Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

A long time ago, 1996 or so, I wanted to be Kate Bush fronting Marillion; a winning combination certain to win the hearts and minds of middle America.  Unfortunately I had neither the voice of Kate Bush nor the enigmatic charm of Fish and so every project to which I brought this vision floundered for a bit, hemorrhaged drummers, and then died a slow, whiny death.  I’ve gotten over that now.  It took me almost 20 years but I have  finally come to realize I cannot sing and perhaps more importantly, prog really is the fine china of the music world- it should only be used on special occasions under certain circumstances.

Despite all this, I believe I came closest to my dream in this song.  Inspired by a binge of both watching and reading Dune,  “Little Death” is performed by a short lived band tentatively named , Make Way for Ducklings.   My poorly drawn husband is killing it on piano, and Glen Douglas  plays lead guitar;  I think Russel Pickett is on  bass, but that may also be a midi controlled keyboard bass.  The drums are programmed, because just like my vibrator, programmed drummers do exactly want I want them to do for exactly as long as I want them to do it, and don’t expect me to make a sandwich for them afterwards.

The video was filmed in Second Life in Forgotten City.


Welcome, Little Death

Black wings flutter in a flag of surrender

My dreams like vultures pick the corpse bare and fly off to another

Welcome, Little One

The world in your head is immense and you cross it with a step

Reluctance conquers and rules with innocence

She was never pretty, she was not the best,

She had expectations just like all the rest

She was not the brightest, she was never blessed

She held out for more, and ended up with less

Welcome, Little Fear

You sense your time has come, you jump the gun and march

on your own country

Compromise the borders and find

There’s nothing left of me

Welcome, Little Death

We always knew you’d come our sole excuse

and all forgiving friend

So kiss this demon dream goodnight

And let it end

She was never pretty, she was not the best

She had expectations just like all the rest

She was not the brightest, she was never blessed

She held out for more

And ended up with nothing

Unforgivable, the things we do sometimes

The posture we take in a room and the way we hold our eyes

The stares we never meet and the things we never say

We think we’re holding out but we’re giving it all away




Posted: November 20, 2014 in Dark Phase, Dreams, motherhood
Tags: , , , ,


Mad woman rattling pots and pans in the kitchen at midnight

Hanging wash in the basement at 3 AM

Conversing loudly with the dead

An anxious litany

“You know what they’ll do? Do you know what they’ll do? They’ll come take the house.”

With Daddy gone

The only thing left to lose

“Don’t run the water like that”

“Close the door”

“Don’t you touch the thermostat”

“Do you know what they’ll do if I can’t pay the bills? Do you know what they’ll do?”

“They’ll come take the house.”

That fear

That fear seeped out of the foundation like rain water

Bubbled up from the basement drain with the raw sewage

Forced you to put a lock on the cellar door

But the lock never contained it

That fear sat with me at the kitchen table

Eating boiled meats, mashed potatoes and canned peas

While you stood with your back to us

Eating over the sink

That fear hid in the corner of the living room

Behind Daddy’s empty chair

When we stayed up late watching horror movies

“Spooky,” you said. “Time for bed”

And that fear trailed me all the way down the hall

Lurked, creaking the floor boards just beyond the night light’s glow

While you muttered obscenities in the bathroom.

I left as soon as I could.

You remained vigilant.

I came home years later

To find you asleep in your chair

Amidst bags of dirty dishes

And stacks of magazine

“She needs better care,” the doctor said.

And we shuffled you on

Your belongings falling away

Your life made smaller and smaller

To accommodate each new convalescing room.


I sold the house.


To pay your way

To keep you with me

Just a little while longer.


In my dreams

We are together in the house.

You, me and that fear

“I can’t stay” you tell me

“It’s not safe.”

The locks gone from the doors

The furniture sits in the yard

They have come

To take the house

Even then I cannot contain

The guilt, the shame and

The small victory

That “they”

Would be me

After all.

I think I fell in love with music right around the time I fell in love with Rick Springfield.  Staring at his picture on the cover of the “Jessie’s Girl” 45, I vowed I would meet him; we would fall in love and eventually marry.  By 14 I had figured out I hadn’t won the lottery in the looks department so I would have to get his attention some other way.  Maybe I could become a rock star.  He’d have to notice me if I were a rock star.  It seemed like a pretty foolproof plan at the time.  All I had to do was learn to play guitar, write some songs, put a band together, record a hit record and bam! Rick would be mine.  It was almost too easy.

I bought my first guitar from a consignment shop in Campbelltown, PA.  It cost me ten dollars and the bridge was broken, causing the low E string to slide over to the A string when you played.  I fixed that problem with a saxophone reed and began my guitar lessons.  My teacher taught me folk songs, plunking out the melody note by note.  I practiced “Down in the Valley” and “Jimmy Crack Corn” (almost) faithfully for a while, but couldn’t help but notice Rick didn’t play guitar this way.  After watching his performance on Solid Gold I also noticed he didn’t play an acoustic guitar at all.  It became clear that I would need an electric guitar.

The local music store was manned by salesmen in dress shirts and ties.  They may have been musicians as well, but at Marty’s Music in Lebanon Valley Mall, they were being paid to be salesmen first, which is so very unlike going into Guitar Center these days.   I think their main business came from band instrument rentals, but there was the obligatory wall of electric guitars.  I remember the sales folk being polite to me despite the fact I was a teenage girl loitering without an adult.  My visits were frequent because my mom was a bit fashion-fixated and spent many a Friday or Saturday evening in the fitting room of Boscov’s Department Store at the end of the mall. 

After several months of continued folk guitar lessons and “just browsing” sessions at Marty’s Music, I managed to talk my mom into coming into the store with me where she dropped $140 on a black Cort guitar and a  practice amp.  Finally I was getting somewhere. I grabbed a chord dictionary (which I still have, dog-eared and beat up as it is) and learned the true Secret of the Brotherhood of Garage Band Guitarists – the barre chord!

Me in the 80's

I began writing songs in earnest.  One of my first songs was called “Goodnight,Australia” (Australia being my secret code word for Rick Springfield.) I decided I would call my band Centrifugal Force and our first album would be A Touch of Trash (Get it, a clever twist on the phrase “a touch of class”?  Already I was thinking about marketing strategies and image as my early promo Polaroid shows).

In no time at all I discovered two things: 1.) If I recorded songs on my little GE tape recorder, then played the tape back through the family stereo, played along on a different instrument and recorded all of that with my tape recorder, I could multi-track; 2.) Electric guitars don’t naturally sound like electric guitars do in most rock recordings.  You need a distortion pedal for that, and thus began the musician’s endless quest for more gear.

I spent a lot of time alone in my room recording music and daydreaming about Rick Springfield.  In the real world I didn’t have many friends, and I didn’t share my music very often.  The mere fact that I could do all of this made me exceptional in my mind.  The few times I did let friends listen to my recordings I was met with odd expressions and blunt critiques from teenage girls who listened to Michael Jackson and Madonna.

I’m not sure when Rick Springfield fell out of the equation of my music, but eventually he did.  He was replaced by Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, and then Robert Smith of The Cure, and then a boy named Mike.  I’m grateful for my muse in whatever form it shows up  these days –  sometimes a person from my everyday life, sometimes a figure larger than life.  Inspiration always feels good.

Close to 30 years later I will admit that I never became very good at guitar.  I prefer bass and keys.  I’ve also come to realize that despite my love of music, some of the key elements required to be a successful working artist are just not in my makeup.  This has been a long and painful lesson.  I sometimes find myself puzzling over the enduring message we send to our children about following your dreams; if you can dream it you can achieve it, etc.  And then the contrasting advice we give to each other and ourselves as grown-ups when we feel disappointment that things have not turned out as hoped: Grow up; Get over it.  These days I try to be gentler with myself when I connect the dots between here and there and wonder why I never hit the intended mark.

Rick n meObviously I did not become a rock star, but I finally managed to record a CD. Very much like my original recordings it is just me, a bunch of instruments and a multi-tracking device, which is now my computer.  I didn’t marry Rick Springfield either, but I did meet him once and got this fabulous photo of the two of us. After I got the picture developed (remember getting pictures developed?) I sent a copy of it to my cousin, who hung it up in her work cubicle.  A coworker came by, looked at it and said, “Is that your cousin’s husband?”  Sometimes the key to happiness is redefining your success, and for that brief instance I was living the dream.

The basement in particular frightened me.  My mother kept a lock on the basement door and locked it every night, as if we needed to make sure whatever was down there stayed down there.

The song Ghost* is not about my childhood home, but it did seem to fit with the video I took of the house during the final days as we were moving my mother out.  My mother died a year and a half later.

Journal Entry 10/26/07

In my dream last night I was at my mother’s house.  All the furniture had been moved out of the bedrooms and den.   I was going to be sleeping in the living room.  I was watching a show on PBS called “Thoughts of My Mother at the End of My Childhood.”  My mother was banging pots and pans around in the kitchen, grumbling about needing to sell everything and how unsafe she felt now that the locks had been removed from the doors.

I argued with her and got up to lock the front door, but she was right, the locks were gone.  Suddenly I was afraid to sleep in the living room.  It felt unsafe, as if someone would certainly come in and get us.

My mother went out the back door.  It was nighttime and I didn’t want her out there alone in the dark.  I quickly followed her out the back door.  Once outside it was daytime.  The backyard was still set up from the yard sale we’d held last year.  I looked in the garage. It was arranged like a showroom displaying my mother’s bedroom set.  The neighbors must think she’s crazy, I worried. 

Then I saw my mother in the backyard amidst all the  furniture, appliances, clothes, and dishes she had accumulated over the years.  She was furiously wiping down a place mat on a kitchen table.

“Stop it,” I yelled, but she kept cleaning, all the while mumbling about needing to sell everything.  .  .


* Ghost features Karen Mitchell on back up vocals and Glen Douglas on guitar


In my dream last night

Posted: March 24, 2011 in Dark Phase, Dreams

I was at a mortuary.  The funeral director showed me into a viewing room.  The room was  well-lit with pale yellow walls, industrial beige carpet and recessed lighting around the perimeter.  There were at least two doors into the room, and the main area was down two steps, like a sunken living room from a 70’s movie. 

The body was loosely draped with a white gauzy material,  presented in a large rectangular aquarium in the middle of the room.   Dark circles, like dried pools of blood, marked the eyes beneath the cloth.  Rats, mice and guinea pigs scurried around the corpse.  The funeral director explained that the deceased wished to be viewed with his pets so they could be with him one last time. 

Only a few other people stood around the aquarium coffin.  The deceased had first appeared as an adult, but  was now small, like a child.  I picked out the man and woman who were most likely the parents and I felt terribly sad for them.  And then the room was empty and the corpse boy began moaning and trying to get up.  Knowing his parents would be upset with me for letting the boy get out of his coffin during his funeral, I tried to quiet him.  I told him it wouldn’t be long now, he would just have to be patient until it was time to get buried.  Then I wondered if he had been embalmed. 

The Body