Tag Archives: dreams

The End or “It’s Going to be All Right.”

DSC_0972This is the last installment of the JJ story.  Thanks to all the readers who’ve stuck with it and offered encouragement and criticism over the years.  I’ve pulled all the entries together and, with some fleshing and spackling, I think I’ll have a pretty good book for you in the not so distant not too near future.  Take care and honor your inner JJ.  -Dave

Later, after work and a shower and falling asleep at 4:00 AM next to Lila in bed, JJ had a dream.

He was in his family’s house, as it was when he was a child. He was downstairs, alone, but aware of an adult presence upstairs. He felt like he had done something wrong, something that would be found out, and he had an urge to confess. He needed to preempt the discovery and control the story and consequences to follow. He went upstairs.

The door to his parent’s room was ajar and AM radio was playing. WCBS New York. Phony hectic newsroom sounds and top of the hour news chimes. Something about a beheading in the Middle East and an early snowstorm in the Northeast. He nudged the door open and saw Donald Trump looking out the window to the backyard. Trump turned and beckoned. “Look at all this,” he said. “It’s going to be all right.” JJ joined him at the window that usually looked out over the back driveway and basketball hoop, out over the houses on the street behind. Instead there was a vast American prairie, a rolling golden prairie as far as the eye could see with a dazzling blue sky marred only by a great plume of smoke rising on the horizon. “It’s going to be all right,” Donald Trump said and put his hand on JJ’s shoulder.

JJ woke. It was light and he was alone in his own bed, in his own house, on his farm that wasn’t a farm. Out the window, the trees were bare and there was light snow falling. The distant hilltop looked indistinct and gauzy because of the falling snow. He heard footsteps downstairs then the sound of a spoon in a cup or bowl.

Lila. Living with Lila.  Present day.

It was 10:12 on a Saturday morning in mid November. He would get dressed and have breakfast with Lila. Then off to the noontime meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, where other people, more or less just like him, would talk about the Bermuda Triangle of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. He and Lila would go to lunch or a movie and make holiday plans and maybe bigger plans, too. Then, he would go to work with Carl to bake all those bagels for Sunday morning.

Later on, at the coffee shop, JJ and Lila sat across from each other. They had visited the used bookstore and they read and sipped as people talked and moved past them. JJ tried to read Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality, on Carl’s recommendation. Too much discourse, not enough getting to the point.  Lila read a novel by Anne Tyler.

JJ looked up. “Before we go home, maybe I’ll buy a lottery ticket.”

Lila kept looking at her book. “How’d that work out the last time?”

JJ smiled. “I’d do things differently this time.”

“If it were only that simple,” Lila said.

“Things are never that simple.”

“Things are never simple,” Lila agreed. “You can set things in motion…”

”And then you’re just a bozo on the bus, along for the ride.”

“Or you’re just a bozo.”

JJ could only smile and nod and sip his coffee.  It was going to be all right.

 

 

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Safe in the Woods

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Emerging from a blackout, one finds oneself in the midst of the strangest scenarios. You re-enter your body like a time traveler and need to catch up quick lest you are discovered.

JJ re-entered his body, sitting on a park bench in Fort Collins, CO. Sitting next to him, hairy and hulking, was the Mountain Dude.

“I dreamt of a broken safe in the woods, full of acorns.”

“Huh?” JJ was disoriented and wondered what had happened. How was he here? Where did the Mountain Dude come from? And, holy shit, where was the car?

“I was walking down a mountainside. Saw an appliance or something down the hill in a clearing.   Got closer and it was a safe, busted open, with acorns spilling out.”

“A safe? Who was safe?”

The Mountain Dude looked at JJ. “Man, you’re really out of it. It was a safe, like where you keep your valuables. In the middle of the woods, busted open, with acorns spilling out. Hundreds of acorns.”

“When did this happen?”

“Dude! It was a dream.”

A dream. Maybe this was a dream, too. How could the Mountain Dude, who JJ instantly recognized as the Mountain Dude from back east, be sitting here in a park in Colorado talking to him about dreams.

“Is this real?”

“I’m real. I’m really real. The dream? What kind of symbol is a broken safe in the woods?”

JJ looked at the park. Late summer, late afternoon. People walked their dogs and threw Frisbees. The foothills of the Rockies rose beyond the town, sage and brown. He felt quavery and dry, his head too big for his body. Standing would be a major issue. Worse, there were knuckle-dragging beasts, just beyond the fog in his head and heart. Feelings and memories chasing him, making threatening movements, shadows in the fog. If that fog clears…

“Precious things are kept in a safe, locked away,” JJ said.

“Right. Not just documents. Gems and jewels.”

“So maybe the things you hold precious, locked up inside, need to come out. Or they’re already out.”

“So the woods are my soul or unconscious,” the Mountain Dude said. “And I come upon this safe that’s broken open.”

“Full of God’s thoughts.”dsc_0789

“What?”

“Acorns are God’s thoughts. Simple and perfect, but not too perfect.”

“Dude. I knew you could do it.”

“You knew? How?”

“You told me. In the bar. An interpreter of dreams you said you were. A seeker of symbols. I pulled you out of there before they threw you out of there.” The Mountain Dude stood up. “And I’ve been rewarded.”

“You’re going?”

“I have to go off and think on these images.”

“What about me?”

“You’ll have to carry on and find your own acorns.”

The Mountain Dude walked down the grassy hill toward the foothills beyond.

JJ stared after him, befogged and befuddled.  What now?  Then he yelled at the departing Mountain Dude, “Have you seen a Hyper Blue Metallic Camaro?”

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Swamp or Bog?

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Lila asked, “What’s the difference between a bog and a swamp?”

“No idea. Standing water in a swamp?” JJ peered out over the cattails from beneath the brim of his cap. Early afternoon in sticky late summer.

They lounged under a tree on dry ground above a bog in New Hampshire. Or was it a swamp? It smelled like a swamp. But, everything below the mountain ridges smelled swampy and fetid in the humidity. The shade was good, especially if you stayed still. Dragonflies hovered and darted, like technicolor futuristic bi-planes. JJ thought dragonflies to be living proof of God. What a creature! Of course, God also created the mosquito, so hold the applause.

“That sounds right. Standing water. Pools of water in a swamp. Spongy ground in a bog.”

“Either way, it’s nice to be up here above it all. High and dry.”

“High and dry,” she murmured and dozed off into a boggy half-sleep. A murky continuing of a dream from the night before. A variation on the chasing dream. She is being pursued through a mazelike series of scenes from her life. A camp where she used to be a teenage counselor. She hurried through the arts and crafts cabin and overturned a bin of perfect oak leaves for tracing and art projects, and felt a surge of sadness. Then she was in Boston from her college days, pushing through tourists at the public gardens and disrupting wedding pictures on the bridge above the swan boats. The wedding party all looked at her without expression as she rushed through. She fled the gardens and emerged on a street in Paris, where she always wanted to go but had never been. She somehow found a bike and sped down the Champs Elysees like a figure in an Impressionist painting, more panicked now because she speak French at all. Weren’t they snotty if you couldn’t speak French?The-Champs-Elysees-Paris-xx-Georges-Stein

Who was the pursuer? Who wouldn’t just leave her alone? She never got a clear look. Sometimes she would turn and just get a glimpse of a figure wearing a dark hoody walking after her, unhurried and relentless, not concerned at all that she could get away, biding his time until she tired and fell or just stopped.

“Lila.”

Paris broke up, her dream bike wobbled, the image faded, the fear remaining.

“Lila,” JJ whispered and shook her shoulder.

“Hmmm?”

“Let’s get moving. We have to do another 5 miles before dark.”

Oh yeah, backpacking in the heat, in New Hampshire.

“You know,” she said. “Let’s go ahead and invite Carl for a few days.”

JJ was quiet. “I thought we decided about this.”

“I know, but he was really weird when we called the house. That tornado…a close call…”

JJ sighed. “Okay. I guess it’s the right thing to do. Especially with his marriage all messed up again.”

“We’ll call when we get back tomorrow.” Don’t seem too eager, she told herself.

“Okay. Let’s go.”

“You go ahead,” Lila said. “I’ll follow you.”

“Ha,” JJ snorted. “I’ve been following you since yesterday.”

“My turn to chase you,” she said and hoisted her pack.

“Who’s chasing anyone,” JJ said and hoisted his own.

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JJ Prays and Dreams

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A humid summer day. JJ knelt beside his bed and tried to pray. He heard a noise and jumped up, embarrassed, and looked to find the cat peering at him from the door. Good ol’ Knuckles knew something was amiss. JJ threw a balled-up sock and the cat scurried away, but not without a look back at the praying lunatic. After a moment, JJ kneeled back down.

“Dear God,” he began. And there was nothing beyond that.

“Just pretend,” Professor Tom had said. “Say thanks for the day, thanks for a sober day, and wrap it up. Keep it simple.”

That was Tom’s favorite slogan from the pantheon of AA slogans. Keep it simple. Ok, then.

JJ said, “Thanks God. Thanks for helping me today.” Then he jumped to his feet like he was caught doing something cruel on his knees, maybe frying ants with a magnifying glass. Once, at nine or ten years old, he had tormented a frog he found, eventually dropping a rock on it and crushing it. This was observed by his father, who was on him in a flash. His father only hit him twice in his life. That was once, a smack right up side the head that left him sprawled in the grass with his right ear ringing. The other time was when he climbed to the top of a tree and refused to come down for the babysitter. He stayed up there until it got dark and the babysitter had no choice but to rat him out. Later, he sat in his room and listened to his mother outside the door. “You go in there and strap him. Take this belt.”

“Jesus, Karen, he’s just a boy doing stupid shit.”

“Strap him! The whole neighborhood saw him up there. They heard him up there.” His father came in and delivered a lukewarm strapping as JJ jumped on the bed, crying and dodging. He remembered the confusion of being relieved that it wasn’t severe but ashamed of his father’s weak brutality. After all, he had probably deserved many a good strapping.

“Great memories,” JJ said to his empty house. “Praying is wonderful.”

Later, restless and tired, JJ lay back on the couch, tried to read, but dozed off. He dreamed of that summer day, crouching over the rock that covered the dead frog. He knew he was going to lift it but was afraid of what he’d see. When he did lift the rock, there was nothing there, just matted grass. He heard a sound and turned, cringing, thinking his father was going to hit him, but it was just Knuckles the cat, looking at him from under the porch. JJ crawled under the porch and that dream thing happened. He emerged into Grand Central Station, in the big room with the booth in the middle and the vast ceiling with the stars. There were so many people streaming in from train tunnels and mingling in a teeming mass, but he was above the fray, on one of the balconies. Then he saw Lila in the crowd, near the booth, distinct among the strangers. And then he saw his mother, dead now, near the ticket windows and he thought maybe this was some purgatory or parody of heaven.

He woke up, sweaty and befuddled, and found his phone. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. Are YOU? You sound far away.”

“I’m ok. I’m good. Just woke from a nap, a little disoriented. A bad dream.”

Lila was quiet for a moment, “JJ, it’s ok. I’m ok. Life is going to be ok.”

“Ok,” he said. “It’s ok.”

“Good. Now wake up and come take me to dinner.”

“Ok. That sounds good.” And it was. It was better than ok. It was just right.

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Thank You, Putin

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Two recurring dream segments I had growing up, one just returned last week.  Both are culminations of zany and menacing pursuit dreams, with me fleeing through forest, farm, and city.  The reasons never mattered as much as the absurd settings and hazy foes. Some of these from my life, some from history, some from the news, some from fantasy.  The chase always ended at one of two places, never both.

The first place, from my earliest dreams, has me hurrying along the edge of a newly plowed field. There is a man with a hoe and a brimmed hat working in the field, silhouetted black against a blue sky. I am in the trees, watching him, and I know what’s about to happen.  The man is working the hoe, ignoring me, until the moment he rises up and the hoe is a rifle.  He raises the gun, shoots me in the leg, and I stumble off, the chase resuming.  I usually wake soon after.  He always shoots me in the leg and I always know he’s going to do it.

But, this is not the dream segment that came back last week.

That dream segment has me running again. Same fleeting places, real and imagined. Same undefined foes. But, this time I end up on a balcony overlooking Red Square in Moscow.  Naturally, there is an NFL game going on down there where the Red Army used to march for review.  (Will probably march again.)  The Dallas Cowboys are always playing.  Don’t ask me if the quarterback was Tony Romo, Troy Aikman, or Roger Staubach.  The crowd roars and I stand where Stalin stood, where Putin stands, and watch America’s Team play forever.  I had this dream last week for the first time in maybe 30 years.  I am a child of two cataclysms of the 20th century, the Cold War and the Dallas Cowboys.

Thank you, Putin. 

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