Happy Valentine’s Day

So my unconscious sent me a Valentine.

Since the end of the second Before Times — the halcyon interregnum spanning the period from “everyone with a brain got vaccinated” to “here comes Omicron” — I’ve been waking up from exhausting nightmares. It didn’t happen in the first year of the pandemic; everything was shite, we were washing our groceries (note: apparently this is unhelpful and unnecessary), the shitgibbon was President, I was rehabbing a fricken surgery, but we were hanging on the news of a vaccine and people were taking it all pretty seriously and there was something to work toward.

This time it’s different. There are more cases of the virus than at any time since this crap started, but for some reason — even though a big chunk of those cases end up with blood clots and long-term cardiac symptoms and chronic fatigue and organ damage that no one wants to talk about because we have no strategy for coping — everyone’s supposed to send their kids back to school, take off their masks and party. I’ve shut down business again after six months with no clear idea when it’ll ever be safe to go back into the water, and every day is Groundhog Day. The handy-dandy Fitbit says I’m in better shape than I have been since before it all began — the hills are outside my front door, the weights are in the basement — but I wake up every morning feeling like I’ve been beaten with sticks. The handy-dandy Fitbit also says I spend something like a quarter of my night dreaming, and most of it is like a Guillermo del Toro movie.

This morning I got a little musical offering. Longtime readers will know this happens sometimes, but it’s been ages. There was, in the dream, a blond gentleman in an ornate military uniform seated by the Engineer’s side of the bed — it looked a bit like the medal-encrusted dress greys seen on Field Marshal Zhukov in The Death of Stalin

— delivering a lecture on, unsurprisingly, military history. The same lecture was appearing on three screens of a tablet set up on an adjoining table, obviously recorded in other circumstances, and I spent a few pleasant moments trying to tell whether he was lip-syncing before he announced he would be concluding, and then began to sing us a stanza of an Eastern European sounding ballad. I couldn’t understand the language, presumably it was Romanian or Czech or whatever, but I woke up with the melody. This is why I keep stave paper by the bed.

The dream only gave me the first phrase, which was repeated as music readers will see here, so after dashing that down I thought a moment and added a second line of melody, also to be repeated before a return to the opening phrase. I am sure it is a song about how the woman took the chicken to market and met a man who offered too low a price, or the innkeeper’s daughter spurned her suitor three times before accepting him. Key of A minor, in a deliberate tempo, transcribed here an octave higher than sung like any self respecting tenor line.

I caught myself dancing a grapevine to it with arms upraised, so maybe it’s a shtetl song.

I have no idea how long I’m going to be stuck in here — at any rate, until we get a more powerful vaccine like the Novavax that’s in approval process or the nanoparticle thing that the Defense Department is working on, which I’m sure will be roundly spurned by all the people who think they were injecting microchips with the last one. At least I may get occasional entertainment.

Does anyone else find their brain doing shit like this?

8 thoughts on “Happy Valentine’s Day

    • Yeah, that’s mostly it here too. This morning it was waiting in a crowded restaurant for a table and a flaming gay host greeting all the patrons with a wet kiss while I screamed at him to get off me. That’s a recurrent feature — unmasked people getting up close and grappling me so I can’t get away and breathing on me. I woke up howling “get off me” from one of them.

        • Fortunately, he says I was just making an inarticulate wailing noise. It’s every night though. Same thing last night. The house (not our actual house, you know how dreams go) was full of people who had arrived to take us OUT somewhere that I didn’t want to go and somehow, all my furniture was being moved around so that I couldn’t open drawers. And no one had on a mask.

          I can draw a direct line from this to his parents’ insistence on visiting DC this weekend. They will be dismayed to find they cannot persuade me to agree to anything but chatting outdoors at a distance — they want us to go to museums and stately homes and eat meals with them, and this is not Seville, mask mandates have been patchwork and on-off-on, the Omicron spike was the steepest in the US, I am NOT doing it. I keep saying no and they keep bringing it up as if they don’t remember what I said the last time. If they end up hating me, oh well.

          • Mine almost always involve houses that aren’t mine (but are mine) and there is usually an element of having to move house when I didn’t want to, then suddenly I am having to catch a plane or train and cannot manage to get bags packed, and (the worst!) are the ones when I am outside with the cats, trying to collect them and get them safely back into my house (that isn’t my house). FUCKING EXHAUSTING.

  1. As an odd teenager I wrote brass quintets on blank sheet music paper while in English class. They were derivative and terrible. Even yet I sometimes arrange popular tunes for barbershop quartet. But it’s all in my head. If I could remember to do this when trying to sleep I might sleep better. Math problems are a good alternative. I have a bad memory so I can derive the equation for the sum of all numbers from 1 to n many times over, because I always forget what it is and have to derive it again (it’s simple once you get there). I think I was inspired to do this by reading of a POW who did math to stay sane while in a small cell for several years. Lying in bed wanting to be asleep is akin to being a POW locked in a small cell.

    • Clearly we were much the same type of odd teenager. I have a distinct memory of sitting about two thirds of the way back in what I think was a required science class during fourth period, about the same time I read Tolkien so it would have been in eighth grade, and hurriedly penciling in extra lines on my notebook paper to write music down. This was the point where I taught myself to sight sing or compose without having reference to a keyboard to sound out the intervals I heard in my head, and I used music I’d played in the school orchestra as a mnemonic — pieces that featured prominent fourths, fifths, major and minor thirds and so on. it was so liberating to write down what I heard without making a sound.

      Math is right out of it though. I was commenting on another blog earlier this week that I am probably a textbook example of dyscalculia — I can’t reliably remember which operations I’m supposed to perform with given numbers, they all look the same to me, and literally seem to move around on the page when I’m not looking; reference dyslexic people who don’t process the symbols we use for the sounds we make. Number seem meaningless to me – they don’t represent anything warm and living and human, anything colored or textured, they’re just a big dead dry mess of pickup sticks. Different brain region, same problem. If the education shits on kids who can’t read (which I could do when I was three, to the point of being lost in a book), wait’ll you see how people with math difficulties get treated. You’re “smart,” so you could only be pretending to have trouble with numbers to give the teacher a hard time, right! Detention for you! I still can’t balance my checkbook reliably and have broken down in tears trying to do it.

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