Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Someone broke into my consulting room, during the night.  I did not realise they had been there until the morning when I saw that they had stolen my air-conditioning unit from the wall and my heater.  They took nothing else.  I ran around the house frantic to replace the heater so that the room would not be cold later in the day when I worked.

I went down the street to shop for necessities and saw a burglary in action.  A group of three men and one woman were breaking into a shop.  I watched as they loaded heating units and air-conditioners onto the back of their van.
‘So you’re the culprits,’ I went towards them only to back off as soon as the words spilled from my mouth.  One look and I could see that they had realised I recognised them and they would turn on me, and turn on me they did.  I ran inside a nearby shop and through the glass windows I could see the four coming for me.

The owner saw me and realised the trouble I was in.  ‘Run,’ he said, but I could not. My terror had me frozen to the spot.  I could not move.  The shop keeper drew the curtains on his shop and we were covered in darkness.  My assailants ran past the shop and I was safe.  Only then did I begin to unfreeze.

I was on a train then, passing through Camberwell East railway station,
‘I haven’t been through this station since I was a child,’ I said to my husband who sat beside me.

Next stop, our stop.  We rose to leave and again I felt the paralysis seep in, though not so bad that I could not walk.  But I left without my handbag, which I had left behind on the seat, while I dragged my feet to the door. My husband rushed back to get it for me just as the doors were closing in on him.  He managed to leave the train in time.

My husband looked like the children’s singer, Peter Coombe, a shock of curly hair and a cherubic smile.  All the women loved him.  It was as if they were bees drawn to a honey pot.  But I knew he had eyes only for me.  The details grow hazy.  Women draped themselves over my husband and he looked to me with pleading eyes, as if to say get them away.  I do not want this attention, but they clung to him like plumbago.

We had not yet called the police about the burglary.  My husband was on the telephone chatting to friends and family for ages and I could not get the phone from him long enough to make the call.  His sisters and brothers were staying with us and they too seemed calm about the robbery.  But I needed to get to the police.  I woke desperate to make the call.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I dreamt that a building in Tulsa, begun by my grandfather Ike Ruby in the 1920s, had finally been completed as a memorial to him.  How had the building survived unfinished for the 85 years since his death, I wondered.  “Oh, some rain and animals got in,” my mother said, “just like a building Steve Kurens’ father owned on Berkeley Ave. in Orange.”  I had an image of a squat brick building, a squat tower.  At that point, I stepped back into the past, becoming a child again, and snuck into the squat building, sidestepping broken window frames in the hallways.  Then the cops came, and we ran outside.  A kid near a mound of dirt in the unsettled yard said, “You were in there.”  “No, I wasn’t,” I said, “I was just playing around here—like you.”  Back in the present, I walked around my neighborhood in Brooklyn and tried to drum up my friends Michael Kaplan, Keith Greenberg and some others to attend the opening of the Ike Ruby memorial.  Stepping back into the past again, I seemed to watch myself as a teenager in a movie driving over to look for my high-school friend Steve Riegel, who supposedly had moved with his father to a town south of Maplewood, N.J., on the way to Cranford.
The next thing I knew, I was inside a big museum exhibit about the life of Ike Ruby, a Jewish oilman who died of diabetes around the age of 45.  There were amazing old black and white movies of my late great-uncle George Travis, pulling up in a car as a young man with his supposed first wife, “Bobby.”  Unc put on a wide-brim hat before getting out of the car.  He looked a little mean.  Then a crewcut guy, “Stephen,” emerged.  I couldn’t figure out who he was.  The exhibit became truly extraordinary when it dealt with Ike Ruby’s arrival in Tulsa on a steamboat.  It turned out that Ike supposedly had an uncle there, P. Klosterman, who owned a little department store.  The uncle sent someone down to meet Ike at the boat.  Everything became very vivid, as it had been in the movie of Unc.  I stood in front of Klosterman’s store and watched a changing sign advertising Jewish religious services in Tulsa, in the Midwest and even in such a faraway place as Queens.  The revolving multicolored neon sign was mesmerizing.  I stepped back into the past again, this time into another life, not my own, and these little kids led me into their house, straight into the parlor floor, which upset the adults inside.  I saw a video documentary, mostly made of stills, about the failed relationship between Ike and Klosterman’s daughter.  In one scene, Ike and the daughter were in tears after forgetting to invite certain people to their wedding.  The wedding never occurred.  Apparently, she fell off a swing and was severely injured, but had emotional problems, too.  My Wall Street Journal friend Stephanie Capparell exclaimed, “You’re so lucky to have so much material about these people.”  Near the end of the exhibit, there were these beautiful Chinese pots Ike had collected.  “There was always a story about this incredibly valuable Chinese pot,” someone said.  One of the pots, not large, a little more free-form in shape and color, was indeed ravishingly beautiful.  At the very end of the exhibit, there were large black and white photos, living images, of early porn stars.  It turned out Ike had dated a string of porn stars at the very end of his life.  On a table near the Chinese pots was a tray of candies.  I took a handful, a piggish amount, and then tried to give away some to my sister-in-law Maude Kent.  I was leaving with Maude.  I had a few hours before work, and very little time the next day, to publicize the memorial event.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I dreamed I was walking down several tiers of stairs that remind me of the green, man-made mesas at Cahokia, only the mount I'm descending is made of a gritty white rock, like colorless sandstone, and I don't think about what's underneath or how it got there.  I'm overwhelmed with the people I'm passing on my way, and try to focus on where I'm going, which is a dream landscape with a pond that is every familiar pond.  I am aware in the dream that I'm going to be treated to a repeat visit to this pond.  I love to see it, dream whatever dream I have that includes it.  Almost at the bottom, an arm reaches out and a hand grabs my wrist just long enough to stop me and make me look, just hard enough to bring me into the moment.  It is someone I haven't thought of in a long time.  At least, it's someone I haven't seen in my mind's eye for many years the way I see him now, which is as he used to be before we grew to resent and distrust-- perhaps even loathe-- one another.  He seems innocent to me in this moment, and I feel myself flood with warmth.  A mothering impulse stirs.  He's just about to tell me what he's thinking.  I'm just about to find out whether he's going to explain something, berate me, or ask me to stay in this group of people with him, go through the errand to the top all over again.  I am on the cusp of hearing perhaps that he is going to say he wants to come with me to the familiar pond-- when the thought of the familiar pond breaks the spell and I find myself walking backwards down the stairs, making my excuse to the confusion of his expression, and then turning around to finish my descent.  At the bottom, I run into a field of grass that somehow isn't itchy around my bare legs, and is alive with insects that don't threaten me at all.  The tree line opens up in the distance to reveal a wide path and I am swiftly making my way there.  I woke up knowing that I got to the pond and had a good dream, where I met interesting people and creatures and pulled amazing things out of the water.  I want to remember that part, but all I can remember a few hours after waking is the descent and being stopped for just a second on my way. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We stand inside an ice cream parlour, one of those long narrow space saving places with bright walls and huge tubs of ice cream on display.  I am at the counter with my daughter who makes her choice.  The cone in my hand, a small vanilla, is beginning to drip and I lick at it to stop the cream from spreading over my fingers.

I had bought it for someone else but no one else wants plain old vanilla and so it  becomes mine.  But if I had bought it for myself in the first place I would have ordered something different.  I’m tempted to ask for more but I resist.

The shop begins to fill up and I fear we are taking too much time.  The boy who serves at the counter is directing another of my daughters, who has morphed into one of my younger sisters, to choose a small toy, as part of an ice cream selling promotion.  My sister/daughter cannot make up her mind.

I see a glass magnetising ball on display.  I test it out.  It makes everything look bigger.  I’m tempted to buy the ball and put it on my dressing table so I can get a better look at my jewellery -  to refasten links, to see where there are small stones missing, to check for grime and build up and so on - but I do not want to collect any more junk.

We go to the back of the shop where the boy who was behind the counter is now having a break.  His mother sits at a table with friends eating ice cream.  The boy hands over the blocks of ice cream I have ordered in buckets, which he then piles into a huge plastic pot.

‘You can keep the pot,’ I say, ‘or else it will wind up on the rubbish heap tomorrow’.  His mother at the table agrees with me.  She, too, hates the excesses of packaging.

We go out into the street.  I have been considering giving away free cupcakes to children at the school, my old school, but I am not sure the teachers will approve.  I have collected my car after a service and I pile it inside with stuff I will also donate to the school. There is no room left for my daughter, but I suggest she squeeze in on top of the stuff.
           ‘It’s only a short distance and I’ll drive carefully,’ I tell her.

I stand at the car door, open just wide enough to let me get inside to check that things won’t roll around when there’s a thump.  Something has rushed into me.  The something turns out to be a boy on a bicycle.  I pick him up in my arms and take him to the nature strip.  He is with his older brothers.  They get his bike from the road and check it for damage.

All fine.   I hope the boy is fine, too.  Once he has caught his breath I go to put him down onto the ground but it is clear he cannot put weight on his leg and then I see that the bone has snapped in his calf.  It juts out in that awful way I have imagined bones jut out when they have come loose from their moorings.

The boy gasps in pain.  I try to hold the bone in place and ask his brothers to call his parents. I walk with the boy in my arms all the way up the hill looking for help.

I cannot do a thing with this boy in my arms but there is so much I need to do.  I need to check the whereabouts of my own daughter for one thing.  I had left her in the car.  I am beginning to think I should take this boy to hospital.  The Epworth is around the corner but I do not know whether the boy’s parents have health insurance.  I consider paying the bill myself, only I must get this boy help immediately.  I wake up and wonder why I had not thought to call a ambulance.