Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Here’s a dream from last night.

I’m in a warren of bookcases, piles of books, audio equipment, records, tapes, etc., in a private archive of words and sounds. I’m busy tidying things. It’s all very orderly, if eccentrically so. A young woman is looking through records disinterestedly. I pull our a heavy plastic record, shaped like a soft-edged triangle, and place it on a turntable. I’m not sure it will play, but I feel confident. The record produces sounds including mouth popping. The woman begins to nod listening. A man nearby begins to imitate the sounds. We all work together, as band mates and archivists.

In one room, I discover a glass case over an owl’s next below. I excitedly tell the others that there are baby owls in the nest. They discourage me from looking at the owls, as they’re covered in fungus. I return to find raccoons roaming around the case, and decide the leave that area alone.

A young man is searching for something specific. He doesn’t require assistance. I move around, rearranging materials to encourage his “serendipitous discovery” of sounds and words I find interesting. A number of others gather to talk and compare notes. I try to reach around them to open my private stash to offer for his perusal. I can’t reach to show him, so I indicate where he can find it.

Some of the recordings seem purely arbitrary but relate to the chance in art, as in Fluxus. I have a lot of material from a Czechoslovakian movement that we listen to in order to perform and keep the form alive. I play one record of words and sounds. One young woman gets up to dance. Two others join her. Their dance is utterly joyful and in tune with nonsense. We’re all very connected. 

I’m alone again, baking for a large group. I mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. I’m confidently playing with the recipe. I go back and forth to a garden for ingredients. There, I have a flower that is of interest to an older military man. I teach him about the flower’s properties. As I do, I play with the petals. Arranged on one side, the flower looks like a spider. On another, like a glove. Around the circumference, like a sun. The man is interested in what I know about the flower but not interested in these games; he’s very no nonsense.

I go back to baking. I realize I don’t have a pie shell. I don’t think I need one. I could make it. But I recall they’re readymade in stores, so I go to look for one. I’m barefoot in the store.    

Friday, January 05, 2018

Body Keeps The Score

As you may know, I’m seeing a therapist. By which I mean, I live with one.  (This joke never gets old, if you ask me. Don’t ask her.)

She recently recommended that I read The Body Keeps theScore: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

The book is satisfying for its historic breadth. Trauma was a subject of interest after World War I, with the experience of “shell-shocked” veterans, but surprisingly understudied until Vietnam veterans presented similar symptoms. Van der  Kolk’s long career dates back to the origins of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses; he and the Trauma Center have been involved in the subsequent history of understanding and treating trauma.

But more importantly, The Body Keeps the Score is written for survivors and those who care for them. Van der Kolk shows how traumatic events actually rewire the workings of our bodies and minds. Trauma can leave one stuck in response modes that may help in surviving an immediate crisis but hinder recovery, moving on and being present, often by instinctual reversion to unhealthy responses.  PTSD may endure from a battlefield, or from natural disasters, accidents, violence, loss, neglect, abuse or other traumatic experiences. This book offers a readable and highly informed approach to identifying, treating and living with the effects of trauma.

The book is readily available. You can also find it as free unabridged audio on YouTube, where you can also find talks by the author. The Trauma Center has resources listed at www.traumacenter.org.