Saturday’s Theme Music

Today’s song, “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” came out in 1974. I consider this song part of the theme music for my eighteenth year of life. I graduated high school, turned eighteen years old, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1974. I think the song celebrates my attitude toward rock and roll; it’s just music, but —

I use the song for references, to celebrate, and to time-travel through memories as surely as Marcel Proust’s madeleines. I know it’s only rock and roll, and not significant in many universal schemes (although there’s a potential story, there, isn’t there, about how rock and roll changes things?), but I like it.

The song’s opening, too, offers exasperated questioning about the past and new expectations.

If I could stick my pen in my heart
And spill it all over the stage
Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
Would you think the boy is strange? Ain’t he strange?

h/t to AZlyrics.com

I’ve found that opening question appropriate for my life. What will it take to satisfy the bosses, lovers, friends, family, and gods? Each employs a different measuring system. The tricks are to find what works, what annoys them and causes me enough pain to avoid doing it again, and then monitor it all for changes – ’cause change is, like, you know, probable. Beyond all that shit, it’s a great song to sing to my stream as I walk or drive on my lonesome.

 

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A Doozy of A Dream

I found myself once again in the military, a fact that made me sigh when I awoke. Come on, man. How many times will I return to the military in my dreams?

In my thirties, I was attending a special camp, for elite people. My friend, LR, a colonel, was the commander. We were all wearing our standard Air Force office blues, dark blue pants with a light blue shirt.

I was happy to be there, in the dream. The facilities were a large field surrounded by woods, all of which surrounded a modern complex. I was driving the silver Audi 100 that we had when we lived in Germany. After parking it, I went into the complex.

LR greeted me with a handshake when I entered a building. We chatted a bit, and then there was an agenda briefing, which was essentially that we had guests coming, there would be a dinner, and we were all to make a good impression. Afterwards, we were released to get ready.

Going back out to the Audi to get a few things, I ran into LR. I’d parked the Audi head-in. He told me that they preferred to have the cars backed in, and asked if I could do that for him. Of course, I could.

First, I needed to use a toilet. I discovered I had mild diarrhea. Oh, boy, just what was needed. I returned to the Audi to re-park it and get more items, but forgot to move the car because I needed to use the toilet again. I ran into LR. He reminded me that I said I’d back my car into the space. I told him that I’d forgotten. Then I said, “Stupid of me.” I was irritated that I hadn’t re-parked.

LR said, “No, no, it’s just a small thing. You forgot, that’s all.”

I found a ditch set up with holes in a bench to use as a latrine. After doing my business, I went back to move the car, but I had to use the toilet again. This time, I couldn’t get to a restroom, and crapped my pants. Horrified, I decided that the only thing I could do was take my clothes off, clean myself off, and put on fresh clothes.

Taking my clothes off, I found another ditch set up as a latrine. Someone had put a plastic bag over the hole, though, not to block it, but hanging down, as if to catch it. It puzzled me. But naked, with feces smeared on part of my backside, I decided that I didn’t have time to do anything but use the hole as it was set up.

As I settled into that, the first visitors, a group of ten women, arrived. The gate they were to use was right beside the latrine I was using, but the gate was locked, and they couldn’t enter. Humiliated, I explained that I was naked and having some bowel issues, and I couldn’t unlock the gate. They were sympathetic. More women arrived. I was mortified but also couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.

By then, sixteen women had arrived. The gate still wasn’t open, so some of them sat beside me in the latrine. None of them looked at me, though. At last, the gate was opened. They left.

The dream shifted. By now, I was cleaned up and in a fresh uniform. I was still in good spirits despite what’d happened. I ran into the first group of ten women inside the facilities, where we were queuing for drinks and dinner. They asked me how I was, etc., and then, as a joke, pointed out the restrooms, in case I needed them. I had a good laugh with them about that.

The dream ended.

***

Typing this one out was beneficial. When I finished, I realized that I was worrying over nothing. I was back in the military, of course, because that’s where I’d felt most comfortable. There was order, structure, and accountability in the military. Everything seemed clear and straightforward.

Fascinating how the mind can work.

 

A Searching Dream

It’s been several months since I’ve had a military dream. Being retired military, I always think of these dreams as representative of my desires for structure, order, and accountability. The dreams usually lack these things, which might be evidence about my state of thoughts when I’m awake.

This dream found me again as an U.S. Air Force master sergeant returned to active duty. As in my final years, I was working for the commander, a brigadier general. In this case, though, nobody was expecting me. Announcing my arrival, I was given a large packet of mail that’d arrived for me in anticipation of my arrival. Other than that, nobody noticed me at all.

The command section was noisy with overcrowded activities. Threading my way through, I asked others where I was supposed to sit. Nobody could answer. As I kept looking, I came into a small room and up against a wall. (You have to love the mind’s sense of humor, right?)

Throwing the mail down in angry disgust, I complained, loud and long, about not having a place to sit and work. Then I told a senior admin person passing by to tell the commander that I was there, and needed a place to work. After walking off, I meandered a bit because I thought I was due a promotion. Where was my promotion. I saw others being promoted, but not me. That irked me. I was certain I was due a promotion, because that was one reason that I’d returned.

Next, I was off on an assignment that took me off base and into the real world. I was driving a truck and towing a trailer. Two others (strangers who were junior NCOs), were with me. We were seeking supplies.

I came to a crowded and chaotic camp full of Army soldiers. I asked a few where I was to get my supplies. They had no idea. Where could I go to find the information? No idea.

Exasperated, I drove around, up dusty trails and around compounds of tents and marshaling areas until I found where I needed to go. I was expected and the trailer was filled with quick efficiency.

Ready to leave, one of the troops accompanying me began acting strange. He seemed to become fascinated with weapons that others were using. I ordered him once to come with me. Responding in a daze, he said, “In a minute,” and walked away.

This intrigued me. I followed him. He seemed to be wandering. I asked him, “Are you looking for something?”

He nodded.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll know it when I see it.”

I told him, “We don’t have time for this. We need to go.” Yet, I wanted to indulge him in his search because it seemed so important to him.

That’s how the dream ended, with me following him through a dusty area as he searched for something that he didn’t know.

 

The TV Movie Dream

The dream felt like a made-for-TV rom-com. I was a clean-shaven young NCO in a pressed service-dress uniform and tidy haircut. Due to weather circumstances and other logistic problems, I was required to help a four-star general for an evening. The general was a notoriously finicky and critical man, but I accepted my assignment with an aw-shucks gulp.

He was at a conference. The evening didn’t go as planned but I managed to keep a step ahead, and it went well from the general’s point of view, if not to anyone else’s thinking. (Sorry, but details are lacking.) The general then wanted to leave – now. But his aide, chief-of-staff, and other personnel weren’t there. Nonetheless, he wanted to go now. So I led him out of the building.

It was late a cold and starless late night outside. It’d been snowing for several previous days but sunshine had prevailed that day. Much snow had melted, flooding streets with icy slush. It was messy and travel was limited. But no problem, I took to the general to my parents’ house. Previously in the evening, I’d come by and set up a place for the general in their sprawling split-level. After showing the general to his place, I went upstairs and told my parents about their house guests. They accepted it with a matter-of-fact shrugs and smiles.

After that, I checked in on the general. He was fine, didn’t need anything and stressed, he didn’t want anyone to disturb him. He had work to do and then was retiring for the night.

Good to go. I returned to the convention center and encountered the rest of his group, as hoped, because they needed to be told what’d happened. They demanded to know where the general was. I explained it all to them and answered their questions. Their hostility soothed, they admitted that I’d done well. One insisted that he wanted to visit the general. I told him the general said he didn’t want disturbed. I left them discussing what they were going to do and went home.

As I arrived home (my parents’ house), a car of young women pulled up. The neighbor’s daughter left the car. The car left with the young women leaning out of their windows hooting and waving at me. The daughter, a short brunette in her late teens whose father was in the military, came over and flirted with me, beginning, “I hear you kidnapped a general.”

I told her the story. We flirted and then I was temporarily called to the house because the general wanted something to drink. When I returned, the young woman’s older sister, a tall blonde, was there. She asked me, “What would you do with slush like this when you were a kid? Wouldn’t you build a dam?”

“Absolutely,” I said.

The older sister said, nodding, “You settled a debate. Good-night.”

She left us. The young women and I went for a walk along the slushy street, building slush dams, but also breaking one open.

The dream ended.

***

Somehow, from all of this, I ended up thinking that the dream was about the outcome was the only thing that mattered.

Thursday’s Theme Music

Once again, a dream contributed the theme music’s selection. The dream is too scattered to remember. It had a lot of candles, blowing trees, thunder, dark clouds, running and shouting, reminding me of some drug-induced psychedelic adventure, sort of Alice in Wonderland is blended with Bladerunner. 

The dream was difficult to remember, reminding me in my efforts of web pages that won’t correctly load, incomplete and chaotic, but done at a frenetic pace. The pace brought “Welcome to the Jungle”, G N’ R, into my stream as I examined what was remembered.

I was stationed and living in Germany when “Welcome to the Jungle” (1987) was released. We worked in an old, brick, two-storied building right by the flightline. Photographs of the building with German zeppelins docked next to it were on the building’s walls. I found one of the photographs on line and posted it here. That’s the little building, under the zeppelin’s tail.

RM Zeppelin

I worked upstairs in a vault. My small ops center served as the control point for the vault. Beyond my ops center was the crew briefing room and our intelligence section. As there were no windows and things like radios weren’t permitted in the vault, we all went into the other three upstairs offices when there was down time. Several of us came together and bought a boom box so we could play music and hear the news. Guns N’ Roses was a hard rock staple of the time, getting boomed into the upstairs hallway while we pursued our mission.

I still have the boom box.

 

J’accuse Dream

First, this has nothing to do with Zola’s letter, except the title. This is about my dream, aspirations, and doubts.

As background, I finished writing and editing a series of novels called Incomplete States. With that finished, I was moving into the next steps of what to do when you’re written a novel and want to get it published. Options are available.

My dreamscape has been quiet for several days so I didn’t think my decisions would show up in my dreams. But, boom, they came. When I awoke and thought about it, I laughed about what I’d dreamed.

The dream began with a new venture. People were expecting me and had high expectations for what I would do. I was relaxed, going about getting acclimated. As the dream progressed, I learned that I was in the military (again), involved with command and control.

Awakening, I thought, “Of course the military would be included.” I’d spent twenty years in the military. The structure helped me succeed without stretching myself. It was a comfortable existence. I often retreat to it in dreams.

Things quickly began going awry in the dream. I felt constantly behind and a little bit lost. I couldn’t find my uniform. I discovered I was already supposed to be somewhere, and I was late. Scrambling, I rushed to find my uniform, shave, dress, and get to work.

I was naked when my wife came in. “What’s this?” she pointed at my side. I couldn’t see what she referenced.

“Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” she said, and then steered to a mirror. “I think you’d better take a look.”

She pointed out several boils on my side. Horrified, I tried lancing them, and failed. The effort put me behind. Now I really had to scramble.

Awakening, I realized that I was facing my anxieties. “Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” That question seemed like I was trying to pretend to be someone else, and that I wasn’t clearly seeing myself and the situation, that I was misleading myself. And look how I’m blemished and flawed, the things I don’t see about myself, how I’m fooling myself. I took all of that about my publishing ambitions.

Finding shaving cream, I hunted down a mirror and started applying it to shave. The shaving cream was thick and brown. Crude and unfinished, I thought after awakening and reflecting on the dream, just as I worry that others will think about the series. 

Another military member in uniform stuck their head in the window. “What are you doing?” I said.

“Looking at someone using a mirror,” he said. “I’ve never seen that done before. I was wondering what it’s like.”

How absurd, I thought, but, awakening, I realized that I was questioning even the most basic aspects of myself. I remembered reading about experiments involving animals mirrors. Looking in a mirror and realizing that you’re seeing yourself is used to explore animal intelligence and self-awareness. By implying that I (as another entity in the dream) didn’t know how to use a mirror was a question about my self-awareness and intelligence.

A phone rang and I answered it. “We have an inflight emergency,” a male voice said. “We need you here to decide what to do.”

I was appalled. “But I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Then you’re not coming?”

“No.” I hung up.

I didn’t need to think much about that aspect after awakening. The message behind the words seem nakedly clear, as did the next dream segment.

A chief master sergeant that I’d worked for during my first tour called me to him. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but this isn’t working out. To be honest, I expected more of you. It didn’t work out so I’m sending you back home.”

“‘But Chief,” I protested, but he wouldn’t listen to me.

Yes, it was all there, all the doubts, uncertainty, and uncertainty, along with rejection by a person in authority who I admired.

I thought I’d mastered these things, demonstrating again how easily I can fool myself. Yes, those doubts exist. Hell, they exist with the majority of efforts that anyone does. To reach and succeed, failure, ridicule, and exposure must be risked. These doubts are always in me, no matter how many times I’ve succeeded, or how often I’ve been reassured by myself and others. That’s just part of who I am.

While it gave me a good laugh to see how earnestly my subconscious mind (and thus, me) attacked me, it hasn’t changed anything. It’s there, and I know it, but I’m stepping out.

Cheers

 

Wednesday’s Theme Music

I can’t trace the roots of why I’m streaming this song today. Didn’t have the record, or any of this group’s albums. I knew the song came out sometime in the mid to late 1970s, but had to look it up to find it.

The airways often shaped the musical landscape then, with television giving musical groups and their hits a step up via Soul Train, American Bandstand, and a few other shows like that. FM stereo was growing in popularity, with multiple stations dedicated to rock, soul, R&B, and country genres going on air. Once songs began getting air time, they would move up the charts, gain more air time. Suddenly they were in your ears.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. When I first started driving in 1974, our area had three FM stations. You’d punch the buttons and move around between them. I don’t punch buttons now, but gently tap them to move ‘tween stations, or use my thumb on a rocker button my steering wheel to advance to the next setting. I have five FM stations that I prefer in my area, but I also play satellite FM. The satellite capability offers about a zillion stations, but I listen to eight primary music stations when I’m drivin’ ’round town.

This song, “Baby Come Back” (1977) by Player, came to me by radio saturation. The song reminds me of Hall & Oates. I was stationed in the Philippines when it was released. We only had one station, the Armed Forces Network Philippines (AFN-P). It’s an okay song, doesn’t stir me in any particular direction, but it’s part of my memoryscape.

The Knives and Rain Dream

I was back in the military once again, but this wasn’t like any military experience of my life.

As a senior NCO, I was standing off to the commander’s right, facing the troops. They were at attention. One troop, Ryan, a former co-worker (but not in the military), stood in front of the rest. At the commander’s order, Ryan pulled a knife from his clothing. About the length of a machete, he threw it at a target above my head and behind me. I was shocked by his cavalier approach and thought, this won’t go well.

The knife bounced back off the target, striking Ryan on the right side of his front. He went down.

As I expected, I thought. I ran to Ryan, took a knee, and said, “Call nine one one.” I looked over at the commander. He held up one finger. I nodded, indicating that one knife had struck Ryan. As this took place, I realized that Ryan had thrown two knives. As I said, “One knife,” Ryan said, “No, two.”

I looked on his other side. Both knives had bounced back, striking and injuring him. An ambulance arrived. I left him in the professionals’ care.

The commander left. The troops parked their cars and assembled to take tests. They were at desks, but the desks were outside, yet arranged like they were in rooms.

I wasn’t testing, but overseeing the process. I discovered that one of the test-takers had parked in my parking space. I didn’t care, and was more amused by it, but the guy thought I was bothered. He went to move his car, telling the rest as he did that he was doing it because I was upset even as I tried telling them, I’m not bothered. When he moved his car, they went to another area of desks to take their tests. Shaking my head with amusement, I left.

I awoke up in my dream. I was in an apartment with my wife. I was worried about others outside, and open windows. Rain was falling, and the wind was blowing. Growing concerned about rain coming in, I went around, checking on the doors and windows, closing some of them. Waking my wife, I asked her, “What’s wrong with you? Why did you leave those windows like that?” Befuddled with sleep, she turned away.

I checked on our pets. They were all fine. Nobody had broken in. I realized that we’d been sleeping with the lights on.

The dream ended.

That Damn Dream

Had another one of those damn depressing dreams again where I was in the military. I’d been out, now I was back in.

It was just in time for a military parade and change-of-command ceremony. We were dressing in our Class A, or what is also called our service dress uniforms. I was behind, behind in knowing what to do, where to go, and when to be there. My hair was shaggy and needed to be trimmed to mil standards. I was racing to get my uniform pressed and check on my fruit salad, and worrying that my uniform was still in reg. Then I didn’t know where to go. I was running behind and people were both giving me grief and being supportive.

But they were leaving because it was time to assemble until I was alone, still scrambling. I still had to much to do, racing through a shower, getting the uniform on, and then checking the hair on my neck. You can bet, on reflection, I found it ironic that I was back in the military for a change-of-command ceremony. Changes are needed, I’m telling myself, or you’ll be exposed!

So much anxiety in that dream, a perfect exposure of the imposter syndrome.

Damn.

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