I had one in a series of extremely vivid dreams the other day, the likes of which I have on a fairly regular basis. They’re very short—I’m lucky if they last two or three minutes—and they don’t comprise any kind of story. In fact, they’re purely visual. I like to call them dream experiments. It’s as if my brain is trying out various designs and scenarios, in impossibly rapid succession, to use in ‘real’ dreams at some point in the future.
I’m usually hovering slowly about fifty feet above the ground, and looking down onto something of exquisite beauty, whether it’s a body of water, a jagged coastline, some striking architecture, or a towering mountain range. It can be anything, really, but whatever it is has to capture my attention and make me fly down for a closer inspection. Once I do, I notice other details of different types nearby. This is going to be difficult to explain.
In the most recent dream, I was hovering over a small seaside town that was a few hundred years old. It was like an English town that had been dropped onto a Norwegian coastline. I was above some old buildings along the town’s waterfront, when I noticed a beautiful and dilapidated wooden pier, which piqued my interest. I descended a bit and saw the rocky shoreline underneath, and then I instantly began to levitate very quickly in a vertical direction, which awarded me a much more panoramic view of the town. I was probably five hundred feet in the air by then, and I could see that the architecture was varying quite a bit. I would look at one building and see its windows and roof line change once every second. The height of the building would also change. As I turned slightly to look at another building, I noticed that the entire row of buildings was changing at the same time. As I floated higher and higher, I turned to look at the ocean, which had a beautiful rocky shoreline, with a snow-capped mountain range in the distance, the peaks of which were changing and growing as rapidly as the town was. Clouds whisked by, in various shapes and patterns, as I flew ever higher, and turned out over the sea to look back at the town. By now the town had grown into a small city, and every detail of it was changing at the same time, at the same breakneck pace. I was watching the city, the mountains, the seashore, and the roads morphing before my eyes, faster and more detailed than possible in any movie or video game I’ve ever seen, as if in a giant, kaleidoscopic tableau.
All that took place in about two minutes of actual time. I know because I had just looked at the clock before I rolled over, went back to sleep, and had the dream. Those dreams are incredible, but they’re also exhausting. I wake up sweating, my body still pulsing with the dopamine it uses to remain paralyzed when it’s asleep. I’ve never done acid (or any other drugs, for that matter), but I imagine that’s kind of what it’s like.
Hey, if it gives me dreams like that, maybe I ought to start.
Hey, look, this is me! Writing in the blog! I didn’t procrastinate or anything, I just started thinking of something and decided that it could very well turn out to be blog-worthy. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend.
Yesterday, I went to breakfast with a friend who used to live here in Portland but now lives in Europe. She’s been married for a few years, and she and her husband have a six-month-old baby. Dad and Baby stayed home and slept while Friend and I went out, and before too long I asked her how it was all going. Among other things, she confided that she thought she’d feel like more of an adult than she does. I know how that feels.
When I was a young kid, I always imagined that by the time I was the astronomical and somewhat arbitrary age of twenty-five, I’d be married with two kids and a career as a UFOlogist—yes, you read that correctly; I’ve written about it before—or an archaeologist in Peru or Mexico, or a reclusive writer who’s just successful enough to live on an island like Mont Saint Michel.
Truth be told, that last one seems like the most plausible and attractive of the scenarios, and I do still imagine that there’s a parallel universe in which that is a reality, and I live in a combination of cities, beautiful outposts in which I divide my time and write the stories that need to be told about those places and their people.
It may still happen; hope springs eternal. I suppose it’s much more likely to happen if I actually start to write again, but hey, this is a pipe dream, and while we’re at it I might as well invite Winona Ryder to come live there at Le Mont with me.
I bring all this up because in reality, twenty-five, thirty, and even forty have come and gone, and sometimes I still feel like the same dumb kid blundering his way through life, wishing that things could be different but not knowing how to bring them to fruition. I’ve changed my mind about wanting kids of my own—I don’t—but I do think it would be great to be married. Given my track record of being a very solitary person who doesn’t do much in the way of dating, I have no idea when or if that will ever happen. Again, hope springs eternal.
Perhaps if I’d become an archaeologist or a UFOlogist, things would be different.
Come to think of it, I haven’t seen or heard of any current UFOlogists in a long time. When I was a kid, they seemed to be highly visible in the popular zeitgeist, and many books such as Communion sold millions of copies. These days, the subject is relegated to late-night AM radio pariahs. My ten-year-old self sure didn’t see that coming. Guess I made an okay career choice after all.
I always knew I wanted to be a musician. I didn’t want to teach. I didn’t want to be a concert pianist. I gave up playing the clarinet (although I was first chair) when I was done with high school, in favor of the electric guitar. I spent too many years living in Nowhere, and that caused precious years to pass by. Ennui, inertia and a bleak worldview got the best of me for a long time.
The move to Portland (and years of therapy) helped tremendously, and I
usually enjoy life these days, but I’m getting a bit tired of this town, if I’m honest. There are many things to love about it; its beauty, its cheap and plentiful world-class food culture, its proximity to various types of natural surroundings, and its clean air and all-around livability, but I’ve been here for a long time, and I’m starting to feel a bit constrained by its lack of serious opportunities. Also, I feel like I’m a bit past the age where I should be struggling with decisions like this. I feel like I should be able to jump in with both feet. It’s been occurring to me more and more lately that I really need to go elsewhere, and I can totally do that, but it will take a lot of planning and resources that I just don’t have at the moment. I need to work on that. I don’t want to ‘do a geographic’, as my friend’s dad would say (I love that expression) by running away from whatever problems or shortcomings I have here, because those will follow me anywhere I go. I want to go for the right reasons, and to be prepared, with my head held high.
And then there’s the question of where to go. New York seems like the best choice. I love it, I have friends there, and it’s the quintessential land of opportunity. It’s a bit daunting, and very different from weird little Portland, but I’m not too worried about that.
In the meantime, I still need to get a day job and pay some bills here, while I think seriously and have some conversations about what the future holds. Here’s to the future.
It’s probably time for a drumroll or whatever.
This is the seventh birthday of BFS&T, and it almost went by unnoticed. By ME, I mean. It’s easy for no one else to notice, because I haven’t written a damn thing in six months, but you’ll be glad to know that I do at least consider writing once in a while, or I’ll have an interesting dream that I think about sharing, for about one second before I roll over and go back to sleep. It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s that I want to share things—good or bad—that I think are compelling, and whether it’s a case of writer’s block or the financial stress and lack of self-confidence that extended under-employment brings, I haven’t felt capable of creating compelling content lately, so I’ve continued to lie low. The good news is that I’m not trapped under the black cloud of full-on despondency, like I was when I wrote the previous entry. What a strange time that was.
One thing that can potentially get me back on track is if I write about music. For some inexplicable reason, when I started this blog I didn’t intend to write about music too often, if at all. I figured there were (and are) many people who wrote (and write) about it much more eloquently than I ever hope to be able to, and that’s fine. I’m happy to create music, and to make a
meager living at it; I don’t necessarily need to write about it. As the famous saying goes, “Writing about music is like dancing about art.” That being said, music is what I care about more than anything. I also probably know a lot more about it than most people do. Having the opportunities to play so many instruments with so many people in so many styles and in so many places, I feel I have an interesting perspective. I guess we’ll find out together whether or not I actually do. The tricky thing is that this blog is quasi-anonymous (unless you’re friends with me on SocialNetwork), so I may have to get clever about the way I describe and pseudonymize people, but that’s definitely a challenge I’m up for.
I’m not going to make any promises here. There may very well be another extended hiatus. But I haven’t forgotten about this creative outlet that I love, and I’m certainly not giving up on it. I can’t believe it’s been around for seven years. Seven is a good and supposedly lucky number. Truth be told, I thought it was six—and at first I even called this entry ‘I’m Six!’—but then I looked back and remembered that it was migrated over from that other blogging platform in 2006, not 2007, and that this is now 2013. Phew! All that to prove that my skills at simple addition remain intact.
I should probably wish you happy holidays, too, in case I don’t get back here before then. I hope your season is filled with any combination of joy, love, friendship, family, travel, and fun.
‘Til next time, then.
See you soon.
I felt I should write about a more serious subject for the first time in what seems like quite a while, and it’s the reason I haven’t been writing as often as I have in the past. The problem is motivation. I’ve been really frustrated with myself and the state of my life for the last few months, and I just can’t seem to pull it together. Eight solid months of constant financial difficulties have created a sense of foreboding and despondency that is, while not entirely new to me, certainly at an all-time high. That kind of stuff isn’t fun to write about, and neither is it fun to read, so I’ve kept quiet.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, and I don’t want to you to worry about me. Incidentally, ‘I don’t want you to worry’ reminds me of a funny thing one of my friends said recently. He said that he’s going to start saying, “I don’t mean to–” and then say that very thing. As in, “I don’t mean to be rude, but you look really fat!” I responded in kind with, “Pardon my French, but ‘Putain, fais chier!’ ” But I seriously don’t think you need to worry. Actually, you can if you want, or not; I can’t really stop you. But at least you know what’s going on.
In some strange news, two people have died very young recently. One of whom I knew only slightly—a friend of a friend kind of situation, but he was a great guy—and the other I didn’t know at all, but who was my close friend’s brother-in-law. Both men died from sudden heart attacks, and both men were in their thirties. I don’t really know what else to say, but my heart goes out to all involved. Things like that freak me out, and with the news of the airplane crash in San Francisco and the nightmarish runaway oil train that derailed and decimated the heart of the little town in eastern Canada, it’s a miracle I get any sleep at all. There are a myriad of things to ruminate over.
I’ve hardly touched my cello in months. It never seems to get any easier, even after playing for almost nine years. I play a ton of other instruments, and eventually I’ve gotten to a certain comfort level with them, but that comfort level on the cello continues to elude me. It probably doesn’t help that some of the better cellists in town have either lived before or currently in my same apartment building, which has led me to be a bit self-conscious at times about practicing here, but that’s my own issue. Learning the cello (and probably any other instrument) is a series of plateaus. You strugglestrugglestruggle with one technique, and then it finally makes sense and you take a little step up. You stay there for a while and strugglestrugglestruggle with another technique, and so on. This is perfectly natural. But when is it going to seem like I know what I’m doing on it? My vibrato is terrible, I never sound or feel relaxed, I’m sure I have about a million bad habits, et cetera, et cetera. By comparison, it only took about 2 years to feel comfortable playing the guitar, and about a year or two to feel comfortable on the accordion. Drums, although I don’t play them very often, have always come fairly naturally. Mandolin took about a week, but that’s an unusual situation, since it’s the same skill set as the guitar. Cello is still, by far, the most difficult and frustrating instrument I’ve ever attempted. I don’t need to be Yo-Yo Ma or join an orchestra or anything—although that would be great—but it would be nice not to cringe every time I hear a recording of myself playing.
That’s all I feel like writing at the moment, but I’m going to try to write at least a little more regularly. Here’s hoping the despondency and foreboding dissipate before too long. If and when they do, you’ll hear from me more. If they don’t, then. . .well, I guess you won’t. And you’ll know why.
See you around.