Migraines, Philosophy and Dreams

I was thinking this morning that our bodies are nature and our souls (thought? spirit? soul? mind?) live in them and over time adjust to the seasons of our physical life. What’s most shocking about this idea is that…

I’m not the first person who has had it.

Yesterday morning I got up to let the dogs out at 4:50 and then, uncharacteristically, didn’t go back to sleep. For some reason I HAD TO GET UP. Not long after I had begun the turn on the lights, make coffee, moment, I was hit by a migraine. My migraines are mostly of the visual kind, no throbbing pain on the crown of my head, no nausea, but they leave me pretty trashed once they pass. Yesterday’s was no different. I just push through and emerge on the other side feeling like a train wreck.

OK WELL.

So whatever the spirit/mind had planned for the day didn’t happen. Wasn’t going to happen. Couldn’t happen. But, migraines can sometimes bring me vivid dreams and last night I dreamed I was in modern-day China (with a migraine) and talking on the phone to people who didn’t identify themselves (inscrutable orientals, right?) and ended up with a job as an art historian at the Guangzhou Museum of Western Art. I asked the unnamed voice on the other end of the “line” “What kind of art?”

“I don’t know. That’s why we’re hiring you. None of us know what they are or what they mean or where they came from.”

“So like the things around me at home that I brought back from China so long ago? The survivors of time?”

Good grief, Martha, GET UP!!!

So here I am. No migraine, only lingering tiredness. Those things are truly STORMS, but the trip to China was great.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/rdp-monday-crown/

Dream(y)

When I woke up this morning, I had to accept my banal quotidian existence rather than seeing modern Beijing from the back seat of a Chinese taxi. OK, it wasn’t perfect. My mom was in the front seat and my brother in the back, picking fights, but even in a dream world you can’t have everything.

I’m sorry, folks. I have nothing new to say. No bursts of creative energy with which to invite Lamont and Dude or even to write a cynical love story. The big events of my life yesterday were a couple of visits with the kids, successfully removing four nails from the fence boards and realizing that proceeding in this fashion ruins the wood I want. I’m not blaming the virus. I don’t think life would be any more exciting right now without it. This is summer. This is the time of year when, as a kid, I used to wish school would start. Apropos of that…

Yesterday afternoon, Teddy and I stopped by the kids’ house to see Connor with a golf club hitting balls toward the house. He kept swinging passionately — somewhere between hitting a golf ball and hitting a baseball. He always missed the ball. “Hey, Connor, try this. Don’t look at your swing,” I said. “Keep your eyes on the ball.” He was teeing up and everything. A LOT of golf stuff lands in the yards of the houses across from the golf course and in the alley. Once he started watching at the ball, he started hitting it. Whether or not that’s a good thing will depend on if any windows get broken.

“I’m going to get a golf set for Christmas,” he said. The club he was using was as long as he is tall.

Meanwhile, Michelle was trying to teach Teddy to “play dead” by showing him how to do it. “Play dead, Teddy. You do it like this.” She lay on her back, all four legs in the air. It was adorable, but meant nothing to Teddy.

I finally said, “You guys are in third grade now, right?”

“Yeah, in August,” said Connor.

“Teddy’s just in kindergarten,” I explained. “He doesn’t know much yet.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/07/21/rdp-tuesday-dreamy/

Stubborn or steadfast? No Surrender

This post has resonance for me today, March 24, 2019 When I wrote it, I still lived in California. 

Daily Prompt: Never Surrender, by Krista on March 11, 2014: Are you stubborn as a grass stain or as easy going as a light breeze on a warm day? Tell us about the ways in which you’re stubborn — which issues make you dig your heels in and refuse to budge? Photographers, artists, poets: show us STEADFAST.

I’m not very stubborn. I think my friends would say something different, though they would agree I’m not one of those “My way or the highway” types, well, yes I am. I’m “My way IS the highway.” Long ago I had a dream that was based on events in my real life. I went from place to place, hanging out with people who then attempted to foist their “trip” (we said that then) onto me. At a certain point in each episode I said, “F…. this s…. man, I’m getting out of here!” (It’s a lot more powerful in real words.) I toyed with the thought of having that as my epitaph.

I think “steadfast” is another thing. That’s something involving honor and respect. It’s loyalty and commitment. Outside of marriage (not my métier) I’m very steadfast. I really do, once I make the commitment, “bear it out until the edge of doom.” I do not know if this old-school virtuous behavior is always wise. (Continuing to write the Daily Prompt has often seemed doubtful but I haven’t given up. 😉 )

But… the song to which today’s prompt alludes is important to me. Back in the ’80s I wondered what I was doing. I was teaching and married. My husband was a nice guy, but he didn’t love me. I was doing everything in my power to put a good face on things, holding my marriage together, steadfastly building a relationship with his kids (whom I loved), steadfast in my life-time attempt to reach my mother (ha), building what I thought would be a career, I was pushing hard to make everything work. Perseverance. This song. Had I surrendered? What was I really?

New students arrived, were interviewed for placement in oral communication classes. One student, Jean Francois Minot-Matot from Geneva, answered the questions in a very a-typical way. “I live for ski,” he said. I had once “Lived for ski.” I heard his statement echo down the chambers of my heart. The sound returning said, “What do I live for?” On my way home from that interview I listened to this song for the first time, played on a new tape. Those two events, “I live for ski,” and the refrain from the song,

'Cause we made a promise we swore we'd always remember 
No retreat, baby, no surrender 
Blood brothers in the stormy night 
With a vow to defend 
No retreat, baby, no surrender

I’d made that vow with people — where were they? I was sure one was dead, another was lost forever to time because I sent him away, another was on the hellish rollercoaster of addiction. The fields of my childhood were long gone in an eternal golden autumn, and my life was nothing more than patching broken things and holding them together until the glue dried. Was I where I’d set out to be? Where were the beautiful words? The thoughts, the conversations, the stories? Where were the adventures? Where was the world — why was I not in it? I’d made a start and retreated, pulled back into a stucco-home in an East San Diego ghetto and a man who didn’t love me?

“I live for ski.”
“What do you do when the snow has melted?”
“Er, OUI! We have ze glacier. You know glacier?”
“Yes.”

St. Mary’s glacier. I’d never skied it. I always believed I would ski it, but how would I do that, here under the banana palms, surrounded by bougainvillea.

“Er, and I, I like ze windsurf.”

I was 34. About to turn 35. I was middle-aged (what did I know?) I was over. Actually, my life began because of Jean Francois Minot-Matot. I’ve “gotten” nowhere with those dreams, but I learned dreams are not a place to go; they are a place to be. And, every dream involves a little patching up and holding together.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/daily-prompt-never-surrender/

Bad Dream?

This morning I dreamed I was staying with some people in a huge house. It was a family, a couple of grown sons (one was a teacher), several daughters. At one point I lost my laptop. From then on, the dream was about retracing my steps. 

There is nothing more labyrinthine than a dream with stuff changing constantly. Dream rooms that had been empty were full of sleeping people. The classroom where the one brother taught — and where I was sure I’d left my laptop — had become the brother’s bedroom, but there were student desks from the 40s in there and people waiting for a lesson. 

I never found my laptop. I knew I could buy a new one, but that didn’t answer the problem, really. In the dream I asked myself, “What does my lap top mean to me that I can’t just buy another one? I’ve lost them before — my favorite one of all time crashed, and I simply replaced it — what’s the story morning glory?” 

Self-analysis in dreams is even more labyrinthine than in real life. The women in the dream kind of sort of helped me look for it, but not really. They couldn’t see what the big deal was. I thought, “Well, you’re rich. I’m not,” but  even in the dream that didn’t ring true. They WERE rich, but I could still manage to replace my laptop.

Seemed like a good time to get up, but for a while I kept searching. Bear’s bark outside my bedroom door got me up. 

The little book I just finished has existed in various forms for forty years. I no longer have one of the typed manuscripts, but I have one printed out on a dot-matrix printer. I remember back in the 80s when my neighbor (who loaned me his Mac while he was traveling) was attempting to explain to me why a computer was better than a typewriter. He said, “You don’t have to carry everything around in your head.”

At the time I was writing a book about Pearl Buck and it required a lot of research. Threads of the work of Chinese writers who were her contemporaries had to be connected to her, her own words about these writers, her reading (in Chinese) of the old, great Chinese novels and her comments — it was immense. I had (still have 🙂 ) boxes of notecards. One was a bibliography and the other quotations typed, cited and glued to the notecards so I could find them when I needed them. 

“You wouldn’t have to remember all this. The computer would do that for you.” He made his argument as vigorously as if he were selling for Apple. 

So were our brains different when we DID carry all this around in them? Were we smarter? Certainly we’d panic less in dreams that involved losing our laptops. And now I’m dreaming that losing my laptop is cataclysmic.

Anyway, I’ll spend some time today backing stuff up. 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/rdp-monday-vigorous/

“You’re Going to Ski???!?”

image_540507666909509

 

See the blue skis with the word “Wax” on them? I bought them today for $30. They’re nearly 40 years old. I owned a pair just like them in a faraway land known as Denver. I skied on them a lot AND (here’s the madness) I took them with me to the People’s Republic of China. Yeah. OK that “might” not be totally insane (I think it is), but I was living on the Tropic of Cancer.

After a year in the tropics, the skis came back to Denver in time for one of the snowiest winters in history, a winter so snowy that Colfax Avenue, one of the biggest main streets in America, was carved into two lanes with a wall of snow between them. There were days when X-country skis were the one sure way to get around town. The mayor at the time — Peña — was taking flack from everyone over his apparent inability to get the snow plows out.

The skis moved with me to California where they had some pretty decent adventures. Once was with a bunch of colleagues. Everything California was alien and the 18 inches that had landed in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego gave me a chance to be myself. Back then I was “Ms. Ski Wax America,” and I was very proud of my back-country skis. My colleagues had skis but waxless, fish-scale, skis (like the prettier, narrower, slightly newer ones in the photo). I could have taken my fish scale skis (simpler) but I brought my back-country skis because I loved them, partly, and partly for the overall coolness effect.

One of my colleagues, a very overweight know-it-all type with fish-scale skis that were too short for his weight, borrowed some wax from me — red wax. First you don’t wax fish-scale skis. Second, red wax wouldn’t make his skis faster; it’s sticky; it’s good for climbing hills. When he was “ready,” he pointed his skis down the steep hill and didn’t move at all. Those skis had been conditioned to HOLD ON to the mountain. That was fun to watch, and he was a good sport about it. I helped him clean off his skis and things went a little better for him; not much, though. His weight pushed the fish scales down so hard they were gripping the snow. We went up and down a decent hill and then came home.

On those skis, I skied around the back side of Cuyamaca Peak where I saw cougar tracks for the first time. They skied up Mt. Palomar and back down again. It was really something to see the great, white telescope domes in the snow. As we skied down the unplowed road (a lot easier than it had been skiing five miles up the manzanita plagued trail) we passed a family who’d come up to “see the snow” a California family with a beach umbrella, beach chairs, a cooler. As we whooped our way down, a kid called out, “Hey mom! That’s what we should do!”

They skied up the PCT to the Garnet Peak Trail (no way to ski up the Garnet Peak Trail itself), accepting the constant challenge of close hedges of manzanita scrub on both sides.

And then… Life changed and the skis went to the Goodwill.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to lunch with friends then — as an adventure — we visited the flea market, and I saw these skis in the back room. My heart skipped several beats. Of course they’re not “my” skis, but they are my skis. Without thinking I reached for them and cradled them against my shoulder like old friends. My friend Elizabeth looked at me with so much compassion, “Are you going to ski, Martha?” she asked.

I told them I once had skis just like them, and put them back against the wall. Of course I’ve thought about them for the past two weeks. Today, I went to look at them. Thirty bucks. I put them together and carried them to the cash register. The couple that mans one of the shops in the flea market looked at me and said, “You’re going to SKI?” The couple is around my age, I guess. And of course I limp and often use a cane.

I explained I used to have a pair of skis just like them. And I said, “Yep. I’m going to ski. Maybe not this year, but, yeah.”

“Watch out for avalanches,” said the wife.

“Yeah, well, I think it’ll just be the golf course.” I really have no illusions about this.

“The golf course?” she looked at me bewildered.

“Yeah,” I said. “When there’s enough snow they groom it for cross country skiing. It’s beautiful. And I live right beside it.”

“It’s good exercise,” she said. I nodded. It’s more than that, but that’s fine. It is. “You need poles.”

“I have poles at home.”

“Good luck!” they both called out as I left the store.

“Thanks,” I said, “and thanks for the moral support.”

“We hope you do it,” said the husband, a former alcoholic whose life story I became familiar with on my second visit there. My little heart glowed.

“I’ll let you know.”

You can see in the featured photo that one of them (the bottom one) is pretty badly delaminated; the other one only slightly at the tip. That made me relate to them even more. I’m delaminated. When I got home, and had looked them over good, seeing that it didn’t seem hopeless, I called the local ski store. I told them I’d bought a pair of old cross-country skis that were somewhat delaminated, and asked if they could repair them. I’ll have to take them in; maybe yes, maybe no. Either way, the skis are here and I’m glad.

I also did a little research yesterday when I was so down about things. This is what I learned in a professional paper about skiing after total hip replacement. It made me a lot more hopeful about everything.

“2 groups of 50 patients each, matched for age, weight, height, gender and type of implant, were clinically and radiographically examined after THR (total hip replacement). Group A regularly carried out alpine skiing and/or cross-country skiing, while group B did no winter sports. At 5 years, no signs of loosening were found in group A, whereas 5/60 implants in group B had signs of loosening, mostly of the femoral component (p < 0.05). At 10 years, 30 patients remained in group A and 27 in group B. No new cases of loosening were found in group B, but 2/30 cases in group A. There was a higher (p < 0.05) average wear rate in group A (2.1 mm) than in group B (1.5 mm). The wear rate was particularly high (3-4 mm) in physically very active patients in group A with localized osteolysis at the interface. It seems likely that in an even longer follow-up, the number of cases of aseptic loosening would be greater in group A than group B. Our findings, combined with the results of previously-published biomechanical studies, do not provide any evidence that controlled alpine and/ or cross-country skiing has a negative effect on the acetabular or femoral component of hip replacements. The results of the biomechanical studies indicate, however, that it is advantageous to avoid short-radius turns on steep slopes or moguls.”
PMID: 10919294 DOI: 10.1080/000164700317411825 

Since I’ve never done short-radius turns on steep slopes or skied moguls, this is good news.

There’s also the question, “What’s the point of life?” I’ve actually figured out the answer.

The point of life is to have a good time.

 

Talking to Flowers?

Last night I dreamed all the summer flowers had grown up and bloomed in our strangely warm winter. I was worried about them. “No,” I said to them, “You don’t want to do this!” And, in my dream, they actually answered.

In my California life, February was spring. The whole season began around February 10 and ended around April 1. No fooling ( ha ha ). In my dream I explained this to my Colorado flowers, but words like “California” meant nothing to them. “This isn’t California. It’s Colorado, and it’s only February,” I said. “We could have a lot more hard freezes.”

“Our job is to bloom,” they said. “We’re taking the chance now. As you say, who knows?”

It’s so annoying when dream flowers get all deep and philosophical on a person.

And then there were my mom and dad. That was the weirdest part of the dream. I woke up wondering about Heaven, not THIS Heaven but the post-mortem Heaven. If there IS such a place and we ARE reunited with our family, I don’t want to see them. That’s what the dream was about. Ultimately, in the dream, I ran away from them, down a suburban street, wearing some kind of fancy dress shoes. I ran well (that was the good part of the dream) but I wondered how I could manage that so poorly shod (dreams are weird). They couldn’t catch me. They followed, always more than 1/2 block away, calling my name, telling me to wait, to come back. As I ran, I yelled back at them, “Leave me alone! What do you have to do with me?”

The dream is fraught with personal symbolism. On waking I thought, “Whoa, analyze THAT for a few years, sweet cheeks,” and decided not to. But, of course, I do, I am.

In 1966 my dad’s abilities (he had MS) had started to seriously degenerate. One night he took me to my piano lesson which happened to be in the local music store. While I had my lesson, he hung around in the front of the shop. The shop keeper played an album for my dad and on it was the song that, for my dad, said everything.

 

P.S. Mindy thanks everyone for all the care and sympathy yesterday. She’s feeling a lot better today! ❤

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sympathize/

Doors of Obfuscation

Our life’s dreams are often slow to realize and some of them are simply strange, like my dream of someday having a LOT of dogs. That was a dream I had as a kid and tried to realize as a teenager with a big red dog I brought home. The moment wasn’t right. It was not the right age/time of my life to begin my dog pack, so the dream didn’t come true. I forgot all about it for a long time, so long that when it DID come true. and I remembered it, I was in my 40s. All I could do was laugh.

But some night dreams are scary/important. I think we do work things out in sleep, some hidden conundrums — some very old ones — can work their way up the levels of our unconscious mind and teach us things using strange but perfect symbolism.

When my little brother was 10 we were visiting my Aunt Martha in Denver. She lived in a late 1950’s three story apartment next to Cheeseman Park. Now the building is condos and they sell for quite a lot of money ($213,500), but back in 1963 it was just a small, 600 sq ft, one bedroom apartment in a great location. My aunt lived on the first floor but elevated. The basement apartments had big windows so the first floor was pretty far off the ground. It had a “lanai” and to get to the lanai you went through a sliding glass door.

3

The actual apartment! Thanks Zillow!

I don’t know if sliding glass doors were newish back then or that we just hadn’t had much exposure to them, but my brother walked through it. He could have been badly hurt, but all that happened was a cut on his thumb that didn’t even need stitches.

The other night I dreamed I walked into a room and my brother was there sleeping. There was a sliding glass door hanging off the rails. I was so afraid my brother would be hurt, or someone would come in and hurt him, that I began fussing with it to get it to close. When I got there I found DOZENS of attempts at repairing that door and NONE of them worked. I discarded one after the other — some made with wood and chicken wire, some with wire reinforced glass. I could NEVER get the door to close; I could NEVER make my brother safe.

In my dream, my brother slept through my Herculean efforts on behalf of his safety. He never knew. He was completely undisturbed. Then a voice in my dream said, “You have to go. You’ve done everything you could.”

Behind everything else in the dream was the fact that my brother had chosen to sleep in that room, in that bed. A very obvious cliché right there.

I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s reached the point of walking away from a beloved family member (my brother was a hardcore alcoholic) who is an addict feels conflicted, maybe forever. In my dream I answered that statement with, “What about this door?”

 

Truman Capote Dreams

What is the best dream you’ve ever had? 

Well, there is more to dreams than good dreams and bad dreams. Some dreams are prescient; some dreams are teachers, conveying important information — at least mine are. In 2009, I had dreams of Truman Capote. It was quite bizarre because I had not read his work since the ’80s. I liked it then, very much. I guess it had lain quietly in my subconscious mind until, after a hiatus of five years, I took up my novel, Martin of Gfenn again and read through it, grimmacing all the way.

In the first dream, he just appeared. I was startled and woke up. That was that. But “he” came back…

I was in a huge room, like a gym or shopping mall. All around were stores (strange). I had rolls of butcher paper on the floor, cups of tempera, colored pencils. There was a commotion in the distance, so I got up and went to see what was going on. A man came in, wearing black clothes, a trench coat and so on like a photo of Bob Dylan taken by Richard Avedon; I had recently seen. This was NOT Dylan and this man wore a brimmed hat. It was a short, chubby guy in his fifties. He came right up to me and put his arms around me. I knew it was Truman Capote.

“It should be you,” I said, “this place couldn’t do better than to hire you as Writer in Residence.” Ah, my mall was a school.

“It could be you, honey.”

“No,” I said, “my work is invisible.”

“Not to me,” he said. He went off to work in his corner and I continued working in front of some stores.

Later, it was time for us to go to the homes where we were being “housed.” Mine was horrible. It was an upper and lower room. The lower room was peopled by an immensely cranky and obese woman, her severely retarded, nearly vegetable daughter, and her son/husband — and a lion. When I went down to this room — after being assured I’d be able to live with the lion — the first thing that happened was that the lion grabbed my arm and bit into it; not hard, not all the way, but it didn’t let go. I looked at it; it was smaller than a tiger and I thought to myself, “Why are you worried? You’re a tiger.” It was a smart thought to have because at that moment I was no longer worried about the lion at all, in fact,  I loved it.

At some point the family took the daughter up for dinner — they did this by grabbing her by the hair and dragging her around.

And so in the dream I continued to paint and think about writing. I was surprised by Capote. Everyone there — in the mall — was both writer and painter. He was very kind and protective of me and constantly treated me as if I were something precious both to him in a subjective sense and in an objective sense; as if my work were worth attention for its own sake.

When I woke up I was surprised Capote had appeared in a second dream.

I did some thinking about this. “A Christmas Memory” is the most perfect story I’ve ever read. I’d recently seen the documentary of Hunter Thompson  showing him copying The Great Gatsby over and over again. I thought of that in relation to my problems with Martin of Gfenn. Maybe I needed to do something like that; learn to write by copying a truly good story, perfectly written, like practicing a piano score. Maybe that diligent attention to technique is what I was missing.

But I was not sure. What was Truman Capote trying to tell me??? I wondered if it could it be this? “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

The upshot was that I spent that summer reading everything Capote wrote. I had more dreams and an experience that shed some light on the context. I went to my 40th high school reunion. I had only gone to one other reunion, my tenth where I was hit on by the hottest girl in school, an experience that — since I’m straight — was nothing but surreal. I was being offered the fantasy of every guy in my class. One event was returning to our school. It was so intense for me — it brought back not memories but realities of those years, that experience. At a certain point I walked to the hallway where my locker had been. I was stunned; the “mall” in my Capote dream had not been a mall. It had been my high school. I remembered feeling like a failure back then when we put on “The Grass Harp” and I neither got a part in the play or the chance to do the publicity graphics. I did get to spread butcher paper out on the floor and paint banners… Whoa. I got a copy of The Grass Harp and read it. I was stunned by its beauty. My dreams had given me the teacher I needed and I set to drastically edit Martin of Gfenn, cutting its length by half.

Wind surprised, peeled the leaves, parted night clouds; showers of starlight were let loose: our candle, as though intimidated by the incandescence of the opening, star-stabbed sky, toppled, and we could see, unwrapped above us, a late wayaway wintery moon: it was like a slice of snow, near and far creatures called to it, hunched moon-eyed frogs, a claw-voiced wildcat. Catherine hauled out the rose scrapquilt, insisting Dolly wrap it around herself; then she tucked her arms around me and scratched my head until I let it relax on her bosom–You cold? she said, and I wiggled closer: she was good and warm as the old kitchen. The Grass Harp

Resonant (for me) Capote quotations:

A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.

I was eleven, then I was sixteen. Though no honors came my way, those were the lovely years.

Sometimes when I think how good my book can be, I can hardly breathe.
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/daily-prompt-sweet-dreams/