The Hated Dreams

I hated the dreams that I had last night. All were about being overlooked, forgotten, or ignored. All featured others being given promotions, honors, and awards.

Little surprise was experienced as I reviewed the dreams. I’m sliding into the dark side of my spectrum. Haven’t visited it for almost sixty days – or, more likely, it was visited and overcome. This week, though, I heard the dark side spitting and hissing at me, felt its snake bite sometimes, etc. Coping with it – fighting is the wrong thing to do (for me – your needs probably vary) (unless you’re me, of course) (and if you ARE me, what the hell are you doing out there?) and its impact, I felt myself losing the battles. Part of that is being forced to socialize more – ’tis the season (ho, ho, fucking ho). Socializing drains me faster than an old car battery with the lights left on (but it’s expected, why don’t you want to see friends and have fun?  Why must you be like this? Oh, sorry, when I made this choice, I didn’t look at the entire menu, or I would have gone with something else. Sure, it’s all that easy, because life is binary, black or white, innit? And it’s all within our control.) (Bah, humbug.) (I should coin that.)

Well, to me (and these dreams), I said, fuck you, too (yeah, original – I should  be a writer). I know what’s going on. Can’t quite shrug it off so much as cope and swore, whine and moan, and remind myself, this shit will also pass.

Coffee, stat.And maybe a scone, too. Comfort foods. It’s that time of life.

Sunday’s Theme Music

I was streaming this song this morning as I walked through the damp early day. Weather, like many things in life, is on a spectrum of several sliding scales. Weak sunshine was trying to warm us up but had a long way to go, and the wind was being coy about which way it’d blow.

Love and relationships are other spectrums of existence. When you meet someone who attracts you sexually or stimulates you mentally, where will it go? It’s not usually a steady movement. Sometimes it all works, and it comes together, and then…their spectrum shifts. Suddenly, you find that they’re no longer in love with you. They’re having an affair. Although they haven’t told you, they’re moving on.

And you find it out in an unplanned way that sears your heart and numbs your senses.

This song tells a story of one such slide along the spectrum, the part of the spectrum after discovering the betrayal, the part where you’re trying to find a way to go on.

Dean Lewis, “Be Alright”, 2018.

 

The Anxiety of Not Writing

TG Christmas has passed. 

I appreciate that so many enjoy and celebrate Christmas. I do, too, in my way. It’s not actually Christmas that dismays me, but those places closed for the holiday. I don’t begrudge people that, but with the closed coffee shops, I miss my writing. More critically, I get anxious about it.

My anxiety when I don’t write is that what I’ve written is crap. Panic rises like Yule log smoke. It reminds me of a friend.

He’d been a football player, a wide receiver in high school and college who tried out for the pros and didn’t cut it. As a wide receiver, he was expected to be fast and to be able to run and run and run. So that’s what he did. Every day, he ran five miles.

He continued his habit after he didn’t make it as a player. He’d become a high school assistant coach by then. He moved on from football when he was thirty, going into serious business to make serious money.

Still, he ran five miles every day. He told me that he runs every day because he’s afraid that if he stops running, he’ll lose the ability.

Yeah, that’s not me with my writing, but I understand his thinking.

I thought about writing at home on Christmas day. Alone in the office in front of my laptop, I thought, I can write now. I’ve tried it before.

Picture this.

The cats troop in to see what I’m doing because I’m typing. Typing attracts the cats. Click click, click, they hear. What’s that, a mouse? Curious to see, they crowd around me.

These cats, all male rescues, don’t get along. Within seconds, they begin complaining about the others’ presence, locations, or existence. “What’s he doing here? want that space.”

“I was here first. You better leave while you can, hairball.”

“Who are you calling hairball, hairball?”

“You both would be well-advised to get the hell out of here before I turn you into a fur coat.”

“Oh, you think you can?”

My wife will typically come in then, jumping onto her laptop to surf the net and play games, and read the news.

The news must be shared. “Did you read what happened?” “Did you read what so and so said?” “Did you see this video? I think you’ll like it.”

I can tell her that I’m writing, and she tries to respect that, but as writers know, writing often involves sitting silently, staring at nothing or studying your fingernails or looking at something else on the net while the muses get their sierra together. So she’ll then say, “Are you writing? Or can I ask you something?”

Of course, nothing can be done about the cats. I can send them outside, yes, but I’d pay for that later.

So, no, I decided not to write.

This left a void. Into that void crept my imposter fears, my insecurities, doubts, uncertainties, fears, and anxieties. It’s amazing how fast, persistent, and subtle they are, how they move in with little noise. Then, suddenly, my head is filled with their sound. They’re like a destructive, pessimistic flash mob.

All this isn’t why I began the practice of daily writing. I started writing every day to finish stories and novels. I write everyday to learn and improve my writing skills. I write everyday because the muses deliver scenes, dialogue, and concepts. Their deliveries excite me, and I want to pursue them. I want to write to understand what I think, and I enjoy writing, conceiving and imagining, story-telling and resolving, visiting these places and events that mushroom in my thoughts.

It’s all complicated, isn’t it? Better to just write than to consider it all. Hold your breath and jump in, and see how far it goes.

The coffee shop is open. I have my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Merry Christmas.

Ho, ho, ho.

 

 

All Along the Spectrum

I’m bouncing along the spectrum this week, sliding from hopeless negativity into enthusiastic, boundless optimism. 

I know there’s a sweet spot there. Just can’t seem to find that balance.

That’s not overly surprising, and I don’t knowingly let myself fixate on it. ‘Knowingly’ is key, because my mind has created traps that I fall into without realizing, following worn paths that I should avoid, except they’re so damn easy to follow. Do you write fiction or pursue goals and dreams? If so, you might understand what I mean when I refer to these dark, weary paths.

I don’t know all the nuances that trigger my spectrum slides. I have ideas and insights into that process. When I win writing battles, my spirits soar toward the positive end. Good food, a good time, and a surprising compliment can take me there, too. Struggling with writing decisions, events that seem beyond my control, and simple frustration can drag me down into sour, doleful depths.

I know those things. Unseen health issues affect me with sneak attacks. Or, are they health issues? Maybe they’re not. I note, I feel off, and ask myself, what’s going on? Is it too little sleep, something I ate, part of the aging process, the first symptoms of a disease, or intellectual activities affecting my emotional activities affecting my physical activities affecting my spiritual activities affecting my intellectual activities?

Yes, that circle exists. It’s more complex than those few arcs described. That’s the spectrum. It’s not an orderly, linear line, but a circle, perhaps even a mobius. I think of it as a spectrum on a circle. Abstract visualization is one of my strengths, so I turn to it to help me think through things.

Being aware of the circle’s existence, like the monster in the dark, is helpful. Dreams can sometimes help, but last night’s dreams about aliens and seeking understanding seemed to highlight my morass rather than illuminating a way through it. Bummer. Fortunately, finding a satisfying resolution to whatever artistic-writing-intellectual problem is challenging me helps as well.

Today, after dwelling on the dreams during my morning coffee, I did find a satisfying approach to resolving the problem (which, yes, was of a writing nature), feeding my positive energy. It came while I dawdled, putting aside my normal routine to read some fiction and goof off, rather than to go out to walk and write. After just a few pages of distracting my brain with another’s fiction, my sub-conscious announced, aha, and an idea was floated. The solution isn’t fully formed, but has enough substance that I can grasp and shape it into something more and move myself forward.

Knowing this minutiae about myself is helpful to coping with its repercussions and trying to contain it. It’s easy to let these things eat me up, starting a more self-destructive circle. I encountered those when I was younger, when I didn’t know how to sort myself, when the territory that is me was darker and more unknown. I did a lot of destruction to myself and my life in those days. Fortunately, others helped me with patience, kindness, and insights. When I think back on some of the craziness, I gulp with amazement that I’m alive, intact, and not incarcerated.

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

I Write

Having not had opportunities to write to my satisfaction for a few weeks, I thought about writing and why I write. I realize that besides fiction and thinking, there’s more to it. Being the pedantic beast I am — and trying to understand it all for myself — here it is.

I write to understand. I’ve not fully understood that until recently. I often go inside myself to think, delving into deep thinking. Deep thought is used about relationships, analysis of events, and, critically, fiction writing. It’s about the pursuit of ideas, directions and outcomes. It’s often a chase.

I can go so far into deep thought before turning to drawing, or more frequently, writing. Writing forces me to crystallize structure and organization. That exercise results in clarity.

Beyond that simplistic structure, there’s also my writing about my dreams. I dream a great deal when I sleep. The dreams intrigue me more than they aggravate me. I always wonder if I’m trying to tell myself something, or something — someone — is informing me, or warning me. I write to remember and hunt for meanings. Of course, I believe my memories of my dreams are faulty. I suspect I embellish them to fill the vacuum.

I’m also trying to understand myself, to strip away emotions and preconceptions and question my motivation and reactions, hopefully resulting in growth. My writing, too, is about recognizing how I was, what has changed, and what didn’t change. Writing is about struggling with my flaws, conceits, self-confidence and insecurities.

I write to entertain myself. When I was a child and teenager, I often drew. Besides still life settings and contour drawings, abstracts and portraits in pencils, charcoal, water colors, oils and acrylics, I designed star ships, cities, forts, cars, aircraft, whatever volunteered to take root in my mind. I had sheaves of results. Eventually, stories became associated with each drawing. I didn’t start writing any of them until years later. It never occurred to me that I could write fiction. Some will claim, I still can’t.

But I’ve envisioned settings, characters, plot and situations. I enjoy the deep thinking necessary to mine and understand these stories. I can do that in my mind’s confines, but to fully enjoy and realize them, I must write. That allows me to refine the stories and their elements, which makes them more satisfying, because now I can enjoy them as a reader.

Sometimes I write a poem because the words come to me. Those are usually inspired by another’s blog post. I write to inform others of my goofiness, too, like my catfinitions.

I write to remember. My memories remain powerful. Their veracity is likely questionable. That’s the beauty of emails and blog posts. Keep enough of them and organize them, and it’s stunning how flawed my memory can be. Still, I enjoy peering into memories’ corridors to see what the light finds. For myself, I find looking back helps me find balance and look forward.

I also write to affirm knowledge. Part of how I learn is to attempt to express what I think I’ve learned into my words. That forces that clarification of thinking I earlier mentioned.

I write to rant, whine and complain. I do a great of this, I know. I really am a whiny, petulant person. Politics aggravate me. Poor customer service infuriates me. Abuse of other people and animals anger me. Lies, falsehood and fake news sickens me. The lack of critical thinking or applied intelligence appalls me. Mindless acceptance and worship horrifies me. War and violence shock me. Greed and selfishness wearies me.

So I write to relieve myself of these feelings. Once released, I can go on. I post them; others can read them, if they’re inclined, but by writing them instead of verbally complaining, I believe I’m doing a kindness of sparing others from hearing my ranting, whining and complaining.

I write to thank others and support them. Reading of the tragedies that pockmark our global existence and history, I’m frequently reminded how fortunate I am so far as the sperm lottery goes. Others have endured horrors that I can read of and imagine, but life and the fates have always steered me around them. I try to support those who have endured and are attempting to move on. I try to help the exhausted, sick and injured, but my own tanks are not very deep. They empty fast and seem to take time to refill.

I write to find my tribe. By writing and posting, I discover others like me, and they discover me. We can usually get along with others, but they’re not driven to explore and understand themselves and existence but writing about it. Others often don’t understand that passion. So when I write and post, I’m putting up a light, “Hey, writer, here I am.”

I’m thankful to those who read and press the like button. I know I’m not alone. I’m thankful for the comments that pop up, and the shared experiences.

All in all, writing is about coping with who I am, who I think I am, how I appear to others, and who I want to be. Once again, I’m handicapped by my limited intelligence and education from expressing myself more deeply, intelligently and accurately. But again, writing is an effort to expand and stay in motion.

Most of all, tritely, writing is about my flawed existence.

Dream-Peat

I dreamed three dreams last night. There were repeats of dreams I’ve dreamed before. Like watching a movie more often, more details have developed, or are noticed and retained.

The dreams involve me to different degrees. I’m heavily involved in the first dream, less involved in the second one, and I’m almost phased out wholly by the third. The third dream is mostly about black women getting on an aircraft. The aircraft is a C-5 Galaxy. They’re happy and excited about a journey they’re about to take. I’m happy and excited for them, too, but most of my involvement is listening to them and seeing close-up shots of all those happy people going on a journey.

The first one, that so involved me, was mostly adventure. About me and a group escaping, and then exploring, the dream begins after the escape. I don’t know what we’re escaping. The group is small. We find a cold, icy place to stay until we’re rescued. Once we’re in that place, we discover there are items left behind, and that we’re in what was once a military post. Then we learn the post isn’t entirely abandoned. Little by little, we slip in and integrate, making use of things we see the military using. The military isn’t malicious or anything; they’re simply there, going about their business as it’s been on so many military bases I visited.

No family was in the dream. So it goes. I never feel threatened or frightened in the dream. I’m a little wary initially but that changes quickly as I relax and gain confidence. By the end, when I’m using the military’s stuff, part of them but not one of them, I’m a confident leader.

The second dream is a lame sequel to the first, almost like a set-up to the third. There’s abstract discussions about what happened – “We survived, we found this place, now we can help others” – and sort of a montage of things like that being done. Then, it’s on to the third dream.

I write about the dreams to understand them. Frankly, I don’t. They seem hopeful but beyond that, I can sketch any number of meanings to them. All those meetings would have strength, weakness, logic and flaws to my interpretations. I sometimes think I should devote more time to understanding them but I see that as a major investment in time. I like to guard my time and routines.

Which brings me around to my conclusion. Do my dreams need to have significance, meanings, or portends to other matters? Perhaps it’s sufficient to accept, I dreamed. My mind has cleared some clutter from my thinking. Maybe it’s like organizing the attic; “Oh, here we have some leftover stuff. Where should we put it?” “Stick it in a dream.” “Oh, okay.”

It’s odder and a little more intriguing that I have repeat dreams. Do I have some frozen synapses causing the same images, sounds, ideas and stories to circulate through my mind? Such thoughts trigger comparisons to similarities in my writing. I often address time, memory, reality, technology and alienation in my fiction writing, whether it’s the mystery series or the science-fiction novels.

This leads to insights and suspicions. Perhaps I need more outside input and stimulus. I’m in ruts of living and writing, constrained by others’ health issues, concerns and worries, and have been for some time. Perhaps my dreams are a reflection of my ‘real’ situation, and that’s why they’re repeating, and why I’m so little involved. I’m often a spectator within my own life, another rider on the train.

Not too long ago, I read an article about a woman who often fantasizes during the day. Her pattern of thought developed when she was a child but she realized she continued them as an adult, and that they were connected to regular activities. She recognized that when she does certain activities, she likewise engages in fantasies, and they’re often the same or similar fantasies.

Becoming more interested in what she was doing and why, she searched for evidence that others were doing something like this, and found she wasn’t alone in this habit.

Well, I could have told her that; I also do this.

At first, this behavior was helpful in falling asleep. I engage it and knew it as a way to shut off my brain so I could sleep and rest. Later, I extended it and began engaging to turn off my brain from other issues. I’ve always recognized it as a coping practice to de-stress, but they’re also a way to engage my subconscious mind to think, develop solutions and ideas. These fantasies are harmless, about designing survival places, trains or ships, but I can see parallels to my dreams, and to my fiction writing practices.

In a curious way, I begin to view myself as a pie. Then we can slice me up into my various activities and realms – writing, sleeping and dreaming, walking and living, interacting with others. When I begin doing that, I can see how the whole fits together in a larger pattern. I can see my limitations and frustrations, and how they manifest themselves through fiction writing, daytime activity fantasies, and yes, nocturnal dreams. I can see how other dreams were wish-fulfillment that I matter more than I do, that I have a starring role in something, somewhere, that I am not just another blink of consciousness among the trillions of blinks on Earth.

For better or worse, the dreams are part of the whole necessary to complete me. That isn’t a permanent or complete answer, nor even a deep insight. It’s just another glimpse of an entity and a life.

It just happens to be a very personal view.

 

Reset

Tsk. I’d forgotten about the reset button.

I knew I had one. Every human has a reset button but I think most of us find using our reset button is like using ice cubes as charcoal briquettes. Speaking for myself, the biggest problem with my reset button is that it’s not clearly marked and easily reached. Be wonderlicious if my reset button was labeled to my navel’s left, “Press here to reset.” I’d even deal with it if I had to reach down on my bottom and thread a straightened paper clip into a tiny hole to find and press a minuscule button. But my reset button isn’t that easy.

Yet (sigh) a reset was indicated. The computers are freezing me out. I’m like a cave man, except I’m hairier, live in a house, don’t hunt, gather food at stores and markets, wear shoes, have electronic fun stuff and the electricity for them, and I don’t drive as well as a cave man. I’m reduced to not writing or writing in notebooks. I decided not to write in notebooks, except for notes, as the muses intended.

But it’s a painful withdrawal, not to sit and back space and click across a keyboard. Scenes bloom like red algae in my head. I tell myself, “Remember this to write later.” But my brain is an express lane. Only five items are permitted. Putting in notes to remember to write later bumps out my name, address and telephone number. Once they’re gone, matters like other people’s names and where I’m going have as much chance as an ice cube on a hot grill.

Took several days to remember the reset button. I owe it to Amazon. Entertaining myself, I watched a show, “All or Nothing,” about the Arizona Cardinals and their efforts to win the NFL championship. Someone made a big boo boo on the field and another player encouraged him, “Hey, that’s done. Reset.”

Yes, reset. Drop those past frustrations, errors and irritations like soiled underwear. Forgive and forget what I would normally be doing (writing) if my computer was here and working (sob). It’ll be back in two weeks, so reset.

Yes, reset. One lesson I once learned a dozen forty times is that vacuums don’t work for us as humans except when we can apply that technology to suck shit up. So I set to mind sucking that shit up and out. The other thing is that it’s not enough to proclaim that I’m resetting, dumping negative energy and going forward with a glowing positive aura. No,the things that provide me that delicious negative energy that I feast on must not only be rejected but needs to be replaced. See, that’s where the vacuum thingy comes in. Dumping the negative stuff creates a vacuum. See? Follow? Create a vision for going forward, I tells myself, as I’ve tolds myself eleven million and eleven times to the power of eleven before. That’ll bring in positive stuff to replace that negative stuff.

So, yarp, here I go again, on another day, hitting the reset button like it’s my existence’s snooze button. Let’s do this.

But first, some coffee.

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