The Vivacity of His Ideas

Name: Kyle
Origin: Gaelic
Meaning: Strait of Water
Origin: English
Meaning: Strait of Water
Name: Damien
Origin: Greek
Meaning: Possibly “to tame, subdue,” although the Greek root is close to the word for “spirit.”

He wore his red robe/cape the first day of school. He didn’t cry when his mommy left, or when he wet himself while sitting in the duck-duck-goose circle. But when Ms. Mackey took away his cape to let it air dry on the playground fence, he accused her of impaling his friend.
During Round Robin, Kyle Damien closed his eyes. He’d close his eyes tight like a prayer, his eyelids quivering and his eyebrows dipped inward. One time, Ms. Mackey mistook Kyle’s shutting his eyes for taking an early nap (naptime wasn’t until after morning snack.) Another time, she mistook his shut eyes for boredom and so sent him to time out in the corner, adding, “If you’re going to waste class time being bored Kyle, then you’re going to pay for it with your playtime.” He stomped into the corner, shouting, “Kyle Damien, Kyle Damien to you!”
Imaginary friends, shouting, defiance – Ms. Mackey noted all these behaviors in her classroom log. When he entered first grade, his records followed him. Dagmar was required by the school administration to keep a weekly log.
Friday, April 1st: Kyle hid under table during Daily Calendar. Left him alone, hoping that he would come over when he heard all the fun we were having. Instead, he placed his hands over his ears and stayed under table through Song of My Kitten and drew a picture of what I presume is himself with 3 heads. (Kyle knows nothing of April Fools).
Monday, April 4th: Kyle taped his 3-headed self on the community fridge. I let him. None of the other children are aware that the drawing is of him.
Friday, Nov. 7th: After school, Kyle popped his head into classroom, said, “I’m sorry about your Father,” and then ran back outside. (Apparently, Kyle found out that my Father had passed away. He wrote a couple of sentences in his journal at the after school program that he was sorry for Ms. Dagmar who no longer has a dad).
Monday, Nov. 10th: Came in with the number 01666 written in marker on back of left hand. Asked Kyle to wash it off, but he wouldn’t. He said that for now on he wants to be called 01666 rather than by his name. I said, “Kyle Damien, your name, Kyle Damien, is so lovely. Why do you want to be called a number?” He said, “I don’t want to be called, a number, I want to be called 01666.” When prodded further, he wouldn’t explain. I allowed him to keep the number written on his hand. What was I to do?
Before the school year was even up, Kyle was evaluated, and it was decided that his defiant nature could benefit from a year (or more) in The Room. Certainly other children were unruly, but the range of Kyle’s behavior spanned from one end of the spectrum to the other, leading the school to the conclusion that perhaps his troubles stemmed from a core schizophrenic nature .

Kyle Damien’s parents probably meant no harm in naming him Kyle Damien. Perhaps they named him after a favorite uncle, or ancestor traced back generations ago in their family tree. Whatever the case, what are the odds of choosing both a first and middle name that both connote something of a troublesome nature? It isn’t clear when and how it happened, but the characteristics attributed to individuals named Kyle or Damien, usually of the male gender, are far from favorable. A close examination of Stark School records reveal that out of the fifty Kyles and twenty Damiens that have graced the elementary school since its establishment in 1992, nearly 90% have had some type of personality disorder (and it goes without saying, had spent a good portion of their school years in The Room). Go beyond the grounds of just this one school, and statistics reveal that only one or two out of dozens of Kyles and Damiens have gone onto brilliance – or at least a relatively normal adult path. Whatever the reason for these names veering far from their original meanings (one does not think of tranquil straits of water or spirits tamed when thinking upon the name Kyle or Damien), the point is that they have.
(Excerpt from Slumber Citizens)


Desiring and Dreading Sleep

I look forward to bedtime because I am tired and I know when I rest my body on the bed I’ll get to sleep and therefore rest for several hours. At the same time, of late, I feel a sense of dread. I think this is because lately I’ve been remembering just about every dream (at least it seems like every dream, though I bet I’ve probably had dozens I forget). And then I tell my dream to someone the next day, hoping that by re-telling it, I’ll remember even more of it. And then I remember the agitated feelings while in the dream or waking from it, due to someone I know dying in the strangest of ways, or waking up crying. So I know that when I go to sleep tonight, I’ll have to enter this strange world that is real, just as real as anything else I experience, only to wake up, remember it and realize it was only a dream. Is it only a dream? It’s rather exhausting really, this thing we call sleep, rather than restive. At least when you’re more conscious of dreams or they become more lucid. I’m probably on this dream trip lately because my novel-in-progress revolves around slumber and dream. I feel resigned to remembering more and more of my dreams, feeling certain they’re real, only to have them slip away when I awake, and then return all over again.


Today is Saturday. Julian is drinking an 8-oz. glass of water. He finishes it in six gulps, and then pours himself another glass. He’s read somewhere that one can actually drink enough to drown oneself, called water intoxication. But how does this happen if one relieves oneself by going to the bathroom? As he is about to do right now? Perhaps one can keep drinking gallons of water every day, training the bladder to hold more and more water. It may take weeks – even months – until finally the body can retain more and more water, and more and more. On the way to the bathroom, he grabs the bottle of anti-depressants and then flushes them down the toilet. Just like that, they whirl down in the water that is just a touch of blue, in need of more Clorox Blue. How many gallons of water does it take to flush? He read somewhere it takes anywhere from three to five. If you hold your water longer, you will save water because then you will let it all out in one big piss, instead of running to the bathroom, pissing and flushing with each piss. Or you can piss and not flush and just try to remember to flush the next time you piss.
One or two anti-anxiety pills pop back up the toilet, and for a moment, Julian sees a reflection of Symantha’s concerned face. The hazy face speaks to him: “Tisk, tisk tisk – I told you so. The drugs are an ill replacement for the magic of the dream.” Magic of the dream. Magic pills. Julian grabs the two pills out of the toilet water, rinses them in the sink and returns them to the bottle – just in case.
Just be. And the dream will create its own reality.
Water is the stream of life. The human body is made up of – what did he read? – up to 60% water, the brain something like 70%. The brain on water.
In the bedroom, he pulls out a rolling backpack from the closet, stuffs it with clothing fit for one day, including a mini-toothbrush, toothpaste and aftershave. He places the bag carefully in the trunk of his hybrid car, gets in and takes a drive up the coast.
The sound of car doors slamming and children screaming with delight awakes him. This has to be the first time in a dozen years or so that he’s slept straight through the night in a vehicle. Or has he ever done so? He can’t remember exactly, but feels certain he must have out of defiance against the unwritten family rule that one should never sleep overnight in one’s car (or any car for that matter) anywhere, not even in one’s driveway. Especially not in one’s driveway, because what would the neighbors think? Why is that young man sleeping in his car in his driveway when he has a perfectly decent home in which to sleep?
The water splashing against the shore in the daylight is lovely. He can’t remember anything after pulling up in the parking spot nearest the shore, nothing visible in the blue-black night but the moonlit, shallow waves. What if one was to drink in as much salt water as possible? One would not last very long. But spring fresh water. He has plenty of that at home .

– (excerpt from Slumber Citizens)

No Sleep, No Dream (excerpt from “Slumber Citizens” – re-envisioned)

“The world is too much with us,” Symantha says while carelessly daydreaming, and then weeps.

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like
a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things,” Julian repeats from memory. “It’s not the world that’s too much with us…”

“But our dreams?” Symantha completes.

It is now early spring, and Symantha is not moved by the freshness of flowers in the air. What is the source of energy for most is for her a struggle in her lungs and an assault upon her sensitive skin. They lounge outside on separate hammocks, sipping on cool lemonade that is meant to refresh. Julian takes out handkerchief from his pocket and reaches over to hand it to her. She dabs the moisture under her eyes.

“I’m out of tune,” she mumbles, blowing into the handkerchief.

“The world tells a young person on the precipice – follow your dreams! Like a child would, only you’re no longer a child.” He watches as she tucks the handkerchief away in her sweater pocket. She will toss it in the laundry along with the dozen other handkerchiefs, hand them back to him so he can carry one in his pocket for her – just in case.

“Imagine the repeat of one dream, and one dream only,” Julian offers not only in hopes of cheering her spirit, but also in hopes that by simply saying his wish aloud it will make it possible and real. “It would make life much easier.” He flips through his dream journal and looks at all the empty pages, at all those dreams he had forgotten, compared to the few remembered. “If I had but one dream repeat, over and over again, eventually I would always remember it by the sheer act of repetition. And I wouldn’t need to keep a dream journal at all.” Random pages of writing haphazardly appear here and there among the blank ones – dreams that were remembered, and then forgotten again. “And if I always remember that one dream upon waking, then I can always count on the return of me,” he says, patting that heart part of his chest lightly with one hand.

“Don’t you think you’re taking yourself way too seriously,” she says coyly, now that her tears have dried. “I couldn’t live on just one dream,” she says as she watches him place the journal back between his legs, as if afraid she will take away his only source of memories.

As the sun slowly sets late in the evening and it’s time for bed, they do not go to bed. They stay up until the early dawn hours – he reading, she watching the classic movie channel, witnessing people living out impossible dreams within a matter of hours.

For two and a half hours they make love and still do not fall asleep.

Symantha whispers in his ear, “Now that we haven’t slept, there are no dreams to remember.”