Matt McHugh
Matt - Blog - September 2007


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Wings / Police / Demi Moore Dream
September 20, 2007

From time to time, I have these spectacularly complex, cinematic dreams, and I like to record them when I can. Just had one. It's about 4:00 in the morning and I'm setting this one down. This is actually just a portion of it, but it's what I remember most clearly.

I was traveling along a gravel country road, maybe walking, maybe riding on some kind of skateboard. I passed a man trying to sell some kind of mechanical toy, like a wind-up lobster. Shortly, another man selling a more sophisticated mechanical lobster was hawking that one to me. He put it on my back -- by now I was definitely riding some kind of skateboard, but lying on my chest on it -- and it had the prickly weight and feel of the real thing. I shrugged it off and said no thanks, but he walked away, not even taking it back.

Gradually, I began to gain altitude, rising as if the apparatus I was riding had wings. Behind, beneath me, I heard a cop stop the lobster-robot guy, who started to make excuses that he was well within his rights to sell these and the cop was harassing him. The cop became angrier and more aggressive, and the man started to say he wanted to be formally arrested and charged, fearing the officer was going to illegally detain him.

I began to soar higher, with mechanical wings attached to my arms. Below, I could hear chatter, as if from police radios, saying to be on the lookout for a flying man. I flew between a narrow, crooked corridor of buildings and landed on the roof of one. Inside, it was like an office building, maybe one I worked at. I heard announcements over the P.A. listing names of people who were to report to a central office; my name -- or rather a code name I used at that office -- was mentioned. I went up to a group of people, one of whom I knew, and said, "I designed and built these wings myself, and I'm the only person in the world capable of operating them, and now they want to make them illegal."

I took off a backpack I had and gave it to my friend. I think the plans for the wings were in there. I ran through the building, which seemed more like a vast public park now. I didn't see anyone pursuing me, but I felt they'd be coming any minute. There was a large group of school kids, dressed like Mexican peasants, doing some folk-dance as if part of some school picnic outing. I tried to lose myself by threading through them. Eventually, I came to the rooftop (the place was still like a park, but with a high ridge now) and climbed to the edge to jump with the wings. I'd never tested them from such a height and was reluctant, so I took off instead running down a gradual slope leading to the roof. As I began to climb, a woman grabbed my leg and tried to stop me. I knew her to be my mother, though she didn't look like my mother (she looked like the woman who played the police chief on Law & Order for years). We rose up and she was astounded, and delighted, that the wings actually worked -- yet was still trying to stop me, since she worked for a government agency intent on getting me and the wings. I waited until we were over a soft net and shook her off, and she fell safely. As I flew away, in anger, I shouted to her that she would shortly have nothing in her life because dad was going to die soon. It was, specifically, the most hurtful thing I could think to say to her.

I flew on, again weaving between tall, narrow buildings, now sure pursuit was imminent. With nowhere to go, I landed on a rooftop penthouse where I knew a former girlfriend lived. She was there, looking like actress Demi Moore. She was dressed very seductively, in a translucent, gauzy nightgown, and we kissed and sat together on a padded bench on this vast, open rooftop with views of the city all around. There was a door leading to a bathroom and I asked her if someone was hiding in there waiting to arrest me. She silently mouthed "yes." I'd figured the government agents would have guessed I'd come to her and got here first. I tried to lock or barricade the door, but the agent within started pounding on it. I knew he'd start shooting through it soon, so I ran. His partner came out from hiding and both started chasing me through the apartment. I locked myself in a room with a window and threatened to jump, to kill myself and rob them of their prize, if they tried to get in. I was doubly bluffing since  1) I knew I could fly and  2) I couldn't open the sealed high-rise windows. But, they backed off anyway.

Demi came to the door and shushed me. She led me through the apartment, silently showing me where hidden cameras had been placed, and guided me to a large steel door that led to a secret room. Inside, there was a basement-like laboratory complex that once belonged to her father, a famous scientist, now-deceased (I think I'd known him; I think he was my mentor). As she went to lock the door behind us, a monstrous hand reached in. It was part soggy green moss and part sharp metallic claws -- like Swamp-Thing crossed with a robot. It wasn't directly menacing as it reached, but the implication clearly was it knew where I was hiding and would wait until I came out to attack me. There were two beds. Demi sat on one, and I stood behind her and rubbed her shoulders, a gesture of tenderness and gratitude. A small black cat (just like a real cat I owned and had to put down a few months back) was there, trying to nudge me to pet it, but I shooed it away.

I sat on the other bed, looking at Demi sitting on the opposite one. I wanted to make love to her, but I knew the time in our relationship for that was passed. She was practicing putting a diaper on a baby doll, humming maternally. I knew she always wanted a baby but was unable to have one. I realized that the government agency had promised her a child in return for turning me in. She had conspired with them to snare me, but was having second thoughts now -- though obviously the promise of the child was still very powerful to her. On the bed in front of me were old school newspaper clippings from the high school we'd both attended. For some reason, there were pictures of me from my childhood in there. I noticed how much I looked like my current children. I could hear music playing and recognized a line from the Indigo Girls' song "Power of Two":

All the shiny little trinkets of temptation
Something new instead of something old
All you've got to do is scratch beneath the surface
And it's fool's gold... fool's gold...

I sat there on the bed, across from a woman I once loved who was dreaming of exchanging me for the chance to have a child. I still had my wings strapped to my back, but there was no way out of this basement-lab, except through the door where the Swamp-Thing robot waited. I knew I would be safe there as long as I stayed. I knew I could not stay forever.

That's it. As per my wont for these things, I'm not going to psycho-analyze it, but, man, could I ever. Wow. That's a doozy.

'night, all.

-- mm

The Prate-ist Generation
September 20, 2007

Last Sunday, I took my 6.5-year-old boy to his first Religious Formation class, what we used to call CCD (though I never went, since I went to full-time Catholic school from the get-go). I certainly have my trepidations about the whole thing, but overall still think it offers something of value to a growing consciousness, so I ship my kid off to papist indoctrination sessions -- but that's a whole other entry for another time.

My current point is this: while I was waiting for him to come out, I parked myself on the side steps of the church and started jotting some things in a notebook. As I was there, this Little Old Man straight out of central casting -- cane, Coke-bottle glasses, standard issue WWII-vet U.S.S So-and-So baseball cap -- stumps up and starts chattering away. Asked if I was working on a book (actually, a play, if YOU must know... but he didn't give me time to answer), then proceeds to tell me that he's working on a book and it's all about the history of bowling because he goes to the local bowling lanes every day to do research since he used to be a pin-boy back in the day and things are so different nowadays but some things are coming back to how they used to be like today people hug each other when they bowl a strike and they didn't for a long time even though they used to in the old days so, you see, all these things that used to be common are coming around again. On and on. I could barely get a wisecrack in edgewise.

It occurred to me as I stood listening to this lonely old man (he lost his wife last year, but one time before that, he joked to the nurses at the home that he wanted to exchange her for three 25-year-olds, who would probably kill him but he'd die with a smile on his face) the striking similarities between him and me. Here's this guy with a headful of thoughts gestating constantly and this burning desire to express them to anyone who will listen. The only difference between him and me is that I still have a tiny shred of shame and/or decorum that he, literally and figuratively, has no time for anymore. Essentially, we both just want the chance to tell our stories to someone.

As embarrassing as it may be to recognize my own voice coming out of a lonely, little old man, upon reflection, it seems nothing to be ashamed of. We are all social, verbal creatures. We all crave the clarity of saying things we have thought privately out loud. We all need the validation of an attentive and sympathetic audience sometimes. Some need it more than others, and many seek it different ways. What is this blog -- heck, every word I write -- but just a form of jabbering to strangers because I wish to say something and have small concern over what anyone does or does not desire to hear? This is just me talking about myself to myself deliberately within earshot of others.

An obvious point, perhaps, but one that does need to be said. Or rather, I need to hear myself say, from time to time. Keeps me honest.

-- mm

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