Begin in Dreams

In one dream, a dream encountered once each month or so, a password to an email service or to the office desktop itself can not be remembered. Or interruptions prevent typing it in within a fifteen-second countdown. He has been away from the office for so long—a decade—and he sees the voice mail light flashing on his phone, but he can not remember the four-digit access code. How many messages? he wonders.

Even without the password, he catches a glimpse of the waiting emails and they scroll without him touching the mouse, and he has a deadline to meet that somehow exists simultaneously as “just missed,” “about to be missed,” and “missed a decade ago, so why are you dreaming about a job that was three or four jobs ago”? Is this even his cubicle, anyway?

No bosses are visible, but unseen bosses are the only ones required in a nightmare.
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Dulce et Decorum Est

“Their life consisted wholly and solely of war, for they were and always had been front-line infantrymen. They survived because the fates were kind to them, certainly—but also because they had become hard and immensely wise in animal-like ways of self-preservation.”—Ernie Pyle, World War II journalist, writing about what he saw at the front. Killed in action April 18, 1945.

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Dylan Stumps the Grammys

Bob Dylan turns 74 today.

On February 20, 1991, Dylan was handed a Grammy “Lifetime Achievement Award” by Jack Nicholson. (Will they grant him a second one soon? The man is still working, after all.) Dylan in 1991 was beginning to receive the oldies act treatment and he did not appear to enjoy this fact even a little bit. Since 1991: nine albums, a hundred or more live performances every year on what critics decided to call his “Neverending Tour,” a dozen releases from his bootleg series. And his paintings and twisted-iron sculpture series, which he debuted two years ago.
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Tom Waits’ Letterman Tribute

David Letterman retired from his 33-year-plus career hosting late night television last night. One of his best guests through the years was Tom Waits, who usually showed a flair for comedy that he did not often display anywhere else. (The sad fact is that not many television shows have requested Tom Waits to appear at all, much less bring whatever object or idea that had sparked some comic possibilities in his brain.)

Out of Letterman’s 6000-plus shows, Waits appeared on only 10, whether or not he had a new album or tour or play or film to advertise. Last week, he appeared for the last time and debuted a song that keeps lingering with me, “Take One Last Look.” He directed it as a tribute to Mr. Letterman and was accompanied by Larry Taylor (once of Canned Heat) on upright bass and Gabriel Donohue on piano accordion, with the horn section of the CBS Orchestra helping on the choruses.

On his website, Waits joked, “I don’t know when I will see Dave again. I guess from now on we’ll have to settle for bumping into each other at Pilates.”
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ALS, SMA, and Nice Ice

Each one of us is a part of an interest group. This does not mean each of us must carry out the duties of being an official representative of said interest group, but, for example, I might be the only Jewish person you know. As such, I try to be a good guy and hope that this represents good things.

(I have been that one before, actually—when I lived in the Midwest—and I had some fun with it. Not that there are zero Jewish people in Iowa, there are, but one couple that I got to know had not met one or they claimed to have not. Which makes me a member of yet another special interest group: I may be the only Jewish person you know who was the first Jewish person someone met or said that they met. Life is full of milestones.)

I am male, middle aged, half-Jewish, half-Baptist, an alcoholic in recovery, tall, thin, and I have a disease that is disabling me. It is spinal muscular atrophy, type 4. Do any of these things merit me tapping on your shoulder and requesting attention from your charitable impulses? Or your attention at all?
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Anniversaries …

The reminder came like a … like a … um, simile. The reminder arrived like a reminder of other times when something forgotten was brought up by others.

Worse, it wasn’t much of a reminder. I am a certain age, 16,984 days as of 6:37 p.m. tonight, so almost every single day of the week offers the anniversary of one thing or another it seems. Another one hit today. A bigger and better one tomorrow.
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Sleep, Perchance to Zzzzzzzzz

We measure the quality of our day by the number of achievements we have. Number of documents published versus quality of work, or the number of times this week we beat personal commuting records to and from the office, or numbers of reps at the gym, or, worse, for those dieting, number of days without “cheating,” which represents even more harsh ways to harshly self-judge.
We live in a culture of Other Peoples’ Success and thus exist in a competition with others for more successes than them and yet better ones. This is because, as Brené Brown, a famous sociologist, points out, we live in a “culture of scarcity. We wake up in the morning and we say, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ And we hit the pillow saying, ‘I didn’t get enough done.’ We’re never thin enough, extraordinary enough or good enough—until we decide that we are. The opposite of ‘scarcity’ is not ‘abundance.’ It’s ‘enough.’ I’m enough.”
I’m enough. Not “I’m good enough.” I’m enough. How hard that is to say, and to mean it to be about me, myself, and not you. It is even harder to embrace.— “Get Some Sleep Already,” October 24, 2014

I only remember my nightmares. Which means that either I do not have pleasant dreams at all (not the case) or that I have them all the time but they are unremarkable to me because I live my life under the self-centered guiding philosophy that the only life worth experiencing always feels like a victorious night at an awards ceremony, so I spend my waking life continuously happy and flinging thumbs-up signs at the world (not the case, either).
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An Ideal Reader

(First, a note on the photo: I have attempted to set up photo shoots with Ángel, el gato de amor, my girlfriend’s cat, that feature her with my glasses and a book. Because hilarious. Ángel has made it clear—by pushing the glasses off the bed slowly, very slowly, super slowly, threateningly slowly—that if I could get away with this, the price would be very steep. I would be getting away with my life and it would be a cheap life from that day on. Thus the photo of the unknown cat above. Because hilarious.)

This first appeared in “Message in a Bottle.”

* * * *
Everyone who writes has an imaginary friend.

There is an ideal reader in my imagination, a figure who finds even my shopping lists and notes in the margins of books interesting. I have not yet actually met anyone who fits this description, but I keep writing, just in case.
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