Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the tag “dreams”

2/365: Mindscrew

The thoughts
that pollute my head
When I want to rest
Obscure my perception
and insulate me
From experience

The vivid life comes
Before the day begins
Stops making sense
Long before it dissolves
Leaving strands to translate

#365poems at



I think I need to take a breather from the Rush Limbaughs, Patricia Heatons and Kirk Camerons of the world.  Out of the two, though, I still have to think Rush’s remarks were worse: my blood starts to boil every time I think of what he said.  I’m glad Fluke doesn’t accept his apology (which seemed more about saving his brand and not actually admitting Fluke did not deserve three days of on-air slander), and I’m glad he is facing the consequences for behavior that is disgusting regardless of what politics are behind it.

Maybe I just need to immerse myself in pockets of joy wherever I may find them.  Life’s too short to waste in anger.  I’m thinking of things that would be better uses of my time than stewing over shit that I can’t control.  Listening to the music of Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt, for example.  Losing myself in my books and finding myself in my own words.  Watching a heavenly two minute brain cleanse.  Dreaming of places I want to visit: New York, Europe, Newfoundland.

Career tracks and callings

Thank you to everyone who offered me encouragement about my photography so far.  I’ve long mulled over whether I should take the leap and actually commit to a career in photography. I suppose putting together a portfolio is a step towards doing that.  I also think about seriously pursuing writing as well.  On my Twitter profile, I identify myself first as a writer and photographer.  Technically, it is true.

I still have lingering doubts as to whether it’s realistic for me to actually consider either of those as my vocation.  People tell me I’m good at both, but I still wonder if I’m one of the people for whom “do what you love” is not particularly good advice to give.  It’s not hard work alone that gets success in the world: talent, skill, opportunity, connections and circumstance cannot be ignored.   Some people can only do what they must, whether they like it or not.

It’s not just the ultra-competitive fields where this is true.  There are people who do pretty well at call centre work, but others, despite their best efforts and developed skills, still don’t have the natural talent for that occupation and end up either getting fired or burning out.  But it’s easier and less risky to look for work in a call centre than try to eke out a living doing what you love.  I’ve done the call centre route.  I did alright: in retrospect, I did better than I would have imagined and learned a good deal, but the longer I stayed there, the more I realized that I was never going to be completely happy in that setting.  I felt that even if I were to come to love it, it didn’t really come naturally to me.  It was also exhausting me to the point where my time off was spent on recovering for the next shift instead of putting words together or going out with my camera.

Photography and writing are more than just hobbies to me.  They’re urges that the way I see the world is inevitably filtered through.

I’m at the point where I know I have to ask myself whether it’s worth the effort of pursuing what I want to do, or if I should just keep practicality in mind and keep my interests on the back burner.  What does it mean to be realistic?   Does that not sometimes include accepting that the best you can ever hope for is cleaning toilets?

I’m thinking it’s time to actually subject myself to a bigger test of my abilities.  I’m thinking about the 35 before 35 list these days.  I’m considering making it a goal of mine to sell some of my work in the next five years…

Commentary on some of my older work

Since starting the five-minute free write on the blog, I’ve been thinking about using this place to post original work in addition to my regular blog entries and free writes.  I also wanted to at least post links to some of my earlier pieces, and offer a few comments on them.

Celebrity Hungry Hungry Hippos: A few years ago, I wrote a review for a fake celebrity game show called Celebrity Hungry Hungry Hippos.  My main inspiration for that was watching DVDs of WKRP and St. Elsewhere and thinking that it was better for Jan Smithers and Sagan Lewis to leave the business with some dignity instead of lowering themselves to appear on some reality show to extend their careers.  I thought it would be funny to have Lewis be kind of a weirdo and maybe somewhat like what one would write for Christopher Walken on SNL.  By contrast, I wanted to have Smithers be tough and the dominant one in the whole affair.  The kidnapped blonde guy from the background of the Mary Tyler Moore episodes (whose real name is J. Benjamin Chulay, and now a film editor) was chosen more for the arbitrary desperation I would imagine the show would have in trying to get people.  Frank Cady from Green Acres was chosen because I needed another male who would fit the show, and I decided to have him be the one guy who was actually excited to be on the show.  I wanted the host to be the easy target, and make the contestants have comparatively more dignity, so I chose Dave Coulier as the pathetic emcee.

As I note in my introduction, this was originally supposed to be written in sketch format, and I had posted this on a Saturday Night Live message board with a fan sketch section.  I struggled with the dialogue and figured it would work better as a review, but  I still had the roles cast in my mind: Kristen Wiig was Jan Smithers (I see a resemblance between the two, and Wiig reportedly is quite shy as well), Casey Wilson was Sagan Lewis, Bill Hader was Frank Cady, and Will Forte was Chulay.  I think Jason Sudeikis would have been Coulier as well.  That ultra-violent suggestion at the end was actually taken from a list of activities my friend came up with ten or eleven years ago to make fun of a class he didn’t want to go to.  I had a few other CHHH installments planned in my mind: one would have had the kid they added to Who’s The Boss? when it was clear Danny Pintauro was getting too old to play the “cute kid”, an unnamed “nurse from M*A*S*H” that would change actresses between shots (a reference to how many different generic nurse characters with names like Able, Baker, Charlie, etc. were on the show), and one of the girls from the Waltons who Coulier would constantly call by the wrong character name.   I can’t remember who the fourth hippo was, but the game would end when Creed Bratton from The Office would walk in, look at the camera and declare “I’m famous!”, and walk off with the game board.

Sappy Reflections: I had conceived my old blog Huckleberry Masks (title taken from The Fall’s “In The Park”) to be my outlet for my writing.  It didn’t really come to be; most of what I posted there were scraps, old ideas and random incoherent writing, but I did put a few formal pieces on there.  Sappy Reflections was my attempt to write at length about my feelings during a weekend trip to Sackville, NB for Sappyfest in 2010.  It is mostly autobiographical with a handful of changes and embellishments to add drama and avoid real names.  I only managed to complete my writeups about Friday and Saturday; I have a draft for Sunday that’s mostly completed, but I’m unsure whether I should post it here or there, or even post it at all.  All the photography in the posts is mine.

Miramichi: This was largely done as a way to vent my frustrations with living in Miramichi, New Brunswick, a city that perpetually seems to be on the losing end of unemployment and population bleed.  In the last 50 years, we’ve lost a university to Fredericton, a CFB base, and several mills.  We’ve been hit especially hard the last five years.  We’re getting some federal government jobs but I really don’t think that will be enough to turn this place around.

In A Silent Way:  I had tried to use a dream as basis for a story before (I eventually posted about it here) but this was a fresh dream that had made a vivid impression on me one night last year.  It’s mainly a collection of scenes and images, but I was trying to convey the feeling I got in part of the dream.  I still wonder if it meant anything.

A catalogue of dreams

I had a dream recently where I boarded a train that ran through Newfoundland and France.  Logistical implausibility aside, it was kind of exciting to be able to jump on a train and end up somewhere I haven’t been before.

It got me thinking about some of the other dreams I’ve had that stuck in my brain.  Most dreams tend to fade away forever once I wake up, but I still remember a handful here and there.  I give you the highlights:

  • My most frequent recurring dream seems to be that I’m about to go on a vacation or some other trip to some place I’ve never been or haven’t been in a while.  I’m usually just about to leave, but then I notice that all my cats aren’t accounted for, and the rest of the dream ends up being a frustrating wrangle to make sure all the cats are inside before I go, and I usually wake up before I go anywhere.
  • On the topic of travel, when I was working at one of my earlier call centre jobs, I would dream that I actually managed to go somewhere far away, only for me to realize that I needed to be at work the next morning, and I spend the remainder of the dream hurrying back to town by that (realistically impossible) deadline all the while feeling guilty for having a little bit of fun.
  • While at that same job, I once had a dream where I was taking calls for work through my cell-phone when I was visiting a friend.  I kept wanting to get out of the call, but for some reason it would never end, and in this dream it never occurred to me to just hang up on the caller.
  • I also had a dream where there was a bomb at work (of the “alarm clock wired to sticks of dynamite” variety), and my boss wouldn’t let anyone evacuate the building lest our productivity go down.
  • I also had a dream where I won the lottery, but I wasn’t allowed to get out of work to claim the prize in time.

I also have a tendency to incorporate any music that may be playing on my iPod or on the radio into my dream.  Usually it manifests itself in me dreaming that for some reason I can’t turn off or turn down my iPod (what I call “the damn thing’s busted” dream) but I remember these dreams as well:

  • When I was younger, I would always be hearing The Supremes “You Keep Me Hanging On” whenever I entered a K-Mart in my dreams.  (Side note: K-Mart hasn’t existed in Canada in years).
  •  I had a dream the night before my last day of Grade 3 that incorporated a cover of “Amie” by a Winnipeg country band.  A classmate would be doing this sort of dance involving holding her thumbs out in front of her as she bit her lip and nodded her head to the guitar lick before the verses.
  • In my first year of university, I dreamed of involuntarily singing “Je Joue De La Guitare”  by Jean Leloup, burning my hoodie and singing the “Et j’ai des grands instants de lucididididididididi…” line instead of yelling.
  • About a year ago, I fell asleep with my computer playing the works of Steely Dan.   I dreamed I was in a gay bar and that I had a heroin habit (for the record, I have never touched the stuff).
  • The music-incorporating dream I remember the most was from about three years ago.  XTC’s “The Man Who Sailed Around His Soul” was the soundtrack to me pushing an office chair around Halifax, trying to avoid one of my supervisors from work and a woman’s rugby team jogging two-by-two.  I pushed the chair through stores and streets before finally ending up in a lobby of an upscale motel.  The music switched to Annie Lennox’s “Smithereens” as I felt overcome with sadness and mourned my avoidance of friends as of late.
Do dreams necessarily mean anything?  I really don’t know.  Read what you will into these dreams (and I invite you to post comments about possible meanings), but at times when my life is the most routine and uninspiring, these dreams stand out more and more.

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