The Admiral’s Dream

From The Sea Is One, an Introduction to Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans by Admiral James Stavridis (Penguin Press, 2017):

The approaches to land are always difficult in my dreams, and the ship often finds herself running out of deep water and becomes rapidly in danger of foundering on a beach or up a river or upon a reef. I always wake up before the ship finally impales herself ashore, and I always wish I had stayed farther out to sea.

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A Student Submits a Piece (Assignment # 2: Create a List)

I.

A woman is hungry. She searches her house and all she discovers is a piece of stale white toast. She takes a bite and discovers it is soaking wet.

II.

A woman’s dryer is full of water. Her first thought is to read the dryer instructions on removing water. She squats down but cannot see/read the instructions around the control button. Suddenly, a stranger is standing right behind her. The woman realizes all she has on are “mini tiny shorts.” She feels naked.

III.

A woman is in “a poorly lit place” having a manicure. She realizes she left her purse in the car. She retrieves her purse, but she finds that the way to the manicure place is now uphill, and she is wearing high platform shoes. The manicurist tells the woman she owes $400.

IV.

A woman is with her son by a pool. It is time for some scheduled pool activity to begin but the boy stays outside the pool, playing and teasing his mother, “for what seems like hours.” The woman begins crying hard.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Dream

Oh Lord, it is soooo hot.

Self was driving madly around LA just a few days ago, and now she is home.

But it is just as hot as it was in LA. With the added bother that much of her garden looks ready to expire and it is hard to water because it is so hot. Not to mention that there is a drought so one should really NOT be watering.

Self has not found time to search for more photographs on this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  FRAY. She commonly writes four or five posts on the week’s theme, but so far this week she’s only written one.

She peruses other bloggers’ sites and found this series of pictures of lightning (which frays the sky? She guesses that must have been what the blogger was thinking) which were interesting.

Oh Lord, her arm hurts. Is practically stiff from all the commenting on student pieces.

Last night she dreamt (or was it really happening?) that she was experiencing a terrific pain in her chest. Then her Altima plunged off a pier and straight into some water, and very slowly disappeared. With herself in it. So that means she died. End of story! The dream continued, though. She was inexplicably able to move through space as if she were alive. What does that mean? It was all confusing as heck.

Then she went to Barnes & Noble, where it was very airconditioned, and she couldn’t find any books by Shusako Endo or Jim Crace or Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. She took so long searching the book aisles that by the time she returned home, The Man was home. He always parks so snugly, almost blocking her access to the only driveway. Seems almost like a challenge, the way he parks. She’s tried to figure out the motivation, but so far it has eluded her. Couldn’t he move forward, even just a foot. It would seem so much more polite. Self thinks: if Nicky Loomis were here, she would certainly make of this a story.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Self’s Nightmare and “Mockingjay” Movie Spoilers

Good Grief!  The dream self had in the wee hours today:  She had re-enrolled at Stanford (Her Dream Self was apparently one of those people who believe that one can never have too many advanced degrees).  But this time, she completely forgot that there was such a thing as attending class.  And by the time she realized this, it was already the final week of the quarter.  And she had never submitted a single assignment.  It all just slipped by her, honestly.  This qualifies as an honest-to-goodness “panic dream.”  It was horrible.  Really sweat-inducing.  Mebbe she shouldn’t have watched “Sleepy Hollow.”  The golem was extremely convincing, though.

And, since self awoke, about 2:30 a.m., and didn’t have any good story ideas, she began to do the next best thing, which was to read every single post on Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and she discovered on Buzzfeed a very interesting list, and she could not stop laughing when she read:

“. . .  good grief, after spending two full movies watching Katniss gaze longingly into Gale’s crazy-handsome face, it is just a numbing downer to spend two full movies watching them bicker without ever bothering to talk things out.  Possible solution:  Perhaps Katniss could seek out Gale for some comfort, especially if Gale happened to be shirtless.  For once.”

Self wholeheartedly agrees with this one.  There is in fact a shirtless-Gale Moment in Catching Fire, but it’s a bit distracting because he is being whipped and there’s a lot of blood splaying all over the place.  Hopefully, by Mockingjay, his scars will have healed, and maybe he could be shot from just the front, which is the unblemished part of his torso.

Another spoiler:  Katniss ends up with you-know-who, and this is truly a case of her wanting to be needed, because there’s little point in getting together with someone who has been brainwashed so thoroughly that he thinks you are an evil person who needs to be done away with.  This because the point has to be made that “choosing to violently overthrow a totalitarian regime is itself a destructive act from which there is little hope of fully healing.”  EEEEKKK!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading from the Pile of “Stuff” : The New Yorker, 9 September 2013

This morning, self is reading “The Return,” an essay by David Finkel, about “the traumatized veterans of Iran and Afghanistan” :

If war is accidental, so is what happens afterward.  Two million Americans have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Most of those who have come back describe themselves as physically and mentally healthy.  They move forward.  Their war recedes.  Some are even stronger for the experience.  But studies suggest that between twenty and thirty percent of returning veterans suffer, to varying degrees, from post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental-health condition triggered by some type of terror, or a traumatic brain injury, which occurs when the brain is jolted so violently that it collides with the inside of the skull, causing psychological damage.  Every war has its after-war:  depression, anxiety, nightmares, memory problems, personality changes, suicidal thoughts.  If the studies prove correct, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created roughly five hundred thousand mentally wounded American veterans.

The article focuses on the experiences of a war veteran named Nic.

“Nic had been taking forty-three pills a day —  for pain, for anxiety, for depression, for nightmares.”  His pregnant wife wonders:

“Were there fewer pills now?  Was he still having flashbacks?  Thrashing around in his sleep?  Sleepwalking into closets, looking for his rifle?  Could he start telling her what had happened during the war?  And could she tell him about what was happening to her?  The other night she dreamed that she had given birth , and for some reason she took the baby and put it into a pressure cooker.  Could she tell Nic that soldiers aren’t the only people who have nightmares?”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Mysterious Mirrors

Fearsome hot.

This morning, The Ancient One appeared wan, gave only indifferent attention to her food (over which self had generously ladled warmed up bacon grease.  At this point, she will not worry about Bella’s cholesterol!)

Self immediately text-ed son:  Prepare yourself!

He text-ed back:  Maybe you should switch her dry dog food.

Self became a little annoyed at the nonchalance.

She had a couple of errands to run, so she ran them.

Upon returning to the house, she headed straight for the backyard.  There was The Ancient One, positioned right underneath the magnolia tree (a favorite spot of hers; there’s a depression in the ground there.  An enormous black walnut tree once grew in the spot.  Five or 10 years after moving in, however, self managed to kill it, possibly from over-watering.  She knew nothing — NUTHIN’ —  about trees back then).  Self looked at the doggie dish:  All gone!  Once again, self has scared herself silly with imaginings!

Anyhoo, in a much more relaxed state, she resumes trolling the internet.  Lands on Café Irreal, a favorite site.  There’s a story up about a mysterious mirror.

Self hates mysterious mirrors almost as much as mysterious closets.  The closet thing started long, long ago, when self was in grade school.  She had a dream that a man with an axe hid in the closet in the bedroom she shared with her sister.  When her sister went to the closet and opened it, the man was staring down at her, and self kept trying to warn her sister but for some reason could not speak, or move.  As she watched, her sister began to rummage through the things in the closet.  And, and —  self doesn’t know how the dream ended.

Then, about 10 or 15 years ago, she was watching the new Twilight Zone, and there was a story about a mysterious closet.  A girl kept hearing strange sounds from the closet in her room, but every time she described the sounds to her parents, they said she was imagining things . . .

Anyhoo, back to the Café Irreal story.

First of all, self really likes that the main protagonist, a girl named Dani, buys the mirror from a vendor whose wife is “an autumnal blonde with a witchy look.” (See, self is already pro-actively thinking of Halloween!  This is not a joke.  Costco and CVS pharmacy and all the supermarkets have aisles of Halloween candy.  In fact, self bought one of these bags of candy because, she reasoned, they’re going to raise the prices the closer it gets to Halloween.)

Anyhoo — self, what is WRONG with you today?  Digressions galore!  Back to the story:  The girl brings the mirror home.  What does she see?

Of course she sees SOMETHING!

Not her face, silly.  If she saw her own face, it would be too Dorian Grey.

She sees someone else in the mirror.  A man.

Suggest going over to Café Irreal and checking out the rest of the story.  Here is the link.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Currently Reading: THE GLASS ROOM, by Simon Mawer

Honestly, this is the first book self has ever read which traces decades in the life of a house.  An actual house.  A house that exists somewhere in Czechoslovakia.

Self wonders if she’ll ever get to visit Czechoslovakia.  For a while, it seemed like every American nascent novelist went to Prague to write a book.

But, anyhoo, self has encountered the SENTENCE OF THE SUMMER.  And, considering that self read some really wonderful books, books like Wolf Hall and Sister Carrie, this is no ordinary praise (Come to think of it, self is reminded that last night, or perhaps in the wee hours of this morning, self dreamt she was living in castle.  A castle from which she would imminently have to flee.  For it was being besieged by some invading force.  And self had to move down narrow circular stone staircases, and decide which items were the most essential ones, all in a great hurry)

Self is on p. 127 of The Glass Room.  She can’t say she really loves this novel, and so far she doesn’t like any of the characters.  There’s a “liberated” woman named Hana, and in this section she’s telling a friend about how she helped another woman escape from an unhappy marriage, and how the two, having boarded a train and made good their escape, fell into each other’s arms and freely abandoned themselves to their illicit love.

While listening to Hana tell her story, the friend, Liesel, who herself is married and has two children, who lives a very comfortable domestic life, observes with dispassion:

There was something shrill about her, as though the story of excitement and plotting was thinly painted over a deep fracture.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Justified” 4.1

Woot Hoot!  Self did catch the season opener of “Justified.”

The nice thing about F/X is that, if there is anything you didn’t hear too well the first time around, the episode repeats three times consecutively.  Thus, you may feast on Timothy Olyphant at 10 p.m., or at 11 p.m., or at midnight.  Or you can just watch Episode 1 three times.

And he is still so cool in that Stetson.  Really, his brand of nonchalant insouciance invests the character with so much charm.  Self even likes the odd way he walks.  All gangly.

Today she made herself walk a mile from her house to Pamplemousse (where she celebrated her achievement by ordering a raspberry cake and four rum and butter macarons).  Must be the reason why she fell asleep right after the 10 p.m. show.  In her dreams, for the first time, instead of imagining great dark, shadowy houses, she imagined a wee, very humble abode, with lots of closet space regardless, and windows facing a sidewalk, and also Timothy Olyphant.  Talking. Talking to her.  WHEEEE!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library 11

It is still dark outside, just a little past 7 in the morning.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Here are the next set of books, from a pile next to the chair next to the bookcase in the dining room:

428 + 20 = 448 Total # of books tabulated thus far

Titles include:    Cloud 9, a play by Caryl Churchill; Author Law & Strategies:  A Legal Guide for the Working Writer, by Brad Bunnin & Peter Beren;  Growing Up Filipino II:  More Stories for Young Adults, edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard;  The Blood of Flowers, by Anita Amirrezvani; Making Home From War:  Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement, edited by Brian Komei Dempster;  Archipelago Dust, by Karen Llagas.

Self wanted to see “Jack Reacher,” but The Man was in an awful hurry, and self still had to pick up a replacement contac lens from the eye doctor.  The Man ended up watching the movie by himself.  Then, self wanted to watch “Jack Reacher” today, but The Man says he’d rather watch “Hitchcock.”  Self isn’t all that enthused about “Hitchcock.”  Should she just go by herself and watch “Jack Reacher”?  But what about scary/disturbing opening scene?  Self doesn’t need a new nightmare.  The one she had two nights ago.  In that dream, a little girl of about seven or eight starts clinging to her, as if self owed her something, when actually self didn’t know who the girl was, and plotted to escape from her.  The little girl’s face at some point turned black, and her lips turned green, and, and —  SELF, CUT IT OUT!  THERE IS PLENTY OF TIME FOR YOU TO MULL OVER THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LITTLE GIRL’S APPEARANCE IN YOUR DREAM, TONIGHT!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

That Wakako Yamauchi Dog Story

So here is self, settled back home, and able to resume reading the Wakako Yamauchi story (“Dogs I Owe To”) she began reading in Bacolod.  She still hasn’t gotten to the end, but can feel it coming.

This is such a beautiful story.  The language is restrained and yet painfully wrenching.  A Japanese American family adopts a pet, a dog named Dickie.  Many things happen to the family after they adopt Dickie: a baby dies, the family is forced to move out of the Imperial Valley, bankrupted by debt and just general bad luck.  There is a tremendous earthquake, which they all survive, but not much else does.

The narrator’s parents tells her that she must be Dickie’s “executioner.”  That is, it is up to the narrator and her brother to figure out a humane solution to getting rid of this dog, this extra mouth to feed, one that this impoverished family can ill afford.

They decide to leave Dickie in the place where they had last moved from, where nothing remains of their former hopes and dreams:

I said good-bye in my heart because it seemed hypocritical to say it out loud.  I couldn’t speak to my brother, who was dealing with his own emotions.  I watched Dickie run after us until the road turned.  I prayed he would find his way back to the Augustas and that they, with kinder hearts than ours, would feed him, give him a drink, and pat him now and then.

That wasn’t the last time I saw Dickie.  For years he came to me in my dreams, always running, running to me.  Sometimes I’m on a bus, sometimes in a stranger’s car.  Once his back appeared to be broken, but he continued to run.  I am always watching him from a window, on a moving vehicle, my heart cut out of me.

We never returned to Imperial.

Self wishes to thank Lillian Howan, from the very bottom of her heart, for putting this collection of Wakako Yamauchi’s stories together.  Self feels so lucky:  she gets to read this collection in dribs and drabs, usually when she is flying to or leaving Bacolod.  She’ll always think of the book this way:  bookends to the brief periods when she is out of herself.  When she ceases to be a mother, or a wife, or a teacher or even a writer.  In Bacolod, she is nothing, simply her father’s daughter.

It’s funny how, in the story excerpt above, the narrator mentions seeing Dickie in her dreams.  For some reason, self’s dream life expanded considerably on this last trip.  She dreamt when she was on the airplane, both going to and coming from Bacolod.  She dreamt every single night of her trip, except for the one week where Zack joined her.  The dreams were usually nightmares, involving family members she hadn’t seen or spoken to in a while.  Once (on the plane to Bacolod), she dreamt about being attacked by a bunch of ferocious gorillas who had escaped from a zoo.  Another time, she dreamt that Dearest Mum was knocking on the front door of her house in Redwood City.  Knocking and knocking and knocking.

Self dreamt about her brother-in-law, Richard, and about her husband.  She dreamt about lizards and about losing her way in the intricacies of an unfamiliar house.  Each dream was long and complicated and always ended ambiguously.

When self got back to Redwood City, the dreams vanished.  What does this mean?

Stay tuned.

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