Dream About Boston

Last night I dreamed I was living in an old house in Boston. In addition to my cat I also had an adorable African bat-eared fox as a pet who curled up in a fluffy ball and purred when I petted him (yes, foxes do purr).

But this pleasant dream took a weird turn. I went into one particular room, a small parlor with a door opening out to a narrow cobblestone street. It had the sort of modern modifications you would expect, a bricked-up fireplace, white paint replacing the once rich colors of times past, and the hardwood floor had been completely redone. But I instantly recognized it as a room I had known in another life in the late 18th Century and it filled me with panic. There were other people in the room, asking if I was alright and of course I was playing off the eerie feelings with the usual “yeah, I’m fine,” etc.

I find it strange to have such a vivid dream about this. First of all I haven’t had a dream related to past lives in quite a while. Second I have serious doubts about the 18th Century Boston life as the narrative I thought my memories represented fell apart with research.

I don’t know. It was strange enough to warrant logging here I suppose.

Checking In

Just checking in though not much to report. The security job is going well. I have almost $2000 saved. After another year or two I might have enough saved for a down payment on a house.

As for past lives I’m in a doubting trough. It feels far away, which is good in a way because I feel like I have a “normal life.” Full time at the plant, a decent used car and my husband and cat to come home to. I don’t need much else.

Still haven’t published my fifth novel and my expectations for it have diminished quite a bit. I tried to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear and all I got was a purse that smells like pork. I am currently trying to salvage what I can of it though I won’t lie, it feels like an ungainly mess and I am completely out of love with the project. This was supposed to be the book born of my experiences in 2011-2013 but it’s hokey and boring and I’m almost embarrassed to publish it now.


This past month was the coldest September in Oregon in 71 years.

The weather is reminding me of autumns long ago. My thoughts have turned to Jack’s life again, and with it the urge to travel again to places he loved, fought, lived, and died in.

I am employed full-time now and recovered from the worst of the breakdown that led to these memories breaking in the first place, but I don’t know how much I can save. $25k a year doesn’t buy you much these days. A shared apartment, some new clothes, slightly better food, and enough cash to pay for vet bills or emergency car repairs. Luxuries like travel to Europe seems like a distant goal. But maybe I can convince family to help me now that I no longer need their help to keep a roof over my head. My father was at least sympathetic to the idea of going though as a military history buff he’s wanted to go to Flanders for a while now anyway.

Meanwhile, as I guard construction yards on lonely posts from dusk to dawn, the cold is beginning to haunt me and the ghosts of the past feel closer now than they have in many long months.

Confession Time

Part of why I have renounced my claim for having been Philip K. Dick is because I got disgusted with a large portion of his fanbase. Some of them definitely got it, that the Empire is “might makes right” and the spirit of “might makes right” is at the heart of what the serpent of right-wing politics stands for. Others defintiely didn’t get it, and were projecting views that ranged from stale enlightenment absolutist understandings of the gnostic subtexts of his work to outright cheering for the abusive practices of ICE, the disenfranchisement of minorities, and the spread of racism in the form of a false gnosis. A dark, Himmleresque shadow has been projected over his gnosis and I felt gross claiming to have been him. I met a few cool people but the ones deep into toxic far right politics eventually took over the discussion, and some of them had been closer to Phil than I’m comfortable discussing.

It’s pushed me away from gnosticism too. I had begun to feel like my involvement in the gnostic church was just a distraction from facing the fact that we live in a bleak world. They were always so uninvolved in politics that nobody thought it necessary to have a serious discussion about what we’d do if we were approached by someone seeking sanctuary. Shouldn’t every church at least know where they stand on THAT in a society that’s gone haywire!? And moreover it never once entered into the discourse how we would reckon for a very unhappy history with racism in the 20th century gnostic revival. We just didn’t talk about it.

At any rate, I’m not thrilled with how human frailty and stupidity have failed utterly to make a useful system of values out of anything mystical. I’m burned out with it. I don’t want to be associated with a mystic or be thought of as a mystic myself because I don’t see any good coming of it. Lofty ideas don’t save the world; organizing and cooperating with others in your community does.

The Birch Groves

Lately I’ve had my mind on a place that I don’t know if it ever existed. Actually it’s been with me for a while, and when I fell hard for a Russophile last year it came more to the fore. I must have mentioned it on this blog before though.

It’s a place somewhere in central Asia, perhaps Russia and perhaps elsewhere. It’s a particular biome of wide, flat grasslands between mountains and crisscrossed by narrow, slow-moving streams that are incised into the land with very little in the way of a bank. Along these streams, burned into my thoughts in vivid detail, are groves of birch trees that harbor all manner of plant and animal life.

The plant where I work has a landscape not unlike that… or it would have, if it hadn’t been paved, landscaped, and developed to hell. Now only a single creek with a few birch trees remains and they’ve cut down a good many of the birches recently. But generally all around the area west of Beaverton there are many ponds and creeks where birch trees cluster and it tugs at my heart to see the creeping spread of murdered nature.

It brings to mind images of living in such a place perhaps 11,000 years ago or more, seeing the desert gradually devouring the grass, drying the streams, and killing the plants. Everything dying within the course of a few months. A drought so catastrophic to the hunter-gatherer inhabitants that they’re forever traumatized. It carries with it an archetype almost like that of Adam and Eve driven from Eden. Perhaps that’s exactly what the story was, a half-remembered recollection of a gentle land beyond the Caucasus that was swallowed up by desert, retold by the children of migrants who fled into the Fertile Crescent until that collective memory became the very fall of humanity.

I don’t know if this is a past life or not. I’m inclined to think it’s not simply because I’ve tried not to trouble myself with the notion of past lives lately. But the other night I stood in the doorway of my guard shack, gazing at the waning moon while listening to Borodin’s “In The Steppes of Central Asia” and shedding a tear as I thought of those birch groves, as I thought of the murdered nature all around me now buried under asphalt and gravel. I long for those birch groves, if they ever existed elsewhere but my own romantic notions. I long for that subarctic eden in a faraway land. And if I can’t have it there, I hope one day I find some place in North America that looks halfway similar where I can learn to live in harmony with the land. I’m getting so weary of city life.

Where Is She Now?

Just checking in to say I’m alive and well and, for the first time in a very long while, working again.

I’m doing a security contract on graveyard shift for a rather well-known company based in the Portland area. It’s a cushy post and the pay is enough to live on (for now). I’m in training now and begin my post on Friday.

Best of all, the job will (in all likelihood) give me a chance to catch up on years worth of reading I promised myself and to work on my writing. I will be alone in a booth, all night, and not allowed to use electronic devices so a pen, paper, and books will be my constant companions.

I also want to say that I’ve sensed the Archangel Michael active in my life. A few weeks ago, in desperation, I prayed to St. Michael after a long time of not praying.

I found out after I got my job that St. Michael is the patron of security guards (among other related professions). My prayer, it would seem, was answered.

My lost years seem increasingly remote as my fortunes improve. And who knows, maybe by next year I’ll have saved enough to finally go to Houplines and pay my respects to Jack.

An Epilogue?

I’m turning 35 in a few days. It won’t be many long seasons until I’m 38, which was all the time Jack Harris had on earth. I’m starting to think about my future more, trying to focus more on projects that will advance me in the world. My I Ching readings have been auspicious and so far the oracle has been trustworthy.

A short story based in small part on what I thought to be Jack’s memories of the Armentieres sector in the summer of 1915 (a few weeks prior to his death) has been published.

I earned no money from this, and I have made no claims promoting the work as anything but a work of fiction. But a fraction of those memories will live on in print now, even if few copies of the anthology it’s in are likely to be sold.

It’s also a spinoff of a very ambitious novel I’m still waiting to hear about months later. I confirmed with the publisher that it’s still in the slush pile awaiting review. That novel has elements of Count William’s story in it as well, and of my experiences in 2012-2013. Again, it’s being treated as a work of fiction with no outrageous claims made about its origins.

I’ve been doing well on some medication I was given initially for pain. It’s called gabapentin, a naturally-occurring brain chemical that I seem to have lacked. It’s made me much calmer and more stable without ruining my ability to write, so I’ve been going back through a backlog of old short stories and rewriting them. I may try to publish a single author anthology next year, we’ll see. Most of these stories have never actually seen a print edition and I feel my work will be incomplete without a polished, published edition of these stories to form the definitive version.

I still have some trauma to deal with, but it’s all stuff from the last 35 years thankfully. I’m going to begin intensive outpatient therapy for that soon to hopefully get back into the workforce. I have a good lead on a security job and two good references with the company I’m applying to. I’ve had to quit weed and may quit for good but that’s not a bad thing. If I can get and keep a good job there is a chance my father might co-sign for me to get a trailer. It’s a far cry from the charming Georgian cottage of my dreams but at least it will be mine, and I won’t have to worry about landlords any more.

I’m starting to feel a bit of tender feeling creeping back in as I get less scared and more prepared to handle life. Maybe I’ll go back into the church. We’ll see. Right now I’m still dealing with awkward feelings about Christianity and religion in general. When I see people I care about complaining about how Christians treat them it’s not really helpful to butt in with a “not all Christians” take even if I find the theology that hurt them abhorrent and contrary to the spirit of the law. It’s really impossible to defend something so dominated by hateful, hurtful people and I feel apologetics fall flat in light of what people’s lived experiences have been.

I’m also tangling with Marxist dialectics now, trying the idea, testing it, and it seems diametrically opposed to the metaphysics of things I once believed yet at the same time, the logic of dialectical materialism is hard to dismiss. Most of the critiques I’ve seen have been superficial at best. Admittedly I’m grappling with some rather extreme views of my own and I wonder if I’m not a Marxist-Leninist deep down. I do wonder if I would feel different about Marxism-Leninism if I lived in a liberal social democracy rather than a laissez-faire dystopia but it’s impossible to say. What I can say is I will not call myself a Christian if I embrace Marxism-Leninism as they are mutually exclusive. It’s a bit stressful, grappling over my personal beliefs like this, but no matter which way I look it’s clear that the world as it stands can’t be sustained. Something has to give.

Maybe this is simply a turn of seasons. The Word does say that there’s a time to every purpose under Heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Perhaps I’m focused on the material because it’s the season to tend to material needs. I hope I will find some shred of prosperity, from whatever’s left for working class stiffs like me. If I can do even half as well as my parents did at my age I will be satisfied. If I survive to age 40, even moreso.