Recurring and Clairvoyant Dreams

30 07 2010


From time to time, dreams with a similar theme recur and I think they show how deeply some experiences affect us. For my departed father, his recurring dreams came from his army days in 1946-47, when he served with the Gordon Scots and then the Royal Scots. “I would awake in the barracks, and it would be terribly silent. I would look out the windows to see everyone lined up outside, and I would leap out of bed to frantically try to put on my gear. Then, I wouldn’t be able to find some things. . . .” For me, the dream that revisits the most involves school days. Typically, I will be late for school and will have trouble getting there. Once I arrive, I have difficulty finding the room I’m to do an exam in. Once I get to the correct room, I sit down to a massive test that I can’t seem to comprehend. I look up at a large, circular electric clock that is audibly buzzing to see that I am running out of time. Finally, I will realize that I am naked and feel deep embarrassment. Should I bolt for the door, or finish the all-important test?

Other, even more starkly interesting dreams, involve very vivid scenes and discourse that later relate to real life. In fact, I find, dreams actually do come true. For example, in the early 1990s, I was gloomy after a breakup and was wondering what would happen when I got out of university. I had a dream that I was in a misty and mountainous part of Southeast Asia. There were colourful traditional Chinese houses around, with tiled roofs and carved stone. The owner of a disc jockey company I was working for part-time was in the dream. He simply said, “It’s at the end of the tunnel.” I still clearly remember everything in that dream. It turned out that I moved to Taiwan (exact match for the dreamscape) for a decade, and there I ultimately married, had three children, and launched a very successful teaching career. I had had other clear dreams about the Orient for years before that one. In other, more recent dreams, my father has come to me – or I have gone to him — and I have communicated with him.

Steadily through my years, I have gone to places I had never before visited, all over the world, to be awed that I had dreamed of them before. Some years ago, I had a dream about a cemetery in the Philippines. Just a couple of months later, I passed by that cemetery. It was rather creepy. These experiences are more than a case of déjà vu, they are dreams preceding real-life events. Also, I firmly believe that we can communicate with the departed in our dreams.


To be Pierce the Cat

28 07 2010



To be Pierce the Cat

To be Pierce would mean tranquil severance from the brainstorm curse that sometimes rages in my mind. There would be more in the way of simple sensations, rather than the bombardment of thoughts and memories that race around my distracted, crowded cranium. There would be no angst about day-to-day or global issues. Anxieties about money and other non-tangible things would drift away. Life would simply be enjoying a simple breakfast, tearing around the yard aimlessly, and then deploying spiky claws to climb the trees. I could stealthily observe the garbage bag-ripping carrion crows and the tulip-bulb thieving squirrels. The carnivore savage thrill of pouncing on these invaders would make me feel truly alive. At night, the scrap with the cat from three doors down would be passionate, but I would not obsessively dwell on the victory nor loss. I would not need to concern myself with the past nor future, just the situation at hand. It would all be fleeting impressions, with no enduring memories. I would be able to simply sleep in my box, or sit, Buddha-like, with my eyes half closed on the wicker chair, listening to the breeze. I would not even know that I had an identification microchip and tattoo in my ear. Nothing would really matter much except basic needs. Life would be placid, with no worries about what anyone else thinks. No more dealing with testosterone-charged road rage twits, no building maintenance, no money concerns, no schedule, no conscience, no unease about appearance, no mind-bending memories, no blame, no shame, no bloody-mindedness, no awareness of mortality. . . .  Just the now would be important.

Cognitive Distortions

23 07 2010

Cognitive Distortions


He considers himself a man of sage knowledge,

A balding, greasy on-call grocery chain mobile butcher,

Who wears an ill-fitting pinstripe three-piece suit

To mass rallies to worship the demigods of Amway.

His wife is someone else’s worn out old shoes,

Miserable while she tallies the endless hours

Restocking grocery shelves with generic items.

The Little Napoleon bobs about in an asinine assured way,

Blind to existing with a derelict in a shoddy neighbourhood.

A desperate twit in high heels and painted-on clown mask,

Periodically gets her sallow-pallored skin whitened to enhance

The plethora of make-up pasted on and strong perfume façade,

That goes along with her rehearsed movements and petulance.

In both rain and sunshine she carries a surrealistic umbrella,

That within provides the weather she lugs everywhere;

Winds of presumption and hail-stone pretensions, ceaseless.

Her husband is a drunk with cash who womanizes and gambles,

But she won’t leave him because he finances her posturing.

“I like your brother because he is always so nicely dressed,”

The mother declared after pouring rum and cola into her old gob.

“Let me get this straight . . . you like him due to how he dresses?”

The aghast son replied, and the frowning mother affirmed the words.

“Well,” the son noted, “It seems to me Hitler and Stalin had nice suits.

So, does it follow that you think they were so very great?”

“I like him because he dresses nicely,” the befuddled one verified.

And, so, every time the nicely dressed son made a rare visit

He was given distorted credibility while the others were derided.

“I drive a Mercedes-Benz! I wear a Rolex! I am important!”

He ranted, slapping a slimy palm onto the service counter.

Truly, he was a lucky peasant of humble stock who traded

His parents’ farm for a truckload of silver he never earned.

The buffoon thought he had bought his way into having class,

But he was naught except a dressed up grubby yokel

 Who had merely tossed his muck rake and wiped his feet

Before using his lowly ancestors’ frugal anguish and sweat

To exchange for elaborate baubles that he could flaunt about.

Downtown Calgary Stroll

20 07 2010

July 2, 2010, Downtown Stroll

Calgary, downtown, has always had its distinctive personality, different than the rest of the city. I have known it since 1963, when my family moved here from Penticton, B.C., after I was just starting to toddle about. We moved to the northeast side of the Centre Street Bridge, with its stately stone lions perpetually resting close to the garish storefronts of Chinatown.

I dropped my van off at an auto glass shop in Kensington, to solve the band aid solutions imposed upon the shattered driver-side mirror. The cheap cut-out material solution had a house-of-mirrors effect, and the second-solution convex stick-on made driving anxious. Afterwards, I went for a walk that would take me across the Bow River, to Centre Street, and then back across the river returning to the glass shop.

Kensington still has some of the old ambience it has always had, with the Plaza Theatre still solidly in the game, Chicken-On-The-Way still on the go, the aged brick Carscallen Block unsullied by the wretched wrecking ball, and some other remnants amongst the kitschy newer edifices. On the corner of Memorial Drive and 10th Street, on the northwest side, there used to be an animal feed store with a huge Perky Dog Food advertisement painted onto the red bricks above. I clearly remember my dad reversing the green Datsun up to the storefront, so we could pick up big bags of pigeon feed and horse crunchies. Now, the intersection is usually a mayhem of exhaust-belching traffic flowing in four frantic directions. Everyone seems to be in a rush in this town. I crossed the street to the south side of Memorial Drive, to run into an inevitable summer construction project. Skirting around it, I crossed the pedestrian walkway to the south side of the river. Among the concrete and steel, there is still an older church with what must be the rectory still surviving. What used to be seedy Eau Claire, with the bus barns and old buildings, is now upscale riverfront properties skirted with iron fences to keep undesirables at bay. While walking along the well-swept walkways, there were more construction projects and gaudy billboards encouraging downtown workers to defy the grinding death drives to and from work by moving to the new developments. Among the cycling families, fitness boot camps, smoke-coughing heavy equipment and multi-ethnic pedestrians were the eternally stooped homeless people hobbling about in search of empty drink containers. It brought back memories of Five Star Annie, who was always out and about downtown with her shopping cart from the ‘60s to well up into the ‘80s. She always sported a plastic star from a whiskey bottle on her jacket, had a tight-fitting wool toque and was never without her dark glasses. While I was thinking of her, a white-bearded fellow in a disposable yellow rain poncho came up to me with a rather articulate spiel, his expressive body language assisting in a well-acted plea for some cash. Other people put their heads down and passed on, but I had to listen to the fellow. He claimed to sleep under a bush near the Louise Bridge, and a dollar or two would help ease his discomforts. I pulled out my well-used change pouch and dropped a Loonie into his horny hand. He bowed theatrically, clasped his hands, and told me what a kind gentleman I was. I have never been able to resist these sorts, when they are sober. Some of them sing for a living, some, like a fellow everyone called Shell Shock years ago yell things like ‘YEEEHAWWWWWWW’ repeatedly. They are harmless enough. All they need is a bit of help to survive. They are better off than the desperate armies of the starving I have seen in Southeast Asia. After the encounter with the homeless fellow, I was accosted by a young man trying to convince me to make monthly donations to the Red Cross. Wow, was everyone after my money? I informed him that I send money to the Red Cross from time to time, but was not into a subscription for the moment. He finally faded away, back to the bridge that leads to Prince’s Island. I started to march purposefully for the stairs leading up to the Centre Street Bridge. Everything turned to monochrome, as soon as I got up to the bridge top, and my mind went back in time. I saw my father in his Land Rover, driving towards me on his way to work at the Calgary Herald. On the east side of the bridge, I saw myself running north, bee lining for home and howling, after my brothers played the joke of telling a young fellow at the barber school, in 1967, to give me a buzz cut. In my head, John Lennon was singing In My Life, from the Rubber Soul album my mother wore out, twice. On the north side of the bridge, I descended the wooden stairs and crossed Memorial Drive to get to the pedestrian path on the north side of the river. Hillhurst and Sunnyside have not changed all that much over the years, and I was grateful to see most of the little houses still braving the sun from the south and the pounding traffic on Memorial Drive. Most of the homes still have the hand-crafted mouldings adorning their little rooms, and each house has a hundred years of dreams from those who have slept there. Along the road, each old tree represents a soldier who died in the Great War. I wondered how many people think – or even know – about that while whizzing by, preoccupied with life’s banalities. Looking down along the river, there was the evidence of cardboard sleeping bags, sodden after the rains. The down-and-out were not on this side of the river at the time. The stroll was back through more construction, again. This time, I wondered if it was to be another pedestrian bridge or one to ease the choking madness of lane reversals for the office lemmings’ commuter cars. Back on the streets of Kensington, all sorts of people sat at outside tables enjoying the sun after prolonged winter blues, followed by weeks of rainy days. Young people on the street were walking along, dressed to be noticed. After I picked up the van, I saw the 14th Street Bridge melt away in the new driver’s side mirror.