Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dreams of Math and Abs

Sunday night/Monday morning's dreams were of the wandering variety.  I'm pretty sure a forest was involved.   At one point I was looking at a large holographic map of the Eugene area and was surprised that the distance between my house and where I work was the same as from where I work to Mount Pisgah.

The only thing I remember clearly was that a writer friend of mine commented favorably upon my abs (ha! wish fulfillment there, since, when I'm feeling generous, I'd say I have a two-pack; I"m not sure why I dreamed she said that).   The other thing I remember was that there were four of us and we were trying to divide three sausages evenly between us, and said if we cut each link into fourths, that would work because three and four were factors of twelve (yes, it was a math discussion about least common denominators).  

The Family returns from their long travels tonight.  I wish I had gotten more done, but that seems to be the way of projects.  It will be nice to have some enforced routines.  It will be nice to not have the house feel empty (although I have a feeling I'll miss the quiet a little).  It will be nice to not sleep alone.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Theatre Class Bells

The dream started out in a library or possibly a theatre building.  There were hardware floors and maybe daylight.

The classroom was set up almost like a pit or sunken living room.  Another instructor in a class before ours was teaching a song and dance to a group of undergraduates, and I was watching and singing and dancing along.

"I think John is the best dancer," our instructor said.  She was a 35ish year old woman, probably Kathleen Worley, my theatre instructor from Reed (although in the dream I didn't know it was Kathleen).

"Oh, I was just... thanks," I said.

She was teaching a class on presentation, or maybe improv theatre.

Our class started and I took a seat on a kind of Ikea box shelf that was perched on a kitchen counter.  A young woman ostentatiously hopped off of the counter next to me and went to the sink.  This annoyed the instructor, who said, "Una! You don't need to drink a whole pot of hot water."  There was a small exchange and the class continued.

At some point the class turned into a performance.  I was playing intermission music, I think on my harp, but I'm not sure.

The class room turned into a kind of library lobby or reading room with an open floor space and lots of reading tables and shelves around the periphery.  It became night, and the windows became dark and the interior lights came on.

After waiting for something, I don't remember what, the instructor and another female student and I took a night bus from the class to a small house in town.  The instructor wanted us to meet someone, and we went downstairs to the house's basement.

The basement was around 900 square feet, unfinished, with a damp concrete floor and exposed wooden studs in the wall, and was the home to about five or so homeless-looking men and all of their stuff.  The room was crowded with shelves, and dark, the only light coming from flickering candles set everywhere, and which gave the room a ruddy cast.  Various conversations were going on at once and there was no real sense of privacy.

The guy our instructor wanted us to meet was tall and lanky, weathered and in his forties, with a black knit cap on his head.  He might have been wearing a trench-coat, or maybe long robes.  I want to say he had a scruffy, salt-and-pepper five-day beard.  He was talking to us about something.  I don't remember why, but he said, "I want you to have these," and held up two small, almost thimble-sized, bells.  I think they were bronze.  They were small, and kind of square, and they remind me of the small cow or goat bells my grandmother used to have hanging off of her entry hall mirror.  He put them into the pocket of my jacket.

"What do you think of my pottery?" he asked.  "Is there any that you particularly like?"

I had a sense that if I pointed to something, it would become an awkward gift.  I swept one hand through the air to indicate the shelves of it.  A lot of it was vaguely art-deco, pale white or yellow vases, with thin-walled cylinders topping spherical bases.  "I think it's all very nice."

He nodded and may have said thank you.  Then he beckoned for me to follow him as he went searching through the shelves.  He found a teapot, I think; it was an ugly lumpy thing with a dark brick glaze.  "Watch," he said, and then dashed it to the ground; white porcelain skittered across the floor.   He knelt on the floor and started picking through the pieces; I think this was supposed to be some sort of Zen lesson.

And the dream moved on...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

When the Voices Win

Yesterday afternoon was a bad writing day.  I managed to get about 400 words in, but it was like pulling teeth.  Actually, it was like looking in the mirror and trying to decide what to do about the teeth and which way should I pull them.  I'm not sure why I'm resisting the story I would like to write. . . mostly I'd start to write something or think about the structure of the story and the inner critic would start chanting about how it wasn't good enough and the usual writer anxiety stuff.

Eventually, I did what I should have started doing much sooner, which was switch to editing the pile of almost-but-not-quite-edited post-critique manuscripts.  It helped to find a note about one manuscript from an editor which read, "This is a perfectly fine story, but not what I'm looking for for this anthology, and I wish you the best selling it elsewhere."

On the gym front, this stupid cough is still lingering.  I keep thinking I'm getting better, but it keeps on staying with me.  So I haven't been to the gym in over two weeks, and I think it's beginning to show.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writing and Dreams


Saturday, or at least Saturday morning, was going to be a writing time, but I kept going to the shiny.  And I needed to straighten out the house because I had a (very) small gathering for the Spring Equinox.

Sunday was going to be a writing time... and it was a writing flail time (see previous post), with me slowly typing disjointed sentences.

Monday's writing started out on a good foot, and then Life Intervened and I had to deal with other things.

Tuesday morning I managed to get in about 750 words of very rough draft.  I know how the story ends, getting to the interesting part leading to that end is proving difficult.  It was very helpful to do a parallel play session over the Internet because it got me started at 8 AM.  The best moments happened when I was able to turn off my inner editor and simply write; having a "no backspace key" rule is good in this way.   Right now the story is very internal to the protagonist's head and she needs to be more active.  The problem is a character story, and I need to add some external action that appropriately mirrors the protagonist's inner dissatisfaction.

I got a critique back and it's clear I need to examine my more obscure word choices and do some replacing.  In my more cynical moments, I sometimes feel like I should simply replace every fifth word with "awesome."  On the plus side, the villain of the piece felt three-dimensional.


Wednesday morning I dreamed I was on a train in England.  I think this started out as a labyrinth dream, with me walking through neighborhoods, or possibly a train depot, but the dream took on a kind of mystery/puzzle turn.  Mark might have been in the dream to begin with, or he might have been on the train that was coming in.  Besides myself, there was an English "Sarah Jane Smith" character, who, in more English Domestic Sit-com moments of the dream, may have been my wife.

We lived in a train station.  Or else we lived in a train car.  The train station was also a kind of shopping mall and amusement park.  The interior was like a British sit-com flat designed by Escher: lots of overstuffed furniture, wood panelling, a compact floor design, and stairs going off at unexpected angles.  It was also a train car or station.

Previously, someone had died (I don't recall the circumstances, but I think it was an accident).  Somehow the trains were going back and forth through time, so when the train was in station A, it was time A, and when it was at station B, it was time B, but it could go back to time A.  (It's also entirely possible I dreamed different versions of the same dream story and they've been smooshed together in dream recall.)  This gave us a kind of limited time reset, and Sarah Jane and I were trying to come up with a intervention that would save whoever died.  We had to do this before a certain train came in.  Unfortunately, I moved a newspaper (or something) and while this saved the person, Sarah Jane and I wound up as ghosts.

We then spent the rest of the dream trying to influence another woman to do something to bring us back to life.  I think we could move small objects, like keys, or flip pages of books, but that was the extent of our ghostly powers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Stupid Monkeys

This was what it was like to write Sunday:  ideas like flying monkeys appeared against the spun cotton clouds and dropped their poop all over the thatched cottage roofs of the town.  It spattered down in the market square fountain, it soiled the parapets and towers of the Lady's castle on the hill above.  The monkeys had lascivious congress with the stone gargoyles and angels adorning the cathedral, and then with chattering and howling and a great beating of their wings, they were gone, leaving bewildered townsfolk silently agape at the mess and wondering what it all meant and how to go on with their lives until the next flock of monkeys might come and make a mess of things.

Stupid monkeys.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Let the Writing Begin...

I'm about to start a few days of writing.  The family is on a trip, and I have the house (and the cat) to my self.  I want to write a new story to submit to the Sword and Sorceress anthology, and I have many old manuscripts which need tweaking and sending out.  I've got the Jean Micheal Jarre music cued up, and I'll have to see how far I can get on forty-year-old French synthesizer music.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dream: The Magus

Many strange dreams Tuesday night; I'm blaming the garlic artichoke dip.

I had what I would imagine was a Ritual Magic dream.   There was a someone I'm going to melodramatically call a Magus, who I'd say was a little older than I am, balding a little, with mostly dark, short hair.  I think he had a mustache as well.  He was the leader of a small group of people, men and women.  I've got the feeling they were wearing early ABBA outfits, all flowy and purples and blues.  Now that I think about it, the whole dream had a late sixties-early-seventies artsy British feel to it.

There was a ton of vivid visual imagery that was clearer to me at 4 AM Wednesday morning than it is now.  The first scene I was traveling from England to the United States via a large stream or small river.  Although I was floating down a steam, I was simultaneously crossing the Atlantic.  The scene became darker and darker, and the water way sunk under ground until it was completely enclosed in a conduit.  At one point I was freaking out a little, because I was in a dark current which was drawing me deeper into subterranean depths and the stony conduit was coming closer to my head and becoming more constricting.  I somehow changed the narrative, and was floating, disembodied, and looking at an old Greek vase, black glaze showing the Atlantic Ocean, red glaze showing Europe and America, and a little red dotted line showing my progress between the two continents.

I was supposed to meet the Magus and his group on the other side, but I'd wound up at some sort of kink convention or merchandise show.  Insert (whoops, wrong, imagine) gleaming rows of naughty, stainless steel machines here... I'm reminded a little of the North Side McMinnemon's in Eugene because of the wide open floor plan, but the decor was more Scandinavian Design.  The place was airy and light, with a hardwood floor, and very simple lines.

The place was mostly empty, but was slowly filling up with mostly naked people (think "The Garden of Earthly Delights").  I think I was dressed, but for whatever reason, people kept thinking I was there as a sex slave.  I kept saying, "No, um, I'm here to meet [The Magus]."   Eventually, somebody tried to put a collar on me (or something) and my aura popped out like a bright blue force field.

"Oh," someone said as lightning bolts played about the outside of my aura, "He really is with [The Magus]. You want to go over here." (It was like, "Oh, well; this is the kink convention.  You want the magic convention next door...")  I was pointed to a darkly stained hardwood door.

I went to the door and eased it open.  There was a medium-large, dark dog on the other side.  I have a strong sense the dog was Cerberus.  There weren't three heads (I think), and the dog didn't breathe fire or anything.  I closed the door a little and slowly made friends with the dog.  "Hello," I said.  The dog growled, but I kept talking to it as if it were friendly and eventually it let me open the door and come in.

There's a confused part here, but I was either travelling with the dog or else I was carrying it.  I want to say that I was carrying it.  I was sliding down a stair banister, or else I was walking along a narrow incline; in which case the dog may have been behind me.  I had to stop moving forward because there was a three foot high stone horse head, like a statue of a chess horse in the way.  It was looking to my right, but as I bumped up against it, it started to rotate slowly, grinding stone against stone, so that it was looking at me.

I'm not sure how I got out of the knot of me, the dog and the horse, but the next thing I remember, I was in a outdoor garden compound.  I want to say it was night, because everything was dark and blue, and my sense was that the moon was out.  Tall foliage, like bamboo, stood against stucco or cob walls.  The garden was a square layout, with short walls at ninety-degree angles at the corners, and wide paths at three or so levels.  There were low bungalows irregularly placed along the garden's parameter.

I found a kind of rotating metal stage or merry-go-round.  I want to say it was fifteen feet across, with three different levels gently spinning different directions; it was kind of like a bulls-eye with spinning rings and center.   The metal was painted different shades of dark blue, cobalt, and indigo; it was corrugated like the merry-go-rounds I played on in the seventies.

I got on the outer ring.  The Magus was singing in one of the bungalows, a sort of night time slow song, not quite a lullaby, but more of a the-night-creatures-are-stirring song (no, not quite "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", more active in a quiet way).   As I slowly spun along on the outside ring, I came upon a Black man who I somehow knew was the gardener, and who was standing still, holding a garden hose with water streaming out of it next to the ring.  I reached out my hands as I glided by and washed them under the stream.

I made my way to the center of the spinning platform and lay down.  The stars gently wheeled above and I fell asleep listening to the song in the garden.

There were other dreams, but it's been too long between the dreaming and the remembering for me to fix anything down.

Looking at this dream, it's got the typical travelling to an Otherworld via a water crossing, typical threshold guardians (dog), and the usual fairy horse (although this is the first time the horse has been a stone chess piece instead of a giant white horse).   The rotating stage sounds like the song of the Primium Mobile, or Vision of the Machinery of the Universe.  I'm not sure what the kink convention was about, although I had recently studied "The Garden of Earthly Delights."

I'm not sure what to think of this particular dream, although it looks like my symbolic self was working over-time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gay Elements

One of the pre-bedtime things I like to do is go onto Pinterest and do a keyword search for "gay" plus some other keyword.  Sometimes I'll search for gay Wicca (hot male witches).  Sometimes I'll search for gay Beltane.  Last year there were no pins for "gay" and "Beltane," but I just double-checked and I'd say the Boolean logic for the results has changed:  if Pinterest can't find pins that are both "gay" AND "Beltane" it will default to "gay" OR "Beltane."   Interspersed between Goddess quotes and (presumably straight) Maypole dances and hand-fastings are shirtless studs posing against trees with leaves, flowers and antlers.

This isn't what I'm looking for.

The other night I did an elemental search.  "Gay" and "Earth" didn't really turn up a unified set of pictures, although there was a run on John Barrowman, the actor who plays Captain Jack Harkness.  "Gay" and "Air" wasn't too much better; there were a few hot male angels, but what came up the most was the Enola Gay.  "Gay" and "Water" resulted in screen after screen of merguys; I should have known.  "Gay" and "Fire" came in second place for most homogeneous search:  hot firemen (rescue me!).

I'm not exactly looking for hot, bare-chested guys in merman tails or half-clad firemen (although they are easy on the eyes).  That's the fantasy.  I'm not even looking for two guys kissing or some stud with his hand suggestively hovering over his groin.  Apparently this (oh, and anime) is what the collective conscious of Pinterest thinks is gay.

What this has taught me is that Pinterest isn't the best place to look for a statement on gay male identity.

Dreams of Sex and Gods

Strange Dreams over the weekend.  The oddest was the strangest and the most risqué [and explicit, more tender readers may wish to skip it...].

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Traumatized Cat

The other day I was reading in our living room when I heard a jingle-jingle-jingle right outside our window.  It was odd enough that I leapt up in time in order to see a small black lab, its tags jingling as it chased Smokey, our cat, off of our front porch, across the street, and about twenty feet up a tree in our neighbor's front yard.  

Judging by how easy he was to catch, the dog was friendly, and I think he just wanted to play.  Smokey, however, puffed up to about twice his normal size and yowling from a fork of narrow branches, seemed convinced that he had narrowly escaped being devoured.  I held the dog's collar and our neighbor, B, called the owner.  The dog had escaped a little earlier and the owner drove up in his truck after a few minutes.  

Then we waited for Smokey to climb down the tree.  He wasn't budging.  B shook the treats they sometimes give Smokey.  Nothing.  The Child ran home and came back with a can of cat food, which he opened and rang Smokey's dinner bell  (we ring a little bell every time we feed Smokey and its Pavlovian effect usually brings him in from the night).  Nothing.  Smokey scanned the streets as if to look for slavering packs of dogs.  B's wife, J came out and called to Smokey to encourage him down.  Mark even set up a chair on the sidewalk under the tree.  After about five minutes and several tricky fork negotiations, Smokey jumped out of the tree.  And headed east, down the street. 

He was out of there.  We had looked up from the ground under the tree and laughed at him.  And there were dogs who ran up onto your porch and chased you.  He wasn't going to put up with that sort of things, and I'm pretty sure he was going to Australia.   I eventually retrieved - well, OK, dragged - him from underneath another neighbor's jacked-up four-wheeler tuck and took him home. 

The next day we found him uncharacteristically hiding in our closet, in the dirty laundry basket.  He also hasn't gone out the front, electing instead to lurk in the garage or on top of chair pads on the washer and dryer.  Luckily, we do have a fenced in back-yard, and he's forayed out there a few times. 

I supposed it would be another week or three before he finally decided to venture out front again, but four days after The Chasing, he has allowed himself to creep out the front door and see if our neighbor has any snacks.  

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Sickness and Writing

 Not much on the writing or working-out front.  I've managed to catch the coughy-achey-fevery thing that's going around, so I've spent a lot of time asleep or at least reclining under blankets.  I have to say that I hate fevers now that I'm of a certain age because they always come with shaking and chills.

Last Saturday, before I got sick, I did attend a writing workshop.  It was fairly interesting in that the speakers would present for about 10 minutes and then we'd have 50 minutes to practice whatever technique they'd introduce.  I'd say the trickiest technique is writing from memory -- if I were writing a memoir it'd be fine -- because I think there's a tendency to go to The Issues and then Writing Becomes Therapy.  This isn't to say that Writing Therapy might not bee a bad thing, but if one is trying to write fiction, it can become detracting.  I spoke with E.S. after this concept, and she said that she had to make a conscious effort to recall happy things so that she wasn't continually rehashing Issues.  I spoke with N.F. and she pointed out that Writing Therapy is a good thing for the self, and that not everything written has to be for publication.

The other interesting session was a session on compound sentences.  It was refreshing to hear a presenter giving permission to write convoluted prose with lots of commas.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Labyrinth, Dreams, and Memories

Sometimes I dream I'm walking through a large mansion.  Other times, I'll be trying to get to an airport, and I half to walk through suburban neighborhoods where all the streets are thwarting me by dead-ending or running in long perpendicular swaths across my path.

Another labyrinth dream Saturday morning.

I was at my grandmother's old farmhouse, or a house like it near the coast.  The house had been built around 1900 out of wood.  The interior was dark, with darkly stained wood and dark fraying fabric.  The house was falling apart; the lower two floors were mostly intact, but the upper forth floor was falling apart.  I walked up some rickety stairs and up to the third floor and realized the house was a house in a house.  The landing was rotting away, and the floor had the feeling of having once been a roof, but above me was the shell of an outer house.  

I don't remember much about what happened in the dream.  My mother's family was there, and there was some labyrinthine moments going from room to room.  A family ritual of some sort was happening; I think family members who had died long ago were being disinterred and cremated and their ashes were being taken in a silver urn to a special place.  

Over all of this was a sense of an impending tsunami.  

Coincidentally, at a writing conference today, one of the workshop exercises was to remember a childhood incident and work with it.  What came to the forefront was a memory about visiting the old farmstead, getting lost in the woods surrounding it, and sub-sequentially striking onto an old gravel road and hoping that it would lead me back to the farm (it didn't exactly, but I did get back).  

While it was interesting to make the connection between labyrinthine dreams and getting lost at the farmstead, the issues surrounding the memory made it difficult to write and made me think about writing characters and writers writing therapy.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Musing on Editing

Working Out:  Went late Thursday.  200 cal in 20 minutes on the elliptical.  100 cal in 10 minutes on the rowing machine.  I really like the rowing machine.  3x12x50lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80 on the lat pulldown.  3x12x35lbs on the barbells, and then I had to run away.

Writing:  I've been reviewing a 8000 word piece.  One critique group really liked the piece and didn't have much to say about it other than how great it was; the other (more rigorous) critique group liked parts of it, and stomped hard on parts they didn't like.  I'm similarly of two minds, and find myself second-guessing what I've got.  There are certainly some mechanical issues with the manuscript that the favorable group didn't flag.  There are objections to style and what I'm going to call genre requirements from the rigorous group that I was doing on purpose, and I'm cautiously deciding which ones are critiques of the manuscript and which are critiques of story type.  My sense is that this is an idea story, that the ideas are really cool, and that I need to flesh out the characters some more to make them more believable.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Random Thoughts In Early March

Mark returned from a buisness trip.  He'd been gone a few days, and got home after 9PM.  Seeing him in the hallway, handsome in his brown vest and office attire, sent a little thrill through me, and I realized that I'd missed the way he is in the house and my life.

I dreamed I was stretching out my shoulder and a woman came up to me and asked me if it was sore. I explained that I'd been doing pec flies and somehow we got onto a discussion of stretches and working out on machines versus with free weights.  I did use a wider setting on the pec-fly machine in real life, and I've been feeling it.

Many of the trees are in bloom.  Others have leaves budding out at the tips of thier branches.  It's daffodil season here, we've got some in the back yard and a ton along the east side of the house; Mark would like more.  And our grass is growing like crazy.  

Work is kind of fun right now; I'm learning a new database query system.  It talks to the Student Data Warehouse system.  Queries are created through a mostly icon-driven interface; I'm hoping that I'll find some of the written syntax at a class, because writing queries right now feels very "Macintoshy" with all the icon moving.  

Writing:  Continuing where I left off last January...

I inserted a simple black-and-white snowflake graphic directly into the Scrivener files.  I also created a cover.  Compiling the document into a new ePub document seems to have worked.  Now that the book is mostly the way I want it, I need to run it past a few editors for the stupid mistakes I've inevitably put in.  We'll see what she finds and then I hope to put out a short story on Amazon.  Then I'll have to do some more.  

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Strange Dreams

Lately my dreams have been more memorable and vivid, and I should make an attempt to wrtie them down.

In the one Monday morning, I started out as a re-enactor in a Roman campaign or documentary.  As the dream progressed it became more like I was flipping back and forth between two alternate realities; one where I was a Roman centurion arrayed for a battle along a river, and another where I was house-sitting for my parents and helping one of their (non-reality-based) older neighbors.  

As a Roman, I remember wading through a river and we had a convict or slave or captured soldier tied up in a small boat/canoe that we were going to sacrifice to Mars (or something).  There was a scene where we had children in our ranks, and there were three squads of them playing horns:  the oldest did a proper "it's time to sleep" horn call, the next, kids around eight, did a simplified version.  I forget what the third squad did.  I remember being given permission to go on leave, and I did, but somehow I knew that we had our marching orders, so I was dragging out returning as much as I could. 

I'm thinking the house-sitting segments of the dream happened when I was "off site" from the Roman campaign.  As the dream progressed, the re-enactment parts became more real and less acting.  At one point I remember telling her (the neighbor) that I would get back to her (she was moving or packing out of her largish house) but that if I got my marching orders, I'd be unavailable. 

Tuesday morning.  I remember I was in a medieval setting.  I want to say I was a minstrel or a Robin Hood figure.  There was a very large castle set on top of a craggy green hill.  The recall isn't so good on this dream.  There was a Queen in White, who wanted to support her Lord, but he wasn't very nice.  There was a Young Princess of the Meadow, who was the love interest in the dream.  There was a older Tyranical King, who wanted to lock me (the Minstrel) up but I'm not sure if it was because the Princess was going to marry me or someone else I was helping, or because I was really the ruler of the Land and he only ruled the Castle.  There was a lot of musical numbers, with me singing to the Princess in the wooded meadow below the hill... and there was a scene climbing up the outside of the castle in order to hide among the chimneys (?from the King?).  

Then it turned into a trying to walk through a labyrinthine neighborhood dream (or possibly a college campus), only I could fly.  This did not stop me from accidentally trespassing into somebody's yard while they were trying to trim trees or build a bridge between two stone arch things while they worked from three ladders lashed together.

Wednesday morning.  All I remember was that I was at an outdoor craft faire, which may or may not have been renaissance themed.  There was an awkward extended family problem, like someone's great-uncle had died, or someone's young little-girl cousin was having Issues, or something (I suspect the soap-opera family relations from Agents of SHIELD affected my dreams.)  I was flirting with someone, and what really sticks out from this dream was that he touched the back of my hand (maybe the cat wanted something and was batting my hand?).

Working Out:  Tuesday.  200 cal in just under 20 minutes on the rowing machine.  3x8 at 15, 14, 13 on the chin/dip assist.  3x12x50lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x80lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 curls.  2x12x12lbs  overhead triceps curls