Sunday
Apr092017

Extraordinary things, courtesy of Jimmy Webb

Anyone who listened in on my Pandora choices would think I'm very odd. They might even take notice of how I often choose songs written by Jimmy Webb.

Webb grew up in Oklahoma where his father was a rural minister. He was expected to accompany his father musically so he was given piano lessons. We're fortunate he liked piano and later began writing new lyrics to what he considered boring Baptist hymns.

Later, the family moved to California, where the teenage Webb entered college to study music. Upon his mother's death, his father decided to return to Oklahoma but Webb had already decided upon his career. He would later recall his father warning him about his musical aspirations, saying, "This songwriting thing is going to break your heart." Seeing that his son was determined, he gave him $40. He told Jimmy "It's not much, but it's all I have."

It appears that $40 went a long way back then.

The primary reason for my fascination with Webb's music is that he turns the ordinary into the surreal. I heard the song Wichita Lineman when I was around five. I remember this as I remembered the ugly little radio that was in the kitchen of our home in Mesquite. 

Why did a blue-collar worker hear his love's voice through the power lines he spent his days repairing? Webb had an almost-surreal talent to write about ordinary people thinking extraordinary things. 

Another favorite of mine is The Highwayman. It appeals greatly to my hidden romantic side. I would have liked to meet every character described.

I decided to see if Webb talked about his inspiration for this song, and like some of the rare fiction I've written, its origin was dream:

“I had an old brace of pistols in my belt and I was riding hell-bent for leather down country roads, with sweat pouring off of my body. I was terrified because I was being pursued by police, who were on the verge of shooting me. It was very real. Without even thinking about it, I stumbled out of bed to the piano and started playing "Highwayman”. Within a couple of hours, I had the first verse."

 One half-exception is the song MacArthur Park. It's just a bit too weird for me, even though Webb eventually gave up attempting to explain the storyline, saying instead "just think of it as an expressionist painting."  And Richard Harris cannot sing. He should have taken the Rex Harrison route*. 

* Before filming My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison was enrolled in a singing class. However, his vocal range turned out to encompass exactly three notes; therefore he talked his way through his musical numbers. Which worked well, in my opinion. 

Thursday
Mar162017

the end of the affairs

I finally got around to opening the latest batch of mail last weekend after letting it stack up for a while. It's not all mine and Ian's*; his wife still insists on holding on to Texas residency so she won't get stuck with New York taxes, so I have to go through and shred her bills.  This gives me a catty insight into her spending habits. She and the daughter spend way too much money at the Broome County fat girl dress stores. 

One letter was addressed to me and it looked like an elderly medical bill, so I didn't open it for weeks. But when I finally did, it wasn't a bill; it was a letter from my long-time therapist, telling me she was closing her practice. I had opened it literally the day before she was officially closing it.

Even though I hadn't felt the need to visit her in a year, this still upset me to the point of tears. We went back a long way; just over 20 years, to be precise. And the first year of cognitive therapy had made a big difference to me. This is why I don't think any other sort of psychotherapy is useful - instead, I think classic therapy is indulgent and a waste of time.

Later that day I decided to email her, as she had always answered my emails in the past.  She answered this one as well. It turned out that she hadn't totally retired; instead, she had moved her practice to the university's pain clinic (no, I don't know why). She also offered to see me one last time to "wrap up" things, so I accepted and we made an appointment for later in the month. But how does one wrap up 21 years, especially with a therapist who called me her friend, and who had admitted I was one of her favorite clients? I kind of doubt we'll ever meet again after this last appointment, although I'd love to meet her for coffee or similar once or twice a year.

I'm still feeling sad about it. I guess we all need our Get Out of Jail Free cards, even if we never use them. And I recently found out that the Cub's* trips to my neck of the woods will be curtailed in the near future, due to a business downturn- something else I didn't want to hear.

* See The Usual Suspects.

 

Friday
Mar102017

bronchitis with a silver lining

With the exception of my 2013 bout of pneumonia, I've just missed the most days of work I can remember.

I work up coughing last Saturday, and by Sunday had retired to my bed with a vile cough and 102F after a visit to the local urgent care doc. I returned to my own doctor three days later as I was desperate for some sleep, but couldn't stop coughing. And although the fever had dissipated, I was beginning to fear more pneumonia. But he told me to relax, and assured me that I would not die at home and be eaten by my cat (he actually said that last part). He also gave me some cough suppressants so I finally got some rest. This turned things around pretty quickly.

Fever dreams are much more fun as you age. I still remember what nightmares I would have as a feverish child; I still remember one in which I was drowning in Cheerios. But this week's dream roster included a three-way in an unplugged sauna with two other women, and a travel itinerary with actor Damian Lewis that included a test flight in an aircraft that resembled a Harrier jump jet before we pursued some other, adults-only action.

Since I don't particularly care for Damian Lewis, I found the the female threesome dream to be considerably hotter.

Tuesday
Feb282017

My golfing round with 007

Last night I had an odd dream (I don't know why I say "an odd dream" - they're always odd). I ended up playing golf with the actor Daniel Craig.

This made a nice change from Jeremy Irons, who appears in dreams occasionally and is always chasing me. Usually we are running through the narrow alleys adjacent to the Central district of Hong Kong. Eventually he catches up with me, but he's not violent. Instead, he grabs my arms, looks me in the eye, and keeps asking me, "Who are you?"  I think he's a reasonable actor but he reminds me of a despondent beagle. I have no idea why he invades dreams, any more than I have the occasional dream where I hit a bump and go flying out of my car.

But back to last night and Daniel Craig. 

I was at a posh beach resort with my mother. We were both considerably younger than we are now. I suggested we go for a swim, but she passed. After I got back to our room, I realized she'd packed up and gone home.  I was a bit hurt, but didn't try to contact her.

Later in the day, I decide to visit the resort's golf course on my own, as I'm about to return home the next day. The course is deserted as it will be difficult to play all 18 holes before sundown, but I'm still paired up with another golfer, who I recognize as the actor Daniel Craig. I decide to act as if I don't know who he is.

I don't remember much of the game except that I beat him, which didn't seem to bother him. There wasn't any flirting. But just before I departed, I began begging him to continue making James Bond films. He eventually nodded. He wasn't even offended when I added, "even though Sean Connery will always be my favorite Bond."

Any guesses why I would dream this? Leave a comment if you like. Anonymous is okay. 

Monday
Feb272017

My dinner with Daniel

New readers may not be familiar with Daniel* so here is a synopsis. I met Daniel several years ago while intermittently dating Ian*, as I was still considering a long-term relationship. I met Daniel by stepping on his foot at a book store, and then we went out for dinner, and in about a month it was turning into a reasonably intense relationship.  He hinted about eventual marriage.

We saw each other quite steadily for over a year and spent amost every weekend together, but he gradually lost interest in sex - not that he'd had an overwhelming interest to begin with. I also began to notice that he harbored a subconscious fear of relationships due to his marriage from hell, although this didn't bother me as I tend to share this fear (although I'm more apprehensive than scared).

When I finally decided to discuss the lack of sex, he duly visited his doctor who diagnosed low testosterone, and prescribed hormone replacements and Cialis. But Daniel was oddly uninterested in a cure, saying instead that lack of a sex drive made life less complicated for him. When he once complained about the expense of Cialis, this wounded me to the point where I immediately decided that the relationship had to end. When I left for home that Sunday, I took my toothbrush and  Miss Dior bath gel with me.

Over a year went by. I met James*, things didn't work out, and I put my sex life on the back burner. Then I met the Cub* and eventually told Daniel I'd found someone to have sex with (no details). That put a 100% kibosh on things, although we would still have a perfectly civil lunch whenever we attended Sunday mass at the same time. And as mentioned before, Daniel surprised the hell out of me with his $100 gifts last December.

Last month I bought him a smallish, late holiday gift but never had the chance to give it to him. So last Saturday I suggested we have an early dinner. I was kind of surprised that he accepted. 

We went to a pub with surprisingly good food and had a surprisingly long visit. There was no talk about sex; mostly it was about the stock market and investment matters, which is an interest we both share.

I remember studying Daniel over the table after dinner and thinking how attractive he still was. At 58 years of age, he's a gym rat who can still fit into his college outfits and has all of his hair. It was a pity he didn't have any interest in sex, even now. But as the worn cliche goes, that ship has sailed. 

* See Key to Characters at right.