On the interpretation of dreams

    Dad, I had a dream you were smoking. Do you smoke?
    No, honey. I told you I quit. I haven’t smoked all year.
    You also had a different form.
    Oh yeah?
    You were a raccoon.
    See? How could I smoke if I washed my cigarettes first?

Also, the back seat of my Mazda looks as if a fairy got carsick back there. Glitter all over.


A minute ago it was snowing hard, big flakey flakes of wet snow thundering down like paparazzi at an Oscars party wardrobe malfunction, if paparazzi moved vertically. Now they’re smaller, and less numerous.

The snow, I mean the snow.

Recently, I’ve done a couple things right. I won’t say what, other people are involved. So there’s that.

Had a couple problems with technology, nothing serious. Put my cellphone in my pocket in such a way that I sent 18 text messages to someone on my list, who did not recognize my phone number and gave me a nasty call until we figured out what must be happening. Then I sent an email to a wrong address, thanks to the gmail auto-complete function, which worked out okay because it turned out to be someone I hadn’t heard from in a long time and we had a nice exchange. I’ve heard stories of people with worse luck, who accidentally call a friend behind whose back they happen to be talking with another friend, for example. A model I knew told me about a painter who took a call from his wife once, while painting my model acquaintance, spoke to his wife, then put the phone back into his pocket, assuming he had turned it off, and went back to trying to seduce the model while his wife listened in on their conversation, for around two hours.

Had a cello lesson last night. It went okay. Some romantic sonata by Romberg. It’s easier than the Vivaldi thing I had been trying before that. Less work with the left hand, lets me concentrate on my bowing, which needs concentration, man, in my case.

So I guess practicing? It helps? Also I was thinking about Ruth‘s comment on an earlier post, about Gamma being a good cello teacher with her “alles is lebendig” and I was thinking about that, and how, if my cello is alive in any way, then it wants to be played, and well, and not dropped or to have metronomes fall on it or to be stood in a corner.

So there’s that.

Meditating this morning, I tried this thing, this metta thing, where you start out seeing yourself in a loving way, as a good friend would see you, and then thinking about a friend in that way, then a stranger, then an enemy. This is going to take several days to get through, I think. This morning, I sat down, the cat jumped on my lap as he has begun doing every morning, I got as far as thinking about myself as a friend would, but found myself unable, in fact, to imagine why anyone would like me and stood at the rim of that abyss for a while, looking down, with the wind blowing up through my hair, currently short, my hair, a neutral wind, not warm, not chilly, sort of looking down and not seeing anything and thinking, oh for pete’s sake, people like me, they must have a reason.

So I pet the cat for a while and made lunches and stuff.

Saw some neat collage stuff on flickr, people jazzing up their moleskine journals. Coincidentally, I have begun glueing stuff into mine. So far, only postits with half-checked-off todo lists, but it’s a start.

Making coffee this morning, it occurred to me that it’s been 20 years, actually only 19, since I worked in the same office as another American.

Checking my stats, I noticed a stranger had linked one of my Painsuit stories, an old story, and it was quite good, reading through it. That was encouraging.

I am very busy at work. At lunch I will go outside, into the snowy streets, at least I hope they’ll still be snowy, and walk around for half an hour or so.


We went crosscountry skiing with friends, locally. Afterwards we took long naps. We failed to finish a game of Trivial Pursuit, as usual, due to arguing. We cleaned house. I learned that, when cleaning a kitchen, it is necessary to take it apart first. And that cabinet handles are cleaned with different cleanser than the cabinets themselves.
When I was a boy, a friend got a job cleaning cars. “Not cleaning them,” he said. “Detailing them.” He detailed cars, which I gathered meant he cleaned them super well. So I detailed the kitchen, which I understand is something my wife or the cleaning lady have done on a weekly basis.
CSI came over afterwards, with their black lights and sprays and they said, when they finished, “This kitchen is clean, man.”


    Dick Cheney removes his human mask and squats naked inside a pentagram made from the blood of drowned orphans amidst flickering shadows and flames and smoke from brimstone and burning tires. An aide brings him the bad news: tobacco consumption down, booze down, sugar down, trans-fat down, Krispy-Kreme stock down 15%, whatever.

    Dick Cheney just chuckles, a deep chortle with lots of reverb. “Buy,” is all he says. “Buy. They’ll bounce back up in a week or so when people forget about their resolutions.” And he shakes his “head” over folly and human weakness.

It’s important, see, that it be clear I have made no resolutions for the New Year. I couldn’t be arsed, basically. Suddenly, the New Year was upon me, just like that, and there I stood, no resolutions ready.
The things I have ended up doing differently, stopping doing, doing more of, doing for the first time, they have nothing to do with no steenkin’ resolutions.
They are, instead, a response to the pain and turmoil inside me. Nothing special, just the usual stuff you run into, I suppose, on this lap of the bumper car ride.

The weather has been freezing cold for weeks now. Everything is frozen solid. White. When it is foggy, the fog freezes.

There is a hydrangea out in front of my house. If I could paint flowers, I would paint it every day for a year and at the end of the year would know something I currently don’t. I would paint it in all weathers and lights and stages of growth from jello-green sprout in the spring (to arbitrarily choose a starting point) to its current brown, whithered and majestic state.

But I can’t paint flowers so I think about hydrangeas on my frozen drive into work. You have never seen one die, have you. They live forever, hydrangeas. The ones of my childhood are still alive, still thickening against the walls of my childhood house (except for the one my dad actually parked the pickup on), or they would be, if the house hadn’t been burned down, then razed for a mall parking lot.

Hydrangeas are my favorite flower; unfortunately my wife doesn’t like them so we get into fistfights over flowers a lot. We drive out into the hills with a bottle of whiskey and she puts a roll of quarters into her fist and slugs me in the head when I’m not looking. When I wake up on my back with the taste of iron in my mouth she’s standing over me drinking my whiskey and saying something about no hydrangeas this year.

In fact, we have three of them out in front of the house.

So one of the things I’ve started doing is meditating in the mornings. I get up at like 4.30 am, 4.45, for that peaceful hour at the start of the day, right, when everyone is sleeping. Feed cats, eat breakfast, boil tea water, make coffee, pack lunches, write in journal. Now add meditating to that. The hour is getting pretty fucking full. It’s turning into an hour of stress; I’m beginning to stress myself in my quest for inner peace. I’m sitting there meditating, counting my breaths or something, checking my watch every 5 minutes.

I’ve also begun making lists. Five to ten items on a postit each morning, which I carry around with me throughout the day, crossing shit off. Or not. I’ve got a success rate around 70%, which I consider good. A few easy things, a few hard things, a few easy or hard things that have been niggling and bugging me and I’ve been putting them off for months or years. Works, so far.

One of the things on the list, recently, was go have a cup of coffee by myself. Because you can’t just sit in a coffeehouse and do nothing, and I wasn’t in the mood to read magazines, I bought a book first. Some book, any book. Some book on Buddhist meditation, cheap skinny little book. I had my coffee and read the book. Mindfulness. Attentiveness. Beginner’s mind. Blah blah blah. BzzBzzBzz. Paying attention to the moment. BzzBzzBzz. What was that? You know how you’ll be reading, and it occurs to you you sort of slept through the last two pages? I must have read the first three pages of the Mindfulness chapter five times.

How is this ever going to work, I wondered.

So there’s the meditation. And the journal writing. And I’m re-reading The Artist’s Way. I had, originally, thought I hadn’t made a lot of progress when I read it the first time, but here I am trying not to write, but rather trying to edit these manuscripts I have, re-writing is harder than writing, and with ten or a dozen paintings hanging around. So I suppose it did set something in motion.

And I’m trying to give my wife more time to herself and more space, same with Beta, and Gamma I suppose. Step by step, whatever. No resolutions, just this step. And every morning, on my way out to the car, a glance at the hydrangea, frozen in the snow.

Whiskey River had a quote a while back, some one remarking how Westerners want to witness their own enlightenment. I suppose I want not only to witness mine, I also want to blog about it. Although, who knows. Maybe enlightenment will strike, and then I’ll just

Readership survey

Situation: you are crossing a large, cold and deep body of water on a stormy day in a ferry that is overloaded with orphans. It tips and begins to sink rapidly. What do you save, an orphan or your notebook computer?

Alles ist lebendig

“Alles ist lebendig,” she says to me.

Everything is alive.
We are talking.
We are walking in the snow, perhaps.
Perhaps I am holding her little hand in my big hand, carefully, to avoid pulling her mitten right off, as sometimes happens.
Everything is alive. People are alive. Animals are alive.
This is too obvious for her to even comment on.
Rocks and air are alive. Water is alive.
She agrees.
All this snow. Alive.
Is a water crystal alive or is the snowball alive?
The coffee cup is alive, and when dashed to the floor in anger and exasperation, the shards are all alive.
Every one of them, living shards.
Alles ist lebendig.

Ski trip

The week after Christmas was devoted to skiing. We went to the same ski area as usual, but stayed in a different pension, more centrally located. Beta timed us the first night when we walked to the Kirchenwirt, the inn across the street from the church, where we usually eat. It took us 15 seconds to get there.
Not only that: although we took the ski bus to the lifts, we were able to ski right up to our pension on our way back. I have dreamed of doing that ever since reading about Hemingway doing that on his stays in Tyrol or somewhere. So basically, I had a Hemingway ski trip this winter, if Hemingway had spent his time skiing behind an 8-year old girl. And had drunk less. Quite a bit less, in fact, because he was afraid of falling down too much if he got drunk while skiing.
The weather was perfect. Lots of good, powdery snow. Nice and cold. Trees all thickly flocked in the white. Didn’t even fall down the first day. Not until we were on our way home, anyhow. By then I was tired. I didn’t feel tired, but I could tell I was because I began to crash a lot.
Even though we spent some time in the lodge, eating and stuff.
The second day it was foggy so we went swimming at a water-slide place. Aquapulco, it was called, but Gamma called it Apocapulco. That’s my girl.
If you’re new here, Gamma is the 8-year old.
Happy New Year, by the way.
Evenings we spent fighting over the remote control device and jockeying for position on the couch.
When Beta had the remote, we watched MTV, at least part of the time. I was a bit worried when Rammstein came on, because it was visually impressive and included a monk-type fellow stabbing someone to death, and several shirtless flagellants (as opposed to flagellates which are something biological) scourging themselves vigorously and in time with the music.
“Papa,” Gamma said once the video had finished, “can you get me a copy of this?”
The third day of skiing was the coldest, so we went into the lodge earlier in the day, to make sure we got a table because it’s no fun to lurk around in the lodge looking for a corner to rest in.
We had a good family ski trip. We fought and bickered quite a bit, because we have been doing that this holiday season, but the external conditions couldn’t have been better, is what I’m saying. The landscape was quite marvelous. My wife led us around the slopes with calm expertise, and the snow was good with very little ice. I got in a few nice chats with Beta on the ski lifts. We had a good time. But it’s nice to be back.

Posted in Familie