Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dreams. Show all posts

07 December 2017

The Mirage

by Eve Fisher

Image result for desert highway
He was walking out on the desert, sand-whipped and alone
Shuffling on feet that felt in the heat like they had turned into stone.

Behind him in the distance, a dust cloud and a big foreign car,
shimmering brighter and brighter in the heat rising up from the tar.

The roar chewed up the silence.  The man stopped and turned around.
He raised his hand, hesitating, his head aching from the sound.

The roar slid towards silence; the car purred like a cat in the road.
The woman waiting at the wheel stared at the lines in the road.

She asked, "Where are you going?"  He said, "Nowhere I haven't been."
The heat was hissing around them; she said, "You might as well get in."

The woman drove like a demon, she never once turned her head
Toward the man sitting beside her; he might as well have been dead.

The desert stretched out around them, it lay everywhere that he turned.
It had calmed and cleaned his body, but his soul felt terribly burned.

He finally asked, "Where ya going?" She looked at him through her hair.
"Sort of the same as you I guess, just sort of going nowhere."

"Lady you picked the right place; if this ain't nowhere, nothing is.
I've been out here a week or more, so I know how empty it is."

Image result for desert highwayThey gave each other a quick glance.  Then he stared at the clouds in the west.
After a while she asked him if he'd come out on some spiritual quest.

He laughed so hard she was wincing, then he answered her mockingly,
"Yeah, I thought if I got sunburned enough, I'd get high naturally."

His eyes were as harsh as his laughter; their look was like a blow from a fist,
Curving around her hips and breasts, then settling down at her wrists…

His eyes fixed on the carved crosses; he drummed his hands on the seat.
"Maybe this is what I came here for, to see what I would meet."

"Don't think that it matters," she said.  "There's nobody's keeping score.
We start running early and keep running late until we run right out the door."

"Still," as she glanced towards him, "there's times when life's pretty sweet."
She stopped the car and said with a nod, "There's a bottle in the back seat."

They sipped the sweet tequila.  They chased it with warm foamy beer.
They drank until the silence was the only thing they could hear.

The liquor was gone so he kissed her.  Her face seemed to swell in his hands.
Her hair smelled like cactus and liquor and hay and he seemed to taste every strand.

The heat was melting their bodies.  They were burning up from the sun.
They were burning inside and burning outside and burning after they'd done.

They reached Cochise by sunset and her car was about out of gas.
"This is where I get off," he said.  "It's been real."  She agreed, "Yes it has."

He saw her again through the window in the cafe by the garage.
She was almost at the horizon when she walked into the mirage.

— Eve Fisher © 2017

Wikipedia - Farallons Islands Mirage

21 June 2016

Sweet Dreams and Armpits

by Melissa Yi, M.D.

A is for…


I'll start off with the second part of the title first.
When I get a trauma case, my priorities are ABC, or C-ABC

C-spine (some experts put this first, so we don't forget to immobilize the cervical spine)

Airway: is the patient talking? Bleeding? Suffering from a burn that will close off the airway?

Breathing: now check the lungs and chest. Look at the respiratory rate and oxygenation.

Circulation: is s/he bleeding anywhere? How are the blood pressure and heart rate?

D is for disability, which means a neurological exam. Pupils, reflexes, and strength if the patient will cooperate.

Dr. Scott Weingart, an emergency physician intensivist based in New York, emphasizes E for Exposure in penetrating trauma. You need to find the entry and exit points so the patient doesn’t bleed out from a bullet wound in the back while you’re messing around with a chest tube in the front.

So even before establishing airway, if the patient is maintaining an airway and has no blunt injuries, Dr. Weingart inspects “every square centimetre” of the patient’s skin, including the axillae, the back, the gluteal folds and the perineum, including lifting up the scrotum in a male patient. A much catchier mnemonic, proposed by Dr. Robert Orman, an emergency physician in Portland, Oregon, is: “armpits, back, butt cheeks and sack.”

With thanks to Leigh Lundin for pointing out that I had forgotten to post, and to the Medical Post for originally printing this clinical pearl.

Sweet Dreams

And now for a happy dance: one of my writing dreams has come true. When I looked at Rob Lopresti's column, I recognized the Forensics book cover by Val McDermid.

Why? Because it was chosen as one of CBC's best crime books of the season--along with my own Stockholm Syndrome.

Kris Rusch has said that you should make sure you set writing goals, which are within your control, as well as dreams, which are pies in the sky.

Well, I've been wanting to get on CBC's The Next Chapter for years. So I updated my list of writing dreams and goals here.

Goal: unlocked!

Of course, I have approximately 2 million other unrealized goals, but it's a start. How about you? What are your writing goals and dreams?

Signing out so I can get some sleep before my ER shift tomorrow. I hope I won't need to use my C-ABCDE mnemonic, but you never know what'll happen.

Peace.

06 April 2016

Hearing Bells

by Robert Lopresti

There is probably not much point to this piece except some information about how the mind of a writer works as compared to that of, say, a normal person.  But here goes.

A while back I had a dream in which a crime was committed.  What the crime was, I do not recall, but a detective was called in. I don't know if he was supposed to be a cop, a P.I. or an amateur sleuth, but he dressed - and spoke - like a British gentleman from the 1920s.

And the wealthy owner of the house obviously knew him.  "Thank heavens you've come!"

The detective was cheerfully casual.  "Oh, you know me.  Any bell is the captain's!"

At which point I woke up.  Then I grabbed for the pen and notebook which - like many authors - I keep next to my bed for just such an emergency.  I wrote down: Any bell is the captain's?

I should explain that based on the tone my detective used, this was clearly an old saying or catchphrase.  The sort of quotation you don't bother to put in quotation marks, because everyone knows it's a quote.  All's well that ends well.  You can't win them all.  Any bell is the captain's!

Of course I went to the web and searched for the phrase.  No luck.  I asked friends about it without explaining why.  One thought it was from old sea movies.  Maybe so, but I can't find any evidence to that effect.

So I told some people the context (if I can use such a word for that dream scrap).  We wound up with two possible meanings.

* Because of my rank I can pick any assignment I want.  The captain answers any bell he chooses. 

* I treat every request as the highest priority.  I answer every call as if it is from the captain.

Which are nicely contradictory, aren't they?  Perhaps some night I will return to that dream and ask the smug twit what the hell he was talking about.  In the mean time don't be surprised if that phrase shows up in one of my stories.  And sweet dreams.
 


29 October 2014

Seventeen minutes

by Robert Lopresti

A few nights ago I was having a typically pointless dream -- something about listening to the Star Spangled Banner at a golf tournament, if you must know -- when suddenly things shifted and I had a story idea.  I mean I dreamed I had one, but also I really did.  And then the alarm went off.

I'm sure you have had the experience of percolating a brilliant idea in your sleep, only to see it vanish when you wake.  You may have also had that experience's more humbling twin: remembering the dazzling insight and realizing it was nothing of the kind.  One night in college I scrambled for a notebook at 3 AM and write down my lightbulb flash.  In the morning I found that notebook page and read, quote:

           A warehouse.

So far, I have not found a way to monetize that flash of genius.

But getting back to my recent experience, when the alarm went off I was still in possession of the story idea, and, to repeat, it really was a story idea.  Which meant that the clock was ticking.

My memory is that R. Buckminster Fuller said: From the moment you have an idea you have seventeen minutes to do something with it.  If not, you lose it. I can't find those words on the Internet, so maybe I have it garbled, but I find it good advice anyway.

Write it down.  Hum it.  Tie a string around your finger.  Do something physical to get that elusive thought into a second part of your brain.  Seventeen minutes.  The clock is ticking.

My father, by the way, had his own way of dealing with this.  When he was at work and needed to remember something he would tear off a sliver of paper and put it in his shirt pocket.  When he got home he would find the scrap and remember why he had put it there.  I know that if I tried that I wouldn't even remember that there had been a reason.  "What the hell is this here for?" I would say before carefully dropping the reminder into the recycling bin.

And speaking of remembering things, we were talking about my recent morning.  It would have been great if I could have turned on a light and written down my idea immediately, but my wife, long-suffering as she, would not have been pleased to have her last half-hour of sleep interrupted.  Besides, my audience was waiting for me.


You see, we have cats.  Six thousand of them.

All right, really there are just four.  I like to say that we have two pet cats and each of them has one pet cat.  Share the guilt.

But my first duty when I stagger out of bed is to fill two water bowls, one dry food bowl, and three wet food plates, scattered on two floors.

All the time I was opening cans and bags I was trying to keep my story idea front and center in my skull (fortunately feeding the beasts doesn't require a lot of intellectual activity).


When all the critters were temporarily sated I was at last able to sit down with a pen and notebook and write down what i had: the title, the premise and the last sentence.  Now all I need to do is grow a plot around those three points.  It may happen; it may not.  But by God, I didn't lose this one. 

Have any stories about saving/losing ideas, especially in the early hours?  Put 'em in the comments.

Oh, from top to bottom: Jaffa with friend, Blackie, Chloe, and Charlie.


12 May 2012

Dream On


by John M. Floyd




I'll be out of town most of today, at a booksigning about a hundred miles south of our home.  But let me clarify that.  If you're picturing a fancy setting with banners and media coverage and screaming fans lined up out the door and around the corner, I'm afraid that ain't the case.  This is a regular, no-frills Saturday event at a chain bookstore, where my signing table will probably be about the size of a bicycle wheel and nobody will know who I am and some of the customers might be looking more for greeting cards and Hunger Games T-shirts than for reading material.  The only familiar faces I'll probably see are those of the general manager and a couple of his employees.

Sailing the salesman ship

Actually, the GM and his staff might be the only people I see, period.  One never knows.  (Erma Bombeck said she once had a booksigning where, in the course of the day, only two people stopped at her signing table: one guy asked for directions to the restroom and the other asked her how much she wanted for the table.)  But so far this year I've been pretty lucky, in terms of crowds and sales and foot-traffic.  The events are always fun, the folks who work at the stores are consistently friendly and accommodating to visiting authors, and I get to meet some really interesting people, many of whom, thank God, buy a book or two.  I and my publisher will be forever grateful to these store managers and their regional bosses for allowing me to come as often as I do.


Occasionally I even meet a "fan," although I try not to let that go to my head.  Anytime I start to feel the least bit cocky, fanwise or famewise, something always happens that reminds me of my insignificance. True story: a guy rushed up to me at a signing awhile back, said he was so excited to finally meet me, and added, "I've read every one of your books, Mr. Grisham."  I almost hated to reveal my true identity, and when I did he wasn't too pleased about it either.  He slunk away looking as if I had just foreclosed on his home and shot his dog.  The sad truth is, the only things JG and I have in common is our home state and our first name.  My books aren't even novels; they're collections of short mystery stories.

The view from the cheap seats 

Even though I am but a tadpole in the ocean, I can't help feeling incredibly fortunate.  I'm not a famous writer and never will be (I'm not even sure I want to be), but I thank my lucky stars that I'm in a position to do every day what I love to do and that I've been able to achieve some small level of success at it.  How many people can make that claim?  And now and then--not often, of course, but now and then--someone e-mails me or phones me or sees me at a signing or a conference or our local Wendy's and tells me he or she enjoys my stories. That's a heartwarming thing for any writer to hear.

Besides, I just love the writing process.  It's therapy, it's fun, and--let's face it--it's a pleasant distraction from that real world where unpleasant things so often happen.  Unpleasant things happen in my stories too, but that's okay--those are things that I make up, and I can deal with them in ways that I also make up.  Spinning tales is not only puzzle solving (which I love as well), it's the ultimate power trip.  In my little fictional world, I'm the emperor.  I can make these people do anything I want them to do, anytime I want them to do it.  Where else does that happen?

I heard or read someplace that it is the height of arrogance to assume that anyone would ever actually want to read the things that we dream up and put on paper.  Whoever said that was probably right.  But the fact is, when someone does tell me he likes what I've created--whether it's an editor or a reader--that kind of validation makes me feel anything but arrogant.  It makes me feel grateful, relieved, and humbled.  And, at the risk of repeating myself, unbelievably lucky to be doing something that's this much fun.

Social insecurity

If writers are really as confident as most readers think we are, why is praise of almost any kind so good to hear?  Well, it's because we're not as confident as most readers think we are.  Almost all the writers I know, whether successful or aspiring, struggle with self-doubt.  Most of them tell me that when they finish writing a story or a novel, they wonder quite seriously whether they'll ever be able to come up with another one--or at least another one that anybody would want to read.  We've all heard the adage about only being as good as your latest effort.  Because of that, we writers like to be--and need to be--patted on the head regularly and reassured that all is well.


I once heard bestselling mystery author Steve Hamilton (a great guy as well as a great writer) describe the way he felt when, early in his career, he took the stage to receive a prestigious award--the Edgar, I think it was, for his novel A Cold Day in Paradise.  He said he walked up in front of the huge crowd, looked out at the vast sea of faces, and thought: What are all you people doing in my dream?

I like that.  I can relate to that.  Fiction writers not only create dreams, they sometimes walk around inside them as well.

But I do know I'm not John Grisham.




BY THE WAY . . . tomorrow is Mother's Day.  Don't forget to set your mothers back one hour.