Tuesday morning drive-in

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Now that my commute averages 45 to 50 minutes each way, I’ve gotten into the habit of “writing” by recording my musings on a phone app and then transcribing them later. The natural beauty along the beaches of Falmouth helps me to settle into a long work day, and then to decompress on the way home. Here are a few tidbits captured in chronological order, with little or no editing between the initial observations and their crystallization in text.

suburban sunrise —
the irrigated lawns
glisten

end of summer —
wild flowers
to my last breath

grand opening —
a new place
to hang my head

seagulls
each the king
of its own island

docked at the shore
someone’s inheritance
rocks with the waves

so close
and yet so far —
a harborside
retirement home

beachside joggers —
my youth runs
away from me

 

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losing another hour

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No, we’re not setting the clock back to return to Standard Time from Daylight Savings Time — that will happen soon enough. For the tenth year in a row I was given the wheel to the James Dean Deathcar Experience for an hour on WMBR-FM in Cambridge, MA. It was a bit different this year now that we’re no longer living nearby, but we’ve made a whole weekend out of it, staying at The Verb Hotel just a block from Fenway Park and surrounded by tempting food and drink options too numerous to mention.

For those who missed it and would like to check it out, a one-hour podcast of the show can be found here. The playlist for the show can be found here.

You can find me almost anywhere, squinting in the shadows and trying to figure out what I’m seeing so that I can write about it.

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dream sequence – part 76

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I was standing at the bar, since I didn’t plan to stay for very long. I ordered a bright pink cosmo and sipped it slowly. You arrived shortly after I did but didn’t notice me. You seemed flustered, agitated, and in need of a drink.

I knew the bartender wasn’t ignoring you, but I also knew that your repeated attempts to get his attention only delayed his arrival to our end of the bar. In the meantime, a much-too-excitable young man with short curly hair and round glasses began flirting with you, hovering like a mosquito between you and the bar. You did your best to ignore him, even when he offered to flag down the bartender and buy you a drink. When it was clear that he wasn’t going to be deterred, you abruptly asked him to leave you alone. He departed in a huff, disdainfully tossing a five dollar bill onto the bar.

I picked it up and offered it to you. “Hazardous duty pay,” I said.

The bartender approached, asking if I needed a refill. I pointed to you.

“I’m good,” you replied, walking away.

“How about you?” teased the bartender. “Are you good?”

“I’m awesome,” I replied. “And I’ll have another.”

 

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dream sequence – part 75

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Another recurring theme in my dreams is the inability to find my car in a crowded parking lot. This has only happened a handful of times in real life, as suburban living usually allows for more reasonably sized parking lots, relegating that nightmare scenario to those dangerous treks into The Big City. I also have a tendency to try to park in the same spot, or to memorize some landmark to help me quickly locate my car. More recently, I started using the camera on my phone to photograph either an aisle number or some other marker to establish location.

In my dream, I wasn’t in one of those sprawling parking lots one would expect to see in an urban airport. I was at a shopping mall, visiting some large department store. While it wasn’t labelled, it could have been a Wal-Mart or similar franchise, featureless, ubiquitous and efficient.

Except that this store was nearly void of product. Nearly all of the shelves were empty. Even the walls lacked decoration or signage. There were plenty of people, however, all somewhat disoriented by the abundance of nothing.

Having wandered all the way to the back of the store without finding much of anything, I searched for the exit, which was at an entirely different corner of the store from the entrance. I crossed into the parking lot and began looking for my car.

In the dream, I had the car I currently have in real life: a green, 2008 Toyota RAV4. It differs from the newer models in that it has a distinctive rear-mounted spare tire, so I began looking for that. There were other green cars, and other RAV4s but none of them were mine. It was frustrating that I could be overlooking my car in such a modest-sized lot, and yet there I was.

I clicked my remote to unlock the car and heard a faint beeping sound. I must have walked right past it. As I got closer to where I thought I had heard the sound, I clicked again, but the sound was fainter. When I clicked the panic button, I heard nothing at all.

At that point, I was rescued by the alarm in my bedroom.

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dream sequence – part 74

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Despite being routinely punctual in real life, I have quite a few dreams about running late for one reason or another and rushing to get some place with increasing urgency and increasingly frustrating results. This morning I had another such dream.

As is often the case, I had no idea why I was rushing, where I was going, or even where I was. My subconscious had fabricated a completely fictitious location populated by anonymous people. I spotted what I thought was my Uber ride (something I’ve yet to experience in my waking life) in front of an official-looking building and jumped into the back seat of a nice new SUV. While it was clear that the driver was alarmed to see me, he made no effort to remove me from the vehicle or even to ask me who I was.

Another man walked up to the passenger window of the car from the sidewalk and motioned to the driver, who promptly jumped out of the car and opened up a rumble seat in the front of the car, where the car’s engine would normally be. This new passenger shot a disdainful glance at me known in the dog world as “stink eye”. The driver also eyed me warily, but nevertheless put the vehicle in drive, pulled away from the curb and drove toward our destination.

During the brief drive, I wondered about the other passenger’s special seating arrangement. Why wasn’t I offered the rumble seat? Maybe this person was being honored at some official event, and sought to make a grand entrance. We drove only a block or two before I realized that I was very wrong.

We pulled into an urban cemetery, driving slowly and deliberately. I suddenly remembered that I had somewhere else to be and wondered how I had ended up in yet another entirely different place and scenario. As I felt myself waking up, I debated the merits of making a quick, unexplained exit. When I sat up in bed, I realized that my alarm would sound in about 15 minutes.

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the problem of pain

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Back in the 80’s and 90’s, I struggled with migraines and what were nebulously described as cluster headaches. The pattern went like this: I would have a mild headache most of the time for weeks or months, punctuated by intense, debilitating pain about once a week. The severe pain was often triggered by stress, bright light, loud sounds or odd odors. Sometimes I just woke up with it, at which point I didn’t care what it was called — I just wanted it to go away.

I’ve had a respite of over 2 decades from this affliction, but it seems to have returned some time late last year. While I have some theories around root cause, I’ve eliminated many possible triggers without much success: I’ve dramatically curtailed my alcohol consumption (producing the desired side effect of some weight loss) and am monitoring both my caffeine intake and blood pressure. Ironically, the elimination of one of my blood pressure prescriptions, atenolol, may have made me more susceptible to migraines, as it’s sometimes prescribed as a migraine preventative. In my case, it dramatically lowered my resting pulse — to the high-40s instead of the mid-60s in beats per minute — so I don’t fault my doctor’s decision to remove it from my med routine. If anything, I’m in favor of less drugs and not more of them.

For the most part I’ve been relying on Extra Strength Excedrin as both a treatment and a preventative when I feel that my default headache is getting worse. More advanced treatments, everything from beta blockers and opiates, render me a bit skeptical. In the past, the headaches have disappeared as mysteriously as they’ve arrived, so I’m hoping this unwelcome visitor takes a hint and packs up soon. It couldn’t be soon enough…

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dream sequence – part 73

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In the dream, I was watching a hockey game between some local kids who had managed to get some ice time. Truth be told, I’m not much of a hockey fan, but it seemed that my brothers were playing, and I was just a kid without nothing better to do.

There was a girl on the ice who was outplaying the older boys by an almost ridiculous margin, scoring at will and essentially having the rink to herself. She didn’t wear a helmet, but given that no one could catch her, she really didn’t need to.

She didn’t suit up for the second period. Instead, she walked up into the stands, one or more rows in front of me, and tried to speak.

“I’d like to read a poem,” she said to the sound of skates. Nobody stopped.

“Would you like me to try?” I offered, not sure how I thought I might improve the situation. I suppose I was trying to show off.

She handed me a sheet of paper with messy scrawl, decorated with doodles. It took me a few seconds to figure out where it began, and where it would go from there, but I boomed it out as well as I could. Midway through the ordeal, I realized I was reading a poem about how much she missed her college roommate. The booming voice was definitely overkill, so I switched to a much softer tone. The players stopped, and listened.

I stopped when I got to the end, and play unceremoniously resumed.

“You missed the last line” she said. I was mortified.

“It’s fine,” she said. “It turned out great. Thank you for reading it.”

We had to exit the rink through the changing room, where the kids were all talking about her.

“Even Joe scored when she left the game,” referring to my youngest brother. They grew silent when they realized she was there.

I asked her if she ever read in public, in front of other people. She confessed that the very thought terrified her. I tried to encourage her.

“Not that you’re necessarily writing for other people, but when you read in front of a crowd you get to see what works, and what doesn’t.”

Wasn’t I the expert! I started to get self-conscious, realizing that the other kids were watching me. Then I asked her if she was familiar with haiku. I recited my favorite translation of the Basho classic.

the old pond…
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

She leaned forward to give me a kiss.

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