Dreamed 2000/5/26 by Wayan
My final music class. But Professor Fenner doesn't show! Turns out he's sick, home in bed; but he talks to each of us through his office phone. We line up in the hall. Another teacher says we're disturbing his class, tries to drive us out. We say "we'll be quiet" but he keeps barking--that's not enough for him. I snap "No, we're not moving--we need to be by the office phone." Glare at him--and he backs down. Why'd I get so mad? Oh! I met him once before. He kicked me out of an empty room where I was practicing piano--quite pointless, just a bully looking for excuses to bark.
My turn on the phone! Fenner says I was uneven: what I focused on I did extremely well, but he didn't think I really put in consistent effort. "Extremely intelligent, strong musical ear, good theory, but also nervous before audiences, and a weak instrumentalist--you can only do one thing at a time." Fenner's always blunt. Unfair, though, to say I don't practice. I put in the hours--I'm just clumsy. Of course I want to compose, not be Guitar Hero. But even to demo songs, you have to be able to play your own stuff. I can't. Fenner knows what it takes to be a musician, I tried my hardest for him, and he saw it as spotty--maybe not enough to make it. Discouraging.
My classmates Laura, Marie and John talk of music schools, venues and bands. They welcome each other, want to work together... ignoring me, like I'm a kid among grownups. Laura praises Keisuke's music, and they all agree he's gonna be famous. Why? His piano compositions are good Debussy tributes, pleasant but nothing new. But what do I know? Our teacher admires Paul Hindemith and he sounds dry to me. My immaturity? Or is Hindemith all head and no heart, is Keisuke all nice and no spark?
Go home and play piano. Crude, lazy, inept though I am. Alone though I am. It builds. I build. Keep building.
I planned to call Dawn to ask for website advice and show her my latest dream-pictures. But don't. Feel so unworthy--thank you, teachers--that I feel I'd be imposing on her just to call. Gloom. At last I give up, go to bed early, and ask my dreams what they suggest.
I planned to go out and hear some lecture or concert in a cafe or club... but I don't go. At the last minute I just don't feel up to it. Anxiety, illness, both? Feel ashamed--another challenge failed. Each social event now feels like a test. And I feel like a failure--when I may be sick. But I stay in all evening.
But not in my house--my parents'! They come in with my sister Miriel and plan a family dinner. I reluctantly agree to stay for it. But I'm hungry now. My mom hands me a tiny yogurt tub full of leftover cooked spinach. I eat it. Not enough. Need a real meal soon. Nothing's cooking, no places set. I hunt for plates, cups, bowls... the cupboards are all bare. Cardboard boxes around the room... they're packing for a move or a trip. Dinner looks like an empty promise.
My folks retreat into their bedroom but leave the door open. I hear them talking loudly, angrily. Loudly enough I think it's deliberate, I'm meant to overhear. They're trying to decide what to do about me. I'm a problem. "That boy!" growls my father. "He won't do anything with his life... worthless."
I lose my temper and stalk down the hall to their door and say acidly "either close the door or tell me what you think to my face."
Bad idea. They do. My dad says "You're irresponsible--no sane judgment at all."
"You talk like I'm crazy."
"Well," says my mother, "you are. No sane person would act like you. You're insane, and it's time to face it."
My father corrects her. "It's time for us to decide what to do about it."
I feel hurt, betrayed, but mostly... enraged. The nerve! Did my father really learn nothing from what he did to his brother? And deep under that, fear--will he really try to get me locked up?
I decide. It's over. "I'm going home now. Goodbye. Don't visit me, don't call me, don't write me. Until you quit deciding things for me, you are not welcome in my life."
For a moment I'm reluctant to disown them utterly and lose my share of their inheritance, which I always felt I deserved as reparation for their rotten parenting. But I'd rather lose it and work my way up from poverty on my own than endure judgments like this!
NOTES IN THE MORNING
In May 2000, my dad was very ill with Guillain-Barré syndrome. The doctors talked as if he'd recover, but three months later he died. I rarely visited during his long illness. My sisters and friends urged forgiveness, but I avoided visits for two reasons: I'm at risk in hospitals (weak immune system) but ALSO... what this dream warns of. Abuse. My parents' judgments, especially my mom's, were ongoing, severe, and literally sickening. I felt guilt and regret, but I mostly stayed away and mostly stayed healthy.
I still regret; but I'm also still alive to regret.
Years later, I started taking antibiotic herbs for a recurring infection my doctors hadn't been able to diagnose after a decade of tests. The herbs worked. Pain and fever receded--but, I could suddenly play the piano! My clumsiness hadn't been lack of practice or diligence, but... nerve damage.
Thank you, teachers, parents... and doctors.
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