September 2007

Memory & Dream

The Effexor really does have an odd effect on my dreams.

It’s not, however, that they are “weird” per se–they’re always weird, of course. I don’t know that they could get much weirder in any dimension, and while they seem marginally more coherent now, such things are too subjective to say with any confidence–it’s not like you can lay two dreams side by side and see which one unravels first.

What they are is vivid. Highly detailed. The other night, at one point I tripped on the sidewalk in a dream, and the sidewalk was incredibly detailed–cracked pavement, gravel, lumpy textures, scattered all over with little blue cubes of broken safety glass where a car windshield had shattered at some point in the past. It’s as if I’ve begun dreaming in high resolution.

What I wonder, though, is whether I’m really dreaming in greater detail, or whether I’m remembering the details more clearly. Were the sidewalks in my dreams always elegantly realized, and they’re only now sticking with me as I wake up? Are the drugs affecting my dreams, or my memory of the dreams?

Or, for that matter, since dreams are often constructed of memories, are the dreams calling up more and crisper memories? Last night, I dreamed I was in my grandmother’s house, and it was surprisingly well realized. I’d always remembered the antique bed, but I’d half-forgotten that the bathtub was pink, and that there was a dark wood bookcase against the wall in that room, but there they were. (And, rather interestingly, it was entirely and only my grandmother’s house–there was none of the mish-mash of remembered homes and old apartments that tend to make up the architecture of dreams.) 

Well, we probably don’t know enough about either brain chemistry or dreaming to say either way. Still. It’s peculiar.

Last night, I dreamed that I was in my grandmother’s house, and James was there. He kept saying that he was hearing noises outside, and I was telling him that he was paranoid. Eventually I went and took a bath  and I was sitting in the pink tub, staring idily out the window. (Here the dream took some liberties and apparently moved the tub about two feet over–you couldn’t really see out the bedroom window from the bathtub in reality.) It was dark out, and the sky was deep indigo, with black tree shadows across it. After awhile, I noticed that there was an odd movement–one of the shadows was moving just slightly, blocking out a star now and again. It was rounded at the top, and after staring at it for awhile, I realized it was somebody’s head, peering in the window.

“Holy crap!” I yelled, leaping out of the tub, “there IS somebody out there!” Heedless of my current state of undress, I charged the window. The man outside recoiled, and there was a brief flicker of light off the lenses of his glasses. (Like I said. VERY detailed.)  James took off like a shot, running for the backyard, and I knew I had to distract this guy.

Fortunately, it wasn’t hard. The stalker was, in fact, a cop–in uniform, no less!–and he was laughing at me. I was yelling obscenities and flipping him off–and jiggling, one assumes, my dream was rather ruthless detailed on some points–and this sufficiently distracted the gentleman for James to come round the side of the house and calmly fire a shotgun at him from more or less point blank range.

“Holy crap,” I said, coming outside (Iassume I must have thrown clothes on at some point here) “do you have a permit for that?”

“I have five,” he said, unruffled.

We stood and stared down at the bleeding body. I have learned never to trust that anything is dead in my dreams, and so further measures were called for.

At the point, the dog showed up. It was a small blond Pomeranian. “Aha!” I said, grabbing the dog. “I’ve got it! We’ll put the guy’s consciousness in the dog!”

“Is that a good idea?”

“A Pomeranian is bound to be less trouble than an injured six-foot-tall cop with a gun.” (Which only goes to show that I am no brighter in my dreams.)

Apparently my subconscious is convinced of my astonishing shamanic powers, because it was no sooner said than done, whereupon the flaw in my plan became obvious.  The dog, needless to say, went berserk. Drastic measures were called for, which involved chasing the dog through the carport for twenty minutes and then soaking the possessed Pom with pesticide (Ortho brand, interestingly enough.) which stunned it.

I called 911–got an elaborately detailed hold message–and finally reached an operator, whereupon I explained that we’d shot a cop and then stuffed his soul into a dog, then hosed the dog down with weed-killer. They seemed to take this very calmly and asked my address. I couldn’t remember it, and wound up trying to read the mailboxes, and gave them the wrong numbers twice before I finally got it right.

Eventually the police arrived, and were unfazed by the situation. They asked me to return their wayward colleagues soul–I did–checked the gun permits (he really did have five, and a permit to carry concealed to boot) apologized for the trouble, and left, and the dream dissolved into vagueness.

And I woke up and went “Dude.”

Well, okay, maybe they’re a LITTLE weirder now…

A fortune cookie told me, some weeks ago, that luck would come to me at the next full moon.

On the one hand, I am a die-hard skeptic, rational to a fault and positively snide regarding baseless superstition. On the other hand, at that point, I was down, out, in desperate need of luck, and not inclined to look a gift cookie in the mouth.

Well, twenty-odd days later, the full moon came. And I can’t say that I, for example, found a winning lottery ticket, but I did finally get the second half of a payment that (thank you, Ganesh) keeps the wolf from the door for another month, which I really needed, because September, owing to my moving and quarterly taxes and whatnot, was ugly on the money front. (Really…really…ugly.)  So that’s a huge load off my mind.

Of course, I got it because I called my agent every few days for a week and a half, which may just prove that we make our own luck in this life.

On that note, I may auction off another commission or two this weekend, just because I’m gonna need to reacquire all the essentials that I ditched before my move. (You know. Windex. Garbage can. Shower curtain. Decent computer chair. Etc.)  I’m thinking another Weird Shoe commission, and possibly a smaller watercolor on the theme of “Anything you want, as long as it’s a hamster.”

Perhaps I’ll go birding again this evening, just in case whatever odd and MSG-laden gods enforce the dictates of fortune cookies would like to punt one of the last surviving Bachman’s warblers in my direction. (Okay, that’s probably asking a lot of a cookie. Still…)

Perfect Evening

Yesterday evening, I went over to Lake Crabtree and went walking.

The fields are full of swamp sunflowers, the sunflowers are full of bees and butterflies, the sun was setting across the lake in that crazy fuscia-red shade, the herons were striding grimly through the marsh, and it was just…perfect. A single perfect gem of an evening. I went walking down the sunflower path to the woods, scattering wrens and miscellaneous sparrows. A lone kingfisher went chattering overhead, swooped low over the water, and landed on a spar. The air smelled spicy and faintly sweet, and butterflies hung off the sunflowers, flapping drunkenly in the throes of nectar inebriation. A ragged-winged swallowtail careened overhead, nearly hit me, corrected, and landed on a nearby flower. I was unable to shake the feeling that if I’d leaned in close enough, I’d hear it giggling.

I looked down the path, and saw two deer, right at the edge of the path, watching me. A buck and a doe, the buck with a fairly small, spiky rack, now out of velvet. The doe retreated, but the buck stood there for several minutes, trying to decide whether I was worth fleeing or not. Eventually I looked away, following a Carolina wren that went skittering through the sedge, and when I looked back, he was gone.

I eventually walked back, around the edge of the lake, and saw a Pepperidge Farms Warbler Assortment hanging around in the grass, the low trees, and through a willow on the edge of the water. Identifying fall warblers can be a miserably frustrating exercise, and I don’t know half of what I saw, but the first-year American redstart was clear–yellow tail stripes diagnostic–as was the tail-waggling of the prairie warbler (a bird which, with the usual precision of ornithology, doesn’t hang out on prairies at all.) And both of those were lifers, which was just the final fillip on a gorgeous evening.

Much of my life is still painful and occasionally exhausting, but as long as there are occasional evenings like that, it’s worth it.

So there I was, in the parking lot of Staples, bending over to shove my purchases into the back of my faithful Nissan, when it happened.

The ripping sound. The jagged tear of denim. The sudden sense of my hind end being rather better ventilated than before.

The sensation was both horrifying and immediately familiar, despite the fact that I’ve only had it happen a few times in my life.  The seat of my pants had just ripped.

“Son of a bitch,” I thought, groping frantically behind me, and discovering a truly spectacular tear. The jeans hadn’t just ripped, they’d practically committed suicide. “I just bought these two months ago, they’re not even tight, goddamn shoddy craftsmansh–“

A second, rather more desperate thought intruded, as my brain brought it to my attention that I was, in fact, wearing thong underwear.* For a minute, all I could think of was the Calvin and Hobbes where Calvin tears his pants and thinks “Of all the days to wear the underwear with the little rocket ships on them…” This was cathartic, but not particular helpful.

Well, life is full of these little crises. I straightened up. I turned. I carefully did not look to see if anyone had seen me, because damnit, there are things I don’t want to know. I set my back to the car and inched around it, opened the door and wedged myself backwards into the driver’s seat. I had other errands to run, but suddenly they didn’t seem all that important.

Into every life, a little rain must fall…

*Don’t knock it, it’s rather surprisingly comfortable.

So last night, I went to a fetish party.

This is not something I normally do, but what the hell. A buddy of mine had offered to act as my mobile shield wall/native guide, and while you can accuse me of many, many things, lack of curiosity is not among them. The reasons I wanted to be an anthropologist were not all related to having seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom five hundred times.

And it was interesting. Not terribly well-populated, and admittedly there is only so much amusement I can derive from watching drunken frat boys electrocute various bits of their anatomy, but…interesting.  (Personally, electricity is of no erotic interest to me whatsoever–after that nerve conduction test a few years back, I can’t even hear a bug zapper without twitching. Still, whatever floats your goat…) I suspect I am not enough of a voyeur to find such things really interesting, but like anything, it’s probably more fun if you know more people.

This morning, I got up, entirely too early given how late I was out, and went to the flea market. Since my Fiestaware was the only survivor of my move, I took it as a sign and picked up an assortment, plus a couple of earthenware bowls that appealled to me.  And a duck decoy. I suspect I should resign myself to collecting duck decoys–I bought one a year or so back on a whim before I realized just how much I liked it, and have been keeping an idle eye out for them ever since. Mind you, this is not particularly a point in my life–living in a friend’s house, everything I own in boxes, income severely curtailed–when I need to be buying duck decoys, but I run across them so rarely, and I have learned, like all collectors, to buy it when you see it, damnit.

So now my personal effects in my temporary base of operations consist of one suitcase of clothes, a radio, a stack of used books, a barong sculpture, a laptop and a duck decoy.  Because you gotta have the essentials, right?

Dream Theatre Re-re-redux

My doctor warned me that Effexor would give me weird and vivid dreams. I patted her hand and said “Believe me, I’ll never even notice…”

And indeed, my dreams are always so weird that I can’t tell if there’s been any influence. Last night I wandered a post-nuclear holocaust set of buildings overrun by jungle and filled with mutant animals. It had a very video-game quality, and by that I mean at one point some idiot wiped our entire party by stumbling into a classroom full of albino kzin-like aliens, and I said “Damnit, the last save point was miles back!” There was much creepy atmospheric gearworldian-settings–I went through dozens of paper-thin lockers, opening each one, finding increasingly strange keys to other lockers, opening those, until the keys didn’t resemble keys at all but twisted bits of metal wire, and I would have to sit and puzzle out how to fit each one in the lock. (I don’t know how you’d do that bit in a game…it’d make a kick-ass art installation, mind you…)

Finally the cute mutant animals attacked, and I was forced to defend myself with a trenchcoat and a boxcutter. (Understandable, as the boxcutter has become my weapon of choice of late in real life. Alas, my masterwork one got left behind in San Jose, but if I unpack any more, I’ll just take the weapons focus feat in it anyway.*) 

In order to get to the post-nuclear holocaust, I had to actually witness the nuclear explosion. I saw the mushroom cloud starting to go up, and somebody with me yelled “RUN!” I turned around to explain the complete impossibility of running from a nuclear explosion, for god’s sake, we probably had less than a second before we were reduced to ash and all they’d find would be our shadows permanently seared onto the walls. Which is exactly the sort of the thing I WOULD stop and do under the circumstances, but apparently my brain has seen too many B-movies and allowed us to escape anyway.

I’ve never believed that if you die in a dream, you die in real life–I’ve done it a few times, and am still here–and still less would I believe that if you were vaporized in a dream…well, anyway. Still.

*Yes, I am so very, very lame. I know.

I have an apartment! Woot!

I don’t get to move in for another month, but at least hope hoves into view on the horizon. Bigger than my last place, same rent. It’s actually got a “dining room” where I can hopefully erect my computer/studio, possibly freeing up the bedroom to be merely a bedroom, a mad decadance I can barely fathom. I’d really prefer having the studio out in the main room anyway, where I can watch TV or listen to the radio, and consult my computer, etc, but I hardly know how to consider a bedroom that’s just a bedroom. Madness! Insanity! Good feng shui!* 

I might even be able to fit another chair in there. I could have guests over!  Good god! The world reels! 

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting Digger done, and whipped off the Nurk cover over the weekend, much to the rejoicing of my editor, art director, et al, all of whom called me to tell me that really, honestly, they swear, they are not in the habit of asking for a cover in three days under any normal circumstances.

The problem with working miracles, of course, is that occasionally people start to expect them, so we’ll see if this really was abnormal, or if I’m going to get forty-eight hours for Nurk II, and if by Nurk XXV: Shrew vs. Predator, the covers will be expected before the book is actually written. (Actually, for Shrew vs. Predator, presumably the cover would be the only part of actual merit…)  Still, there’s a definite ego boost to performing a superhuman feat of that sort.

Appetite starting to return, thankfully, and the faintness is now generally confined to the early mornings. I’m definitely feeling better, too–I still have up days and down days, and the downs are still pretty far down, but the phantom anvil is, if not gone, at least lightening a bit. The latest Pratchett and a diet of P.G. Wodehouse helps. The anxiety is lessening, too–whether my miseries are becoming blunted from repeated handling, like water-smoothed pebbles, or whether the ‘ol seratonin levels are starting to perk up, I couldn’t say. (The problem with examining the workings of your brain, of course, is that you have to use your brain to do it. I am an unreliable observer, ergo my observations of my unreliability are themselves unreliable. It’s enough to make your head hurt. No wonder psychology is a “soft” science…)

*I do not believe in feng shui per se, but am willing to allow certain practical principles for dwelling in a space are encapsulated therein, without goin’ nuts and buying bamboo flutes for every available surface. 

I Aten’t Dead

Internet’s been sporadic of late–my laptop flatly refuses to function with Deb’s network, forcing me to piggyback on unsuspecting wireless networks in the neighborhood, and now at last to go to Mr. Toad’s. (I am forced to update Digger via flash-drive and coffee shop. It’s like the dark ages!)

Got my car back yesterday. (Sweet, beloved car! How I missed you!) Woke up this morning to the news that my car had been backed into. I went down, looked at the large dent in the back panel, nodded, and said “Ah. Yes. So it has.” Still gotta talk to the parties responsible. It’s not a huge deal–I plan to drive this car until it falls apart under me, so resale is not a prime concern–but still, I’d like it fixed.

I may have an apartment, or I may not–they’re screwin’ around on the income verification, because with me being a freelancer, it’s hard to verify. I hadn’t had a problem at the last place at all, but this one’s bein’ all uppity about it. I brought in copies of my book contracts and whatnot, but apparently that whole “freelancer” thing is throwing them–they keep confusing an advance with a salary. I’m supposed to talk to the manager, and thus should find out tomorrow morning whether I’ve got it or not.  It’s aggravating, moreso because my credit is so fantastic that they really ought to kiss my toes and beg me to live there.  Assuming they DO finally get their act together, I wouldn’t move in until mid-October, but Deb is fabulous and cool so that’s not really a problem.

Anticipating another month at Deb’s, I went and unpacked some clothes, since I’ve been living out of a suitcase. This led to the discovery that very few of my dishes survived the trip. All my dinner plates and most of my bowls are smashed. The sole survivors are the two red Fiestaware sets my mother got me a few years ago–that stuff  is like iron. It’s kind of a bummer–I had a pretty good chunk of hand-made ceramics collected there. Most of my mugs made it, though, so I am grateful for small favors. Oh, well. I’ll start the collection up again in due course. (Any readers of a potterly bent? Want to swap art for bowls? For that matter, any corsetiers in the audience want to do a trade? I keep thinking I need one…)

And the meds MUST be working, because I am dealing with all three of these setbacks with my usual philosophical calm, instead of curling into fetal position and whimpering. (I am coping with the anxiety by turning my gibbering brain to how to decorate my new apartment, a reasonably effective form of self-hypnosis.) Thank you, sweet gods of reason, rationality, and elephants.

On the med front, the side-effects are fading. Less faint of late. Appetite is actually coming back a bit as of yesterday, which is a relief. I wasn’t even queasy this morning, which is cause to dance about and sacrifice candy to Ganesh. (I have no idea how one sacrifices candy, mind you. Eating it doesn’t seem quite appropriate. Set fire to it? Mail it to the nearest temple? I have some extra Red Vines…)

Anyway, until next time….

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