Life is what happens while a series of dreams or ideas play out; and then you decide what you’re willing to own.

pic of me, ten years ago, in snow

This photo is from awhile ago, but it’s still one of the truest portraits ever taken of me (thx Tarikh). It’s who I am, want to be, ever will be. (I miss that coat, I’ll always be a bit of an 80’s punk rock kid, for better for or worse)

.   .   .

Aside, here’s what remained or came out of a brief, untethered dream after falling asleep on the couch and waking at 2 am—

Something equivalent to the lie in my eye
Every time I pass with a smile and a shrug—
But in my soul I’m screaming_
You don’t know me,
And I don’t owe you


The dream of many waltzes

I had one of those odd coincidences earlier this week. At my new job, we are sometimes availed of complimentary tickets to events— for example this week it was attendance to a  two o’clock performance of Ravel’s Bolero (and two other pieces, but that was the star) by the NY Philharmonic on Jan 20th.

It just so happened that a few days earlier I’d been listening to Rufus Wainwright, in whose song Oh, What A World he introduces and plays off the primary riff of the very same piece (to wonderful effect). After listening to it, I felt compelled to track down the original and listen to it in full.

This precipitated a persistent dream last Saturday morning in which I was building a playlist consisting only of waltzes (for which I’ve a weakness, and to which category both Rufus’ and Ravel’s songs belong). So upon waking I slavishly began building said list*.

It was weird and exciting to be invited to hear it played by the philharmonic just days after. And I assure you I would be going, except I’d just secured tickets to see Farinelli & the King the same day at eight o’clock— and as keen as I may be, that would just be far too long a day to spend on Work Island on a weekend. : : sigh : :

Anyway. I love when shit aligns or collides out of the blue like that.

.  .  .

*You can listen to 24/7 Waltz People  if you have Google Play. (Admittedly I overreached, and a few rags made their way on it, too. Whatevs.) Ravel didn’t make it on, though, as it’s all contemporary.

PS— Sorry I missed my Thursday post. Here it is, terrifically late. More to come over the weekend, relating to the animated short began last weekend.

The bird in my kitchen, and other prophecies

This morning I woke to find a black bird walking around in my kitchen. When I walked in, she startled and flew smack into the window a couple of times. I opened a screen for her, but she flew into the living room and affixed herself to a screen before I got another one open to allow her out and free.

As the contractor sealed up the roof yesterday, I wondered how a building can be watertight but not bird-tight.

Her nest, it turned out, had been in the space between the ceiling and the roof, just next to where the collapse occurred, and there was found a small opening beside a drainpipe on the exterior wall. That, too, has now been sealed, and I feel bad that she’ll have to find a new home.

I remember not long ago having a dream in which I found a crow walking around in my kitchen. I think he spoke to me but I must not have written it down, as I’ve found nothing of the sort in my archives. Anyway, the bird this morning reminded me of that, and my search in the archives brought me back to the dream of the crumbling apartment, and the hidden room! (But in this case, a bird’s room.)

I suppose, if I’m going to have the occasional vaguely-prescient dream, I’d do well to start having altogether more delightful dreams.

Two drawings and two dreams, all unrelated

Saturday: it’s windy and feels like l’automne; fans dormant and kitchen window lowered almost shut, so things on the table there don’t wind up on the floor.


I was traveling in some parallel Europe; Scandinavia, and without much in the way of maps or even plans. Improvising. I followed a couple out of a stalled subway train, assuming they were also traveling locally, only to find myself on a large, old intercity bound for Nice.


I was visiting my brother, who’d taken up residence in a box-shaped apartment in Manhattan. The interior was the same green as those buildings in Gowanus. I’d been elsewhere, somewhere rough, and a friend of his found a dried up bird leg tangled in my hair.

She was revolted.

I was fascinated— where had that come from? I felt I’d imagined it into being, as I’d been hallucinating things— there was a dog’s snout stuck in the glass of the window. It hadn’t broken through but kind of sunken in and got stuck, as if the glass had been still soft, just for a moment, The rest of the dog was gone; just the end of his snout, teeth bared.

Disembodied parts of things were following me.

Looking out upon falling snow in a fierce wind

snowy fire escapeLooking out upon falling snow in a fierce wind,
having read the latest news
(that has spoiled my coffee, again—)
Gone cold, with my views or once-belief
regarding some inherent goodness—

A bleak feeling that renders even this
brutal, unkind weather beautiful
Gentle, by comparison.

Each day, what counts as News
defiles sense. Escalation,
unsustainable (please)
Noah’s mythical flood
Now upon us, manmade
(Man-made, man-mad)

I feel hatred, and fear
Twin emotions, unaccustomed—
whose visages remind:
How lucky I’ve been (so far)

Each morning one awakes
with some hope,
or threads from a dream.
This morning, this blanket of new fallen snow
a metaphor:

Darkness, sold as Light.

the dream of a crumbling apartment

mysterious_roomI’ve been having vivid dreams lately, and retaining some upon waking. This one, from perhaps a week ago, was excruciating while I was in it.

It happened when I was out, and I didn’t even notice immediately. I’d been away. It wasn’t until I went into the loo that I saw there was a hole in the floor where the toilet had been. Water covered the tiles of the floor. I assumed the tenants below weren’t at home, as all was quiet. It caught me completely off guard and was immensely worrisome. I thought of the damage that must have been caused below, and hoped the landlord knew; that restoration would soon be underway.

I went into the bedroom and noticed one narrow section of wall looked in very bad repair; so too with the portion of the walls surrounding the windows. Even as I stood looking at them, I  recalled the superintendent having done a hasty job of re-plastering or patching up problem area.

The room was literally deteriorating as I looked, just falling apart.

I went to the wall on the far side. Through gaps in the wall I saw another room— small furniture and cabinets. It was a sort of studio. There, close enough to touch, a rotating display of jewelry and other items, presumably made by whomever was here before. I was momentarily delighted out of my shock at this discovery— the hidden room.

Until— both suddenly and in agonizing slow motion it seemed, the ceiling came crumbling down: a great sodden mass of sheetrock, the way a wet cardboard box falls apart when overburdened. It fell on top of me, yet without crushing me by some luck or because it was too shoddy to have been a proper ceiling to begin with.

The roof itself  must have long ago chipped away piece by piece, for the mass of grey now lying across the bed and floor was insubstantial, yet the sky was now clearly visible above me. The room grew cold.

Interior: a hidden room

This morning I dreamt the secret room— in this case a forgotten one in an apartment where I lived. As is always the case for me, it was not an empty room— but, nor was it filled with covetous new treasures. This time it was filled quite literally with things I was missing.

I shaped it or probably asked for it, just recently:

like the hidden room we’ve all dreamt—
You find some overlooked part of the apartment,
filled with space
or whatever you’re missing.

In the room were two drafting tables, both covered in materials collected for specific projects. As I looked through the papers and bits of research, the projects returned to me and I wondered how I could have stopped abruptly, let alone abandon and forget them.

A wall of clothing I’d thought lost: jackets, beloved jeans and shirts— the wall resembled nothing so much as impressions of my outward self at other times.

Two fish tanks I came across on shelves, each in poor favor from neglect. Yet I recognized the fishes, and felt an overwhelm of relief they’d not perished.

I couldn’t tell how much time had passed since I’d forgotten it, but seeing what was in there, I wondered how I’d remained quite Me without all of it.

It housed much of what I had been missing, as in the poem— symbolically, aspects of myself suffering some neglect. No mistake that the sprawling, feverishly researched and planned-for projects were the first things I unearthed.

It was a morse code of distress.

I’m barely tethered to this earth without such a project to tempt and steal time from my client work, from mundane practicalities, from responsible sleep and wake times. And yet here I am without one, and feeling more tethered than ever; an uncomfortable reversal.

I’ve been feeling pressure or tension building, an inner war, and it relates to all of my work. Worse, it’s a war of attrition. Not a void, but a kind of negative space nonetheless. Too many emptinesses and ellipses, like drowning in too much air.

Some slow burn, bell curve crescendo to a great upheaval, one of my own making— or should be. (I, like those fishes, in poor favor from neglect) It’s imperative, in fact, that I helm the disaster, for fear it arrive as a drought when what’s needed is a flood.


* * *

The dream was Monday morning; I began writing but was taken from it by first the urge to record it in great detail (a poor occupation in this case) and then by other distractions. Today I felt a sudden compulsion to revisit it about halfway through this essay by Luke Carman.

More empires and ruins

I’ve been absent here recently! I was working on a piece about composition (generalized ideas that relate to any art), but it’s still scattered. So here’s a different thing I’ve been ruminating on.

A friend and I were volleying poems to read, and perhaps a week later I dashed out the skeleton of this late one evening. Like all art, it’s never finished, but I’ve decided to stop editing it (for now).


Noble Rot

Something in the air shifts,
and I lie down with the cows before the rain arrives.
It isn’t barometric.
I think it came from my parents
or my brothers; the farm—
the horses, the fields,
maybe the silent scheming cats.

It cuts things up in my head
before they’ve fully formed.
It’s some soothsayer who wasn’t invited,
holding out an empty glass.

I sense the falling of empires
before they’ve finished laying the roofing tiles.
Or maybe I cause the falling.
Or maybe it was rain, ill-timed.

Sometimes you meet people who are fluent.
When that happens things get built, or repaired.
It’s rare.
(The building is my favorite pasttime.)

Ruins are more common; procedural.
Diplomacy can exacerbate it,
but rarely speeds it.
Noble Rot, then grey rot.

A few stars wink into the sky,
I see them in the shapes between buildings.
Hints at some other brightness.
That’s an optimistic way of seeing;
city people are familiar—

Small spaces breed optimism,
like the hidden room we’ve all dreamt—
You find some overlooked part of the apartment,
filled with space
or whatever you’re missing.

Then you wake up.
And you make the coffee,
and get on with what space you’ve got.


(And, naturally I’ve edited it twelve more times since I pasted it into this post.)

simplicity & inverses

water tower in NoHoI had vivid, authoritative dreams that told me to answer questions simply, without explanation.

Stern yet well-intended: cut the rambling exposition. Some things don’t need it; some explain themselves. Still others—wait, there I go. (You see what I mean?)the coliseum in RomeI woke to the wrong day’s weather, and didn’t have the sense or maybe the energy to rearrange my schedule accordingly. The rain is coming.

Buttes Chaumont park

Celestial navigation, dream parallels

2015-12-22 13.58.09-5Here is a tiny excerpt from a dream that I’m certain is somewhere in one of my books, but when I searched for it a couple of months ago I could not for the life of me find it. Was a long and winding one. I began writing a short story based upon it but lost the thread. Gotta track it down. It had elements that appeal to me, and potential for a magic realism story.

He asked odd questions which made it clear he hadn’t any idea what was going on, but was trying to appear cool about it. I left the answering to our shrewd Puck and tried to enjoy the misleading answers he gave. Some of the glitter was coming off, and I wasn’t at all sure i could navigate using my available stars after all.

The idea of the navigation— it had to do with solving things or unlocking mysteries in a hidden quarter of the city. Finding your way there got you your first star, and each time a thing was ‘solved’ a new star or stars winked into existence on one’s forearm, creating a map. But when outside the quarter, the stars became less ‘real’, it seemed, just glittering things stuck on, and could be lost. They made no sense on the outside.

This idea reminds me, now, of a quote a rhetoric professor friend posted recently:

At the same token, I know [that] communication is often assymetrical. Barthes quotes Freud:

“Perpetual monologues, which are neither corrected nor nourished by [another] being, lead to erroneous notions concerning mutual relations, and make us strangers to each other when we meet again.”

We’ve all experienced this phenomenon.

The shifting nature of the navigation stars— within or without the place where they make sense— is a serviceable parallel about navigating people.

Everyone requires a very specific map, regardless how similar they may seem initially (social norms, cultural norms, the outer layers). Time away from them means the territory is shifting while you’re gone.

Think how outdated your stars would be if you ran into someone you hadn’t any contact with for ten years. Exceptions to this rule are perhaps family or very close friends from coming-of-age years. People you knew while their maps were forming, or know deeply enough to anticipate the ways they evolve, so your map updates pretty readily. (The other exception may be people who haven’t changed at all. Sad.)

In the Barthes quote, the monologue is the map, which, without being nourished, turns into a pastiche of what it once was or may have been. It begins to fall apart, rendering you a stranger to the hidden city— lost, in danger of running into roadblocks, and misunderstanding local customs.