a not-so-strange dream

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I’m in a house in Portland visiting a friend, Anna, who is the singer for one of my favorite bands.  The band used to be from Los Angeles until they moved to Seattle a few years ago, but for some reason, in this dream she’s here in Portland.  She and her Russian-American significant other, Carl, are living with her mom in the family’s home.  She and Carl have a young daughter together, and Carl has a daughter a few years older from a previous relationship.

So I’m hanging out over there, and it’s in the early evening, and we’re all sitting around listening to Anna’s record collection.  Carl has the two kids on the sofa reading from a book with him while she and I are hanging out.  Although we haven’t hung out before, the atmosphere is warm and friendly between all of us.  Anna puts on a new record on which she sang, and she wants me to hear it.  While it plays, I flip quickly through the rest of her collection, which includes records by bands like The Outfield and a Men At Work box set.  I comment on these, and then Carl announces that it’s time to eat dinner.

The dream’s time changes, and it’s now around half past seven in the morning.  It seems that I’ve spent the night there in a guest room.  Anna is sitting in a chair at the small wooden dining room table by the window, and I walk over to join her.  I’m wearing the T-shirt and shorts in which I slept.  She’s in the middle of writing something—presumably a new song—but just before I sit down she looks up at me, smiles and says that there’s tea in the kitchen if I want some.  I do, so I turn around and head back into the kitchen.  Her mom is up and about, shuffling around the house in her bathrobe while she talks quietly into the phone, with the radio on in the background.  I can only hear her end of the conversation, obviously, but it soon becomes apparent that NPR has just featured a news story and invited the listeners to call in if they have questions or comments, so she has taken the opportunity to do so.  She walks through the kitchen and gives me a little head nod by way of a greeting before disappearing back into her bedroom.  I get my cup of tea ready and decide to put on some clothes, so I walk to the guest room and find someone sleeping there.  I walk out and almost bump into Anna’s mom outside the door.  “Someone’s sleeping in there,” I tell her.

She chuckles a bit and says, “Well, yes, there would be.  You slept in the other room.”

I turn back and go to the room across the hall, and find a small plastic grocery bag filled with clothes that are clearly meant for me to use.  I don’t know where my clothes from the night before are, so I rummage around I the bag to see what they’ve left for me.  I pull out a pair of horrendously faded acid-washed jeans and a frilly pink angora sweater with some sort of lettering across the front. Why would anyone think I would wear this stuff, I think to myself, and where are my normal clothes?  I laugh as I put the ridiculous sweater back in the bag, but I decide to put on the jeans. I slip them on and walk back out to the dining room to join Anna at the table.

I pick up a large note pad and start to write on it with a pencil.  Although it appears antiquated, it functions a bit like an iPad, and it allows me to receive text messages of sorts.  I see that I have a message waiting from my friend Mike, who wants me to meet him for breakfast at a grocery store that gives away snack food for free, if you happen to be in the store at a certain time.  I write back that I’m hanging out at Anna’s house—does he know who she is?—and we’re planning to eat breakfast here as soon as Carl and the kids get up.  He starts to describe the things the grocery store gives away, which amount to candy, crackers, and crappy coffee, but I agree to meet him in a couple of hours, after I’m done visiting my new friends.

Just then, a group of teenagers appears outside the window and stares in at us awkwardly for a long time before one of them, a girl of about fourteen with braces on her teeth, finally speaks.

“We’re usually out here every day, so this is pretty much where you can find us. Yup. . .pretty much.”

The other girl, who is probably all of twelve, chimes in. “Yeah, we’re looking for some money.”

Anna becomes quite annoyed and says, “Look, you guys, why don’t you come back at a more amenable time?”  She picks up her pen and goes back to writing.

The first girl says, “Well, no, we’re here now, and this is a good time for us.”

I look at her and say, “Really? Seven-thirty on a Sunday morning?  Respect her, and come back some other time.”

The girl gets angry and looks as though she’s about to say something nasty, but then she thinks better of it, and that’s the point at which I wake up.

dream experiment

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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.


more of an adult

beautiful, dreams, funny, love, music, pictures, Portland, sad, true, Yakima No Comments »

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.

mont st 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.



Mister Cookie Face

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I had two excellent, hilarious, and related dreams this morning.

* * * * *

Brother and I and someone else are sitting at a table in a small college cafeteria.  I have a box of cookies on the table to my left, next to where my arm is resting.  Brother steals one and asks, “What are these called?”  He pops it into his mouth without chewing.  I intuitively realize that if I can come up with a clever enough name for the cookie, he has to give it back. Luckily, I am somehow prepared for this eventuality.

“It’s called ‘Mister Cookie Face.’  Give it back.”

Realizing he’s been bested—although I can’t exactly explain how—he instantly spits out the damp but unchewed cookie and deposits it on the plate in front of me.

“THANK you,” I say triumphantly.  The guy sitting to my left looks completely baffled by what has just transpired.

* * * * *

Okay, so that was Dream Number One.  Dream Number Two happened a few minutes later, after I rolled over.

* * * * *

Brother and I are at Dad’s old apartment, and the three of us are sitting on the sofa.  I decide to put on a movie.  There are three televisions in two cabinets sitting next to each other.  The two small ones seem to provide the picture for the big main one, but once the main one is going, the little ones can be turned off so as not to distract from the main.  It’s complicated.  I go through the elaborate process, turn off the two small TV’s, and sit back on the couch next to Brother and Dad.  I tell Brother, “Oh yeah, I had a funny dream just now.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. You and I were having an argument about the name of a cookie.  Whoever came up with the best name for the cookie would get to eat it.”

“Who resolved it?”

“I did, sort of.  I called it ‘Mister Cookie Face.’ ”  He laughs out loud, while I continue.  “You had to pull the cookie—which you’d already put in your mouth—back on my plate in defeat.”  He laughs really hard at that, and the laughter is what wakes me up.

It’s worth noting that there really is—or was—a cookie called Mister Cookie Face.  Stupid name for what is—or was—a really delicious concoction; an ice cream sandwich made from chocolate chip cookies.  I haven’t had one in about twenty years.  The cookie in my dream bore no resemblance whatsoever to the real MCF, and was merely a smallish lump of chocolate, more like a truffle than anything else.

There you go.  Mister Cookie Face.  I think we’ve all learned something very valuable here today.

disconcerting dream

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I had two strange dreams this morning, and will share them both, in two different entries.  This one is the stranger—and much longer—of the two, and it does involve the F-word a bit later on, so if that’s something that bothers you, I’m letting you know now that it’s coming.  Now then, on to the dream at hand.

* * * * *

I wake up in a strange bed in a pink room with dirty taupe carpets and cheap wood paneling.  I have no idea where I am or why I’ve been sleeping there.  Four cats are on the bed with me; two are biting my fingers and the other two are still fast asleep on my shoulders, essentially pinning me down.  It is very early in the morning, maybe half past seven.  A group of obnoxious young kids bursts into the room, and they pick up some of the toys that are strewn around the floor, and play with them very loudly.  Some of the kids even jump onto the bed and start rough-housing, despite the fact that I’m still in there.  My phone slips off the bed and disappears.  I am becoming quite annoyed by now, and I crawl out of bed to look for the phone.

Finally some adults enter the room.  There are around ten in the group.  A couple of them appear to be hippie circus people preparing for a performance, and the rest are dressed in more conventional clothing.  They all start to have a surprisingly casual conversation, despite the utter chaos surrounding them.  I tell one of the older men that my phone seems to have disappeared, and that I need help finding it.  “It’s black,” I say.  I realize that’s not much of a description to go on, and I almost add the fact that it’s an iPhone, but I decide not to.  I know no one in the room, but despite that, they all seem to know me, or at least they don’t seem to be surprised that I’m staying in the room.  I feel like it would be rude for me to ask these people who they all are, so I decide to wait for a friend to appear, or perhaps someone will give me a clue as to what I’m doing there.  No one else appears, and no clues are given.

I have the vague notion that I’m on tour with a friend from BigAppleCity (who in real life is a member of that group of blue men), but he is nowhere to be seen, and my notion is vague enough that I’m not even sure he’s really supposed to there, even.  I think to myself, Maybe I’m on tour with someone else?  Maybe I’m just passing through and needed a random place to sleep?  I wander through the house a bit, to hopefully get my bearings.  I walk to the garage and see my ancient brown Toyota Celica (kinda like this one) inside.  It is a surprise to see it sitting there.  Am I on a solo road trip?  A mechanic is lying on his back on one of those roller thingies underneath the car, making a repair of some kind even though the car doesn’t need it.  I open the trunk and find that it’s completely full of toys.  I grab a blanket from a nearby workbench and stuff it in the trunk on top of the toys, because hey, you never know.

I leave the garage and the mechanic and walk back into the living room, which just so happens to be very similar to the living room in my childhood home.  I am introduced to two African guys, one of whom is a huge fan of my music (How does he know my music? is my instantaneous thought) and he keeps pushing a notebook and an orange marker toward me and asking for my autograph. I sit down on the sofa next to the two guys and take the notebook.  The huge overstuffed sofa cushion on which I’m sitting begins to swing back and forth wildly, and I’m barely able to stay seated, let alone to write anything.  I hand the notebook back to the African guy to hold until my cushion stops pitching. “This is crazy,” I tell my two new friends. “I can’t even sit on a sofa!”

The three of us begin to have a slightly philosophical conversation, and a thirteen-year-old boy walks up and plants himself right in front of my face, trying to pick a fight.  “You guys are STILL talking about that?”  He laughs and pushes me hard in the chest.

I snicker at him dismissively. “What are you doing? Go the fuck away.” He is dumbstruck by the sudden profanity, and turns and slinks away to the side of the room, muttering, “Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck,” as if he’s autistic.  His dad, a greasy man in both the literal and the figurative sense, runs over and gets right in my face just as his son had.  Gee, I wonder where the kid learned THAT trick, I think to myself. The dad is yelling at me and gesturing toward his son, who is still muttering the F-bomb to himself while his dad is getting increasingly riled up.  It appears that I’m about to get punched.

“Fuck?” he yells. “Seriously? You have no right to talk to my son that way!”

I decide that a healthy dose of diplomacy is in order, and fast.  “I shouldn’t have said that, you’re right.  I apologize.  But didn’t you see what he did?  He shouldn’t go around picking fights.”   The guy seems placated, and walks back to join his son.

The African guy hands me the orange marker and notebook again. The marker still doesn’t write very well, and I tell him I can use the black pen that has just materialized in my hand somehow.   He insists I use the orange one, takes it back, and fiddles with it in an attempt to make it work, telling me it’s all about the balance of the art in the notebook; something weird like that.  I’m not much of a visual artist, but I half-heartedly attempt to draw something that even remotely resembles the type of things that other people have drawn already, and then I sign my name.  It is practically illegible, and unrecognizable to me.  Good enough, I think to myself, that’ll have to do.

I stand up from the sofa and walk into an empty living room, still completely mystified by everything happening around me.  I decide to search for—and hopefully find, let’s be honest—my suitcase so that I can take a shower, to clear my head and get away from all of the strange people and interactions.  I walk through a few more rooms, but my suitcase never turns up.