July, 2011 Archives

California Dreaming

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July 27th, 2011

At certain times in my life, dreams play smaller or bigger roles in my everyday. I think they pop up, sometimes, when I’m not necessarily looking for their guidance. But when dreamy things start clustering together, I need to open my head and listen. This latest jag of dream sensitivity began when we were outside […]

At certain times in my life, dreams play smaller or bigger roles in my everyday. I think they pop up, sometimes, when I’m not necessarily looking for their guidance. But when dreamy things start clustering together, I need to open my head and listen.

This latest jag of dream sensitivity began when we were outside of New York City. Staying the night in a high-rise hotel, we were awakened by a 2:30 a.m. fire alarm. Some yahoo had hung their wet clothes from their room’s sprinkler head and when the weight broke it off, water poured out everywhere. An hour and a half later we were all allowed back in and my daughters were greeted with a message from their friend back in Troy.

“Be careful. I dreamed the hotel you’re staying in had an emergency,” he said. Apparently this isn’t an unusual occurrence with this guy. I can’t wait to sit down and hear more about his precognitions.

Earlier this week I was reading an article in one of my favorite magazines, The Sun. It was an interview and they were talking about paying attention to your night time stories, but not necessarily taking them literally. Obviously, soon afterward, I had a very vivid dream with part of it devoted to Marci being angry with me.

I tried to make sense of it on a gut level or figuratively, but nothing really bubbled up making any sense, (and how could it, really? Who could be mad with little ol’ me?). The next day, as my mom, Taylor, our cousin and I jumped out of the van at the airport, Marci asked if we had our passports. Since we were just taking off to California, we didn’t need them. But she got angry and was sure I’d told her at home I had them. I was just going to use my license and Taylor, her school ID.

Had I no dream forewarning me of her anger, I would’ve maybe lashed back. We don’t fight a lot, she and I, thankfully. This outburst on her part could very well be my fault, too, for misunderstanding her earlier at home. I like to blame my forgetfulness on the ever decreasing amount of steroids I’m taking. As my old high school chemistry teacher used to say when one of us didn’t turn in our homework, “any excuse is good in a storm.”

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcTaylorMeredith1.jpgOn the plane out here, Taylor and our cousin Meredith popped another piece into my latest jigsaw dream awareness. Several years back, both of them had the exact same dream. They were up in heaven and each were searching for a multi-colored backpack. There was nothing around them, in each of their dreams, but when they found the pack, they put in on their backs and carried it with them.

Jung or Freud or any modern day hack could probably interpret that dream forever and a day. But both of them having such a specific dream, separately was more intriguing to me.

The way we’re synchronized with each other or how some things happen simultaneously has always blown my mind.  The incredibly mysterious stuff that happens all around us, like dreams coming true, brings such richness and joy to my life. I think it’s partly because I like knowing that there’s so much more out there, maybe even right under our noses.

That comforts me. I like that the universe or God or the natural world is messing with me. I love knowing that we don’t know. A dream glimpse behind the curtain doesn’t reveal Oz trying to pull the wool over our eyes, but instead a profound and exciting bag of infinite possibilities.

It’s still early in the day, but I can’t wait to tumble toward sleep again tonight.

The Write Stuff

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July 19th, 2011

Peter’s birds are sitting over my shoulder. They seem to wonder why an intruder is laptopping in their kitchen and they begin tweeting. Yes, even the parakeets in New York City have Twitter accounts. Trè chic! Ugh, they’ve collectively turned their backs on me; pun-haters. Sophisticated, domesticated birds aside, this quick swing into “the city” […]

Peter’s birds are sitting over my shoulder. They seem to wonder why an intruder is laptopping in their kitchen and they begin tweeting. Yes, even the parakeets in New York City have Twitter accounts. Trè chic!

Ugh, they’ve collectively turned their backs on me; pun-haters.

Sophisticated, domesticated birds aside, this quick swing into “the city” has been remarkable. We’ve been staying with Peter Ross, a photo friend who Marci and I met at the exact same time, way back during our Ann Arbor News days. That newspaper is long gone and the building has turned into a bank now, but our friendship has continued across the decades.

Like us, Peter has re-tooled his photography and one of his coolest endeavors of late was taking pictures of the odds and ends left behind when Beat Generation author William Burroughs passed away. Called simply Burrough’s Stuff, our friend has created a gallery show highlighting some of the normal and crazy things left behind by the writer. Peter doesn’t mock the man with his photographs. He simply points out what remains: a quilt, a panama hat, shoe shine and brushes, books, magazines and my favorite, a pair of shoes with the soles worn through.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcBurroughs.jpg.pngYes, the personal tour of the show hanging in the Conde Nast building was tremendous, but what keeps bubbling up in my conscious is what we all leave behind on earth once we write The End. Will my insane devotion to World’s Softest Socks define me for a generation? Or will that trunk of memories I locked up in 1989 resurface with surprise and shock? Worse, will anyone care?

You can really mess yourself up if you start looking over your shoulder at birds or mortality. I’m guessing if we pay too much attention to the squeaks and squawks of what might be or the maybe-ifs, there’s the potential to do some real violence to the right-nows. Living for the moment is tough if you get too engrossed in the final moment.

Right now I’m enjoying a quiet moment with a cool drink and an even cooler friend. Why should I worry about things many years in the future? Why do I sometimes zip down that turnpike from bouncy-happy to somber-reflective in a matter of moments?

And why, when I sit down to tell about Spiderman and subways, do my fingers hijack the keyboard and start prying open planks in my moldy subterranean self? Those things are down there for a reason, Rodney. Leave them alone for now you fool.

Peter won’t be shooting my socks or opening that trunk for the world to witness. Nor, I’m guessing, will anyone else. So I can drag myself back to the present. There’s fun and lightness to be had. Quoting myself yet again I remember, “There’s a time and a place, for the here and the now.”

Dumb & More Dummer

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July 10th, 2011

There have been times in my life I’ve been stupid. I mean, grand scale, thinking outside of the box dumb. No, I’m not referring to when I couldn’t get my car started early one morning up in Midland so I jumped it with the van, pulled out, closed the garage door and went to work. […]

There have been times in my life I’ve been stupid. I mean, grand scale, thinking outside of the box dumb.

No, I’m not referring to when I couldn’t get my car started early one morning up in Midland so I jumped it with the van, pulled out, closed the garage door and went to work. The scared-out-of-her-wits phone call from my wife a few hours later asking why the van was running in a closed garage still terrifies me.

That was a mistake. Epic yes, but it wasn’t planned. The type of stupidity I’m thinking about involves me making a conscious decision to do dumb.

But boy, both times I did so were insanely fun. Yes, I’ve only been purposefully preposterous twice in my life. If any of you know of other times, shhhhh!

Number one on my list is skeetching. You probably haven’t heard much about skeetching since, oh I don’t know, the 1970s. If you are under 18, please click over to another webpage like cracked.com or catsthatlooklikehitler.com. Okay grownups, to skeetch you need two things; a car and a very snowy road. Uh, you need three things; stupidity, a car and a very snowy road.

The driver of the car, knowingly or unwittingly, drives down said snowy road while the skeetcher grabs onto the bumper and slip-slides away. Kids back in the ridiculous years of the 70s would sometimes even pretend to help a stranded motorist by pushing them out of a snowy patch, then hold tight as the car drove away.

The definition of dumb.

In my case, a group of my friends decided that one very dark and snowy winter’s night was the ideal time to jeopardize our futures. The Pleasant Ridge cops were known for their systematic cruising and once they came by your street, they assuredly wouldn’t be back again for hours. We watched and waited for them to make their pass but that night they never did.

One of us at a time got to be the “responsible” designated driver, while the others held onto the rear of the car and crouched, stood bent over, or even laid down for the duration. Inches of snow separated us from death or road rash. It was hysterical.

Then we got the bright idea to “Indiana Jones it” and try to push all the others off. I remember holding on with one hand, skidding along the street, all the while pushing/pulling and punching my buddies to get them to fall off first. Sometimes we’d even wrap our bodies around each other and let go, thus pulling both parties off to a declared draw.

Morons.

God, but it was fun.

It took another ten years before I signed on to something almost as insane. And this time I brought my wife along for the ride.

In New Hampshire, some friends of friends of friends were thinking about opening a riding stable that catered to more adventurous horse enthusiasts. Would we, they wanted to know, help them experiment? And oh, by the way, it would be at night.

Let’s see; enormous animals, a moonless New Hampshire evening, galloping? Sure, sign us up.

The thought was, horses know the trails they ride day in and month out. Why not take riders along these same trails at night time?

Why not?

There’s not a lot to report. Really. If you’ve ever ridden on Space Mountain you may remember zipping through mostly darkness, whipping this way and that, not knowing when things would end. Imagine doing that except not on a track, or with seat belts, or a mega insurance policy backed by years of precision testing.

Yeah, imagine that. We were trotting along the blind backwoods when suddenly the horses came to the place where they normally run. Giddyup. They took off like shooting stars, streaking through the night, although with far, far less illumination.

And that was our night time horseback ride. Later, the moon rose and it was actually quite beautiful. Our guides circled back to make sure, mostly, that we were all there. And later, we drove home shaken to the very core of our beings with wobbly thighs and saddle sores. Wow, that was awesome.

Those were the two most idiotic things I’ve ever done.

Until now.

Way, way back when I didn’t have to check in with my doctors every week or two, I packed my summer with travel. I was sure everything would go smoothly so I figured why not travel to the wilds of Canada, then down to the slightly less wild North Carolina. I ignored the distance from me, at any given point, to a bone marrow specialist, or a hospital, or even a doctor.

I may as well have migrated to Marrakesh for the reaction I got from my doctors. “What if something goes wrong?” they wanted to know.

“Uh, maple syrup’s good on cuts, eh?”

I think I must’ve batted my eyelashes and made my best puppy dog face because they agreed to my travel, as long as I stopped in for a full exam before, between and after the trips.

I’ll admit, laying in my bed at the very tip of the Bruce Peninsula jutting into Lake Huron, I realized I was hours away from any help if the unforeseeable were to bump in the night. It made me kind of nervous. Not nervous as in dragging from a car or screaming, equine-style, through the night. But I inhaled and exhaled more calmly as the vacation came to an end. Although Canadian health care is awfully darn good and affordable!

I’m heading to North Carolina next and am hoping for snowless roads and horseless paths. No, traveling isn’t stupid, per say. But wandering far from care when my sole job these days is to heal, well, maybe it’s not the brightest decision.

Never mind the quicksand Mr. Livingstone, isn’t the jungle lovely?

I’m bound to do more dumb things in my life. Determined actually. And surely as I hit POST, more idiotic things I’ve done will pop up in my memory, or through reminders from those unfortunate enough to have endured them with me.

And kids, if you’re still reading, don’t try any of this at home.

Back In The Saddle (Again?)

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July 3rd, 2011

“Don’t worry Jeffrey,” I told my buddy while we devoured smokehouse grub at the trendy Royal Oak meat market, “there’s no way I’m going to call you, moaning ‘shoot my wedding for me.’ ” Jeffrey Sauger had shot two previous gigs for me when I was taken out of life’s rodeo because of the now […]

Don’t worry Jeffrey,” I told my buddy while we devoured smokehouse grub at the trendy Royal Oak meat market, “there’s no way I’m going to call you, moaning ‘shoot my wedding for me.’ ”

Jeffrey Sauger had shot two previous gigs for me when I was taken out of life’s rodeo because of the now familiar blah, blah, blah. He and Rob Widdis have come through on either a few week’s or a few day’s notice, depending on how quickly I was tossed from the bucking bronco.

I got bucked alright.

But this time I was staying on my ride. This time I was not going to plant my face in the dirt and watch, ringside from the hospital bed, as another fun wedding slipped past me.

But then all that smokehouse meat I ate caught up to me. Or the organic vegetables. Or that peach that maybe wasn’t quite right. Or maybe it was just another one of those blah, blah, blahs that love to buck with me during recovery.

When I woke up Saturday morning feeling oogy, I was thinking I’d have to go back on my word and call the Jeffrey/Robs to see if they could spring into action, this time with just a few hour’s notice.

But I gutted it out. There was actually an internal struggle, (in more ways than one), pitting me vs. me.

Happily, I won.

Our family friends, the Greens, were having a hoedown reception in their backyard — contrasting the formal wedding — of their son Jimmy to their new daughter-in-law Becca. The young couple love animals as much as Jimmy’s family and I happily was lassoed in to shoot the roundup.

There were miniature cows, tiny goats, ducks, chickens, dogs, a pig (but it was called “dinner”), and lots of humans. And you have to believe me when I say none of them were only there for the special day, except for the pig, (and some of the humans). Their house and land is the coolest in all of Troy; they didn’t even use their barn because it was far too hot on the high 90 degree Saturday. Suburban cowboys.

The day was made even more special by the addition of my ranch hand daughter, Taylor. At 15, she was the last remaining member of the family who hadn’t earned some coin helping out at weddings. Since Abby Green is “her besty,” she was glad to be my photo assistant. The first thing we heard when we walked into the bridal room where everyone was busy getting ready was a loud, “TAYLOR!”

She thought she was in trouble, but no, one of the Green kids needed her hair re-done. I checked back in later to find Taylor doing another sister’s toenails. “Tay, honey, I need you take pictures too,” I said.

In lieu of an answer, she flicked the camera’s preview button to show me what she’d shot already. “That’s pretty darn good, girl!”

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcsaugshooter.jpgShe went back to painting nails.

Seriously, she had several shots already that I wished I’d taken. She went on to have a whole herd of really nice photos. And having her there to cover for me, when the heat got to be too much, was critical.

Don’t worry Jeffrey and Rob if you’re reading this, you won’t get stampeded by a teen girl.

Yet.

No, all kidding aside, it’s tremendous to know there are great people all around me who have my back before, during and after weddings. But mostly in life.

This ain’t my first rodeo. Thankfully, it ain’t my last.