Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

Better than Dreams

5 December 2011

Dear J-

If you’re a fan (and I know that doesn’t mean every one) Katy Perry has two albums out, Teenage Dream and the earlier One of the Boys. Neither is particularly challenging or encourages growth as far as music goes but our parents used to despair that our idols were Madonna and Boy George so every generation has a chance to be curmudgeonly about young peoples’ music. What I want to talk about is the waking-up-and-realizing-what-happened songs, Waking up in Vegas and Last Friday Night. If for no other reason these are fun songs to listen to and provide a vicarious thrill: man, those were some good times last night, amirite?

At least since the eighth grade I had a recurring dream throughout high school where I’d wake up next to the same person every day, nestled snug together adrift under a sea of blankets and a tangle of limbs. I’d open my eyes in the early llight and take in the world around me, shrunk down to the fifty or so square feet of bed, get a little closer to catch the scent of her hair and drowse some more in her warmth. That’s the easy, unforced intimacy of my dreams with the face sometimes changing as crush statuses were updated and I wonder if that wasn’t the criteria I used at times, how you’d look asleep in the morning.

Of course there was no getting there without some of night before and for some reason my dream would always omit that part of it so maybe theVet is right and I have slowly been turning into a teenage girl the older I get. Katy Perrry sings those songs of libidinous postmortems fueled by alcohol and impaired judgment but I remember that night in 1995 when we were surprised by our mutual night ouwl tendencies (me studying, theVet coming back from work) and how the innocent question “What are you doing still up?” quickly became code for “let’s maul each other like high school locker sweethearts.” It’s true what they say: truth is stranger than fiction, and I add that life is better than dreams.



Dream Composition

2 November 2011

Dear J-

What do dreams mean to you? Do you ascribe any sort of deeper portent or metaphor t owhere your dreams took you last night? When I was younger and I got enough sleep I used to dream more often but then again I wonder if I just had more to dream about, seeing as how I now have just about as much as I could ever want: family, kids, and three squares a day.No, really; I think it’s the lack of sleep that’s been doing in my dreamsas it feels like years since I’ve had a good, solid sleep that wasn’t marred by some kind of strange exhaustion, whether from staying up too late or getting up to early or the various punctuations that growing kids will add to the situation.

I do miss the dreams, which seemed to have an easy way about them, showing me what could be and what I should have done, perhaps. At the same time I’d wake up and wonder how much of what just happened was real; it’s not clear at all whether it was all just wish fulfillment or merely warnings. I’d wake up some days with a huge sense of loss and regret which would spill over into everything else I did that day, little knowing that the mood controlled by dreams would make the day a self-fulfilling prophecy. Still, though, I wonder what it would be like to go to bed around eight, say, get my eight hours of sleep and start to dream again. I wonder if I could even sleep that long, though, too.

The various experiments in sleep deprivation all seem to point out that folks will become less lucid eventually, and I’m not sure that I can keep up in the sense that eventually I can’t count on being able to sleep on the van every day or my hours aren’t going to change or life as I know it doesn’t come to a screeching halt on Monday, 12 December 2011. As it is I wonder how critical dreams are to keeping us sane; not the goals sort of dreams where we say in our waking lives this is what I want to become, athis is what I want to achieve — I’m talking those full-bleed technicolor movies your mind plays after the rest of your body has gone slack and the brain has the chance to reknit a few loose connections. Those dreams, occasionally inconvenient but always personal, those dreams. Make up a third of our lives and are best seen in misty repose, in broken snatches of song, as fragments we sift and resynthesize when we’re awake and what happens when you run out of ingredients for your conscious life?


Passionate Mind

9 February 2009

Dear J-

We’re invested in the business of obsolescence; things get better, faster, and cheaper every day.  Industrialized farming has driven food prices so low that proper nutrition is in the reach of most (and like most, I tend to reach for, say, the Doritos instead; thankfully theVet keeps such snacks to a minimum), but, ironically, has also driven farmers to a point where they can’t compete with industrial farms.  Ditto giant stores:  bigger selection, lower prices means that your buck goes farther, but you need to stretch that buck because maybe the job you were counting on doesn’t pay as much in response to competition.

It’s not so much living hand to mouth as perhaps ass to mouth:  we keep demanding that our costs go down and complain that we never seem to have enough.  Oh, we need that gigantic screen TV, now that we can buy it for as much as we spent on something far smaller, twenty years ago?  How have we managed to delude ourselves into believing that we need so many little things?  Passion runs roughshod over the rational mind.

I go to pawnshops sometimes less to see what bargains can be had as to see what dreams get left by the wayside.  It’s the toys of modern life that get left behind the fastest — electronics, guns, jewelry — as we decide to reshuffle our lives, and it’s those that I’ll have to clear out first as I struggle to de-clutter our lives.  We aren’t so far apart, after all, as I go to dream, inevitably, the same dreams as lie pawned on those empty shelves.


High Anticipation

8 January 2009

Dear J-

I used to watch a lot of science-fiction movies; having any Star Wars or Star Trek come on network television was cause for breathless anticipation for weeks prior, and a near-holiday from homework during.  Now with cable and satellite flooding us with a surfeit of choice, I find myself drawn to human-scale dramas.  Sci-fi almost is a victim of its own success:  the more believable the imagery, the less effort I invest in escaping.  Perhaps it’s me, then; as my imagination contracts, I can’t picture far-off worlds the way I used to.  Yet I find that I have no problems breathing life into words jumping off the page.

The lack of sleep boosts my lack of memorable dreams, perhaps.  When I was younger, I would twist in my bed, haunted by possible closet monsters (one in particular, from a Native American legend of a vengeful spirit who would sneak up and nibble on your stomach night by night as you wasted and died), killer bees (again, why do they provide these reading materials to elementary schools?), and sundry movie monsters.  I forced myself to develop a janitor of the mind, if you will — again, under the influence of TV, Dick Clark and Ed McMahon’s bloopers show — I’d visualize little cartoon custodians sweeping images out of my head.  Now my dreams revolve mostly around the past, it seems.

The future holds no surprises any more; now that, supposedly, all the milestones of growing up are in the past, I’m left staring down a long career and retirement.  But it’s not quite that simple — anticipation shrinks from weeks to hours, and simple joys bring greater highs.  It is enough; we are whole.  Paradise is a state of mind, not a place to be sought.  We find fulfillment within, though the occasional trinket never hurts, and delight when possible.


Desert Dreams

30 December 2008

Dear J-

I’ve had dreams of the desert; nights spent throwing gear in the back of a pickup (perhaps the modern equivalent of a trusty steed), dust swirling around your knees as you set off down the road into a sunset.  Pick up your feet and hope they carry you straight; long shadows trailing your steps and everywhere, sand swirling softly away.  Of storms; of brief, intense squalls, the earth drinking up moisture greedily, and cracking back into an aerial map of muddy city blocks.

I’ve dreamt of the ocean, whispering waves and rocking boats; spray flavoring the very air with the salt of a thousand drowned kingdoms.  Watching rust drip like icicles, eating without pause, never resting; reading the doom inherent in each unique wave, casting forth and robbing the land with each moment.  The deep mirror of every pool shows every wrinkle, every experience without editing.  Water’s edge, sometimes like a knife cutting sky from earth, sometimes obscured by a cousin cloud, always ever changing.

The road slips by as we dance between worlds.  A mile either way and we’re out of our intermediate border zone.  If this place has magic, it’s in the variable face of the sun; witness how shocking cold grips us with icy fingers before the sun banishes our cloaks and coats.  It’s enough, sometimes, just to sit out and watch that chariot drive a few arc-seconds; clouds pass and winds shape, but the sun hangs with the promise of another day spent together, you and I, the pledge of the earth spinning silently onward through the void.


Who Are You?

23 October 2008

Dear J-

It feels like I’m always running away from something lately — after a long day at work, I’ve managed to get another day off to head up north, Bay Area for a funeral tomorrow.  It’s a cliché to say that we all get together only for funerals and weddings, but amongst us cousins, we’re starting to run low on the latter, even if this is the first of the former.  What can I expect from it?

It won’t be the same rowdy scene I’ve come to associate with throwing all of us together into the same room.  Something else, perhaps; to be honest I myself wasn’t particularly close to my aunt; I go because of my mother and the sister she’s lost.  We did have high hopes to spend a week together, roughly half a year ago; all that came to naught at the last minute, as other family events and health issues derailed that promise.  So.  Here we gather from as far away as New York, each with their own lives put on hold for the nonce.

At work we have stand-downs when something significant happens — whether good or bad, we take half an hour to discuss the reasons and causes and take those lessons to heart.  Now we have the opportunity to examine the trajectory our lives have taken — not so much to benchmark where we are compared to the rest of our generation; I’ll leave that for the grown-ups in the crowd — but to change where we see our path takes us.  And though it’s ridiculous to suggest I can read the future any more than I have x-ray eyes, when else would I get a chance to reflect on it?

Better yet, ponder this:  is this what you wanted five years ago, five years from then?  What secrets did you dream of, what secrets have you kept, what tears have you hid, and which tears have you wept?  Where is home?  Who are you?  Who will you be?


Shifting Aims

30 June 2008

Dear J-

Growing up, my best friend was your eventual debate partner, Charlie; sure, there were plenty of times I got shoved into a snowbank without warning, but that’s the price of growing up.  Impromptu snowball fights usually led to hot chocolate at someone’s house.  He was a much better piano player, too, able to evoke emotions with every keystroke, whereas I just sounded like I was having a stroke at the piano, between uncontrolled notes and inadvertently overstruck keys.

Now I get word that he’s back in our hometown, going to school where all our parents taught and aiming for his teacher’s credential so he can shape elementary school minds.  My folks, fresh back from a visit, confided that he still has the long hair and moustache that marked his long years in Chicago; his first winter break back from college, he also invited his girlfriend to visit.  Thinking nothing of this, I went over on his invitation to watch a few video tapes for what may well have been the longest evening of my life (well, perhaps prom nite excepted, and that also in a bad way — another story, another day — remind me if I don’t remember to write it up) as two hormone-driven eighteen year-olds mauled each other on the couch and I pretended not to notice.

No, you’d think that I’m the last person who’d be shocked by change, given how frequently I muse on it here, and yet it still strikes me as amazing to see where life has taken our dreams.  Do we settle for less, having adjusted our sights lower, or do we refine our values instead, knowing better what we want as time goes by?  It’s when we stop learning, stop evolving, stop adjusting, stop making sense of the world for us that we truly stop, isn’t it?


Always So Magic

6 December 2006

Dear J-,

There’s a line from The Wedding Singer that sounded great — Robbie, Adam Sandler’s character, says he wants to be a songwriter, one who’s going to write a song that makes people think “Man, I get what he was thinking when he wrote that.” Isn’t that the whole purpose of writing anything?

I’m back on the East Coast again again for the first time in what, eight years? At least since I was in school, and I can only think of everything that’s changed since then. Was it always so lonely, this being apart, a whole continent in between?

(I don’t wanna be lonely, baby, please help me)
I wanna love you all over

— Huey Lews and the News, Do You Believe in Love

I know that it’s got to be some kind of minor hell, or more precisely, some kind of karma for never appreciating all the thousands of kindnesses theVet does for me every day. Man that sounds horrible, like I just miss having a servant. Let them eat cake, that kind of stuff. Lonely’s more than that. Days like these, nights like these, I feel lonely in my own skin. I just don’t know what to do by myself any more. No, lonely’s gotta be somewhere between the last seat on the bus and watching the lights flicker and glow out at closing time. It’s empty chairs and desperate calls to 411, trying to remember, trying to reconnect. Lonely’s knowing just how many vacant minutes fill each dark night. It’s 18 000 days — 540 000 hours of knowing exactly what you need and learning how badly you picked that bet. All this time I thought the future was just more of the same, and I dreaded it a thousand times more than the million slow deaths of humiliation I’d already had in my life — the petrification of actually having to stand up and speak in front of everyone, everyone’s eyes, everyone’s expectations weighing a thousand tons of stares.

Dream a dream of the future with me — grey at the houses of worship, lines changed to canyons (you know I’m now almost halfway to where grampa was the first time we met?) — but that’s only the part I can’t control. I’ve said it before: now I can’t wait. Each day is a day closer, and thus another chance to discover. Yeah, I know it sounds completely Polyanna, sunshine lollipops and rainbows and yet I still can’t help but feel a little giddy about it all. Maybe it’s just who I am, but I’m still learning, learning that love is in the details. Figure it this way: 80 years, 365 days, 2 times the sky catches fire at dusk and dawn. 56 000 opportunities to share your life and amazing times while the world reminds you it’s all still magic, it’s all so magic.


High School (Aren’t We Joe Cool Yet?)

5 November 2006

I’m not convinced I got the most out of high school. But at least I got out.


To be honest, things didn’t change much in high school. The hair of the student body didn’t pose the fire hazard that it used to, but we stayed in the groups that we’d split into as junior high people. I don’t condemn it because it just happens and seems as natural as plate tectonics: huge masses rushing towards each other and one would inevitably grind the other down, but not without rumbling and trembling. It’s not always a wasteland, though; sometimes you find genuinely honest and wonderful people, like some of my neighboring locker-owners. We all had to deal with the peculiar quirks of the school, such as how it was designed for southern California weather (and hence was a series of disconnected buildings) while experiencing a snow-belt reality. I still like almost all of the people who graduated with me, but it was difficult to reach across the group borders afterwards; I have yet to contact probably 90% of my graduating class with something stronger than a rumor.