“I still have no way to survive but to keep writing one line, one more line, one more line . . . ” ~ Yukio Mishima
Saturday, late afternoon. Sunny and low 60’s. Perfect Spring day.
I’ve been trying to catch up in so many ways. Yesterday I made the time to visit my blogroll so that I could leave comments, especially for those who are so loyal about visiting and commenting here. Blog etiquette. But after that, my time was not my own, so I never got my post written. Today I had to take Tillie outside for our daily game of stick and some fresh air so that she would leave me alone to write; otherwise, she tries to get into my lap to get my attention. This is a Labrador, people.
Today I had a philosophical text exchange with Corey before he had to sign off to go to bed. His new schedule has him getting up at 4 a.m. for watch. He thinks they’ll be leaving on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. More of wait and see.
I did take Alexis to Target on Thursday to get her some maternity clothes. So far, she’s been wearing stretchy t-shirts and yoga pants, but she needs some decent things for her upcoming showers and the family wedding (on Mike’s side). We got some good bargains, and (I think), enough to pretty much carry her through, except for shorts and capris. I told her that next paycheck we can look for those.
Woke up with another headache. I really need to get caught up on my health insurance so that the neurologist’s office can order the Botox. The migraines are back to several times a week and relentless in intensity. So over this. We’re hoping to be able to get the premiums up-to-date with Corey’s next check, which should be a nice one (for a change). I also need to make an appointment with my PCP for a basic med check and to talk to her about this ongoing stuff in my lungs. She wants me to see a pulmonologist, which I know that I’ve mentioned, but I am so averse to taking on yet another specialist and all that entails . . .
“In Arab popular traditions, there’s a belief that if a manuscript were to be submerged in water and its ink were to dissolve, drinking the water would transform the knowledge contained in that manuscript into the body of the drinker and become part of the body’s system.” ~ Anton Shammas, from “The Drowned Library”
I found the quote above on tumblr. I love the idea of drinking in a manuscript, literally ingesting the knowledge contained in a book. To take a text and transmute it into liquid, and then to drink the words, to take in the phrases, to swallow ideas and symbols—try to imagine what that must feel like. For someone like me for whom the written word is almost spiritual, if it were possible to swallow stories and lore, I don’t know that I would ever be able to remove myself from the well.
Of course, the whole idea of submerging a manuscript, removing the ink from the page, as it were, is so much in keeping with the basic tenets of physics, that matter cannot be created or destroyed, that it can only change shape/form. In that case, scientifically, the dissolved pages have merely shifted, but in a spiritual sense, the words, the ink that changes from dried to liquid—that is there for the offering, and only true believers would be able to partake, true believers in the power of words, that is.
Hell, I don’t know what I’m trying to say. It’s one of those days, a day on which to ponder, theorize, postulate, and simply let the mind wander, a bit like wandering down some old cobblestone streets in a Medieval city having absolutely no idea as to where they lead.
“I lie to myself all the time, but I never believe me.” ~ S. E. Hinton, from The Outsiders
My dreams of late have been quite intense. I know that I’ve mentioned before that I have rerun dreams: the same basic scenario, like the old house with all of the rooms of furniture, but another dream that I have had several times involves something really wild: I am throwing myself from an airplane hatch and then springing back up and through the opening in one fluid motion. In this dream, I have learned how to do this, and I beg to be allowed to do it again and again.
Sometimes, the back story is that I’m with some group of military personnel, and sometimes it has something to do with school, but always in this dream, I am performing this wholly reckless and completely exhilarating act without any fear. The thing is that at one time, I could see myself actually doing something like this. I threw myself off a raised platform while holding a zipline without a second’s hesitation.
So I had the dream again a few nights ago, except this time, I was a second-year cadet, and they were only letting the first years do the maneuver, and I was consumed with jealousy. I knew that I could do it better than anyone else, but instead of this free-falling, I was being made to sit in a classroom with all males save one other female cadet. The resentment was palpable. I left the room and went in search of the planes that were hovering over the field, and I climbed a pole like an electric transformer just so that I could be near the action.
The wildest part is that in the middle of this dream, Tillie awoke me, and I rolled over and ignored her, and the dream resumed as if it had been on pause.
“I’m something that I used to be. I’m never where I feel I am, and if I seek myself, I don’t know who’s seeking me. My boredom with everything has numbed me. I feel banished from my soul.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet
I think that my dream self is much more like I used to be, i.e., willing to take on new things without hesitation. Relishing the power of a new conquest, another hurdle overcome. My real self, my everyday self, is static. No one ever invites me to jump from an airplane hatch. Of course not. That would be silly.
Last night I had the newsroom dream again. In real life, I spent my formidable years in a newsroom, first as the supervisor, and then later as a staff writer for a local weekly insert. Along the way, I also did some copy editing on the graveyard shift.
In this dream, it’s a mash-up of people from my past: lots of real people from the newsroom, as well as my friend Mari and Gwyneth Paltrow (okay, not from my real life, but she played someone who was). The scenario was that the paper was undergoing massive layoffs, and several of the old guard were being given their papers, including Ron Speer, who was actually a reporter who later became an editor. Mari was offered a position in Baltimore, and she didn’t even tell me about it. She was moving up there to be Gwyneth’s roommate. My other friend, who I shall not name, was made an editor, and I was aghast as she didn’t know her way around a sentence.
I was told that I could stay and do some occasional editing because my salary was so low that it didn’t really make a difference in the budget cuts. Of course.
We went to a bar to have a going away party for the ones who were leaving, and Ron was really, really drunk. In real life, this was a big man, but in the dream he was huge. And drunk. And trying to sit on my lap. My father showed up, and Ron fell on the floor trying to get out of my lap. I was weeping profusely because Mari was leaving again, and I was being left behind. Sandy Rowe, the managing editor, told me that I just didn’t have what it takes.
Sandy, also a real person, often shows up in my newsroom dream, either supporting me or bashing me. It’s not consistent. As I said, my dream life is quite full of interesting people and places, and I’m always doing something, but it isn’t necessarily good.
“We now know enough to know that we will never know everything. This is why we need art: it teaches us how to live with mystery. Only the artist can explore the ineffable without offering us an answer, for sometimes there is no answer.” ~ Jonah Lehrer, from Proust was a Neuroscientist
So why all of this talk about dreams? I really don’t know except that when they stick with me past that ephemeral few seconds after waking, when they are still with me a few days later, I know that I need to put them down in order to either a) rid them from my system, or b) look at them for some insight, or c) both.
Both the newsroom dream and the cadet dream involve me being in situations over which I have no control, surrounded by familiar people who either like or hate me. Both dreams involve me being in situations that are somewhat hostile, and I am left to fare as best I can. In both dreams, I have some type of resolution, but not one with which I am completely satisfied.
I have so much unfinished business—both in life and in dreams—of this I am totally aware, but this is what I am beginning to believe more and more: These dreams, these repeats of dreams, they are stories trying to come out. I flesh them out fully in sleep, so why not while waking?
That, my friend, is the real heart of the matter.
More later. Peace.
All images of the Medieval city of Carcassone, Languedoc-Roussillon, France are taken from Erminig Gwenn’s Flickr Creative Commons page.
Music by Haroula Rose, “All I Know”
Song of the Abducted
The trees are full of owls. At night thousands
of them stare at me through the sunroom windows.
The phone rings; it is my dead friend, calling
from Boston. She talks & talks,
but I can get nothing out, I am choking
on questions. The owls’ heads move so quickly
they do not seem to move. It started
when I was a child: late one night my father
stopped the car at a roadside park & dozed,
a silver thermos of coffee in his lap. I slept too,
in the back, & woke to a deer looking
in the window, its nose pressed against the glass,
eyes huge & glossy. The next thing I knew
it was morning & we were driving over the bridge
into Memphis. Later from a hotel room
I saw helicopters a few feet from the window,
but there was no noise. At night
everyone comes back to me eventually,
this one I loved & that one.
The air grows sharp as copper & there’s
a beautiful green light that deepens
like water; I move through it slowly
but it is not wet & I never surface, no matter
how hard I kick my legs. Inside myself
I am several hours behind myself. From one summer
I recall flowers: sunflowers peering like faces
over a fence, knotted peonies fallen on the lawn.
For months, after I fell in love, I couldn’t sleep
until dawn: nothing wedged itself between me
& the darkness. But passion dimmed to an ashy
smudge on the mirror & through the fanlight
I saw a collar of dead stars. The rumors you’ve heard
are true: behind danger lurks danger. Down
the street a house is on fire. Red light courses
through the room & I feel smoke like sticky oil
on my arms, the warm spot where the cat
was sleeping. When I come to I am peering
into the blue face of the television.
There is snow & in the snow a hint of static,
something cold & shifty I cannot turn off.
~ Aleda Shirley, from Dark Familiar