Monday, January 31, 2011

More about dreams.

Wrote this yesterday about the oddly thematic dreams I've been having lately. (Is there anything more narcissistic than publishing what basically amounts to brain junk)? Last night I had a dream that David Cross was in love with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and I lived in a high-rise apartment with a security buzzer and front-door cam. The buzzer went off and we looked at the video screen. There were Cross and his two henchpeople, a couple of blond girls. They had masks on which strapped onto their heads like gas masks except their faces were covered by a single opaque surface like the police in THX-1138. The mask covering had a slightly rainbowish shimmery swirling appearance to it very much like these ski goggles my kids acquired somewhere in real life (we don't ski as of yet) that have been in their toy box forever.

The backstory about these three was that they were exceptionally, bitingly obnoxious and being in their presence was to be barraged with a constant stream of snickering little jokes and puns about everything you said. But Cross was in charge. E and I rolled our eyes when we saw them all on the security camera but for some reason we let them in.

Along with anxiety dreams about getting lost, missing deadlines or starring in plays for which I don't know my lines, I've also had these recurring dreams of impotence. (No, I don't mean like a reverse wet dream. I'm being figurative). Basically someone pisses me off, a male, and I try to punch him but my arms are heavy and slow and just fold against his face or torso. I've been having these dreams at least 10 or 15 years. While the other dreams I mentioned yesterday were about weakness---getting in trouble, going to prison, not being a very intimidating crime boss---it's interesting that in this dream I was at last able to punch somebody, David Cross. However. It had the opposite effect of putting me in control.

We let Cross and his flunkies into our apartment and it was abundantly clear he was there to try and woo Elizabeth again, something he'd done many times. He had a sort of craven demeanor. I punched him upside the head. The two girls immediately got up and left, very uncomfortable, and the feeling in the dream was of me being immature and inappropriate. Cross shook it off and continued with a stream of weak jokes. He also made self-serving comments intended to impress Beth.

At one point he said, "Yeah, so, I've been getting in shape: I'm very into yoga now, as well as, you know, electricity." (As in, like, turning the lights off and on). This last part was a joke, and he shrugged when he said it with a mannerism like his character on Arrested Development. I punched him again. He shook his head and paused and regained himself, saying something like, "Anyhoo..." but he looked genuinely hurt and ashamed, and again, I felt not just immature, but unstable. It wasn't action hero violence but I-collect-disability-checks-for-my-serious-emotional-problems violence.

I don't remember the rest of it. In my dream life, I've achieved something that has eluded me for years, only to have the epiphany that it is not the thing. Is my subconscious becoming enlightened, completing the necessary life lessons on the way to realization, while I am not? Will it surpass me?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My mind: Open to interpretation.

Most nights this past week have produced vivid dreams, the kind you wake up and remember.
There were two dreams of being sentenced to prison, both of them bore very believable feelings of anxiety and fear, respectively.

In the first one me and James Roday from the show Psych were both sentenced to a county institution like the Suffolk County prison back home.

This is a very big and serious jail, it just doesn't have as many triple-murderers and lifers. I was there for a nearly believable reason: a series of scofflaw infractions that had added up and gone to warrant. Many unpaid parking, driving without insurance card, or expired registration tickets. I was anxious of all the things you can imagine being anxious of as a male going to jail. Getting stabbed, but far worse, getting raped in a shower. There was also a fear of becoming one of those chronically impoverished fuckups. I used to work in a homeless shelter. Going to prison once for something stupid has a tendency to turn you into a serious criminal for good. There was a sense of hope in this dream though, from knowing I wouldn't be in there forever and that there was a chance to plead for earlier release because of the nature of my measly crimes.

The entrance to the jail was a believable-looking marble hallway like in a government building, with a security gate. At some point they let me out on furlough and I became very concerned I would get further charged with trying to escape because I couldn't get back in: To return, I had to climb through a narrow, attic cupola window  (which sort of felt like my bed under my chest as I tried to squirm through) in what now turned out to be a house. A brown, Cape-Cod-style house in a tree-shaded neighborhood. Somewhere in the dream narrative me and James Roday had sort of became the same person, as happens in my dreams, but now we were distinct people again. While I tried to get through the window he was down in the yard of the house talking casually to the lady who owned the house. He walked as casually into the entrance of the "jail" and I was afraid that him getting back first would make me look bad to the authorities. I woke up.

The next night I had a dream where the leader of a criminal gang, or crew, who looked like Henry Fonda, picked me to be his chief enforcer and second-in-command. If you asked me in waking hours to be your main thug, I'd like to think I'd come off like a total badass. I would slap people around and let them fear for their lives but it would be mostly psychological. In the dream I felt unsure of my position. I knew my tentativeness would show, and would lessen the respect of the crew, maybe ten other guys who drove trucks, cars and motorcycles in a desert that was also the floor of a living room in a house I don't recognize. I never really "saw" them, there was just the impression of their vehicles. I think this part is a memory of playing Matchbox cars. Henry Fonda had asked me to kill somebody by hitting them with a mallet and I had, in action that appeared off-screen, and now there were sirens because the FBI and cops were coming for him. "You will take the fall" he said. I accepted this as my duty. The last part of the dream was the feeling of fear about what would happen to me in Federal prison.

(Merry just walked into the room where I'm writing holding a mallet, by the way. She's using it to fix Ee-yore's tail).

There was another dream this week I don't remember which also had a persecution theme. Going to trial or getting executed or fired, or something. This morning, I had a dream I was trapped in the belly of a giant fish.

The fish was actually a fossil, and I'm not sure how I got in there. It was the body of a prehistoric deep ocean species with a long, needle-like nose. When it was alive it would drive its nose forcefully into the sea floor to stir up sand containing the plankton-like micro-organisms it lived on. But this particular fossilized fish I was trapped inside of with another, unnamed person had accidentally driven its nose into a vein of oil that wound deep into the center of the Earth, releasing a gushing plume of thick, tarry stuff forming a cataclysm that destroyed much of the world. The oil had preserved the fish's body nearly perfectly and in the present time me and this other person had somehow gotten stuck inside it. All I remember is looking up and seeing its white ribs and spine, black tar between them.

Where is all this coming from?

James Roday comes from the fact that Psych is my favorite comfort-food. I watch it a lot. I watched an episode with Ezra and his friend last night. Prison might come from the fact that I have a couple parking tickets hanging over me and, two days before Christmas, my car got towed by the Town of Richfield with its draconian snowstorm parking rules. The feeling behind the prison dreams, of getting in trouble, I'm not sure about that one. Not to be dramatic, but it's true I've had nearly constant doom hanging over my head for two and a half years. It's a financial thing I haven't resolved. I wake up thinking about it most days, specifically the fear of running out of money and losing a house. But the feeling here was different---it was more about getting in trouble. As for the fish, I took the kids to the Natural History museum in November, and Lucas has been watching this mockumentary about dinosaur fish, and Friday Ezra and I played a guessing game to pass the time waiting for the ear doctor and he picked "Plankton," and yesterday I read an article in the New Yorker about a baby mammoth that fell into a puddle of chemicals 40,000 years ago and just emerged from some melted snow in Russia perfectly preserved. But I like to be dramatic.

So I woke up telling Elizabeth my spiritual life was at some significant turning point on a deep, mythic level, but I didn't know what it was.

I'm taking a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Psychology class right now, and we just covered the explanation of various thematic dreams found in the Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic. Dreams about flying mean there's an imbalance between the upper and lower parts of the body. Dreams about anger and fighting indicated liver issues. Anxiety dreams implicate the spleen and stomach. It's possible my dreams are just a collage of thoughts, feelings and images or are somehow related to my liver. But like I said, I like to be dramatic and lean towards Jungian explanations.

Any ideas?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ezra's party.

We took EZ and five of his friends bowling, then had a cake made entirely of long johns.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Question of the day.

Am I a misanthrope, or are most people annoying?

I'm going to pose this on Facebook now as well and see what I get. By the way, nobody reading this is annoying.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

At last.

If this doesn't suck the breath right out of you there's something wrong. (Sorry it gets cut off a little beginning and end).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It sucks to be a Buddhist.

"Thank you, sir, for cutting me off on the highway! What an auspicious circumstance, to have that happen at 70 miles per hour! When I slammed on my brakes and that tray of 14 cupcakes tumbled onto the floor; when my GPS slid out from under the seat and almost lodged itself under the gas pedal; and when I realized, afterward, that wet sand had now became stuck in the crack between the touch screen and the case, I was able to experience anger! This made me feel compassion for humanity, realizing firsthand how we suffer from difficult emotions! I felt more connected with all beings, and when I shouted 'You fucking douchebag,' and felt the compulsion to chase you onto your exit, it gave me insight. Have others felt this way, about me? Perhaps the driver was late for a fire, or his wife was giving birth. Maybe he was ten minutes late for the asshole convention where he was to receive a prestigious award. I dedicate this experience on the highway to all beings, so that, in becoming more patient through it, I may benefit them all more fully."

If you see the Buddha on the road, please kill him for me.

The Mormons have really gotten bold with that new ad campaign.


Monday, January 24, 2011

The mice and the bees.

When I was nine I learned how babies are made. It was during a trip to the grocery store with my dad.

Up to this point I had the usual types of misconceptions (hey, a pun) kids have on the topic. For example: I always loved spies and have been watching James Bond movies since Kindergarten. (Somehow I didn't learn about sex from those). When I asked my mom how babies are made she said, "Well, when two people are in love, a man 'gives' something to a woman and then she becomes pregnant." I imagined that like in the spy movies, the man breaks a capsule open over his lady's drink while she isn't looking, and stirs the powder until it dissolves. Basically, that he gives her a Rufi.

During this trip to the grocery store four or five years later I was begging for one of those piece of shit plastic toys you get by putting a quarter in a machine and turning the crank until a plastic bubble pops out. My dad gave me a quarter.

Driving home in his white VW Rabbit, the one where the floor rusted out until you could actually see the road, I opened the plastic bubble. Inside was an orange refrigerator magnet showing a line illustration of the male and female symbols crossed over each other. The circular parts at the top had Mickey Mouse ears. The copy said: "It's more fun than Fancyland."

There are about three things wrong here. 1) Someone thought it was a good idea to put suggestive slogans on a kids' toy. 2) The slogan is fucking stupid. 3) The toy is so cheap they couldn't even afford to license the word "Disneyland."

I opened the plastic bubble and turned it over in my hands, read it once, then again, still not getting it, puzzling there in my seat while my dad whistled "Watching the Detectives."

"Dad? What does this mean?"

He glanced over at the magnet as I held it out to him. He stopped whistling. "Right!" he said, cranking the wheel to turn the car sharply off to the side of the road. "Here's how it is, Kiddo..."

A skilled lecturer on most topics from physics and chemistry to literature, my dad went on to describe, in a very measured tone, far more than just the basics---the old in-out in-out, as it were---but lots of additional details I'm lucky didn't put me off sex forever. Including, god help me, some personal anecdotes from his own personal affairs that he shared in good faith by way of illustration.

Anyway, it's years later, and remembering the corruption introduced to my psyche by that toy, and seeing the steady rise of violence in video games and on TV, I've become an unyielding defender of childhood innocence. So I've submitted a design to the People's Shitty Toy Factory #36 in China for my own refrigerator magnet. Kids like cute animals, so it will show a simple cartoon illustration of a room overflowing with kitties, hanging from the curtains, spilling out of teacups, licking their cute little paws, and batting at balls of string. The caption says "Pussy Galore!"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Neverneverland.

I got to read Merry her stories tonight. I picked The Gruffalo, the same copy I used to read to my kids. The pages are all creased, and ripped in places. Hour and hours, days' and weeks' worth of written pages read out loud to children over the past ten years. It never gets old, but I do.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rx II

Like the lady said, we all have our own ways of facing uncertainty. I prefer head on.
Or head off, as the case may be.
(Sega's House of the Dead: OVERKILL).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why do we have pets?

Trying to muster sympathy for the dog, who is projectile shitting all over the house after eating some bad meat out of the garbage. Must --- summon --- compassion. Nah. Not working. Stupid dog.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time to procrastinate.

There is sometimes a one-month delay between realizing I want, or have to, do something that doesn't necessarily have a fixed deadline (exercising more, writing more, eating better, researching a lawyer so I can get divorced) and doing it.

These things I put off either seem painful, or I convince myself I don't have enough time. The resistance is strong, like trying to turn a large boat around against the flow of the river. I convince myself I'll never get them done and add them to the list of failures to abuse myself over.

A few weeks or a month or so later, I realize I suddenly have the motivation to do some of these things, or I realize I'm actually doing them without planning to at all. I realize this after the fact. Just as slowly as a boat turns itself around in the river, however, I'm gradually remembering this natural law before the fact. Big tasks take little effort over time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

At the piano showroom.

video
Day off from school. We went to the posh Galleria mall to play pianos. The tinny microphone on my cell phone can't translate the sound of this instrument, the dealership's premier Steinway, nor can you see the old man sitting at a table just outside the open door. He lowered his newspaper and gave me a thumbs up through the window while Ezra played. You can't see the other silvery couple walking by who stopped to listen. I couldn't quite get a breath in---it wasn't just watching my son play---it was hearing the music, and then putting it together with the knowledge it was him playing it. I know not every note is perfect yet. But I'm not just a proud dad. If you were there you would've felt it too, like the old people did.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Eric's Rules:

#15 - Ketchup.
Ketchup has a furlough from being disgusting only so long as it takes to finish a meal, during which time it is a delightfully brassy little condiment. The very moment a fork is set down for the last time, however, or a chair pushed back from the table, ketchup sets to drying on the plate. This is a swift ride towards utter repugnance which should be cut short dutifully.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eric's Rules:

#54.
Never allow another man to see you in your socks.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Magic.

Nobody believes me, they roll their eyes when I tell the story and make doobie-smoking gestures. Here's photographic evidence: In Pembrokeshire, Wales, there are cliffs. Stunning cliffs overlooking the sea. And on those cliffs there are wild ponies.