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.


When time turns in upon itself, you question everything

I’ve been on a new trajectory. It’s great; it’s weird, It’s new. I love new.

I also love Old. That’s neither here nor there. I’ve been feeling like a teenager again, lately. In the sense where I’m acutely aware how temporary so many people in one’s life tend to be. It’s not a judgement call; only acknowledgement of reality.

Most folks are temporary. There’s a time during which you overlap. It ends.

The thing to always remember is that you’re permanent. Be permanent to yourself. A solid. And recognize those who exhibit permanent qualities in return— they’re your rocks. Will help get you to your True North. The Keepers.


After the crash we float like ghosts

vaulted ceilingAfter the crash, we float like ghosts, moving about the old main street unnoticed and silently marveling at the high pitched roofs and tall windows of these old houses, taking in the glow of warm light of the interiors. The long incandescent puddles projecting out through the panes onto the thick blanket of silencing snow create such contrast, we half expect them to melt it. But they don’t.

We don’t feel cold but assume we must be, knowing that we can’t cross the thresholds of these sanctuaries against the night.

Elegant instruments, arrayed in bowls

A sculpture in Florence
A sculpture in Florence

There is a room full of young women lounging in or at the edges of inviting pools of water. The room has an otherworldly atmosphere, with dim, colored lighting and biomorphic curves in the walls and ceilings. It feels, looks like a grotto; like some ethereal rendering of a subterranean brothel. On low ledges all around there are sleek bowls containing delicate and beautiful shapes that look at first inspection as if they are made of glass, but they feel gelatinous. There’s liquid or water in the bowls. The shapes float like jellyfish.

They are ornamented in impossibly-detailed patterns. I ask one of the women what they are, pointing to one near her; bell-shaped, and small. She informs me that this particular model is for cutting off one’s arm. I ask “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?” She doesn’t answer, but nearby I suddenly notice a bowl of fingers, small and red; transforming the liquid like ink blooming in water.

Insistent with my inquiry, I ask her how such a thing could possibly cut through an arm, or anything at all, as I lift one of the instruments out of a bowl and display its gelatinous quality, how soft and malleable. It has only enough density to hold its intended shape. This seems to interest her, and she looks at the object as I hold it, but doesn’t answer this either. I wonder if there’s some quality about the material of which I’m unaware— if sudden pressure is applied, perhaps it becomes more rigid, like quicksand, but maybe fine or sharp.

It remained a mystery, as did the nature or reason for the room itself, the girls, and the the other instruments. It struck me that some of the glass tools looked vaguely like those long-ago diminutive shoes for the footbound.


(~2005; recently edited)

On drawing maps for cephalopods

Jellyfishes in Brooklyn Aquarium by Elizabeth DaggarWe were making aquariums out of materials that, while they looked appropriate, were perhaps not sturdy enough. There were three or four parts comprising each coffin-sized plexiglas case, but occasionally the filtration system was sending surges of too much water upwards at times, and we were concerned about leaving them in a room, filter on, alone. About malfunctions, accidental flooding.

Then there was one in which I was somehow creating maps or sets of directions for sea creatures; jellyfishes, crustaceans, cephalopods. There was something like a computer through which they could request help finding one another in the ocean, and my job was to fashion a map or drawing or set of instructions for each. My waking mind cannot conceive how this would be done, nor recall how I did it in that place.

A telegraph from Elysium

As he is in my memory, Handsome Redred
Two of our horses were in the dream, the Arabians, both of whom perished last year. So, too, the miscreant aptly named Pyewacket— a fierce disagreeable little cat whose provenance is known only inasmuch as she is the progeny of one of the feral cats that took up residence in the barn a few years ago.

I was trying to connect with the horses at turns. But my Night shade was finding them, not the real me— a defensive version, relating to Pye; always the trickster version,

It spooked and scared the horses, the gentle kind— So they told me, in their way, I must find them as myself.

I whispered in my sleep “I don’t know how.”

And Red somehow telegraphed the message to me through what technology he found in that place, it told me

When the stars are going out—
And you’re looking for a face before you leave—
Make it mine.”

And I tried like hell to escape the deep molasses of sleep, to find him; to remember— To shake it all off and just recall that one moment, of him.

Him, merged with my childhood; Magic; the Elysian Fields, the Farm— the Infinite; revisiting me. And I did, sort of— but he was talking about when the Stars Go Out. So I’ll meet him when I die.

I have to wait. (I’ll always look for his face.)
Animals are the closest I get to religion.

.   .   .

Later on,  I painted that little sketch of him. Here’s the one I did when he passed:


And here’s one of Red and Comet, our red and black Arabian gentlemen:


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.

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.