I rarely mention dreams because I rarely remember them. But this morning. This morning I woke up from a vivid (seriously, vivid-qua-real) dream in which exactly twelve mud wasps had landed on me and were checking things out, feeling around for something to eat or sting or who knows. They were antenna-tive, curious, threatening, sampling but not feasting on sweat. And they were scattered, even-spread, in no especially clear way organized or systematic in their checking out the human landscape. In the dream--maybe also in the waking world--I was still and extremely cautious not to make any sudden movements. Yet, given those constraints, I was slowly managing to remove each mud wasp, one by one, crushing the thoraxes crunch and discarding them unstung and unstinging until exactly half of them remained when I woke up.
Bracketing the allegorical and resisting the dream-interpretive leaps (oh, well, yes, of course, this is about Writing Program Administration!), I nevertheless thought about the dream intermittently throughout the day, which makes it all the more un-usual. It's one thing to dream, another to remember; quite another to rehearse the dream-memory throughout the day. Twelve wasps into six, stung or spared, the "experience" recalls and and at the same time deepens this curio from Eduardo Kohn's How Forests Think, a book I've been reading off and on over the last two weeks: "Dreams too are part of the empirical, and they are a kind of real" (13). A kind of real.
After a long travel day yesterday, I'm back from WRAB, from Paris, home in Ypsilanti, unpacked and laundering, family gifts dealt, and more or less re-charged from the first decent night's sleep in oh at least a week. In retrospect, I should have been more tired and draggy while in France. Probably some small lift is attributable to laying off vegetarianism for a few days and amping up on proteins. Travel warnings were right: it's tough to avoid meat in Paris.
There's much, much more to say about the trip than I have time for right now. Indeed, I have committed the classic mistake of pinning to-do list item after to-do list item on the week after WRAB (i.e., now) and have quite a backlog to level through this week (TGIWB...[W]inter [B]reak). For now, I only wanted to catch a few soundnotes, earworming auditory takeaways from the trip.
I've tried but could not locate a few things I heard on the Air France flight, though AF makes it a point to publicize their in-flight playlists, so on that basis might look further and listen more closely another day.
F.R. David's "Words" was playing in the eco-shuttle I rode in from Charles De Gaulle to Ampere. More than any other track, it caught on as the trip's anthem, harder and harder set on a loop as I fumbled "je ne comprends pas" each of the four times I was asked by locals (er...Fr. speakers) for directions. Je. ne. compren...here, just listen to this.
And since an 8.5-hour flight in coach ranks both as hell of hells and also as the longest flight I've ever endured, I didn't expect it to be bearable. I escaped six hours by watching three entire movies--Gravity, Jobs, and Captain Phillips--before learning I was seated next to Marcellus Pittman, who was gracious enough to talk a bit about mixing, vinyl and new/old techniques, touring, and so on. Fascinating stuff that not only reminded me about intriguing questions about mixing as a productive method and about Detroit's industrial, techno-feelic scene, but also about Archer Records, about yet underexamined practices and needed work to deepen sonic mix as one of writing's favorite contemporary metaphors, and about my attraction to these sounds, especially when writing. There's something in the beat mechanics that underwrites (or somehow nourishes?) an effective writerly attention structure. For me, at least. To sum it up: 8.5-hour flights are a helluva lot better sitting next to Marcellus Pittman (Discogs).
And this last one, "The Mad Underdog" (or, had I to add a subtitle to resonate with "mad" and "underdog," "Writing Program Apothecary's Dosi") is a bootleg, but after the first few minutes, I'm not sure how you'll resist clicking over to the iTunes store where you can pick it up for less than one euro.
I jetted into Paris earlier today (a skyroad begun in Detroit and continued after a brief layover in NYC) for the Writing Research Across Borders Conference at Paris Ouest La Défense. Time changes meant six hours evaporated as I arrived in Paris at 1 p.m. local time, what felt like 7 a.m. EST. Factoring in that it was a red-eye spent in Air France coach, my body's "felt like" time was even earlier and later: WTF Standard Time. And now it is both 6:30 p.m. local time and 12:30 p.m. back home. Time for supperlunch (no, I won't be asking for supperlunch at a restaurant, unless, maybe that's a Fr. word?)
The conference is fully underway, but I didn't make it to the hotel until 2 p.m., and by then it was clear I would arrive late to the conference's afternoon sessions even if I hoofed (or subwayed...still figuring out how that works) directly to Paris Ouest. Instead I followed what I could on Twitter, unpacked, and figured out the few streets I wanted to follow to go looking for bearings. Fitbit doesn't know we're in Paris, France, so we attempted to walk off some of the jet lag along the 8.4 km mapped here.
Here are a few of the things I walked past.
And noticed: so much dog shit on the sidewalks; newsstands selling paper publications; two kids playing on top of plastic garbage bins near the park, one stopping to "pay the water bill" publicly; two different passers-by who politely asked me in French for help or directions or if I was having a good day or, truthfully, I have no idea. I tried to say something like, "Pardon, no francais," but neither of them waited the ten minutes it would have taken me to figure out such an elaborate response.
Above all, the brief tour on foot reassured me with an orienting sense that I almost always lack when landing in conference city I haven't been to before. Now that I am clearer about space and direction, I suspect the next several hours will be devoted to re-harmonizing with time.