Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, August 14, 2020

What Dreams May Come ...

Benedict Cumberbatch--the best Hamlet I ever saw
Benedict Cumberbatch as the Melancholy Dane--
the best I ever saw

 

I'm sure a lot of you remember "To be or not to be"--some of you former juniors of mine at Western Reserve Academy had to memorize it for class--and the lines Hamlet utters. He thinks about suicide, then wonders "what dreams may come" when he is dead. The thought of that he says "must give us pause."

Well, I did some pausing today as I reflected on the dreams I had last night. For some reason I've been sleeping more deeply lately--even remembering some details of dreams. I'll not rehearse them all for you, but last night was something typical.

A mixture of places in my life. At Kent State's Satterfield Hall (where Joyce and I met 51 years ago this summer), and some other places I knew so well (but can't remember now). On the same stage. The same set. Why?

People from my life mixed together--as if Hamlet were to wander onto the stage and find Willy Loman there and commence a conversation as if nothing were ... untoward. In one dream last night (I had several that I sort of remember) our teenage son (he's 48 now!) was there, some friends from my own junior high, Joyce--jumbled together in the "story"--as if some author had populated her novel with characters from Moby-Dick, Infinite Jest, Jane Eyre, The Sun Also Rises, Frankenstein, Watership Down, and, okay, Hamlet.

Yet I don't recall (in the dream) thinking that anything was amiss.

I shouldn't be surprised: Our minds are crammed with all the people we've known, all the places we've been, all the things we've done (including, of course, those we desperately wish we could forget).  It shouldn't really surprise us that when we lose control (i.e., when we sleep) all these things and people come out to mingle--to entertain or alarm us. And our minds, at rest, simply accept it. 

Until we wake up and think, Now, that was weird! Or: Whew! Just a dream!

Indeed.

I'm not sure I've ever believed that dreams "mean" more than what they are--the doors to the past swung wide. But I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, so what do I know?

Not much more than Hamlet, who said of death and dreaming:

"Who knows what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil / Must give us pause. ... the undiscover'd country from whose bourn [border/boundary] / No traveler returns ...."

Like Hamlet, I wouldn't mind if all my dreams rehearsed things I've enjoyed, loved, accomplished.

But they don't, do they? At least, mine don't.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

When I Learned a Big Word


Yesterday, on my tear-off word-a-day calendar, antediluvian turned up. It's yet another word  I can remember learning in a specific way--though I might have learned it earlier (I should have!) than 1968 when the popular singer Donovan released that song "Atlantis." In March 1968, you see, I was already a teacher of English (was well into my second year!) and would turn ... twenty-two ... that year. (And I did not meet Joyce until the summer of 1969.)

Donovan (Philips Leitch) was from Scotland and is just two years younger than I (as I type this, we are both still alive). His "Atlantis" was an odd popular song for the day--and it was popular: It reached #7 on the U. S. charts. The song, you see (or remember!) was full of talking. No not rap. Plain old talking, Well, not really "plain." Artful. And written by Donovan himself. (See lyrics at the bottom of this post.)

Donovan - Wikipedia


I remember then, hearing that song many times on the radio, how strange it was: The Beatles, Otis Redding, Cream, The Temptations, The Delfonics--these and many others were popular in 1968. Donovan did not sound like them.


It was long, too--over five minutes (also unusual for the day--though The Beatles would soon transform that, as well.)

As I said, I should have known antediluvian (before the Flood and Noah). My father was an ordained minister as was my grandfather Osborn, as was my uncle Ronald Osborn (he taught at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis--on the campus of Butler University). I even toyed with the idea when I was in college, majoring in religion and philosophy for a couple of terms (then decided I'd rather read novels and poems than dense works by Aristotle, Nietzsche, Locke, et al.--the same reason I eschewed law school even after I was admitted about a third of the way through my teaching career).

Still, I have no memory of antediluvian before Donovan.

Surely, I had heard it? Surely I had "learned" it in the countless Sunday School classes I attended, the endless hours of Vacation Bible School, the conversations among my father, uncle, grandfather?

If so, I don't remember it--at all.

I'd like to say that after 1968 I plopped that word out on the conversation plate when I was talking with my dad or Uncle Ronald  (Grandfather Osborn died in 1965, before "Atlantis"). But I didn't. I'm not sure, even now, that I've ever spoken the word in public. (I have written it in articles.)

Now, of course, I'm starting to feel somewhat antediluvian myself. Every time it rains, for me, it rains no pennies from heaven. Instead, I look to see if some neighbor is gathering lots of wood, if animals are parading, two by two, down my street to his house.

And I also sit here wondering, "Why did Donovan know that word and I didn't?


Lyrics to "Atlantis":

“Atlantis”

Donovan

 

The continent of Atlantis was an island

Which lay before the great flood

In the area we now call the Atlantic Ocean

So great an area of land, that from her western shores

Those beautiful sailors journeyed

To the South and the North Americas with ease

In their ships with painted sails

To the east, Africa was a neighbor

Across a short strait of sea miles

The great Egyptian age is but a remnant of The Atlantian culture

The antediluvian kings colonized the world

All the gods who play in the mythological dramas

In all legends from all lands were from fair Atlantis

Knowing her fate, Atlantis sent out ships to all corners of the Earth

On board were the Twelve

The poet, the physician, the farmer, the scientist

The magician and the other so-called gods of our legends

Though gods they were

And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind

Let us rejoice and let us sing and dance and ring in the new

Hail Atlantis!

 

Way down below the ocean

Where I wanna be, she may be

Way down below the ocean

Where I wanna be, she may be

Way down below the ocean

Where I wanna be, she may be

Way down below the ocean

Where I wanna be, she may be

Way down below the ocean

Where I wanna be, she may be


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The End of a Special Time

 

Yesterday, my bank account showed the final deposit from Kirkus Reviews for the last book review I did. It wasn't much: I'd done only one the past month (as I explained in an earlier post), but I still felt a "twinge" of sorrow and regret. (Some years ago I opted for direct deposit--so no more monthly checks came--but I kind of like the image I "borrowed" from Google.)

As I've said here (see my earlier post on July 4 this year if you want more details),* I began reviewing for them in 1999 when a Hudson friend, Ron Antonucci (who was working at the Hudson Library and Historical Society--and was also reviewing for Kirkus), asked me if I'd be interested. I was.

And now--1563 reviews later, the last check arrived in my bank account.

In ways I am glad the gig's over. I just don't have the energy, the eyesight, the confidence in my body (cursed cancer!) that I did for so many years, and so I'm relieved that I don't have to contact my editor and tell him that I can't complete a review--or that I will have to miss a deadline (which I never did).

Also, there was the building pressure each week as Friday loomed ever near (Friday was the day I filed my reviews, for the most part).

But I miss so much of the rest of it. For Kirkus I read many books that I never otherwise would have read--and, as I've said, I was almost always glad that I had done so. Learned so much. (Too bad I can't remember all of it!)

I've described my routine earlier, so I won't go over that again. Instead, a moment about the identity I've lost by retiring. Yes, for most of my post-teaching life I was that "book-reviewing guy": I reviewed both for Kirkus and the Cleveland Plain Dealer (about once/month for them). Now, I'm just that Old Guy Who's Reading All the Time.

I know: a bit self-absorbed. (Probably more than that! Probably nearing the border of Pathetic.) But as you age, that's what happens. Things do not so much fall apart (though they do do that) as ... go away.

I'm no longer the Teacher, the Play Director, the Essayist (I wrote op-eds for the Plain Dealer for a number of years, too, as part of what they then called their Board of Contributors--again about once/month), the Book Reviewer. If you haven't experienced something like this, it's kind of sad.

I watched it happen to my grandparents, my parents, Joyce's parents. Now it's my turn.

I don't want to sound like Debbie Downer here; it's just something I've been thinking about--and feeling.

There's still so many things I do (besides read books I will never review): I write this blog, I write silly poems for Facebook, I have another blog, Daily Doggerel, which I pollute with ... well, with doggerel. Every now and then I publish direct to Amazon a collection of that "verse." (I'm afraid to remove the quotation marks around "verse"; if you've read some of it, you'll know why!)

So, I can't really complain, can I? No one is guaranteed perpetual Youth and Energy and Health--except, of course, in, oh, Greek Mythology, where things don't always turn out too well--just ask, oh, Tithonus. who asked for eternal life but forgot to include eternal youth!**

* link to July 4 post: http://dawnreader.blogspot.com/2020/07/yesterday-end.html

** link to a summary of the Tithonus story: https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Tithonus/tithonus.html

 And I just discovered that Tennyson has a poem about poor Tithonus:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45389/tithonus


Monday, August 10, 2020

Seidman ... Again

 

Seidman Cancer Center
Beachwood, Ohio

Monday, August 10, 2020; 9:00 a.m.

In a couple of hours, Joyce and I will drive back up to Seidman Cancer Center in Beachwood (for the gajillion-th time), where I will meet with my oncologist, review my recent test scores, talk--and I'll probably get a couple of injections, too.

I've been on a new med, Xtandi, since July 17, and its effects have been quick: My PSA score (Prostate Specific Antigen) dropped from my June measurement of 5.12 (it had begun rising again after a steady fall for a bit) to 0.65. (The PSA score is an indicator of the growth of my cancer.) That's very encouraging.

The other blood work was good, also--a couple of small deviations from the norm, but we'll see what my physician has to say about them.

Less encouraging: My dizziness has grown ever worse since I've begun the Xtandi. On Saturday, Joyce had to help me up the stairs, help me get ready for bed. And this morning I didn't dare walk over to the coffee shop (as is my long, beloved habit): I knew I couldn't make it--not without some visits with the sidewalk, up close and personal. (A new kind of Face Time?)

There is an alternative drug we'll probably talk about today (I forget the name), but it includes some other unpleasant side effects, so we'll see what he recommends. Right now, I have very little time during the day when I can stand up--sitting and lying down are all right, so far.

Today's appointment is for early afternoon, so I may post a follow-up later today--or tomorrow. We'll see.

Monday, 2:51 p.m.

We're back. A fairly easy drive up there--the I-271 project, which has lasted longer than the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, is starting to make sense (though some drivers on the road are manifestly not)--and we arrived a bit early.

We went through the checks: temperature, questions about COVID, etc. Then we sat socially-distanced in a waiting room before they called us back for vitals (weight, BP, etc.)--then some more waiting for my oncologist to arrive (not all that long, really).

He was happy with my numbers--but not happy with my dizziness (join the party!), so we are going to try adjusting the meds to see if there's any effect. (He's also submitting a request for an inner-ear guy.) I felt better, just talking about it with someone who's concerned about it and wants to try some things. I've often received just shrugs before--as if to say, Not my thing ... sorry.

He also wants me to drink more--no, not that way!

So ... I will go off Xtandi for a week--and if there's dizziness-improvement, then he'll adjust the dosage. Today, I also received no Trelstar injection (another suppressant of testosterone--another possible source of the dizziness) and will see how I'm doing in six weeks, when I visit again.

I did get an injection of Xgeva, a bone-strengthening med (my cancer is now in my bones--and Trelstar weakens the bones). Not a bad one--in an area beneath my arm. Can be painful--but this nurse was excellent.

So ... encouraging numbers, discouraging dizziness, encouraging efforts by physician to look for solutions, wonderful ride home with Joyce--and small lunch with Joyce--and hope, hope, hope, which, as Miss Emily wrote, is winged.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Some Things I Don't Understand

 

  • As I was reading this morning, I heard tiny footsteps on the roof above me. This part of the roof has two skylights, and I soon saw the source: a squirrel. Awww ... Except: He was up there far too long, moving back and forth ... has he/she found a way into our attic? I'll have to check later.
  • Why do those who operate the farm market here on our village green allow people to have leashed dogs with them? Not everyone likes dogs; some fear them (I don't--I generally like them). But you couldn't bring your Great Dane with you inside the grocery store?
    • I just typed "Great Dan" before I realized what I'd done.
    • Why did I go ahead and add an -e?
  • Why is it invariably young people who are not wearing masks around here?
  • What can I do about the feral cat that stalks birds in our backyard? People in the neighborhood are feeding it, so I can't adopt it (not that I would in my Frailer Days).
  • Why did our lawn crew skip us this week? Our back yard now looks like the Nebraska prairie.
  • Why am I still buying books? I mean--I could check them out of the library, buy them on Kindle, etc. Or steal them. But I don't ...
  • Why have social media become anti-social media? I joined Facebook to keep in touch with friends and former students--to see their families, hear their stories, envy their food. Now, I must scroll (rapidly!) through hateful posts, some of which, I confess, condemn (viciously) the likes of me (i.e., a Democrat). In recent years, it seems, I've become a Nazi, a libtard, a socialist, a hater of cops, a supporter of street violence--none true.
    • So I don't get into it on social media. What's the point? Minds are made up. I remember my father, a Republican, sticking by Nixon, even as his helicopter whirled away from the White House for the final time.
  • I wish I could just take a pill that would control my incessant dizziness Why isn't there one? There are a lot of pills that cause it; you would think, by now, some chemical/pharmaceutical genius would have come up with something to counteract the problem.
  • I'm terrified for teachers and students this rapidly approaching school year. Were I still teaching, I don't know what I'd do ... take a leave? Quit? I can hardly manage to walk to the coffee shop and back while wearing a mask (puff, puff) ... how will kids and teachers be able to cope? And I have trouble communicating the simplest requests at the shop, the simplest friendly conversation. How could I carry on a discussion about Hamlet? (Why, it would be as confusing as some of the play!)
  • I've not hugged our grandsons--or our son and his wife--since early March.
  • Why are there so many "people" out there whose sole goal in life appears to be to con others out of things? (I put "people" in quotation marks because I'm not sure they are human.) On the phone, on the Internet--they're everywhere. I'm beginning to revise my (libtard) feelings about capital punishment!
  • Why can't we just settle-the-hell down and try to work with one another to make this country a better place for everyone? A safer, more secure, more hopeful place? Why is there so much my-way-or-the-highway in our political differences? Why must we demonize folks?
  • Why ...? Nah, I'm getting depressed. Let's end this before I get more depressed than my own writing of this has just cause me to be!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Time Flies--I Can't ...

 

My dad liked silly jokes. He probably liked the "other kind," too (after all, he grew up on an Oregon farm with many brothers and spent lots of years in the military--on active duty and in the reserves), but he rarely shared such stories with his impressionable young sons.

One of his silly ones was this: "Time flies--I can't--they go too fast." (My own grandsons had to think a minute before they caught on--so don't feel bad if you do, too.) (And, when I was a kid, it took me, oh, about a century to figure it out.)

Anyway, for me the old expression "Time flies" seems pathetic right now--woefully inadequate (to quote a teacher's comment on an essay I wrote in high school). Time, for me, now approaches the speed of light.

Just a few for-instances:

  • Our son just turned 48. When I taught him in eighth grade (1985-86), I turned 41.
  • Our elder grandson begins 10th grade this year.
  • I am only about ten years younger than my father was when he died (he was 86). I thought he was beyond ancient. (I was a puppy then--just 55.)
  • The first seventh graders I taught in Aurora (1966-67) are now eligible for Social Security and Medicare.
  • Enough.
But COVID times, it seems, have accelerated things for me. Today is Friday ... but how can that be? Yesterday was Friday, wasn't it? I mean, wasn't it just yesterday that Joyce and I drove down to Szalay's Farm and Market to buy some corn and other goodies? Are we really going to do that again this evening?

And tomorrow morning I will feed my sourdough starter for my Sunday baking. Didn't I do that just yesterday?

The eight scones I baked last week are almost gone--is it really time to mix-and-bake again?

And didn't I just screw up the courage to get a haircut the other day? No, it was five weeks ago.

Didn't I just visit with my oncologist earlier this week? No, it was more than a month ago.

And weren't Joyce and I married just last Christmas? No, it was fifty-one years ago.

Didn't I ...?

You get it.

I imagine all of this is a factor of aging. I mean, I don't remember feeling this way at all when I was younger--in fact, I thought time dragged. I actually recall sitting in study hall in 7th grade and realizing that I was only halfway through my school years. Tears formed. How could I endure it any longer?

And then it was over--and then college was over--and then grad school was over--and then our son left home to commence his own independent life--and then my teaching career was over--and then my parents were both gone--and then (let's not get into that!).

So I sit here wondering: Is it COVID that's accelerating things? Or is it something more ... insidious?

***

PS: This seems all familiar as I write it--didn't I write on the same topic yesterday? I jut checked: I did write on this topic back in early March--and used a similar title and some of the same illustrations, examples, and Dad's joke!

So it took me just about five months to forget I'd done it. Good sign or not? Let's not discuss it.

Maybe time flies because my memory is flying?