Friday, May 27, 2005

Squirrel Chestnut Football

I am standing in the middle of a football stadium.

But this isn't a real football stadium.

It appears to be a giant board game.

I see people in the crowd, the grass, and the lines on the field ­ all are painted flat on cardboard. There’s a large plastic orange goalpost up ahead.

I hear the sound of a whistle, the rumbling of the crowd, and a PA announcer. The sounds are tinny, like a speaker on a small electronic game.

"Hut! hut!"

A player throws me the ball.

The ball is a chestnut, the size of a football.

The other players are squirrels, as tall as I am, running and bobbing about on their hind legs. They are dressed in blue and red football uniforms.

I run, dodging the squirrels, left and right, as I make my way up the field.

I am supposed to pass the chestnut, but I don't know which player to throw it to.

I'm confused.

I throw the chestnut high into the air.

It bursts into a flurry of fireworks ­ bright white, red, blue and green.

I hear the sound of the tinny speaker crackle. The crowd goes wild.

Then I woke up.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mental Institution Chakras

I am in a tall apartment building in a city. My friends Stuart and Gil are walking through a hallway next to me.

We pass several rooms. The lighting is dim, the tiles faded and broken, the walls a dingy grey.

Gil knocks on the door of one of the rooms. After a moment, his ex-boyfriend Mitch opens the door and invites us in.

We enter and Mitch sits down in a chair in the middle of this dark, simply furnished room.

We are not in an apartment building.

This is a mental institution. Mitch is a patient there.

"How are you doing?" Gil asks.

"Fine," Mitch replies, flatly.

As they talk, I look around the room.

There is a bed, neatly made in one corner. Along a wall is a set of bookshelves. They are empty.

A single light is in the room, next to the chair Mitch is sitting in.

On the floor at Mitch's left is a small round basket. I bend down and look inside.

It contains small cheap toys you might find in a joke shop. There are Chinese handcuffs, fortune telling fish and little toys that would light up and make sounds.

"Take one," Mitch says to me, "Everyone who visits here gets one."

Gil, Stuart and I reach into the basket and we each take a toy.

"We'd better be going," Gil says.

Gil gives Mitch a hug as we step into the hallway and Mitch closes the door behind us.

We walk to the end of the hallway to a large metal door, painted white. It leads to the exit outside.

We open it and go down several flights of stairs.

Finally, we come upon a corridor. At the far end of the corridor is another large metal door.

The corridor is dimly lit, resembling a utility room. It has electrical switch-boxes and exposed metal pipes. We hear the sounds of the steam room nearby, the heating system hissing and churning liquids through the pipes.

Along the left and right of the corridor are large glass aquariums, several feet high, towering over us.

I feel a chill.

We walk down the corridor and I look inside the aquariums.

They have a layer of dirt inside and, on top of the dirt, are these large pulsating beings. They are brown and dull orange, round, like a beach ball, covered with dirt and slime.

They pulsate and move on their own; some are stuck to the sides of the dirty aquariums.

I find them repulsive.

A man is there on a small wooden stepladder. He has a bucket of dirt and slime and he pours it into one of the aquariums, feeding the beings.

"What are these?" I ask.

"They're chakras," the man replies, "Some people keep them as pets."

"Would you like to have one?" he asks.

"No," I say.

Then I woke up.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Czechoslovakian Bathroom Weather Report

I am in a hallway in a school. It is similar to the elementary school I attended.

It seems older, with narrow halls, lots of wood trim and many classrooms. There are worn tile floors and walls painted in dull, unappealing institutional colors.

There are college students everywhere, studying for some type of final exam. They sit in the classrooms at creaky wooden desks and tables. They sit in the floors in the hallways and in doorways. I have to step over them as I walk.

They read textbooks and their notes in silence. I watch them as I slowly walk around the hallways, hearing only an occasional cough, the turning of a page, or squeak of a highlighter drawn across the text of a book.

I am supposed to help the students if they have a question.

I have an urge to go to the bathroom.

I really need to go to the bathroom. Now.

I walk down the hallway to a large dark wooden door. I turn the brass doorknob and walk inside.

The room I enter is very spacious with high ceilings. There are large older styled windows with worn wooden trim.

Czechoslovak flags, dozens of them, are draped all around the ceiling.

The room is filled with rows of wooden bathroom stalls. I walk to one and open the door, hearing the spring on it creak.

I step inside and the door shuts behind me. I notice there are no walls separating one stall from another. To my left and right is a row of older-styled toilets, a wooden door in front of each one.

Other people are there, sitting on some of the toilets. They look straight ahead, blankly, sitting in silence. One person reads a newspaper, slowly turning the pages.

Some of the people are women; some are men.

I don’t seem to be concerned about them.

I unzip my pants and take a leak, the sound of the flowing water echoing in the large room. I flush the toilet.

I turn around, open the stall and walk back out into the hallway.

I look back at the door of the bathroom.

A fancy brass plague is on the center of the door.

"This restroom donated by the Republic of Czechoslovakia," it reads.

I continue walking through the hallway. The students are still there, studying quietly.

Once in a while, one of the students asks me a question.

I point to something in their notes or their book.

“Try that,” I say.

In a corner of one hallway is a classroom. I walk inside, stepping over the students studying on the floor.

I see a television mounted in the corner of the room. It is tuned to CNN.

The students crowded in the room continue studying and pay no attention to it.

On the television, a man stands pointing at a map, giving a weather forecast.

"In this area of the country, it will be sunny and mild. But we’re also expecting a slight chance of inter-dimensional shifts," he says, pointing at the east coast.

I walk further into the classroom to a desk sitting next to a window.

A student sits there, graphing some type of mathematics problem on an old computer. He seems frustrated, his brow tensed, concentrating and adjusting his glasses.

He looks up at me.

“What should I do?” he asks.

I point at the graph on the computer screen.

“Try that point,” I say.

The student types something into the keyboard. The screen of the computer slowly refreshes, redrawing the graph.

The graph forms a perfect circle on the screen.

I hear a loud clap of thunder.

One of the students in the middle of the classroom stands up from his desk. He points at the window next to me.

“Look!” he yells, “It’s the Swiss Alps!”

I turn and look out the window.

Strange clouds and fog are moving into the schoolyard.

In the distance, I see the Alps, surrounded by heavy clouds. It is slowly drifting towards us.

Then I woke up.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Hometown Shredded Paper Boyfriend

I walk down the streets of the small rural town I grew up in.

It has the same kind of small town feel that it had when I was growing up. It is early fall, a chill in the air, bright warm sun, and the slight scent of burning leaves are in the air.

As I walk down the street, I run into a man. We know each other.

We are surprised to see each other here.

I am living back in my hometown. He is visiting from another place. We had a relationship at some point and split up. We haven’t seen each other in years.

We talk for a few minutes, the kind of things two people who haven't seen each other in a long time might say to each other.

He is a rather odd man, sort of a combination of all the men I have ever been in a relationship with.

I ask if he still lives out west.

“Yes,” he says.

“Maybe I can come by for a visit sometime,” I say. “How long does it take to get there?”

“Oh … a long time,” he replies.

"How long will you be in town?" I ask.

"Just a few days.”

"I'd like to see you again," I say.

"Yeah," he said, "I'd like to see you."

We walk our separate ways.

I feel funny -- a kind of chill you get from this kind of unexpected encounter and, at the same time, an immense sadness.

I think about how much I miss him.

I am hiking in the woods with the man, the fallen leaves crunching under our feet as we walk.

About halfway up a mountain, we come upon a large field of wheat. I look down and see a beautiful valley below us.

"Why did we ever split up?" I ask.

We stop walking. He thinks for a moment, sadness in his eyes.

"Things don't work out sometimes,” he says.

We both stand there for a moment, a little awkward, not looking at each other. A slight breeze stirs up the leaves; I look at the clear, blue sky and feel the chill in the air.

"I miss you, you know," I say.

"I miss you, too," he says, reaching out his hand and putting it around my shoulder.

I place my hand on his back and snuggle up to him. We start walking again.

I am sitting at a desk in my house in the mountains. It is evening. There is a small fire in the fireplace.

I am sorting through some papers, throwing some of them away and shredding others.

A cute little kitten is on the floor, playing with some of the shredded papers.

I think about him again.

I wish he was here.

Then I woke up.

Bleach-Blonde Performance Artists Collective Disaster

I am at work at my university ... but it isn't my university.

My co-workers and I are in a building something like the student center on campus, combined with a fine arts center I used to work in at a different university.

Our offices are in little cubicles in rooms that seem older than the rest of the building; they have big wooden doors and bright open windows all around the space.

It is a sunny day and the warmth of the sun streams in upon us.

My boss is there, conducting a meeting with several of us.

It is time for lunch.

I exit the room and wander around the building, chatting with my coworkers as we go our separate ways.

I find myself alone in the hallways of the building. I continue walking, aimlessly.

I stand in an area something like the main entrance of the art gallery side of the fine arts center I used to work in -- there is an open walkway around the top, on the third floor, that looks down into an open area in front of the gallery. From there, I can see into a glass-enclosed rehearsal space.

The room is something like a dance studio, with mirrors all around and a black floor. There are three people in the room, rehearsing some type of performance art piece.

One of the men there is a wonderfully cute man -- he reminds me a bit of Jason (but it isn't). He wears a black t-shirt and black pants. He has a neatly trimmed beard and his hair cut is close on the sides.

The top of his hair is longer and falls to one side. The longer part of his hair, on top, is bleached blonde.

He directs an actor and musician in a performance piece. It uses keyboards, excerpts of some CD's and miscellaneous props. It reminds me of a modern take on ancient theater; in parts they put on masks or play a handheld instrument and do some kind of chanting, like a Greek chorus.

I just stand there, watching them for a while. Then, I decide to move closer.

I am on the second floor where they are, standing in the hallway near the performance space. I look on as they rehearse some more.

The rehearsal breaks up and they walk out of the room. The man who is sort of like Jason smiles. He says hello to me as he passes by, carrying out a bag of instruments. I smile and say hello back to him.

I do not know him or who he is.

They leave the hallway and I am alone again.

I decide to walk down to the ground level. I stand in the open entrance in front of the gallery and look at the strange wooden bird-like sculpture hanging from the ceiling, three floors up.

I glance outside through the large windows of the lobby.

It looks dark, like some great storm is coming up.

I hear all kinds of alarms and sirens suddenly going off. It starts to grow even darker.

I see people rushing around outside. I walk out of the lobby towards them.

"Go home!" a man yells at me.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

The man tells me that some kind of lynching happened this morning. There are riots breaking out in different cities all over the country.

He tells me they have called off work. Everyone has been ordered to go home.

I decide to go for my car that’s sitting in a far away parking lot.

I head out on to the lawn in front of the arts center, then onto a sidewalk. I keep walking through different parts of the neat campus, then through neighborhoods and city streets.

The clouds grow darker; I hear alarms and sirens and, in the distance in all directions, I see buildings on fire. Some people rush by me, in a panic.

For some reason, I do not feel afraid or concerned. I am just confused about why this is happening.

Turning a corner on a little city street, I run into the sort-of Jason performance artist again.

"It looks dangerous out here," he says. "Why don't you come with me?"

I agree.

We walk together, talking about the performance piece I saw him rehearsing. He tells me what it was about and the intention behind it.

Soon, we arrive at a kind of brownstone, the type of building you might see in older parts of New York or San Francisco. We walk inside the building into a living room.

The room is filled with all manner of bric-a-brac and artwork, from floor to ceiling.

There are several men there -- some older, some younger, some thin, some bearish. All wear black t-shirts but have different types of pants ­ camouflage, blue jeans, dockers.

They all have haircuts similar to the sort-of Jason that brought me there. They have different hair colors, but all have the same longer bleach blond hair on top of their heads.

Sort-of Jason introduces me to a man who seems to be the leader of the place.

The man is about my age, a little taller than me and heavy set. He is blond and has a beard.

He has a similar haircut to the other men there, but the long hair on the top of his head is dyed black. (Or, perhaps, it is the other way around - he is naturally black-headed and dyes the rest of his hair blonde.)

He welcomes me there. He turns to one of the other men and chats about some type of underground magazine they are putting together.

Another man walks up and the leader answers some questions about an exhibit they are staging.

The leader tells sort-of Jason to show me around.

The house has several spacious rooms, all pretty much like the living room. It is an older place with high ceilings and wooden floors; some of the rooms are studios for painting, drawing or sculpture, while others are like recording studios or video editing facilities.

All the men seem to be working -- preparing dinner, assembling some kind of artwork or just moving things around the house.

Soon, we are back in the living room and sort-of Jason turns me back over to the leader.

"We've been watching you closely," he says.

"You have?” I ask, “Why?”

"We have an opening in our little group here,” he says, “We've been watching your work and feel you'd be perfect for us."

He explains that this is an artist's collective, or commune, and that they all work together and live in this house. He said they all make decisions together, as a group.

"We try to comment on the world, but do not wish to remain a part of it,” he says.

I wonder what he is talking about. I don’t exactly consider myself an artist.

He explains that I what I do can fit nicely with their work. He says I might learn something there.

I tell him I have to think about it.

"We just had a space open up,” he says, “We wouldn't want to offer it to anyone else until you have an answer."

"We try to balance things out,” he says, “We could use a Democrat here."

Then I woke up.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bumblebee Frat Boy Storm

I am visiting my parents.

I am staying in my grandmother’s old house nearby. It had been used for storage for several years, but it has been fixed up as a kind of guesthouse. It’s older and simply furnished, much as it was when I was a child.

My parents and I sit in the living room, talking about work. I look out the window.

There are many cars rushing down the road outside the house. Strange, ominous storm clouds are gathering.

We turn on a portable radio sitting on a table in the living room.

The announcer on the radio says that a storm is approaching. The county is being evacuated.

“Gather the things that are most important to you and leave,” the announcer on the radio says.

We leave the guesthouse and walk to my parents’ house just up the road. It is the house I grew up in, a house that has not existed in many years.

My mother gathers family photos, some clothes, and my grade school report cards. My father gets some tools, money, and important papers.

I only have a few things with me, since I am visiting, but I can’t find my passport. We look all over the house, in drawers, under beds, and between the cushions of chairs. We finally find it.

I get into my car, my parents get into theirs and we head out into the traffic.

I keep driving behind them, trying to follow in the heavy traffic through twisting mountain roads. Rain and hail begin to fall. The wind picks up. It grows darker.

When we cross the county line, I see my parents stop at a roadside diner to get something to eat. It’s one of those landmarks near my hometown that’s been there for many years.

The diner is crowded with people who are evacuating because of the storm. They talk about it being related in some way to a war.

John is there. He walks around with an antique tape recorder, interviewing people about their experience with the storm.

I want to talk with John to find out where he is going and how he is doing, but I lose him in the crowd.

Amongst the people there are three men dressed as bumblebees. They are drunk and loud, acting like frat boys.

I am annoyed with them.

The place gets more crowded and people start pushing against me. I decide to leave.

I push my way through the crowd reach the door of the restaurant.

I open the door and walk into the parking lot. It is night and a gentle rain is falling. The clouds are beginning to move away.

I get into my car. I hear someone and look behind me.

The bumblebees are in the back seat of my car, still drunk and acting like frat boys.

I am annoyed.

Then I woke up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Mining Car Elevator Cafeteria

I am standing in the lobby of a tall office building.

It is the kind of place you might find in mid-town Manhattan, with fancy marble floors and a dignified reception desk.

I am headed to work and wait for an elevator. There are other people there, milling about and going and coming from work.

Joan Rivers walks up.

She seems to know me. She asks how I am doing.

I explain that I am working on a sit-com with some other writers on the fifth floor.

“You should stop by,” I tell her, “We could always use your advice.”

Joan presses the button of the elevator and chats with me some more about the television show she is working on in the building.

The doors of the elevator suddenly rush open. They close again very quickly.

Joan is puzzled.

"Oh, you don't know?" I ask.

"Just wait," I say.

I push the button on the elevator, carefully watching the floor indicator above it.

Just as the elevator arrives on our floor, I grab Joan and push her in, the doors of the elevator closing quickly behind us. As we begin moving, Joan lands on her butt on the floor of the elevator.

"You have to be quick around here," I say.

Joan talks more about her show as we ride in the elevator.

“The writers are terrible,” she says, complaining about a sketch they made her do.

The elevator has glass sides -- we can see the inside of the elevator shaft going by as we travel from floor to floor.

The elevator stops. Joan steps forward as if she is getting ready to exit the elevator.

"Oh no, it's not ready yet," I say.

The elevator, on some kind of track, flips over on its back, tossing us around. The doors open and we ride through a large cafeteria.

There is a track that runs through the center of the cafeteria, the elevator gliding along like one of those little cars they use to move material in a mine.

There are people getting food and sitting at tables on both sides of us, all around the cafeteria. We watch them through the glass sides of the elevator; we can stand up and almost peer over the sides of the elevator car.

"The food's really good here," I say. “You should try it sometime.”

Then I woke up.