left at my place...those fortune cookies reminded me of when I was writing a story, years ago, with each section of the story prefaced by a fortune cookie fortune. And I wanted to read a bunch of fortune cookies fortunes to get the flavor of how they sounded. So I went to Chinatown (this was in my NYC days) and bought a whole bag of fortune cookies. Brought them home. cracked them open, one by one.

They all had the same fortune. Every one.

There's probably a lesson in that, but I don't know what it is....

Cricket said...

P.S. I forgot to add, the best fortune I ever got, I still have it somewhere:

The person with whom you are sharing this meal does not intend to pay for it.

I liked it, anyway.

Cricket said...

P.P.S. I meant West Side Story, of course. Momentary lapse. Twice. Oops.

Amy said...

Alane, It's so funny you wrote about this, and, just so you know, I didn't find it boring or senseless at all.

On June 2, which I think was Wednesday, I was going through some letters and photos as I've been doing for it seems like weeks now (trying to get some semblence of order). There were 3 small envelopes, 2 of which I knew were my birth announcements. I didn't recognize the 3rd and when I opened it, lo and behold it was my mother's birth announcement. June 2, 1917. I knew it was her birthday, but no way was I really making any big deal about it as she died almost 50 years ago. So I scanned it along with a few photos and posted a "happy birthday" to her. My sister said she was thinking about her too but didn't realize it was her birthday.

My greatest ideas usually occur in the shower, and I've read that that is fairly common. Watering and sweeping are meditative too. And I have plenty of the latter now with our new wood floors!

Kathryn said...

Long ago, i did have some "pre-cog" moments that actually seemed to serve a purpose. Long before caller ID, i would sometimes know who was on the phone before i answered it.

It served a purpose because i was being a governess to a couple of children who's (whose?) father would call & severely upset them. Since i knew who it was in advance, i was able to screen the calls to a time that the family chose to let them talk to their dad & were better prepared for it.

Still, over all, it was rather dull. No fireworks, & as far as i know, no life-changing events there.

The last time i remember this happening was long long ago. I was recently married (the first time) & sitting almost in a trance. The phone beside me rang & i didn't have a startle response. I merely picked it up & said, "Hi honey." He asked how i knew it was him. I didn't have an answer for that. In retrospect, because i didn't know anyone where we lived then, i think it was he on the phone 95% of the time.

Once again, rather dull & boring.

I will say that from time to time, maybe twice a year, i will have a strong deja vu feeling. Fairly often it is in a place or setting where the experience could not have happened before. Other times it is in a familiar setting & so is probably jamais vu instead.

But, it is never anything interesting or life-changing or helpful at all. A snippet of conversation when the light is in a certain way or some song is playing in the background. Nothing of any value or help.

Still, over all i think humans are fascinated with these things. Sometimes makes me wonder if our cognitions are just an overlay of something else. ;)

intelliwench said...

I had the feeling that this post would make me smile ... does that count as psychic prowess?

Joanna Jenkins said...

The only premonitions I've ever had were about men. I can spot a loser boyfriend/husband a mile away-- but no one ever listens to me (including myself a few times).

I'm a big fan if Flashforward-- I like the idea of seeing into the future and trying to correct the error of your ways-- or going with what you see, even if it's totally opposite of what you could imagine. Not sure how many seasons of that I can watch, but the initial idea is interesting.

Hope you have a great weekend,

DUTA said...

I do sometimes have feelings of disquiet and anxiety prior to a traumatic event. I remember once telling a coworker that I don't like it that her son and daughter took the motorcycle for a long ride on a problematic road.

In the evening, she got the news that they were both in the hospital. There was a terrible accident and they were lucky they stayed alive.

Nice scene that with you holding a poo bag in your hands and the neighbor thanking you. I like it.

The Lucy and Dick Show said...

Premonitions! Why do they not come for that stock that goes sky high? Why can't I have a premonition that makes me a million? I have a funny ability to know when someone is going to pull out in front of me on the street, but not when there's been a huge accident on the freeway that backs us up for hours!

Frances Tyrrell said...

Your list of musings made me smile, the French revolution and Dali's dreams. My own wanderings include alternate outcomes for people in history, Katharine of Aragon for one example.

I've had a few of those premonitions too, mostly mundane and one or two extraordinary. None of it would stand up to the rigours of scientific method!

Pauline said...

this made me laugh out loud - I had a premonition that something I read this morning would charm me no end and... I was right! ;)

I think you answered your own questions about why (and when) premonitions serve you - when you're engaged in "mindless tasks," you're brain is free to pick up signals and bring them to your attention. When your engrossed (no pun intended) in activity - listening to music, surreptitiously picking up doggy leavings - you just don't "hear" or heed the signals.

Hilary said...

I've never had premonitions but I've learned to listen to little everyday messages around me. They're never a dire warning or an announcement of a lottery ticket to buy but they're simple, common messages to heed.. slow down and enjoy, remember to call a friend.. work before pleasure. They're there for the plucking at times which are quiet. I do very often have your Janeane Garofalo type moments though. Seemingly useless but interesting anyway. And luckily there are many trash cans available in the park where I walk Benny. The wee bag of poo can be disposed of quickly. ;)

Suldog said...

I've never had a dream that turned out to be worth mentioning insofar as precognition is concerned. The most vivid one I ever had, and one I hoped would be a harbinger of things to come, concerned a racehorse named Northern Comet. I dreamed of this horse winning a race, and the dream was had when I was perhaps 20 years old. I am now 53. For years after the dream, I scanned the racing entries when I encountered them on the sports pages, in the vain hope that I would see a Northern Comet entered in some race and that today was the day to cash in on that dream. Never happened.

I did finally find a horse named Northern Comet about five years ago. Actually, a person to whom I mentioned the dream did some research and found out a horse by that name was running at a small track on the west coast. I considered placing a sizable bet on his next race - after all, I had been looking for this nag for 25 years or so - but the only way to get some money down would have involved an internet bookmaker, and I have little trust in such operations. Anyway, long story short, Northern Comet didn't win that race and NEVER won a race in his entire career (which no doubt ended with him making a trip to a certain factory that manufactures adhesives, if you get my drift.) He had 20 races, finishing as high as 2nd twice, and earned his owner a sum total of $25,770 (which is barely enough to keep a racehorse in cigarettes and pizza.)

It would have made a better story had I bet on him and become fabulously well-to-do, but...

Jo said...

My mind wanders all the time. I have things going through my head that even seem strange to me.

I had a weird thing happen on Sunday. I was sort of "vegging" in my big cozy chair, feeling very relaxed, and all of a sudden I had a terrible feeling of unease. I couldn't shake it. It was the opposite of a feeling of well-being, and I couldn't figure out why. It lasted about ten minutes. And then my mind wandered to a friend of mine, and some silly hijink she and I had gotten into when we were 13 years old. The next day, I found out that my friend had passed away, unexpectedly, just at the moment I had the feeling of unease and then thought about her.

Stuff like that just creeps me right out.

PhilipH said...

What's the point of your post, Alane? Oh! I see you say it's pointless.

Well, I think you touched on many points - all good points and interestingly put.

Your posts are NEVER pointless. Well, no more than 99% of all the posts in Blogland.

You could find dull postings, funny ones, tips/tricks/trap type of postings and a few dozen other categories I guess. Would it make any difference if there were NO blogs? Well, yes: somebody would have the clever idea to start one.

What's the point of my comment? I have no idea, but never mind!


Anonymous said...

Learning makes life sweet.............................................................

Nancy said...

Your posts are never pointless. But I have to say, the hydrant thing and the Gandolfo thing make you psychic in my book. And I also thank you for being a good dog poo picker upper. We also do the nasty, but oh so appreciated, deed.

Zuzana said...

I have had a few premonitions, but sometimes I feel they are more like dejavus.;) Even though I am endlessly interested in this subject, I seem not have the right antennas up, I guess.;)
I thoroughly enjoyed this post, you have avery laid back and entertaining way of writing, that captures one from the get-go.
I want to thank you for your kind visit and that absolutely lovely comment you left on my post today. If I could frame that comment in I would, as it is the nicest one ever left on my blog. I am very touched and flattered by your words.;)
Have a wonderful week,

Land of shimp said...

Hello everyone!

I know I usually reply to comments individually, and I promise to try and do that at some point in the near future. I'm running terribly behind on almost everything right is the way of things sometimes.

Anyway, whereas I promise to get back here and reply to everyone, what I really wanted to do was get around to all of your blogs, and comment there first.

I've missed you people, and I'm sorry I've been running short of time recently :-) I shall soon see you at your blogs.

By the way, Zuzana -- you're very welcome, and I'm so glad the commented made you happy!

Katy said...

I have had a few very vivide dreams that have ended up coming true in some way, the most instresting being the time I dreamed my daughter's father's girlfriend was pregnant. That dream was so real I called him to ask him if she was. He told me that she wasn't, but then called me later that week after he found out he was wrong.... (That boy is always wrong...)

Brian Miller said...

smiles. takes a bit to startle me but watch out when you what is tomorrows lotto numbers...

christopher said...

Funny stuff. I enjoy your writing style.

And your TV Guide comment got me wondering...what if we could change the channel that our brain transmits premonitions startling would that be?

Alix said...

Shimpy! What a really really really fun post. You had me blowing bubbles in my coffee with vibrations from my stifled laughter. Next time I won't stifle - I'll grant you the full on projectile coffee snorting your work deserves. Foot binding? Seriously? French Revolution? When my mind wanders (when does it not?), it's usually about how many Weight Watchers points are in a pencil or some kind of worse nonsense. Sorry to one-up ya sister, but Casa Hice has the patent on meaningless drivel.

That said, thank you SO MUCH for swinging by yesterday to visit Casa Hice and for leaving such a fun message for Petrie and me.

I've seen you loads of times around the interwebs leaving your adorable comments, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine you'd wander over and leave one for me. I feel like I've reached a blogging milestone. So, thanks again for that.

And now since we're introduced and all that, I shall Follow you to the ends of the earth.

Great post, btw. Anyone who can dedicate almost an entire post to Janeane Garofalo AND doggie doings is my kind of gal. You're brilliant... and creepily clairvoyant. But in a good way.

♥ Alix

Land of shimp said...

Christopher, I think that would be wonderful! Just imagine it, sports channel to find out who to bet on in the big game, perhaps? The Weather Channel to let us know whether or not to hurry up and get that weather stripping down.

There's romance, action, and horror channels too. I'm sure we'd soon tire of knowing too much, too far in advance, but wouldn't it be fun to try out? Like a free weekend of Cinemax.

Thank you very much, Alix. I have lengthy, weird comment style, so I'm always glad to know when it makes people happy, instead of making them think, "Weird chick."

Speaking of chicks...duckie. You're the lady with the duckling! I must go back and check on him.

And that's what I'm off to do :-)

Kimberly said...

Fortunes are so obscure they could mean anything...

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