Open Mic Nyte Revisited

An Open Mic Nyte participant reads from a book in August 2017 at Mojo's Coffee in Ada, Oklahoma.
An Open Mic Nyte participant reads from a book in August 2017 at Mojo’s Coffee in Ada, Oklahoma.

This was a story I wrote for my newspaper two years ago, before Open Mic Nyte disbanded. I found the files when I was cleaning out some folders on my laptop, and wanted to preserve it here.

Open Mic Nyte

by Richard R. Barron, Chief Photographer

The scent of coffee drifts through the air as Steve Brogdon gives the microphone a tug to make it a little taller. “There,” he says to me, “is that good?”

I thank him, then awkwardly clear my throat. Though I am not nervous, since I among friends, I still want to sound prepared and professional.

“Three strings walk into a coffee shop,” I say, and I can see eyes rolling from the crowd seated before me. I like to open with a joke before getting to my more serious material, and my “three strings” joke is, well, a great joke.

I pause and make eye contact. Not only do I consider uniform eye contact the mark of a good public speaker, I am happy to look at the people around me, as I have, in the past year, forged friendships with them, thanks to Open Nic Nyte.

Originally organized by Rhonda Ragsdale, who goes by the pen name Lisa M. Pyre, Open Mic is now largely run by Brogdon and Sterling Jacobs, who is a long-time area artist, poet, and, if he will accept that I am calling him this in the most flattering way, eccentric. I think I can get away with calling him that, since I feel a fair amount of eccentricity myself, and I own that and let it feed my artistic expression.

We are all eccentrics when we stand before the microphone.

Open Mic Nyte takes place on the last Monday of most months (breaking for the holidays) at Mojo’s Coffee. It is sponsored by the Happyland Music Alliance, and always has a featured artist.

You might be surprised how many painters, sculptors, charcoal drawers, graphic designers, actors, performance artists, fine art photographers, singers, dancers, conceptual artists, poets, novelists, and musicians live in the Ada area.

I feel happy to be in their midst as I tell my jokes, read from my notebooks, and show off some of my photographs. I finish and say, “Thank you. Thank you very much,” in my best Elvis impersonation voice. The crowd, sometimes just 12 or 15 of us, but sometimes nearly 30, applauds.

Jacobs takes the microphone and thanks me again. We’ve been friends for years, but Open Mic has taken that to the next level.

He next introduces my next door neighbor Jenn Nipps, who reads the next chapter in her newest novel. We all listen as she spins her story.

Since my younger days of reading Henry Miller, Albert Camus, Anaîs Nin, and Jack Kerouac, I’ve dreamed of being part of a café culture, of having a venue to share our ideas, feelings, and creations.

Timothy, who did not wish me to use his last name, is next, and to our amusement has crafted for himself a tinfoil (actually aluminum) hat. He smiles as he dons it, telling us what many of us already know, that he is a bit of a conspiracy theorist. He talks about the moon landings or the shape of the Universe. He shows us his codexes, small notebooks he’s been curating for most of his life. I can relate, since my own Open Mic kit includes some very similar notebooks.

He is welcome among us. The Vietnam veteran and his poetry are welcome among us. The guitar-playing college kid is welcome among us. The middle-aged novelist and the geriatric poet and the awkward teenage author and the pottery-making recluse and the young actor are all welcome among us. You are even welcome among us if you just want to watch and listen.

By the end of the night, nearly everyone has taken a turn at the mic.

So. Three strings walk into Mojo’s Coffee.

The first string says, “I’ll get us some coffee.”

He approaches the barista and says, “Three coffees, please.”

“Sorry, but we don’t serve strings.”

Stunned into silence, the string sits down.

The second string sees this, and defiantly approaches the barista.

Without hesitation, the barista says, “Look, I told your friend, we don’t serve strings!”

The third string is having none of this, so he bends himself into a loop, then takes out a comb and teases and rats his end.

He approaches the barista and says, “Three coffees, please!”

“Look, I told your friends, we don’t serve strings. You’re a string!”

“I’m a frayed not!”

Your host takes his turn at the microphone in April, 2018, during an Open Mic Nyte session at Mojo's Coffee in Ada, Oklahoma.
Your host takes his turn at the microphone in April, 2018, during an Open Mic Nyte session at Mojo’s Coffee in Ada, Oklahoma.

A Good Rainy Day Project

I have a zillion words on paper in my life, and I have a zillion words online. I think it’s a good idea to keep both of these vectors for expression updated and complete, and I happen to think that the printed word and printed pictures are more engaging and meaningful than anything online.

This is part of why I think being a print journalist is so significant. When was the last time, for example, you walked into a home or a business and saw an Instagram post stuck to a file cabinet or refrigerator? Everywhere I go in this town, I see my name under photos that people have kept and displayed. The web is fun and fast, but it vanishes as fast as it appears.

Thus, a recent project: transcribing entries from our adventure blog into a hardback book. In addition, I have allowed myself the liberty to make extra notes, thoughts, additional memories (like Abby sneezing her glassed into a plate of sautéd sprouts in Albuquerque in 2003), and ideas as I go.

Think about it: in 20 years, do you think your Facebook photo albums will still be around? Do you think you’ll be able to go right to that that Tumblr post about your trip to Great Smokey Mountains? Do you think you can bring up that Vine video from 2012? (Ooops!) But 20 years from now, you will be able to pick up a book of photos from Abby’s family’s annual Shoffner Reunion (which I just sent to the printer today,) open it up, and remember.

I’ve been chewing on this for some months, and it will get finished one day soon. The sound of my pen on the page is comforting.

We've gone on a lot of adventures over the years, and even as I write it, this adventure book is fun to visit.
We’ve gone on a lot of adventures over the years, and even as I write it, this adventure book is fun to visit.

The Fragile

Come rain, shine, or pandemic, our mighty Irish wolfhound Hawken remains loyal and affectionate. Sometimes when it all seems too much, he listens better than anyone.
Come rain, shine, or pandemic, our mighty Irish wolfhound Hawken remains loyal and affectionate. Sometimes when it all seems too much, he listens better than anyone.

Most of my work as a journalist has returned. School is back in session, as are athletics, though both have faced fits and starts as the pandemic spreads.

Our young photographer/writer friend Mac came by my office last week after I offered to lend her my copies of Ansel Adams’ The Camera, The Negative, and The Print, which I have been reading since I was her age.

I told her that one thing I really admire and aspire to in her writing and photography is her ability – or is it her nature? – to embrace chaos. My work seems too orderly and safe sometimes.

“It’s like you take a glass sphere,” I told her, “and throw it on the ground, then pick up the shards, while I’m in the corner polishing mine.”

“My life is like that shattered sphere,” she laughed.

Later in the week, I found this at a flower shop and bought it for my wife Abby…

A rainbow rose is preserved inside a fluid-filled glass sphere. I bought this for Abby at a flower shop when I photographed their business for our newspaper's Readers Choice awards.
A rainbow rose is preserved inside a fluid-filled glass sphere. I bought this for Abby at a flower shop when I photographed their business for our newspaper’s Readers Choice awards.

In some ways, life has always been that shattered sphere, yet we felt too secure, too arrogant, too orderly.

Someone I have known for 40 years is currently dealing with her mother having Alzheimer’s disease. It’s terrifying to imagine losing your mind, but it is a reminder that all life is fleeting, that we are all going in the same direction, and that the only thing any of us has for certain is our next breath and our next thought.

I photographed these dry wheat grass seeds reaching into a hazy evening sky last night. They represent my thoughts these days: vanishing, fleeting, fragile.
I photographed these dry wheat grass seeds reaching into a hazy evening sky last night. They represent my thoughts these days: vanishing, fleeting, fragile.

 

Bell Peppered

“You should have seen the look on Mark’s face when he saw those bell peppers.”

It never ceases to amaze or discourage me to see grown men so threatened by something as harmless as someone else’s diet.

He was a huge Coke drinker. Obsessive.

“So why didn’t you and Elizabeth ever get together?” he asked about me and his wife.

I made up some crap about her and me not being a good fit, but she was an incredibly horrible person.

Why so scared?
Why so scared?

My brain now has me using the word “ronids” for the particles that cause covid-19.

Persistent, horrifying nightmares about spiders: it started with a fountain that mines glowing purple liquid from the ground. Then we were surrounded by huge spiders with long black legs and round white abdomens. They were all stealing cherries. Are there really cherry-stealing spiders, or has the Rona finally broken me?

Along came a spider.
Along came a spider.

When the current epidemic matures into a global catastrophe like the 1918-19 pandemic, do you really want your legacy to be, “I bought a lot of toilet paper”? Not me. I want everyone to remember my work, and mostly how well and much I loved my wife.

Wait. A covid is 10,000 covfefe, right?

There is some self-righteous inclination to not wear a Rona mask, citing personal liberty. I’ll bet those same people would wear the mask in seconds flat if the Rona turned you gay or black.

There wasn't a single sheet of toilet paper in the store, but fruits and vegetables remain plentiful. Why? What does this say about us as a people? Not just that we are scared, but it also tags us as emotionally and intellectually immature.
There wasn’t a single sheet of toilet paper in the store, but fruits and vegetables remain plentiful. Why? What does this say about us as a people? Not just that we are scared, but it also tags us as emotionally and intellectually immature.

A drastic panic to buy toilet paper, but there are fresh fruits and vegetables as far as the eye can see. It never ceases to amaze me how silly and ignorant people can be. Why don’t you just curl up in a corner and suck your thumb?

What do I miss? With just seconds to go in overtime… one town on one side of the gym, another town on the other side of the gym. The ball hits nothing but net, and that team’s town goes wild. The gym traps the din, filling all our ears with wild screams and yells. The buzzer sounds, and the game is over. One team and their town loses, one team and their town wins.

Covering this was my job that night, and might have been the most fun thing I did all year.

They were so happy. They didn't realize that the world was about to stop.
They were so happy. They didn’t realize that the world was about to stop.

You know what I love? …

The sun and the sky in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico had no idea the end was near.
The sun and the sky in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico had no idea the end was near.

“Barack Obama is not my president.”

Followed immediately by…

“How dare you say Donald Trump isn’t your president.”

Believe it or not, I had friends in high school pressure me… pressure me… to display a rebel flag front license plate on my car. I never did. Why did they care about the flags I displayed, anyway? I guess in their naive minds, it might have seemed like it made them look like “rebels,” and peer pressure is usually pretty stupid, but the meaning of the Confederate flag has remained consistently negative in my lifetime.

You don’t hate people of color because of who they are. You hate them because of who you are.

Hawken cornered a raccoon last night. Once I got Hawken pulled back, the raccoon shooed away without an argument.

“I can’t wait until Hawken corners me a cooter,” I told my wife. I meant cougar.

Me: I made a mess in the kitchen last night. The rice sort of got away from me.

Abby: Oh, honey, that’s because you bought wild rice.

Okay, maybe I need to decompress. I just had the phrase “white balance” pass my eyes as I web surfed and wondered if it was something racist. White balance is a camera setting, Richard. You’re a photographer.

Help me cultivate a new catchphrase: “That’s not my train to strafe.”

Okay, I can finally put all the conspiracy theories to rest. The coronavirus started with the eclipse in 2017, when the sun began emitting coronids. Sure, you say, light from the sun only takes eight minutes to reach Earth; why is it only reaching us now? Because it had to go around the moon. Duh.

If anyone is running low, I’ve got humidifier fluid I can let go of for $4 a gallon.

Nobody got that joke.

This image leaves so many unanswered questions.
This image leaves so many unanswered questions.

Lost in New Mexico

I was cleaning up some computer files and folders recently when I came across images from our most recent anniversary trip, The Winding Road. I must have been hungry, because I gravitated to an image of a dessert Abby and I shared at our favorite restaurant in the world, Madrid, New Mexico’s The Hollar.

“Honey,” I said to my wife, who was crocheting in her recliner, “the whiskey cake!”

“That was so good,” she said without hesitation.

The whiskey cake.
The whiskey cake.

That’s how really great memories work.

A day or two later, a photographer friend on social media posted a moody black-and-white image of an abandoned store with the title Lost in New Mexico 2019.

I thought about all those great times Abby and I would open a map and just go.

Sometimes I get out maps and just read them. I think about all the places we would like to see.
Sometimes I get out maps and just read them. I think about all the places we would like to see.

The Self in a Time of Crisis

“No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and emotions shared by all.” ~Albert Camus, The Plague

I miss my indulgences. I want to get back to my self pity. I want to walk the wolfhound and think sweetly about my napping wife, or hear a song on my phone that brings me back to high school, or summons nostalgia about a first date or a breakup.

I want to smell the flowers in spring and think of hope.

I wonder when we will start to feel like we are walking out of this instead of walking into more of it. When can I get back to expressing myself instead of expressing myself under stress or in a crisis?

The old truck way back at the back of the property has always been a sign of my long winter walks with my wolfhound. But now, is it a portend? Is this us in ten years?
The old truck way back at the back of the property has always been a sign of my long winter walks with my wolfhound. But now, is it a portend? Is this us in ten years?

Opportunity of a Lifetime

It doesn't matter if you stock up on canned soup. It makes no difference if you buy more hand sanitizer. No one will know if you have enough ammo in your gun safe. The sun will still shine, still set, still look beautiful in the springtime.
It doesn’t matter if you stock up on canned soup. It makes no difference if you buy more hand sanitizer. No one will know if you have enough ammo in your gun safe. The sun will still shine, still set, still look beautiful in the springtime.

There is a strong current of pessimism around us right now as a disease is endangering humanity, and we the people are not handling it very well. Social media has become a consistent source of bad news for me, so I think I will slow way down on checking it.

All I Have to Say...
My comment on social media this morning: Imagine that the current epidemic matures into a global catastrophe like the 1918-19 pandemic? Do you really want your legacy to be, “I bought a lot of toilet paper”? Not me. I want everyone to remember my work, and mostly how well and much I loved my wife Abby.

I will add that even if we got sick and died tomorrow, I am not ashamed of my life, and I feel like I have done a lot with it, that it was a gift, whether I have one more day or 50 more years.

So, why is this an opportunity?

I know I talk about walking our dogs a lot, but now is a perfect time to up that game. Maybe I could walk the dogs three times a day.

How about writing? Now might be the ideal time to set aside the quips and squabbles of social media, and sit down and write something on paper or, as here, a blog, maybe something with more substance and thought than just memes and links?

How about photography?  I know it sounds odd to hear a photographer talk about making more pictures as a hobby, but the possibilities abound. Is there an imaging project you’ve been putting off? Something creative you keep putting on the back burner?

Any of these things and a zillion more are better than fretting about something that might not happen, or worse, being part of the panic about it.

We’re all facing the same fate, sooner or later, so maybe now, in the shadow of the scare of a lifetime, is our opportunity to be who we really want to be, create what we want to create, love who we want to love, and, finally, find happiness.

What would it be like if we could all be as carefree as a little dog sleeping on Daddy's pillow?
What would it be like if we could all be as carefree as a little dog sleeping on Daddy’s pillow?

What Sickness This?

As I convalesce from influenza Type A, I am in an oddly overly-emotional state. A rerun of the recent Super Bowl commercial about an old man using Google to remember his late wife just melted me down.

No matter how puny I feel, a dog nose always cheers me up.
No matter how puny I feel, a dog nose always cheers me up.

So as I pester my wife with my nagging cough, I also had some time to ponder a thing or two.

I confessed to a friend recently that at one point in time, I almost – almost – threw away my journal from tenth grade.

“When I read my journal from when I was 15,” I told her, “I realize that I was the most dramatic, the most self-involved, most obsessive teenager on the planet. If I hadn’t been, I couldn’t have filled two Mead150-page spiral notebooks with ink.”

Before you get all, “Richard, little has changed,” let me say that yes, little has changed. But the thing about your flaws is that you can enjoy them if you just make them your own.

Duct tape this together with another YouTube video I recently watched by Gareth Emery called Long Way Home.

The movie is about the Great American Road Trip, something my wife and I have perfected over the years. Sadly, though, when I was young, I had lots of chances at enjoying this very thing, and I ruined it with drama, selfishness, and … ugh… lack of self-awareness. Can’t you just shut up and have a good time, Richard? Must I always bring the Drama Llama?

For the record, this is the worst flu I’ve ever had. It is dragging on and on; I am weak, shaky, achy breaky, coughy, too hot, too cold, too hot, too cold. So far I have missed four days of work, the most I’ve ever missed due to my own illness. My appetite vanished, so much so that a couple of days ago Abby had to bring me an Ensure® nutrition drink. Today, I was feeling so malnourished that I actually resorted to eating a bowl of chicken soup, which we had in the pantry, and which I felt had what I needed in a crisis. I was right, as I felt a little better even as I was eating it.

I was banished from the Q continuum after Mordor caught me and Lord Baltimoret visiting the Merovingian.
I was banished from the Q continuum after Mordor caught me and Lord Baltimoret visiting the Merovingian.

Finally Full

I express myself in a number of ways. Many are visual, but some are linguistic. An excellent example of this is that I have written my thoughts in some kind of journal or notebook since September 1978. There have been milestones: a first anniversary, a 40th anniversary, and a change in 1998 from big spiral notebooks to smaller hardcover volumes. At times I have made efforts to write more, including a period in 1983 when I completely filled a 200-page spiral notebook in just six weeks, essentially saying nothing. Other times I have slacked off, sometimes to my great disappointment. I wish, for example, I had written more, and more honestly, in my freshman year in college.

My most recent milestone is the completion of another journal book, number 54. Since much of my written presence is in the form of blogging, my teaching site, and our travel site, my efforts to put ink on paper fell to the side. I recently decided to change that, so, despite taking 13 years, book 54 is history.

Journal number 55 is purple!

I also wonder what will happen to these piles of ink and pulp after I’m gone. Should I donate it to a library? Would anyone ever read it? Does that even matter?

From inane teen self-pity of tenth grade to the inane middle-age self-pity of adulthood, the 54 volumes of my journals have it all.
From inane teen self-pity of tenth grade to the inane middle-age self-pity of adulthood, the 54 volumes of my journals have it all.

Dream Aggregator

I recently started sharing dreams on social media, but as you know, sites like Facebook aren’t searchable and, except when you download and save your data, are a bad place to store your thoughts, so I decided to aggregate my dream notes here…

11-15-20 Dream: On the way to a poetry reading, I found a melon in a tree that was full of plums, and each plum was covered in small blue ladybugs that were a delicacy. We feast on it and it is delicious. At the end of my reading, I leave the stage like a rock star and circle back to perform an encore, but get lost. I try to steal some cake from a neighbor’s dumpster, but only find two small stocking caps a friend made for me. The neighbor catches me in the dumpster, so I tell him I am checking it for possums.

09-30-20 Dream: After sleeping crooked on my right arm…. I am walking in a tunnel with dead snakes of all sizes on display. I decide to pick up the cobra, but find it to be alive. After a short struggle, it bites me on the right hand. I try to get ready for work, but as it becomes more painful, I realize it’s a real bite and I need to go to the emergency room. I look for my car in a lot where I am covering a basketball game, but can’t find it. A friend of mine shows me the number of comical ways he’s injured himself in his sleep. I am then on my riding mower, which belches out white smoke.

08-24-20 Dream: While driving across a bridge over the Mississippi in New Orleans, we find it to be a drawbridge. It keeps lifting us up until the vertical, when we become airborne. We land at the entrance to a lead-lined hiking ice train to the South Pole. We hike, getting thirstier and thirstier due to seawater slush that feels cold but is too salty. Even our dogs can’t drink. At the end of the trail, we see a dude ranch, where we are fed corn on the cob. The ranchers explain we have just hiked the world’s longest train. Abby’s speech becomes slurred when she develops corn saturation.

08-10-20 dream: At a dentist’s office, I am assigned to protect a little girl from assassins. I see a red dot on a far wall, and get the girl to cover just as the rounds fall. Under hypnosis, I am able to coax the name of her attacker from her. I get on a very huge nuclear powered train and ride it to Asher, Oklahoma to cover a softball game, but when I get off, I walk in my house shoes through several back yards trying to photograph a huge thunderstorm and lightning event to the south. I shoot an amazing 15-second sequence of lightning using my phone, but when I play it back, it is a hysterical sequence showing the British man behind me reacting to the lightning, since I had the wrong camera selected.

07-04-20, Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman, dream: You are I are commander and executive of a self-propelled howitzer platoon in Iraq; you are a major and I am a captain. We are ordered to move one of our guns to another part of town, which looks suspiciously like Lawton, Oklahoma, where I grew up, to suppress some insurgents. Before we can ever board the vehicle, we get ambushed, and fight them back into a high school cafeteria, where I shoot several of them in the shoulder. We climb and observation tower and I see that you have a stainless steel bolt action rifle chambered in .338 Lapua. You shoot at a TG&Y sign a mile in the distance, and when it hits, it’s incredibly loud. As we make our way back to the vehicle, an insurgent, a giant 6’5″ angry-looking Iraqi, stops me and says, “I dare you to give me an order.” I lower my weapon and argue with him, but when you see this, you come over and start yelling at him, scaring him off.

Make notes. I'm not going to say this again.
Make notes. I’m not going to say this again.

Dream 06-18-20: the space shuttle is trapped in a low earth orbit approximately five feet above Interstate 95 in downtown Miami. Controllers are afraid to deorbit the vehicle due the crew safety. Instead, they will use the escape vehicle, a grimy, steampunk ship no one likes, in seven months due to orbital alignment. I pull up behind the shuttle on the highway just in time to see a man in a “Finding Nimo” fish costume swinging on a trapeze above the ship. He gets close enough to smash the deorbit control panel, causing the shuttle to settle gently to the roadway. The crew gets out, grateful they didn’t have to use the escape pod.

Dream 06-09-20: a Sith Lord is occupying a cloud city above Earth, similar to the station Tom Cruise has in Oblivion. As I climb the long stairs to the top, I find him using the reanimated corpse of Rosa Parks to turn small animals to the dark side of the force, simultaneously removing all the Rosa Parks Taco Stands from Google Maps. I search frantically for Max the Chihuahua, but when I find Summer the Chihuahua, I remember that Max has been dead for over a year. Summer is wearing one of my fleece jackets. I pick her up, and intuitively know that she can’t be turned to the dark side.

Dream 05-03-20: at a busy hotel, I am involved in several murder schemes that involve killing people by getting them to drink too much water. As I leave, there are spiders everywhere. I walk to my car naked. The attendant hands me a bundle of clothes that won’t fit me, and the keys to a Boeing 747, which I am supposed to ferry to my home airport. As I walk out to the jet, still naked, I am required to climb a huge dead tree to retrieve a stuffed bear at the top.

Dream 04-24-20: Mac Crosby and I were looking at some old Vivitar Series 1 lenses. The lens hoods were brown instead of black. When we were done, she gave me a ride back to my offices in a roll of 4L experimental plastic. On the way, we photographed some bank employees, but they dispersed after the first frame, which was over exposed.

Along came a spider.
Along came a spider.

Persistent, horrifying nightmares about spiders: it started with a fountain that mines glowing purple liquid from the ground. Then we were surrounded by huge spiders with long black legs and round white abdomens. They were all stealing cherries. Are there really cherry-stealing spiders, or has the Rona finally broken me?

Dream 04-05-20: we live in an apartment in the press box at ECUs Norris Field. I awake to find the I have just missed the women’s football game, but the Atlanta Braves are about the start their game. John Martin offers to let me use his jet pack, and I show off by leaping high enough to bump my head on the ceiling of an office building. As we run across town with steaks for dinner, Jeff Cali brags about his new radar detector, and tells us to go back to the store for cream of broccoli soup.

Dream 03-22-20: At the L.A. Times, I find a closet in the back of photo storage with a huge collection of old, obscure or one-of-a kind Nikkor Lenses, lenses that must have been custom made for The Times. I decide I want to take a bunch of them to the beach and shoot surfers with them. Suddenly Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman bursts in, saying it is her first day at The Times and she’s trying to get to her car to drive to cover a huge fire in the mountains to the east. We get lost in a maze of stairs and exits. Finally, we get outside where we can see plumes of smokes rising to the east. We race to my car, but find that we have to wait in line 15 minutes for them to get my car out of the parking garage.

Dream 03-17-03: I am taking pictures in an ice castle that is also and executive headquarters. I occasionally go outside, where people are soaking themselves down because the ice castle is in the desert. We feel and earthquake and begin to panic, fearing the end is near, but we are placed on a conveyor belt with happy music playing. We all lie down, knowing we are being taken to see Santa.

Dream 01-20-20: I am in college. An inspector comes to my dorm room demanding to see my phone. He removes the sim card and I realize he will see all my secrets. After analyzing it, he says, “That’s it!” I ask him, “I’m being fired for what’s on my phone?” He tells me, “No, but you are losing your roommate.” As my the inspector and my roommate collect their things, I tell the roommate I still want to be friends, which he doesn’t. I am then on the beach with a buddy, reenacting scenes from Saving Private Ryan using a Kleenex box. When it’s time to come in, I see that my newlywed wife Kim has painted the floors in all the rooms. Finally, I get to the living room, which still has carpet and is an inch deep in dirt. Kim sits down next to me and I see a long row of teeth growing in a line down her leg. “See,” she says, “My wisdom teeth are finally falling out.”

Dream 01-15-20: Abby and I are lying in bed in a gazebo in the middle of the back yard, trying to stay as quiet as possible because the Gestapo are just outside. As I doze off, I realize we are actually in our real bed, dreaming about the gazebo. A movie is about to start, and we excitedly run into the theater. The best seats are on the front row, called “vomit row” because of all the old blankets and vomit. Instead of a movie, we are inside a NASA simulation. Space shuttles that look like pontoon boats land in the water around us. One contains a telescope, which has a bird in it that won’t come out. When it pokes its head out, it becomes a squirrel. It softly bites my finger in the same way our Chihuahua Summer does.

In the dream, Ashlynd and I are at "OPA December," which they created because I won so many awards there wasn't time to give them to me at OPA in June. The awards include several Nikon cameras and accessories. Then we are in Philadelphia, and here's what I can't figure out... I got up in the middle of the night and wrote a note about the dream, which now doesn't make sense.
In the dream, Ashlynd and I are at “OPA December,” which they created because I won so many awards there wasn’t time to give them to me at OPA in June. The awards include several Nikon cameras and accessories. Then we are in Philadelphia, and here’s what I can’t figure out… I got up in the middle of the night and wrote a note about the dream, which now doesn’t make sense.
Dream 01-13-20: I have an old Dodge Polara in my garden for growing things inside all winter. When I go to harvest, I find bananas so ripe they have turned to banana-shaped oranges, and turnips that are so big they have partially grown into the steel of the car.

Dream 12-24-19: While walking through an ally In downtown Ada, I am accosted by thugs. I put my hand on my sidearm and they retreat. I enter our old newspaper office, which is now a pawn shop. I tell the owner I am going to get some old photo junk I left behind. It is mostly Kodak boxes and loupes. We see a skunk at the bottom of the stairs, and I retreat, but a black cat grabs it around the waist. I shoot at them with my sidearm, but flee, and as the police arrive, I realize I am naked.

"Apology accepted, Captain Rainbow."
“Apology accepted, Captain Rainbow.”

Dream 12-22-19: Major industrial accident in Ada, maybe at a factory where they make sponges and pegs. Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman works for us and we crash the gates at the factory to get the scoop. We swim in shallow water throughout the factory, where we run into pockets of people who support what we are doing. We avoid the executives and and PR people. We leave the factory to discover I forgot where I left my car. As we walk back to the office, a well-dressed woman in a Ferrari tries to bribe us with dozens of coupons for new smartphones. By the time we get back to the office, there is an awards banquet for our coverage. I see an old girlfriend (Melissa) who calls me Charlotte. “Richard,” I tell her. “My name is Richard.”

Dream 12-21-19: I put some barbecue on to cook, especially lots of bacon, intending to let it cook outdoors all day. I go to the movies with my friend David, who offers me absinthe. He then suggests we try a drinking game in which we add Percocet to each drink. I go home to find the next door neighbor’s teenage daughter handcuffed to the roof of their house. I climb up and we become friends. She says her dad left her there because her spirit was interfering with the instrument landing system at the airport. I touch her neck, which she likes and says is “intimate.” I climb down to check the barbecue, which has set the girl’s father’s monk robe on fire. I mow for a while to check if the ILS is back in service.

Dream 12-19-19: During a thunderstorm, my lawn mower needs to urinate. I take him to the bedroom, where I put the commode on the bed and urinate on the lawn mower’s behalf. Lightning strikes near the house and I am slightly shocked. When I move the mower again, there is a large puddle of urine under it, so I put it in the sink and fill the sink with hot water. I discover a previously unknown area of the sink where desserts are stored, and think, “something sweet sounds good.”

Dream 12-07-19: Randy Mitchell and I are walking in Wintersmith Park on our way to play racketball when we see an object in the soil by the sidewalk. We think it is the partially buried remains of a human body. The police arrive in force, including two helicopters, only to discover that the body is a whole chicken from WalMart.

Dream 12-05-19: Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and I take down an elk, often handsomely backlit and in slow motion. We are able to harvest nearly 200 pounds of fresh broccoli from it. As we do, an old friend of Abby Barron‘s arrives in an MG with fettuccine.

In the same dream, I am at Ashlynd’s graduation. When I see her in her robes, we fall into each other’s arms and can’t stop crying.

Her life must be so empty.
Her life must be so empty.

Dream 12-02-19: Everything is labeled 5412A. I am in the Star Wars universe, but it is mostly water. I am Richard, but in the role of Luke Skywalker. I gradually forget my real identity. I swim next door to my best friends hut, and she and I talk about it, suspecting something is up, but what? Several people we know are wading, and step into deep holes and disappear back to my old reality. My friend and I attempt to climb the Jedi Temple, but there are no handholds, so we try to find leftover furniture in the water. Some are desk chairs, some are huge industrial cranes covered in mud, and some are the arms of giant monsters. I hear music and realize I am writing a new Pink Floyd song called “The River.” The video for the song is me driving around town, but when I try to turn corners, I trip over pipes. I hear the lyric, “The River is making decisions for the night.”

Dream 12-02-19: Byng Schools is building a new, giant supergym in our pasture. As I watch the work, I see two aircraft dangle long tubes to collect atmospheric samples. The tubes crash into the cell tower in the yard. There is little damage, but the school decides to cut the size of the gym in half, which upsets everyone because there is no longer room to set up tables to sell candy.

Dream 11-25-19: Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman helps me move into the dorms at ECU, but I move into the ones in the bad neighborhood, and my stuff gets stolen in the first week. We set up a sting operation involving the mascots to catch the perpetrators. Meanwhile, out of frustration, I take a school teaching job in Sheridan, Illinois. I commute daily in an old RV. The commute is so long that one day, I awake to find I am arriving at the school after sleep-driving through the night. I have forgotten all my clothes, so the principal lets me look through the lost and found, only to find there are only dresses for 13 year old girls and chicken suits. Back at ECU, we watch a complicated documentary about how luring criminals with mascots is illegal.

Dream 09-04-19: In order to receive a parking pass for ECU, you had to read the last page of a scented, all-pink novel by Hampton Allsockey.

Dream 06-29-19: Abby and I are in New Orleans during a flood. We repeatedly try to cross the Mississippi in her truck, but “turn around, don’t drown.” We see some police officers we know from Ada and talk to them, only to discover the latest trend among cops is to carry at least four huge hunting knives on their belts, beautiful, ornate knives with gold and silver engraving, some of which are at least ten inches long. I pull out a one-inch black pen knife and feel inadequate. I am then mowing New Orleans with Abby’s truck. The transaxle overheats and stops, but as I watch, the temperature gauge rapidly drops into the normal range.

Dream 06-17-19: Michael Zeiler has trained two dens of rare South American ants to smoke cigarettes and throw small lit firecrackers on command. He intends to deliver them to Trump Tower to blow it up. When his car won’t start, he tries to start a washing machine, and when it won’t start, he decides to drive the ants to the tower in a toddler’s plastic toy truck. Meanwhile, my coworkers and I are in the tower, trying to decide on a code name for Trump so no one will know we are talking about him. Most of the suggested names are much too long, like “The Sesquseptigenarian.” We hear an explosion and realize the ants have accidentally detonated at the entrance, meaning we will need to take the back door when going home in the evening. Trump orders us to the 15th floor, which is over two miles high. It is so high, the elevator bends to reach the door. A glass ramp extends across a chasm from the elevator to the actual floor. My coworkers and I stage an ambush on the ramp, in which several of us try to inject Trump with syringes, but when that fails, we beat him to death with a fire extinguisher.

Zeroes are a dish best served chilled.
Zeroes are a dish best served chilled.

Repeated dream throughout the night 06-11-19: I can see the name of the dream, but I can’t copy and paste it to share it with social media.

Dreams 06-10-19: I am part of the Cassini-Huygens mission. We load into a Cessna 210 converted for space travel, which alarms me because all the other people are so fat. We travel across the surface of Titan until we reach the center of a completely industrial area. We put on our coats and the lead astronaut flips a switch, revealing all the heat and light on the moon are artificial. I am then withLisa Oxenham Bratcher at ECU, who keeps asking me about “2 and 3,” which means nothing to me. She then explains “items 2 and 3 on the ballot,” which will improve drainage in town.

Dreams 05-31-19: walking around New York City for hours at a time with Jodie Foster, getting to know each other, taking pictures of 9/11 flashback scenes. At the top of a long hill, a country music song starts… “wouldn’t want to be at the top of that apple ceiling, apple ceiling, apple ceiling…” we run to the bottom of the hill to see kids having a mud fight in a school bus. At the top of the hill, football players were practicing on huge letters of the alphabet. Later, I see an old girlfriend going into a doctor’s office and knock her glasses off with my shoulder, then hide. Later, when she’s coming out of the office, I do it again, hiding again, and Abby Barron and I laugh and laugh about it.

Dream 05-28-19: After I made an incredibly difficult sniper shot to destroy a Russian laser in a video game, John Wayne gave me the Medal of Freedom and convinced me to run for President.

Dream 05-27-19: We have hornets in the barn, but when the exterminator arrives, we discover they are actually lady bugs. A roving gang of ‘50s bullies tries to rough me up, but when the fat one appears to be naked, I help the sheriff arrest him. Stacey Prouty Chadwell replied to this: I had a dream with you included! You were hosting The Price Is Right and I was chosen as a contestant. The items, up for pricing, ranged from an outhouse, puppies, a trip to Amsterdam, to the price of integrity and of ignorance! It was out there, but we were all in deep conversation and lotsa laughter.
Do you write about your dreams, as soon, as you wake? (Edison did everyday of his life.)

Dream, 05-26-19 (while napping while listening to scanner chatter of a grass fire in Happyland after reading some of the suicide blog of Martin Manley): I am in charge of a top secret project to recover Star Trek characters from the International Space Station who have been shrunk to very small sizes for time travel to planets with very small inhabitants. Some of them are on tiny toy train cars. Others are in little busses that also seem to be at the Super Bowl. As I sift parts of the USS Enterprise on the floor of a gym, my wife Abby appears. I inform her that I have decided to be shrunk to the size of a speck of dust and will live under a piece of adhesive tape stuck to her left shoulder. She says that she will be joining me.

Dream 05-24-19: I catch some thugs trashing the house, but am too late to confront them. I am able to shoot one round from my 9mm into the back of their car from more than a mile away. Abby Barron and I are then in the first class section of a 747 headed for Houston. For some reason I still have my 9mm. I wear it in an open holster or put it on the table in front of me. No one seems to notice or care, which I find very odd, and am unable to find anywhere to put it out of sight. People complain that my laptop is too loud, but say nothing about the fact that I am armed.

Last night (05-08-19) I dreamed Max the chihuahua lost vision in one eye, and when I covered the other eye, he would say the word, “Dark.”

From Mac Crosby: Channeling my inner Richard R. Barron and sharing my dream: David Schwimmer comes into Forget Me Not Floral, I refuse to serve him and proceed to tell him that his character in the show Friends is egotistical and sexist. He yells “Your banana trees suck anyway,” and leaves. I did not even know that I felt that way.

Dream 04-28-19: I am in an elite paramilitary group here in Ada. We’ve been assigned to clear out a suspected house. As we make entry, I am relieved to discover it is the house where I lived in the early 1970s, the one with the olive-colored shag carpet. At the back of the house, I find that my sister Nicole Barron Hammill‘s room is three times bigger than any room in the house, in conflict with her accounts that it was the smallest.

As my unit and I drive away, I explain to Abby the names of all the weapons we are carrying. We make our way out west of town to a barn that I recognize. I explain to my unit, which is now just a bald guy I don’t know and my dad (who died in 2005), that I had photographed this barn years earlier before all the wood fell off, leaving just the frame.

"Look at the size of that mouse!"
“Look at the size of that mouse!”

On close inspection of the property, we find the body of an old woman, who looks and smells like she hasn’t been dead long. We see lightning strike near the base of the barn and realize it has killed another old woman. When we inspect her, she is wearing water wings made from rusty bird cages.

We enter a house near the barn and find a third dead old woman in the kitchen. I see her cat, and decide to feed it. I open the fridge and take out the milk and pour it, but the bald man tells me that it’s Tarn-X, not milk.

We go back outside, where my dad falls to the ground. He takes my hand and sings a hymn in a woman’s voice and weeps, something like, “And Lord, if I go to the church, will my soul be safe?” As we mount our vehicles and drive away, Abby bursts into laughter as we see that the barn is swaying in the wind just like the grass around it. I make a note that the wind is from the north.

Dreams 01-27-17… 1. I found a secret half of our house, where I was hiding all the large-aperture, manual-focus Nikon lenses I’d been getting at garage sales for a dollar each. 2. In the middle of a dramatic high seas rescue, I ran into Hillary Clinton. I hugged her and told I was sorry things didn’t work out, like we were old friends. Then a bunch of us helped her fold and pack some sweaters. 3. My fellow photographers and I search for the ultimate funnel cake. 4. Abby and I were back in 1969, watching the return of Apollo 12a, the 2-man mission designed to test the seats of the command module for an ultra-high-G reentry. The spacecraft looked like a super-slick space shuttle orbiter, but painted blue and sporting newly-developed laser engines. NASA parked it in my garage. In the dream I was also aboard the mission, which required the other astronaut, who I did not know or like, and me to wrap our torsos around a bar, like at a carnival ride. The space food was, as expected, funnel cake.

Dream, October 2007: I ran into an old girlfriend, Kathy, in the town where we used to live, at a particle accelerator where they were bombarding Christmas trees with neutrons. She has a midget on a leash. She tells me she has been married three times and her last name is now Schoecheekowskischke, which she made up. The midget, she explains, is an adopted child from the second marriage. I get into a blue SUV and start to leave, claiming that the church I am assigned to photograph will only be dry enough for another 15 minutes or so.

If you're not going to say it, I will. Pipe.
If you’re not going to say it, I will. Pipe.

Dream October 2007: I was assigned to infiltrate a nuclear power plant. Our goal was to assassinate two people, both blond-haired women, and steal the weapons hidden inside. The weapons were phasers that had been deep-fried, only they looked a little like the nozzle on my garden hose (only deep fried.) We made our way through a labyrinth of metal stairs and railing to a series of doors. My partner (who I don’t really remember seeing) went inside and terminated our targets using a really cool chrome .22 with a silencer. We were then seamlessly running from the Israeli Army, dodging their small arms fire. Once they had surrounded us, we threw the phasers into a burning vehicle to prevent them from being captured. Then seamlessly, we are at a black-tie dinner party. Harrison Ford offers me a government job, which I accept because it will pay pretty well.

Dream, June 1989: I am holding Sandra K super close in an insane asylum to avoid being detected as an escaped inmate. We decide to go for a walk. We see a thunderstorm, and I hear George Thorogood music coming from the sky. I picked up my journal and wrote, “How does music come from thunderstorms?”

Dream 04-16-19: I am trying out for a cheerleader/dance team. We all receive cupcakes before tryouts. We assemble on a field, where an instructor shows us a series of dance moves. We start the dance, but I immediately realize I can’t dance at all and don’t know any of the moves, which I confess to a cheerleader in line next to me. As it ends, the instructor tells me I am off the team. The cheerleader storms off in a huff, and I see that she has stolen my journal. As I try to get it back, she uses an Exacto knife to remove the date, thus erasing it forever.

Dream 04-14-19: I am working at a Byng softball game when one of the girls is kicked out of the game for sliding into first too aggressively. I notice she is wearing a Victorian cape and hat. As we discuss the play, we see the dugout is now a precipice overlooking a canyon. “Look! Those birds are creating divisions in the water!” I see birds dive into a lake below, and as they hit the water, dams are constructed instantly. I wonder if they are trying to trap us, but as fuzzy carpet forms on the canyon walls and I see people walking both on the ground and on the walls, I realize the dams were built to allow gravity to work in an additional direction.

Dream 04-13-19: Mac Crosby lives in a Paris apartment overlooking the Champs-Élysées. She lets me crash for a week while I am in town. I have Hawken the Irish Wolfhound with me. We come and go all day and all night, going café to cabaret and everything in between. We make pictures, paint, write. The apartment is strewn with crumbs, empty wine bottles, paint spatter, and half-written poetry.

Dream 2016: I am back in college, living in a dorm by myself. The whole thing is very run-down. I hear a festival in the street below. When I walk down to it, I find I am in San Francisco, and it is an Irish jig festival. At some point during the dancing, people collide and a number of them fall down. I see Kathryn Sterbenc, and walk over to her to discover she is my wife. We walk for a while, and I break the news to her that I will only allow NFL teams to have 22-man rosters. She seems very upset with this news, so I tell her, “None of this is going to matter,” knowing that I am about to become omnipotent. Then, though I weigh thousands of tons, I float gently into the night sky.

Sometimes trapped
Sometimes trapped

Dream: 03-23-09: Literally everything in the world was incorrect. Abby and I used 3×5 cards to fix it.

Dream: 03-13-19: My goats were still around. In the dream I accidentally left the heat on in their shelter and it got hot enough to smelt iron. I then took Carl Lewis to a doctor appointment in Oklahoma City, but after racing through the lobby at a full run, he looked at an automated kiosk to discover it was actually in Omaha. Finally, Abby and I used bean patties to reanimate Denholm Elliott.

Dream: 04-13-19: I am working at a Byng softball game when one of the girls is kicked out of the game for sliding into first too aggressively. I notice she is wearing a Victorian cape and hat. As we discuss the play, we see the dugout is now a precipice overlooking a canyon. “Look! Those birds are creating divisions in the water!” I see birds dive into a lake below, and as they hit the water, dams are constructed instantly. I wonder if they are trying to trap us, but as fuzzy carpet forms on the canyon walls and I see people walking both on the ground and on the walls, I realize the dams were built to allow gravity to work in an additional direction.

Dream 12-14-18: I prepare to board a super-giant airliner which holds thousands of people. I get lost because it’s so large. We are very overbooked, so I am given a pillow and told to sit in the bathroom. I decide to take another flight, and watch as the plane breaks up on takeoff, catch fire, and crashes. I find myself in Iraq, clearing houses with Marines. We have no training, and our rifles are solid stainless steel. The work is arduous because no one is aware we are coming and every house we clear is a bathroom with someone shaving in it. I am teamed up with Jake Gyllenhaal, who is impatient with me and keeps telling me to not shoot him. Finally in open combat, we kill freely, until a family comes out of a house and we narrowly avoid shooting them. I board a helicopter and we strafe settlements. Finally, we get the word we are going home, so I sit at the mess table next to a women who doesn’t want me there because, “they always get hard on me.” Gyllenhaal tells me I’ll “never fire another round” in Iraq, and we flash back to the family scene where there is smoke coming from my rifle. Back in Ada, we see that the “back home” scenes were all filmed in downtown alleys. Riding in a limo with Gyllenhaal and several others, I say, “Remember this people. You’ve all stood right here.” We see a treehouse in the alley near 14th and Turner. Tom Hanks is inside. We introduce ourselves, but he runs away, obviously insane.

During a nap in the autumn of 1994: The headquarters for the New Order of the Third Millennium would be a 2 kilometer tall titanium phallis at the center of the Dead Sea.

Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2011

Dream: Abby and I live in a tethered blimp 1000 feet above Las Vegas. It is surrounded by lavish railing that allows us to watch other blimps float past, thunderstorms roll in, and aircraft crash into power lines.

I am then at Mizza’s, a place that makes pizza from nothing but meat. The booths are made to look like tiny Jeeps. Kathy is dining with us. The meat pizza people seem happy to make something vegetarian for me.

After dinner we decide to walk to the field next door for martial arts training. On the way out, I decided to show everyone my photos from dinner. “Did you guys know about this?” I ask, and tap the glass on the door of the restaurant. “The new phones allow you to display your photos on any piece of glass in the world.” I scroll through my images on the door and enlarge several.

I see David in the field, who will give me martial arts training, which is little more than take-down practice. I am able to defeat him in two out of three falls.

Back home, we discover that Michael has bought my mom (who died in 2009) a nonstick pan. Mom hates it because it burns everything. Michael explains that it has to be specially prepared with an organic rag. Amber is there helping us look for the rag. She dives into one cabinet after another, trying to find it. When she does, it looks just like a regular wash rag, except when we put it on the pan, where it liquifies the aluminum, seasoning it perfectly.

Dream: Dennis Udink and someone named Jane are ahead of me on the trail by about six hours. As I catch up with them, I find they have made camp in a long, narrow tunnel. As we settle in for the night, we all begin to sense something isn’t right, like we are being watched. Upon closer examination, we find that there is movement in the rocks beneath us, as though bugs were crawling right below the surface. We still weren’t willing to leave the area, since we might not be able to return for years.
 
I poke around in the cave for a few minutes, hoping to find something interesting to photograph. I find a rusted iron monument in the wall, with a small coal fire visible through a glass window. I ask if anyone knows what this is. “I think it’s an eternal flame kind of thing,” Jane answers. I examine it closer to find it is a cremation oven from Auschwitz.
 
At this point the signs of evil became more obvious. While trying to light a fire, flies emerged from Dennis’ lighter. After hearing a commotion, we stepped out of the cave to see a cow. It starts to morph into something, and I yell, “It’s gonna Cyriak!” It then morphs into dozens of smaller cows in the fashion of Cyriak’s cartoons http://cyriak.co.uk/animation/ . The cows morph into a single cow, and someone (I don’t know who) brings up a Paladin tank (from the video game Unreal Tournament) to destroy it.
 
Back inside we debate leaving. someone says, “Okay, we leave first thing in the morning,” but I disagree and start packing, only to discover acid of unknown origin had burned through my backpack. We talk about the fact that we only have a couple hours of daylight remaining, but conclude we should take our chances and get out of the evil place.
 
Finally we get our gear together and move out. At the exit of the tunnel there is now an office. A park ranger comes out of the office and says, “Hold it! Coolness police!”
 
I sarcastically say, “Coolness police?” Then Dennis and I look at each other, and we both intuitively know that one of us is going to have the shoot the ranger.
My dream was a combination of tech talk at the office, the stuff I watched on Netflix yesterday with my wife, and cogs in the machinery like this one.
My dream was a combination of tech talk at the office, the stuff I watched on Netflix yesterday with my wife, and cogs in the machinery like this one.

Dream 12-01-18: Abby and I are walking in downtown Ada when we hear a helicopter. We look up to see it escorting a 747 with engines 1 and 2 on fire, turning final for an emergency landing. I grab Abby and say, “We need to move this way.” We run away as the jet crashes into an empty apartment building. We both run back to the crash site to take photos for the newspaper with our phones.

Dream 11-28-18: Abby, my brother-in-law Tracey, and I enter a posh hotel room. In the corners are shiny vortex spots. Abby walks over to one and vanishes into it in a flash, only to reappear from one on the other side of the room. We decide to go to the game, where we encounter thousands of armed civilians, and decide we need to be armed as well, so we each steal an AR-15 and a shotgun. A bear pursues Abby, but at the last minute I shoot it. The pellets from my shotgun move in slow motion, but hit the target. We try to enter another hotel room, this one much less posh and in a basement, with a horse we have stolen. We have to stand the horse on end to get it through the door and down the steps. Once inside, we see dirty vortex spots in the corners, and Abby once again walks over to one and disappears into it. Tracey and I decide to spray for spiders, which are falling on our heads. Abby reappears from the vortex on the other side of the room, looking terrified. She tells me she just spent “literally infinity” inside the vortex.

Dream 11-24-18: Responding to a report of a downtown Ada fire, I discover it is at my own office. I try to enter to see if I can help, only to be stopped by TSA agents and Washington Post journalists. I see flames licking from the top of the stairs where my office is located, but then remember that I moved to the middle of the building two years ago, and was then suddenly relieved that the fire wasn’t my fault.

I see Dan Marsh, who challenges me to a race to his downtown loft apartment. He is much faster than I am, and is wearing an orange jumpsuit, so I am unable to keep up.

When I finally arrive, he is nowhere to be found, but my sister, Nicole Barron Hammill, is at his apartment, hiding her boyfriend, “Wear,” under the covers. “That’ll show Mom and Dad,” she explains.

I return to my office, where I discover a maze of old darkrooms and equipment (about which I dreamed before), and find an oven that was left on for 40 years, which caused the fire.

Dream 11-16-18: Abby , Denzel Washington and I are redecorating Wal Mart with posters from his movies. Next to this I see a broad selection of VHS porn. Next to that, David Vogt and Debbie Vogt and I are dressed in towels in the shower section, where a bird is trapped. We all lay down as low as possible in a reenactment of “The slaughter of the birds at gethsemane.”

Dream 09-25-18: Abby and I are walking on Main Street in Byng when we top the hill to see a house on fire. My first instinct is to get my gear and cover it for the newspaper, but as we take a few more steps, we see many more houses on fire. We speculate it may be arson. We then turn around to see Byng is on fire as well, and realize it is the apocalypse. I decide to stay with Abby. As we return home, we see many people have gone insane. In our house, there are several insane children whose eyes have become huge red disks. Next door at a convenience store, I see police shoot a woman, and look around to see no fire or evidence of an event, and realize that everyone was dreaming it was the apocalypse.

Partially awake during this part of the dream, I see Abby is holding her hands up, talking to someone, obviously dreaming.

Dream: I was hunting caribou, and I was naked for the first time in my life. I am nakeder than the day I was born by a factor of five. I hunt the caribou with lightning bolts that seem to come from the sky, but also seem to come from me.

Exquisitely vivid dream 09-13-18: Riding a bicycle up and down Broadway in Ada repeatedly visiting Gym 210, where they remodel every 30 seconds. Weightlifters teach me a new leg clinch that they say will make me the strongest man alive. I finally arrive on the south end of town at Mansion of the Apocalypse. Inside I find thousands of toy rifles we are expected to use in the coming zombie attack. I find a grey one in the shape of an M249 Saw. I look over to see Amy Jo Johnson get bitten by a radioactive spider. She tells me she will have to go away to quarantine for two weeks, but says she will rescue me when she returns.

Voiceover: "It lurks."
Voiceover: “It lurks.”

Dream 09-09-18: Carl Lewis, Samantha Spears, Eric Swanson and I are on a trip to an underground zombie apocalypse theme park in Wyoming. We are in Abby Barron’s truck, but are towing an eight-story trailer. While parked at a rest area, a guy backs into us, so Carl shoots at him. At the theme park, the activities turn into a real zombie apocalypse, and we barely escape with our lives. On our way home, we stop at another rest area, where I try to make CB radio contact with a camera that has a built-in CB, with no success. I then see that Jamie Pittman is building a new model of airliner out of clouds. It looks great at first, but I have difficulty switching the camera from radio mode to take pictures. The wind picks up, and I tell Jamie, “it doesn’t look too good.” She yells at all of us, “It’s a human being, it should be treated that way!” The cloud airliner then dissipates in the breeze.

Dream 04-01-16: Abby and I are in Boeing’s new jet, the 7447, a triple-decker super super jumbo. The jet is taxiing for takeoff, but gets lost in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Soon we attempt to take off, but gently crash land in Aruba. As Abby and I wait for drinks at the bar, Courteney Cox swims by and says hi.

I turn to find I am the center of a press conference, fielding questions about my new hydrogen superchain fuel that will replace petroleum. I then drift into a theory I cultivated in my twenties about jet engines that use core fan blades the size of toothbrushes because they can borrow energy from the earth’s gravitational waves, like surfers borrow waves in the ocean.

After waking up, I continue to think these ideas through in the shower, including trying to figure out a way to borrow gravity in space, and how to I would put a station on the moon if I were doing it today. Then I went on a time-travel trip in which I take over Russia before the First World War using 29th century technology, and change history.

Profound dream during a nap, February 2007: My people and I are walking in green wheat. The wheat gets finer and finer until it becomes green ash. I hear a poem about becoming of the ash. Abby and I lie down in it together.

Ultra-complicated, ultra-vivid dream 05-26-18: I am a 14 year old black kid who has snuck onto a US Air Force base to use their F-16 flight simulator. It flies well and I demonstrate some sophisticated flight maneuvers. I meet the base commander, who is wearing a new rank between captain and major, which looks like captains bars with a bar diagonal across it. He tells me it is complicated new rank called “Prinz Eugen.” The simulator becomes a real F-16, and I fly it beyond its capabilities because of my extensive video game experience. I then take Abby to the hospital, where we see a woman in a cocoon who has just flown from New York and has no memory of the trip. Doctors tell Abby she either has a spider bite or has been in a knife fight, based on a macro photo they took of her neck. The clerk keeps asking, “What’s Spanish for ‘Joseph’?” We walk from the ER to the Amityville Horror house, which is huge and covers many acres. One of the children has gone insane. We try to take her back to the house, but she drops her turtle and tells it to “stay.” She enters the house, where there are thousands of insane children. We realize we will have to kill them all in a gun battle. Abby and I crouch into a vent shaft, and I tell her to go left, and I’ll go right. I kick open the door and insane children pour out into the shaft. I realize the magazine in my Ruger LCP only has six rounds in it, so I tell Abby, “Fall back!” As we are doing so, we arrive at a checkpoint meant to keep us from stealing Air Force weapons, but they let me keep my Ruger when I tell them it’s mine. The commanding officer says we’ll have to continue our battle inside a video game, which we enter. We install thousands of Nikon cameras to photograph the battle. It turns out the children have the power to literally suck us back into the real world. We have to burn the house down. The end shot is of us driving away with a huge column of smoke in the distance behind us.

Dream 03-18-17:  I am in the next Star Wars movie, which is being broadcast live. I am not dressed for my first scene, which is about 20 minutes in, but the floating audience kiosk comes by on it’s first orbit, so I hide behind folding boudoir screen. When I try to get dressed, everything goes wrong: I have a skirt instead of pants, and my undergarments are so tight they won’t go on. I walk about 20 miles south of town dressed like a chicken when I come across Harrison Ford working on a scene in which his cat can walk on water. He does this using complicated red and black devices on power poles high above us.

Three dreams 03-15-18: Dream 1. I am walking to work when a guy in a semi pulls a shotgun on me. I am forced to draw my weapon and kill him. The police are very understanding. Dream 2. I am driving to my parents retirement home at Chaco Wash upstream from Chaco Canyon when I take a detour and see an old girlfriend in a real estate jacket. I don’t stop to talk to her. Dream 3. I arrive at a church and am supposed to be part of an inspirational story about a miracle, but the room in the church where it is supposed to take place is missing.

Shock Wave
Shock Wave

Dream 03-04-18: Abby and I look outside to see the sky literally on fire. Huge smoke plumes of multiple colors rise in all directions resembling 1000 thunderstorms, some reaching the edge of space. The disturbance is thickest over Seminole to the north, but we are unable to find out anything on the internet or even via amateur radio. We see a shock wave approaching, resembling the first microseconds of a nuclear detonation. As it races toward us, we decide that it will either assimilate us or incinerate us, neither of which we can stand. We decided on a suicide pact, and even draw our weapons, but a short debate ensues over the proper way to kill yourself with a pistol. The shock wave dissipates as it passes, so I take Hawken the Irish Wolfhound and walk north toward Seminole. By the time we cross the river, we are picked up by a school bus. The children aboard want to play with Hawken. I get out to examine the sky, which looks less threatening but still surreal, like 100 thunderstorms at once. When I look up, the bus and Hawken are gone, but I find him in a nearby storage barn.

Courtney Morehead’s dream, 02-24-18: I had the scariest dream last night that I’ve had in a long time and thought I’d share. Lol back when I was a wedding photographer, which seems like a lifetime ago (awesome memories tho!), my biggest fear/nightmare was forgetting that I had a wedding that day. I did weddings so often all thru my 20’s that if I ever had a Saturday off, I would often have a near panic attack sometime during the day thinking that I had forgotten I had a wedding. Lol so last night I dreamed I was photographing a wedding when I realized that I had also told ANOTHER bride I would shoot her wedding that same day! About that time, I’m so glad to see Richard R. Barron show up as a guest, but when I tell him my dilemma, he’s no help (thanks Richard 😂.. he’s usually a huge help btw). Then Jeff Cali shows up and offers to drive me back to my office to get more memory cards so I can shoot 2 weddings at once, and he’s racing me all over town like we’re maniacs. THANK GOD my cat woke me up about then bc I literally didn’t know how in the world I was going to do it all, but thank u Jeff for trying to help. 👍😊 The End.

Dream 02-23-18: My college roommate has a contract to graze his cattle at Monument Basin at Canyonlands to reduce overgrowth. When we look at it from the cliffs above, I see that they have grazed the shape of a beaver in a top hat.

Dream 02-16-18: My family and I are “soap refugees,” meaning that we are fleeing with all the toiletries we are able to carry (based somewhat on an episode of Friends Abby Barron and I watched last night.) We are continually late for the airport, but never make it. I am led by an Army recruiter to a retesting station, where I use a flight simulator to perform basic ground reference maneuvers. I look in a mirror and see that I am Richie Cunningham from Happy Days, and intuitively know I am kin to all red-headed people everywhere. I see Abby Barron, who is creating a fold-out life-size cardboard cutout of me, which folds out slowly, one panel at a time. As she begins to unfold it, music starts, and the event resembles the intro to That Girl.

Dream 2016: Ayn, Robert, Scott and I are driving from Tennessee to go skiing in Alaska. Scott’s car is very overpacked, since it is also a college refrigerator.

We arrive in central Arkansas to discover that a landslide in the Sandia Mountains (which are actually in New Mexico) has covered Interstate 35 (a highway that actually goes north and south, not through Arkansas), and that we will have to walk across the mountains. As we do so, we become refugees among thousands, all of whom are, like us, dressed for snow skiing.

We see sandstone formations in display cases that are actually made of live ducks.

In Edgewood (which is also actually in New Mexico), we are taken into a small meeting room for orientations, then led down a hill in small groups, since we now number in the millions. The town’s Prime Minister holds a press conference. He tells us the landslide has been repaired. I see his executive assistant, Kathy, who is elated to see me. She hugs me, and I do a complete orchestrated version of La Bamba for her.

Dream 02-22-14: I discover that although Abby and I still live in our house and it looks the same on the inside, the outside is a third-world hovel covered in plywood and fallen trees. There is a man in our house in a burgundy smoking jacket. He seems to communicate with the outside world, possibly the CIA, using a trash can that is able to type his thoughts. He receives several messages, including one I intercept that says a radio station is coming to our house to give the man a major cash award. I also receive an envelope with a blank piece of paper in it, but as I hold it, it types a message on itself.

I urge Abby to wake up and get dressed, which she does. I go outside and come back in several times, trying to see if I can clean up the hovel outside. As I do so, the front door becomes smaller and more like a rabbit hole.

Inside, we begin the radio interview, which is also being presented on television, although the television camera appears to be from the 1920s and is made of Bakelite. For a while, I am operating the camera. For some reason, there is another person in the frame, a woman I don’t know.

Someone else takes control of the camera, and when they turn it around, I block it, saying, “I can’t allow you to film in that direction.”

Dream, 02-07-06: a married caveman couple live in our pond. Abby orders a Model-T full of epsom salts for them.

Dream, 08-25-1993: As the director of a documentary, I discover that water actually comes from the ground-up bodies of insane children.

Dream, 09-09-1993: I can perform miracles with the wave of my hand. My most impressive miracle is turning bridge beams into potato salad.

Dream: We are flying wounded soldiers out of Germany in C47 Dakotas during World War II. The aircraft are dangerously overloaded, and we remove seats, luggage, etc. to be able to carry more wounded. On the final flight, we are much too heavy, and unable to get out of ground effect until I realize the fuel selector is set to cloudy. “Wait,” I exclaim, “I’ll set the mixture to sunshine!” We begin to climb out. I am then near the back of the aircraft when I see three crew members from the starship Enterprise beam aboard. Julia Roberts turns from the pilot’s seat and smiles sheepishly. “It’s an infinity paradox,” she says, and I realize that if infinity is real, everything that can happen has happened and will happen. I am suddenly at the Ada airport where we are looking at a 3-engine race plane named the K-Infinity. I want to race it, but when I fly it, it goes faster than it possibly can. Finally, outside the airport, I chase down children who vandalize the bathroom, then complain because the rotating airport sign has wild trees growing on it.

Dream: The back yard is repeatedly invaded by female Irish Wolfhounds who mate with Hawken, our Wolfhound. Eventually, a naked man shows up to get his dog, who leaps back over the fence to mate with Hawken again.

Dream: I am at The Oklahoman, trying to use an old processing machine. I load it with film, but immediately realize that it is a print processor, and is shredding my film. As it does so, it starts to leak and spray chemicals, so I put on a yellow rain suit. I try to hide the machine so no one will know about my giant mistake, but when I try to plant it in a front yard, the gardener spots me. I am then walking through The Oklahoman, which occupies the entire Crossroads Mall. People say hello to me, but are embarrassed when I approach them in the rain suit. I enter the photography department, where it is shift change. Hundreds of photographers are scrambling to their lockers to change cloths, get their gear, and grab their lunches. I sit down and try to remove the rain suit, but photographers are constantly bumping into me. I see a basketball player with three arms accidentally put on one of my shoes. When I point it out to him, he says it is because his third arm is too cold.

Filed under "T" for "Mysterious."
Filed under “T” for “Mysterious.”

Dream: I am in the advertising department at my office, but I am in bed. All the desks have a bed attached, which I think is a sketchy idea at best, since the boss, Amy, will know if we are napping instead of working.

Amy, LeaAnn and Maurisa all have their first initial in a very large block of amber-colored ice, made from their tears, on their desks. Despite being their initials, they are all the letter S. The ice slowly melts and runs down the block, but the block doesn’t shrink, and water doesn’t accumulate below.

I decide to go to the next room, so I collect my Walkman cassette player and my iPad. As I stand up, I say, “I know why these things are crying. It’s because so many people out there are hillbillies.”

Nap dreamed a new word: atlolule. I didn’t dream a definition, so it’s up for grabs.

Two dreams: 1. At a dog mall, Abby and I spend hours looking for Hawken so we can give him a bath, and 2. My newspaper hires 30 new reporters for its television division, all in cubicles downstairs.

Dream: there is a giant Jade Helm-esque training exercise across the nation, and we have been moved into camps. I look into the sky and see bright red dots (identical to a Christmas decoration I set up last night) which are hundreds of military satellites in low Earth orbit. I then see fighter jets (identical to the ones in a video i watched yesterday about the 1979 Vela incident). In the camps, Abby and I are apparently the most dog friendly family, and all the best dogs want to stay with us, in addition to our own dogs. The camps become busses that take us home, and we are forced to say goodbye to a particularly attractive and affectionate dog (identical to one I photographed last week.)

Dream: I arrive at the office in time to see it has been cleaned out by a moving company. They are moving us to a regional newspaper hub in Holdenville. A big boss arrives to wish us well, and we are all required to pledge allegiance to the Constitution.

Dream recorded in my journal, 1995: In an airport lounge, I watch a man cuddle a wad of gum he calls “Schmooggums.” I see the face of a baby inside it. He misplaces it, but I find it on a bookshelf. Suddenly there is an air show, which I am watching with the Ada High cheerleaders. I peel away the gum to find a balloon. One of the cheerleaders pops the balloon and instead of a baby inside, there is a greeting card shaped like a baby.

Dream: Abby and I are four-wheeling in her truck on “quicksand beach” on the west coast. We can’t find an exit, so we try to climb a set of stairs, which we find are too narrow for her truck. We get out and meet a zookeeper with a goat. I pet the goat, but we are then approached by an escaped lowland gorilla. I try to keep the goat calm while the zookeeper tries to text for help, but he can’t get a signal.

Dream: I am searching for a perfectly black snooze alarm. In my search I am at ECU photographing the band, but when it turns instantly dark, they are all furious. We go inside to find the world’s largest collection of analog camcorders.

Dream: I was in a room with a deep purple-violet chair. I am aware that the chair is full of anxiety.

Dream fragment: “And after all, this song has been sung. Still there ain’t no lifelong metaphor for dung.”

Dream fragment: “Her boyhood was vented to worms.”

Dream: at an outdoor opera in England, we are searching for the elusive “Mink,” a 35-foot snake that looks like an earthworm. We break into 12 teams, each represented by a bright color. Kaley Cuoco is our team leader. She uses a garden hose to stir out the Mink, which slithers across the grass and into the audience. Cuoco announces that due to our success, we all receive a pair of blue shoes.

Dream: I open a Coke to find three powdered sugar doughnuts soaked in cola. This means I need to watch a Republican coworker fly his military trainer over the dump to drop practice bombs. He flies too low and strikes a tool box full of dumplings. On the ground he threatens to kill me if I tell his Captain, so I conjure a plan to bury the evidence in my garden.

Dream: At first I am hanging out with an old friend who I never see any more. We are at a creek bed, and her feet are really dirty. Then we are inside a hotel that has been flooded, presumably by Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 Tsunami, and we are playing tag. Water is up to our waists, and there are partially-broken windows through which we climb while we are hiding. I complain to the officials that I don’t have one of the special Frisbees used to tag our opponents (which look like a flying saucer made out of Tupperware.) I get in my car and try to drive out of the parking lot, but discover the bridge to Pauls Valley (Oklahoma) is out. Workers disassemble my car and store it below me, while I sit on a plywood seat and start to ride the makeshift tram that leads across a waterway. As I ride, I realize that I will be thousands of feet in the air, and that I am only secured by hanging on to the plywood seat back in front of me. I can’t see Pauls Valley ahead of me, so I assume it will be hours before we arrive. Suddenly I arrive at the mall, where Joan Rivers says, “Welcome to the Gap!”

Nap dream: I look out the front window to see a white Lockheed C-5A cargo jet fly by. A few seconds later it is followed by an orange one, which is apparently equipped with a STOL system, because it noisily hovers over the power lines in the front yard. It dips its right wing and slowly flies across the house toward the back yard. I feel certain it crashes. I try to open the front door, but to my annoyance, Abby has rearranged the living room and put a piece of furniture in front of it. She then explains to me that Petey the dog lives in our house, but we have to protect him from a dog outside that is exactly like him except for having tiger stripes. I finally go outside to find that without our knowledge, the road on which we live has been stripped out and is in the early stages of being resurfaced. I feel concerned that we won’t be able to leave the driveway. I take my digital Minolta to photograph it, but when I release the shutter it makes a sound like a 1967 Nikkormat with low batteries. This noise frightens the Mexican work crew working on the road, and they all flee in terror.

Dream: Abby, Nicole, Tracey, Lori, Bill and I are in Las Vegas where we find a tattered satchel and a yellowed envelope in the gutter. We believe they both contain treasures from antiquity, but are never able to find a place away from the crowds to open them and find out. I woke up and went back to sleep in hopes of solving it, but we never did.

Dream: My coworkers and I are dismantling the old “photo shack” darkroom down the block from our office. Aside from dozens of enlargers of various sizes and brands, there are a large number of cheesy religious items like clocks, statues, and lamps, all marked down for quick sale. We can have any of them we want for free, but no one will take any of them. I find a film-drying closet and count 14 exhaust fans capable of creating hurricane-force winds to dry film and prints. I see two large holes in the floor that are open to outer space. Once everyone else has left, I turn the shack over onto the street, revealing a small garage containing a tiny, faded-pink Model T. I turn the key and it starts. I drive it back to the office, glad that we will be able to use it as out mascot in upcoming parades.

Dream: Kathryn Sterbenc and I are in her lavish, multi-story apartment high above downtown San Francisco. We are trying to catch up, but there is a raucous golf tournament in the back yard. Several golfers throw objects at her windows, which embed in them like amber. We see Pamela Hudspeth, who asks Kathy for a psychoanalysis. They sit for hours in Kathy’s Greek Room and talk. When I read the analysis, I find it is is a six-point grocery list. Pam tries to make pizza, but when it doesn’t work out, she puts it in a bag and serves grilled cheese instead.

Appearances aren't always deceiving.
Appearances aren’t always deceiving.

Dream: I am in high school, in a gifted and talented class with six other students. We use upright desks and use metal tubes to communicate. I have absolutely no clue how to do any of the classwork, and feel like I am about to flunk out. The teacher tells me my behavior is off based on the fact that some of the metal tubes have been turned away from me. I try to log in to my iMac to do my work and find that the system has been replaced with a foreign-language version of Windows 95. Trying to fix it, I see the other students throw away copy after copy of Internet Explorer. I finally mouse to the upper-left corner of the screen and select “leave I/O diagnostic mode 3.2”, which returns the computer to Mac OS. I am then in the cafeteria with Elizabeth Redman and Kaitlyn Redman, who tell me the teacher is a jerk. We go outside to see hundreds of dazed students in yellow t-shirts walking up a hill. When we ask, they tell us, “It’s not a movie. It’s an entrepreneurship.”

Dreams: Randy Mitchell and I are at the edge of the Grand Canyon and decide on a suicide pact. I jump first, but the fall lasts for 15 minutes and I get bored. Then I am in Mexico where space aliens have taken over, with Tom Gilbert and Karen Alexander Gilbert. We pack our bags to make the crossing into human-controlled America, but have to cover our work with a towel when the alien patrols go by. I try on several of Tom’s shirts, but they all make me look exactly like him

Two dreams: Co-worker Randy and I are covering a crash at Latta Road and the Loop. I watch as several cars rear-end each other trying to see the crash, which involves a man who had crashed his camper into a building and they can’t get to him.

“I was going to tell you I was at home,” Randy says, “but now that you’ve seen me, here I am.”

I look out to the south to see the ocean. Randy says, “I know a guy who says the Atlantic is the healthiest thing you can drink. It’s full of diarrhea.”

(Get up to feed the dogs, go back to bed.)

I am then on the new space shuttle on a test flight to work the bugs out of the docking system. We get to the edge of space, then turn around and come back to Detroit. I decide to blog about the experience, but the internet is now an outdoor pigpen, so I hang my pictures of the event on the barbed wire fence.

“This was my second time in space,” I say. “The first was in 2001.”

Dream: I am at a party at my friends Michael and Thea’s house. They live on an empty country road. The other guest is a beautiful blond woman with deep blue eyes who sits in the front drawer of Michael’s desk writing love poetry and being depressed. She says she got this way from “the Kozakis stream.” We cut up lemons, which turn to limes. I cut up some other fruit and she takes out a pad and asks, “Will that be all sir?” I tell her she’s not my waitress. I realize I am having too many yellow and orange fruits for dinner. An angry teenager with a knife approaches Michael, who repeatedly provokes the angry man by tugging at his shirt. The angry man head-butts Michael, who falls to the floor unconscious. I walk down the road, which changes from dirt road to the hallway of a housing project. On the walls, I see numerous maps of cell phone service in the Congo. When I get back to Michael and Thea’s, a crowd has gathered and are very concerned for Michael. We then try to roll out a large rubber mat so we can do an MRI, and a comedy ensues when it is too heavy and too floppy to unroll. The angry man runs through the crowd, trying to escape from police, stopping to threaten us with his knife. The crowd gasps audibly.

Dream: Mackenzee Crosby and I are interns in the photo department at The Enid News and Eagle during the film era. The department is run by an old man We see him leave and I explain, “He said when he turned 65, he was leaving and not coming back.” I look in his camera bag to find his equipment to be from the 1970s and filthy. It is such bad equipment, in fact, that some of the focal lengths are wrong; he has 280mm telephoto for example. We go outside and are surprised to see a freight train speeding down a hill out of control toward us, but when it turns at the last minute, we remember it is “the 3:10.” We turn around to find the main highway into town has been turned into a beautiful reflecting pool, and a body luge tournament is about to begin. I open my own camera bag to find the old man’s stuff inside, including three filthy 280mm lenses. At that point one of the dogs woke me up, so I went to the other bedroom. The next three dreams were about trying to restart the first dream.

Dreams: my right arm got uncovered, so for a while I dreamed I was donating blood. After a while, I dreamed I was playing softball for Latta High School. Our pitcher can’t find her uniform, so she cites a rare regulation that allows her to play in a black bra. As a result, I get to wear her uniform. We take the field, but it is the Brooklyn Bridge, and we are golfing. I then realize she has a huge crush on me. I appreciate that because she has such beautiful hair, but when I turn to look at her again, it’s frizzy like a 1980s haircut. She hits a ball off the bridge. It lands in the water, but floats, and we realize that if it sinks, it’s a foul ball, but if we can get it back before it sinks, it will be a home run. We enter the subway, which is served by canals. We see the ball floating by and form a human chain to pull it out of the water. An angry New Yorker says he will no longer support Latta because of this turn of events.

Dreams
Dreams

Dream: we are playing Photon/laser tag in an indoor/outdoor arena. As we play and our weapons are upgraded, they change in our hands using transporter technology. I then realize we are shooting each other’s phones. At the end of the first round, I don’t have the highest score, but I did earn the “most hate generated” bonus.

Dream: Abby and I were fighting our way out of a huge, dark grey military complex at night under heavy fire. Shoot-and-scoot, cover-and-retreat, emptying mag after mag from our rifles and pistols. Just as we seem to be out of ammo and lost, Max and Sierra scurry off, then return after finding an escape route, leading us to safety.

Dream from May 2004, recorded in my journal: I am rowing down a muddy river beneath an Interstate highway. I find a box of lolly pops who are being bullied by their classmates. I escort them to a dry spot, where I install an Oldsmobile 403 engine in a lawn mower.

Dream: I was a dog handler at a wedding, in charge of a giraffe-sized Irish Wolfhound. A one point, he felt faint, so I game him a bowl of elbow macaroni and milk.

Abby and I both either dreamed or heard someone whistling a tune. I got my 9mm and cleared the house and made sure all the dogs were okay, but we didn’t hear any sound like that the rest of the night. None of the dogs reacted to the sound in any way, so my best guess is that one of us was dreaming about whistling and whistled.

Dream recorded in my journal, 1995: In an airport lounge, I watch a man cuddle a wad of gum he calls “Schmooggums.” I see the face of a baby inside it. He misplaces it, but I find it on a bookshelf. Suddenly there is an air show, which I am watching with the Ada High cheerleaders. I peel away the gum to find a balloon. One of the cheerleaders pops the balloon and instead of a baby inside, there is a greeting card shaped like a baby.

Dream fragment from nap: “cemetery-grade popsicle.” I then fell asleep again and dreamed that  Doug Hoke gave me a personal tour of his collection of toy airplanes and Steyr rifles.

Dream: LeAnn Skeen and I lower a huge semi into a lake at a grade school in Shawnee to separate the rabbit half from the non-rabbit half. Then Abby Barron and i accidentally crack a kitchen tile, opening an infinity. We collect the blue infinity goo in a bucket and keep it in a child’s bedroom upstairs, occasionally dropping things into it to watch them disappear into eternity.

Dream: Ashley Williams and I are recruiting for a minor league football team. We get Tom Cruise and Burt Reynolds to join. After a couple of games, we find ourselves being chased by boxes, which were throwing smaller boxes at us. Eventually we realize we are in a race in an obstacle course. Ashley is in the lead, and after crossing several difficult ladder obstacles, gets to the finish line and solves a complex puzzle to open the cabinet housing our first place award.

Dream: I was at an Allen football game when the quarterbacks tried to punch each other out. The teams were so ashamed they threw their pads on the field and went to the locker room, even though the game wasn’t over. The final score was settled by seven year olds playing tetherball.

Alternate title: Dogs Preserve Dreams.

I got up at 4:30 this morning to feed the dogs. I got back in bed and laid awake for 15 minutes memorizing the following dream:

We were in my Grandmother Barron’s back bedroom, the one where Nicole and I used to stay when we were kids, when we noticed the wind was picking up in one corner of the room.

We went outside to play volleyball, but noticed the wind was approaching hurricane-force. I began to notice flooding, and numerous waterspouts in the water all around. I shouted this as loud as I could, but no one seemed to hear me. Soon I realized I needed to be home, so I walked home several miles in knee-deep water.

There was a period in the dream during which I was absent, like a time gap in the movies. I woke up in poverty, which resembled 1890s England. The family in my house help saying things like, “He hates us today,” but won’t tell me who “He” is. On the floor I see a transparent plexiglass Scotty dog and realize this is the “He” they are discussing, and that he is responsible for all the suffering around us.

The dream shifts to a train station, and we are able to trap the plexiglass dog by placing sticks on top of him and beneath him so he is too tall to fit in the tracks. This allows us to board an old school bus, where it becomes clear that my family is The Waltons. I sit on the floor of the bus and color in a coloring book with Kami Cotler, the actress who played the youngest of The Waltons until I look out to see that John Walton, the father, is driving us over a huge body of water. As we enter a city, he turns to bus around and drives the city streets backward, explaining that it better allows us to admire the chrome fenders of our bus.

Dream: A  Southwest 737, a nice new 700-series, was trying to land in our garage.

The approach was high, so the pilot tried to go around, but did so too late and his landing gear clipped our roof. Our house wasn’t damaged (since for a few seconds the aircraft was miniature), but the jet careened into the pasture by our pond and burst into flames. Aghast, I rushed inside to get my cameras, but when I got inside I found myself unable to find the right cameras, then unable to find the right lenses, then unable to get the lenses to mount on my cameras.

By this point in the dream I feel certain that emergency personnel and other photojournalists would arrive on the scene and get pictures that I won’t, despite the fact that the crash occurring literally in my own back yard.

Dream:  Abby  was killed by a porcupine. :>(

Dream: Since it was windy outside as I slept this morning, which made a rumbling sound on the bedroom windows, I dreamed that there was a nuclear war.

I was preparing to go to an Ada High School football state championship game. I drove past the practice field to verify the game time, then started to drive north on Broadway toward home.

At this point in the dream there was a complex subtext that didn’t respect the timeline (it seemed to occur after the main events of the dream) about another photographer going to the game with me. He needed a camera with a decent lens, which I was unable to supply. At one point we were searching a van, presumably mine, for a 300mm, but what we found was mostly just tripod legs.

Then in the dream I was back on Broadway, driving home. I noticed a smoke plume far to the north that became a mushroom cloud, but it still looked like some kind of conventional explosion. I continued to drive and tried to call my wife Abby at her office.

I had the scanner in my car on, but there was no note of this event.

A flash occurred closer, followed by another mushroom cloud that was classically nuclear. I said out loud, “A nuclear war? Really?”

The blast wave approached, so I got out of my car (the Chevy Cavalier I had in 1990), and laid in the ditch by the side of the road. When it passed, I looked around for my car, which had been blown back into a yard about a block back. I walked back to get it, and was amazed that it would start. I tried again to call Abby, and while I was surprised to see that EMP hadn’t disabled my phone, for a moment I couldn’t remember the number for her desk. As I tried to think of it, there was a blinding flash from the Ada airport.

I got out of my car and covered by face with my hands, which were now wearing leather gloves. I realized I would die. I said out loud, “Goodbye Abby. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

(Now that I write this dream down, it all seems pretty transparent and obvious.)

Sometimes a Classic
Sometimes a Classic

 

Welcome Back Open Mic, If Only Once

Kellyn Kimbrell reads by the light of her cell phone Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 during Open Mic Nyte at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.
Kellyn Kimbrell reads by the light of her cell phone Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 during Open Mic Nyte at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.

One of my favorite Ada community events, Open Mic Nyte, ceased meeting in May for a variety of reasons. But the gathering came roaring back for a one-time event Thursday on the patio of Hot Shots Coffee House in Ada, drawing many regular artists and readers, and a few new participants.

Sterling Jacobs glances skyward as he reads a particularly meaningful passage of his writing at Open Mic Nyte Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.
Sterling Jacobs glances skyward as he reads a particularly meaningful passage of his writing at Open Mic Nyte Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 at Hot Shots Coffee Shop.
Open Mic founder Rhonda Ragsdale and I pose prior to the event.
Open Mic founder Rhonda Ragsdale and I pose prior to the event.

The event was precipitated by the death of Terry Ragsdale, father of Open Mic’s original founders, Lisa Ragsdale and Rhonda Ragsdale. Since they traveled to Ada for their father’s funeral, they decided to get Open Mic back together for one night.

The event was Open Mic’s first occasion to be outdoors, and the weather was about as perfect as anyone could ask. Since Hot Shots is in the Ada Arts District, the neighborhood had an air of night life about it. People came and went from various businesses, or passed us as they walked their dogs.

Without an Open Mic event all summer, it seemed to me that our creative energy built up, then came out in a flurry Thursday night. We all still write and sing and read and play music, but expressing it in a public gathering allows us to hear it out loud and assess our voices. Someone told me once that a thought isn’t really real until it’s shared, and I think Open Mic Nyte helps us bring our thoughts to life.

Our one-time venue was the patio at Hot Shots Coffee House.
Our one-time venue was the patio at Hot Shots Coffee House.

Into the Void of Misunderstanding: The Journals of Kurt Cobain

I write this on the 41st anniversary of my journal.

My reading glasses sit on a map of Colorado in the morning sun. Two things of note... 1. I recently switched to 2.0x readers, partially due to trying to read Kurt Cobain's child-like handwriting, and 2. Abby and I hope to visit Colorado again very soon.
My reading glasses sit on a map of Colorado in the morning sun. Two things of note… 1. I recently switched to 2.0x readers, partially due to trying to read Kurt Cobain’s child-like handwriting, and 2. Abby and I hope to visit Colorado again very soon.

My reviewance of Kurt Cobain’s journal continues. I am about halfway through, but I grab his big red book at every commodal sit-down and late afternoon nap. So far, it has been every bit the epic roller coaster I hoped it would.

“No matter what you write, it will be completely misinterpreted by everyone who reads it every time.” ~M7

“Don’t read my diary when I’m gone.” ~Kurt Cobain, in his journal

When I got ahold of the journals of Kurt Cobain and published an insistent social media post about it, I was set upon by immediate misinterpretation by friends and acquaintances, the most significant of which was the notion that this was about the band Nirvana or the grunge music scene in the early 1990s.

The Initial Commentary...

“I’m not a fan of Cobain or Nirvana. It’s not because I specifically dislike him or their music, it’s just not my thing.”

“…never cared for Cobain or Nirvana. I know the ‘Teen Spirit’ thing always made the charts and lists as a great song and I never understood why. Love music and my taste runs from Pink Floyd to Johnny Cash and a lot in between but Nirvana wasn’t one of them.”

“Nirvana was meh. I don’t think it translates very well post-90s, but that is just me.”

“Overrated band….period..and history has now proven that.”

This has nothing to do with music.

I saw these journals and, as a journal writer and reader, I was fascinated. I said that in the initial post, but… sigh. Maybe M7 was right. Maybe my best efforts to unravel Cobain’s thoughts are doomed from the start.

Sometimes I see myself as far too organized, far too careful. Part of me admires Cobain’s total chaos. Even when I try to let myself be chaotic, in writing or photography, the chaos I create is pretentious and fraudulent. I am not, however, a fraud myself. Two works I admired as a teenager and later found out to be complete fakes were Go Ask Alice and Jay’s Journal, both conjured by a religious nutbag to try to scare kids away from drug, the occult, and Satanism. Ironically, it drew more kids to those things than away, so hmm. Maybe it was a false flag. I don’t know. Maybe no one knows.

I won’t make this post a review of Cobain’s journals, at least not until I have made a couple of complete passes through it, but this is an indictment of myself: too careful, too controlled, too controlling, too disgusted and afraid of what I might become if I let go of all that.

I made this pretentious illustration of journals this morning. Possibly the most pretentious thing about it is that my own journals, the spiral-bound ones from years ago, and a hardback volume of today, above and beneath the others. Wow, Richard. Blunt.
I made this pretentious illustration of journals this morning. Possibly the most pretentious thing about it is that my own journals, the spiral-bound ones from years ago, and a hardback volume of today, above and beneath the others. Wow, Richard. Blunt.

Smells Like Teen Suicide

Kurt Cobain wrote in Mead spiral notebooks? So did I!
Kurt Cobain wrote in Mead spiral notebooks? So did I!

Browsing YouTube recently, I came across a video from The Nerdwriter called, “Polly: Nirvana’s Darkest Song.”

I wasn’t into Nirvana when the band was huge. I found their sound, like a lot of grunge/garage of the era, a bit too ratty and melodiless.

In the video, Nerdwriter mentions front man Kurt Cobain’s journals. I literally stopped the video right then, swiped over to the Amazon app, found and bought Cobain’s journals. Why? Everyone who knows me knows that not only have I curated journals since 1978 (when Cobain was just 11), but also that I read all the journals I can find, from friends who shared theirs with me or gave them to me, to famous journalers like Anaîs Nin or Franz Kafka.

I read Cobain’s suicide note years ago, and it left me wanting more, and more than just music.

This is Kurt Cobain's suicide note.
This is Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.

Today I got a fat book in the mail. It is photos of his journal pages, which, honestly, is beyond cool. It is messy, chaotic, vulgar, brilliant, interesting. I will dig in with my multi-colored highlighters, and attempt to decode the journal of this troubled, complex, dark soul. Watch this space for a review.

Look at this beautiful chaos! I can't wait to dig into this!
Look at this beautiful chaos! I can’t wait to dig into this!

Goodbye Open Mic Nyte; What’s Next?

Your humble host speaks at Open Mic Nyte earlier this year.
Your humble host speaks at Open Mic Nyte earlier this year.

I am saddened to report that Open Mic Nyte, which I have attended since June 2017, has suspended performances.

We saw this coming when its long-time home, Mojo’s Coffee, closed in October 2018. The Grandview hosted us for a while, which was unassailably generous, but the space wasn’t quite conducive to our scene. Another factor that contributed to this was that many of the musicians who performed at Open Mic moved to Sessions, a new live music and alehouse venue, which hosted performances on the same night just down the street.

Sterling Jacobs organized Open Mic Nyte for the last couple of years. When he read something, anything could happen.
Sterling Jacobs organized Open Mic Nyte for the last couple of years. When he read something, anything could happen.

Sterling Jacobs, a friend for decades, organized the event, and though he has been a poetry rock star, attendance has been faltering. Sterling said in a video that he hopes to keep it going via Facebook, but it’s definitely not the same, not a scene. Besides, my writing is overwhelmingly here at richardbarron.net, not on social media.

We had some great times at Open Mic Nyte, and I feel like I expressed myself well. I always looked forward to it. I met some great people, and reconnected with some old friends.

I hope to find another frequent open microphone event where I can read soon.

Open Mic Nyte often filled Mojo's Coffee, shown here in July 2017.
Open Mic Nyte often filled Mojo’s Coffee, shown here in July 2017.

Manifest of Mary’s 24th Century Weaponry

This is from the Bl@k Bük.  It was written by a long-time friend of mine.

Manifest of Mary’s 24th Century Weaponry

by M7/Rectal Infectant

Personal defense…

  • Mood wand
  • Spider gun
  • The constipater
  • Nut hook
  • Sonic buttplug
  • Dung sabre
  • Point ‘n vomit
  • Vomit box
  • Beavisator
  • Halitosis projector
  • Dangerously infected semen
  • Wash plug in ureter
  • Julio Iglesiator
  • Crystalline toilet paper

Small Meleé…

  • Es carne el diablo
  • Tri-directional fuckstream
  • Ass packet
  • Big rock materializer
  • Neck-mounted howitzer
  • Massive chigger attack vector
  • Rectum? Damn near kill’d em!
  • Anti-nucleic jizz rag device
  • Inner fetus
  • Dohicky dick hickey
  • Insertable calculator
  • Bucket full of assholes
  • Pap smear slip-up

Mass destruction…

  • Magna ream
  • Ad agency
  • Cylinder of death
  • Nerdlinger
  • Television
  • Tater smack
  • Fat blocker
  • Blat focker
  • Quantum hurl trough
  • Democratic National Convention
  • Major League Baseball

Shopping List for American Jee-Hodd

Editor’s note: I read this at Open Mic Nyte recently, and I felt is deserved a wider audience. It was written by a long-time friend of mine in one of the notebooks we share.

Shopping List for My American Jee-Hodd

(In American, it’s pronounced “She Hot!”)

by M7/Virgil Woodpuff

  • Wood putty
  • Barbed wire
  • 1984
  • Blonde-haired American hookers
  • TRS-80
  • Five miles of coaxial cable
  • Velvet pinwheel
  • 1968 Chevy Camaro – CHERRY FUCKIN’ RED
  • Two dozen goat-skin condoms
  • Passed-over cheap Israeli combat boots
  • Inflatable McDonald’s (makes its own sauce)
  • Particle accelerator
  • Song #2
  • Arc of the Convenience Store
  • Post-modern expletives
  • Jesus fish bumper stickers
  • Undefined threats
  • Idol of the Meat God
  • Blankets infected with lust for material posessions
  • ULTIMATE WEAPON = AMERICAN TELEVISION

 

At Right Angles

Editor’s note: I read this at Open Mic Nyte recently, and I felt is deserved a wider audience. It was written by a long-time friend of mine in one of the notebooks we share.

At Right Angles 

by M7/Rectal Infectant

My pet kangaroo gently bounces in front of me – ears atwitch. I lustily attack her brownie and she farts off into the azure distance somewhere. I mount her ghostly afterimage and slobber all over the back of her neck. Her poltergeistly marsupial climax timpanied at the end with a massive kick of her rabbit/clown feet. I double over in grief, semen dripping from my defeated unit like absinth dripping from Lord Byron’s lips (or like the condensation from a rickety mid-August Oklahoma window mounted air conditioner.)

“Fuck you, Kangaroo!” I groan as I fumble through her ghost pouch for the “off” switch. After seeing my hand pass through the insubstantial pet, I settle for the 24th century super- Quaalude I fish out of my vest pocket.

After a bit, I am calmed and there are no kangaroos about – ghostly or otherwise. Yet I still feel the clammy clutch of her chocolate roo vagina. 45º crooked perspective… loamy earth surrounds… tumbling grains of sand.sugar.salt…

Matching her bounce this time, I hold tight to her ridiculous ears as she farts off into the azure else. The supersonic breeze buffets my erection, but I had taken special adhesive precautions the night before.

The ghostly image was left alone in my room to gleelessly masturbate to the Hoover.

The Luxurious Blue Notebook, Part 2

Cry on my shoulder.

This above all: to thine own self be true.

I just want something I can never have.

Fantasies are opiate of the imaginative.

What image best describes self-involved bleak despair?
What image best describes self-involved bleak despair?

Far away.

Then, it was over.

The secret of life, therefore, is this: when faced with the truth, accept it.

Right now I’ve got fear, pain, and boredom. These are good ones, because they can get so real, so sharp, so clear. ~Journal, July 1985

This mortal pain.

I have no choice.

Every feeling you have is really about yourself.

“You’re good company.” ~M

If you can’t stand the headaches, get out of your head.

Who are you? Actually, I already know, so the question becomes: do you know who you are? Is that an imperative?

I strive for order. I yearn for chaos.

I am not the body you see before you, nor am I the soul inside me. I am all the things I’ve said and done, and all the things I failed to say and do.

Revenge can only make us weak.

And why did you leave at all?

Don’t confuse comfort with happiness.

Don’t resist change. It’s the only thing you’ll always have.

And the pain never dims.

“Nuclear war would have a ‘purifying’ effect on the world.” ~Negative Guy

I deserve to be happy.

Confess that I’m weak. The pain of confession. The starvation of weakness.

Do you ever miss me?

Rainbow of darkness.

Your drama is so incomplete, so infantile. Even if it was complete, it’s still drama.

If you believe the second coming of Christ is imminent, why are you saving for your kids’ college?

I leaned my head on the hard wood, closed my eyes and let the music penetrate my most subtle defenses.

The people are a mess, but the dog is straight up.
The people are a mess, but the dog is straight up.

“This is the price you pay for being a superior person.” ~V to my sister

How would I have loved her? I ask as a surrogate for ever loving again.

Time does fly.

I led her by the hand through her apology.

My hello is goodbye.

“Military whiskey of the house.” ~Dream fragment

I shiver to think how I was violated.

“Shadows wash the room.” ~S&G lyric

Stunted sexuality = repressed creativity.

Have the strength to be happy.

Without a basic understanding of beauty, one can never be happy.

I am expected, but not awaited.

I’d rather be disillusioned than live with my illusions.

“Overall, humanity is a community of suffering.” ~The Modehrus

All I see is your face, and I’ll see your face again.

I can write anything I want as long as I unwrite it.
I can write anything I want as long as I unwrite it.

I’m not afraid.

I’m living at the edge of the world.

The music of love doesn’t play in my ears.

We rise to the levels of strength and bravery that our lives demand.

Part of me waits.

Your life is completely different than mine by virtue of seeing your face in the mirror instead of mine.

Instead of I should, I will.

In the midst of rain, I see ghosts.

All’s fear in love and war.

If you don’t understand freedom, you don’t need it.

Love hasn’t served me especially well, but thought always has.

If only you could have known me when this was my room.
If only you could have known me when this was my room.

Walking across a big, dark room in a house you don’t know, are you scared? Sure you are. My life is walking across that room.

How strong am I?

What you are thinking is what you are becoming.

Order is chaos in a tuxedo.

Time can only take you down the road so far, and then there’s a fork.

It’s such a bitter lie.

I you don’t try to drag me down to your level, I promise not to try to drag you up to mine.

This is my confession.

My mind is made up with hospital corners.

Poetry doesn’t come to me. I come to it.

The beauty of enough is that it’s never enough.

I have blurred visions. Blurred by what? The telephone line. Honesty. Your presence. The realness. History. The smell of winter. Ghosts. The sky on fire. Silence.

There’s nothing “brutal” about honesty.

I’ll be remembered by everyone who matters.

I find it too much … me.

Some things you never get over, and love takes even longer than that.

Swimming in an ocean of hurt.

If who you are is pain, then feeling it with all your heart.

My life is a poem about longing.

The once bright arc between us is, tonight, a silence.

Ignorance is abyss.

Addiction is not disease. Addiction is weakness choice. My addiction, my weakness, my impotence.

I am admired, but not desired.

I don’t need anyone when I’m lonely. They don’t help, anyway.

So much pain. So little time.

I’m nobody you want to know.
I’m a nobody you want to know.

The ring of truth is always there to be heard.

I am revealed.

What kind of ego do I have?
What kind of ego do I have?

The Rabbit Hole

Eastern cottontail says, "If you thought Richard wasn't going to have a rabbit picture handy, you need to re-read the chapter."
Eastern cottontail says, “If you thought Richard wasn’t going to have a rabbit picture handy, you need to re-read the chapter.”

Last semester a photography student of mine told me that she visited this site and took a trip “down the rabbit hole,” meaning she got involved and lost in the content. It was very flattering to me to have someone say that. I try to be as entertaining as I can and as poignant as I can. The internet can be unforgiving, particularly when you tell a truth some people don’t want to hear. I appreciate any approbation offered.

Here’s a little history. In 1978, I started a journal for English class in tenth grade. I wrote in full-sized spiral notebooks for 20 years. After that I switched to smaller hardback volumes. In 2007, I started a blogger.com page. Within a year I migrated to my own web site, and have administered it using WordPress since then. That gradually replaced writing in longhand.

Interestingly, I bought a number of hardback blank journals in the early 2000s that remain unused. I have toyed with the notion of giving them away, but we live in a world of such plenteous paper and so little demand that I expect anyone who would take them wouldn’t use them.

That leaves keeping them for either a special project or some kind of handwritten journal reboot, neither of which is likely in the internet age; I am much more comfortable at the keyboard these days than I am with a pen or a pencil.

An Open Mic Nyte buddy of mine, Timothy, calls them his notebooks “codex” books, which is an elegant name for the same thing. Another OMN friend, next door neighbor Jenn, keeps journal notes all the time. Ideas?

There are two empty 8.5x11-inch notebooks and 11 8x5-inch books in this stack. I want to do something with them. Their potential tasks me.
There are two empty 8.5×11-inch notebooks and 11 8×5-inch books in this stack. I want to do something with them. Their potential tasks me.

Open Mic Nyte

Your humble host speaks as the July 2017 guest artist at Open Mic Nyte.
Your humble host speaks as the July 2017 guest artist at Open Mic Nyte.
A singer/guitarist performs for the Open Mic Nyte crowd.
A singer/guitarist performs for the Open Mic Nyte crowd.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the café culture. Artists and Bohemians like Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac seemed to lead lives of densely-layered creativity. For similar reasons, I’ve always been interested in getting together with fellow writers and poets, to share and compare and express. One result of these interests is the formation of various writing groups over the years: in 1980, in 1992, and in 2000.

Open Mic Nyte participants listen as a poet reads a manuscript from 1982.
Open Mic Nyte participants listen as a poet reads a manuscript from 1982.

So when I was recently invited to join a social media group called Open Mic Nyte, I didn’t hesitate, and in June 2017 I attended my first session.

Guest share a laugh at Open Mic Nyte.
Guest share a laugh at Open Mic Nyte.

Though many people recognized me as Richard the news photographer, I told them I was just Richard.

Open Mic Nyte co-founder Sterling Jacobs recites one of his rhymes.
Open Mic Nyte co-founder Sterling Jacobs recites one of his rhymes.

One thing Open Mic Nyte co-founder (along with Steve Brogdon and Lisa M. Pyre) Sterling Jacobs emphasized is vulnerability and its value in situations like this; the willingness to be emotionally vulnerable is indispensable in expressing yourself.

I make a picture in the Open Mic Nyte live stream with event co-founder Steve Brogdon.
I make a picture in the Open Mic Nyte live stream with event co-founder Steve Brogdon.
Open Mic Nyte regular Darice Strickland is shown on my tablet as I broadcast in July 2017.
Open Mic Nyte regular Darice Strickland is shown on my tablet as I broadcast in July 2017.
Rhonda Ragsdale, pen name Lisa M. Pyre, speaks at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017. Ragsdale was the original founder of this event.
Rhonda Ragsdale, pen name Lisa M. Pyre, speaks at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017. Ragsdale was the original founder of this event.
Mackenzie Crosby warms up as she prepares to play her guitar at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017.
Mackenzie Crosby warms up as she prepares to play her guitar at Open Mic Nyte in July 2017.

You can see more images from Open Mic Nyte here (link.)

25 Years

Abby and I just watched Malcolm X, the 1992 Spike Lee Joint. It’s style summoned some very close-to-home memories from that dark year, so I dove into my journal.

The author sits at his desk in his apartment on E. 12th Street in Ada in the early 1990s.
The author sits at his desk in his apartment on E. 12th Street in Ada in the early 1990s.

I like to imagine these notes are like Kafka’s or Camus’, but they sometimes sound like they came from a high school girl.

These pearls only scratch the surface of what it was like for me that year, but it’s a good start…

• Return to me, and return to me what you have taken.

• Have you ever noticed that it’s the strong who think the strong should survive?

• Part of me wants her to be happy, and part of me wants her.

• I can see you in your navy peacoat, white scarf, snow melting on your glasses, under the street light.

• Sarcasm chasm.

• And yet, today, I failed to hold anyone close, tell anyone I love them, laugh, cry, have fun. What the hell am I doing?

• Tears always require imagination.

• It’s funny how the most boring people I know find me among the most boring people they know.

• Those who seem to be hiding something are usually hiding the fact that they have nothing to hide.

• Slow dance and mean it.

• Home is a moment.

• Before I go, I’d like to 1. Be famous 2. Get rich 3. Feed the world 4. Marry. Don’t be ridiculous. Who’s gonna marry me?

• If I leave, there’s no chance anyone will want me to leave.

• I’d rather eat cereal than hallucinate.

• Alone. What a wonderful word. Sometimes it’s all that needs to be said.

• I don’t want what you have. I want what you are.

• Today was made of tears.

• Misheard lyric: “The dummy between your legs.” Actual lyric: “The damage accumulates.”

• I hold myself tight because no one else will. Not even you.

• (An exhaustive list of women I dated or wanted to date, along with their best and worst characteristics.)

• I stand still and time passes through me.

• Love is an acquired taste.

• Slow-dancing with my imagination.

• “I’m really glad,” she said, not knowing how much it meant to me and how happy I was the hear her say it, “that you started coming over on Friday nights.”

• There is no place in heaven or on earth better than in my arms.

• She chants and she cries and she holds this night as sacred as I.

• We rise to the levels of strength and bravery that our lives demand.

• Somehow it means more to have someone observe than I am lonely than it does to merely be lonely.

• Most people are made up of their bad habits and broken dreams.

• How does it feel? It feels like I am in a pressure chamber, and it’s all pressing on me, making me smaller, harder. Sometimes I feel like I will disappear completely. Right now, as I sit hunched and write backhanded and yarn tearfully, I remember than no matter who or where you are, you are not thinking about me.

• Don’t go. Stay. Don’t stray.

• The future is up for grabs, and the past is up for review.

• I looked at myself in the cold, harsh, judgmental light of that damned mirror and saw so much of myself I had to look away.

• Read me like a book. I dare you.

• I can still smell her on me, the smell of perfume and tears.

• Her whole life has left her unprepared for the kind of openness I offer.

• 3:13 am. You awaken mysteriously to the sound of my voice calling your name. You hear in me my need, my gifts, my love, my life. You sit up and look around. All seems as it should.

• I sit by the window and listen as the wind chimes play the loneliest song ever written.

• Her soft voice touches me with its illusion.

• The words loomed large when she said, “I love Richard.” Never mind that the rest of the sentence was, “because he always brings cookies.”

• Maybe I was tired, or maybe it was the music, but I swear I could hardly bear the next moment.

• You keep me alive by needing me in your life. Telling you who I am is who I am.

• And you, whose caring ends the minute you walk out that door…

• Even if you have nothing to hide, don’t hide.

• The opposite of hurt is hope.

• The train to yesterday leaves tomorrow.

• Tonight the windy mist does a disappointing job hiding my tears. Miserable weather.

• When I’m with you, I’m as unlonely as I ever need to be.

• The future is our only choice.

• Bachelorhood: the freedom to joylessly masturbate to the uninspired pornography of my imagination.

• “You’re one of the most obvious people I’ve ever met.” ~M

• “Do they abandon you, or do you drive them away?” ~F

• Peace doesn’t come from what you do, but from who you are.

• If there is a god, I want to look him in the eyes. Is that the idea behind mirrors?

• Message from girlfriend on answering machine: “Meat loaf. Pot roast. Yankee pot roast. English pot roast. T-bone steak cut from the side of a cow. Round steak. Rib eye. Fillet mignon. Fried crab. Oyster on the half shell. Pork ribs. BBQ beef, dripping, glistening with sauce. McDonald’s Big Mac. Ooo, I have a deep voice. Hamburger meat, nice and lean and frying in a pan forever and ever. Chicken noodle soup. Beefy vegetable soup. …uh… (BEEP).”

• “Part of your heart you only use when you’re in love.” ~J

• A single wish: don’t let it end in tears.

• I give because I need to give.

• She cried.

• There have been hours beyond darkness in which I was totally alone.

• Good men make mistakes.

August 15, 1992: My first flying lesson.

• You awaken. The pillow is cool, but for a moment it seems like someone is there with you. It’s me.

• Silence wraps around me like a boa constrictor.

• There is nothing inside my heart that is outside my reach.

• Cool night. Footsteps on the stairs. Clouds witness my tension as I wait for Darla or Lee or the last person I’ll ever see.

• Fire and wind from the sky laugh at my frail heart as I sit in the unwelcome darkness and miss your smile.

• Missing her comes in waves. Soon they will sweep me away.

• Dressed in black, I walk the night, not among the shadows, but as the shadows.

• Sometimes it feels like if you were to cut me open, my anger and pain would flood the world.

• “Swirling toilet of despair.” ~Aria

• I have blurred visions.

• The trouble with sex with M is that you’d have to get along with her for at least a whole day, and I can’t imagine being able to do that.

• The chocolate of truth

• Perspective: use it or lose it.

• If I believed in god, I’d hate him, but my disbelief deprives me of that luxury.

• When the New Order comes, anyone uttering the word “codependent” will spend six months in a reeducation camp.

• “Hello, Richard. I just wanted to tell you that life is a tragic and terrible struggle that is made harder by the fact that as a race, we are all tragically flawed. See you this weekend. Bye.” ~David, on my answering machine

On the morning of December 20, 1992, my flight instructor signed my logbook and got out of the airplane, and I flew solo for the first time. In addition to the first giant step to becoming a pilot, it was a symbolically high moment in my personal life. My 1992 was over.

Leanring to fly, to overcome fear, challenges, and uncertainty, marked a new chapter in my life, a chapter filled with confidence and success.
Leanring to fly, to overcome fear, challenges, and uncertainty, marked a new chapter in my life, a chapter filled with confidence and success.

Passages

Ada head coach for boys basketball Ron Anderson left this for me the other day, as a "thank you" for making so many photos during their season, including the ones in this collage.
Ada head coach for boys basketball Ron Anderson left this for me the other day, as a “thank you” for making so many photos during their season, including the ones in this collage.

As my readers know, my duties as a news photographer include covering area school activities, from the first grueling two-a-day football practices in early August to the proud and nervous graduations in May. Each year I seem to get to know the kids a little better and get a little more involved in their lives.

An nice surprise: an AP/ONE sweepstakes award for images of area flooding last year.
An nice surprise: an AP/ONE sweepstakes award for images of area flooding last year.

The 2015-2016 school year was a particularly involving year for me, and for some reason, as I stood in the Cougar Activity Center last night surrounded by kids I photographed for essentially their whole lives, who were surrounded by their parents, who I essentially photographed their whole lives, I felt an acute sense of loss. I felt it far more than I did at my own high school graduation, and in some very important ways, I get more involved in their lives of the people I cover than I did with the people with whom I went to school.

This school year was complicated by the fact that for much of it, my newspaper had a staff member who made it difficult for us to do our jobs well. Despite this obstacle, I stubbornly continued to document these young lives. That staff member is gone, replaced by a talented and eager person who likes and respects my work.

I thought of that last night at Ada’s graduation, about how I wanted to push my images to the edge, to make them as good as I’ve got, since I knew they’d be appreciated and used well in our publication.

I was also amused by the way the kids at Ada High know me: as I watched them file from the school to the auditorium for last night’s commencement, a number of them waved at me and called me by name.

Lastly, I was truly surprised that in the dark work environment of 2015, I was able to do work good enough to earn an Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives sweepstakes award for coverage of last summer’s flooding. Bonus.

As you can see, all the kids know who I am, and that I might put their pictures in the newspaper.
As you can see, all the kids know who I am, and that I might put their pictures in the newspaper.

Days of Thunder

There are few things as archetypically Oklahoman as small-town tornado damage, and this, from Pickett, Oklahoma, was part of a very memorable day in my life as a photojournalist.
There are few things as archetypically Oklahoman as small-town tornado damage, and this, from Pickett, Oklahoma, was part of a very memorable day in my life as a photojournalist.
This house at 14th and Broadway was just one of the structures damaged in the March 21, 1991 tornado in Ada.
This house at 14th and Broadway was just one of the structures damaged in the March 21, 1991 tornado in Ada.

“A storm is coming
And thunder sends me running
All in a hurry
My heart is wrought with worry
And I know if I’m caught in the fury
Nothing will remain
Nothing will remain…”

~Oklahoma Town by Josh Gabriel presents Winter Kills

All journalists have days that stand out in their memories. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Terrorism. War.

For me here in Ada, Oklahoma, some of those memories are from tornadoes, and one tornado stands out: the storm that became known the “Greater Ader Tornader,” 25 years ago today. It was preceded, ominously, by famed weatherman Gary England canceling his Ada presentation of Those Terrible Twisters so he could monitor the weather situation from his channel 9 base in Oklahoma City.

As part of working a split shift for morning deadline and afternoon baseball, I went home for a nap at around 2 pm. Just before 4:30, Jeff, our current sports editor who was a general assignment reporter then, called and excitedly told me there was a tornado warning and there was a tornado reportedly “on the ground” in Pickett just to our west.

When Jeff told me about the report of a tornado in Pickett, I grabbed my camera and my 180mm lens and stepped out onto my balcony to photograph this wall cloud over northwest Ada.
When Jeff told me about the report of a tornado in Pickett, I grabbed my camera and my 180mm lens and stepped out onto my balcony to photograph this wall cloud over northwest Ada.

I sprung into action, going outside to photograph a wall cloud that was part of the Pickett thunderstorm. Within seconds, I heard raised voices on the scanner and the tornado siren. Another tornado was on the ground in Ada. In fact, I turned my view from the north to the southwest to see an airborne debris field, which Randy (another staff member at my newspaper now) witnessed from a different location and described as, “what looked like circling hawks.”

This is the flying debris Randy and I witnessed from two different locations, just as it flew past my back door.
This is the flying debris Randy and I witnessed from two different locations, just as it flew past my back door.

I ducked back into my apartment and paused for a second in my hall: I was on the second story of a flimsily-built apartment and, in my estimation, could do little about my situation. Fortunately, the funnel cloud passed just half a block to my south, and not actually touching the ground at that point.

As soon as it had passed, I locked my doors and ran to my car, immediately driving down the street to 12th and Mississippi, where the scanner was immediately reporting damage. I discovered the filling station at the end of my block had been significantly damaged.

This is a rough map of the damage near where I lived. The tornado moved from southwest to northeast. As you can see, a combination of lifting and turning spared my home.
This is a rough map of the damage near where I lived. The tornado moved from southwest to northeast. As you can see, a combination of lifting and turning spared my home.
This is the filling station at the end of my block. After the tornado made this damaged, it continued to the college.
This is the filling station at the end of my block. After the tornado made this damaged, it continued to the college.
This is the facade of ECU's New Science Building, which had just been completed and had yet to be occupied when it was damaged.
This is the facade of ECU’s New Science Building, which had just been completed and had yet to be occupied when it was damaged.

I then darted over the East Central University, which was just five blocks from my house. A van was overturned in the parking lot, and the New Science Building, which had yet to open, was damaged as well.

Continuing to follow scanner reports (since it would be six more years before I got my first cell phone), I made my way west on 14th Street to the 100 block, where several houses had been pushed off their foundations.

Continuing to listen to scanner reports and word on the street, I drove out to Pickett, where several houses were down. Finally, as darkness approached, I swung by the National Guard Armory and made my last pictures of the day.

This car was unoccupied when it was flipped over by the tornado that damaged ECU's new Science Building.
This car was unoccupied when it was flipped over by the tornado that damaged ECU’s new Science Building.

These were the first tornados of the season in Oklahoma. There is a decent breakdown of Oklahoma tornadoes in 1991 here.

By dark, Jeff and I had worked our ways back to each other at the National Guard Armory. Then we went back to the office to prepare our news product and move our stuff on the wire to all the papers in the state. It was an exhausting, exciting, amazing day in our lives as journalists.
By dark, Jeff and I had worked our ways back to each other at the National Guard Armory. Then we went back to the office to prepare our news product and move our stuff on the wire to all the papers in the state. It was an exhausting, exciting, amazing day in our lives as journalists.

Dreams for the First Day of Spring

Our redbud tree's blossoms were terrific this year. Redbud is the state tree of Oklahoma.
Our redbud tree’s blossoms were terrific this year. Redbud is the state tree of Oklahoma.

I have been deluged with ultra-vivid dreams lately. It might have something to do with Sierra the Chihuahua, who is restless in our bed lately, waking us up more than a few times at night.

Sierra the Chihuahua tries to look charming on one of Abby's afghans last week.
Sierra the Chihuahua tries to look charming on one of Abby’s afghans last week.

If your think this is you, it is. If not, disregard: even though I will probably never see you again, I dreamed about you last night, particularly about your hands.

These dreams have had vivid tastes and colors in them, and have been particularly complex. In one, I was in a death race to climb stairs in a glass skyscraper, with Old Ben Kenobi on my team, and young Obi Wan Kenobi shooting aluminum arrows at us. In another, I was choosing different colors and flavors of butter.

Tonight was my annual brush pile burning night as well. Abby and I had some pizza, then at dusk I lit the pile. I made a point over the past year to make a taller, tighter pile, so when I burned it tonight, it burned fast and evenly. Over the two hours or so it took, I listened to my iPod and thought about, well, everyone and everything.

The moon and stars shine over my orchard as I burn my brush pile. The night was still and cold, and I felt so happy to be out there.
The moon and stars shine over my orchard as I burn my brush pile. The night was still and cold, and I felt so happy to be out there.

Fire in the Hole

Readers might vaguely recall of a tale I told in the summer of 2011 when I heard a scanner call of a wildfire at our address. I drove home that day with both the purpose of covering it and to see if I might be homeless. What readers don’t know is that five years ago was not the first time it’s happened.

Some of my neighbors from my downtown apartment watch as the Ada Fire Department works to extinguish the blaze at their home. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and they all got to move back in later that fall.
Some of my neighbors from my downtown apartment watch as the Ada Fire Department works to extinguish the blaze at their home. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and they all got to move back in later that fall.

From the time I moved to Ada to the day I got married, I lived in a small apartment in downtown Ada, Oklahoma. It suited my needs, and I particularly liked that I was within walking distance of a grocery store, my bank, the sub shop, a video rental story, and my office. Rent was very low, my landlord liked me, and I became friends with many of my neighbors, none of whom lived there for as long as I did, 16 years.

Many of the people who lived there were college students, since it was close to the University and affordable. I am friends with some of those people on Facebook to this day.

At about 11:55 a.m. on September 2, 1995, I was standing in the newsroom preparing to go home for lunch when I heard fire dispatch on the scanner say, “Apartment fire, 506 east 12th Street.” Hmm. My address. Oh, sh!t! That’s my address!

I drove home as calmly as I could; I’ve always been able to keep fairly calm in crisis situations. Fortunately, that drive is less than two minutes, and I arrived just as the fire department did, to see thick grey smoke belching from the building across the breezeway from my own. Whew.

It turned out that one of my neighbors, a friend, had left a stove burner on and left for work, a mistake any of us could make. Ada Fire got it suppressed quickly, and no one was hurt. Our landlord, SON Properties, repaired the damage within a couple of months, and everyone moved back in.

This is the blaze at my apartment complex in September 1995. You can see my parking space, 12, on the right side of the frame. No one was injured, and the building was repaired and reoccupied in a few months.
This is the blaze at my apartment complex in September 1995. You can see my parking space, 12, on the right side of the frame. No one was injured, and the building was repaired and reoccupied in a few months.

Blue Rope in the Old West

This is the blue material in my dream, though in the dream it seemed like rope.
This is the blue material in my dream, though in the dream it seemed like rope.

Dream: I am in an old west movie with John Wayne as part of a posse of good guys tasked with protecting an insane woman from a posse of bad guys until a marshal can arrive. The movie appears to be set in downtown Ada near my workplace.

Our first task is to place the woman on the roof across the street, then run a very long stretch of blue rope, which at times is a blue garden hose, down the block and back again, believing it will somehow protect the woman.

(In fact, this blue rope/hose is identical to the blue hose I recently bought for my air compressor.)

The two posse groups meet up to confront each other in a parking lot. One of my guys appears to have a number of sidearms on him, so I ask him if I can borrow his solid gold .380. He gives it to me, saying, “It ain’t loaded, so you can go ahead and cock it.” I cock the gun and threaten the men in the bad posse, so they leave.

I tell the kid with all the revolvers that the .380 has come a long way in 120 years, and he should see my modern one. We go to my car where I tell him, “modern .380 approaches the effectiveness of .357,” which I know is not true.

These are .380 auto cartridges, which, while certainly ballistically capable, are decidedly not as powerful as the .357.
These are .380 auto cartridges, which, while certainly ballistically capable, are decidedly not as powerful as the .357.

Partly Partial to Parties

She said, “Let’s have a party.”
She said, “We’ll sing and dance.”
She said to come as you are.
So I came in my pants.

Let’s party. Let’s have a party. The party starts here.

I’ll try to share these in chronological order.

I am with “Skip” at a party at  our friend Jeff’s house in high school. A chubby bleach blonde has locked herself in the bathroom and is crying. The teen drama was thick in the air. I couldn’t wait to leave.

I am at a fraternity rush party at a friend of my mother’s. College guys are standing around with beers in their hands doing nothing. One of them gives me a beer even though I am just 17. One of them says, “They’ll be more fun once they get a few drinks in them.” I couldn’t wait to leave.

I am at a party at friend of a friend’s a few nights before I was departing for college. Nikki, a super-gorgeous tenth grade waif, is fairly drunk, and trying unsuccessfully to throw up. She’s so cute that six guys are fawning over her as she heaves and belches over the toilet. I couldn’t wait to leave.

I am a freshman in college, and for some reason I have followed Jeff to a party at a frat house. It’s dark and loud, and stinks of beer and vomit. Jenny, who I knew from high school yearbook staff, stumbles over to us and says, “I can’t believe you guys are here. People are beginning to talk.” I couldn’t wait to leave.

Over the years I have discovered that almost all parties are really just excuses to behave badly, irrationally, vulgarly. And if I am invited to a party where I know there will be no alcohol served, I know that it will be boring and lifeless.

So what is this, an indictment of society? On the contrary, it is an observation that human behavior benefits not from forced social gatherings, but from organically-occuring intimacy.

Intimacy, by the way, is the goal of any self-actualized person, and avoiding intimacy is the goal of everyone else.

My neighbors and I often gathered around candles at our apartment when I lived in town. About the only planning that went into it was someone knocking on the door and asking, "hey, you wanna hang out?"
My neighbors and I often gathered around candles at our apartment when I lived in town. About the only planning that went into it was someone knocking on the door and asking, “hey, you wanna hang out?”

Max Down the Hole

Dream: I access a manhole cover in our living room, even though I know I am forbidden to do so. As soon as it is open, Max the Chihuahua jumps down inside it. Peering in with a flashlight, I see a narrow opening about ten feet long with Max at the end, looking at me. I begin to cogitate different schemes to rescue him, including hooking a coat hanger through his collar, or using a lasso to haul him up. At no time do I consider calling a plumber because I know the consequences of anyone finding out will be dire.

At that point in the dream I woke up to find Max on the bed next to me. I pulled him over close and told him he was a good boy, very relieved the manhole debacle was just a dream.

For my entire life before I got married, I thought of myself as a cat person, but for more than a decade now, Max and his sister Sierra are two of my very best friends.
For my entire life before I got married, I thought of myself as a cat person, but for more than a decade now, Max and his sister Sierra are two of my very best friends.

Ivy League Scooter

Living a stereoscopic life...
Living a stereoscopic life…

Dream: Robert, Scott and I are professors at an Ivy League university. We live on the expansive fifth floor of the most prestigious dorm on campus.

Thinking that we are moving to another section of the fifth floor, we discover it is a mistake, and we are moving to rough dorm, with lots of smoking, drinking and fighting. We see a boy and a girl fist fighting, and both are covered in blood and bruises.

We are then riding back to the dorm on a red scooter with a trailer. We help a guy who is winching our stuff up to the fifth floor window. He refuses to let us sign up for the military.

I am then riding down Main Street in Stratford, Oklahoma, on the scooter when I stop to get gas and chicken. I see my friend Chesna, who is super filthy from playing softball. She hugs me anyway. She shows me her engagement ring. Coworker Dawn is there also, with multi-colored end wrenches. She too shows me her engagement ring, saying “all they want to do is talk and plan and blah blah! i just want to get married!”

Chesna mentions that the trailer of my scooter has come loose, and I run across the street trying to catch it.

We all have a past, and this one was 101% cool.
We all have a past, and this one was 101% cool.

22 Man Roster

Dream: I am back in college, living in a dorm by myself. The whole thing is very run-down. I hear a festival in the street below. When I walk down to it, I find I am in San Fransisco, and it is an Irish jig festival. At some point during the dancing, people collide and a number of them fall down. I see Kathy (who I dated in the 1980s), and walk over to her to discover she is my wife. We walk for a while, and I break the news to her that I will only allow NFL teams to have 22-man rosters. She seems very upset with this news, so I tell her, “None of this is going to matter,” knowing that I am about to become omnipotent. Then, though I weigh thousands of tons, I float gently into the night sky.

To my thinking, Kathy must be really upset that the Raiders are considering moving back to Los Angeles.
To my thinking, Kathy must be really upset that the Raiders are considering moving back to Los Angeles.