Saturday’s Theme Music

You ever been asked, “You have too much time on your hands?”

When I worked, the answer was sometimes, “Yep.” Work was so segregated and encapsulated into specific roles and tasks that if I did mine fast, which I frequently did, I’d end up waiting for others with nothing to do. Exasperating. I often spent that time by reading company or government periodicals. Whether that was the military or corporate side, that helped me broaden my outlook, which was always a benefit.

Since I quit working to write full time, I never feel like I have too much time on my hands. My response is more likely to be an incredulous spewing of coffee, beer, or wine, followed by, “Are you kidding me?”

Someone asked yesterday. I didn’t spew – that was just in there for comic effect – but I did laugh and reply, “No.” Thinking about his question later brought up the 1981 Styx song, “Too Much Time on My Hands”. It’d been released just before my wife and I arrived for a four-year military assignment at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. We quite enjoyed that assignment. Thanks to the interesting culture, wonderful friends, educational opportunities, and the ocean, we never felt like we had too much time on our hands.

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The Leather Jacket Dream

Last night’s dreams were a crowded, cluttered mess of happenings and objects. They began with a leather jacket.

Someone gave me a black leather jacket as a gift. I was taken back. The gift wasn’t expected. Its style was not the style that I prefer (yeah, aren’t I the fashion plate (snort, right!)). It wasn’t the highest quality (indeed). But it was a gift. I was drilled by parents and wife to be gracious about accepting gifts. Don’t mock or deride them, but accept with gratitude.

Smiling, I accepted the jacket and began wearing it. The fit was better than expected, and I looked good. Within a few minutes, I find myself surprised that I genuinely liked the jacket. Going back to the one who’d given it to me, I thanked them with more enthusiasm.

You know what? I never saw anything of the person giving me the jacket. If I did, it’s wiped from memory.

Shifting in the way that my dreams frequently do — without a true transition — I found me and my wife in a new place. Guess what? Yeah, I was back in the military. I amused me in my dream that I was dreaming about the military again because it’s such a recurring pattern in my dreams. I also told myself in my dream, go with it. See where it goes.

My wife and I were sharing a large apartment with two other families. None of them were in the military. We each had a bedroom with a bathroom. The place was bedlam. My uniform was wrinkled, so I needed to press it but had to find the iron and board. A hundred things were going on, with people unpacking, sorting stuff, strewing it around, and also dressing and leaving for appointments.

With my uniform pressed, I went to shower. The largest bathroom had towels, toiletries and clothing strewn everywhere. It appalled me. I thought, even if they have so little regard for others ability to use the facilities, have they no sense of order and tidiness?

I considered tidying the bathroom but returned to my bedroom and discovered a clean but small bathroom. The problem with it was that windows allowed anyone to look in and watch me from multiple places. I discussed this with my wife. She thought only one vantage allowed others to look in, so I could shift and stay hidden. I pointed out an entire set of other windows where people could see me. But, I decided, screw them. Let them look if they wanted.

I showered and shaved without issue. Then I heard noises outside. Green towel wrapped around my waist, I went out to investigate. Somehow, I became disoriented and began wandering. Then I lost my towel.

Again, amusement struck me in my dream. We’re employing that cliché? Mais qui, bien sûr. Okay.

Now, I’m naked but still wet, and outside. Fortunately, this was the young version of me, when I was slender and fit.

Buses were arriving. Uniformed airmen were piling out. I kept walking around, trying to figure out where the hell my place was.

I wasn’t embarrassed. I knew what stripes I had, and the authority and respect they command. I’d learned how to wear them, and I was metaphorically wearing them while walking naked back to my place. Go ahead, I mentally encouraged the crowds and lines of airmen that I passed. Say something. I dare you. None did.

Without fanfare, I found my way and returned to my place, entered, and began dressing, which is where the dream ended.

 

 

The Overlooked Dream

From the eagle dream, I later went into another dream. Once again, I was in the military.

There were about ten of us in a room. A mission was being planned. The rest were aircrew members. I was command and control. For some reason, I was being added to the flight. I didn’t understand my purpose. I don’t think the aircrew members knew, either.

Two aircrews were there. One was primary, and the other was a backup. The backup guys came around and gave the primary aircrew members Pabst Blue Ribbon beers in cans, one each, slipping it to them, like they were being sly. I wasn’t given on. I was completely ignored.

I sat, waiting to be included, or at least acknowledged. The unit commander came in and addressed the crews. He mentioned me in passing. I still didn’t know my role. The two crews formed up. I followed the primary crew like a hopeful puppy. The dream ended.

I awoke feeling, what the hell?

Wednesday’s Theme Music

I’m stuck in a sour war mood, which prompts recall of my military days.

This song, “Civil War” by Guns n’ Roses, came out two years before I retired from the U.S. Air Force. I retired because the military personnel powers-that-be wanted to move me to a new duty station. I was first offered a position with Air Force Space Command’s Inspector General team. A prestigious position, it would mean a lot of traveling, but it would take me to places that I’ve always wanted to see. Although I was keen, my wife was weary of me being away all the time.* So they instead wanted to send me to manage a missile site command post in the northern boonies. No, thanks.

It’s curious. We stood ready for war, but we didn’t want war, right? That’s what we told ourselves. But we spend all of our time and money preparing for war. That leaves us little prepared for anything else. This trend has gotten way out of hand since I retired in 1995. More and more resources are turned toward preparing for war and fighting war; less goes to social nets, education, infrastructure, etc. And we’re constantly being told that preparing to fight and going to war is what must be done to keep us safe, but as we do so, we’re fighting to save a collapsing nation.

Guns n’ Roses’ lyrics sums it up better than I do.

Look at your young men fighting
Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying
The way they’ve always done before

Look at the hate we’re breeding
Look at the fear we’re feeding
Look at the lives we’re leading
The way we’ve always done before

h/t AZLyrics.com

 

* Ironic side note: I retired from the Air Force, and became a customer service/sales operations manager for a medical device startup. Two years later, the company offered me an associate marketing product manager position, and I ended up on the road visiting hospitals, doctors, and trade shows…

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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