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Dream: 4.7.18

April 7, 2018

I’m somehow an adult near my own age, that is, middle-aged, but I’m also repeating my high school freshman year. For the 3rd time. And it’s not going well.

I’ve apparently been procrastinating all year [in the way of school nightmares everywhere], and now that I’m looking ahead to the last push before the year ends, I’m in a heap of trouble.

I’m talking with someone, telling them how I’ve calculated that, for the next several weeks, I will have to work on my pent-up assignments every day from 8 AM to 9 PM. And finishing in time to be graded will still be cutting it quite closely.


Someone I had hoped to be friends with shows up. She reminds that she’d given me a list of terms for one of her assignments, that I said I would research for her, and now she needs that information back.

That’s when I really panic. Because I know I never did anything — that I’d completely forgotten that I even promised to.

But in my panic, it feels as though if I can find the original piece of paper she gave me, it will somehow prove…. something.

I quickly realize I have no idea where the paper is either. I’m getting evermore frantic, pulling out papers from towering piles — uncovering even more assignments I forgot I still had to do (!), but nothing from her.

She realizes that she will get nothing from me, and graciously excuses herself.

I know I’ve completely blown any chance of impressing her.


Later, I’ve calmed down, and I’m trying to work out the logistics of spending 13 hours a day, every day, on assignments I already didn’t want to do, but now must be done.

I reflect that when I was high school age, I flunked my freshman year, twice. (But somehow was allowed to progress to sophomore year anyway). And now here I am, 40 years later, having to repeat the same crappy year. And I’m gonna fail it again.


Going back to the situation with my would-be friend, I realize that if all my data was indexed, I could find her stuff. I could find anything.

But there are mountains of papers, and books, and data, to be indexed. That would be a truly monumental task, and when would I have time to do it?



In waking life, I did not flunk my high school freshman year, and certainly not twice.

(I did flunk 1 class, an elective, which my parents used as an excuse to wreak havoc on my life.)

Perhaps that is part of the reason that, for 30+ years, my school-nightmare dreams unfold as me having to repeat all 4 years of high school, as an adult (because my parents are insisting), and I’m always failing everything.

In this dream, though, my parents weren’t part of whyever I was retaking the year.


Oh hey, wait a minute. I flunked out of my freshman year of college. Twice. The first time, I was attending most of my classes, at least initially, but I’d signed up for an unmanageable amount of hours (having had no advisors, nor anyone paying attention to me at all), and guess what, I couldn’t magically manage them! So I stopped going to most of them, and just hung out in the college library, looking up random stuff and learning in odd directions. Way more fun.

I was so ignorant I didn’t even know I should’ve dropped some of the classes. I probably could’ve talked to somebody on campus, too, a freshman advisor, or somebody, but… I had no history of an adult actually being interested in helping me with my problems, so it never occurred to me.

So that first semester, by mid-term I really was flunking most of my classes. Then I dropped out.

My second semester, I attended a handful or 2 of class sessions before skipping right to hanging out for hours in the college library. I progressed to driving around OKC, closer than Edmond (where the school was); and finally, sitting at ‘home’ being terrorized by my cousin.

Both times, college was something other people wanted for me — that I had no interest in myself. Going along with what they wanted was not going to gain me anything I wanted, but I had no idea what to do instead.

So I dragged my feet, passively resisting, until I failed their objectives for me.


Is there something in my current life with a similar dynamic?


At college age, if I wasn’t going to continue with school, my parents said I had to join the armed services, or work a fast food job. But I couldn’t do what I wanted, which was noodle around, trying a bunch of jobs until I figured out things that I liked and didn’t like.

I didn’t have any data about myself, and I instinctively knew I would need some before I could generate ideas about anything.

This turns out to be a valid approach, called abductive reasoning, which I stumbled across much later.

After essentially studying myself and my own processes for many years, I now know “having a plan” is not where I start. Instead, I start small, by experimenting with what’s immediately at hand. It generally takes months of experiments, if not years, before I get ideas about how whatever-I’m-doing could progress to a next level.

I think this approach is consistent with self-organization.

Along the way, I may come up with labels for what I think an umbrella overview seems to be, but none of those labels are equivalent to a plan. I don’t naturally generate plans, and I’ve never really figured out how they are generated.


The indexing seemed significant.

I’ve long been considering indexing my daybooks, which I’ve now been keeping for 10+ years.

I’ve also created a spreadsheet with metadata fields for my 200+ poems, but haven’t yet hit on an ideal system for displaying that data.

I’ve long had a remote sensing poster of the Chesapeake Bay on a wall in my studio, along with a map of the Great Lakes. I recently began an information design assemblage on an adjacent blank wall.


I’ve also been reading and thinking a lot, and researching various gaps in my knowledge.


Maybe it’s time to turn from preparing to doing.


Reading List 3 of 2018

March 29, 2018

Covers the period from 3.10.2018 through 3.28.2018


I/we own 2 of these items. I watched 9 items in the cinema/on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/YouTube. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 2 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 7.


{Women of color creators; men of color creators; white women creators}


RESEARCH ~ Art & Design:

  1. Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons, and the Blues by Andrea D. Barnwell {A.A. named herself}
  2. Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses, edited by Emil Her Many Horses
  3. Originals: American Women Artists by Eleanor Munro [1979] {some artists are women of color, but the majority are white}
  4. The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, edited by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee



  1. A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay
  2. Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
  3. Love, Simon, directed by Greg Berlanti
  4. The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro
  5. [Series] The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, created & directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino


2018 Oscar nominated short films:

  1. Dear Basketball, created & narrated by Kobe Bryant, directed by Glen Keane
  2. Garden Party, directed by Théophile Dufresne, et al.
  3. Negative Space, directed by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
  4. Silent Child, directed by Chris Overton



  1. City of Brass by A. Chakraborty
  2. City of Refuge by Starhawk
  3. Company Town by Madeline Ashby {Canadian}
  4. Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal


Living well:

  1. Prosilience: Building Your Resilience for a Turbulent World by Linda L. Hoopes {Mensan}
  2. The Symbolic and the Real, 2nd, by Ira Progoff
  3. The Practice of Process Meditation by Ira Progoff


Reading List 2 of 2018

March 9, 2018

Covers the period from 2.11.2018 through 3.9.2018


I/we own 1 of these items. I watched 6 items in the cinema/on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/YouTube. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 6 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 12.


{Black women creators; Black men creators; (non-Black) women creators}


RESEARCH ~ Art & Design:

  1. Carr, O’Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own by Sharyn Rohlfsen Udall
  2. Identity Unknown: Rediscovering 7 American Women Artists* by Donna Seaman
  3. Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, edited by Eugenie Tsai


* Gertrude Abercrombie, Joan Brown, Loïs Mailou Jones, Ree Morton, Louise Nevelson, Christina Ramberg, Lenore Tawney


RESEARCH ~ Photography:

  1. 50 Portraits by Gregory Heisler
  2. A Female Focus: Great Women Photographers by Margot F. Horwitz
  3. Image Makers, Image Takers by Anne-Celine Jaeger
  4. Personal Vision: Photographs by Adger W. Cowans
  5. Portraits, 2nd edition by Steve McCurry
  6. [Video] Profoto: The Light Albert Watson Shapes




  1. Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler
  2. Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright {only because 3/2 storm knocked out our electricity for 2 days}
  3. Maren Hassinger… Dreaming – Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
  4. The Greatest Showman, directed by Michael Gracey
  5. [TV] 1968: The Story of Olympic Achievement & Cultural Legacy, narrated by Serena Williams



  1. Beetle Boy by Margaret Willey
  2. The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir, translated from Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon
  3. My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg
  4. The Senator’s Children by Nicholas Montemarano



  1. [Presentation] Green Burial in Maryland, by Jane Berkow
  2. Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
  3. Jackie, Janet & Lee by J. Randy Taraborelli
  4. Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process, edited by Joe Fassler
  5. My Ideal Bookshelf, edited by Thessaly La Force, art by Jane Mount
  6. Roadhouse Blues: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Texas R&B by Hugh Gregory
  7. Waveform: 21st Century Essays by Women, edited by Marcia Aldrich


Reading List 1 of 2018

February 9, 2018

Covers the period from 1.20.2018 through 2.9.18


I own 12 of these items. I watched 4 items in the cinema/on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/YouTube/ Vimeo. I read 1 book at the library of the Delaplaine Arts Center in Frederick. Libraries outside of Baltimore County, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 10 items.

{By design, lots of women this period.}



  1. Battle of the Sexes, directed by Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton
  2. Lineas 1, by Marsia Alexander-Clarke
  3. Pasando 4, by Marsia Alexander-Clarke
  4. The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg



  1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  2. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  3. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
  4. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold
  5. The Fox by Sherwood Smith
  6. King’s Shield by Sherwood Smith
  7. Treason’s Shore by Sherwood Smith


Poetry ~ Journals:

  1. Spoon River Review, Winter 2017
  2. Tin House, Issue 74


RESEARCH ~ Photography | Portraiture:

  1. Edouard Boubat {monograph} {in French}
  2. In Real Life: 6 Women Photographers by Leslie Sills
  3. Joyce Tenneson: A Life in Photography, 1968–2008
  4. Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment
  5. On the Body: Photographs by Imogen Cunningham, text by Richard Lorenz
  6. Portraits and Figures: Developing Style in Creative Photography by Terry Hope
  7. Self-Portrait Photography by Natalie Dybisz, aka Miss Aniela
  8. Women Photographers, edited by Constance Sullivan


Art & Design:

  1. Action/Abstraction: Pollock, De Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976, edited by Norman L. Kleeblatt
  2. Cubism by Cynthia Mines
  3. The Encyclopedia of Illustration Techniques by Catherine Slade
  4. Grace Hartigan: A Painter’s World by Robert Saltonstall Mattison
  5. Hungry for Light: The Journal of Ethel Schwabacher, edited by Brenda S. Webster and Judith Emlyn Johnson
  6. Janet Marsh’s Nature Diary by Janet Marsh [1979]



Dream: 2.7.2018

February 7, 2018

I stayed up all night, periodically checking to see if the ice storm had started yet. Went to bed at 5:30 a.m. Woke up in a flurry around 10 a.m. to write down elements of this dream. Back to bed for another 3 hours. Rain all day, but too warm for ice.


Another train & getting lost dream, but with a twist: poop.



Someone had given me a mandate to collect several days’ worth of my own poop, box it up, and then take it somewhere to discard it: bury it, compost it, whatever. Initially I meant to bury or compost it, but as the dream went on, I found myself putting it into 2 small clear plastic bins, and transporting it with me, looking for a place to dump it.

(I had been on a bus, carting around a bunch of stuff, so had put my bins, clearly labelled, on the floor by my feet. Two women sitting behind me saw the labels, and commented loudly about how gross that was. I then covered the bins up, and awkwardly exited.) Whoever was to run across the poop later, I wanted them to know what they were dealing with, but not that it was mine, or could be traced back to me.


I accidentally boarded a train going to an unknown destination. Along the route, I paid attention to station names, but none were familiar. I became aware that a far-away stop was “Heckett Ridge, New Jersey”. At one stop, I left the train to get a snack, but it pulled out before I could get back on.

Then, I wandered around the town I was in, looking for a way to get back on a train going in the same direction, even though I still didn’t know the destination, or even why I would be trying to go there.

A woman I found near the train station, after asking me a bunch of questions about my route, and where I was from, confidently proclaimed, “Oh, you got on at Hunt Valley then”. But when I thought about it later, I was sure I hadn’t. That it had been Warren Rd. or somewhere in Timonium. I was still puzzled how I’d gotten on a train at all, as I certainly hadn’t intended to take a trip that day.

I kept walking, looking for people to ask directions of. I avoided many people that seemed unfriendly or hostile. I did find several individuals and groups that tried to help me, and directed me a bit further on my journey.

One woman told me to ask a group of exuberant friends who were on a boat getting ready to leave on a night cruise. They vouched for me when the boat left unexpectedly. I enjoyed the cruise so much that I sought out the crew so I could in fact buy a ticket and legitimately be there. After hearing how I ended up on their boat, no one told me the price or asked for any money, but the captain gave me a ticket stub, a handful of dollar bills and coins, and (what I determined was) a salmon patty.

I left in some confusion, only then remembering that when I’d packed the poop into the bins, there’d been no bathrooms nearby, so I’d resolved not to touch anything until I could thoroughly wash my hands. But here I was, with a food item. Awkward.


On the cruise, I was conscious of my red camera… somewhere… and my phone camera in my back pocket, but it was too much bother to get either of them out to take pictures, even though I saw many amazing, beautiful sights. I just enjoyed them with my eyes and other senses.

I also became briefly aware that most the luggage I’d originally had with me was gone, and I had no recollection of purposely disposing of it, so either I’d accidentally left it somewhere, or it had been stolen. Somehow, though, I wasn’t bothered in the slightest. Everything was as it should be, and I kept right on, peacefully.

The cruise made a scheduled stop at a place where the passengers could climb a sheer cliff(?). It was very dark, which should have been alarming and dangerous, but instead I found myself charmed by my companions, and the view.


Back on the streets of a town, in daylight, under a complicated series of bridges/overpasses(?), I saw a small stream in a concrete channel {arroyo style?}, with a sign proclaiming, “Here is where you cross the Rio Grande”. I was astonished, as I’d been firmly sure I was somewhere in the US Northeast, so how could any part of the Rio Grande be here with me?


First Notes:

The poop stuff should have been gross, and smelly, and gross. But it wasn’t. I was conscious that anyone else, running across my poop later, should know it was human poop because of germs and whatnot, but I wasn’t worried about germs at all (except for wanting to wash my hands so I could touch things afterwards).

If I had buried or composted it, no other human beings would likely have interacted with it, which may be why I elected to carry it with me, and then dump it where people congregated. This sense of it being a resource of sorts — not letting it “go to waste”.


On the train, I was conscious of “being from Maryland”, even as I was being carried farther and farther away from it. I was curious and interested in this unlikely journey, but I didn’t fret about my identity or whether I had sufficient money with me or how to let someone know where I was.

I didn’t spend time or energy trying to figure out where I was going; I just enjoyed being in the moment, on that train.

When I got off the train, I enjoyed those moments, too, whether walking, or on a river, or climbing a dark cliff. Talking to people, or alone with splendor and my own company.


Salmon patty ~ Salmon of Knowledge?

Rio Grande ~ New Mexico, but also maybe beloved water bodies, which can be as small as a stream.


Next Notes:

I’m carrying less baggage than I used to, and therefore, can enjoy traveling more.

My skills of observation and judgment are good enough for the life I’m leading. They show me snippets others miss. I don’t need to collect ‘proof’ of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen {photos}; sometimes all I want is just to be there.

fish (ocean); river; River. WATER; MOTION; FLOW.

Darkness, not-knowing. {Tethys} Chthonic?



Next next Notes:


“Arriving” at Congruency is rather different than I’d guessed it would/might be like.

Intercalary Reading List

January 18, 2018

Covers the period from 12.28.2017 through 1.17.2018


I/we own 6 of these items. I watched 3 items in the cinema/on Netflix/Amazon/HBO/ YouTube. I read 4 books at the library of the Delaplaine Arts Center in Frederick. Libraries outside of Baltimore County, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 19.



  1. 100 Diagrams that Changed the World by Scott Christianson
  2. 300 Years of Irish Watercolours and Drawings by Patricia A. Butler
  3. Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media by Debora Stewart
  4. The Art of Abstract Painting by Rolina van Vliet
  5. Expressive Flower Painting by Lynn Whipple
  6. Icelandic Art, text by Kristján Eldjárn [1957]
  7. Marc Chagall: Ceramic Masterpieces, edited by Roland Doschka
  8. The New Art of Color: The Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay, edited by Arthur A. Cohen [1978]



  1. Lee Miller: Portraits from a Life by Richard Calvocoressi
  2. Portraits of Earth by Freeman Patterson
  3. The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing by Philippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro
  4. Wynn Bullock: Revelations by Brett Abbott
  5. [Documentary] The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography, directed by Errol Morris


SFF by Sherwood Smith:

  1. Court Duel
  2. Inda
  3. Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith [Change series 1]
  4. Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith [Change series 2]
  5. Rebel by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith [Change series 3]



  1. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
  2. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  3. Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip



  1. Pitch Perfect 3, directed by Trish Sie
  2. The Zookeeper’s Wife, directed by Niki Caro {watched ½}


British royalty:

  1. [TV] The Crown, season 2
  2. Diana: In Pursuit of Love by Andrew Morton
  3. Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith
  4. Royal Feud: The Dark Side of the Love Story of the Century by Michael Thornton


Memoir & Biography:

  1. Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story by Carol Felsenthal
  2. Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones
  3. The Year of Yes by Maria Dahvana Headley



  1. Making Sense of IBS by Brian E. Lacy, Ph.D., M.D.
  2. Writing on the Wall: Social Media — The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage



Dream: 12.31.17

December 31, 2017


  1. The “whole gang” at IDEM (including CJ)
  2. data; working with data
  3. Alabama
  4. CPD
  5. getting fired for “not being a team player”
  6. how could commuting work?
  7. the gang anticipating “pet projects” being assigned
  8. thinking about “second chances” & wondering if it could be worth trying again

In the dream, the “whole gang” was 5 or 6 people I’d worked very closely and well with, and was very fond of. CJ was at the reunion lunch, but I actually spent more time talking to a couple of the guys.

I felt like I had belonged here, and now that I’m not working, I don’t belong anywhere. That (oh so familiar) unmoored feeling.


We were somehow sitting in a room with a bank of data displays, like in a control room. I confided in one of the guys that I missed “working with data, with reams of data”, but then corrected myself, saying (in some confusion) that I now deal with masses of data a lot, just organized differently. (I did not elaborate that no one is asking me for my analysis either.)

Data is often what I think with, what gives rise to my ideas. But now that no one is gathering it up for me, and guiding in which directions I should confine my evaluations… it’s a lot harder to figure out what to do with it. There’s no more certainties.


Alabama is where the Mobile­–Tensaw Delta is located. Some years ago, I planned to drive myself out to the Gulf Coast to experience it for myself.

I got daunted by transportation logistics, and didn’t go.


CPD is the boss I had at IDEM when I still enjoyed working there. He steered plum assignments my way when he could.


In waking life and the dream, CPD left and we got new management.

I never was a team player, but with a good boss, that wasn’t an issue; with the new management, however, it was a big problem. [In waking life, I was miserable and I quit. I was not in danger of getting fired.]

I have been fired, though.

In the dream, I felt sick and ashamed about having been fired, even though I’m not ashamed that I’m not a team player. I longed to somehow “redeem” myself.

I was conscious, though, of having “moved on”. If I were to be offered a position, how could I “commute” across several states? If I telecommuted, the experience would be nothing like seeing everyone in an office every day. I’d still be an outsider.


A male coworker mentioned that management was starting to let people take on “pet projects”. That’s when I really thought I should try applying for something again.



People have a framework for thinking about you, evaluating your “worth”, when you are employed. Now that I’ve been, essentially, retired for 8 years, though, I’m invisible to most ways of gaining recognition. And the alternative paths I’ve tried… haven’t worked either.

Social recognition for (my) competence and innovative ideas has proved elusive.

But when I was working, while I was always valued for being competent and productive, I was almost never valued for being innovative, never mind creative.

I crave being noticed (for good things), but who can I allow myself to be when I’m solitary? When whatever projects I take on are not human-collaborative? When I accept that no one else cares what I do, where, when, how.

Which sets up 2018’s theme.


I’m in a shadowy, grey, misty place, a liminal space, that I’ve been assiduously avoiding for several years, and yet it’s found me anyway.

Who am I when I live for myself?