A Blue and Orange Dress Dream

To begin, it’s the late 1960s on a hot, dry day. I’m younger than now but not appropriate for that era vis-à-vis my life. After watching some Formula 1 practice action, a dust-up between two cars at one corner stops practice. Strapped into my car, I’d been waiting to go out. Leaving my car, I returned to the garage area to get out of the sun and get a drink.

The two drivers involved with the accident, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Graham Hill, come in. They’re trying to figure out what happened, so they’re going to talk it over. I suggest some coffee. Coffee was served to them in small glass cups. They finished it quickly. I told them that maybe we should sit down. They agreed to that and move to a table to one side. I asked and they agreed, they could use more coffee. I brought the pot over to serve them. Both glasses were sitting on a shelf above the table. I didn’t know which cup belonged to which driver. They tell me that it doesn’t matter. I poured the coffee into the cups. The coffee is light with milk as it came out of the pot.

Next, Tina Fey is walking around inside hallways which were in my body. As far as I know, I’m the only other present, but she’s acting like her 30 Rock character. My first reaction is, wow, Tina Fey is here. Second: she’s in my body. Third: there are hallways in my body. Fourth: Tina Fey is in my body making jokes about my organs. Consumed by those four thoughts, I understood nothing that she actually said.

A dreamshift takes place. I’m outside of a motel/lodge, in the parking lot, by the raised cement sidewalk. The motel is modeled after modernized log cabins. A candy stand dominates the sidewalk. Tiered rows of candy offerings face me. I’m amazed by the selection. Every candy I think of — Jujubes, Good n’ Plentys, Mars and Mounds bars, Dots, Old Henrys, York Peppermint Patties, are all there in neat rows. But they’re expanding, adding another section, to add more candy.

I’m amazed that so much candy is for sale and amazed that they’re preparing to offer yet more. There is nothing but candy. Shouting children begin running up to the stand. SMH, I enter the lodge.

Adult motel workers and customers are inside. I know several because I’ve been staying there on a writing retreat for a few days. Now, though, I’m supposed to go meet my wife at another hotel. I’m to take a pale blue dress with pale orange trim to my wife. It’s way too big for her, probably five times her width, but a perfect length if she’s six feet tall (but she’s just five four), but she requested it. So I’m carrying this dress around for her.

Discarded candy and candy packages litter the lodge’s deep brown carpeting. I’m incredulous. Laughing and screaming children — no doubt charged by sugar, I think — are running about. I change (don’t know where that was done) into new light gray shorts. They have a bright blue string. I speak with my wife on the telephone and tell her that I’m on my way. Then, first, where’s the dress? It was on a hanger. I set it down and now I don’t see it.

Then I need to urinate. I find a bathroom. Weirdly, it’s at a juncture where one side is a hallway to rooms and the other faces the foyer/waiting area. The two walls are sliding accordion doors which need pulled to and locked. I attempt to do this but each keep sliding open, though I slam them. I then discover there’s a screw lock at the top of the accordion doors; I firmly screw that in place and start to do my business. I see that the screw is turning, becoming undone. Irritated, I screw it tight again. Sure that it’s secure, I step up to the urinal to pee and discover my shorts are in the urinal. They’re getting wet. Exasperation growing, I pull my shorts back. One accordion door has slid open. My shorts are pulled half down, so I’m effectively mooning people. A manager and customer come by to tell me. I answer back with explanations about the doors and how unimpressed I am by these doors. They’re chuckling. The male customer keeps joking, “Your bulls are showing,” by which I realize he means my ass. I joke back that I’m running with the bulls. Yeah, lame.

Although my shorts are wet, I’ve managed to pee and I’m ready to go again. Someone has found the blue and orange dress that I’m taking to my wife and call out, “Does anyone claim this?” I do, I answer, then explain that I’m taking it to my wife at her request. It’s way too big for her, I explain — I think it’s bigger than it was before — but she requested it.

That’s where it all ends.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Hello. Today is Wednesday, the forty-second day of 2021, February 17. 2021. Sunrise struck southern Oregon at 7:05 AM. It’s an assertive sun today, shining down on increased quantities of expanding greenery. Sunset will be at 5:46 PM. All that sunshine is exciting the floofs. Two — Youngblood and Black Beauty, aka Papi and Boo — are out there soaking it up. Not Tucker, though. Today is my wife’s exercise morning (M-W-F), and he likes being in on that.

The skunk declared war on something on Monday night. We were collateral damage as the smell spilled up into the entire house. Fortunately, yesterday was sunny and pleasant (the rain they said we’d get never came). We turned off the heater and opened windows. The skunk’s scent cleared. We went out for a drive. When we returned, she’d struck again. So, do-over, and success again. Then, 9 PM, we went grocery shopping for fresh produce. When we returned…guess what? Yep, she’d struck again. Geuss she was bored or something. This time we fired up the air purifier. That worked. Last night remained skunk free.

Today’s song jumped into the mental stream out of 1992. When I woke up and was still in bed, I thought, “I’m so hot.” Then, writing in my head, I noted, “I’m so excited.” About two minutes later, I said to myself, “I’m so hungry,” and hastened to make breakfast. “I’m so ready,” followed a short while later as I made coffee and then headed in to write. That’s when the Wayback Machine activated Nirvana’s song, “Lithium”.

I’m so happy
‘Cause today I found my friends-they’re in my head
I’m so ugly, that’s okay ’cause so are you
Broke our mirrors

h/t to Metrolyrics.com

Yeah, you know how it goes, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, get vaccinated, do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight. Cheers

The Progress of

The progress of the novel in progress: Arsehold is safely behind my heroes. The outlaw and the recos have an unspoken working truce in place. Selfie, Kitkat, and Cher has joined them on Ted. Today I write Zippers. So sorry Zippers is dead, but the muses called it. It was apparently about the Qiqz. I need to write it to find out.

Yeah, having fun, knock on wood. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Friday’s Fumblings

  1. The more that I’m writing, the worst that I sleep. I dream more when I’m writing more, too. Yesterday produced a great writing session, a miserable night of sleep, and a flotilla of dreams.
  2. I think that I sleep worst when I’m writing more because more of my brain is engaged in the writing process. The writing is consuming more bandwidth; shutting it down at day’s end is problematic. I keep writing while I’m doing other things, including trying to sleep.
  3. The good news with the novel in progress is that the characters escaped Arsehold at last! How surprised me, but was totally in tone with the rest of the book. This is, of course, when writing is most fun and rewarding.
  4. I always worry about saying too much about writing these days. I don’t want to jinx it when it’s going well, you know? Don’t want to scare off or anger the muses. I never elaborate to others about what I’m writing any more. It’s a novel; it’s meant to be read. I don’t want to explain it; I want people to read it. Sometimes it’s hard to stay true to this as excitement about the story, characters, and concept bubble up and make me happy. I guess I’m an eternal optimist that these stories and novels will come to be in people’s hands someday. Really, though, I write for me and have a good time doing it.
  5. I’m subscribed to HBOMax and enjoying several shows. Nevertheless, I have a complaint about the service. Every time I select it, the first thing that comes up is, “Who is watching?” My name is right there on top. It’s the only name. Below it are options to add other profiles or to add a kid. Seriously? Why must I answer this every friggin’ time? Just accept, I am the one watching, and get on with it. If I want to add someone else, I can go into options or the account, you know. It shouldn’t, I suppose, but it irks me to no end.
  6. COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing among friends and family. I know ten people who have been vaccinated. Three different states – Oregon, Texas, and Pennsylvania – are involved. All who were vaccinated except one were seventy plus years old. The one exception is in her forties and is in the healthcare industry, although she’s in research. Both vaccines have been employed among this small sampling. None have reported significant adverse reactions beyond a desire to nap and mild fevers. Let me know how your vaccination goes, please.
  7. My wife and I are a year apart in age, which adds another spin to our vaxsit. I’m sixty-four and a half. I turn sixty-five in July. I’ll be eligible. But do we want to do it if we can’t do it at the same time? Part of our formula about whether and when is that I have hypertension and she has RA. I suspect that we’ll be included as part of a group that’s fifty years and older later this year, making our one year difference moot.
  8. I mentioned oatmeal in another post, and the huntress commented on oatmeal. Her mother made it very thin. Soupy thin. I think of that as gruel. Yeah, I know it’s not the same. While that’s how my wife eats it, I’m not a fan of it. I make my oat meal so thick, it’s almost a soft cookie.
  9. I grew up putting brown sugar in my oatmeal. Well, it started as white sugar but once I had it with brown sugar, the game was done. I then learned to add raisins and nuts. Now I put all manner of things in my oatmeal. I currently add cranberries and walnuts in my oatmeal, and granola as a topping. I like the contrasting crunchiness and flavor.
  10. When I was first served oatmeal at my wife’s house while in my teens, they surprised me by adding butter and bacon on top. I’d never heard of such a thing! That surprised them, because that’s how they always ate it. Adding bacon and butter to my oatmeal wasn’t something that I adopted. My wife doesn’t add it to her oatmeal, either.
  11. The world seems weirdly calmer with Joe Biden in office as President. Is this my imagination? Am I just reading less news? That doesn’t seem to be the case. Have news outlets shifted how they’ve reported? Perhaps. Or is it that there’s less bad news, or it’s being less reported, or not catching my eye… Maybe we’re just in an intermission in the bad news cycle.
  12. Or maybe it’s some sense of numbing of normalization to bad news. Locally — specifically, in Jackson County, Oregon — COVID-19 positive cases have been declining. We haven’t had triple digits in several days. We’re trending down, but we trended down in November. Then we had a Christmas spike. Meanwhile, people aged 20-29 are the most positive cases here, but those aged fifty and older dominate the hospital beds, inline with what’s been seen elsewhere, and what’s generally expected.
  13. Okay, got my coffee, actually my second cup. No mid-morning treat to go with it. No cookies, pastries, or doughnuts. Nevertheless, time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Monday’s Meatballs

  1. My wife is feeling guilty. I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Because I live in Oregon now, I’ve also adopted the Seattle Seahawks to watch. That’s mostly because their games are frequently broadcast in the area (wonder why…). Anyway, back when Russ was cooking and the Steelers were 11-0, my wife started cheering for the two teams. Everything went downhill from there… She blames herself. Doesn’t help that she’s also a Patrick Mahomes fan. She was cheering for him. Then yesterday, during the playoffs, he hits the ground and is concussed and out. Yes, she blames herself. Says its bad luck for her to cheer for any team or person. Hmmm…maybe she should stop rooting for me to get published…
  2. Got a message from a FB friend. I didn’t know the name. Message just said, “Hi.” I thought, bull; you’re not my friend. I checked their FB page. Nothing there, you know, except a photo who I think is Paul Hollywood from a few years ago.
  3. We’ve been receiving spates of calls from our area code. They’re numbers that we don’t recognize. From years of conditioning, we don’t answer the phone unless we know the number. Going further, I’ve assigned family members specific ringtones so I know it’s them when the phone rings. When we check out these numbers doing reverse look up, they often turn out to be foreign numbers. They seem to be linked to a new scam going around.
  4. It seems like there’s a new scam on the phone, net, or in politics every week.
  5. Speaking of politics, I’m not going to write about it. I’m weary of this mess that’s arisen in the U.S. with normal people believing outlandish things. Then there’s the things that outlandish people believe. They really stretch sanity’s perimeters. I think such people are searching for a force to give their lives meaning. I do the same with my writing (and posting). It’s a structure for my existence; I wouldn’t be surprised if their deep hold on crazy ideas and its supporting community (or tribe) isn’t the same for them.
  6. This week’s soup is again the root soup — roasted broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and garlic put into a mushroom broth and simmered with seasoning. Awesome for winter. Just add good bread.
  7. We picked up some VitaCup infused coffee on sale during a ninja shopping venture last week. We’re both surprised how good this turmeric and cinnamon coffee concoction is. It’s become our go-to choice. That’s especially startling for me; I’ve always been a French or Italian roast sort of person, dark with no sugar, cream, milk, etc. I will acknowledge that I was/am a mocha drinker. When I did them, it was four shots of espresso, then add a little chocolate, and steamed milk. Quit doing those; bad for my prostate.
  8. Still averaging twelve miles per day walking, according to Fitbit. I’m dubious.
  9. Over in streamland, we’re enjoying “Snowpiercer” (the series) and “Doom Patrol”. Both are on HBO Max. I especially like “Snowpiercer” as it fleshes out things in better ways than the movie did. I’m a train fan, and this idea appeals to my sci-fi infused imagination.
  10. On WordPress, it always bugs me that when Post comes up on the right, there is a red button that says, “Move to trash”. It’s like they’re making a suggestion about what I’m writing to post, you know?
  11. I’m also watching “The Wire” again. Been years since I’ve seen it but the characters (and actors), storylines, and plots (and twists) all remain clear in memory. I still enjoy it because it has great values and terrific acting. The characters all have sharp human edges and avoid being stereotypes (although McNulty is pretty close to one as a functioning alcoholic who cares), and we care about them all, good people and bad.
  12. Got my coffee (yes, it’s the infused stuff). Time to write like crazy, at least one more time. Almost ready for the characters to put Arsehold into the rearview mirror. Fingers crossed, you know?

Stuck In Arsehold

I was stuck in Arsehold for the last two weeks. You may have experienced the same.

I’ve been writing a novel while locked away. That’s not so different from my normal life, where I’m always working on a novel. Many people think I’m working on one novel forever and a day, but I’ve finished many. I shrug them off; I enjoy novel writing.

I think under ordinary circumstances, this would have been finished a few months ago. These aren’t normal times, at least for me. I’m assuming a lot with those words. It’s sadly probably normal for quite a few people to stay locked up in one place, with limited contact for other people. I think of prisons. Nursing homes. Hospitals. Yeah, getting downright depressing, isn’t it?

Some say that such solitude is a gift. I’m not one. While I’m a solitary person, I like outside stimulation. (Sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it?) Like to walk to clear my mind, shift into writing mode, and slip into the noisy solitude of a good cuppa coffee in a coffee shop, hunch over my laptop, and tap away.

All that normal-for-me isn’t available now. Coronavirus lockdown, you know. Although I have coffee and space, I also have wife and cats. They struggle with my writing boundaries. My wife tries respecting them, but news of the world sets her off. I also don’t try enforcing my isolation with her, as she’s in the same situation as me. She’s much more verbal, however, and craves other contact. While she’s dancing and exercising Monday through Friday via Zoom, and meets with her book club once a month with Zoom, and Zooms into a coffee klatch almost every week, she likes expressing her opinions and insights vigorously and out loud. There’s usually a lot of swearing involved, too. She’s quite passionate about social justice, equality, human rights, and women’s rights. She also hates Trump and has little respect for most other Republicans. So I try to indulge, but then I suffer. Either way, one of us must suffer in our situation. We get over it, but it’s not ideal.

The cats, however, don’t give a damn that I’m writing, reading, playing a game, sleeping, eating, showering, or sitting on the toilet. Three cats share ownership over me. They have their own secret agendas, which surprisingly, often involves me. Part of that is which cat owns the most of me, and whether that’s acceptable to the other cats.

Between wife, news of the world, the coming and going of the muses, and the cats, novel writing progress has been uneven.

But I persevere. Sometimes, the worse interruption is by me to myself. Self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. General malaise. It struck hardest in Arsehold.

Arsehold is a place in my novel, wholly made up. I came up with the name months ago, a whim that made me laugh. I stuck with it, creating the setting around the name, devising the history of how it came to be. Yet, my characters struggled to get through Arsehold. I naturally responded, per my proclivities, to overanalyze what was going on and why, attempting to seek the root of my issues. I thought it might be the general tone. Perhaps some of the introduced characters weren’t clear enough. Maybe, maybe my characters shouldn’t be in Arsehold. And what happens after Arsehold?

Writing helps me think by creating a funnel through which I must focus. With all this mental flaying, I did a lot of writing about the novel in progress, addressing the concept, characters, story, plot, locations and settings, etc. Eventually, I took all the assembled material of the novel in progress, one hundred twenty-five thousand words, and began reading, editing, and revising, putting the story into the order that I think it’ll be in published form.

That helped. By the time I’d reached Arsehold (almost sounds like a song lyric — I can hear CCR doing stuck in Arsehold instead of Lodi), I’d discovered that the errors that I thought I was seeing weren’t there. It always scares me to think or say, hey, this is pretty damn good, about what I’m writing, but that’s what I concluded. Of course, it’s my work; if I didn’t think it was good, maybe I should be working on something else, right?

Anyway, I think I might get through Arsehold this week (knock on wood, he said, tapping the side of his head). Got my coffee; time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

SAFday

I decided that I needed a holiday.

My wife agreed. “It would be great if you went on a holiday and went away.” Falling silent, her expression gained a dreamy aspect. I waited for her to say more, then left to have some coffee. By that, I mean, I went into the kitchen. I rarely go to other coffee shops these days, unfortunately. Our kitchen coffee shop has been out of pastries for a while. Not even crumbs are in there. I looked.

I was serious about needing a holiday, but not about going away. I’ve been intermittently thinking about this holiday since December 22. Back then was the shortest day of the year in these parts. The sunset was like 4:39 PM. It hadn’t been much of a sun, not making a great effort to light the day or warm us. I guess it was put off by the rain and fog. I know that I was.

I enjoy sunshine. I’m a person that’s happy sitting in sunshine, so long as it’s not too hot, I have something to drink and a book (or laptop, I guess), and a little shade (and sunscreen) to protect me from the sun. I’m not a freak. To that end (that is, celebrating sunshine, not being a freak), I thought, I’m going to celebrate when the sun finally sets after 5 PM.

I’ve been diligently tracking the information. Every morning, I rise and say, “Alexa, what time is sunset?” And she answers, explaining information about Sunset, Florida, causing me to yell, “Stop, Alexa! No! Bad Alexa! Bad. No treats for you!” Then she starts whining, and I relent, giving her a treat, because I’m not really a mean person. Although I do wonder why I bother; she never eats the treats. The treats sit there until one of the cats notices it.

Today’s sunset is 16:59 (if you can believe Alexa — she does work for Amazon, and they have this issue with deliveries coming when promised…so, you know…). That means tomorrow’s sunset will be after 5 PM.

Oh, my excitement! There will be a sliver of light (weather permitting) after five PM. How will I celebrate the moment? (Well, probably not with pastries.) More importantly, what shall I call this day? I shall, after a moment of thought, call it SAFday: Sunset After Five day.

Yeah, it’s weak. But it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

(I wonder how long it would take Amazon to delivery a pastry?)

Saturday’s Theme Music

Michael, my brain mumbled. Michael.

I didn’t reply.

Morning, Michael, my brain said. Time to get up.

I snuggled deeper into bed.

Morning, Michael, time to get up, my brain insisted. Then, mimicking an old “Jetsons” routine, added, “Up, up, up, up, up.”

Really, I muttered. Again? Must we go through this every morning?

By now, the cats were aware that I’d returned to life, and were getting in on the efforts to make me rise and shine.

I sighed. Must I endure this every morning?

By then, my bladder was also suggesting it was time to get up, and my stomach was adding that it was ready to get up and eat, and my brain was whispering, coffee (which it knew would stimulate me into activity), so I complied. As I stumbled down the hall, thinking, every morning comes too early, my mind’s word-association processes kicked in. Memory brought up Sugar Ray singing “Every Morning” from 1998.

Oof. Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get vaccinated.

Sunday Sprinkles

  1. Had an unsettling dream last night. Not a nightmare, but a dream that I didn’t understand. After writing about it, I decided not to share it.
  2. I watch the NFL. The refs fascinate me. Some of them seem like they’re so disappointed when they announce penalties. “False start, offense, number forty-three.” You can almost see him sigh. “Five year penalty,” is delivered with regret. “Remains first down.” I wonder what they’re like in their non-football lives.
  3. I said, “Don’t fear the android.” I was making a joke while re-watching Dark Matters on Netflix. My wife said, “Oh, that’d be a good book title.” It has me thinking.
  4. Several of my wife’s friends encountered her this past week. Always masked and distanced. They emailed her later. One said that she started crying in her car afterward because it’d been so long since she’d enjoyed a friendly, spontaneous conversation with someone outside their pod. Another said that she teared up after dropping off holiday goods on the porch (and picking some up from us, which were awaiting her on the porch). Human contact is so random and remote.
  5. My cancer-inflicted friend is out of the hospital and back home. Friends are calling him to wish him well. I want to do so but I’m terrible with small talk. Not good with the phone. Terrible with socializing in general. He stays in my thoughts but I should call. I’m probably overthinking it.
  6. Likewise, the cancer-affected friend across country is out of the hospital and at home, going through treatment there. We exchange messages but I sense his energy is low. He was always such an upbeat, energetic person. He’s my age, too, which amplifies the impact, right?
  7. It is interesting, maddening, and shocking to witness what friends are doing in other parts of the country. Social distancing and masking isn’t part of their routines. Some have even gone in for elective surgery. One is dating. We respond, WTF? And we worry about them, but they remain blissfully ignorant. Come on, vaccine.
  8. Meanwhile, two other relatives have been diagnosed with COVID-19. One was intubated on Friday. She’d gone in for elective surgery on a toe earlier in the month.
  9. My broken left arm continues its recovery process. It sort of becomes entangled and stiff at night as I bend it under my body. But reach, movement, flexibility, and strength are all improving. One frustrating thing: scratching. I still can’t bend my left hand to scratch my back and several other (ahem) places.
  10. My wife didn’t make us a soup last Sunday, the first time in weeks. Holiday baking occupied her — and the kitchen. I did my part; my role is decorating. I was disappointed with the gels and frosting. It blobbed and sputtered. They were okay, but not great. That’s about half of the batch. They’re PB Rice Krispies bars dipped in white chocolate or chocolate bark, more like a candy bar than a cookie. (That’s them in the photo.) She also made peppermint cookies and my favorite, cranberry cupcakes with drizzled frosting. Today’s soup in progress is a smoky lentil with garbanzo beans. Chilly day, in the forties, diluted sunshine. Looking forward to it with some hot buttered ciabatta bread.
  11. I thought writing was going well. Then I read a paragraph last night which had me wincing, groaning, and gagging. Press on, finish the draft, then come back, right? Yeah. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time. Oh, yeah, and the soup is ready.

Saturday’s Theme Music

Today’s sound choice was inspired by waiting for my coffee. It takes so long to brew, like, minutes. Exasperating.

Not the first time this has happened with this song, “I Want A New Drug”, a 1984 song by Huey Lewis and the News, and this situation. When I was in the military after the song came out, staggering into the briefing room at miserably dark o’clock, I thought of this song many times. Of course, I understand that it’s not really about drugs. I sang about it in that context, too, when I was job hunting, or thinking about changing cities, states, or my role in a company. It’s a good song for that purpose, for capturing your frustration about here and now, and spinning a vision of what you really want.

Hope you enjoy this tune. Stay positive, test negative, and wear a mask. Get the vaccine, too. You know the one I mean.

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