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?


This was a weird one. A little while back I resumed using a thing called Sleep Wizard which is a speedball of nutriceuticals that accelerates your progress into deep stage sleep. I’d used it for years, then tried some other things that kinda sorta did the trick but seemed to leave me with an unrelieved calendar of anxiety/futility dreams, the kind where you’re trying to dial a phone but it doesn’t work, or you can’t find a restroom anywhere that isn’t too disgusting to even exist. Fortuitously, the company that sells the Sleep Wizard got its operation smoothed out, one of the reasons I’d looked elsewhere. It’s been about a month. I have interesting dreams.  Some of them are almost good.

Last night, I was at some sort of public performance or event, a fairly informal one that seemed to be taking place in a big open room or sheltered outdoor venue, with no seats, just people on the floor. Maybe blankets. Not sure. I am not even sure what music was being performed, but at a pause, famous people in attendance were to be brought forward.

The emcee produced a slender, ethereal woman, clearly old but not hag-like — in fact her features were hard to distinguish, her hair and eyes seemed dark — wrapped in a sort of sari or swaddling so closely you could not really discern arms and legs, and introduced her as Nadia Boulanger. For those who aren’t classical buffs, Boulanger was one of the Grey Eminences of twentieth-century music, composing little in her later life but teaching and directing copiously, mentoring most of the “modern” composers you possibly have heard of: Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Virgil Thomson, to name a few. When I was young and trying to channel all my mental energy (including melodies that hit me at all hours of the day and night) I asked my father, the hornplayer, if women had ever been composers — you wouldn’t know it from the playlists of the time. He brought up Nadia Boulanger. As far as I know, that’s the only conversation I ever had about her.

But in the dream I was stunned to discover that she was, though aged, still alive (she actually died in 1979), and appearing in public for unclear reasons, other than that it was a musical occasion, at least in part. And suddenly I stood up from my place on the blanket at stepped forward and sank to one knee in front of her, welling over with reverence and joy.

I have no idea what this means. Should I start practicing the piano again? The guitar? Terrifying the cats with my singing? Or found a religion?

Not Little Nemo

For those who don’t get the reference, “Little Nemo In Slumberland” was a classic comic strip involving a child protagonist who had a series of weird but fairly sentimental dream adventures.

Then there’s this. Props to the Engineer, a webcomics geek, for cuing it up after the 1300th time I woke up in the morning and told him about my weird dream.


I have been getting early morning stress dreams more and more recently. I wake up taut as a guy wire and feeling as if I’m trying to break out of six restraints at once. Today, I dreamed I was interned in some sort of residential school/prison and that a few people had organized a plan in which I and another inmate, a lanky light skinned young black man, would escape. We had to have our “go bags” ready but avoid risk of their being detected in a locker check — there was some sort of kerfuffle about the combination locks — and the escape was timed for midnight on a specific night, something to do with the security schedule. I got my clothing and supplies all stuffed into a small rucksack. The time hit and we moved, aided by someone who was something like the facility nurse. I was focused on connecting, on the outside, with former FBI director and current hot-headline memoirist James Comey, whom I have apparently internalized as the personification of straight-arrow authority ready to help people in flight from evil state oppression. (He’s a bit of a diva, and I will never figure out what the hell he was thinking with the Clinton matter, but probably that characterization’s not far off.)

I just wish I could draw like Lackadaisy.

Bath Bombs

I dreamed I was giving a massage to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There was nothing salacious about this. Bodywork is my skill, my calling, my career. I fix stressed, injured people. Probably it was easy for my dreaming mind to imagine that Mr. Mueller could use some destressing. The odd thing was that I was using the dining room table that lived in the house(s) I grew up in, one that was made for the family by a Maine artisan related to a family friend, out of solid oak, not a nail or screw in it, all wooden pegged with a longitudinal strut that I used to sneakily rest my feet on. No clothing was off. I kept getting interrupted between this extremity and that, so that when people started arriving expecting to be served some sort of repast on that table I hadn’t done Mr. Mueller’s feet yet. I held out. Feet are important.

One of the chattering, irritating, girly arrivals had come with a supply of “Bath Bombs,” I’ve read of the things, blobs of bath salts or bubble stuff with usually obnoxious aromas. These, though differently colored and composed, were all pecan-scented.

My Southern relatives, whom I repudiate to the extent that I would carve their DNA out of myself with a blunt knife if it were possible and survivable, owned many pecan orchards. They would probably vote for Roy “Lolitaphile” Moore if they were still living. Don’t know about subsequent generations. I cut them off.

There’s just something wrong about dreaming politics. I’m glad the next segment of the dream involved an old client of mine coming into possession of a hot pink convertible.



The Moon And (some kind of) Pence

Another dream, but I’m sleeping a lot. It has become my main way of coping.

Maybe it was the night of the new moon, or something, but just before first light I found myself in the audience of the new musical that was apparently Lin-Manuel Miranda’s next effort after “Hamilton.”

The house was packed because it was, well, the guy who brought you “Hamilton,” and because the subject of the new show was actually the new administration itself. I can’t remember a damn thing about Act I, because the dream started during the interval, when we were all trying to get in and out of the ladies’ room, and the show resumed before I could get to the head of the line, but as a courtesy the theater was piping the sound into the loos. The opening scene involved Vice President Pence going into the Oval Office for a chat with President Cheeto, only the Cheeto was chasing some female staffer, and presently Pence appeared to say oh well, what the hell, and put the blocks on another woman likewise — a smooth, Don Giovanni-like effort given that we were supposed to understand it was his first shot at depravity . Set to excellent music, which I can’t remember. And I could only listen to it while finally reaching the solace of an open stall.

Highly subjunctive, as they say. But it’s the first good laugh I’ve gotten out of this.

Dream Nadir

When he was living in his accursed group house, the Engineer suffered the presence of his house-mate’s beau, a local Republican talk-show host who came over to watch their cable TV (he was too cheap to pay for it at his own place), nosh the Engineer’s baking, and basically sit on the sofa and scratch his balls. I cherish the memory of the chump only because of the spit-take he did when the Engineer executed his hail-Mary pass ten and more years ago, during a homeowner upgrade. For reasons too bizarre to go into, I had asked him for any spare lumber that was left over.

“Oh, Sled? I have wood for you. …I mean, if you would like a stud.”

We had to pound the poor motherfucker on the back to sort out the coffee he inhaled.

The other night I dreamed we were attending the premiere of a movie that was being made about the sorry chump’s life, really more like the first rushes. People were coming from all over to sit in an amphitheater kind of place, with popcorn.

And then Ted Cruz bustled out of the kitchen in a red and white gingham apron, with a pot roast that he had more or less assassinated, unfit for consumption by any but the desperate and by a vegetarian, well, it goes without saying.

And the primaries are only starting. It’s going to be a long, long fucking year.

The Tip Of My Tongue

I dreamed that, while seeing two clients in succession out the door, I felt moved to recite to each of them one of the metrical English translations* of the Catullus verse that starts Ameana puella defututa. The version I was declaiming goes

Ameana, big-nosed twat,
Duns me for an awful lot…

But I kept blanking out on the third line. I could recall the concluding couplets but could not for the life of me remember what came in the middle, even though I thought it was very important for each of these people to hear the poem.

I hate it when that happens.

*I like the conclusion of the version I remembered better than the one I linked here.
Find out what the hell has shocked her,
Call her relatives, her doctor,
Give the kid a looking-glass
To show her face looks like her ass.

The Electrician, Day 50: Or, Delirium

Christian, the ADD electrician, said he was finished, except for finishing (that is, stuff that can only be done once the carpentry has been restored), somewhere between Sunday and Wednesday. (I thought he had to come back about something, but my contractor said no.) Meaning that the county’s electrical code inspector can come and look at what he did, and if it’s okay then the carpenters can put my baseboards back and graft the gaps in the construction board closed, and this long nightmare will be over. I gather inspection is scheduled for Monday.

I had a dream that the inspector appeared at the door at seven-thirty AM, and he was a queer-looking individual with a tiny head and narrow sloping shoulders and a big pear-shaped ass in Spandex bicycle togs, riding a bicycle in fact, and presenting a business card with an effigy of his pear-shaped self in a few strokes of artistic ink, indited with text about his zeal for bicycling. And that the Great God Pan, my contractor, came pelting to meet him at that ungodly hour, unshaven and neglecting to attire himself normally but dressed in pajamas with a sort of Hawaiian shirt pattern, a bluish background featuring large red hibiscus blossoms.

Does anyone have some Valium?

Oneiromancy and Proctology

Standing at the kitchen counter, I suddenly recalled only one fleeting fragment of last night’s dream: a high school girl, very Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer, dodging into the restroom while everyone else was in class to apply hemorrhoid cream.

Can anyone parse this for me?

Rat Tales

I spent most of the day out of sorts, on account of the artificial rat.

It seems to be the season for disturbing and vivid dreams. Perhaps the Spring and its attendant barometric chaos. What it was, was I dreamed that I was somehow involved in a matter of corporate skulduggery, in that I knew that an artist/inventor, who owned a patent on a lifelike, artificial rat, capable of a convincing and quite terrifying snarl, was on the hit list of corporate profiteers who schemed to bump him off so that they could keep all the proceeds from the sale of the rat(s) to themselves. His name was Nick something-Italian-in-M, and he was basically dead meat from the get-go; all I could do was all I could do, trying to warn him before it was too late, while feigning to believe the arguments of some libertarian theorist explaining that anything done in pursuit of profits is A-OK in the sight of God.

The rat was a pretty impressive, fearsome effigy. I still have a vivid sense of its teeth-baring rictus, held as it was in the grasping lunch-hooks of some balding CEO in a three piece suit.

I awoke feeling as if a couple of filing cabinets or a small commuter vehicle were pressing me into the mattress, and the feeling persisted throughout the day. I can’t explain this. I’ll cheerfully entertain any speculations.