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Zappa dreams

I was up almost all night last night, then woke up early and read until I could fall asleep again. Then I had a weird dream that I was listening to this new album that was by Stanley Clarke, but it sounded almost exactly like if Frank Zappa had come out with a new album that continued on from the stuff he did right before he died. I half woke up, and still heard music, and then heard that it was really shitty Spanish music, like the stuff that sounds like flamenco or almost country, but with some crooner guy singing in a really awful style. It turns out that the landlord had some guys working down in the basement all day, banging around and listening to this total shit. So I had to listen to Hammerfall and Slayer at top volume to drown it out and possibly scare the people.

I went to Barnes and Noble today, because it was pouring rain and it seemed like the thing to do. I’m reading this book that’s an oral history of New York, lots of interviews of people about New York in the postwar period. I think I got the book for free last summer when I bought more than fifty bucks at Coliseum, and never read it. I’m really digging through the house for stuff to read; I have stacks of books I haven’t read, but it’s all stuff I don’t want to read. Does that make sense? Anyway, I went to B&N and looked around for a while, mostly trying to find books under ten bucks. I ended up getting books on Pearl Harbor, Lincoln’s assassination, and a cool pocket editon of Tale of Two Cities that’s printed like one of those little Gideon bibles, with thin pages and Metal Curse fonts, but a very nice binding. I also finally found a copy of the new release of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. I’m listening to the commentary right now in the background, which is funny in a strange way. The director, Renny Harlan, has that halting Finnish sort of accent, where his English is perfect, but it has just that little bit of a pronouncement to it. Anyway, it’s entertaining to me.

The gout is about gone, so everything worked. Still eating cherries by the firstful, though. OK, gotta get back to Renny.

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Freaky dream

I had this dream Monday night that I had some kind of weird, parasitic, fungal growth under my fingernails. These little black dots, like tiny seedlings, were growing in a sort of paisley pattern that sort of reminded me of some sort of henna tattoo. But it was UNDER the nail, and was fucking FREAKING ME OUT. Any kind of fungal growth like that really bothers me. A friend of mine once told me she had some kind of infection or bacteria on her tonsils, and it was growing like little flowers on the back of her throat and it FREAKED ME OUT for like a YEAR. So I was going apeshit in the dream, trying to stick an x-acto knife under my nails to scrape away the stuff, and considering just going to the hospital and having them peel back my nails and then wear band-aids for weeks until they grew back. I was in a total frenzy, a shiver running through all of my skin, every pore itching every time I looked at my nails and saw these little creatures living under there.

I woke up, and looked at my clock, and it was about an hour until the alarms went off, so I turned on my desk light, and looked at my fingers, and THE FUCKING STUFF WAS UNDER MY NAILS!!

Then I really woke up. Holy shit, I hate dreams like that.

The Boston trip is planned and ready to roll, although I am no longer taking the last-minute special through Delta because they wanted to screw me into paying double for a hotel because I was traveling alone. So now I have another hotel booked, and I am taking the bus there, which only costs like $20 but involves four hours of sitting in a bus. I’ll bring a book, a gameboy, and the iPod.

What am I doing there, someone asked? John Sheppard is reading on August 1st. You can read more about the reading here. I am tempted to sign up for the open mic before the reading and rattle off a few pages of Rumored, but I don’t know if I will or not. Maybe, though. I will also be meeting up with a couple of other friends from IU, and I also want to check out the USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young, which are both a stone’s throw from my hotel. And I want to enjoy being out of New York for a long weekend.

Not much else to report, just playing Tribes: Aerial Assault constantly, and trying not to think about bugs under my fingernails.

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SARS-mania

I’ve been having assorted sadistic daydreams that this SARS thing is going to be a global killer virus, something like in the movie 12 Monkeys and I, somehow genetically mutated through decades of psycological drug use and abuse, manage to survive. I had a similar dream when I was a child and suffering from a continual 104-degree fever; it’s one of my earliest memories. Except in this one, everyone was bursting into flame. At first it was isolated, but then it got to the point where you would be watching TV and an anchorman on CBS would suddenly immolate on camera. By the very end, the surface of the earth looked like the moon, and a giant voice laughed, like the end of a Vincent Price movie or something. Heavy shit for a 4-year-old, and with my newfound ability in precognitive dream prediction (see last entry), maybe it will all go down.

I’m going to see Twisted Sister tonight. I’m actually more excited at the thought of going to IHOP for dinner first, but it will be good to get out of the house, and a bit better now that there’s this no-smoking ban in New York. It’s gotten to the point that I have a second leather jacket I wear to clubs because the smoke is so bad. I do feel like going home and sleeping for a decade, but I’ll drink some Coke and jump around a little and try to get alive in the next two hours before I leave.

Not much else going on. It’s rainy and cold out here. I’ve been outlining the next book, picking at the timeline and the characters. I still don’t have a name for it, but you’ll be the first to hear.

It’s time to battle the subways and get home.

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books on the stove, I am Nostradamus

I had two books (or more) on the stove at the same time for five years. Then I had one really hard book on the front burner for another two years. And for the last year, I haven’t had anything going on, and it has been driving me apeshit. I’ve started lots of projects that fell flat, and I’ve felt overwhelmingly depressed, examining short stories and pieces of outlines letter-by-letter, wondering why things didn’t work and how they needed to happen.

Last night, I came up with an idea for a book. It’s actually one that I kicked around a while ago, but dismissed as too hard or too far off. Then I found a way to frame it, a way to put it together, and a way to get it to work. And now, it’s all in my head, and I’m very scared about planning it and laying down, but I think I can. And I think it will work. And I think it will be everything I wanted Summer Rain to be, but I get to start all over, from a blank slate. And I’m very excited to have a project, to have a mission, to have something that just might work.

Of course, I can’t tell you shit about it on here. And I might stop posting for a while as I get started with it. Just a warning.

I had a super fucking bizarre nightmare last night about someone who shall remain nameless (who has already been told about this, so nobody else needs to worry that it was you) and I can’t really explain it, but it was this thing where I was eternally in love with some girl, and then she left, and I went to see this friend and confide in her, and somehow she was less than corodial about the whole thing, and even in the dream the depression and angst were so heavy and piercing. I stopped going to work and drove around Portland with my car in first gear, trying to hit something but only going a mile an hour. Then I showed up at work and this guy Mike was installing a rack mount with a bunch of new gear. It looked cool, and he was all excited, and when he switched it on, it burst into flames.

I woke up from this dream totalled, thinking somehow I’d subliminally hurt this person in real life, or lost my friendship with her forever, or some other bullshit you’d think before you get out of the comfortable womb of your bed and into the shower. So I went to work and told the fire part of the dream to Mike, who really was installing a new rack to hold an IBM xSeries blade enclosure and something like eight new blades.

About an hour later, I went to see what Mike was working on in the NOC, and THE FUCKING BLADE ENCLOSURE WAS POURING OUT SMOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Missed a day

I feel like I missed a day somewhere, like I forgot to sleep for 24 hours and I can’t catch up. I took a sleeping pill Sunday, so on Monday I felt drunk and underwater and drugged and could barely think straight. I tried to fight this with caffeine and sugar and sleeping with my eyes open, but all I could think of was going home, getting into bed, falling asleep for days. My friend Bill was in town for the day, so we came back to my place, hung out, watched DVDs, played Red Faction, ate Thai food, and that was cool. A few hours of hassling with Premiere, and by midnight, it was bedtime, and… I was wide awake. I spent forever falling asleep, only to awake to the feeling that I missed a day somewhere.

Sunday night, when I took the Tylenol PM, I had the most fucked up terror nightmares ever. Some mystical force was attacking me on the subway, in some mathematical fashion, and I was so scared of it, I was yelling numbers or something, and I am pretty sure I was really yelling because it was the sort of thing where you try to scream in a dream and you can barely form the words or work the vocal chords. It was a total your-life-is-ending, Mothman conspiracy type of thing. I was hiding at Marie’s house and sleeping on her floor, and she vanished, and both of her cats were walking circles around me and talking, like it was some kind of Satanic ritual. (She actually has three cats, but one is newer, so she was not included. You ever notice how stuff in dreams is never up to date? Like how your dreams always happen in your childhood house?) Anyway she vanished, and then her dad showed up and took all of us on a tour of Knott’s Berry Farm, and I felt really guilty for interrupting the whole seance terror thing. I don’t remember much of the dream after that. But the terror part was pretty fucked up, and it bothered me for hours into the morning. I’ve been having more and more defined dreams, and I really hope that is an indicator that I will get off my butt and start writing something soon. My dreams were the best during the writing of Rumored, and it was no coincidence or anything.

So anyway. My tax refund is done and on the way to the bank, but I am torn between buying a gigantic monitor, going on a vacation, or just putting the damn thing in the bank for retirement. I would love to sit in front of 1600×1200 on a flat screen, but I was talking to Bill yesterday about land, houses, and all of that stuff, and it makes me think about that, too.

Not much else. Still very windy. I had a nice bit of Deja Vu this morning walking to work, in a crisp air of about 40 degrees with the rain just about to explode from the clouds. For some reason, it really reminded me of the early spring rains of Bloomington about ten years ago, walking around town without a car and with too much open road in front of me. It’s strange to think that was ten years ago, but it was. Damn.

Gotta call Ray. His mom is in town, and it’s even money that he put six .44 slugs in her head for some random reason. The parental cross-country buffer zone is great, but it means you have to put up with a years’ worth of cached misery in a week of time.

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late, NYC, dreams

I’m starting late – actually, I’ve been writing for 45 minutes and decided (for the second time) to kill a giant rant about how unhappy I am with other journals out there. I will shut up and keep looking for other similar journals by writers that aren’t just taking up space.

I bought (on Amazon) a book that contains walking tours of various beat landmarks in NYC. Michael had this book when I met up with him last November, and it looked like a cool way to blow an afternoon or ten, not to mention a few rolls of film. I’m going to NYC on 2/10 so maybe I’ll find some of this stuff. I also ordered a long out-of-print book on the early history of Indiana University, in the hopes that their old book service will eventually turn up a copy for under $4000. I don’t know how rare the book is, but it was published in 1970. I heard a lot about it from this pictorial history book of IU I bought last year. It was cited frequently, and sounds like it has all of the details I’d like to hear about when the campus was over by the Kroger a little southwest of the current campus.

I had very vivid and bizarre dreams last night. I was at a very small and shitt theatre reminiscent of the dollar theatre in Bloomington, and they were showing three different trailers to the new Star Wars movie in a continuous loop. I was dressed as Luke Skywalker, in the white robe get-up from the first movie. I think you had to pay once to get in, but people were staying to see the trailers over and over. During a break in the loop, they had a large video projector, and Sean Penn as Jeff Spiccolli was there, playing Rogue Squadron for the Nintendo on the huge screen. (“Whoa dude, these TIE interceptors are most bogus.”) I remember studying the credits to the trailers later, and many of the people’s names were purposely obfuscated for some reason, maybe to prevent people from figuring out the plot or how many special effects were used. Maybe James Cameron was the guest executive producer and they didn’t want people to know. It was a weird dream.

My writing is slowing down a little, although I think there’s a direct correlation between my diet and my muse. I made shake and bake chicken last night and ate until I was about reado to drop. Then, it wasn’t hard to start working on the book. I think I need to keep the fridge stocked to finish this book on time.

Well, I’ve screwed up – I’m out of time, and spending 45 minuted on my previous aborted entry means this is it for now.

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Dream theories

(my non-writing update: I’m alive and my stomach is letting me eat what I want. I still feel a little weird from my total lack of nutrient, but I’m getting there.)

Yesterday, I was talking about dreams and writing, which is a great topic right now. I think I have some kind of sleep disorder, because I sleep 10 hours and it feels like 6, and I always have dreams which are taunting me, saying “just try to write this shit down when you wake up.” My dreams right now are incredibly nonlinear, overlapping, redundant, confusing, and realistic. Because they aren’t a simple story, I can’t just write them down. (It’s also a pain in the ass because when I wake up at 4 in the morning, I don’t want to spend 20 minutes transcribing dreams, and then end up wide awake.) I find that by thinking about how I want to write the dreams down, they happen more vividly, and I remember more when I wake. I wish there was some kind of machine or hypnosis tape I could use to get closer to this goal, but most of the stuff you find on the internet is either new-age hippie crap, or a get-rich-quick scheme.

I think people have similar, cliche dreams. I mentioned this yesterday: falling, naked in front of people, forgot they were registered for a class, and so on. I find that my dreams sometimes fall into templates, but they are much stranger. Let me see if I can assemble a top five list (not in any order):

  1. This really isn’t a dream, there is a nuclear holocaust, and I’m experiencing the last five seconds of my life.
  2. A lucid dream where I’m able to take control.
  3. I’m back in Elkhart, Indiana, and going through the same problems I did ten years ago
  4. “The amalgam dream” – I’m walking in San Francisco, I turn a corner and it’s Bloomington, 1992, crossed with the cabash scenes from Naked Lunch. I run into a person I used to work with, who is drinking coffee with Jesse Ventura. Etc.
  5. The lucid dream that takes place in my apartment and I’m not sure that I’m asleep or awake. Happens when I’m about to fall asleep, or on those bad nights of insomnia where I wake up and look at the clock every hour and later deduce that I’ve been up all night.

I take ideas from my dreams. For the last three years, I’ve been on and off successful with writing down things. I read about how Phillip K. Dick dreamed all of his stories, and then woke up and simply transcribed them to paper. I thought that was so cool, I started doing it with Rumored to Exist. A lot of key ideas in that book were lifted straight from dreams. I’ve never been able to fully capture the whole dream-state onto paper, but I never would’ve been able to figure out some of the stuff I use in Rumored.

Or maybe I would. I have a lot of theories about dreams, that they are simply extensions of what you feel and think consciously, mixed with a little biochemical work from what you ate before bed or how stressed you are. I wish there was a way to control that mirror from one side to the other, and maybe there will be within my lifetime….

I got a late start today, so I better split. More about this later.

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dreams and writing

(Sickness update: I’m back at work, but I’m not eating yet. I don’t know how long I can survive on applesauce; I really wish I could go to Burger King and order a bacon double cheeseburger, but I don’t think that would help things.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams lately, in the context of writing. I think the ultimate nonlinear novel would flow like a dream, and I’m not talking cliches here. I mean the entire story would unfold in the same random, surreal fashion. It would be an easier project with film, because you wouldn’t have to explain all of the visual anomalies. One of my favorite films is, of course, Naked Lunch, and it uses many of the Burroughsian structure elements and changes which could also be attributed to dreams. The movie has little to do with the book, but it was the only way they could pull it off.

So what are the elements of dreams that would have to be captured? I could write about all of the stereotypical dreams, like falling from a height, being naked in public, finding out on the last day of the semester that you were registered for a class you didn’t know about, etc. I think if I did that, the story would resemble one of those “we’re making fun of horror movies even though we’re a horror movie” movies, like Scream, Urban Legend, or whatever.

The first thing about dreams is that they are incredibly nonlinear. It’s normal for me to wake up after a dream, remember two pieces of it, but not remember which one was first in the dream. Then, other pieces filter in, some fitting in the order of the story, and others confusing it further. But how the hell do you do this on paper? One solution would be to NOT do this on paper, and work on some hypertext project. My personal bias about this is that it’s not possible to achieve suspension of disbelief while sitting in front of a CRT. Plus hypertext is more of a choose-your-own-adventure experience, which isn’t non-linear, it’s sort of multi-linear. Maybe someone will do further research on this and make a hypertext novel that captures the nonlinear feel of dreams.

I don’t know how this would work with just regular HTML though. I think dreams may be a phenomenon other than natural thought, like something with a more chemical basis or using parts of the brain we don’t use when reading a book or shopping for groceries. When you remember three or four parts of a dream but don’t remember the order, or each part makes you remember more parts, it’s like when you try to remember something that happened ten years ago – the parts are all in your mind, but with varying quality, and they don’t “come back” in order. When you read a book, you start at page 1 and read until the end (unless you skip around) and the story is placed in your brain in a linear fashion, even if it is nonlinear. If you think of the book later, and the various pieces of the book are not as clear in your mind, the plot might appear to be more dreamlike. I re-read The Grapes of Wrath about five years ago, and I don’t remember many of the specifics with great detail, but I remember the part where the grandmother died and they pretended she was really sick so they could get past the border guards. It’s almost like a dream, but it’s not that Steinbeck wrote it that way – it’s a function of my memory. The question is, how can you write a book that imitates that function when the reader has to read it from start to finish?

It’s time for my daily plug for Raymond Federman. His books are so nonlinear, they can be unreadable in places. They’re all great, and funny. He has a lot of different stuff going on in his experimental works, but one thing he uses to obfuscate the linear plot is repetition and derivation. In books like Double or Nothing, he’ll tell a piece of a story, then later change the story, tell an earlier segment, and so forth. It’s not as easy as just reading the story from A to B, but it plants little subliminal facts in your memory, so when you hear a derivative of the story later, you wonder if you’ve already heard it, or if it was new. Irregardless of Federman’s technique (which is beyond the scope of this one time journal entry) it shows that it’s possible to work with non-linear dream structures on the linear page.

I want to talk about this more, but maybe I should wait until tomorrow to start a new topic about dreams. As always, let me know your thoughts and help me keep thinking about this.