Category Archives: dreaming

The Book of Dreams

Important parts of the book that I am currently promoting by offering Kindle e-books for free are based on dreams that I had years ago. The clowns who are dream denizens of Zoomboogadoo and the white city of Celephais, were first encountered in a dream I had in college. Boz is also named Mr. Dickens. The Bard is known as Mr. Shakespeare. Diz is Mr. Disney. And Poe, of course, is Mr. Poe. The literary references should be as clear to you as they were to me in 1978.

This painting was also from a dream in the 1980’s. I’m not sure exactly when. But in the dream, I was the stag and I believed in my dream that the other deer there were my family. It is also, of course, influenced by the Disney Movie Bambi. Particularly the scene of the forest fire. But, oddly, the dream predicted my future family. I met my wife in 1994. My eldest son was born in 1995. My second son was born in 1999. My daughter was born in 2002. You see their deer selves in the picture.

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The entirety of Chapter One of Hidden Kingdom is based on a story dream from 1976.

So, dreams are deeply embedded in my work, especially the imagery in my artwork.

And you don’t even have to tell me that I have weird dreams. I already know.

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Examining the Wood Grain

When I was a child I often had to fight on school nights to shut down my brain and get to sleep so that getting up the next morning wouldn’t be torture. The bedroom door was always left open and the single light in the upstairs hallway made it possible to get to the bathroom safely in the middle of the night. I would often find myself staring at the wood grain of the door with all its knots and spots and flowing wiggles. That low-light and wood-grain combination was enthralling.

And as I stared, my over-active imagination would find pictures there. There was a werewolf looking out of the wood grain at me with knotty eyes and wiggly fangs. Boy, that really helped me get to sleep.

But I could conjure other things too. I always longed to see Annette Funicello naked. I worked long and hard to make the naked lady in the corner of the door’s wood grained panel into Annette. It never truly worked. The naked lady had two grossly misshapen boobs that formed the central feature of her character, and that was nothing like perfect and sweet Annette from the Mickey Mouse Club.

But the point in all this is, a boy has to examine the wood grain of his life if he is going to develop into the kind of person he wants to be in the future. The things you see when you look into the knots and spots and flowing wiggles of a nearly infinite set of possibilities is limited only by your powers of imagination. There is truth to find there. There is often also deception. Sometimes the truth and the deception are the very same thing. But you have to follow the lines and make sense of the patterns.

Now, as I am old and have less to look forward to than I have to look back on, I am still looking at the wood grain. I am still looking at the patterns of my life and love and laughter. I try to trace the lines into fiction stories based on all things I have experienced in a life of humble service to the gods of education. And I have to look carefully. Is that a demon face on the left? Grinning at me with a crooked smile? Or is it a fox looking at me through a hole in the door. And on the right… Is that a hooded man standing next to a barber pole? Or is it a meadow lark reaching his stretched neck up to the top of the panel so that his bill is out of the picture at the apex of his reach?

You don’t see what I see? I fully understand. The wood grain of each person’s life is different. And not even his or her own interpretation can be called either “right” or “wrong”.

But the wood grains straight ahead are the pictures of the end of me. So, I must study the wood grains of the past to be sure of all the good that I have had, and I attempt to get it all down to hand onward to my children and the world to come. What else can I do? I see the patterns. Some are terrible… The werewolf of my bedroom door. Some are beautiful… Annette Funicello naked. And I get choose what they mean.

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, dreaming, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor, Paffooney, philosophy, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Flying the Magic Flying Carpet

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There are many ways to fly.  Airplanes, bird wings, hot air balloons, bubble-gum-blowing goldfish… well, maybe I am really talking about flying by imagination.  The more my six incurable diseases and old age limit my movement, my ability to get out of bed and do things, the more I rely on reading, writing, and the movie in my head to go places I want to be.

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Sometimes the wings I use to fly come from other writers.  I get the flight feathers I need not only from books, but also from YouTube videos, movies, and television shows.

This magic carpet ride in video form is by the thoughtful creative thinker Will Schoder.  In it he carefully explains how Mister Rogers used the persuasion techniques of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos to talk to elephants and convinced a congressman intent on cutting the budget to actually give Public Television more money for educational programming.  This is a video full of warmth and grace and lovingly crafted magic flight feathers that anybody can use to soar across new skies and blue skies and higher skies than before.  I hope you will watch it more than once like I did, to see how beautifully the central explanation spreads its wings and gives us ideas that can keep us aloft in the realm of ideas.

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It is important to stay in the air of fresh ideas and new thinking.  The magic carpet ride that takes you there is the product of vivid imagination, cogent thinking, and the accurate connection of idea to better idea.  So instead of falling from the sunlit sky into the darkness that so easily consumes us on the ground, keep imagining, keep dreaming, and keep flying.  You won’t regret having learned to fly.

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Small Town Inspirations

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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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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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