Saturday, September 29th–I had a few dreams. In one I went back to Willis Methodist Church, which my mother and I attended when I was a teenager. I went back to take photos. The church and Fellowship Hall were being used for something, although I’m not sure as a full-blown service was going on. The sanctuary in the dream was much larger and more interesting-looking than the church was in real life. The real one was small and austere. I didn’t especially like having to go there.
I think the last dream took place in Latin America somewhere. The dream took place in a one-story house in a town. The house was over a century-old, and was surrounded on all sides by a veranda. There were tile floors and white plastered walls. It all looked a bit like Hemingway’s house in Cuba.
The owner was a rich and dignified old man, possibly played by Clint Eastwood. But some of the younger guests and neighbors behaved rudely, the grand old man retired to a secluded part of his house, and the major-domo, himself a man of great dignity (and a character stolen from the Charlton Heston movie, “The Naked Jungle”), had to explain to the offensive guests and neighbors that they had to leave. I had behaved myself, and was presumably still welcome, and occupied myself with exploring the back of the house, especially the two side-by-side bathrooms, with an eye towards making drawings of the floor plans and details.
I woke in late afternoon–tired, though not as tired as I have been the last few days. I still had a few lingering side-effects of that fucking Hydroxyzine, but I’m already beginning to shake them off.
It seems to have rained most of the day. In early evening it came down heavily, then dripped the rest of the night.
I ate the last of that soup I cared to eat, and let Belle have the faux meat pieces from it. There were still some bits and pieces left to the soup, but they were mostly flavoring agents, such as chunks of peppers and garlic, and I tossed them.
The Post-Shower time is always best for high silliness.
My dog Belle was dancing around, raising and lowering her front paws in a “Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah” minstrel show move, shaking her massive head back and forth, and I was singing, changing around the lyrics to the old Waitresses song, “I Know What Boys Like:”
“I know what dogs like
I know what dogs want
They want some chew sticks
They’ll never get them.”
But of course, she got one.
(I can’t believe I just shared my human/dog baby talk in public.)
Ah, I wonder what those sad married folks do with their long nights.
I did seventeen Quark X Press tutorials, but the quality of the lessons and videos is getting much worse. One video clearly started well after the instructor began talking. I’m rather concerned that I’m not learning all that I should properly, because these particular tutorials are so poor. The instructor tends to ramble, repeat himself, take steps without telling the students what he just did, and not explain himself adequately.
Later on I watched “Breakfast With Scot,” which was quite sweet.
Sunday, September 30th–As I woke, I seemed to remember having had six dreams, but they are almost all lost to me now. In one, I was back in Conroe, Texas, on Highway 105, heading west, crossing the San Jacinto River Bridge. (I’ve had several dreams set in that area, and I wonder if it’s due to my fear of rivers and indeed most bodies of water, seeing as I can’t swim.)
The bridge was awfully high in this dream, and I noticed that on the east side of the river there were a bunch of ugly brown brick office buildings, which look to have dated to the 1970s or early 80s. They all seemed to be about two or maybe three stories in height, with their flat roofs level with the top of the bridge’s railing.
I thought that the builders missed out on a great opportunity–they should’ve added extra stories so some offices could at least have a view of the road and bridge and even over it. The next thing I knew, I was scrambling around the exterior stairs of one of these buildings. There didn’t appear to be any corridors indoors or out on these buildings, and there were open stairwells in the southwest and southeast corners. (I was at the southwest corner of the western-most building.)
There may have been a brick wall along one side, but for the most part the stairwells were made of rusting, flimsy metal that had seen better days. And then I discovered that some upper offices could only be reached by stationary steel ladders. Who the hell would want to go to an office like that? And the access to other offices was impeded by horizontal and diagonal cross-bars here and there. The stairwells were more like derricks or old windmills in that regard.
I woke around 8pm. I had several messages from James. He’d bought me a new phone, after having much trouble finding one, and when I didn’t return his calls, he’d just left the box with the phone, along with a bunch of plastic bags for Belle’s poop detail, hanging on the message clamp outside my front door. It’s good to finally have a phone with all the numbers working again; still, I was sleepy enough that I had a little trouble getting all the plugs and cords in the right spot.
I made tostadas and refried beans for dinner. Belle’s consumption of the left-overs must’ve been the cause of the truly vile farts she produced a little later. I took her on two or three more walks after dinner, including a long one around the block, before she finally settled down.
I think it was after midnight when I began working on my tutorials. This grouping was a lot of trouble, especially because I was having trouble making the videos pause and then come back on, so the instructor was babbling on while I was trying desperately and angrily to make him shut up.
After all that, I read on the floor in Douglas for several hours.
Monday, October 1st–I got up around 10pm. After my shower I gave Belle a thorough going-over with the flea comb, then finally finished with those annoying Quark X Press 6.5 tutorials, narrated by that fuck-head with the honking, hooting Minnesota accent. Unfortunately, it appears that he narrates another set of tutorials that I feel I ought to take.
Tuesday, October 2nd–I puttered the rest of the evening, and finally finished Norman Douglas’s “Siren Land,” then went on to begin his “Fountains in the Sand.”
Douglas is considered by some as the father of modern travel writing. This book ranges over such a wide variety of topics as the mythical sirens, the Emperor Tiberius, local food and wines, the Blue Grotto, ruins and archaeology, religions and superstitions, the Capriot mystic Sister Serafina, the landscape, legends, the weather and climate, and the general stupidity, sordidness, and dishonesty of the locals. His tone is often condescending and contemptuous, so I enjoyed it a great deal.
The sort of travel Douglas discusses requires wealth, leisure time, intelligence, culture, taste, and education–all in large and equal quantities. I’m not sure that sort of person exists anymore. A traveler may have a lot of money, but lack cultural depth, or he may possess taste and intelligence, but not have more than a few days or weeks at most to visit a destination.
I also cannot imagine there are many people nowadays who would enjoy Douglas’s writing style. He was clearly a well-read and highly-educated man, with quite the faculty for languages. The text is full of scholarly references, and the quotations in foreign languages are left untranslated. He does not not talk down to his readers–he assumes they are as intelligent as he is. And I must admit that I preferred being treated as an intellectual equal, even if I didn’t understand everything Douglas was talking about some of the time.
(I must also confess that I’ve been guilty of the same sort of pedantic obscurity in my own writing, and people have criticized me about it.)
Before I read the book I read up on Douglas himself, and learned that, unfortunately, he was a pedophile. He went to Capri not only for the scenery and the history but also because it was in his time what Thailand is in ours–a hotbed for kinky sex tourism.
Often our society is presented with this dilemma–can we enjoy and appreciate a work of art if we know that the creator, be he a painter, a writer, a composer, or a director–a Picasso, Celine, Wagner, or Polanski, say–is a truly despicable person? I certainly can’t answer that. But I will say that my background knowledge of Douglas caused me to try to read closely between the lines.
It was about 2pm when I finally went to bed.
I can remember having two dreams, both on a theatrical theme.
I was working another crappy job, this time at a Dairy Queen fast-food restaurant that was also a dinner theatre. (I worked for Dairy Queen for about two months in 1986.) This one in the dream was more or less where the Dairy Queen is on Burnet Road in Austin, although there was a low rise of land just to the north of it. The restaurant was more or less where it is in real life, though it looked completely different, while the building to the north, on the rise, contained, rather inconveniently, the kitchen, a storage area, the dressing rooms, and the toilets.
The play was supposed to start at the top of the hour, say around 8pm. I arrived at the stroke of 8–much later than I was supposed to do, but then again, I have a habit of showing up late for bad jobs. I should’ve arrived earlier to help set the restaurant and stage and all up, and get into my make-up and costume.
We were doing a dramatization of “Huckleberry Finn.” I forget if it was straight drama or a musical, but for some odd reason I was cast as Huck Finn’s drunk, abusive, hairy, and filthy father, “Pap.” This meant I had to put on a lot of make-up, a wig, and a bushy beard, among other things. But first off I had to piss.
I was really cutting things close. After all, Pap is only around in the beginning of the story. But did have a special guest start that night–Richard Thomas–aka “John-Boy Walton.” He was supposed to do a lounge act where he performed some songs. I was sure that would be awful, but what I didn’t know was whether he was performing before or after the play. If he opened, then I’d be okay.
I tried to get ready as quickly as I could, but then realized I needed to piss again. Although I was taking a huge chance, I went ahead and went back to the bathroom.
[Needless to say, I woke after this dream and made a quick bathroom trip.]
In the other dream I was arriving at an older-style school building.
It was two stories or more in height and U-shaped, though the central section was longer that the wings. I went through the door, into the hall, and turned left into the auditorium, which filled up much of the central section.
Everyone took their seats. This was an important performance, as the school was having funding problems, and some big-shots were trying to shut the school down. The performance was to show off what a good school it was and how it produced talented students. The principal, a youngish man who looked a great deal like Austin’s former Mayor Wynn, and whom I apparently knew, got up and gave an introduction.
I’m forgetting some details, but some things went wrong. Either some of the performers didn’t show up or some kid forgot his lines or played a sour note on his instrument or something like that. I think, perhaps, someone in the audience yelled out something angry or insulting, and in no time the performance fell apart and people just got up and started leaving.
I went out of the auditorium by a door near the stage, into a hallway that ran parallel along the length of the room, and then turned to the left into another hall. I then had trouble picking up or carrying some stuff. Maybe I checked into a locker that belonged to me. I forget. But I saw the exasperated principal in his office. (If the auditorium ran east to west, with a hallway to its north and big windows facing the front lawn of the school to the south, then the principal’s office was at the intersection of two halls, in the northwest corner of the first floor.)
I called out in a well-modulated voice, over the noise of people milling around the halls, “Would you like to a get a…?,” and then I made a gesture of drinking out of a bottle. He shook his head and said, “No, I had to sell mine,” meaning he’d sold his last bottle of booze to raise money for his dying school. I hadn’t realized things were that bad.
I woke about 10:15pm.
[And then what?]
Wednesday, October 3rd–While walking Belle around the complex, I passed a dumpster next to which someone had left a box of cookbooks, many of which were vegetarian. I picked out about sixteen of them, and got another one the next time we went outside. The problem was the books had just been subjected to about fifteen minutes of spraying from the water sprinklers.
With great difficulty, I picked up all the books with one arm, maneuvered Belle with the other arm, checked my mail, and headed back to my apartment. I then spent the next few hours on the kitchen floor trying to save these books, drying them off with a towel, taking off the dust jackets if there were any, and mostly inserting dry sheets of paper between the pages, in order to soak up the moisture and prevent the pages from sticking together. About two of these books won’t make it, but I think the others should recover nicely.
I had been putting off for a few days going to the UPS Store to buy a stamp and mail off one of my bills, but I decided I had to do it today. I also went by Petsmart and the dollar store afterwards.
Thursday, October 4th–Was it Wednesday night or Tuesday that I dreamt of living in a small, filthy room? The walls were discolored, with large chunks of paint flaking off. I shuddered when I rubbed against the flakes, associating them with filth and disease and poverty. Should I scrape them all off? I’d get the flakes everywhere if I did, though.
Perhaps I could put up maps and posters, but that would only cover up the filth that I would know was still there. And then again, how long was I to live in this room anyway? Maybe I should just forget about it all, knowing I’d move out in the near-future.
In the next dream I had a problem to investigate. I’m not sure whether I was a detective or a reporter or what. There was a cult-like group in the country east of town (east of Austin?) that was behaving in a suspicious manner, and I was sent out there to poke around and see what was up.
I had no trouble finding the property and gaining admittance to the house. The problem was that everyone was so busy they didn’t have time to talk with me, and I was kept waiting.
There was a mother (“The Mother”) who seemed to be one of the top people there. She was middle-aged, pleasant, and seemingly normal. I gathered there was a “Father,” but I never saw him, and he might not even have been on the premises.
There were a great many other people around, mostly ranging in age from the twenties to the forties. I’m not sure if The Mother and Father had any actual children there or not. These other people kept to themselves, either socializing with each other, or busily moving around doing clerical or domestic work.
Not surprisingly, I got distracted, and started paying more attention to the building, rather than the people or my assignment. The building was originally built as either a mansion or a school, in the Arts and Crafts style of the early Twentieth-Century, and consisted of at least two stories. It was very wide–much wider than long. The main entrance faced due west.
Had someone bothered to sink a lot of money into a restoration, I’m sure the house would’ve been a show-place, but as it was, it looked rather run-down. I could see where walls had been knocked down, and the spots and seams where those former walls had met the floors and other walls had not been smoothed over or refinished. Walls were stained here and there, and the flooring was missing or damaged in parts.
The broad double front doors, with side-lights, opened into the Main Hall. Hard to the right, at the southwest corner of the house, was a stair tower, with four flights of stairs and a great many steps just to reach the second floor. Underneath the top flight of stairs, but on the ground floor level, there was an abandoned urinal attached to the wall, and a good deal of rubble around it, which indicated to me that there had once been a men’s room under the stairs which was later demolished.
Continuing along the right side of the house were some windows, and rough seams along the walls and floor that indicated that there used to be pantries along this side. They’d been torn out, and their storage capacities sacrificed, to make the kitchen seem more open. The long kitchen, which buzzed with activity, and was full of bustling people, stretched out at the southeastern corner of the house.
Most of the ground floor was taken up by the Great Hall. There were windows facing east and west, and a door led to a northern wing which I think included offices and a library. Most of the Great Hall was divided up into little nooks for conversation, reading, entertainment, or work. Many people could be pursuing their own activities in this room without bothering anyone else.
The decor consisted of the sort of cheap, shabby, dirty, ugly, second-hand, yet comfortable furniture that poor college students use when they first move out of the dorms and get a house or apartment together.
In the center of the Great Hall was what I suppose I’ll have to call a Rotunda. There was a large opening to the second floor, with a balcony surrounding it, and quite possibly, a ring of clerestory windows in the ceiling over the second floor. I wasn’t allowed to go up to the second floor, but I counted eight doors opening off the balcony, and I assumed they led to bedrooms.
In the center of the floor of the Rotunda was a large circle, though no more than ten feet in diameter. There was a waist-high rail around this circle. Below the circle was a depression into the ground, a sort of inverted cone with a flattened end instead of a pointed tip, rather the same shape as a red-clay flower pot, only much larger. It was lined with pinkish-red bricks.
I couldn’t quite make out what was at the bottom of this pit, though. I was pretty sure the depression wasn’t used as a fire pit, but there was something black and bumpy at the bottom, with the consistency of partially-burned charcoal briquettes. And the next time I walked by the pit, the bumpy black surface was gone, and there seemed to be another level visible below the bottom of the cone. I wondered how the basements were configured in this house, and how many stories they went down, but I wasn’t given a chance to find out anything else.
At one point I was wandering around and came across The Mother. She said, pleasantly, “I’m sorry you’re being kept waiting for such a long time, but we’re so busy around here….”
I replied brightly, and sincerely, “Oh, that’s quite all right. I’m just enjoying seeing this cool old house!”
And so the afternoon passed. I was allowed to explore, albeit within strict limits. No one ever told me not to go here or there–it was just understood by me what areas were forbidden.
The next thing I knew I was a house guest for the night. I found myself staying in a room in the north wing, but at some time in the night I wandered out and found a section on the west side of that wing where the normal laws of proportion didn’t seem to be in effect, because I followed a black cat up a staircase that suddenly became as steep as a ladder.
At the top of this ladder was a room supposedly occupied by The Mother (who, now that I think of it, looked rather like Ingrid Bergman in her older years), but though I’d climbed to the top of the ladder/stair, I was still technically on the ground floor and well out of reach of The Mother’s door.
A slim, strict young woman appeared in the hallway below me, and sharply asked, “What are you doing up there? Don’t you know that no one is allowed to approach The Mother?” I stammered, “Umm, I just followed the cat. I wanted to see where the cat was going.”
My part of the dream ended with me sitting on a couch in the Great Hall, looking out the western windows at a gloomy afternoon sky, as a voice-over announced that someone else had discovered The Father’s criminal dealings. The Father was arrested, tried, and imprisoned for working out an illegal arms-and-oil deal with either the Saudis or the Egyptians, but it was understood that this turn of events was merely a front and window-dressing, covering for The Father and Mother’s higher-ups, and the much more serious and sinister doings with which they were involved.
Some time after waking I realized that the house in the dream was in some points but not all somewhat similar to the old Hollywood home of painter Paul De Longpre, which was built in 1901, was a popular tourist attraction, especially for its gardens, but was demolished in 1925. (That house’s style was more modified Spanish/Mooresque. It certainly wasn’t Arts and Crafts.)
I woke at 4:05am.
Around 10:15am, right after I’d started my G-mail tutorials, Belle wanted her third walk of the day. This took us across the street, over to Phase Two of the complex, and I saw that woman I got arrested the other night yet again. This was the first time I saw her in the daylight, and even then, I didn’t get a good look. She was young, unattractive, and badly-dressed, with spiky hair.
She was out by her car, which was parked in a new spot. It was dark blue, but I was still unable to read the name of the make. She was fussing with two small dogs in the back seat. I noticed two other small dogs yapping from a nearby balcony, and concluded those dogs and the apartment were her’s as well. She got a good look at me, and watched me and Belle as we walked on. I made no eye-contact, and I was surprised she didn’t say anything. I hope she doesn’t attempt any reprisals.
I went to bed around 8pm or so.
Friday, October 5th–Did I have any dreams? If I did, I really don’t remember them, except for something where I saw in a 1969 newspaper the announcement of the death of former CIA head Allen Dulles.
Belle kept waking me up, wanting belly rubs and such. I got up around 6:30am. I walked and fed her, ate, and checked online, becoming almost immediately enraged by all the political bullshit. Then I took a shower.
I spent much of the day reading Douglas’s “Fountains in the Sand.”
Those cookbooks I rescued still aren’t completely dry.
I retired about 8pm.