Dream On: Teeth and Toads

Dream: I was looking in the bathroom mirror and noticed that one of my teeth felt loose. I opened my mouth and saw that one of my back molars was hanging have way off my gum. I started freaking out because it was about to fall out, so I quickly decided to call the dentist. In my dream it was a Saturday, so I was hoping I could get through to the ‘emergency dentist line’ that was available on weekends. I stepped into my backyard to make the call to find that my backyard was covered in huge exotic toads from all around the world. I guess a plant that my family had planted in the backyard recently attracted very large toads, about the size of dogs. I started screaming because one of the toads that was so big and human-like started leaping in my direction. I immediately turned around to go inside but there was a toad on the doorknob of the door and didn’t want to touch it so I was stuck outside. In the meantime, I had left a voice-mail of myself screaming about the toads on the ‘emergency dentist line’. And then I woke up.

This is not a consistent dream.

I believe that the beginning of the dream in which my tooth is falling out may symbolize growing up and getting older. My birthday is this weekend and perhaps I have an underlying fear of getting older and not being a child/teen anymore. Teeth are also said to symbolize friends, relatives; loved ones. I have recently lost two very close loved ones in my life and have a fear of losing another loved one soon. The loss of this permanent tooth may illustrate my repressed and denied sense of fear that I am going to lose this person sometime in the near future. According to Freud and Jung, teeth are a phallic symbol and dreams about teeth are ‘masturbation dreams’. I think Freud and Jung were a bit crazy, however, so I do not agree with that analysis. (I respect them for their contribution to the foundation of psychology but I think they were nuts).

Moving on to the toads in my backyard. Backyards are said to represent a location of secrets and underlying feelings, which is where the second half of the dream takes place. Frogs/toads are said to represent a kind of emotional challenge with a partner as seen through the tale of ‘Princess and the Frog’. It is possible I have underlying stress with a partner, which resides in the place where I keep my secrets and things that I do not tell many people. Being locked into my backyard and being scared may signify my fear to face that challenge and being forced to deal with it. The voice-mail I left for the dentist office by accident may represent telling someone about this challenge or fear by mistake, without wanting to disclose it to someone else.

“Letter from Birmingham Jail”: A Personal Response

King appealed to his audience, which includes me, through various forms of emotion, logic, and ethical reason. His voice remains strong throughout the letter, and I was very affected by his words. The point of his argument that I found most striking was his explaining of the exigency of his letter to the clergymen of Birmingham. He responds to the opinion that he is an “outsider agitator” to Birmingham, and argues that it is urgent that he comes to make peace. I agree with him strongly in his statement that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”. I agree personally in that one negative piece of the puzzle will influence the whole, in this case, segregation in the community. It is more than urgent that King waits no longer and takes action to make sure that there is peace and justice everywhere, which will consequently indirectly change the peace and justice everywhere else.

Within this letter, I was most affected by the portion in which he uses the Aristotelian artistic proof pathos in which he describes his personal experience with segregation. “When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that ‘Funtown’ is closed to colored children…” I find King’s writing technique in this paragraph very interesting- most of the paragraph is a long run on sentence that goes on and on without stopping, providing a long list of personal examples of hardship and stress; “when you….; when you…; when you…;”. It seems as though he uses this writing technique to portray his constant, endless frustration he faces every day in a segregated society structure of his words (as well as the context). Reading this paragraph numerous times makes me almost physically feel his persistent, never-ending feeling because the list goes on and on and on and seems to never end. I think that his technique is brilliant and successful in evoking that emotion in the reader, as it evoked that emotion in me.

I also find the letter striking in his use of historical references, for example Hitler. Through the Aristotelian artistic proof ethos, he discusses just and unjust laws in society and uses Hitler as a prime example; the things Adolf Hitler did in Germany were legal action within the boundaries of the law, but were they morally right? Did his actions serve justice for society? No. Meaning, just because segregation is ‘legal’ and there are laws that make it ‘acceptable’ for the society in which they live, does not mean that they are ethical and morally just for the people. As he quotes St. Augustine- “an unjust law is no law at all.” What King argues in this point is completely correct to me, and effective in his use of historical examples of unjust laws, showing that segregation laws do not serve peace or justice, as laws should.

I also admire his use of quotes from different figures throughout history, including biblical references that people in the community can relate their religious values to; “Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’” With his use of religion, he connects to the audience through their values- ie religion. While I am not personally a religious Christian and do not connect with his religious statements, I agree with the point and argument he is trying to get across with these examples. I practice Buddhism, and though the Christian references to not connect with my values, many aspects of his thought and reason throughout the letter do connect to my Buddhist values of peace and justice.

Why I Write

I write because I am told to. Mostly by teachers, maybe the occasional shrink. I do not write for enjoyment, nor do I like to when I have to for a class due to my permanent writers block. I am not a good writer; I have great difficulty making my thoughts flow in the form of words, sentences, paragraphs on paper. I am somewhat of a perfectionist, I am mathematical, and think scientifically. My mind works to perfect each sentence, rather than letting my thoughts flow onto the page freely like a true artist or writer. Thus, writing classes are not my forte.

I have attempted to keep journals or diaries in the past, but putting my thoughts down on paper is more stressful than stress relieving. This might be caused by the strict teachers I’ve had growing up that have taught me specific writing structures to follow. I was never taught to write creatively or for fun or to get my thoughts down on a page. I am completely lost outside of the typical MLA, APA, or 5-paragraph essay style, because I have never been taught otherwise. I believe this class will help expand my writing style and allow me to write more freely and creatively than I do now.

I write the facts. As a psychology major, I write mostly research papers and nothing else. I summarize the facts of previous research studies in the psychology field, rarely incorporating my thoughts and opinions. My papers consist of only 3rd person perspective, only a transmission of facts from one paper to another. My papers are always in the form of; introduction, several paragraphs, and a conclusion. Because that is what I am so accustomed to, writing creatively is not easy for me. I am excited to learn more about writing from my mind and how to write more naturally and less because I am forced to.