Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bad dreams for the new year

I don't entirely rule out the influence of the smoked turkey I munched at midnight, but I had ominous bad dreams on New Year's Night. New Year's Eve I was mostly sleepless, wondering why I'd rejected the advances of the Russian (Seryozha) who wanted to come home with me from Ty's (ten years younger, looked ten years older - I blame cigarettes). But then I wouldn't have slept at all, because the presence of unfamiliar folk in my bed keeps me awake like nothing else, and I can't even turn on the light and read.

Anyway, the first part of this morning's dream was fun: attending a Handel opera, David Daniels playing Hercules (which opera was this? Perhaps Ercole sul Termodonte, or Hercules Among the Dinosaurs, Vivaldi score based on an old Steve Reeves script), and I had a complimentary press seat, and all was hunky-dory, except that they kept pausing the performance to reconfigure the bleacher seating, and the audience would patiently move around, and each time they did it, my seat was harder and harder to find, and I felt conspicuous, as if it were my fault that the performance was being delayed, and there was no sign of Mr. D!

But then I found myself in a lab with my beloved Dr. Ellen Gold, my oncologist, who cured me of lymphoma way back when (1997), who was doing some sort of routine exam, and I was fixating rather on her hair, as black as I remembered it but far longer and more exotic seeming (I've been reading too much poetic Orhan Pamuk fiction, eh?) , with spangly colors in it like a peacock's tail, and all this (perhaps she had removed it while she went to do some tests) in a blasé frame of mind until she returned with something or other, some removable body part, or some petri dish, or some X-ray, and said, "This isn't good."

She sounded so calm that I did not fluster. I asked, "Not good as in ... how?" And she said, glumly, "Very not good." I said, "It's back?" and she replied, "Yes, it's back." And we both knew, on the instant, that chemo would not work this time, that the cancer would kill me this time, that I had rolled the dice (or played the hand) and lost big-time. Did I still have time to visit St. Petersburg? Palermo? Isfahan? Havana? Did I still have time to get to 500 operas? (I'm up to 484.) Did I still have time to finish writing a book? Did I -- ?

"I don't know," she said. She sounded hopeless, as despairing as I felt. I certainly didn't blame her. If anything I felt lousy about letting her down. E muoio disperato.... No doubt that will come in time. But not yet. We were examining the bloody sample, whatever it was. It didn't look good. Even I could see that. Too depressed to ask for a second opinion, I took the easy way out - I woke up.

This would depress me but I'm too busy with various jobs to give it a thought. And Chris wants to haul me to Film Forum for a Joan Crawford film noir.


Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Well, just in case, John, go see an oncologist. What the heck--as Peter told me when I was balking at getting the snow tires for my long Berkshire winter commute, it's only money, and it spends better when I'm not in the hospital.

Seriously. Just in case your subconscious is onto something.

Francesca said...

Oh, Goddess. I was reading this hoping it referred to the bad dream.

Here's to a VERY healthy 2008.

Anonymous said...

Oof, not a fun kind of dream. I did a fun thing with dreams here; you might appreciate it. At least it gives you something to do with those otherwise un-funny dream messages.

I love your blog, and second the motion about Orhan Pamuk being a fabulous writer. His acceptance speech for winning the Nobel Prize for Literature was a thing of beauty.