59 – “Dreams”
Supplemental 002. of Theme Time Radio Hour.
Open with Dylan’s monologue around 5:00.
Riff on my dream about a Bob Dylan podcast and that we are doing it!
YOU ARE, A SOLIDARITY
Now so, so far gone
In these losing fights I’m just the loosing kind
Can’t say if it’s right or wrong
Well so we keep on
No one else to blame going down in flames
Saw it coming all along
Does it even matter where I’m writing this from? Norfolk, Denver, Portland, San Francisco, San Salvador, Barcelona, Berlin? I don’t even know why I’m writing this. The stories, emotions, places, timeframes, characters, caricatures, motifs, lessons learned and unlearned have all been throughly plundered. And who wants to read a novel about love anyway? Or read a novel that is nothing but a character analysis (even if the only real character to analyze is the author themselves). It was hard enough to write one book about Kansas, so why the fuck another?
And what of this business of a you being some kind of solidarity? What can solidarity even mean? When I think of solidarity, I think of the twentieth century, I think of Poland, I think of Latin America, I think of people standing up for something, I think of the shuttered radical bookstore in Lawrence that used to be just off Seventh, between Mass and New Hampshire, remember that?
And what is it that we do with this kind of information, the “you’s” and “I’s” of our lives? You were born in Lawrence, at Memorial Hospital off Sixth. You used to do cocaine, and looked it judging by old pictures. Your most memorable job after Sunflower was working at Yello Sub, a Lawrence staple. Right before taking the job at Sunflower, when you was leaving the Merc, no one, including your husband, remembered your birthday. You have nightmares. You knew Dylan in college, well before I met him when I first moved to Kansas. The boy you lost your virginity to still lives in Lawrence, and works at La Prima Taza – he was caught during Requiem For a Dream at Liberty Hall walking out of it with another woman and told you that you weren’t mature enough for a relationship with multiple partners. Weezer’s green album was the soundtrack to your summer in 2001, when you were with a guy with dreads who sucked at fucking. You were a DJ – Dudley Do-Right – for years and showed me the features at Lawrence.com. We agreed that the road from “Mean Mr. Mustard” to the “The End” on Abbey Road is some of the finest pieces of popular music recorded. Your best friend is Casey, who lives in Germany. You had a grasshopper that lived in your bathroom for months; its name was Heckie. You have two cats: Jinx and Downy. Your birthday is January 12, 1982. You have dreams of living in the Northwest, based upon a University of Puget Sound sweatshirt. You were married in October of 2009, to a guy named Tony, who goes to Haskell Indian Nations College. You has three exclamation points, chk chk chk’s, on your right hand. You wear neutral colors – black cardigans, gray sweaters, solid t-shirts with deep v’s. Your grandma lives in California, Missouri, which I drove through on my way to Cincinnati to see Gaslight Anthem and Fake Problems at Bogarts. You love music and said that was one thing that was appealing about Tony – likening his voice to Elliot Smith, which you could tell me then without laughing. You hate her mom but can’t break away from her. You downloaded the Jersey Shore theme song as your ringtone for a laugh and never took it off. Your hair is long and naturally curly – remember when you won a contest for it, receiving free hair supplies from some unknown company off Facebook. You prefer Court and Spark to Blue, Abbey Road to Revolver. You told me that you’re glad I work by her because you get lonely. “What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?” Miss Chiefy on Xbox Live (you loves Blur). Dharma Bums is one of your favorite novels of all time; Jaffi made a huge impact on her. Middle name: Elizabeth. Maiden name: Dudley. Married name: Mendez. Shirley on Community: “I’ve seen this before – the leader’s name is Megan. Of course. Why name your daughter Megan? Are you stocking up for a bitch shortage?” You’re terrible at telephone installs. Your first message online to me was posting on my wall on my birthday: “Hope you have a great day off! You’re 23 now, right? 23 is a cosmic number. You have a kick ass year to look forward to! Unless my math is wrong and you’re not 23. In which case, anything goes…” You love love your Christmas tree and wishes Sunflower was playing the Mormon Tabernacle choir on Christmas Eve (it’ll be shown at 9am on Christmas morning…) You use a Stargate box-set as an analogy for Tony’s handling of their money. You’re a Capricorn and you tell me Cancer’s are supposed to compliment them. You get embarrassed when sex is brought up, your face and body flushes out. You love sushi. I introduced you to sake bombs and dirty martini’s, which you’ve promised to think about me whenever you have one. There was a time when you were a professional Facebook stalker – getting my sister, my friends, my exes scoped out before we even got close. You feel like you have the material to write a memoir one day; of what event you never could elaborate on. You were the first to say that I was your best friend, that you were in love with me, that we needed to follow this to its logical conclusion.
I guess, by my records, in my journal, it was November Third that I wrote out for the first time that I was secretly feeling you. This was a few days before I was leaving Lawrence to drive back to Virginia to take another girl to a show in Richmond, Virginia. This was a few weeks after we’d learned that our jobs, as customer service/tech support at Sunflower Broadband, was ending in May. This was a few months after the call center was reorganized, with no favors given to friends, and I was paired with you: this pretty, curly-haired woman named Michelle, that I’d never really spoken to, who used to sit on the opposite side of the call center.
The months prior to November 3 are blurry, and may require some careful handling (and brevity). Being close to the University of Kansas (it was two steep blocks from my apartment on Tennessee), every August we had what’s called “rush” when thousands of college students return to Lawrence for the fall semester. Because it’s so busy, all employees were required to work 50 hours a week – picking up another 10 hour shift, or adding two hour to each of their eight hour shifts – until classes began. This was where her and I grew close – and perhaps the company began its descent. The calls didn’t reach previous years so we were overstaffed and taking calls sporadically. While this wasn’t good for the company, as we’ll see, it fostered relationships for hours that couldn’t be matched unless they were forced. I believe that if I didn’t spent noon to ten to you, we would have not taken the jumps that we would have.
And it was only time before we began to trust one another. You felt confident asking me for help with telephone installs (you were in the training class after me, so I had a good five months of experience on you). I felt confident opening up again at work. You began to leave me post-it notes when you weren’t going to be in, telling me you’d taken PTO and to have a great day. You wrote on my Facebook wall (let’s say it here, you loved Facebook) and posted a video of someone covering “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” by Bob Dylan. I wrote you, in an e-mail, on your day off that I keep turning my body, looking to my right, and expecting you to be there and telling you to hurry up and get back to the cubicle. You asked about the girl I was going to Sufjan Stevens with. Her name is Lisa. I’ve known her since we were young. She was a friend of my sisters and I thought that’s all it was. Over the years, I told you, a physical attraction grew and kind of culminated that August when I went back for my friend Will’s wedding. We stayed up until dawn, drinking, laying about on my parent’s deck, talking about our lives and how we were both attracted to one another (apparently, she had been since we were kids). I told you we kissed in the foyer of my parent’s kitchen and I guessed I wanted to see where it would lead although I knew she would never move to Lawrence. You asked if I’d move back. I told her that would never happen. What I didn’t tell you was that, out of the blue, three days before I left for Virginia, I got a text from Lisa saying she was “seeing” someone and hoped it wouldn’t make it weird between us. I played it cool, of course, saying we were friends (despite the content of our texts back and forth for three months) and we always would be.
It was hard at Sunflower not to either become good friends or bitter enemies based on how it was set up. Instead of your own small cubicle, the emphasis was on shared space. It was still blocky and cut off, but the cubicle walls were low and the tables, that stretched across each section were huge. At each end of the table were our dual monitors and drawers. In the middle would be shared space. I turn my body to the right and you turned your body to the left and we were looking right at each other. No barriers. And in time, the desk grew to be our home away from home. In addition to the HD-DVR receivers stacked in the center of our long table, their cords stretching to our monitors so we could watch TV between calls, we decorated the walls with True Blood posters we had to win during rush, plastic fangs that were handed out by HBO reps for season 4’s premiere, a Californication bobblehead of David Duchovny that I’d rip the jaw off of in time, a box of change, a dirty towel that we used for spills that never seemed to leave until we did, a Sunflower shirt, a drawer full of plastic forks and knives but not a spoon to be found, post-it note pictures of animals, hot air balloons, Freddy Kruger, and le petit prince reaching for the stars. I’d throw my keys and my wallet into the center of the table every day like I was arriving at home and needed to take a load off. Soon I’d have mementos from everyone: a page out of Care Bear coloring book, a South Park screenshot that pertained to work, the directions for chess that I drew up for you so we could play (we never did). I ripped apart a coax wire and we strung it across our cubicle after we watched Man on Wire. We’d get a fish that’d die of vibrations onto of the DVRs. Then, we’d get boxes and delicately decide what to keep and what not to keep.
But that’s happening much too fast…
Talk about dreams
- my dream of drowning in the pier
- my dreams of life when I was 20 / and where I want to go
- ever had a lucid dream? sleep paralysis?
- Dylan and Elvis Costello: “But this does give me a chance to talk about Stephen Foster for a minute. Thanks for calling.”
- Roy Orbison was in The Traveling Willbury’s
- Common dreams: being ill or attacked / dying / car / house or property damage / poor test scores / falling / flying / naked in public / missing boat / machine malfunctions / sex / natural or man-made disasters / being lost / menaced by the dead — — candy colored clowns?
Story on dreams
In the snake tunnels that stretched the whole of Germany, I often see a woman in my dreams. She’s staring up at a lonely steeple nervous of the bodies God has hidden at the top of the ladder. As it turns out, Megan, she predates you by quite some time – although we didn’t hit it off like you and I did. She’s been in my dreams for over two years now. For her, she occupies the space in-between life, an emptied country, ravaged and war-torn. Although, to be honest, I’ve never seen her face. Nor her body.
The woman of my dreams is a nun in the service of a man I’d met in other dreams – a pimp of sorts, if preacher’s can be pimps… She’s a bend and a weave to my camera eyes. Inside this dream, reflections are everything and nothing. And so she hides behind her veil, permanently watching my footsteps. And while I’ve given up searching for her face – as I know there is none to find – I know she loves someone other than the Lord. I know this because I can feel this. She is a praxis of the matchless values of the prevailing manners of this future. She is sprung from the basic, minimum element like faith; the simple reading of word, the unending meditation on it, the mutual assistance to it, in all human dimensions. She is, the genuine church.
I have, I will admit, etched it seems, a vision: her and him, standing at the end of a pier overlooking the Pacific Ocean I’ve yet to see, close but not touching, no heat between lovers visible. Slowly (and I must emphasize, slowly) he’ll walk off the end of the pier and, without a splash, disappear into the sea. She doesn’t move (why would she, right?). Strangers at the bottom. Of society? The bottomless pit of love and lost? How should I know? I used to stare at tacky motel art when I was a kid and wrote once: our touch on the past is beautiful / our rendering of the present: cynical. I don’t know where she came from – but she’s a woman I’ve shared a bed with now for some time. Please don’t be jealous.
So why am I telling you this tonight? Quite simply: I saw her face for the first time. Of course, I didn’t mean to. It just happened, like other stuff happen. I was laying on my back in a town I didn’t recognize (or create). I smelt the accent an old man yelling at me in Spanish, pointing his fury at my eardrums, drenched in sugarcane and imported wheat. I felt the old women in new jackets pointing at the young women in new jackets – the faded prestige becoming too much for them to bare. I felt like I’d left my home fifty years ago in an ending exile. I was spitting blood through my bleeding gums and cracked lips. I was dying in the middle of this street before I felt myself rising above the disappearing street lamps, lifted to my bare feet on the soft, southern soil. I noticed Jesus crucified around her neck. (My heart is racing as I write this.) I saw her face. Her face was you. Well not you – let’s be honest again. By “I saw her face” I mean to say, I didn’t really see her face. It’s just that when I felt her arms on my back, when I moved my eyes upward across her neck, my heart warmed instead of froze. For all I know, the nun (you) could have been the one who split my lips and licked my bloody wounds. She (you) could have kicked me from the ladder leading to the steeple, expelling me forever from your dreams. But she (you) was also the one who picked me back up, and showed her(your)self for the first time.
You don’t have to tell me that I’m only imaging things. It’s a great trick of mine, one that I’ve replicated with varying results, believing in dreams and convincing myself and others that they hold some sort of intimate wisdom (they don’t). Yet at the same time, I feel like forgetting how close you were to my face is a mistake. I want to find her (you) and cut out her (your) tongue so she’ll (you’ll) let me in on all the secrets, drop our virus, break down this life to its molecular level. I’ll slip through the cracks of her (your) armor and scream myself awake. She (you’re) a fight song, as it turns out, to lose to. Even as a woman of God, don’t be offended or hurt when I slay you in my dreams. Or finally push you off into the pier. Or make love to you. I won’t hurt you in real life, whatever that means – yet another promise to add to the many we’ve already tried to make.
She doesn’t know this – my nun, you, my second reality, my only one – but the future belongs to her: alive to those who are themselves alive. And I will write, until the nights pass into the next lost world and I can return to her, and atone for whatever it is that I feel needs to be absolved –
- it is