Monday, September 29, 2008

Dream #4

The mayor of the city dies. Up in a mid-rise shaped like a round tower in the middle of the city is a bookstore that has something for me. I go up there and run into a slim, balding Irishman with curly hair. He says that my parents on the East coast know the mayor, and we need to bring the body to them.

I step out of big black sedan into the night in a parking lot outside of an office that my parents used to use. My parents await us in the parking lot. The Irishman walks up to them and shakes their hands. He walks back toward me, and I know it's time that we take out the coffin with the mayor of the city in it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Water Crisis vs. the Financial Bailout

My minister at church made an interesting quote that I will possibly mangle, but the spirit of it goes:

It will take $700 billion to bailout the financial industry, but it would cost $20 billion to provide water to everyone in the world.

I didn't find anywhere on the 'net to substantiate this claim, but I found a claim equally as shocking that we ignore compared to all the emphasis that we put on the $700 bailout to bailing out our country form the financial crisis. From American Public Media:

About a billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water, but solving the crisis could cost up to $4 billion a year. Sam Eaton reports on a competition that's using entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions.

So, according to my minister and this article, it's less expensive to deliver water to everyone in the world than to bail ourselves out of the hole we've dug from the complicity of greed for the people in power and the value we hold that we have the right to own a home.

Honestly, I'd personally vote for my minister to take the office of US President over any of the candidates out there now, just by the citation of that statistic and pulling the curtain away from our eyes that we put there ourselves. Many of the problems in this world, we created, not because we are inherently sinful or anything like that. We all hold some degree of collective blame, so we all also hold a collective responsibility to make the world a better place, whether through donations of money or our time.

And even if we didn't directly contribute to the bad things that happen in this world, we have a responsibility to make the world a better place. This responsibility holds true whether we just want to make it better for ourselves or whether we feel an obligation to other people. A world collectively better will help provide us individual with better senses of meaning: a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, a sense of power and a sense of self esteem.

Don't want to feel better about yourself, feel safer while in the world and feel that you contributed to making the world a better place? Even for the misanthrope or hermit, wouldn't you like a world that would do a lot better at just leaving you alone? A better, safer and world fuller of meaning can have benefit you, misanthrope and hermit.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Choking Relaxation

The wife and I have had an active yet relaxing weekend so far. Last night after work, we went to a bar to watch the debates, the event being an Obama fundraiser. I have yet to decide who to vote for on Election Day (I'm not keeping my options to the major two parties, either), and I don't intend on announcing it to the public.

Interesting, though, to watch a debate amongst a partisan crowd. Had a hard time hearing McCain near the end with the crowd hissing and sneering at McCain while talking.

This morning, we woke up early to jump on the bus to get downtown and meet an out-of-town friend at The Original Pancake House. I didn't go too adventurous with my food choices, but they didn't have too many choices for a vegetarian that doesn't do dairy. Nothing too exciting for me, but their featuring apples on pancakes in the menu looked interesting.

Parting ways with our friend, we decided to check out a matinee of Choke. We, rather, decided to check out a matinee and figured Choke made for an interesting option and gave us enough time to settle into the theater before the 20 minutes of previews started.

I have a limited exposure to Chuck Palahniuck, the writer of the novel. I've seen Fight Club but haven't read the novel. I went with the wife to a Palahniuck reading at The Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA from a compilation of non-fiction he had published.

Choke doesn't reach the level of grandness, political/financial commentary or even of plot as Fight Club. Neither does Choke have the gross out factor of Stranger than Fiction: True Stories. The movie sticks to a small, personal scale. It shows some boobs, characters make some off-color sexualized comments, they have some neutered sex scenes and the movie centers around a sex addict attending a support group for sex addicts.

Choke doesn't have a conventional and linear plot. It centers more around the theme of loneliness and the habits that people follow to protect their vulnerable inner selves. Victor, the sexually-addicted main character, pretty much attends the sex addicts support group, works at a colonial era living museum, visits his mother suffering from alzheimers in a rest home and hangs out with his fellow sex addict friend. Then, one day, he meets Paige, a friend of Victor's mom. Victor's journey of "redemption," growth and revealing flashbacks starts from there but doesn't end when the movie does, whence Victor possibly even regressed back to where he started.

I haven't read any reviews, but by the progress of the plot and the movie's ending, I can understand what I've heard about bad reviews. The movie provides more of a character study than a plot, per se. The movies follows Victor's discovery of his loneliness and his habits to protect his vulnerable self. His best friend also makes his own discoveries and follows his own path of growth. Memories that Victor has about his mom and comments made by his mom provide some interesting revelations about Victor and also some quirky situations.

In the long run, Choke doesn't deliver the expected, conventional payoff. I have no problem with the undesired end, unlike, I'm expecting most of the other people who see this movie. Solving this dissatisfaction requires the audience to adhere to the belief in value of the journey is in the journey, not in reaching the goal. I can't be 100% sure, but the movie has enough coherent facts to make the ending true on the level of probability to Victor's character.

Choke works for me because of the themes it explores and the sincerity in which it explores them. Some of the characters have outlandish qualities that make them interesting and sometimes amusing oddities rather than realistic, but Victor's vulnerabilities make him very human and relatable. Most of us don't reach the pathological levels of protecting ourselves from emotional pain and embarrassment, but we all feel vulnerable to other people hurting us.

A normal person in a normal situation wouldn't provide the insight into our vulnerable sides. We all have normal habits that we all accept as regular behavior. Indoctrination into our society through family, school and other institutions teach us the etiquette we need not only to protect ourselves, but sometimes also to protect the other people around us, for their benefit and our benefit. Of course, protecting ourselves and others in these ways can be maladaptive emotionally and psychologically. Following someone pathologically protecting themselves with these types of habits shows us that we all protect ourselves. . .especially when they're protecting the same thing that we are.

Most reviewers and movie goers won't like Choke. They ostensibly won't like it because of unlikeable characters or even an unconventional plot. Maybe, though, people could have a problem with the movie because it shows them just how vulnerable they are. I bet no one will admit it, though.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dream #3

I step onto the road from my friend Chris's driveway. [He lives in a suburbian neighborhood (not a suburban one, mind you) in New England where the houses are big and they have good sized yards, the kind of yards you could have a picnic in and actually a good game of touch football or even tackle, if you had the inclination, with a good size field. It would probably take you between 3-5 minutes to walk from one house to another.]

People from the neighborhood are outside, enjoying the sunny day, wandering about and chatting with each other. I walk to the other side of the street, turn around and look all about. This scene brings me a certain amount of peace.

I step back into the street, but a car comes whipping out of nowhere, so I jump back. Inside the car, a blond 10-year old boy drives and another boy, just as young, with black hair sits in the passenger seat. They pass me by, drive down the street then turn the corner to the left. No one else seems to mind.

Running to the person closest to me, I ask them if they saw what happened.

I run down the street after the car and the two kids, turning the same corner.

The road looks different than Chris's neighborhood looked. The trees are closer to the street and loom over it, even though behind the trees are fields and at some point along the road, there are no trees.

Walking down that road, the need to find those children overtakes me. 10-year olds shouldn't be driving a car, I tell myself. It's dangerous. Where are the parents? They must have gone on vacation or something.

Reaching the bottom of a small decline in the road, I take out my cell phone and call the police. I tell them about the two 10-year olds in the car, driving all around. The person on the other side of the phone line says that they'll send someone out, and it will probably take them 24 hours arrive.

I want to yell "Don't you think two 10-year olds driving a car around the neighborhood requires a more immediate response?! They could kill someone!" but I don't think I have the opportunity to do so.

I had a lot of trouble waking up this morning. Part of it had to do with still having the compulsion of stopping those 10-year old kids from driving around before they hurt someone and getting the police and everyone else to care.

But while between sleep and awakeness, I don't think I remembered the dream. I think I only remembered that I had to get back there and had to do something, and it was extremely important that I do it.

In my desperation to address the compulsion that didn't let me know what I was supposed to do, I remembered that my free three-month cell phone Web access started today. Maybe if I checked my e-mail, I would get a clue what I wanted to do so much. After what seemed like forever of waking up, falling asleep, waking up, falling asleep and waiting for the phone/Internet cell connection to process information, I didn't find anything useful there.

The clock really didn't make much sense, even though it was buzzing. The same with my phone. . .but eventually I figured out that I should probably get up and get going to work. After all, it was the 22nd, a Monday. . .

What's even more interesting, I neglected to remember most of my bike ride to work. I can't even really remember much of the absent minded thinking that I did while riding. Kind of disconcerted me as I got closer to work.

Well, at least the dreams are getting a little bit more out there and interesting.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dream Set #2

One:

I go to work. All my co-workers stand in a line, shoulders crossed, side to side. I know something's wrong. The big boss asks me, "How could you do it? You're fired." I feel an oppressive sense of guilt about something I don't know about.

The woman who has the cubicle next to me says, "You didn't finish a sentence in a letter to customer." [I think I stopped writing the letter where I would have written a dependent clause.] Not finishing that sentence meant that a consumer got the wrong impression about their insurance coverage, the product that I sold them. Something occurred that caused the customer to have a loss and their insurance policy didn't cover it.

The guilt is overpowering.

Two:
My current co-workers, my wife and I have arrived at my parent's insurance agency office in Massachusetts. Something has occurred at one agency or the other that has caused either a merger or a temporary lending of office resources from my parent's office. After some talking, we all sit down and went to work.

Three:
The wife and I have gone out to the parking lot of my parent's office. Our boy cat is out there with us. [From Chicago to Massachusetts.] The cat charges then pounces on the back of a opossum. He bites the neck of the opossum, crouches on its back then glances all around. The cat jumps off the opossum then runs away. The opossum flips on its back, twitches a few times, rolls around then skitters off

COMMENTARY

I like that I've been able to remember dreams a second night in a row. This time, I even remembered three and not just one. Interesting that they all revolve around career, at least in some loose theme.

They have also become more interesting. The plots have become less mundane, but moreso, the emotional depth and intensity has become stronger.

Thematically, however, I think these dreams definitely touch upon or dwell on the detritus of the tension between my day job and the ambitions that, to me, run contrary to my current present fate.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dream #1

Group of friends and I will go to a movie, but they want to stop into the mall first. They want to grab a bite to eat and also some candy to sneak into the theater.

I decide that I don't need anything, so I wait at the appointed spot to meet up with everyone before we head to the theater.

At the last minute, when friends start showing up, I realize that I do need something. I tell whoever there that I need something, I'll be right back.

I run off to get whatever it is that I need to get. I take the back hallways, but the dream ends when I push through the doors.

COMMENTARY

If my imagination comes up with the above as a dream, I'm sad, both because my mind doesn't come up with something more exciting or something more interesting. Remembering the dream, in the first place, somewhat intentionally and after reading the introduction to a book about dreams, impresses me, however.

I've recently had a difficult time coming up with original things to write about that doesn't compromise my future income. If you want to make money as a writer in the future, you really just can't write about your ideas, knowledge or expertise online because it's out there, it's available, the supply becomes infinite while the demand will continue to be finite (thus keeping the market value nil).

And I don't really want to bore people with links to places they would probably find on their own.

Dreams make some good original material, even if it could come off as pretentious if someone came up with it consciously. The first story I published in my high school literary magazine actually came from a dream. I think I may even post here on The Lextopia because I don't expect to ever sell and publish it, even though I guess it could make money after I become famous and someone publishes and sells an anthology of my work or something.

So until I feel moved to write about a piece of news, something I find on the 'net or whatever comes to mind, get ready for something or the other.

But maybe I just used the facade of a dream to write something everyday and mundane in a pretentious way. . ..

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Turn of Phrase Inspired by the Harvard Unitarians

"I'm not depressed or sad. I just have a high tolerance to happiness."

Just something silly I came up with today while walking away from my desk at work. I guess it could even apply to my state of mind lately.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Some Beautiful Scenery up in Wisconsin

The wife and I got back from a long weekend trip up to Rhinelander, WI, where my parents grew up and my grandmothers live. We met up with my parents and celebrated one of my grandmother's birthdays.

On the lead up to the trip, people kept on telling me how pretty it is up there. I didn't believe them, though, because after all the years I've gone there, I didn't see much prettiness. Rather, I saw only tall tree trunks and branches, snow, ice, gray skies and swampy marshlands. No leaves or any color. Just dreariness.

I, after all, only really visited Rhinelander, WI during the late fall and winter. I can only remember visiting that very small city during the spring, summer or early fall once, maybe twice. Even worse, those memories are circumstantial and not for certain.

Summer and Rhinelander, WI actually stick in my mind with sentiments of disappointment. One summer, my family had plans to visit relatives in Rhinelander. I got pretty damn excited about going there to have a lot of fun. My brother, unfortunately, came down with appendecitis, sending the whole trip right down the tubes.

That was then, and this is now, though. Holding onto resentment from the past, especially arbitrary reasons for that resentment, doesn't accomplish anything. I realized that fact and the benefit of that realization while in the elevatr of Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA years and years ago, on the way home from visiting my brother there when he suffered from the infection of his appendix.

But screw all that. Rhinelander during the summer looks quite enchanting during the summertime.



The wife and I arrived in Rhinelander at about 5:30 Friday evening. Soon as we get there, my mom and dad mention some kind of surprise. They had been alluding to some kind of surprise in the e-mails leading up to the whole weekend event. My mom had been mentioning something about a river tour. And lo and behold, my dad drives me, the wife and my two grandmothers to a dock where we board something akin to a ferry boat. We then disembark to take a little river tour on the Wisconsin River.



They didn't so much take us on a tour. Other than the captain saying hello and letting us know about the drinks and pizza below decks, the crew didn't have so much to say about the scenery. I learned more about the river, the dams, the backwash and speculations about the trees hiding peoples' homes from my dad and grandmothers. It was more like a mini cruise on a river with pizza and drinks. . .just a good chance for people to sit, check out the nature and just chill with some friends and family.

I guess Rhinelander, WI
really is quite pretty.