The Shoe Dream

So, as many of my dreams have taken me in the past, there I am, back  in the military after being out for several decades. It’s not a surprising dream sanctuary, and makes sense in many practical ways.

Once again, I’m there, in a command center or command post such as the ones that I spent much of my time. This one has windows, though. That rarely happened. We were often in  secure buildings or underground. As with other dreams, I’m trying to put together a uniform, and it’s all messed up, because I’ve been retired from the military for so long. With much joking and laughing, I get it together and get a semblance of an Air Force uniform on. There are others in this situation, so I’m not overly concerned with the bit. We’ve been called up…enough said on that, right? Yeah, my mind’s workings can be pretty transparent.

I’m worried about my shoes, though. They’re on, but they’re not in great shape. Meanwhile, the situation is developing. I’m senior enlisted there, and the experienced command post guy. The commander, a colonel, has arrived. He’s concerned about the sit. I share his concerns. Beyond the windows is a swollen gray ocean active with slow, heavy waves. We’re walking along the command post, looking out the windows, searching for an impending attack from across the water. Lights draw our attention. We watch, and watch, hoping that they’ll resolve into something more than blurry lights in the distance, ready to act if they do.

We begin walking toward the other end of the command post. I’ve been thinking as the commander and I scanned the sea, and I’d developed a sense that something wasn’t right. Maybe we were looking at the problem the wrong way.

Just as I formulate this to myself, I turned to look through another window and see a huge wave. Rising like a movie scene, it’s rushing toward us. As I see it, a young airman shouts a warning about the wave.

I spring into action, giving orders and directions about what to do as people begin running in panic. As they’re panicking and only a few are doing as I say, I take it upon myself to act.

It’s too late. As I realize that the wave is about to hit, I tell everyone to find cover and find cover myself. The wave slams into the building. Coming through windows, the powerful water wrecks the interior.

It’s over in a flash. I survive in good condition because I’d protected myself. My biggest concern is my…shoe.

Yes, I’m upset because my right shoe is coming apart. It’s not shiny and black, as I kept it throughout my mil career, as trained to do, as we all did; it is dull and white. Man, am I exasperated.

But we need to take care of things. It’s clear that we can’t continue operations in the current location. I and two others, a male and female, take off walking for the alternate command post location. We’re walking alongside a parade ground. I’m lamenting about my shoe as I go.

While walking to the alternate location, we start moving faster. The two I’m with cross to the other side of the parade grounds. We engage in an unspoken pseudo-race at fast walking speed. They become distracted with conversation. Seeing that, grinning, I surreptitiously speed ahead. They notice, and start walking faster, almost catching up. The guy starts running, so I do, too. Laughing, we reach the alt at the same time, and wrestle to get through the door first. I win.

Inside the small, old places, we find things that were left behind, like candy, gum, toys, and clothes. I’m amused as I go through some of the stuff and think about how to make it operational as a new operating location.

Holding up a piece of old candy in a weathered wrapper, I say, “I remember leaving this here.”

The dream ends.

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The Start

You’d think the start was when the body was found. That’s the beginning of the crime investigation. It isn’t, of course, the crime’s beginnings. For that, you need to slip into a wayback machine and ride time to when the killer was young and beginning their career, back to before the victim and killer had ever met, back to a nascent moment when everyone was happy and oblivious to the future.

After all, the killer just wanted revenge. Their victim had killed first, but the body hadn’t been found. At least, that’s what the killer believed.

They were always one to act on their beliefs.

The Whirlpool

I finished the tenth draft of the latest novel-in-progress, April Showers 1921, several weeks back (Surprise!, September 26). I thought it was the final draft but knew that I had notes which called for more work before I could say that it was finished as a draft. I hesitate to say final draft. Nothing is final about a novel-in-progress until it’s published. I prefer to call it the working final draft. Yeah, that’s pretty ambivalent, isn’t it?

I’d begun April Showers 1921 back in January, 2019. It originated with a dream of a book that I’d written, resulting in a powerful impetus to make it real. It’s a hefty ms., one hundred eighty thousand words and six hundred thirty MS Word pages. I recognize that an editor will probably cut through some of that beef. The story is told by skipping back and forth through multiple versions of the same fourteen-year-old protagonist, Anders. I struggled with that, and that facet pushed multiple revisions until I fully recognized and understood why and how the multiple Anders interacted (or didn’t interact) with one another.

The other matter is, I’m sure that the working title of April Showers 1921 will probably be changed. April Showers is a machine invented specifically to interact with Anders, a human. As a machine, she generally acts and looks human. That simple claim gets complicated because the novel is about how multiple levels of filters interact to create realities and alterverses. After exploring everything, April Showers’ role was reduced from what I’d originally expected it to be.

I was right about having some work remaining. I’d identified five sections in my notes for further work. Before I dove into them, I read through the notes, remembering why I’d jumped ahead of those sections. Two of them deleted. I thought they were needed but they weren’t. This happens to me. As I write a novel and explore everything, I develop a sense about where it’s going and what’s going to happen. Sometimes, though, those insights are overtaken by events and turn out to be superfluous to the final tale.

The other three sections were filler/bridge sections. Impatient critter that I am, I didn’t feel like dealing with minutiae that these three sections demanded. As I read the preceding pages to them, I easily slipped into what needed to be done (all hail the muses!).

What became more time-consuming were the side roads I frequently stumbled down. To confirm a point of continuity or clarity, I’d open a second window and hunt my notes and the manuscript for specific points. I inevitably ended up becoming engrossed in the ms, reading chapter after chapter, which I call the writing and editing whirlpool, because it just sucks me in. Small errors, pacing matters, and typos were typically addressed during these periods, but I was mostly indulging myself. Part of the process was sometimes coping with surprise about what I’d written and where that section went.

Seems strange, doesn’t it? I wrote it, so it follows that I should know what I wrote. My conclusion about it is that I’m working on a different level. Two, my writing process is like weaving. I don’t hesitate to dip into a section of the book and edit it to meet my preferences. That tangibly results in many sections being re-written, revised, edited, and polished multiple times. I often wear reader or editor hats when I’m doing that, instead of my writer hat. Maybe I’m just blowing smoke, though, to cover a weak or faulty memory.

Anyway, I’m out of the whirlpool. The final working copy is completed. Now, the part I loathe, presenting it to the world begins. I need to write up a blurb, summary, elevator pitch, synopsis, etc., to entice others into my world.

It’s been a good nine months of writing, editing, and revising like crazy. As other writers have mentioned, and I’ve echoed before, finishing the novel leaves a void. A friend is gone, a puzzle has been finished, a routine has been completed, a desire has been fulfilled. Leaves me with wondering, where do I go from here?

Well, yeah, there is the aforementioned loathsome tasks. I don’t really celebrate the completion except to mention it to a few close, supportive friends and family members, and privately toast myself, “You did it. Well done.”

Then, I begin thinking about the next novel. There’s so much to read, research, think about, and write. Existence is a rich mine of potential stories to be found and written.

Off I go, at least one more time, to write like crazy.

Floofspiration

Floofspiration (floofinition) – The process of being mentally stimulated by an animal, especially a housepet, to do or feel something.

In use: She was down, but the dog walked up with this dopey look, with his leash hanging out of his mouth. Floofspiration seizing her, she laughed. “You’re right. It’s too nice a day to sit here feeling sorry for myself. Let’s go for a walk.”

Tuesday’s Theme Music

The Wayback Machine injected another song into the stream yesterday.

I was out walking through an autumn day. Reds, golds, oranges, and yellows have been splashed across the foliage but leaves aren’t dropping yet. Temperatures have dropped in a fallish segment, thirties to forties at night, fifties to sixties in the day, with rain showers.

As I walked through this, I noticed how many people weren’t dressed for the day. Maybe, like my friend, in his loud flowery, tropical shirt, they’re making a last stand for summer. Perhaps they expected the area to follow its tradition of quickly reverting to warmer weather, or, it could be that they’re just denying that the season changed, or they’re not paying attention. I also thought that they were tough people, unfazed by chilly, soggy weather, and were wearing tee shirts and sandals because the weather wasn’t affecting them like the rest of us mortals. The majority them looked cold and a bit miz, though.

So, reflecting on the weather change, I chanced to glance upon a far-away scene, where the leaves were a splash of fiery color on the mountain. Natch, the WM poured a 1975 Marshall Tucker Band song, “Fire on the Mountain” into the stream, and off I went, humming and singing as I continued on.

Of course, “Fire on the Mountain” is about a futile search for gold so a man can improve his family’s situation. He fails and dies. That’s often life, innit?

Monday’s Theme Music

I like watching people, seeing where their eyes move, their non-verbal language, and how they interact with the world. The phone people — PP, or P2, the ones with attention glued to their phones as they walk along — demonstrate little expression or body language. It’s not a surprise; they’re usually totally invested in that little electronic device. They’re interacting with it. It changes when they’re on video, or actually speaking someone, and — of course! — when a selfie is being orchestrated.

As an aside rant, the P2 annoy me when they’re absorbed by their phone and walking. They expect everyone to move aside and look out for them. Sometimes, I’m an asshole, and I don’t move.

Today’s song was inspired by a woman walking toward me. She was quite the haughty person, swapping all with her eyes but avoiding eye contact with anyone. I do understand it more, now, why many women avoid contact that could be misconstrued with others. Many have horror stories about how their friendliness was misconstrued, leading to ugly encounters with men who thought the women were flirting with them.

This woman’s dark eyes struck a chord with lyrics from a past song, “Here comes the woman with the look in her eye.” Before she’d come within six feet, Michael Hutchence and INXS were streaming “Devil Inside” through me. Although this song came out in 1988, when I was stationed in Germany, I’d heard INXS in the early eighties while on assignment at Kadena AB on Okinawa. That’s because I knew some Australian special forces members there. They knew of INXS’ music and introduced them to me. So INXS is forever associated with Okinawa in my mind.

Sad day when I heard that Hutchence had killed himself, thirty-seven years old. He was younger than me by four years, and it seemed astonishing that such a talented, young, and successful person could kill themselves.

I’ve learned a lot since then.

It Comes

Slipping, sliding, easing, hiding,

it comes, it comes

bringing warmer clothing out and pushing big rain clouds about

it comes, it comes

pasting new colors on leaves and stripping branches bare,

it comes, it comes

before you know it, you look around, and it’s not coming,

Fall is already here.

 

Sunday’s Theme Music

I did a great deal of solitary walking on the beach last week, a wonderful incubator for re-balancing references and energies, and re-calibrating my compass. Many walking songs streamed along in the background of my thinking. I’d heard this song, “Walking in Memphis” (Marc Cohn and the Blind Boys of Alabama, 1991) earlier in the week. The song melded effortlessly into my stream. One specific verse remained with me.

Walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel?

h/t to AZLyrics.com

The lines’ duality strike me, especially the last, “But do I really feel the way I feel?” Not infrequently, I root through what I’m feeling to discover that what I thought I was feeling wasn’t it at all, and the source for my feelings isn’t always as apparent as the first thing – or the latest matter – or the dominant issue – stalking me. Sometimes, digging and reflection is required to discover what I really feel, and why.

 

Back Again

Friends were renting a house in Waldport, Oregon, three bedrooms, three baths. They’d invited their family. Their family couldn’t make it. Would we like to come?

Twist our arms, ouch, ouch, okay, we give, we give, we’ll come! The house wasn’t on the beach, but on a bluff that overlooks the beach, less than a quarter mile to the beach. Topology and beach access rules and agreements made it a ten minute walk to the beach. Not a problem.

waldport

We drove through pouring rain to reach Waldport. The sky ratcheted down to a gray sunshine the first night, permitting a walk on the beach. Waldport has fine, sandy beaches, flat, wide, and unpopulated by many others in September. Rain drenched the area that night. We awoke to a misty gray day, but that burned off. Sunshine and blue skies arrived and hung out with us for the next few days, a very welcome guest. Temperatures jumped into the high sixties, flirting with seventy-one inland.

Waldport is a small, comfortable town. Not many eateries called to us but Yachats ten miles to the south and Newport fifteen miles to the north were easy drives up Highway 101. Down in Yachats, we returned to Luna Sea Food twice, and also visited the Green Salmon for some excellent coffee and food. Once again, we struck out when we tried to visit Bread and Roses, as it was closed for the week! Dinner on Tuesday was at the Adobe restaurant in Yachats, where the dining room presented us with an excellent seat to watch the sunset as we ate and drank.

I walked on the beach at least twice a day, in addition to our daily hiking. For the week, I ended up with sixty-five miles on my Fitbit, which was the same as the previous two weeks. I often walked barefoot in the shallows, enjoying the sun-warmed waters churning over my feet.

Meanwhile, we had terrific companions, Marcia, Art, and Lucy. The owners’ net situation kept us off computers except to check email once in a while. We traveled the local coastline, hiking, and visiting the sights. We also walked the Alsea Bay Bridge. Just three quarters of a mile long, the bay’s water were fantastically clear and often shallow. Seals sunned and swum below us, entertaining us with their pastimes (yes, we’re easily entertained). Amanda’s trail in Yachats offered a more challenging walk, giving us fifty flights of steps on our Fitbits, and offering terrific views of the Pacific. Signs warned us about a mama bear and her cubs in the area, so we stayed on guard.

Amanda’s head has been washed away, and has been replaced by a smaller, carved statue of her. Her sad history, shared too many times with other people across America, remains to remind us how inhumane and barbaric Americans and Europeans often treat others.

A return visit to Cape Perpetua was in order, with its short hike to the CCC era stone shelter.

 

When we were back at the house, time was passed reading, chatting, eating, cooking, drinking wine, and gazing out at the ocean. The moon was waxing and was almost a full moon by the week’s end, splashing its gorgeous glow over the calm, rolling ocean. Not much writing was done, but batteries were drained and recharged.

Got my coffee, and my ass is in the chair. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

 

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