Category Archives: dreaming

Small Town Inspirations

Pesch Street

I grew up in a small rural town in North Central Iowa.  It was a place that was, according to census, home to 275 people.  That apparently counted the squirrels.  (And I should say, the squirrels were definitely squirrelly.  They not only ate nuts, they became a nut.)  It was a good place to grow up in the 60’s and 70’s.  But in many ways, it was a boring place.

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Yes, there were beautiful farmer’s daughters to lust after and pine for and be humiliated by.  There was a gentle, supportive country culture where Roy Rogers was a hero and some of the best music came on Saturdays on Hee Haw where there was a lot of pickin’ and grinnin’ going on.  There were high school football games on Friday nights, good movies at the movie theaters in Belmond and Clarion, and occasional hay rides for the 4-H Club and various school-related events like Homecoming.

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I lived in a world where I was related to half the people in the county, and I knew at least half of the other half.  People told stories about other people, some of them incredibly mean-spirited, some of them mildly mean, and some of them, though not many, that were actually good and actually true.  I learned about telling good stories from my Grandpa Aldrich who could tell a fascinating tale of Dolly who owned the part of town called locally “Dollyville” and included the run-down vacant structure the kids all called the Ghost House.   He also told about Dolly’s husband, Shorty the dwarf, who was such a mean drunk and went on epic temper tirades that often ended only when Dolly hospitalized him with a box on the ear.  (Rumor had it that there were bricks in the box.)

And I realized that through story-telling, the world became whatever you said that it was.   I could change the parts of life I didn’t love so much by lying… er, rather, by telling a good story about them.  And if people heard and liked the stories enough, they began to believe and see life more the way I saw it myself.  A good story could alter reality and make life better.  I used this power constantly as a child.

There were invisible aliens invading Iowa constantly when I was a boy.  Dragons lived in the woods at Bingham Park, and there were tiny little fairy people everywhere, in the back yard under the bushes, in the attic of the house, and building cities in the branches of neglected willow trees.

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I reached out to the world around me as an artist, a cartoonist, and a story-teller and plucked details and colors and wild imaginings like apples to bake the apple pie that would much later in my life feed the novels and colored-pencil pictures that would make up my inner life.  The novels I have written and the drawings I have made have all come from being a small town boy who dreamed big and lived more in stories than in the humdrum everyday world.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, colored pencil, dreaming, fairies, farm boy, goofy thoughts, humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Bubble People

I was recently gifted with the eye-opening event of having my own personal soap bubble of beliefs, dreams, and hopes popped by an angry, dyspeptic orangutan.  Yes, he got elected to the most powerful position of leadership on the planet Earth.  And, as I was hurt in the fall from my rudely popped bubble, I began to think about the nature of the bubbles we live in and plot my evil revenge.

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You see, people all live in bubbles of perception.  There are limits to what you can see, hear, learn, accept, believe, and understand.  Those limits are the walls of the soap bubble we create for ourselves in the empty warehouse of our own mind.  I know I have just revealed that what I am talking about is completely metaphorical, but all you people out there who live in literal-minded, practically impenetrable bubbles need to be reminded that metaphorical truth is still truth.

In politics, there now seem to be two main classes of bubble that exist separately and prevent many people from seeing and understanding the perceptions of many other people.  There are conservative bubble people.  There are also liberal bubble people.

Conservative is supposed to mean that they like what they currently have and want to preserve it.  I include here not just possessions, but values, goals, religions, hopes, and dreams.  Liberal traditionally means that they are dissatisfied with what they currently have and want change.  Looking at this construct carefully reveals that anyone who is liberal should be seeking change, but once they have it, should then become satisfied and change into a conservative.  Similarly, if they are conservative, but things change into a new set of things that they don’t like, they should become liberals.  But in our political system, these labels have become set in stone.  And I should warn you, putting stone letters on a soap bubble will invariably pop it.  Conservative bubble people have added concrete mix to the walls of their bubbles to harden it, so that it won’t pop.  Liberals have done the same.  Though, I believe Republican conservative bubble people have somehow found a concrete mix that, when it hardens, makes it impenetrable by facts, science, and logic.  Not to be outdone, though, liberals have added bizarre chemicals to their mix that makes their bubbles impenetrable by feelings, emotion, and religion.  The collective effect of all this bubble-fixing is that all bubble people’s bubbles have become dark and no longer transparent.  You cannot see through them.

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It is no wonder that when liberals look at conservative bubbles they think, “These people are just selfish, money-hungry, and evil, and will do anything for a profit.  They don’t care what’s best for everybody.”

Conversely, conservatives look at liberal bubbles and think, “They are unfeeling control freaks who want to take away our freedom to do what we believe in.  They want to tell us what we can do.  They are trying to take away our rights.”

So, humorist and crack-brained nitwit that I am, I have come up with an evil plan to undo this opaque-bubble nightmare.  I intend to look inside lots of bubbles and find ways to make them more transparent again.  I also intend to invite everyone I know, and everyone who reads this, to do the same.  That should help.

But I should warn you, I am not the only one looking to manipulate bubble people.  There are a bunch of rich and cynical folks out there too who are busy playing billiard games with a majority of the fossilized opaque bubbles .  Once bubbles start popping, more people will be hurt.

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Filed under dreaming, dreams, humor, imagination, insight, inspiration, Liberal ideas, metaphor, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Of Nightmares and Publishing

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Okay, I don’t mean to mislead you with the title.  My nightmares last night were not caused by publishing a book.  But there is a connection.  So be patient with me and let me explain.

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Last night I kept waking up to the smell of something burning… the smell of pine wood smouldering, the acrid smell of plastic on fire, the nose-offending smell of human hair on fire…  So I get up multiple times in the night, searching the house in my underwear, sniffing about to try to detect where in the walls or under the furniture the smell is coming from.  I scared my wife at least once in the kitchen… sometime around 2:00 a.m.  And the more awake I became the less I could smell the something that was burning.  It turns out that was because it was only in a nightmare that I smelled it.  The house was burning down around me in a dream, and the dream lingered after I awoke, even though I had forgotten about the dream entirely as I woke.   It was a classic anxiety dream.

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What, though, do I actually have going on that causes me this kind of nightmare?  I mean, besides Donald Trump being elected President of the United States, the impending end of life on Earth, and Bank of America suing me with hopes of wiping out my personal finances completely?

I am, foolishly, trying to publish another novel.

I promise to tell you a bit more about this novel in the near future.  But let me tell you first why publishing it is causing anxiety dreams.

Magical Miss Morgan is a novel about being a school teacher.  It is based on real experiences in my teaching life.  I used the time my teaching methods were opposed by a school board candidate.  I also used the time a principal told me that school shouldn’t teach kids to think because that didn’t turn them into good citizens.  I used real kids I once taught as characters.  I even used the time that fairies invaded my classroom.  Oh, but that last one might be slightly fictionalized.

So, even though the main character, Miss Francis Morgan, is not actually me, this novel is a distillation of my entire struggle to be a worthy teacher and accomplish something good as an educator.  My goal during my teaching career was to teach kids to think for themselves, to guide their own lifelong learning, and feel like they were valuable enough as individuals that somebody could actually care about them individually… even the hardest ones to like.  One would think there was nothing controversial at all in this goal.  But this novel tells how I fought that battle.  It is a story that I owe it to everyone I ever taught to tell.

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I have turned to Page Publishing to put this novel into print.  Not just digital, online copies, but into real print-on-pages books.  I have no talent or luck when it comes to marketing, but I am determined to make this book real even though this is a vanity press sort of publisher that makes their money by taking advantage of dewy-eyed writing fools like me.  Yes, I am buying the services of their editorial staff and design staff and there will be no money flowing my way any time soon.  This is the way publishing has been changing.  Publishers are still the farmers and writers have become the milk cows.  I just have to hope the milk won’t be sour.

So, I am having nightmares of burning the house down because I am following my dream of making a book.  But it is an important book… at least it is to me.

 

 

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Filed under dreaming, dreams, education, fairies, foolishness, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing

Tenfold…

Once again my computer betrayed me and wiped out three paragraphs in this article, instantly saving the changes so that I had to start over with nothing but the title and a lower case letter “u”.  Soon the danged machine will probably explode scattering my words all around the bedroom and getting random punctuation in my chicken soup.

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I was trying to write a post about the difficulties of becoming an “author” when my computer decided to ironically make it harder.  And this goofy notion that I know anything at all about the topic came about because of a random WordPress comment that appeared on one of my old posts.  I was told by the commentator that I had several posts that were good enough to go viral, and that if I wanted to make that happen and improve my “brand”, then all I had to do was Google “Jemensso’s tricks”.

Challenge accepted.  I know how to Google stuff.  I learned by being a tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy nutcase.  (Did you know that you can not only find numerous well-argued sources that indicate we never actually went to the moon, and only faked the moon landings in Hollywood, but also visual confirmation that we actually did land with high resolution photos of the various landing sites taken from space telescopes this month?  And those photos even show the tracks where the moon buggies traveled through the sands of the moon.)  So, I first discovered that my blog is not the only blog that got this message.  I found a plethora of them, some in the exact same words.  And then I located this informative page HERE.

It would seem to indicate that any benefits you can get will cost you at least some money.  And that is the biggest irony of being a writer who foolishly imagines that he can become something called an “author”.   You end up having to pay money instead of earning it.  Each of my two published novels were done with different publishers.  The first was a squirrelly print-on-demand company that doesn’t charge you to print your novel.  They don’t employ any editors or marketers either.  It is a good way to get student work into book form, and parents will gleefully shell out the money for a copy of their darlings’ writing in book form, but it is no way to get a novel published.  I could have sent them a 200 page manuscript of monkey-typing, and they would have put it in book form.

The second book, Catch a Falling Star, was done with I-Universe, a publisher that is now a branch of Penguin Books.  But it is basically an Indie publisher.  I had to invest my own money in the creation of the book.  I had to pay the editors, proofreaders, and marketers that I got to work with.  I ended up with a product that made me proud, but that I really couldn’t sell.  I am still more than $6,500 short of recouping my investment.  I do not recommend that path, unless, like me, you really crave the experience of working with competent, professional editors.  It was worth it to me to do it once.

But now I am out of money and out of options.  I led with a banner that shows I have four complete and unpublished manuscripts that I want to do something with.  I am busy with three more that are past the 15,000-word threshold… where you have to consider the work for completion because it is, at that point, almost half done.  Where will I go with them?  What will I do with them?  The answers will, I hope, eventually appear here in this goofy blog.  And I am sure they will probably surprise us both.

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Filed under autobiography, blog posting, dreaming, feeling sorry for myself, humor, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, work in progress, writing

Teacher Dreams

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Last night I dreamed I was standing in front  of a classroom again.  But it wasn’t a nightmare.  I had clothes on.  It wasn’t a comfortable situation either.  It was a new teaching assignment with a new classroom and new students I had never met before.  And I had been given no time to prepare my classroom or write lesson plans… and I was late.  The students were already there.  Nervously staring at me, their new teacher, a total goofball-looking goon with a gray beard and goofy Mickey grin on his silly-stupid face.

But the crazy thing is, I could’ve done the job.  I have faced the first day of classes 31 times.  I know how to do the job and do it well… from memory.  I know first-day procedures better than any other lesson type I have ever done.  And I got good at it over time.  In fact, I reached a point in the 1990’s where I told a colleague, “You know, if I had to pay the school money to let me be a teacher, I would do it.  But please don’t tell them that.”  And I worried for real a few years later when she became a guidance counselor, because that is only a step away from administrator, and in Texas they would definitely pay you nothing if they could legally get away with it.

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But the dream wasn’t totally a regret dream or filled with sadness over having to retire.  I have been in the situation of that dream before.  I started my teaching career in a poor South Texas school district.  The junior high supply budget was basically the money from the Coke machine and whatever the principal had in his pocket (which was usually lint).  I have taught classes with more students in them than there were desks to sit in.  I have taught classes with no textbooks.  I routinely bought things to use for lessons with my own money and made things with my goofy-cartoony art skills.  I have taught a number of times directly out of my memory and imagination with no books or notes to turn to.  An experienced teacher has got skills.  So I woke up from my dream feeling good and satisfied.  It was the feeling you get from a job well done.  The kind of satisfaction you get from thinking on your feet and still managing to come up with the right answer.

I wish I was still teaching.  I could not move my achy old body through rows of desks now if my life depended on it, so I can’t go back in a classroom, but I still wish I could.  Maybe I can clone myself and convince a younger me that teaching is not really the totally terrible idea it seems as a career, especially in Texas.  But maybe now it is only the stuff of dreams… and goopy wish-fulfillment posts by a slightly insane former teacher.

Blue and Mike in color

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Filed under Cotulla, dreaming, dreams, humor, kids, Paffooney, teaching

When I Was Twelve

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There comes a time when a mind turns inward and begins to learn that self is as complicated and in need of exploration as any African jungle or surface of a distant planet.

The Paffoonies today all come from my sixth grade school notebook.  When that school year ended I owned one book of my own, Rudyard Kipling’s First Jungle Book, the paperback version.  I kept my colored pencil drawings in my school notebook, and I kept the notebook in my bedroom to continue to fill it with drawings on notebook paper.

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As you can see, the notebook is age-worn and falling apart, but I still have it.  It still contains my twelve-year-old artistic visions, the beginnings of who I am as a thinking, drawing, story-telling human being.

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At one point I even had a package of pink notebook paper.

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So I admit it.  I was a dorky, weird child.  And I drew a lot of weird pictures at twelve.  Now you have some of the evidence.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, colored pencil, drawing, dreaming, Uncategorized

Dippy Duck Dreams

The hardest dream-to-reality connection to make is my duck nightmare.  I know I bummed the world out yesterday with unfunny dream deliberations.  But in this post I explore the lighter side of nightmares.  It all began when I was about four years old and we went to the Deer Park Zoo in Mason City, Iowa.

Truthfully, when you look at it from the proper point of view, at four you are small and all animals look like monsters.  The three ostriches they had in a chicken-wire pen were at least several hundred feet tall.  The deer were huge with giant Bambi-eyes.  I was little and still very much in a touchy-feely stage of life.  And the goose-pen had a large hole in the front, just large enough for a goose head and neck to fit through at high speed.  That is exactly what happened when one wide-eyed nerd-child wandered close enough to give a gander a premium chance at a beak-first goosing.  Whether my pants had to be changed immediately afterwards is something I have yet to work up the courage to ask my parents about.  No rush.  They are only in their eighties now.

Anyway, I was left with a recurring nightmare, always involving a duck or very similar waterfowl with big, massive, white dentures.  Yes, you heard right, a duck with teeth.  It’s all right for you to laugh now, but I woke up in cold sweat every single time I had that nightmare.  Right from the moment when I realize that the evil little duck-mind has fixed its wishes on taking a nice, big bite, to the split second where the toothy duck-head zips towards me, I am gripped with total existential terror.  And it wakes me up.

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So what does this doozy of a dream mean?  Do dreams have to have a meaning?  All two-hundred-plus times?  (I lost count, so sue me.)  I do believe, however that it must be some kind of anxiety dream.  And the last occurrence was now four years ago, so the possibility of duck-dream remission is very real to me.

If my last post chilled your innards, then hopefully this one lit them up with laughing gas.

Leap of FaithThis closing Paffooney from yesterday is entitled “The Leap of Faith”.  I’m not sure why that is important to know, but it is.

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Filed under dreaming, humor, Paffooney