Half Naked in the Cafeteria


Humans have been interpreting their dreams since home was a cave. We’re probably still no closer to understanding them than the shaman with a bag of roots was back then. I’ve been having repetitive dreams since I was a kid—like the one where it’s the end of the college semester, I’m wandering the halls looking for a class I’ve never attended and knowing I’m about to fail. Or my disc jockey dream—the one where I can never quite get the next record on in time. These dreams probably reflect someone who’s afraid of failure. Another of my uncomfortable repetitive dreams has me in high school in a cafeteria filled with classmates and I’m the only one not wearing a shirt. No teenager wants to be the only anything in the room. The thing is, starting in high school, every decision I ever made was based on trying to be different. I grew up in a house where I was told daily: “Be an engine, not a caboose.”

There’s a repetitive dream that enters my subconscious more recently. It’s perplexing but pleasant. It takes place in a downtown San Diego parking lot on the bay. I step through a manhole with scuba gear and drop into a beautiful nighttime lagoon filled with warm water and brightly colored tropical fish. What makes the dream weird is how comforting it is even though I have to drop through such a tiny opening to get into the water (skip the Freud jokes). In the awake hours I’m uneasy in tight spaces but this dreamworld parking lot aquarium brings me peace.

The reason I’m writing about dreams is because last night I had none. It was the first night of combination chemotherapy and radiation. I was awake all night. I’m told it’s a side-effect that’s to be expected. So there I lie remembering dreams fondly—but at that point, it occurred to me, the only thing on my mind is a 10-pound pomeranian who insists on wrapping around my head like a really bad red toupee. No deep meaning in any of this. It’s just the musings of a newly-initiated insomniac longing for my dreams—like the one where I ate a giant marshmallow and woke up to find my pillow missing.


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56 comments on “Half Naked in the Cafeteria
  1. Kathi Hall says:

    Through meditation you might be able to experience “awake” dreams. And you might experience some wonderful conversations with yourself, others if only in the dream and God.

    I now view my life as a conversation with God. Always finding out new things and comfort when I need it. Whatever your journey is – live it – love it – and embrace to the fullest. I think you already do.

    For me a glimpse of a waking dream can come at any time. One I have and my favorite is either driving or walking up a mountain road to a cozy cottage with beautiful flowers and vistas all around to take in. And so now my journey is to find that cottage and all those beautiful vistas – never giving up, finding those vistas and enjoying each one in person.

  2. Lisa Best says:

    Loren, I saw those dophins we were camping in Cardiff Beautiful They are am amazing. As is all sea life Blessings your voice is music

  3. Carrie says:

    Always good to read a well written blog. Your sense of humor and ‘way’ of looking at life are a joy to read. Thank you for sharing.
    Continuing to send healing Love & Light to you during these treatments. God is awake with you.

  4. dawn says:

    Always felt that : I personally had Gods ear on the nights I could not sleep from chemo. Like we were the only 2 awake in the world. Great conversations.

  5. george milne says:

    That’s odd. When I was in high school I knew I was different from most people and just wanted desperately to be like everyone else. I remember I wanted to dress just like Larry Brown, so one day I did. It was a miserable day. He looked like a fashion plate and I looked like the dork I was. Did that cure me? Nah….I still wanted to be like everyone else. Took me years of teaching to finally find out that it was best to me me. Whatever “me” I was at the time. I don’t have many repetitive dreams, but I have repetitive deja vu often. That’s kind of fun.

  6. Tom Puterbaugh says:

    “like the one where it’s the end of the college semester, I’m wandering the halls looking for a class I’ve never attended and knowing I’m about to fail” – Wow, Loren…I’ve had this same EXACT dream on many occasions! I about fell of my chair when I read this! I’ve always wondered what the hidden meaning of this was :-\

  7. Hey Loren ~ I work at a local hs cafeteria, we cafeteria ladies welcome you half naked any time! Hang in there 🙂

  8. Lois Bach says:

    Hi Loren. I love your dream about the scuba fish. I think that I’ve had that dream as well on one of my better nights. I have a sister-in-law who not only remembers her dreams, but gives them titles. I rarely remember mine but last night I had a zonker: It was focused on the poor guy who got sucked into the sinkhole in his bedroom in Florida. So I dreamt that we had a sinkhole on our street in South Park. It was exhausting but I was glad to wake up. That’s when I turned on the computer and saw that at 6am, just about the time that I awoke in a thrashing sweat, that there was a large water main break at 31st and Hawthorn in South Park, literally 7 blocks from our house! Reports said that they were asking residents to move their cars from that area (because of a possible sinkhole). I hope tonight I can dream of the scuba fish. I wish you well and pleasant dreams!

  9. Lynda says:

    You write so well. How lucky we are to have you sharing your story. Thank you.

    While awake, think about reading Sandra Champlain’s new book, “We Don’t Die”. It is an easy read which bring comfort and teaches how to listen and learn in the quiet.

  10. Kate Atkins says:

    It was so great to see you this morning at Starbucks. You look terrific! Hope to see you at our Apple store again soon. K8

  11. Donna says:

    I have had sleep issues for a long time. Now I can dream while awake! Hope you keep writing. I love your sharing. I Recall my college Finals dreams too. Because of you! Donna

  12. Nancy Zounes says:

    Hi Loren, I want to share with you how you influenced my son and how he is fulfilling his dream. About 8 years ago, you did a wonderful thing and let my son help you deliver the weather forecast on his birthday up in the Carlsbad Flower Fields. He is now going to Oklahoma University, majoring in Meterology. All his meterology classes are in the National Weather Center building. What a dream come true. You have touched so many lifes I such a beautiful way and I want to say Thank You!! You and your family are in our prayers.

  13. Kirsten Bates says:

    Hang in there, Loren! You are on all of our minds and in all of our prayers. Sleep well! xo

  14. Cuddle with that 10-lb. Pomeranian and your wife Susie. Moments that are what life is about.

  15. Kathy says:

    Hi Loren,

    Interesting dreams…

    I think your dog knows something’s up with your head and may be trying to do something about it. I was feeling sorry for myself, in bed after a recent surgery and had a fever and was feeling pretty lousy. My dog climbed on my chest and stayed there, even though I wanted to cry and carry on but she wouldn’t let me move. After about 15 minutes I started to feel better, maybe the fever broke or something. She simply got off of me, curled up, and went to sleep, her good deed done. It’s funny how animals seem to know…

  16. Randy says:

    You know, it’s been decades and still I can’t get that insane ad copy, “I dreamt I was bra-less in my Maidenform” out of my head! When I’ve been facing huge challenges in my life (melanoma, hospice for Mom, ugly surgery ahead, etc.) I often have fantastic dreams involving water…usually big wave body surfing or Life of Pi like seascapes. I chose to believe it’s my higher power cable TV provided to me to heal and process. Oh and I have dreams where it’s the first day of classes at UCSD and I am wandering around lost looking for my first class. After on in the dream it’s the mid-term and I haven’t been to class yet and I’m failing. Gulp. Then I wake up and life is really OK. Whatever is going on, that shaman would say you get some potent lizard medicine going on! And Pomeranian! Dogs know where we hurt and how to help us.

    At the risk of sounding counter-culture…get ye to some Nan-Chronic peanut butter cookies, Loren! It’ll fix the symptoms what ails ya! I’m sending prayers your way. Say hello to Wink and Nod!

  17. Dreams are so symbolic, and these are no exception. I figure that the chemo/radiation combo is so potent that it even wiped out your dreams, and if it can do that, there’s no limit to its power, period.
    Like the mustache; it makes you look wise; you were already smart. I’ve had body meditations where I am able to fit through small spaces, immerse myself into pools of murky, then clear blackness. I have learned to welcome facing my biggest fears. You are on the right path, in my book!! I just think the world of you, Loren, and share each and every one of your accomplishments with you.
    Oops! I forgot to make you laugh this time. There it is…the smile is just as good! Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice but to carry on!!!!!

  18. Jwalsh says:

    I’m inspired by your story Loren. I’m one of many of your fans up here in Carlsbad. I’ve watched you in tv for many years and we are pulling for you. Thanks for the courageous posts that make us all feel good, blessed and cared for. Would love to help you any way our family can. Hang in there, you are going to beat this and be back to an even greater life!



  19. Susan says:

    Oh Loren…the funny one! Love your humor – at times it’s what gets people through difficulties; keep making us laugh and sure hope it makes you smile 🙂

  20. Susan Albrecht says:

    You’re the best Loren! Love you! :0)

  21. ellen woodward-taylor says:

    thank you for the discussion I too, as many others have had the college, highschool recurring dreams, but never knew before today that it seems to be a collective one, I used to dream I was flying, I miss them too, and running around without clothes, but I am never too embarrassed….keep writing, keep dreaming!

  22. temazepam can be your friend. Helped my husband with the sleep issues during radation, etc. I have very vivid dreams, and it is not fun when they are not around. they will be back! never fear. a pom is at least easier than my 40 lb goldendoodle that thinks she is small… you KNOW when she is on your head! prayers and good vibes to you and yours, daily!

  23. kevin cummings says:

    Nice scar, dude!

    (To the offended; read Lorrens other post’s before getting your panties in a bunch)

  24. Marilyn Hyder says:

    Hi Loren…it’s good to read your posts, and we all appreciate your sharing your innermost thoughts with us, whether we try to analyze them or not:) What we do know is you’re a great guy with a knack for telling a story with your personal touch. And that’s what it’s all about…your personal touch. As a broadcaster and reporter, it’s so satisfying to know you’ve helped just one person with a story you presented. And look how many people you’re helping right this minute. You’re helping them, as you report to us the details of your treatment!!! And we all are so with you, as you once again turn your observations into a learning experience for all. That’s just the way you roll:) Kick it!!!

  25. Adrienne Durso says:

    Clearly, the Pomeranian is merely putting positive and good juju where it is needed. In addition, I think your dream is really quite simple to analyze. You are craving food from Anthony’s Fish Grotto. The lack of sleep, par for the course, but it’s just temporary. Love reading your posts and look forward to hearing each one. I think we’re all blessed that you’re sharing with us.

  26. Laura F. says:

    Ahhh, I see you must not have ever waited tables, Loren, because if you had, the “suddenly seeing a table if people with menus that had been waiting for you that you TOTALLY forgot about” dream would’ve been mentioned. Or worse yet, MANY tables doing the same. I tell ya, I haven’t waited tables since the late 80’s, but those waitress dreams STILL have a tendency to rear their ugly head. 😉 Here’s hoping your Burch Aquarium-type dreams return soon. ❤

  27. JaneLaFazio says:

    chemo and radiation. Got you in my thoughts, dear Loren.

  28. DeeDee says:

    Wishing you a peaceful sleep tonight filled with sweet dreams of the Padres having an amazing season with lots of hot bats and home runs and you sitting in the stands blue nail polish and all and people coming up to you and saying ” hey is that you Tim Flannery” and you just say no it’s me Loren nancarrow and I’m diggin’ being here at this game and feeling so good……..Praying this is your DREAM COME TRUE!!!!

  29. Cara Kent says:

    You are my teacher. Thank you.

  30. Mary Jo Watson says:

    All the best to you Mr. Nancarrow – you have a great team of healthcare folk helping you through. : )

  31. Mary Jo Watson says:

    I have a recurring dream of always being barefoot in my old high school, and standing at my locker trying to remember my combination, which I never do!! I then end up in Algebra class without my books and attempt to take an exam (still barefoot). Odd, what we dream of…..sometimes, I’m still barefoot, in high school and running around the cafeteria!

    • KRIS KINDER says:

      I have that one too…about the locker and combination….and I can’t get my books either….so i don’t attend class am going to fail

  32. as a chronic insomniac, I feel your pain in not sleeping…. hope it is short lived and you can once more enter the delicious world of vivid dreams. Hoping your dreams come true, especially the one where you are cancer free and up to your elbows in planting soil.

  33. Interesting anology…take care buddy, will continue to pray for relief from the side effects…

  34. Darlene says:

    Wow, what an awesome dream with the warm water and colorful fish! Maybe it symbolizes all the warmth and love you are feeling from everyone as you navigate through these “unknown waters” you find yourself in! I wish I could have some dreams like that. Most of mine are just like the college dream, except mine is at San Dieguito High School. Funny how we all dream that. I truely enjoy all of your posts and the insight it gives us all. Keep on hanging in there through your treatments. This too, as they say, shall pass.

  35. Bobbie Cruzen says:

    Hi Loren:
    How was your first day of treatment? Strange you didn’t dream last night. I like your dreams. Mine are pretty weird these days because of some meds I am taking for fibromyalgia. Maybe you’ll keep a diary of your sleep habits while you are in treatment? Or maybe you’ll write a book about it all!

    Actually I wanted to make you an offer while you are in treatment. I am recently retired and have a very flexible schedule between volunteer work I do. I would like to offer to sit with you during treatment, or at other times, if your family needs a respite and don’t want to leave you alone. I have done this before when relatives or friends were in a similar situation, even hospitalized, and it suits my nature well. I am very comfortable with medical environments and had hoped by now to be volunteering with S. D. Hospice but that has recently fallen through. It would be a privilege to spend time in this way with you as I know the days are often long when you don’t feel yourself. Regardless, I am hoping you get through all this really well and with as little discomfort as possible.

    Continue to take good care of yourself and your family. I feel this is something you will take in stride and move on from very soon.

    • Jeanie Morshead says:

      Really great idea, Bobbie. Loren, I know it’s hard on your family, too, and this would give them some respite. I would also like to volunteer for Cobalt Compassion Care Group! I am a nurse of 34yrs, working perdiem at Rady CHSD, and would love to spend some time with you! Laughter is so good for healing and the immune system, as well as pain, as you release endorphins when you laugh. I know first hand the effects of chemo and radiation while caring for patients. Ginger is a natural anti-emetic (anti- nausea); Vernors makes the best ginger ale, and it’s in the grocery stores. Also, mint and/or ginger tea is soothing to the gut. For sleep, Costco has a combo of melatonin/chamomile/valerian – check with your doc and see if it’s ok with your tx’s/meds. Sending you good thoughts and hugs. Btw, I laughed out loud at the marmellow/pillow story. Take care, my Friend. and let me know what I can do to give back to you for all the ways you have my days and life better over the years. Hugs! ❤

  36. Kelly says:

    Love your updates, Loren!! Keep ‘me coming! Praying for you, your beautiful family and even the blob.

  37. foxtail56 says:

    continue with my above post there….anyhoo….I had the company of a giant rooster with a wolfs head and a large wolf with a roosters head in my hospital room just roaming around. I am sure it was the morphine at the time butnever the less they seemed to be having some kind of party and would not leave. Even after my hollering curse words at them and they were not very nice ones for sure. I have never forgotten the experience. So there ya are Loren just another crazy hospital story for ya. Sending you good thoughts and be well Loren.

  38. Jackie Owens says:

    Dear Loren, Those dreams are wonderful. THey say that everyone dreams but I take a medication that keeps that from happening, at least to my memory. Sorry you had a bad night, but at least you had one, the alternative isn’t good. Keep up the great stories and dreams, we are living your dreams and stories. Looking forward to your complete recovery and back on TV again. Hugs. Jackie

  39. foxtail56 says:

    Hi Loren! Jan here once again . 17 year stg 4 cancer survivor. No recurrence to date. Okay …had to comment. I wish you a good sleep tonight as I know all too well what it is like to feel pretty much as you do Loren. But- I can top that dream there. As I lay in my hospital bed 17 years ago

  40. Judy The Taylor One says:

    I was just telling my dog how much I like his cobalt blue toenails and thus thinking of you. I came to my computer and there was your post. I will never hear the word marshmellow again and not think of you and smile. Thank you, Loren!

  41. Denise Rule says:

    I love the flying dreams – miss those!

  42. Praying for you Loren!!

  43. Beth Browne says:

    Loren, As a 20 year cancer survivor, I understand some of your struggles, but not all of them. I pray for you and your family, and wish only sweet and comforting dreams.

  44. Nenette West says:

    I wish you well Loren!

  45. Stephanie Howerton says:

    Also prayers and positive thoughts go out to you as your start your treatment!! I hope everything goes well!!

  46. Stephanie Howerton says:

    How ironic, I too have the exact same college dream!! Weird

  47. htprice says:

    Talk about dreams- I had more than one last night but one in particular caused me to shake myself awake. I dreamt that small fish were swimming around in my head and every time they reversed course I got very dizzy and confused. It was all I could do to wake myself up to get out of the dream. Very scary! Try to figure that one out. Anyway, Loren, you brighten our day everytime we hear from you! Keep writing! Hershell

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S™III, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

  48. Jan Pollard says:

    The nice thing is that God’s awake, too.
    Will be praying you through this journey.

  49. Bj Ross says:

    Get a book on decoding dreams, quite interesting. I seem to have a lot that are repetitive, though most are from when I grew up in West Los Angeles, and then moving to Reseda, Ca.
    Hearing my parents talk to me (they both have passed) is sweet because I sure do miss them.
    I sent you my Vemma website give the Vemma a look, not the Verve.
    It will help you. It will help you sleep too drink it around 9 at night. Just
    a suggestion.

  50. Dale and Mavis Ward says:

    Loren, what a great description of the things you are going through right now. You are in our prayers … you are truly a GREAT PERSON — always have been, and you always will be.

    • Kim Bauer says:

      Loren, I look at the sky today and think of you. You are more of a garden man than a weather man but the nature and the beauty is what I know you appreciate. There are many types of clouds in the sky (and as far as I can tell a surprise from the weather forecasters) and then to top it off, a very defined glowing fog bank rolling in. I can imagine that with what you are going through that life has a different perspective as well as nature. You are very wise, kind, noble, gifted and strong. You should keep up the writing as a hobby, think of a novel? A rambling? Who knows but for me, you keep my interest. I wish you the best, great healing and full recovery. This world needs you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Loren. Today I finally was free to stop and read this blog,
        Funny thing happened yo me. I started to Bawl , I’m just Sad that you have to hurry up and live
        Guess I just need to get or give a hug
        Reality. Hurts
        Hugs my friend. Never quit feeling the breeze in ur face !

        Audrey Wilmot
        Ur amazing poetic writer

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