I write these words on Easter, that holiday which represents a triumphant e resurrection. It
also coincides, at least here in Northeast America, with the resurrection of the year itself. The seasonal clock ticks loudly, rousing nature audibly from the deep sleep of winter (which, in Vermont and points north, looks so like death, but, of course, isn't), and into what Cole Porter described as "the urge to merge with the splurge of spring." (Left, the relevent cover of one of my mother's books.)
How is it possible that I have not added a post since that other, calendar-based turning of time, the New Year?
Part of the reason: a death in the family, and a major life u-turn indirectly because of it, are part of the reason in this case. But we'll get to that.
First, a sheepish confession: the previous post (which as it happens does include a sheep, in the short film called Boundin') is the third time I've labeled an entry here a Part One, then failed to do a Part Two in what is often called "a timely fashion." A phrase in which a scolding tone and a finger-waggle seem almost inherent.
Well-intended Part Ones that lack the promised Part Twos, happen, in my case, because of daily life, that confoundingly overflowing cornucopia. It's not so much that 'shit happens' as everything happens, and keeps on happening, at what feels like an ever-stepped-rate. Daily life,
for me at present, is overly generous with unexpected experiences. It's not just that I get busy, though I do, but that so much happens so quickly that by the time there are a few hours to write the Part Twos, they rarely compel me any longer, because I've moved into today's feast of experiences, and the questions, thoughts, and ideas they raise, perhaps the insights they yield.
The busyness and experience-after-experience raining down torrentially is true in this case. But the dream still compels, because as it turned out, it had even more to give than I realized at the time… only subsequent events made this clear.
And I'm also I'm sticking with my promise and delivering on Part Two,because that particular Part One of last time without follow-up would have just been a tease.After all, I told you in essence, that I had a dream, that it was signifigant, and some of what it included… but I didn't really tell you the dream.
So now I'm gonna.So here we go.
If you haven't read that previous post, and seen Boundin', please do so now, or this'll make no sense).
As it is, the sense it does make is itself dreamlike, irrational … a kind of uber-sense.
But sense nonetheless. A sense which is finally irrationally insensible with hope and sweetness.
backstory: the dream's cast
The dream I'd started telling you about was inhabited by two real waking-life people very familiar to me, me and my dear friend Chou-Chou. (Me, Chou, & Frosty, the mother of one of her ex-boyfriends, pictured left, back in Eureka Springs a few years ago).
This dream also featured a guest appearance by one mid-level celebrity, David Letterman.
And, then, at the hinge point of the dream, an imaginary character, brought to me by its inventor, my subconscious. This latter character was a dapper elderly gentleman, unnamed. He was elegantly dressed in a well-tailored, slightly old-fashioned dark suit; he was charming, erudite, funny, at ease with himself, and full of good cheer. He was Letterman's guest.
not much of a plot, for so much insight… you'd think
The dream was a simple one. Basically, it's this: Chou-Chou and I are sitting up, our backs against the headboard, lounging on a large bed with a golden yellow bedspread. We're watching TV. We're watching David
Letterman, who is interviewing the elderly gentleman.
Why is he being interviewed? Because he is the world's foremost voice-over artist, and he is also a Holocaust survivor.
And he is talking about one of his recent voice-over projects: Boundin'. He is happy, enthusiastic, at ease. Letterman is asking him how, after all he's survived, he can still believe in resiliency, the 'bound and rebound' theme of the film. The unnamed voice-over man says that his experiences confirmed it. That he never would have made it without resiliency. That "made it" means, not just survive the camps but go on to live a life that was joyful, fulfilling. That had meaning, in spite of the horrors he had witnessed. That resiliency made him a survivor, not a victim of, the Holocaust. That when he sees his grandchildren, or children not related to him — and he's seen many of them lately, because of the film, he —
Then he pauses, hesitates. And begins to fall from his chair on the studio set (Chou and I still watching). And then they cut to a commercial.
Chou and I look at each other questioningly, leaning forward, riveted.
When the show goes back from the commercial to Letterman, there are written words on the screen, being typed as we see them, not Letterman and his guests. The words are in white against a dark brown background.
dream was a simple one. Basically, it's this: Chou-Chou and I are sitting up, our backs against the he
Chou and me
Now Chou-Chou and I have done many things together, but we have never sat on a bed and watched Letterman.
Chou lives in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which was also once upon a time my home, for many years. Chou and I have periodically traveled the
worlds over the last four decades (a length of time incredible to both
The plural on 'worlds' is intentional.
The first of those worlds
is the world itself: Chou and I have periodically explored, visited,
and adventured in many parts of Arkansas, Vermont, New York, Missouri, California,
and Texas; to say nothing of small towns and large cities in both
France and India.(Mexico is on thediscussion- horizon for next winter).
I have slept in her guest room in at least three different homes in
Eureka Springs, including one in Penn Castle, her residence for awhile (left, image from here),
and in one in Petaluma, California.
(It must be said that Chou buys, sells, trades, and redoes houses the way most people change clothes).
I have also slept on an open-air veranda, enclosed by wrote iron scrolls, outside the studio apartment she once leased in Kerala. It
was in Kerala, on an earlier trip, that we had adjacent rooms in a
temporary straw-sided shelter called a pandal, along the edge of which
we watched a lime-green baseball-bat sized green snake crawl, gazing
first at it, then at each other, then back at it, in fascinated, horrified, admiring, and oh-what-the-hell disbelief.
(Finally we saw the
dhobi, who brought our clean laundry, neatly folded and wrapped in brown paper, delivered by bicycle. every few days. "Dhobi! " we
called urgently, pointing. "Naga!" (Snake). "Nala naga, nala naga,"
said the dhobi reassuringly, meaning good snake, good snake. Meaning
not poisonous. We learned later that the really lethal snakes in that part of the world were tiny, about the size of a pencil, gray, and only came out at night. Nearly invisible, in other words. (It's always the things that you don't see that can get you, at least potentially.) (To this day I don't know actual variety of the snake, though a quick search on the Internet leads me to suspect it may be a Green Tree Snake. This picture, though, looks much like it, though ours was spread out full length and had an iridescent sheen to it. This image is from here. )
But just as large, and concomitant with our
outer travels, I also mean the inner world: we have borne witness to
each other's deepest sufferings.
Among other things, she was with me in
the hospital the night of Ned's accident, when the doctor came in from
the emergency room and said "We lost him."
Among other things, I was with her the day when, out-of-the-blue (to her) she
was served by the sheriff from the
husband with whom she'd had a pleasant conversation a few days before,
and with some she had a difficult but still much desired marriage.
We told each other truths we would've been hard-oressed to tell anyone else, about betrayals, tragedies, and our own shortcomings and failures; we processed our shortcomings, proclaimed our hopes, comforted each
other, helped each other practically, occasionally fought, discussed, analyzed, had long
walk-talks, countless dinners (usually Tex-Mex, her favorite, which I
am happy to cook for her). We've wept: together and apart, for
and with each other.
But though we bore close-up
witness to each other's nightmares and despair, we have also seen and marveled out each other's (and our own) resiliency. We have applauded and cheered. We
have expressed wonderment at what we each, individually, not only went
through but that we found inner resources we did not have, had been
able, through the deepest kind of pick-and-shovel work and
self-confrontation, to arrive at the place where deepest failure could
only be labeled victory.
And, today, at a time we could call the infancy of old age or at least the latter part of our days, we each find ourselves happy, and
are simply amazed at this. And very silly sometimes, slap=happy, almost, as my mother used to call it. For instance: These days when we leave each other voice-mails,
they usually begin with one or the other of us, singing cheerfully if
horrifically off-tune, to the tune of Frere Jacques, "Oh, Chouchetto,
this is Dragonetto, oh, Chouchetto, I am calling you," and continuing
to riff from there into ever more off-the-wall improvisational rhymes. (David rolls his eyes when he hears me leaving a message for, or listening to a message from, Chou. Rolls his eyes, shakes his head, and walks out of the room, smiling.)
, though we
have never sat on a bed and watched David Letterman (countless movies,
from various couches, yes; TV, or Letterman, never. In fact I don't
even have a TV, and I doubt I've seen a Letterman, even on a hotel room
TV, in at least a decade, maybe two).
: since I neither have a TV nor watch one, and have not seen a
Letterman show in years (like, decades, maybe), I'm not quite sure why
he popped up in the dream. But, if I had to guess, it's because the
dream required a television figure who was typically a smart-ass, and
not known for integrity (hadn't some recent thing about extramarital
affairs come out?) . Oprah would have been too receptive and
on-the-same-page integrity-wise to fit the bill; Johnny Carson too
long-ago and associated with my childhood.
Why him? Because when I think of inexplicable evil and horror, of the worst things I can imagine human beings going through, the most impossible to not just survive but come through without being irreparably damaged within — it is the Holocaust and slavery, both organized, institutionalized dehumanization of others in the most brutal fashion that come to mind.
Thus, my unconscious delivered to me, on New Years Eve, a Holocaust survivor who was not just happy and functional and at peace in his life… he had even done the voice-over for a simplified animated little film about… resiliency. In the dream, I am sitting e was an
Eastern European Jew who was a Holocaust survivor, and he was being
interviewed by David Letterman on the exclusive broadcast also created
by my unconscious, because he was the world's most famous voice-over
artist, including doing the voice-over for the film Boundin.' Though
in the interview he spoke with his native heavy Russian-Jewish accent,
in the voice-over for Boundin' he'd been able to speak as a loosely
Western American cowboy. who —
though he speaks with a heavy Russian-Jewish accent, — is the
world's foremost voice-over expert. He is also a Holocaust survivor.
With all the
other things I mentioned, and with moving from winter into the very
outer edges of spring in Vermont, the living room full of boxes of what
we decided to keep on Aunt Dot's when we cleared her apartment after
her death. (
cornucopia has again been abundant and provocative. For instance: about
two weeks after I wrote about that dream, that death. I helped my
beloved Aunt Dot (who had no children, so I stepped in as something of a surrogate daughter) make the last journey of her lifetime.
Yet her final travel is, for me, not unconnected with that earlier
dream and the "rare hare of hope." In fact, the more I think about it,
the more I think it somewhat presaged the events which followed — or
if not presaged, sort of bolstered me for them. And not just me, but
one of the dear people who was in that dream, a good friend who I'll
tell you about shortly. (The picture: One bookshelf in Aunt Dot's
apartment before we started clearing it out. Multiply this by five pr
six and that's about how many books she had, thanks to a 100-plus-year
life, much of it as as a reader and editor).
And, too, to have said what I did in the particular Part One of last time without follow-up would have just been a tease.