Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Moon on Monday

Or rather, Tuesday morning

The night before last, my insomnia was further complicated by the most jarring nightmare(s) I can remember. My growing frustrations with our small, top-floor apartment were clearly the inspiration behind the heart stopping energy of the dreams that forced me awake at 4:30... after only one REM cycle of sleep. Rustic charm aside, the sloping roof lines, wood beams, and dormer windows are bad Feng Shui, clearly--all that enclosure and weight, the angles, the sag of the ancient walls and ceilings. The drawers of our dresser have to be wedged closed or they slide open toward the decline of the floors, clothes exposed. Don't get me started on the terrible stairs.

But the dream was, as most dreams are, a mix of lives and epochs--past and present colliding in illogic--faces that are, according to some psychoanalysts, all representations only of the dreamer's self. I tried after each startled waking to go back to sleep only to fall back into the dream, until finally, too afraid to keep trying, I got up, turned on my favorite lamp, and wrote it all down... or at least as much as I could lasso in words:

Way, way, way too scary in my head to go back to sleep. What the hell? Not quite this apartment, not this town. And my old neighbor Paula lives across the hall. She and her friend are feeling it, too--strange and scary energy. Each time we try to light a lamp, it blows, until eventually there are none left to light. Even the communal corridor is reduced to a darkened spiral. The friend asks me if I noticed the spots on the carpet. "No. I mean, just now, yes, but they weren't there before." Large, bird-shit white spots that come into focus and fade with our mounting fear.

When we run outside--to find a hotel and some solitude--there are a few kids, maybe ten to sixteen-years old, throwing things at my windows. Rocks? We sort of chase them off but end up back inside. The TV works. (I can't remember the images.)

We call the landlord, [our real-life Italian slumlord,] because we smell, not smoke exactly, but something like it... something almost electrical. He's annoyed and dismissive, reminds us that last time he came there was nothing. The apartment is our responsibility. We can't talk sense to him and hang up. There are cats. One of mine is black and freaking out. I guess I don't have another, but Paula has at least four--mostly black and one white--that chase and swirl in and out the front door, up and down the stairs after mine. When I gather her up she scratches and claws but I don't let her go, close the door on the others.

We all climb into bed together and begin to feel things in there with us, but see nothing. Something lifts me into the air against the ceiling. I can't scream. I can't even talk. I am struck dumb. My mind spins like a vortex has opened.

Throughout the dream I am dialing and dialing, speed-dialing M on my cell phone, but I never reach him. There is an interference, the intangible energy that fucks with us. It keeps cutting the connection short of any response.

When I turned out the light, I stood at the window watching the Seine. Usually smooth as glass at such hours, its surface looked more like TV snow in olive green--agitated, confused, spots of calm beaten back by the glitter and shimmy that hadn't even sense enough to run west toward the sea. I wrote one last paragraph in the moonless dark:

If I re-enter this dream I will fight. We will not think ourselves crazy for all that we feel. We are among the living with loved ones, each other, all present in the darkest night. We will summon our dead if we must. We will take back the night until it is no longer dark, for we, too, are forces of nature.

Ps) Then, blaming the universe, I slept until nine, nightmare free.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Grace Bernice Allen 1913-2003

Oh... I am soooo way behind on my blogging. So much to tell you. But today I am thinking of my grandma--my dad's mom--because it's her birthday. That also means that the six-year anniversary of her death is sometime in the next week or so. I make it a point not to remember that date, but it's hard to forget that she seemed to wait until just after her birthday to give in to the thick forgetting that had been taking her slowly from us for years. Had she just turned 90? For some reason, I was thinking she was 93.

Last year, my uncle did the same, gave in to his cancer right around this time of year. Again, I don't remember, or want to remember, the date. It's strange to miss someone you didn't see but once a year or so, but it happens. My uncle was my grandma's sweet boy. They both died in Havasu City, Arizona, which I guess is as good a place to die as anywhere. But this is a blog about her birthday.

Every year I forget exactly which day is my grandma's birthday because two of my best friends from Jr. high/high school have birthdays on the other two days between the 20th and the 22nd... I don't talk to them anymore either, but they're not dead, at least not that I know of. I miss them, but not like I miss my grandma. I'm pretty sure today is her day. In fact, I'm positive. (Called my dad anyway, just to be sure. He still carries these dates in his wallet.)

I like to think she's watching over me, watching me live this sublime life in a country she never dreamed about. At least I don't think she did. I don't think she ever traveled outside of the U.S. Maybe on a cruise, the one she took with my grandpa... not my grandpa, her husband who died when I was two. No, a couple of years later she started hangin' out with my other grandpa, my mom's dad. (Alhambra was a very close community ;) He would come over to her house and we would sit around the kitchen table "working the puzzle" as she called it. She loved that word scramble puzzle in the paper, I don't know which paper. Now, the kitchen table is in my back yard in Long Beach rusting in the mild weather. Her tea cups are in my bookshelf. I miss my stuff.

Mostly, I miss her, a lot. I guess I always will. The missing doesn't even seem to evolve, at least not since getting over the initial shock of her physical absence. I want to climb into her hospital bed again, smell her old skin, feel its crepe under my fingers. Better yet, I want to climb into her bed in Alhambra, keep her warm, listen to her snoring. I want to go to Newberry's with her, then Bob's Big Boy for spaghetti and chili and a hot fudge sunday.

Happy birthday, Grandma.