Saturday’s Theme Music

Today, we remember the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. While it happened around 5 PM in the SF Bay area, I was over in Japan. Stationed over in Germany just outside of Frankfurt, we were waiting for the World Series to start. That year’s series featured the Oakland A’s and its neighbors across the bay, the SF Giants. That led to nicknames like the Bay Series, the Bridge Series, etc. We were pretty excited in Germany because we were going to be able to watch it live via satellite. That sort of thing was just becoming more common for us in the military. Now, it’s pretty much taken for granted.

The film and report from that earthquake were another mind-blowing reminder of nature’s strength and human fragility. We build these things thinking they’ll be ‘forever’. Nature comes along and knocks them over with a hefty shrug. Watching on television, we saw the baseball stadium shake and said almost as one, “Holy shit.” It’s a military expression commonly used back then.

I ended up stationed in the SF Bay area, arriving in Feb, 1991. We visited Santa Cruz the next year. Its streets and businesses were still recovering from the earthquake. A drizzly day, seeing all the destruction which still remained stilled our spirits. Businesses and people were coping and regrouping.

As I remember that earthquake and those times, I remember songs, too. One of them is “Stand” by R.E.M., a catchy song with silly lyrics. “Stand in the place where you work, think about directions, wonder why you haven’t before.”

It was like, whaaat?

Three out of Five Dreams

Three out of five dreams. It sounds like one of those old commercials about dentists and gum.

Of my five remembered dreams last night, two were intriguing but don’t pester my brain as the others do. The last one was downright depressing.

In the first of the three, I’d come to have a new Aston Martin roadster. Gorgeous car, ticketing out to a quarter million dollars. Deciding to keep it, I forged documents to show myself as the owner. Then I drove it around, showing it off.

People were admiring. I basked in it. Young friends asked for rides. I obliged, turning off traction control and shredding expensive tires with smoky burnouts.

Then…I started wondering, what’s going to happen? How will this end? They company will realize that the documents are forgeries. I thought, I need to get it back to them, and began crazy plotting to do that.

I assign this dream to the imposter syndrome surfacing yet again.

The second dream, brief, was amusing and sardonic.

I was in a large warehouse sort of building. Pale green, it was well-lit. Several others were with me. As we walked around and looked around — the dream provided no excuse for this setting — someone said, “What do all those buttons and switches do?”

And I, still looking up at the ceiling, answered, “Try them and see. That’s what I always do.”

Yeah, see? I always press my own buttons.

In the third dream to be discussed, I was leaving one overseas location to go home. I don’t think I was in the military…at first.

Ah, yes: confused identity. Still fall back on identifying myself in the military as who I am.

There was a gathering first…for someone else, another, who was younger. I supported that, giving gifts. I had a collection of things I wanted to keep together. Some many things were happening in parallel, all became a hasty rush. Going to leave — because it was time — someone gave me a pile of shredded docs and torn papers.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“That stuff you wanted to keep because it was important.”

I was incredulous, of course. “It’s all destroyed.”

“But it’s all there.”

They thought was a joke.

I tried shaking it off. Champagne was there.

“Let’s have champagne to celebrate my friend.” I picked up the bottle and unwrapped the cork, then popped it off. It discharged with tired energy, barely emitting a pop and shooting off about six feet. So dismaying.

Champagne foamed out. I stoppered it with my thumb. “We need glasses.” All started searching for something to pour the champagne in. No drinking glasses could be found. We improvised with paper cups that we made.

Then I was off to leave. You ever see the show, “Burn Notice”? Bruce Campbell plays Sam Axe in it; he sometimes employs a fake identity, Chuck Finley.

Well, here was Bruce as Sam, saying he was Chuck, accompanying me to the checkpoint.

I’m in an Air Force uniform now, last in light. An old guy is checking me through. You put your name onto a clipboard and sign it, then produce your document. He was looking for a form 126. I didn’t have my form 126. I searched and searched. I had it earlier; now it was gone.

“Then you can’t go in,” he said.

Sam Axe to the inspector, “Come on, buddy, can’t you cut him a break?”

The inspector just looked at him.

Sam tried again. “You know who he is?” He indicates me. “You don’t want to piss him off.”

I pulled out my wallet, the one purchased in the Philippines long ago. I still have it, it’s lovely, but I don’t use it. In the dream, it started falling apart in my hands. “My wallet,” I said. “I bought this in the Philippines when I was young.”

The inspector graced me with a sad headshake and walked away. Sam said, “Well, I tried.” He handed me clothes and walked off.

I was in my uniform. I would change now. I removed my Air Force trousers and put on the new trousers. They were about two feet too long and way too large at the waist. They also emitted a weird black dust.

Sighing, I removed them, intending to put my uniform back on. A tour group of women arrived, talking about books, as I was changing. “One woman said, “Sir, you need to leave. You’re in our way.”

Ouch. Dream end.

I half-awoke with dreams drifting through my head. Grey morning light dully lit the room. A cat could be heard puking in the other room.

Ouch.

Friday’s Theme Music

Candlebox’s 1993 tune, “Far Away”, is with me today. I’m in a reflective mood, so the song fits. It’s all about the growing distance between friends.

The song came out in 1993. I was in the military then, stationed at Onizuka Air Base, Sunnyvale, California, right off of highway 101. I worked in a building called the Blue Cube. I’ve been thinking about all the people I worked with there. I’m friends with some on Facebook, and we keep up with one another. Others have veered far right politically, so we’ve distanced ourselves from each other. A few have died. Others have fallen off the map. None, that I know, live in the same place, i.e., Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, etc. All have left that area.

Life is poignant with change, isn’t it? Let me sip my coffee, look out the window (the smoke is back; air quality has been hazardous for the last three days), and speculate.

Cheers

A Moment of Reflection

Trump and his Pentagon are shutting down the independent military newspaper, The Stars and Stripes. One hundred sixty years old, working on a fifteen million dollar budget, it’s a bitter end to a venerable institution.

I was in the U.S. Air Force for over twenty years. Overseas, we looked to the Stars and Stripes for laughs, information, distractions, sports scores, and a touch of home. You could usually walk into an office and find a copy of the latest daily sitting on a table or desk, pick it up, and check it out. Sometimes the Jumble word puzzles were done, or the NYTimes crossword puzzle was half-finished, or the Sudoku was begun. In Europe, it was the source for finding out what events were planned, such as festivals and volksmarches. Everywhere, it told us what was happening at other theater bases, and when college registration and terms were beginning. It also carried the AFRTS television and radio schedules and highlights, and the show times for the movie theaters.

This all helped keep us connected and grounded. That was (pause to absorb shock) over thirty years ago for me. (Another pause to absorb shock.) Satellite entertainment was just becoming available, and we were watching tape-delay productions of ‘live’ shows. The Internet and web were just beginning to stretch and flex. Phones were still tethered to walls and desks by long cords.

So, yeah, as Zimmerman sang, the times they are a-changing. I usually look forward to change, hoping that we’re advancing our technology in ways to improve our lives and conditions, or defeat diseases and advance cures. I’m in favor of change that levels the field and delivers justice, equality, freedom, and opportunity for all. Perhaps the time has come for the Stars and Stripes to cease, because its purpose has been overtaken by advances. In memory, though, I’ll recall it fondly, and think of its passing with a sigh.

But then, that’s what happens with so much of our things, isn’t it? We outgrow them, and they fade away.

Friday’s Theme Music

6:30 A.M., Friday morning, September 4, 2020.

I did not want to get up. Still sifting dreams, I thought I was due to stay in bed for at least another hour. I’d been up late into the morning, sucking up my latest TV addition, “Mr Inbetween”. An Aussie show, I’m watching it on Hulu. I love his daughter, Britt. Played by Chika Yasumura, she steals whatever scene she’s in.

So it kept me up and awake, and I didn’t want to get up. But the cats, particularly Tucker (my long-hair black and white big bruiser) (he’s a blokey-bloke) and Papi, the young ginger blade, thought the day required my attention. After a bit of failed negotiations and stalling tactics, I yielded, telling them and myself, “Here we go.”

Well, here we go led to the chorus, “Here we go, rocking all over the world,” out of the 1975 John Fogerty song, “Rockin’ All Over the World”. When I thought about it, though, I began remembering Status Quo playing at Live Aid 85.

For Fogerty’s release in ’75, I was a few months out of military tech school, newly married, and stationed at Wright-Pat AFB in Ohio. Ten years later, when Status Quo played the song at Live Aid 85, I was living in a tent city outside Cairo, Egypt, playing war games. Still married, though, but my wife was staying with her family. I believe I dimly recall seeing Status Quo’s Live Aid version while I was heading home, during a fuel stop at Torrejon Air Base in Spain. We had time to kill, so we walked around the exchange to see what was new and get an AAFES burger.

So this simple song is today’s theme music, brought to you by stubborn cats and nostalgia. I decided to go with Status Quo’s Live Aid version because I like the crowd’s energy.

Hope you enjoy it. I know I used it before, if memory serves (but it doesn’t always serve, does it?), but I’m using it again. Remember to wear your mask. Cheers

Broken Memories

Having this broken arm stirred memories and prompted realizations.

  1. My broken wrist, broken neck, and this broken arm, my only three breaks, involved the summer months. I wore the halo from June through August (yeah, in the Okinawa humidity — we lived off base and didn’t have A/C) and had the wrist pins and cast July and August (central Germany).
  2. Worst thing about the halo was that I dislodged it. I’d talked everyone into letting me return to work. Yes, I was clever, charming, and quick back then, a deadly combo. Barely at work for an hour, I sat down in a chair, leaned back, and flipped over. The halo held my head immobile with four screws. I’d managed to knock my head out of them. Blood everywhere. This was about eleven at night, the mid shift. Commander, paramedics, ambulance all arrive. My CC and the paramedics enter an argument; my CC wants to ride with me. They wouldn’t let him.
  3. After that night, wife, friends, boss, doc. were all of the opinion that I should just stay home.
  4. When my halo was removed, my head felt weirdly light. (Guess I was light headed…) My wife and friends said my head would start bobbing during the first few days. They worked hard not to laugh. I never noticed it.
  5. My CC then, Col. Mike Kerr, was one of my favorite commanders, but I was fortunate to have several good ones. He’d had twenty-four staples in his skull. This all happened in the Vietnam era. He was a forward ground controller, but had additional duties on base. There’d been a mortar attack. His job was to go out, find unexploded ordinance, mark it, and call it in. The enemy knew this routine, so they put snipers in trees just outside the base. One was shooting at Kerr, so Kerr hunted him down. Hand to hand combat ensued. Kerr received his injuries.
  6. My splint is off. My arm has shrunk. Dry skin and wrinkles abound. I’m wearing a removable wrist brace. Elbow movement is very good but hand, wrist, and fingers need work. The healing continues.

I believe I posted most of this stuff before.

Hope you’re all surviving and thriving, wherever you are. Wear your damn mask, please.

Mixed Dreams

Weighing dreams on the scales. There was another flying dream, brief but intense. I wore goggles in this one. The wind tore at my face. An insect flew into my mouth.

My sputtering and spitting marked the end to the flying portion. In a dream picosecond, I’m in the military somewhere, temporary duty somewhere, finishing up. A woman, a major is present. She came in for the same conference. I talk to her about sharing a ride to the airport. Plans and agreements are made.

Time skips ahead. It’s later than I thought. I need to rush. I haven’t packed! I need to check out, too. The airport is ninety miles away. No, it’s ninety minutes away.

I need to hurry.

I’m racing, explaining to the front desk, I order a ride and tell them where to meet me. Hurrying to the room, I shower and change clothes. Shoes! Where are they? Oh, I’ve packed them. Where’s my thing, where‘s my toilet kit?

Anxiety ratchets up.

I see a car, a silvery blue sedan, like a Buick. A woman is driving. My ride, I think. I wave at her. She parks and leaves her car. I shout over, “I need more time, I’m almost ready.”

She walks over and starts following me. I’m talking to her, babbling. We’re at once outside and in the room. I finally find my toilet kit — I’ve already packed it. Damn it, where’s my head?

And the woman says, “I’m not your ride. I’m your replacement. How was your visit?”

In morning’s warm light, it all makes sense. The military was a comfortable space. Not very challenging, and straightforward. Structured, with few surprises, and a lot of positive feedback.

Now I’m out on my own, flying on my writing words but so damned dismayed. Is it smart enough, original enough, good enough?

Where is my toilet kit?

I know. Standard writer qualms. Standard human qualms.

Standard life qualms.

See ya.

Thursday’s Theme Music

Had entertaining dreams last night that energized and inspired me. As I shaved and thought about them this AM, I thought, “That’s the way I like it.”

That thought inspired my brain to start singing “That’s the Way (I Like It)” by KC & The Sunshine Band.¬†Released in 1975, the song was major background music to my young adulthood. My wife graduated from high school that year, and we married. I was in the military and experienced my first permanent duty assignment at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base¬†(WPAFB) where I worked in the AF Logistics Command in the Command Post. The next year, I was reassigned to the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Clark Air Base, in the Philippines.

This song was played everywhere in those years, and was a song that drew everyone to the dance floor. Good times.

 

A Wistful Dream

Light and airy was how to describe this dream. It was all about a friend, Kev. I’ve not seen him in over twenty years. A military friend, we were assigned together in California (Onizuka). Though he was about ten years younger and assigned to a different unit, we spent a lot of time together during off hours. Our relationship continued after I retired from the military. Then we each moved. I went north and he went east. We are FB friends.

I recognized after thinking about the dream that he’s emblematic of better times, fun times…younger times. There’s nothing in any of this. I’m twenty years older and more aware of my life changes. Fold in the pandemic situation, isolation, and the travel and activity restrictions incurred with the situation. Add a cup of writing frustration. Stir in a tablespoon of malaise because of my broken arm and self-pity. Bake.

In the dream, I found a piece of paper. Reading its contents, I realized that it could only come from Kev and went to find him, which was immediately achieved. We struck it off again as we always had. He was back from a temporary assignment somewhere and filled me in Then, growing sad, he told me childhood stories and began a tragic tale about a female friend. He never finished that story.

It reminded me of so much that’s incomplete.

Some Dream Highlights

Such a strange, long dream.

At one point, I let a little pet mouse out of the bathroom into the rain. Yellow walls and a naked yellow light, decrepit age, and a sloping dirt floor defined the bathroom. I didn’t want to let the little mouse out. I knew it was storming and night, unsafe conditions, to me. I didn’t know what the mouse knew. Letting him out with regret, I vowed to check on him.

Then, dreamshift, I was at work, a new job with a familiar feel. A new boss arrived. Others were at work at clusters of desks. I was shown a desk that was to be mine but decided to find and reclaim my previous place, which I then did. I cleaned it, finding old stuff of mine. Sorting it, I decided what to keep and toss. Then, speaking with a female co-worker, I re-oriented my desk to watch the front door. I told her that I wanted to see what was going on. She agreed that was the best way to face.

My mail was delivered. It was a lot but not as much as I expected. Off I went to find the rest. As I began, the office administrator arrived with a large bundle of mail for me.

Now, dreamshift again, I was leaving with my wife to return to our hotel. First, I went back to the yellow bathroom and pulled open the door. The little mouse hurried in from the rain with a grateful look my way.

My wife and I were walking through a large market on the way back to the hotel. Then she said, “I want to get something.” I asked her what. She replied but I couldn’t hear her. She went off, leaving me to mill around.

Friends in the military came by, heading to the marshalling area to deploy. I was happy to see them. Walking with them, I told them about changes in the area because they weren’t aware. Breaking off as they arrived at their destination, I joined up with my wife. She was still shopping. Like before, I asked her what she was after. She replied but I couldn’t hear her. She went off, leaving me with a commiserating shop owner. I decided to continue to the hotel instead of waiting.

Dream end.

 

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