My mom, Pynchon, and me

So, this past summer I finally started reading Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon. Then my mom began her chemo treatment. So, I read this book when I waited for my mom to finish her session, and I read pages of it when I was at home with her afterward while she slept through the afternoon.

When my mom passed, I told Jess I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the book again.

Jess said, “Your mother would have wanted you to finish what you enjoy.”

In September, I picked up Against the Day once more and kept on reading it. Today, just now, after 1,085 pages, I am finished. And on the last page I read this line:

“For every wish to come true would mean that in the known Creation, good unsought and uncompensated would have evolved somehow, to become at least more accessible to us.”

I am not sure why this line reminds me of my mom. The truth is, she would haves disliked Pynchon’s work; for ‘hate,’ as she reminded me the older we both became, was such a strong word. Be that as it may, I would say that wishes are accessible; if only to remind us that grace does exist in the world; the remnants of which, though the people we love eventually leave this world, remain with us; a light not our own that affixes itself to our hearts, and becomes a part of us so that we may pass it on when we go.

Boa Feathers and Leather: The Downside of Daytime Dreams

“…where did devout Party enthusiasm end and sardonic lampoonery begin?”

~ Philip K. Dick from “Faith of Our Fathers”

Between daydreams and daytime dreams lies a wide chasm. Daydreams are essential, if for only allowing to rise above the tedium of daily life. Daytime dreams are another story. Daytime dreams leave me ragged, worse off than nightmares.

Today, I felt sick. So, I came home from work and took a nap. That’s when the daytime dreams began.

The first one took me to a park where I saw some familiar faces. There were others there as well; those strangers who populate our dreams and who, for reasons unknown to us in the waking life, appear as if dear old friends; the populace of the dreamscape who know us by the other lives we lead there.

In the park I saw a guy I knew from high school. He was with his daughter. They were kicking a soccer ball back and forth. The daughter kicked the ball and it veered right, away from her father and headed straight for me. It was a good kick. By the time it reached me the ball was airborne, about waist level; so, I trapped it the way they taught us in school, brought it the ground, and booted the ball back to the girl. The ball went sailing over her head. Several yards behind her there was a marsh. The ball landed in loose mud, kicking up a splash.

This is where the dream went off the rail.

The girl’s father, the guy from my high school, started shouting like a madman, jumping up and down like a monkey on crack, using every name in the book as he verbally assaulted me. It would have been comical if not for his daughter being there. The bland “what the fuck, dude?” soon turned into a rant against liberals (“They‘re what‘s fucking wrong with this country!”), Barack Obama (“Commie Muslim!” — though I suspect, and I have to research this in order to be sure, you cannot be both a follower of Islam and a devotee of revolutionary socialism), and all things that did not jive with his outlook on life.

I left the park, feeling sorry for the guy’s daughter. Soon, as it happens in dreams, I didn’t have to walk far to return to my neighborhood. Where I lived in my dream was a cross between a boardwalk shore town, an amusement park, a rather run-down version of Key West, and all the buildings in the business district there were framed by perpetual scaffolding that had been there so long vines had grown up and around the metal framework.

I remember thinking in my dream that all I wanted to do was go home and write. But the town was too noisy, not New York City noisy which, when you get used to it, I imagine is tolerable. Philadelphia is the same way; only, it offers a different sort of noise. My dream town offered none of these things. I passed people on the street who appeared to be in a festive mood. Some wore costumes; others were nearly naked. I remember boa feathers and leather. Despite the wild festive flair of the townsfolk and the tourists, there was something off about the whole thing. The faces in the crowd were fatigued; as if something drove them against their will to be happy, to have a good time, to sing and dance in the streets.

Before I could get back to my dream house, I woke up. It was 4:20PM. The significance of this number, I will admit, did not go unnoticed.

I hope I feel better soon. I can’t imagine a steady diet of these daytime dreams. They bring back too many memories from when I used to work nights and sleep throughout the day. That, however, is another story for another time.