Recurring Dreams

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As someone who works as a sleep technologist, I am often asked about dreams. Why do we dream? Can dreams really tell the future? What do dreams mean? The list of questions I get asked about dreams is a long one. There are many schools of thought about dreams. Take a psychology class and just the thoughts of famous psychologists alone could fill a book! The most common question I get asked about dreams is in regards to recurring dreams. “Do you ever have recurring dreams?” Yes. Yes, I do. “Why do we have those?” I have no idea. I wish I did.

I’ve never been one to put too much faith into “dream interpretation.” To me, it seems like it is often just someone’s opinion. Sometimes they make sense, but most of the time they just seem like some generic thing – like a horoscope. I may be wrong, and maybe there is something to it, but I really haven’t found it to be that way.

Recurring Dream #1

I have been having this one dream off and on for years, probably since I was about 10 years old. My brother and I are out in the backyard. Sometimes it is at our first house (at least I think that’s where it is), most of the time, however, we’re at my mom and dad’s. The old dog house that was there when we moved in is still in the back corner. The swing set is in the middle of the yard. It is no bigger than an average backyard.

While we are outside, the wind begins to pick up and dark clouds roll in. My mother will stick her head out the sliding glass door and call for us to come in because of storms. As I look up in the sky, a funnel cloud begins to form. (FYI: My grandmother told me all kinds of stories about tornadoes, which left me forever terrified of them) It is at this point that my brother and I begin to run toward the house. As we run, the yard begins to get bigger and bigger. It is like I am running and the house is moving farther and farther away.

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My brother is running behind me and I am holding his hand. I keep looking behind us as the funnel cloud begins to turn into a tornado. It is windier and we are fighting to get to the house. We get to the swing set and we are being pulled off the ground by the funnel. We are literally hanging on to the bars of the swing set so we won’t get sucked away by the tornado. My mom is screaming to us, but cannot get to us. As I lose my grip on the swing set – I wake up.

Recurring Dream #2

This is one that I have a bit more frequently than the tornado dream. I mentioned it on Facebook once and was surprised that I wasn’t the only one to have this kind of dream. This one is the “band dream.”

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While there are many variations of it, they are always very similar in nature: (1) I forgot my instrument at home and my band director is going down the line making every one play individually. (2) I have my instrument, but didn’t practice the piece and the band director is going down the line making everyone play individually. (3) I have my instrument, but don’t have my music folder. (4) I have my music folder and my instrument, but I suddenly cannot play the song we are working on.

The variations can also take place in different places: (1) Sometimes we are rehearsing in the band room. (2) Sometimes we are on stage at a concert. (3)Sometimes we are playing at band festival. (4) Sometimes we are on the football field and we are in marching band. (5) Sometimes we are marching in a parade.

Our band director was a man who I had great respect for. I think we all did. He was a good leader and taught us many lessons. He was strict and stern. You always tried to be prepared for class. Sometimes you weren’t and he knew it. I remember this one song that had a simple chromatic scale at the beginning of it. It was a fast tempo song, so if you didn’t practice it, you could easily blow it. We all started the song, started it again, and again until finally he pulled out the grade book and made every one of us play it. You either played it right and passed or played it wrong and failed. I failed it.

In the dream, all the old band classmates are there. I can’t really look at them and say what year it is. Many times its just all the people who were in band at one time or another. There is often things going on that are just weird – like bubbles coming out of clarinets or water coming out of the tuba. Many times we are rehearsing songs I remember playing while in band. Other times we are working up songs I have never heard. Sometimes famous people are in the dream rehearsing with us. There is no specific or common ending to the dream.

While this dream can often cause me to feel anxiety, I usually wake up from the “band dream” chuckling at the absurdity of what was in it. I also wake wishing that I could go back to those days when I still played well. I can barely make a sound on my trumpet today. I miss playing in band. It was, one of my favorite things about high school.

Sweet Dreams

I probably have one or two other recurring dreams, I just forgot them right now. I’ll remember them after I have them. I don’t know what makes me dream these same dreams. I don’t know what prompts them. I have always found dreams to be very cool. They can be very real! They can make you feel real emotions. Every once in awhile, they can be a little too real.

Other times, a dream, which you can’t explain, can make you look back at it and wonder. I had one of those too. When I was going through my divorce, I had a ton of stress. I woke up crying one night after having a dream. I dreamt my mom was talking to me. I was upset. She looked at me and said, “It’s going to be alright, honey. You are going to come out of this and things will be just fine.”

She was right!

What are your thoughts on dreams? I’d love to hear them.

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Questions and Answers #3

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The Facebook “Memories” feed can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Sometimes, I am reminded of times in my life where I was just going through the motions, pretending that all was right in my world, when it wasn’t.  Sometimes I get sad to see picture of my son’s as toddlers and am reminded of how fast they grow up.  Sometimes, I will smile at things from my past radio career and sometimes I smile as I see reminders of the good things that have happened over the past few years.

This blog is just over a year old, and this week I was reminded by Facebook that I asked my Facebook friends to ask me questions they wanted me to answer.  I looked back through my blogs and realized that the last time I did a “Q&A” blog was in October, so I once again asked for Questions…..what follows is the answers to those questions.  (If a non-Facebook friend and follower ever has a question you’d like answered, feel free to ask in the comments.)

Melanie

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Melanie was my next door neighbor in Flint, MI.  Our street was literally behind K-Mart.  Her question, which was probably meant as a joke, is “Do you miss living behind K-Mart in Flint?”  I say she probably meant it as a joke, because the neighborhood, which used to be a very nice one, is a far cry from what it used to be.  The crime level in that part of town is much higher than it was when we were living there.

I have to be honest, I do miss that house.  It was the first home I ever bought.  It is also the home I brought my first son home to.  I remember painting the nursery in tan and putting up all the Noah’s Ark themed borders, building the crib, etc.  I remember watching my dad and son play catch in the backyard.  I remember my mom, who was still in the middle of her cancer treatments, laying on the floor and playing with my son.  I have so many great pictures of her with him in that house.

I remember the old shed in the back and the swing set I built for him.  I remember almost setting the house on fire with the barbecue and ripping out the fence that was between our house and Melanie’s old house.  I also remember pulling my son in his birthday wagon around the neighborhood on summer days.

I also remember the great neighbors we had.  As I said, Melanie and her husband lived next door and were always good neighbors.  On the other side, Jerry lived there with his daughter Terry Sue.  Her kids Jerry and Stephanie would often come over and they’d play with my son.  I would often talk with their Aunt Diane, too, who lived just down the street.  Jerry was a nice man.  He was always willing to loan me a tool if I needed one, or help me with my lawnmower.  He’d often be the guy who cleared my driveway with his snow blower in the winter.  Sadly he passed away shortly after we moved in.

Next to Jerry was Harry and Myrt.  They were an elderly couple who were from down south.  Harry loved to talk politics.  Myrt always made us candy at Christmas time.  You could always find them on the porch drinking sweet tea, and always a pleasure to talk to.  Another elderly couple lived across the street when I first moved in, Ed and Margie.  They were such great people, he was always riding his bike around the neighborhood and always smiling.  We were so sad when he and Margie passed away.

When Melanie moved away, we were blessed with another wonderful couple as neighbors – Jamie and Jason.  Their plan was much like ours, this house was kind of our starter house and we had hoped to move once our son came.  They moved before we did and that was when things started to go bad.  Their old house had a milk chute.  It was next to their side door.  The guy who moved in was probably about 24, and he was up at all hours of the night.  He was renting the house from his aunt and we found out he was using the house to sell drugs.  There were people up and down the driveway all night.  They’d drop their order in the milk chute and come back to get it later.  He never threw anything away and there were bags of trash all over the back yard.  I’m still not sure what exactly happened to the guy, but he suddenly disappeared.  I have heard rumors, but never really found out more.  It wasn’t long after that, we moved away.

James

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Again, probably meant as a joke, but he wants to know my “take on breakdancing”. Here is my take – I can’t do it.  I can do the Curly Shuffle and the Box Step (thanks to high school gym class).  I am amazed that people can do this.  There is talk of it being an Olympic Event, so it must something that interests people.  If I had the chance to take dance lessons, I would opt for ballroom dancing over break dancing.

Marcia

Marcia is a dear friend from elementary school and always loves to ask questions.  Today, she asks “Who was your favorite teacher at Carlson (our school) and why?”

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I moved to the district in 2nd grade.  Any time a kid moves and had to change schools, there is stress involved.  I remember Mrs. Cook being a very sweet lady and made the transition much easier.  I only had her for about half a year, and remember that I liked her very much.  However, if I had to pick a favorite elementary school teacher, (meaning someone who’s class I was in) it would have to pick Mrs. Gallop.

I remember her being very fun.  While I don’t remember many specific things, I remember she made me laugh a lot.  I had a great respect for her and I remember not wanting to ever disappoint her.  Two distinct memories I have of her class both involve reading.  I remember she read many books to us.  It was one of my favorite things about the class.  I remember her reading us “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume.  There was a sequel she read to us to about the main character’s brother Fudge.  She always was very animated when she read them.  I have those books on my shelf, as I bought them for my sons.

I also remember her reading James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.   I remember there was a swear word in it (ass or damn, I think) and she prepped the whole class.  “There is a bad word in this story.  I really don’t want to read it, but if I do, remember that it is not nice to say words like that.”  When she said it, some gasped and some chuckled.  She just kept on reading …

Fourth grade was probably my favorite elementary school year.  Mrs. Gallop was instrumental in that.  She was so much fun and made learning fun.  Years after I graduated, I was working for the district as a custodian part-time.  She had moved up to either principal or assistant principal at the middle school.  She was in her office and I remember walking in and saying hello.  I told her she probably wouldn’t remember me, but when I told her my name, she said “Of course I remember you.  You had just got your glasses over the summer and you told me that you were so glad you could see the board, and your friends, and me!”  How she remembered that, I really don’t know.  I assumed she was just saying she remembered me to shut me up, but I had gotten my glasses over the summer, so she remembered.

I may or may not have looked for her on Facebook, some teachers who have Facebook accounts don’t use it to connect to former students.  At any rate, she is not my friend on there.  I have written about teachers in the past, and I firmly believe that they make a difference each and every day in the lives of their students.  They play such an important role.  She was such a wonderful lady and I was lucky that I was in her class.  If any teachers from the district still keep in touch with her, please let her know that I am forever grateful for the laughs, the learning, and for making me feel like I mattered.

Joseph

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Joe is one of my oldest friends.  We met in band class in junior high.  One of the things we have in common is our love for music.  No surprise that his question is “What was your favorite piece of music to play in band?”  I responded and asked if he meant concert or marching band.  He said it was my choice and that he would “go easy on” me.

Trying to pick one song out of four years worth of music is quite a task.  I thought about it a lot before writing this.  I have narrowed it down, but cannot pick just one.  I also looked at both marching band and concert band separately.  I hope you don’t mind, Joe, but here are the Top 5 for each:

Concert Band

5 – The Seventies Medley

4 – Armed Forces Salute

3 – Hall of Fame March

2 – Tin Pan Alley

1 – Four of a Kind

Marching Band

5 – Washington and Lee Swing (for sentimental reasons)

4 – Artistry in Rhythm

3 – Doggin’ Around

2 – We Got the Beat

1 – Sing, Sing, Sing

It was far from easy to do this, Joe!  I also realize I can probably write an entire blog about this.

Vince

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Vince asks a question that I used to get often when I did Career Day presentations at schools while working in radio.  He says, “Radio call in prizes … Ex: Caller #20 wins tickets …. are they legitimate? If yes, is there a strategy to calling in?”

The quick answer (at least in my experience) is yes.  Before I explain, let me talk a bit about contesting.  When I first started in radio, access to the internet was not really a thing.  We used to have many trivia books and often asked musical questions or questions we found in those trivia books to give away prizes.  When Trivial Pursuit came out, we had the boxes of questions in the studio to ask.  It’s hard to do those kind of things today because so many people can Google the answers and it is just not fun to do any more.  I’m not sure why the “be caller # ___” contests have become so popular, to be honest.  I really dislike those contests.  There is no entertainment value to it at all – and it is not fun for the DJ.  When I was at Kiss-FM, we had 6 requests lines, today, it’s usually 3.  So the DJ has to literally answer the phones, “You’re caller number 1 (click) you’re caller number 2 (click) you’re caller number 3 (click)” and so on….

Many stations use their frequency to pick the caller number – 95.5 looks for the 95th caller, 89X looks for caller 89, etc.  How is this entertaining for the listeners who are not playing?  The answer is – it isn’t.  As far as a strategy, I don’t know of any.  Back in the day, you used “speed dial” to get in and just keep redialing.  Today, with cell phones, there is no speed dial.  It’s the luck of the draw.  There are people who we call “contest pigs” who literally sit and listen for radio contests up and down the dial.  They spend all day dialing to win prizes.  There are two things radio DJ hate about those winners – first, when they tell you “I was caller 1, 7, 18, 33, and ….” we usually edit that out of the call for play back on the air.  We don’t want other listeners to know that they couldn’t get through because you and your family were monopolizing the phone lines.  The other thing we hate is when we finally get a winner for a very cool prize and they act like they could care less.  “Hey, Vince!  You just won $15,000!” and their response is an unemotional “Gee, thanks.  Do you like write me a check or something for that?”  That’s the response you expect from “Congrats!  You just won a free taco and tickets to the flower show.”

I don’t do radio full-time any more, so contesting is a bit different now.  Many stations run company wide contesting now.  They’ll tell you this in their promo mentions.  Basically, a company who owns stations throughout the country, all the stations are giving away the prize and all the listeners from all the stations have a chance to win it.  The odds are just a tad worse than when there is a local contest.

Aaron

Of all the questions asked, Aaron asked the most difficult: “If you had to pick your top 5 or 10 1980’s (your choice) movies for a must see list what would they be?”

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For the record, I literally went year by year from 1980-1989 thinking I could narrow it down to 5 or 10.  Then I thought “I can’t do this!” and thought if I divided it into genre, I could make it easier.  That actually made it more difficult.  If anything, it made me realize how many great movies were made in the 80’s.  It also made me realize that some could easily fall into more than one genre.

So, Aaron, from my list here are some “must see” flicks from each year:

1980 – Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, The Shining, Somewhere in Time, The Empire Strikes Back

1981 – Arthur, Cannonball Run, History of the World Part 1, Night Hawks, Private Lessons, Porky’s, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stripes, Zorro – The Gay Blade

1982 – 48 Hours, Creepshow, ET, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

1983 – A Christmas Story, The Dead Zone, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Trading Places, War Games, Doctor Detroit

1984 – Beverly Hills Cop, Footloose, Ghostbusters, Johnny Dangerously, The Karate Kid, The Natural, Police Academy, Revenge of the Nerds, Terminator

1985 – Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Clue, Fletch, A View to a Kill

1986 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Golden Child, One Crazy Summer, The Three Amigos, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Aliens

1987 – Good Morning Vietnam, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, No Way Out, Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Princess Bride, Robocop, The Untouchables, Adventures in Baby Sitting, Spaceballs

1988 – The Naked Gun, Rain Man, Scrooged, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming to America, Big, Beetlejuice

1989 – Batman, Dead Poet’s Society, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Weekend at Bernie’s, Tango and Cash, UHF, Uncle Buck

After spending way too much time trying to sort them….It was just easier that way.  I had hoped to expand on all of these.  I am sure that I left MANY off.  I even edited the edited list to get to these.  Some of them are on the list because they are personal favorites.  How about you, Aaron (or any other reader)…if you had to pick 5 or 10, could you do it??

Thanks to those who sent questions!  It’s always fun for me to answer them!

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Things I Want To Do

I guess you could look at this blog as a “creative writing prompt”.  I was listening to something on the radio today and the voice guy said “What do YOU want to do, but just haven’t done it?”  Well, I jotted a few things down instantly and now I am listing them here.

1. Play my trumpet again

One of the things I truly wish I had time to do is play my horn.  I have often thought about going back and taking some lessons to get the chops back, but my worry would be finding the time to do it.  I miss playing it, even if it was just once or twice a year in Alumni Band.

I have friends who are still playing  their horns in various groups and play concerts.  There is something that was so satisfying playing in a group and making music together.  Third shift doesn’t really allow me to have time to practice, though, so I guess I’ll just pick it up every once in a while and play till my lips are numb – ha ha.

2. Teach

When I first went to college, they gave me some test.  The test was supposed to tell me what I’d be good at.  It said I’d be a good “special education teacher”.  I guess this made me mad, because while in high school, I toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher.  I thought I could teach music or elementary school.  I regret not pursuing that.

Occasionally, I have had the opportunity to teach at the college for the Sleep Program I was in.  I found that doing it only made me want to teach more.  A radio guy I know teaches a speech class at one of the local colleges.  I could totally do that.  I ACED my speech class in college!  I have been public speaking for almost 30 years – I know that I could do that.  I doubt that there is anywhere that would let a guy who doesn’t have a teaching degree teach.

3. Visit Italy

I’m Italian after all.  Of course I want to do this!  I have seen Italy in pictures and have always wanted to go.  There is so much to see, though.  I want to see Rome and see the things that the Apostle Paul spoke of in his Biblical Epistles.  I want to see Venice.  I want to take the obligatory picture of me “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I want to visit Sicily and the town where my grandparents were from.  Definitely on my bucket list.

4. Learn another language

I guess this ties in with #3 – in that I’d really love to learn the Italian language.  I know that there are various dialects and such, but I think it is a beautiful language.  I’d love to be able to sit and listen to some of those great Italian songs – being sung in Italian – and know what they are saying.  I would love to learn Spanish, too.  It is very similar to Italian.  They are both very romantic languages and I think it would be cool to learn it.

5. Build a home studio

I still do a lot of voice over work.  I do most of it at the TV station or radio station.  It would be nice to build a small little studio in our home to be able to sit and cut whatever voice stuff I need to.  I think that this would give me the opportunity to do more auditions for voice work.  I think that it would also give me the chance to make a little bit more money with my voice.

I haven’t a clue what equipment I’d need to do this, and certainly don’t have the money to do it either.  I don’t want to invest in this and buy cheap equipment.  I want to be able to produce a good product.  I’d love to be “the voice” of a radio station, but I’d never be able to make that happen with sub-par equipment.

6. Learn to dance.

Oh sure, I can do the slow dance thing where you hold your beautiful woman and sway back and forth.  I, however, would love to be able to do some sort of real dance.  Swing dance, tango, ballroom dance, waltz, etc.  I’d probably be a huge klutz and step all over my partner, but I want to try it.  I’m no Arthur Murray, but give me a few lessons and I’ll try to be his non-coordinated step brother – LOL.

7.  Conduct a band

One of the coolest things I got to do in high school was conduct the band.  Its been awhile, but we learned how to read a score and I know I could do this.  I would, however, want to pick the songs I’d like to conduct.  There were songs we played when I was in band, that have stuck with me all these years later.  While at my son’s band festival a couple years ago, we watched one of the other bands play not one, but two of the songs I played in band.  I could still hear my part in my head.  I could hear counter-melodies and percussion parts.  It was amazing how it took me back.  I would love to be a guest conductor somewhere.

One of the biggest thrills for me was standing on the podium and conducting my high school band classmates at my senior graduation.  I’ll never forget the song:  Tin Pan Alley.  It was a medley of old standards and it was full of tempo changes and such.  There is such a feeling of awe as you stand in front of a group of talented musicians and they are following YOUR lead.  I think it would be cool to do that one more time.

8. Hear one of my “songs” recorded

I have written a few songs.  Some of them out of a lot of hurt, some of them out of love, and some of them because I woke up and heard the lyrics and melody in a dream.  I have written songs about my grandfather, my first love, my mom, and just life’s situations.  I am not the world’s best writer of songs, believe me.  There are people who can craft songs that run circles around my stuff.

What I wish is that a good songwriter would look at my stuff and say, “If we tweak this”, “What if you said this instead”, “How about we try this as a minor chord instead”, or whatever!  I truly think that it would be pretty damn cool to hear someone record it – even if it is just a crappy demo!

9. Write a book

As I have said in a previous blog, I guess I tend to look at my blog as “the book” I want to write, and these blogs are the chapters.  I don’t know what I’d write about.  I have a Facebook friend who suggested I write about an actor who appeared in old movies.  I have another friend who says I should write about classic movies or radio.  I’ve often thought that I could write a children’s book.  Who knows.  I guess first I need to find more than a few minutes at a time to actually figure out what to say.

What are some things YOU want to do?