11/6/15 Friday: An Addendum to Yesterday’s California Dreamin’

Since I got a worried mid-day call from my parents, who read yesterday’s post and wanted to make sure I hadn’t lost my mind, quit my job, and fled to California, I thought I’d point out that any post tagged “California dreaming” is somehow related to my love affair with the Golden State (California) whether literally or metaphorically, while posts tagged “dreamwork” are journal accounts of dreams I had while asleep (usually at night).

So concerned readers should know that posts so tagged (above) probably don’t mean that I have gone off the rails, quit my job, or moved to California without a job.

Ok.  Thanks!

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California Dreamin’

11/5/15, Thursday, 6:15 am

Hi & I  woke up in the living room, as per usual, at 4:09 am and headed to the bedroom.  As I needed to get up at five am, I didn’t have much time, and fell into a fitful, dreamy sleep.

By some miracle we had flown from Memphis to Oakland and managed to arrive at Chaos by 6:25 am, the last leg of the  journey executed at a frenetic pace in a bus with Love at the wheel.  We arrived to a dark common room, greeted by S. who said she’d call someone tomorrow and ask them to give me a job.  The conversation was brief and to the point, and soon  we found ourselves in D.’s room.  I was pretty panicked because I couldn’t find my phone, but Hi crawled right into bed with D.  K. was  there as well and initially started out in the bed right next to theirs, but when I fell briefly to sleep in the 3rd bed, I awoke to find him asleep beside me.

I slept fitfully, alternately worrying that I couldn’t find my phone, and panicking when I thought about how to explain to work that we were in Oakland and I wouldn’t be making my opening shift.

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Two Vignettes: Studies in Dominance & Submission

English: The Eye of Horus, done in photoshop

English: The Eye of Horus, done in Photoshop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

22 September 1998

I was thinking just now about this ring I used to have, the one with the Eye of Horus on it.  It was just a cheap metal thing, seemingly entirely forgettable, and yet it was my first ring, and I really liked it.  Curious about what it looked like?  I Googled Eye of Horus ring and found one almost just like it, except mine was sheet metal.

I lost my original ring in a parking in Arizona in 1992, when I was on a pilgrimage to see the Grateful Dead at the Sacramento Speedway.  I was with one of my best friends and his then girlfriend, who we’ll just call Bella.  My friend, Gene, could be a real  dick, but he could be sweet and was, in any case, attractive and a real cock tease, especially with his friends.  I was really hung on him, but he was one of my best friends, and we were on a buddy trip with his girlfriend to see the Dead when we happened to stop in a parking lot in Arizona.

I no longer remember why we stopped at that point, but it was such an intense trip and even though we had a destination, we had a bit of time to get there, so we were probably just tired of driving.  I remember it was nearly dusk, and we were just hanging out, talking shit, and kicking the dirt.  At some point, Gene started teasing me, which was a favorite pastime of his.  He grabbed my key ring and began throwing it up in the air, blocking my attempts to catch it, letting it hit the ground, and then snatching them away when I tried to pick them up.  If his girlfriend hadn’t been there, we would eventually have gotten to wrestling for control, and if the ground wasn’t too rough, we might even have ended up rolling around in the dust until he had me pinned.  Knowing him, Gene would rub in the fact that he had the upper hand by pinning me with his crotch or his pits in my face so I could feel how fully in control he was and smell his dominance.  I can even now remember many times in our room at college when he would pick such a “fight,” and we would wrestle for control.  We’d roll around, knock over furniture, twist the carpet into a ball, and nearly always we would come to an impasse.  Gene would pin me in a wrestling move.  I would twist out of it, he would pin me again, and many, many times, I can remember feeling how excited pinning me had made him.    Gene wasn’t bigger than me, but he had played competitive sports for most of his life, so he usually had the upper hand.  We occasionally had these wrestling matches when he had a girlfriend, but mostly I think they occurred when he was in between girlfriends and needed to work off some sexual frustration by dominating a friend.

But back to my ring and that parking lot in Arizona.  His girlfriend was there, and he couldn’t really properly torment me in public anyway, so he was taking it out on my key ring.  He threw it up, blocked me, and caught the key ring, or the key ring hit the ground while he was blocking me because he was, after all, not superman and sometimes he couldn’t control both the ring and me simultaneously.  Anyway, the second or third time the ring hit the ground, there was a little flash of metal, and when I retrieved my keys, the ring was gone.

Truly, it was just a sheet metal ring, but I can remember being really irritated.  It didn’t help that Bella said, “Well, maybe you weren’t supposed to have it, ” as if cosmic forces instead of common rudeness might have been to blame.

*

[This next bit originated when I still did a radio show on a community supported radio station, which I is something I did for about a decade between 1996 and about 2006.]

Last night I had a “grandfather moment.”  What happened was, in the last half hour to forty-five minutes of the show, I got in an increasingly discordant mood.  I finished the show with ten minutes of a fourteen minute piece featuring rusty hinges.  About six minutes before two AM, this furious older gentleman called and hissed through clenched teeth that he was a card-carrying member of the station and that he did NOT like what he was hearing through his radio.  Then he hung up on me.

I let the track go on for another three to four minutes (I am not one to let go without a fight) and then eased into “Coil” by Robert Rich off of his album, Seven Veils, a stunningly sinuous album of experimental electronica and percussion that is well worth hearing in its entirety.  As was my habit, I slowly faded out of the rusty hinge track while gradually blending in the Robert Rich track and in my best, soothing radio voice, I described “Coils” as soothing to the savage beast and ruffled listener.

Later, after I had signed off, I realized why the incident had both upset and unsettled me.  It’s not just that I don’t like upsetting people.  There was more to it than that.  I was flung back into my childhood, when my family was visiting my Cape Cod grand parents one summer.  I was still a kid but had developed a habit of locking myself in the restroom when I needed to use it.  (Don’t ask me what that was about — maybe bathroom shame, I don’t know.)  Anyway, my grandfather tried the door and found it locked.  I guess maybe he was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get out, and he’d be left to figure out how to unlock the door.  Instead of going away and leaving me to poop in peace like any normal human would, he hammered on the door with his fists until I fumbled it open, and then he stood towering over me yelling without explanation until I ran sobbing to my parents’ bedroom and hid behind my mother.

I had  forgotten about that moment right up until that old man yelled at me and I had my “grandfather” moment.  For a drawn out, discomforting instant, I was back on that pallet on the bedroom floor with my mother kneeling at my side trying to comfort me.  Sobbing, I saw over her shoulder, through the partly closed-door, the reflection of light off my grandfather’s glasses.

Talking in my sleep

Trolling through old journals when I was at home with a sinus infection yesterday, I came across this little curio.  (Apparently, sometimes in my sleep, I say interesting things.)

Talking in my sleep [again.]  Chris told me that this is what I said last night:

“I like it

when the music

goes

DOWN

LOW

and

DEEP.

If it’s a sound

I’ve never heard before….

I

like

that.”

The intriguing thing about this to me is that this is a pretty good description of the music, especially the electronic music, that I like.  I like intense, psychedelic trance and sample-intensive or  bass-heavy tracks. I have always collected media, especially books, CD’s, live concert tapes, and vinyl albums.  I have an especially large collection of what I might describe as Net Label audio and found sounds.  When Black Lodge Video first opened here in midtown Memphis, I often rented unusual fare, and when I found soundtrack dialogue, music, or atmospheric material that I thought might sound cool sampled into music, I ripped it to cassette, so I have somewhere a fair-sized collection of stuff like that too.  Even as a child, I did stuff like that.  One of my earliest audio projects as a kid involved making audio cassette recordings of  one of HBO’s first original programs.  These shows were a series of very atmospheric, half hour-long renditions of Raymond Chandler’s early 20th century detective stories, featuring the private investigator, Sam Spade.  I faithfully recorded every episode but made the mistake of leaving the tapes in my parents’ basement while I was at college.  My mother, bless her heart, threw them away in one of her anti-stuff purges.  Periodically, I have looked for that series online, with thoughts of replacing those lost tapes, though buying them would only be step one, with re-recording all of those audio tapes a major step two, and I do have other projects.  Of course, the other side of the coin here is that this occurred a long time ago.  Why do I even remember this event at all?  I made those recordings years before I came to understand the reason to buy the highest quality recording medium you can afford, so I most likely recorded those shows on cheap cassettes that would have disintegrated or melted long before now in the less than archive-quality purgatory in which most of my remaining cassettes now live.  At the same time, if I still had those cassettes, I could have used them as sample fodder on my radio show or as fill when I was still doing the DJ thing occasionally.

Nonetheless, the pattern of sampling and archiving is one I began very early in my life.

Perhaps this isn’t a surprise, given that my mother was a librarian, and my father was a teacher for almost 40 years.   My father has always been quite rigorous in his archiving tendencies.  He keeps journals (as I do) and freely admits having kept a copy of just about everything he has written as well as copious notes on anything he’s read that relates to any of his several research subjects.  From my dad, I learned to archive my work, to keep journals, and to take notes on (and in) books, magazines, articles, etc. that touch on my subjects of interest.  My mother’s influences in this area are more subtle but still there.  She is ardently (and increasingly) anti-stuff, where I have always been a collector.  The collector impulse I got from my father, but my mother’s work as a librarian has meant that I spent a significant part of my younger years in and around libraries, and because both of my parents worked for the same academically rigorous and resource-rich private school, I had early access to world-class libraries with college-level resources.  As a child, I spent any afternoons not otherwise engaged in after school activities hanging out in the library where my mother worked.  As time went on and I outgrew the kids collection, I graduated to the teacher’s reading room where the grown up fiction was kept.  From my mother, I learned the importance  of reading, for pleasure as well as for a purpose.  Spending so much time in libraries helped me see the utility of catalogs and lists to create order.  By extension, keeping clippings and notes on an array of subjects has helped me to impose a kind of order on my otherwise chaotic universe of interests.

While on the subject of the personal archives to impose order, I just read an excellent eight-part series of reflections by London-based evolutionary biologist and writer Olivia Judson on the New York Times blog .  Called “The Task,” the series was an extended meditation on the power of stuff and on our complicated relationships with objects, mementos, and emotional debris accumulated over a lifetime. Judson talks a lot about the emotional attachments she uncovered after her father died, when she and her brother had to dispose of forty-five years of her parents’ accumulated stuff.  The author details some of the conflicting emotions that came to the surface, while at the same time conveying to us what interesting folks her parents were.   Apparently, her dad worked for Time Magazine in 1960’s, and he kept everything he ever wrote, as well as file cabinets full of notes and clippings.  And books.  And stuff.  Lots of other stuff.  At the time of his death — he was the surviving parent — his house brimmed with mementos, memories, and emotional landmines for her and her brother.  I read the entire series and can say that it is well worth it and is a surprisingly quick read at that for what it is.  I was most struck by Judson’s last few paragraphs of part one, though, and found these words most germane to my thoughts on the power of stuff.  In closing, I’d like to offer this quote from Olivia Judson’s “The Task” because it encapsulates a lot of my conflicted relationship with  stuff, both having it and collecting it.:

“…To anyone who suggested that maybe he did not need all the stuff, my father would invoke the great psychologist William James, who wrote that the loss of possessions gives ‘a sense of the shrinkage of our personality, a partial conversion of ourselves to nothingness.’

“I never agreed with the idea that personality is defined by objects; I would rather say that objects are defined by personality. Yet when someone is dead, and their belongings are all that is left, dispersing those belongings feels like an erasing of their physical presence on the earth.

“Moreover, although my father didn’t mean it this way, there is a sense in which James was right. An old T-shirt waves at you and says, ‘Remember when we went to Hawaii together?’; a plastic cup reminds you of a party you went to one hot summer day. A dried corsage — where was the dance? who was the date? — reminds you of the girl you were, who thought a corsage worth saving. In other words, objects are keys to remembering what happened and who you were, and their loss can make the memories inaccessible. So — for me at least — this task also brings with it a fear that in throwing things away, I am also throwing away access to parts of my mind.”

To a certain extent, Judson speaks to my fear too.  On some level, I think my objects (and the collections of which they are a part) are like place holders for the memories and experiences they represent.  I wonder if I’m afraid that parting with my things, whether journals, or books, will erase the memories or experiences they represent.  Should I continue to buy (or collect)  books, music, etc.?  Am I afraid that without such reminders, I won’t remember the present five, ten, or even thirty years hence?  On what level do I use objects to hold space for memories I’ve made and experiences or connections I’ve had, and on what levels do the memories impart relevance unto the objects?  Does collecting these things help me to form or hold on to my memories?  Do these objects enhance connection or insulate me from it?  Which objects enhance and extend my life and which detract from it?  Does having these books, journals, magazines, and media in general offer enough value to my life that it is worth it to have them around, or do they mostly provide another excuse for why I am so rooted in my life in Memphis?  After all, I can’t load all of this stuff in a truck and go on the archetypal Great American road trip across the country, or can I?  And would I even be able to enjoy such a trip if I hauled all of my stuff with me?

All are good questions, really, but there are no easy answers here.

The best I can hope for, I think, is that wrestling with these issues will help me live in the present, write honestly, and continue to engage in my life while not simply archiving or recording it.

dreaming, fragments

dreaming, fragments:

like a rocket

only bigger,

and more beautiful,

and more pristine

than anywhere.

A level above,

at the tippy top,

of a long ladder

(beyond a trap door)

A penthouse,

roof of the world

A Glimpse [22 May 1998, Friday, 11:40 am]

Looking  at Lynn,

hunched over her register,

her body crooked into an awkward position,

though she still smiled.

I had  a flash,

call it intuition, call it what you will:

“So you are now — so you shall be again.”

This was Lynn, post-dated fifty years,

still smiling but with an ever more pronounced stoop in her shoulders.

I felt a cold chill,

as though I’d seen the surface

of my mortality.

Untitled [22 May 1998, Friday, ~9:15 am]

Thinking of you

Allowing time to pass

Writing a letter

I think of you fondly.

 

3/19/00 Notes on a California Dream:

A guy I talked to down at the radio station mentioned that small towns outside of L.A. and the immediate Bay Area are actually quite reasonable to live in.  He mentioned the Modesto, CA is a beautiful little town, though he did not mention the cost of living.  Also, he mentioned a little town called Atwater (or Atville?), which he said was about two hours north of San Francisco.  He said he had a friend who rents a decent apartment for about $400 a month.  He also said that the BART runs about 40 miles out of San Francisco, making a long commute a reasonable possibility, provided that I could find work in my area.