The other night I had a classic writer's nightmare that a book was in my house and it kept opening up and revealing all sorts of horrific things -- devil children yielding knives, ghosts, Ann Coulter. You get the idea. I'd run from room to room in the dream and couldn't get away -- the book turned into a mist and kept chasing me. Dreaming for Dumbasses 101, no doubt. I've been working on some difficult material lately, and I'm certain that it has taken a teeny-tiny psychic toll, like Three Mile Island was a teeny-tiny mistake. I keep a God's Eye by my bed to deter such dreams -- one of those little knitted ones from the seventies -- I haven't seen them in years, like pet rocks. In their purest spiritual sense, they are supposed to give one the power to see and understand things unknown. It was my mother's, and I also have her tiger's eye ring. I once had a student who knew someone who "read" jewelry. I'd love to see what she had to say about it because I can't decide whether it's powerful or harmful. No doubt, it is both. What isn't?
You never start or finish a story with a dream, I have told my students in the past. But look, I violated my own rule! And I often use the comparision of writing and dating to bring my point home with the fevor of some demented off-brand channel televangelist. When I ask my classes what kills dates, most of them say things like when the date starts telling him or her about dreams or talking about exes. The men, I have to say, are often more direct. If she's fucking hot, she can do whatever she wants, man. I had this girl who started in on her ex, her tiny little problem with cocaine, got totally wasted, and cried half the night. I was in love. I couldn't argue his point. Sometimes it doesn't matter where we start, so long as we get to the right place. If we're travelling through some rough patches, we might be so deep in our dreams that we can't tell them from reality. As John Lee Hooker says on one of his live albums, We travel late at night to bring the blues to you. And so our books open in darkness and try as we might, we cannot escape them, even protected by all the charms left to us from the dead.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"But the greatest desire of all is to be/ in the dream of another/ to feel a slight pull, like reins/ to feel a heavy pull, like chains." Yehuda Amichai
Drinking movie suggestion: Wonder Boys -- this movie is a laugh riot for all writers and it gets funnier with each passing year. Robert Downey Jr. is at his best, playing a drugged out, bisexual, literary agent.
Benedictions and Maledictions
34 more days until The Sopranos! And for hard-core fans, I saw that James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) and David Chase (the series creator) are appearing on the cover of April's Vanity Fair.