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June 24th, 2012
by Bruce |
Thing about most dreams is once awake you recall how limited your mental bandwidth was (for lack of a better term) while you were in it. It’s the thing that telegraphs to you instantly that you are really awake: your mind is all there. In most dreams (at least my own) I have no memories of prior events, no sensation of thinking really. I don’t feel my body or even notice it much. There are none of the usual sensations of motion or my environment. I don’t feel temperature, don’t feel the air around me, don’t feel the sensation of gravity on my body. My consciousness is entirely on the surface of things. I am an automaton strolling through the dream.
But some dreams are so vivid I find myself remembering things, including past dream events I’d forgotten. I have conversations with the people in my dreams and think in depth about what is being said to me while talking to them. I can feel my environment, feel hot or cold, feel the wind, feel gravity tug at me while doing things like running or climbing. I sit quietly and ponder something and I am thinking in depth, just as if I was wide awake. And lately I’ve noticed myself even daydreaming in my dreams.
What is it when you’re daydreaming within a dream? I was doing that last night.
Our minds…our human consciousness…it is such an amazing, intricate, constantly surprising thing…
October 17th, 2010
by Bruce |
The free association in dreams can be a really fascinating thing to examine when you get a hook on it. This morning I woke up from a dream where I was trying with no success to photograph a gay pride parade. In the typical way of dreams that want to frustrate you, the digital SLR I was carrying absolutely refused to take the shots I was trying to take. But what stuck in my mind after I woke up, was the enchanting use of two commonplace words.
I was standing at one end of the main street of some small city: a mashup as these dream locals usually are of several city neighborhoods I’ve lived in over the course of my life. The parade was coming toward me in the distance and I was facing down a street with a grade that casually dipped down and then rose back up again in the distance to a point slightly higher then where I was standing. Both sides of the street were packed with old brick buildings, like oversized row houses. Most were shops with large glass display windows. Narrow sidewalks lined both sides of the street, which was empty of cars for the parade. People lined the street, watching the parade in the distance as it came toward us.
I had a good digital SLR around my neck and a camera bag with various items hanging from one shoulder. As I tried to snap off a few shots of the people watching, and also of the parade in the distance, the camera kept failing to take the shot. Interestingly, the camera gave me tactile feedback that the shot had failed, by way of the shutter release. Instead of a short sharp throw and clean release, the button became heavy and mushy and then would not move. As soon as I felt it I knew something had gone wrong. I glanced at the digital display on the back of the camera, only to see a shot I’d taken some weeks before, still on the memory card.
Ah…thinks I…the memory card is full. I tried erasing what was on it, not caring at that point if I’d saved the images off somewhere because I had a job to do, which was cover the pride parade. But the card would not erase. It was that kind of dream. I tried reformatting it and that didn’t work. So I ejected that one and rummaged around in my camera bag for another. But all I could find were old, low capacity cards. I knew I couldn’t get many shots on those, but now I was getting desperate, the parade was coming closer, so I popped one in. When I tried to take a shot with it, the camera ejected it.
I was on a main street, full of little shops. I wondered if one of those sold memory cards. Here’s where it got interesting. I walked over to one of the bystanders and asked them if there was a place nearby that sold glass. “Glass” in this dream world, apparently being the word people used for memory cards. The guy I asked knew right away what I meant, and pointed me to a shop just a couple doors down. I thanked my good fortune and ran over to it and ducked inside.
Inside was like an old candy store, except instead of chocolate bars there were dozens and dozens of different kinds of memory cards, all laid out in rows of trays. There was no packaging, just the cards, by type and brand. Most were of types I’d never seen before. It was almost like looking a trays of loose nuts and bolts except the cards were all laid out neatly in rows. As I looked over a particular row of cards, the proprietor of the shop, a friendly looking older guy who was standing behind the counter, told me that the glass in that particular section were all product fancy. It was a term I immediately understood to mean second hand.
It’s interesting how the mind works. “Product fancy” in that dream world, was when someone buys something and they take it home and it turns out it wasn’t the right size or something after all, so they bring it back and exchange it for something else that is right. So it was merchandise returned almost immediately either without having been used or only used once. A higher grade of second hand merchandise in other words. “Like new”. The term “product fancy” probably came from some dream state free conflation in my mind of two senses of the word “fancy”: something you desire, and something illusory. I thought that was the right size but it wasn’t…
The use of “glass” for “memory card” probably came from that dream state free association of memory chips and silicon, which is what chips are made from, and silica which is the oxide of silicon glass is made from.
The dream ended as I was looking through the trays for a memory card so I don’t know if I ever found one and got the parade shots I wanted, but when it ended I was confidant they were there, that shop seemed to sell nothing but memory cards and they had hundreds of different types all laid out like candy bars in a candy store, so I probably did eventually get my shots. That was a kinda neat world though. Some mornings I wake up wishing I lived in the world I was just dreaming about.
September 7th, 2009
by Bruce |
So I’m walking to class in one of my old Junior High Schools (they call them Middle Schools these days…). The bad one. The one I got bullied in so much I actually skipped out some days. I had a hideout in the corner of one of the apartment building basements where the tenants could store things. I’d found a storage bin that wasn’t being used and set up a bunch of big old cardboard boxes and some carpet and a flashlight in it, and brought in some books to read and on days when it was really bad I went and hid there until after school let out. That was the only time in my life I ever skipped school, but some days it was just too much. Surprisingly, nobody at the school ever questioned my occasional unexcused absences either. In retrospect, it was of a piece with the administration’s lackadaisical attitude toward discipline. Bullies at that school essentially had free reign. Nobody was ever punished for picking on the smaller kids. And sometimes I saw the smaller ones dragged into the principle’s office for fighting back.
Anyway… So I’m walking to class in this Junior High School. At least…I think it’s that one. Something about it is different. Odd. The halls seem the same, and yet different somehow. And then I realize I’m naked.
You’ve all had this dream…right? You’re in school and you’re naked and suddenly you realize that fact and you spend the rest of the dream dying of embarrassment. I’m walking to class and I realize I’ve forgotten, somehow, to put my clothes on (maybe I’d just left gym class and forgot to dress after showering or something…) and now I’m trying hard to find my locker so I can put something on and then maybe…I dunno…flee the school or something.
But then I realize I’m dreaming and it gets odder. Somehow I know that I’m dreaming and I’m walking in the geek wing of the school…where all the geek kids go. And what is more, it’s the geek wing in a school where everyone goes when they’re dreaming about being back in school. So I’m walking down the hall without a stitch on and trying not to make eye contact with anyone, and I see another kid walk past me the other way also trying not to make eye contact, and he’s only wearing his pajamas, and I’m thinking Okay…that kid’s having an "I’m in school in my pajamas" dream. Then along comes another kid with her hair a really gross shade of green and I’m thinking She’s having her Bad Hair Day In School dream. Another kid is struggling with his locker door and I think He’s having a Can’t Remember My Locker Combination And I Have A Final In Two Minutes dream…
Eventually I get to the door to my classroom and I see a rack of towels beside it with a sign that says Naked Dream – Self Serve, and I grab one and wrap it around my waist, walk inside and sit down to take a test. Nobody pays me the slightest attention as I walk to my desk. After I woke up I couldn’t recall what the test was about.
My dreams get like this sometimes. Really. In some Twilight Zone dream school there is a wing where all the geek kids go to have their tormented dreams about school. But the administration provides towels. So maybe it’s where uncaring school principles and teachers are sent to try and make amends.
February 25th, 2009
Yes, They’d Be Crazy To Start Another American Civil War. What Do You Think That Means?
by Bruce |
A few snapshots of the times we live in…followed by a dream…
Crazy Glenn Beck
If I had my way, that would be his name, as far as any rational person was concerned. (As in: “I was in my car listening to Crazy Glenn Beck …”) Because Crazy Glenn Beck has carved out his own niche in the talk radio/Fox News spectrum, and it is the Crazy niche. And these aren’t exactly venues known for their non-craziness to begin with.
Glenn Greenwald has a rundown of Crazy Glenn Beck’s latest lunacy — “war gaming” the, uh, coming civil war.
Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air blog links to Crazy Glenn Beck’s discussion of the coming civil war, but even there, the writer feels compelled to note:
There’s something “off” about Beck in a way that’s not true of other chat-show hosts, although that’s not necessarily a criticism: O’Reilly and Hannity can be tiresome in more than small doses but this guy I find watchable even at a stretch. Partly it’s the sheer bravado of the performance, partly it’s the challenge of trying to figure out what’s going on in his head to make him the way he is.
When a right winger is so crazy that one of Michelle Malkin’s bloggers finds it necessary to post a disclaimer, however mild — that’s some serious crazy!
Crazy Glenn Beck had a health incident a couple of Christmasses ago — somehow things went awry with his health care provider and he had at least one incredibly rough night, which he later described to his listeners as consisting of terrible visions, such as — I’m not making this up but I am paraphrasing from memory — children’s faces being chewed off by dogs.
I was listening that morning and I remember thinking, “Wow! Discussing visions of children’s faces being chewed off by dogs on a nationally syndicated morning radio program? That’s crazy, even for Crazy Glenn Beck!”
So to answer the Hot Air blogger’s question, I’ll tell you what’s going on in Crazy Glenn Beck’s head: he’s trying not to react to the invisible people shouting at him, the ones that only he can see and hear, because he knows he’s on camera and he has to hold it together. He’s trying not to let the demons crawl right out of his skin while he’s in front of the microphone, because his livelihood depends on walking up to the crazy line but not crossing over, and mostly he succeeds, but clearly the strain is taking its toll. Bill O’Reilly used to be my leading candidate for right wing blowhard most likely to have an on air meltdown, but since Fox gave him a live tv show, Crazy Glenn Beck has pulled way into the lead.
(Crazy Glenn Beck’s bizarre post-surgery YouTube video is here. And here — at about the fifty second mark — Crazy Glenn Beck “jokes” about specific and graphic ways he would like to kill Michael Moore. Ha ha ha.)
Fox News "war games" the coming civil war
Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 gave rise to the American "militia movement": hordes of overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men from suburban and rural areas who convinced themselves they were defending the American way of life from the "liberals" and "leftists" running the country by dressing up in military costumes on weekends, wobbling around together with guns, and play-acting the role of patriot-warriors. Those theater groups — the cultural precursor to George Bush’s prancing 2003 performance dressed in a fighter pilot outfit on Mission Accomplished Day — spawned the decade of the so-called "Angry White Male," the movement behind the 1994 takeover of the U.S. Congress by Newt Gingrich and his band of federal-government-cursing, pseudo-revolutionary, play-acting tough guys.
What was most remarkable about this allegedly "anti-government" movement was that — with some isolated and principled exceptions — it completely vanished upon the election of Republican George Bush, and it stayed invisible even as Bush presided over the most extreme and invasive expansion of federal government power in memory. Even as Bush seized and used all of the powers which that movement claimed in the 1990s to find so tyrannical and unconstitutional — limitless, unchecked surveillance activities, detention powers with no oversight, expanding federal police powers, secret prison camps, even massively exploding and debt-financed domestic spending — they meekly submitted to all of it, even enthusiastically cheered it all on.
They’re the same people who embraced and justified full-scale, impenetrable federal government secrecy and comprehensive domestic spying databases conducted in the dark and against the law when perpetrated by a Republican President — but have spent the last week flamboyantly pretending to be scandalized and outraged by the snooping which Bill Moyers did 45 years ago (literally) as part of a Democratic administration. They’re the people who relentlessly opposed and impugned Clinton’s military deployments and then turned around and insisted that only those who are anti-American would question or oppose Bush’s decision to start wars.
They’re the same people who believed that Bill Clinton’s use of the FISA court to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on Americans was a grave threat to liberty, but believed that George Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law was a profound defense of freedom. In sum, they dressed up in warrior clothing to fight against Bill Clinton’s supposed tyranny, and then underwent a major costume change on January 20, 2001, thereafter dressing up in cheerleader costumes to glorify George Bush’s far more extreme acquisitions of federal power.
In doing so, they revealed themselves as motivated by no ideological principles or political values of any kind. It was a purely tribalistic movement motivated by fear of losing its cultural and demographic supremacy. In that sense — the only sense that mattered — George Bush was one of them, even though, with his actions, he did everything they long claimed to fear and despise. Nonetheless, his mere occupancy of the White House was sufficient to pacify them and convert them almost overnight from limited-government militants into foot soldiers supporting the endless expansion of federal government power.
But now, only four weeks into the presidency of Barack Obama, they are back — angrier and more chest-beating than ever. Actually, the mere threat of an Obama presidency was enough to revitalize them from their eight-year slumber, awaken them from their camouflaged, well-armed suburban caves. The disturbingly ugly atmosphere that marked virtually every Sarah Palin rally had its roots in this cultural resentment, which is why her fear-mongering cultural warnings about Obama’s exotic, threatening otherness — he’s a Muslim-loving, Terrorist-embracing, Rev.-Wright-following Marxist: who is the real Barack Obama? — resonated so stingingly with the rabid lynch mobs that cheered her on.
With Obama now actually in the Oval Office — and a financial crisis in full force that is generating the exact type of widespread, intense anxiety that typically inflames these cultural resentments — their mask is dropping, has dropped, and they’ve suddenly re-discovered their righteous "principles." The week-long CNBC Revolt of the Traders led by McCain voter Rick Santelli and the fledgling little Tea Party movement promoted by the Michelle Malkins of the world are obvious outgrowths of this 1990s mentality, now fortified by the most powerful fuel: deep economic fear. But as feisty and fire-breathing as those outbursts are, nothing can match — for pure, illustrative derangement — the discussion below from Glenn Beck’s new Fox show this week, in which he and an array of ex-military and CIA guests ponder (and plot and plan) "war games" for the coming Civil War against Obama-led tyranny. It really has to be seen to be believed.
That’s the context for this Glenn Beck "War Games" show on Fox News this week — one promoted, with some mild and obligatory caveats, by Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air. In the segment below, he convened a panel that includes former CIA officer Michael Scheuer and Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Major Tim Strong. They discuss a coming "civil war" led by American "Bubba" militias — Beck says he "believes we’re on this road" — and they contemplate whether the U.S. military would follow the President’s orders to subdue civil unrest or would instead join with "the people" in defense of their Constitutional rights against the Government (they agree that the U.S. military would be with "the people")…
Buttars: Gays ‘greatest threat to America’
He called the gay-rights movement "probably the greatest threat to America," likened gay activists to Muslim radicals and dubbed same-sex relationships "abominations."
Buttars’ latest remarks come from an interview with documentary filmmaker Reed Cowan that aired on ABC 4 this week. Buttars told Cowan the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community doesn’t want "equality, they want superiority."
"It’s the beginning of the end," the West Jordan Republican said. "Oh, it’s worse than that. Sure. Sodom and Gomorrah was localized. This is worldwide
Gay rights group slams Renfroe for comparing homosexuality to murder
The state Senate passed SB 88 — sponsored by the Legislature’s two openly gay members, Sen. Jennifer Veiga and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, both Denver Democrats — on a voice vote after Renfroe spoke, and then gave final approval to the bill Tuesday morning by a margin of 22-12, with Republican Sens. Ken Kester and Al White joining Democrats voting in favor. The bill moves on to the House for consideration.
The bill, which also came under fire from Focus on the Family in an advertising campaign last week, roused Renfroe to pull out a Bible and thump it during debate Monday. After first establishing that God created Eve to be Adam’s “helper,” Renfroe explained why he opposed extending health care benefits to gay and lesbian partners of state employees:
Homosexuality is seen as a violation of this natural, created order and it is an offense to God, the Creator, who created men and women, male and female, for procreation.
Then came some passages from the Bible:
Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female, it is an abomination.”
Leviticus 20:13 says, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act and they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.”
And I still can’t get this dream out of my head…
In this dream I’m driving to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit some gay friends.
From Baltimore, Gettysburg is not all that far away. This is a day trip I’m taking, and I have three gay friends with me…a full car. We chat easily as I drive with the windows down and the moon roof open through some very lovely Maryland, and then Pennsylvania countryside. It is a beautiful day. Perfect actually. Not too hot, not too cold. The air smells sweet and crisp and clear. The sky is a perfect blue, with just a few fluffy clouds in it here and there…just enough to make it beautiful, but not so many as to block the sun. A perfect day. My companions and I are feeling as sunny and cheerful as the weather. Peace and contentment and companionship. A perfect day.
Eventually we get to a small and cozy old cottage house in Gettysburg. Somehow I know it is not far from the battlefield nearby…somewhere over the rolling hills of grass and trees. But the sight of such a charming little house puts all thoughts of that terrible war out of my mind. It is so cozy and peaceful to look at. Like something out of a Currier and Ives print. There is a large plot of land around it, with a very nice stone walled garden on one side of the house. Inside we meet more friends, There is a table of lovely snacks and wine. Delicious. I chat with a few of the folks inside, get a few snacks from the table and a small crystal glass of wine, and walk out into the garden…back out into the perfect day.
I don’t recognize any of these people. But somehow in my dream I know that they are all gay friends of mine. We chat about this and that in the beautiful garden. The couple who owns the house has clearly done years of careful loving work on both house and garden. The garden is surrounded by a low stone walls that I think must date back hundreds of years. Inside the wall are so many beautiful bushes and flowers it just takes your breath away. A little paradise.
It is a very peaceful, tranquil setting, and I feel a warm, serene ease being there, and being in the company of these other gay folks. I don’t know any of them, yet I feel that we are all compatriots…comrades somehow. Kindred. I am sitting on one of the low stone walls. A guy about my age is sitting beside me on my right. Several other guys are standing in front of me. We are chatting easily about this and that.
As we chat, about a dozen bright yellow birds, American Goldfinches, land on the wall near us. We watch as they fly a short distance to one of the garden’s Azalea bushes, now in full rosy bloom. Yellow birds hopping around in a rose red bush, looking for some food I suppose. The sight is lovely. One of my companions remarks on how colorful they are, and I agree.
The goldfinches fly off, and almost immediately about a dozen or so starlings land on the stone wall a short distance away from us. My companions ignore them. Some people don’t like starlings, they’re not very pretty birds, but I like and even admire them in some ways. They can find homes in the most amazing of places in and around humankind’s structures. Their flocks make these spectacular air formations, that weave and turn and undulate in the sky as if the entire flock had a single mind. I’m told it’s behavior they evolved over time in their European homelands, to confuse and evade hawks and other air predators. And starlings make this cheerful, goofy song that sounds to my ear like the squeaky wheel noise of the old fax signals I used to hear on my shortwave radio when I was a kid. No other bird makes a song quite like a starling’s. It’s bizarre and goofy and cheerful and just brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it. But starlings are not welcome in most places because their flocks can get Huge and they make a lot of mess.
My companions ignore the small flock of starlings. As I watch it, one of the birds starts walking awkwardly over to me.
As it gets closer, I can see its feathers are unkempt…ruffled…disordered. Some look broken. It’s little pointy yellow beak is broken and bent in the middle. It comes closer, awkwardly waddling on little stubby bird legs. I can see eyes are just two black holes in its head…empty sockets in its little bird skull.
It walks over the stones to me, then it stops, fixes those empty socket eyes on mine, and in a little dry, gravelly voice, begins singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic to me.
Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage
where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning
of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
…and then I wake up.
January 10th, 2009
by Bruce |
I’ve woken up from vivid dreams where I was doing a lot of things, but never laughing so hard I was in tears. But that’s what happened a few moments ago. I guess my internal state of mind must be pretty good.
I was dreaming I was with two friends in one of the music rooms at my old high school. One was the old friend from my grade school days who I just visited last week. The other is a newer, younger, mostly online friend who I met on MySpace some years ago, through the Love In Action protests. They are both Uber geeks and fun to be with, but they have never met each other. In the dream we all ended up together at my old high school and got to giggling over the kind of arcane pop culture in-joke that only techno geeks would get and we were all laughing ourselves silly and I woke up.
I don’t think I’ve ever woken up from laughing in my dreams before. Something’s changed inside of me. I wonder what.
December 26th, 2008
Slow…But Eventually I Get There…
by Bruce |
I just finished up the task I set for myself today…basically catching up on a lot of home office filing I hadn’t done in ages, and cycling old files I don’t need to keep in the office into storage containers I’ll put under the basement stairs later. Paid bills, records and notifications, purchase slips and other miscellaneous paperwork that you need to keep track of in adult life. My pack rat gene serves me well in this one regard: I keep everything when it comes to all that stuff and I keep it well organized. Well…mostly. I had a pile of almost a year of it I hadn’t gotten around to filing. This holiday break is time I set aside to catch up on all that stuff…and move some things off into storage so I can have room again in the front office.
Anyway…I finished up the task I set for myself today, which was reducing the pile of unfiled paper to nothing and moving some old files off into storage. So I sat down for a moment and let my mind wander a bit. I find when I’ve spent hours concentrating intensely on something I just have to do that. I just sat for a while with the iPod plugged in and flitted around on the web looking at this and that while my mind wandered. My thoughts drifted back to that recurring dream house I mentioned in the post a few back, and I started pondering it for a bit, and this time the pieces all clicked into place and it finally hit me what the significance of the house is.
Anyone who knows me personally reading this…think about it for a second. A little house…a rowhouse…yet an unattached one. Solid but needs some TLC. Almost completely empty, except for an unused kitchen a basement full of random parts, a rickety but well used workshop that’s not really part of the house, but sort of tacked on as an afterthought, and a private den off the basement that doesn’t even seem to really be part of the rest of the house, where someone seems to have spent the better part of a life doing nothing except watching TV and snacking. There’s even a phone next to the comfy chair. And the rest of the house is empty. Empty. Even the floors are bare. And the second floor makes me apprehensive. And I’m not even really living in it. I know I bought it…I know I need to move in at some point…and yet I haven’t. I just keep checking on it from time to time, wandering though it occasionally, and wondering about the person who left that stuff in the workshop and the den, and avoiding the second floor like death waiting to jump out at me up there. If you know me…think about it. It’s all there.
Dreams are amazing things. If the conscious mind is the waves on the surface, then dreams are the shadows dancing around in the water below. I’m surprised now that it took me so long to get what that house represents. I wonder if it’ll stop appearing in my dreams now.
December 24th, 2008
Recurring Dream House
by Bruce |
I was walking in it again last night. I’ve spent so much time in it now that I can almost draw you a complete set of floor plans. I haven’t a clue what it means, other then what I already know about my hyper imaginative brain.
It’s an oldish rowhouse style house. Not located here in Baltimore, but on some residential street of a town somewhere, possibly the main street. The street has two-lanes, is tree lined and has on street parking. But the house has a small driveway of crumbly asphalt and pebbles. And it’s not attached to the homes on either side: it’s a stand-alone. There is one like it a few blocks from where I live in Baltimore: an odd looking house that looks like it was meant to be part of a row and only one of them was built.
It is narrow like a rowhouse, made of red brick and a stone basement. It is two floors and a basement, which is only half underground in the front and walk-out in the back. There is a small front porch that goes the entire width of the house. The door is in the middle, between two tall windows. There are stairs leading up to the porch on the side, not the front of the house. There is a small grassy front lawn between the front of the house and the sidewalk. You can’t see it from the front, but there is an odd little room jutting off the side of the basement, almost like an add-on. The back yard is overgrown, but not hopeless. The house needs some TLC, especially on the second floor, which is mostly vacant. There is another odd little add-on room jutting off the back of the second floor. There is a wooden shed of some kind in the back yard, right up against the rear property line. I haven’t been in it yet. The grassy-gravelly driveway goes all the way back to the ally behind the house. There are trees lining it and an dilapidated wooden plank fence that blocks your view of the alley, except where the driveway pokes through. You can drive all the way from the street out front to the alley in back…a straight shot, but bumpy.
The front door is made of wood and painted a dark green. It has three small windows across the top and a simple brass door knocker. Walking in, you find yourself in a room that goes almost the entire length of the house. There is a kitchen along the left hand wall (as you walk in). And oldish stove and sink and cabinets. A row of small wooden framed windows runs over them, just high enough that you cannot look outside while you are working at the sink or stove, but enough of them that there is plenty of light to see by. The floors are bare wood without even a few area rugs covering it. There is a staircase in the middle of the room leading upstairs. A couple small rooms in the back are for storage, and a small bathroom.
For some reason, the second floor spooks me. Whenever I go up there I become very apprehensive. Like the first floor, it is vacant. There are two rooms in the front which I have yet to enter though the doors are open and they seem just as empty as the rest of the floor. There is a large open area around the staircase. In the back, is that odd little add-on room. It is way more rickety then the rest of the house, and seems to have been slapped on by some previous owner who had little to no carpentry skills. But it is the only room on that floor with anything going on inside of it. You walk into it and find yourself in a room packed with tools. Hand tools of all kinds are hanging from every available space on the walls. There is a large table saw that seems ancient. Likewise a band saw and both wood and metal lathes. The floor is dark with soot and decades of grime. There are only a couple of small windows letting light inside. This was somebody’s workspace. You can see parts of things that have been left uncompleted. There is a doorway on the right, leading outside to what looks like a fire escape. Next to the door, an ancient powerbox with switches and old style screw in fuses. Old, cloth covered electrical wires run from the box, to various power tools, and bare overhead lights.
The basement is interesting. Like the add-on room, it is full of tools. But it seems more a storage area then a workshop. There are old cardboard boxes full of parts for god knows what, and wooden shelves packed with…stuff…more small cardboard boxes full of hardware and small parts. Metal poles go from the cement floor to the beams above to give the floor above support. The sides of the basement are stone. There is a doorway in the back leading out into the backyard. But there is also a doorway in the right hand wall. That door is always open.
Here’s were it gets really odd…at least so it seems to me. That door should lead outside, since it’s against the right wall of the basement…but it doesn’t. It leads instead to another room. At first I didn’t know it was even there. When I found it on one of my journeys through the house I was amazed. Unlike the rest of the house, it seemed as if it was still being lived in. Except it isn’t. This is a house that I have bought in some strange recurring dreamscape I keep having. That much I know. The house is mine. The previous owners are gone. I’m not sure if I ever even met them but I think I didn’t. I bought it from a real estate agent somewhere. For some reason, this one room was never moved out of. It was left as it was, almost as if the people who sold the house, whoever they were, didn’t even themselves know it was there. I get the sense they never looked in the basement at all…or in that second floor workshop.
You walk through that door and find yourself in what looks like a middle aged man’s den. It’s got a threadbare carpet, wooden paneling, and what looks like a small kitchenette in the back. There is a fishtank on a stand against one wall, an old TV set sitting in a corner with a pair of rabbit ears on top. There are a couple small book cases built into the walls with a few paperbacks and some magazines. In the middle of the room is an old over-stuffed recliner chair, well broken in, that looks like it’s been there for decades, and, oddly, a small ottoman in front of it. Next to the recliner is a small wire metal stand with a phone, an ashtray, an empty glass and a magazine. There is a large window on the side opposite the door from the basement, and another door in the back leading out into the backyard. Something that looks like an old space heater is under the window. Next to it is a small table with a lamp on it. Behind the TV set is a bookcase that has mostly a jumble of old knick-knacks on it, and a few books here and there that look as if they’ve never actually been read.
The room feels cozy, yet…weird. Weird because it looks like its previous owner just got up and left and never came back and now I have acquired it just as it was. The basement storage area and the second floor workshop have that same feeling too. This room was somebody’s retreat from a hard days work, or maybe someplace they spent all their days in retirement. Watching TV, reading the papers, fixing the random snack from the kitchenette and having the occasional smoke. The phone is handy so either they had friends to talk to or just didn’t want to be bothered getting up to answer the phone. I haven’t noticed if there is a remote.
I started having this recurring dreamhouse when I bought my little real-life rowhouse here in Baltimore’s Medfield neighborhood. It couldn’t be more different. For one thing, the dream house is a lot bigger. For another, it’s way older. My little rowhouse was built in 1953 and it’s only 1500 square feet. At a guess, the recurring dream house is a 1920s artifact.
Sometimes I don’t even have to visit the house for it to occupy my dreams. Lately, my dreams about it are I’ve been in the middle of something and suddenly started worrying that I needed to go check on the house, because I hadn’t been there in a while. In some of these dreams I’m still living in one of my old apartments and I’m doing this and that and suddenly I realize I haven’t checked on the house. Sometimes the feeling rushes over me that if I don’t check on the house soon I might somehow loose possession of it. Sometimes I find myself wondering what to do with the stuff in that odd basement room. Actually, when that house enters a dream I’m having, I find myself wondering about what to do with that basement room frequently. It’s very odd.
When I visit the house, I try to avoid going upstairs. There is something about the upstairs part of that house, particularly in the front, not the back where the workshop is, that makes me very apprehensive. I’m getting the creeps right now just recalling it. The rest of the house doesn’t bother me so much, other then it clearly needs some TLC and I’m not sure I can fix it up all by myself. But it seems like a cute house overall, with a lot of potential, and it has a nice yard around it with a really nice big old tree on the right hand side by the front near the street. There’s a house something like it on Falls road a few blocks away. One of these days I’ll post a picture of it so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.
I’ve often heard of people having recurring dreams. I have recurring dreamscapes. This house is one of them that started happening recently. I was there again last night…the first time in a while I’ve actually been in the house in one of my dreams about it. I was checking the house over and wondering if I should get rid of any of the stuff in that basement room, or try to find its owner and see if he wants any of it. Probably it was related to all the intensive house clearing I’m doing this week. But when something keeps coming back in your dreams, you wonder what the significance of it is…if there isn’t something it’s trying to tell you.
Maybe I’m just a bit nuts. You wonder sometimes about the line between creativity and craziness. I have co-workers who insist they never dream. I dream all the time, and most of it vividly.
October 11th, 2008
Dream. . .
by Bruce |
Another dream I had just now. I want to say it’s another odd one, but to tell the truth this is pretty typical. Not so much because it was unpleasent…most of my dreams are actually quite nice…but because it was so vivid, and yet so damn weird in places. I’ve had dreams like this all my life.
It starts with me mowing the lawn…something I was doing late yesterday because I’d let my tiny back yard go to seed again. So getting it back under control was a lot of work for a back yard so tiny. In this dream, I’m living in some suburb somewhere, in a somewhat larger detached house with a nice lawn all around it. There’s a bug infestation that’s killing my grass, and I go get some lawn and garden pesticide to put down.
The next thing I know is I’m under arrest. They tell me that a cloud of gas rose up from my lawn after I laid down the pesticide, and drifted over to a neighbor’s house and killed him while He was mowing His lawn.
I don’t remember the trial at all. Just…next thing I know I’ve been convicted and given a sentance of death, and I’m being led to the death chamber.
Here’s where the dream takes on a Twilight Zone-ish quality. They sit me down in a comfortable, somewhat overstuffed chair in what looks more like a doctor’s waiting room then an execution chamber. I’m given a single shot of poison. Then I’m free to go. Somehow I know that the way execution works in this particular dream world, is the condemned are given a shot of some sort of slow acting poison that takes something more then a day to kill you, and when it does it happens all at once, not slowly and painfully. You’re then allowed to leave the prison, go settle your affairs, and basically spend your one last day however you wish.
Next thing I know I’m in the parking lot of some large, but not mega-large, Baptist church with mom and a few other people I don’t recognize. This was not how I wanted to spend my last moments on earth, being emotionally suffocated among people who couldn’t care less about me, so much as using my life as their own stepping stone to heaven.
Mom, as always, excepted. She’s the only person there I know. Everyone else is a complete stranger, which is odd in retrospect because the dream could have easily populated that church parking lot with people I knew from my church days, or other family members on mom’s side who go to church…er…religiously. Instead they’re all stereotypical Southern Baptist church droids, and I feel oddly, like a missionary surrounded by cannibals. They’re all giving me, the condemned man, these sickly sweet fundamentalist smiles that barely hide the emotional hunger behind them.
Mom’s the only person there who I know loves me, and I’m distraught at having to put her through all this. That’s the other wierd thing about how executions are done in this dream world. The trials are secret and nobody knows when you’ve been released from prison that you’ve been given The Shot unless you tell them. I figure that’s so you can go on about your last day as close to normal as you might want. Somehow I’ve ended up here in this church parking lot with mom and she’s making another attempt to get me back in church again. She doesn’t seem very upset though. In fact, she’s her usual cheerful self. So I figure, releaved, that she doesn’t know I’ve just been executed. But she’s the only one there who doesn’t know. All the church droids know, and they’re all giving me that concern troll look I came to know and despise when I was a kid.
Like everyone else there except me, mom’s in her Sunday best. I’m dressed as I always am, in blue jeans and sneakers and a light short sleeved shirt. And as is typical in my dreams whenever I’m self-aware I seem to be, at various points during the dream, the age I am now and a teenager again. When I tell her I’m not interested in going inside the church she smiles and says that’s okay, and gives me a little hug. Once I got old enough to make my own decisions, she never tried to force me into going to church. She walks inside, leaving me out in the parking lot. The church droids follow her in. Irritatingly though, not all of them.
One church droid stays behind with me…some middle age man I’ve never met before, wearing a dazzlingly tacky polyester suit, is looking at me with that expression I know all too well as a prelude, not to making a pass at me, but worse, to a proselytize. Incoming…!
I sit down and lean up against a car in the parking lot. I have my laptop with me and I open it up and decide to blog. Somehow when I open up the laptop I have an internet connection and I can post to my blog. Maybe there’s a wireless portal somewhere nearby…I don’t know. But I can sign into my blog. I want to write one last post. I want to apologize for killing someone…whoever that someone was. I want to write some last essay about how I found life to be, now that I know how it ends. But I can’t write. This is a dream and deciphering written words has always been a major struggle for me in dreams. It’s like the part of my brain that decodes words on a page just isn’t online when I’m asleep.
So instead I decide to draw something. Somehow, my blog software has a Photoshop plug-in and I can start drawing right into the blog. And here the dream gets a tad science-fictioney. My laptop all of a sudden has a drawer in it that I can pull out, and in it I have my drawing tools…the traditional one’s I’ve always used: technical pencil, ink pens, kneeded rubber eraser, charcoal sticks… I don’t need the Wacom tablet…a thing I’ve never really mastered the knack of drawing with anyway…I can draw with all my traditional art tools right on the screen of my laptop, and it all just goes into Photoshop as though I was doing it on art paper.
(Can I get a patent on this idea? Probably not…)
So I start drawing something. I start drawing a landscape. It’s the field behind one of the apartment complexes I grew up in. There was a place there where I used to watch the sunsets when I was a kid. That’s what I start drawing. The church droid starts asking me the usual leading questions about what I’m drawing. I say nothing to him. After a while, he just shuts up. Good! Leave me alone!
I really start getting into my drawing. It feels good…real good…because I haven’t been able to draw now for so long in real life. I’ve been so heartached I can’t even go near my drawing table. Now here, in the dream, I can draw again. It feels wonderful. The drawing trance is so much better then the coding trance, when I can get it.
I’ve almost got my drawing finished when suddenly I start feeling the poison begin to work. My hands and the rest of my body start going numb. I loose fine control of my fingers and it’s hard to manipulate the keyboard. It feels like a really severe fevor is sweeping through my veins. I realize I don’t have much longer and I need to tell everyone this is the last message. I try to find a clear spot on the artwork where I can write something out but I can’t. The view is magnified and I can’t scale it back. All I can do is drag the viewport around and try to find some open spot on the artwork where I can enter some text. But it’s all varying textures of charcoal and ink everywhere I look. For a moment I’m afraid I won’t be able to get my last words out there. But then I find a spot, and…somehow…I manage to enter a few brief final words to…well…to everybody:
I am about to be executed. This is my last post. Goodbye.
I hit "Publish" and close the laptop. Then I get up and start walking out of the parking lot. I’m feeling feverish, very feverish. Suddenly I’m not in the parking lot of the church, but of Congressional Plaza…a large strip shopping center near where I grew up way back when. It’s odd…once again I’m a teenager, yet I’m carrying my silver Mac PowerBook and I’m walking to a spot behind the little Hot Shoppes Cafateria that stood by itself in the front of the Plaza parking lot. And I’m going there because I know that’s where I’ve parked my car. The Mercedes. Yet in my dream I’m a kid again and I sure didn’t have the kind of money back then for the laptop, let alone the Mercedes. But when I get to the Hot Shoppes, I decide instead of getting into my car I would go sit by the small green dumpster out back and die there. Somehow I find that fitting.
As I walk back to the corner where the dumpster is, I meet a homeless man heading for the same place. He grins at me and asks me if I’m looking for a place to rest for the night too, and I tell him he might not want to spend it with me because I’ve been given The Shot and I’m about to die. Well don’t die in front of me, he tells me, but not unkindly; more like he’s sharing a friendly joke with me. But he knows I’m serious. He’s a middle age black man, with a touch of grey in his hair and beard. But for a homeless man he’s dressed pretty well…casually, clean slacks…pressed no less…sneakers and a sport shirt. His hair is neatly trimmed and he looks clean as a whistle. Yet, somehow, I know he’s homeless. I notice then that he’s with a young teenaged white girl, who looks more the part of a homeless person. Her clothes are worn and dirty and she looks like she’s slept for the past several days in them. She has long stringy blond hair and looks like she hasn’t bathed in weeks. They don’t seem to be companions though…more like two people who just happened to be in the same place at the same time with me, looking for a spot to spend the night. The man seems decent and very friendly. The girl lonely, tired and very sad.
The three of us walk together toward the dumpster, looking for a place to rest. They for the night. Me for…well…for forever.
The two of them sit down on one side of the dumpster and I go around to the other side and rest with my back to it. I am miserable, and I want to be alone. The sun is getting low in the sky now, but it’s not near twilight yet. It’s still bright out, but the angle of light is low and the shadows are getting long. My body is getting really, really numb now. I start bawling. I’m really, really sorry I killed that guy…whoever he was. I just start crying my heart out over it…
…and then, I wake up.
As always when I wake up from a crying dream, I’m a bit surprised to find my face is perfectly dry. But I’m not fully awake either. It’s still early in the night and I can tell I haven’t had a good deep sleep yet because of the way my body feels. Whenever I wake up before I’ve had a deep sleep my body feels a tad like it’s in a fever. So I just lay there for a while and think about trying to get back to sleep.
The dream is lingering oddly…I can still hear the other two people by the dumpster talking softly, distantly. I can’t make out the words. Then I distinctly hear the sound of the dumpster’s hinged lid being opened. Then I hear something, like a sigh. I’m still half asleep in this lingering dream and I know what I just heard was the sound of my last breath. I just died.
I lay in bed turning it all over. I think I’ve died about a zillion times in my dreams over the course of my life. But now I feel like the fates have given me a gift of some sort. You never know when your last breath is, it just happens and you’re dead so you never know that was the last one. But I heard it. I heard my last breath.
August 5th, 2007
by Bruce |
This post is either going to seem a bit freaky or you’ll be like me and just smile and shrug and write it off to the random weirdness of dreams. Sorry, but sometimes I just like to think out loud. Maybe some of you have had odd little dreams like this and they leave you wondering too about what the hell goes on inside the human brain.
Nap dreams somehow just get weird more often then sleep dreams. I don’t know why this is, other then possibly something to do with the fact that naps aren’t really part of the normal sleep cycle. This afternoon, after unloading the car and getting my house back up and running, and putting a few things away, I felt suddenly like a nap. After three weeks on the road it felt nice to just lay down in my own bed again. It wasn’t a long nap…maybe about an hour or so. But I had this really vivid dream. Most nap dreams are pretty vivid for some reason.
In my dream, I’m wandering around the house getting things back in order after my trip. I go into the upstairs bathroom and start washing my hands. I notice there is a pipe next to the faucet I’ve never seen before. It’s a copper pipe, about a half foot to the right of the faucet, about an inch and a half in diameter. It comes straight up out of the sink top for about a foot, and then bends back down again in a severe ‘U’. The pipe ends about halfway back down its length. The end is open, almost as if it’s another faucet, except that it’s not over the sink basin. If anything came out of it, it would end up on the counter. I’ve never seen this pipe before. Somehow, in the dream, that is not unusual. I continue washing my hands and pay it little attention. Then something starts coming out of it.
Feathers. Tawny brown feathers…they look like a barn owl’s wing primaries. Picture a Japanese paper fan, folded up, but instead of being made out of paper it’s made out of owl feathers. That’s what slowly comes down out of the pipe next to the faucet. I watch, fascinated. The feather fan comes down out of the pipe…then slowly unfolds…then slowly folds back up again…then goes back up into the pipe.
Well that’s really odd…I think to myself. You know it’s a weird dream when its weird enough to realize the weirdness of it while you’re still dreaming it. I finish washing my hands and go back downstairs. When I get to the kitchen I notice there is a similar copper pipe next to the kitchen sink faucet. I don’t recall ever seeing that one either. I walk over to the sink, turn on the tap, and once again a fan of owl feathers slowly comes down out of the pipe, unfolds, folds, then starts going back up. I grab it before it goes all the way back in.
I try pulling the feather fan back out. Something is pulling it back up the pipe, but not strongly. I feel like I could just yank it out, but then I’d break something, whatever it’s connected to on the other end, so I don’t. Eventually I let it go back up the pipe.
This is very strange...I think. I go down into the basement and check the utility sink. Sure enough, there is one of those copper pipes next to the faucet there too. I turn on the water, and another owl feather fan slowly comes down out of the pipe, opens, closes, and goes back up.
What the fuck…??? I look up and notice that my brother is here in the house with me (I was visiting him for a bit earlier in the week). He’s a home improvement contractor and I figure he might know what’s going on. He’s looking around the finished side of my basement. I call out to him. "Hey…Billy…come over here…I want you to see something…"
As he starts walking over I turn off the tap, and turn it back on, and the owl feather fan starts coming out of the pipe again. It opens, and closes, and I grab hold to keep it from going back up the pipe before my brother has a chance to see it. It’s a delicate operation. I don’t want to break whatever it is, but I want Billy to see it. He comes over, stands next to me.
"Look at that…look at that… What is this…?"
We both look at the feather fan. And I wake up.
I wrote about another dream I had once, Here…and said that some dreams…"really show you that all your careful analysis of your thoughts and feelings amounts to nothing more then mapping the waves on a restless sea and you really don’t understand very much at all about what is going on in the silent darkness beneath them or what makes it all work." Yes. I think that’s what interests me about dreams the most. Where makes your brain assemble the imagery in them in that particular way?
I’m not one to see Mysterious Psychic Prophesies in dreams. Well…once I had one that worries me, even now. But dreams are amazing things to me all the same. I like to dream. They make sleep worthwhile. Otherwise I could do without it. There aren’t enough hours in my day as it is. But dreams not only make sleeping worthwhile, they can be inspiring. They can lift your spirits, thrill you, scare the hell out of you, leave you with a peaceful glow, or a feeling of dread, that lasts all day. They don’t come out of nowhere. Which is where the techno/science geek in me gets really fascinated. I’m laying in bed right after waking up from this dream and wondering where the hell that image of a fan of owl feathers coming out of a pipe next to my sink faucets is coming from. The ingredients have to be somewhere inside my own noggin. But…where? And…what made them come together to produce that dream?
I can account for some of it…I guess. I just got home from a long trip. I Have been wandering around the house, making sure that everything is okay after having been away for so long. I had to turn on the water, since I’d turned it off, and start up the hot water heater again. I tend to fret about leaks upon re-pressurizing the water pipes after a long trip, and so I go around checking things for hours afterward to make sure there aren’t any. Owls are a favorite bird, and barn owls in particular. And…in a Gallup trading post I bought an earring with a little barn owl feather made out of bone. I’m thinking about getting my ear pierced later this month. As I was unpacking, before I took the nap, I carefully put all the turquoise I’d bought away, along with the earring. I also bought a owl feather wall hanging made of pottery, and I was looking for a spot to hang it before I took the nap. How all that made this particular dream, if that’s what was going on, would probably be really interesting if I could fathom it. And also a bit freaky.
Do you really want to know…? Yeah. I really want to know. Our brains are strange, amazing things. The thoughts you know in the foreground seem sometimes like they’re just waves on a restless sea…and what’s going on in the silent darkness beneath them is a mystery…
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