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I’ve been sleeping longer hours these days, because of exhaustion. I was, for a time, extensively planning three classes and trying to get full handouts ready for a couple of those classes every day. (Things have chilled out considerably now that I’ve realized at least one class explicitly doesn’t want handouts.) There was actually a day where I was so damned tired that I started getting chest pains and slept 12 hours at night… and felt much better the next day, thank goodness.

But anyway, I’ve been having some very very weird dreams. Two that I recall are worth writing about.

The first involves a fellow I work with named Rod…

Rod is, how shall I state this? He’s a blunt fellow. When he has an opinion or inclination, he doesn’t keep it to himself. Now, I may disagree with him in discussions, but believe it or not I respect this, to a certain degree anyway. When he’s mad, he’s honest enough to yell “Fuck!” or complain vocally.

In my dream, Rod actually first appeared yelling the word “Fuck!” at me. I asked him what was the matter and he explained. He had just returned from the Wonkwang University English Lending Library. Wonkwang University is where we work and, let me tell you, I should have known it was a dream when he told me he’d come from its English library. There are English books in the stacks, I’ve heard, but there isn’t anything like an English library.

But in the dream, he’d come from there, having been denied his wish to borrow books. They’d claimed he’d never returned the copies of Catullus, Rushdie, Chaucer, and Camus that he’d borrowed in December.

When, in the dream, he told me this, I recoiled in shock. For some strange dream-memory of having borrowed these books in January came into my mind. But in the memory, I’d returned those books only a week late. Sure, I hadn’t paid my fines, but it was not a big deal as those were the only books in the stacks I’d wanted to read.

However, Rod informed me, the late fines had accumulated on his “fucking card,” and now he “couldn’t fucking borrow any fucking books”. Of course he was irate. But what was worse, he was homicidally irate. I spent the rest of my dream bringing him oranges, making him coffee, and begging his forgiveness after having sorted out the fine… but still finding bugs in my house, being watched through my window, and receiving death threats in Chaucerian verse.

The second dream is more amusing. It’s about an Alabaman friend of mine named John. John Wendel is a music freak, maybe even a bigger one than me, and sometimes I think privately a better listener by far. John is another teacher on staff where I work. He has introduced all kinds of music to me and has shared many CDs with me, including the latest CD, by Neutral Milk Hotel. Which is a great CD, by the way.

Anyway, in my dream, I was showing John how to play pentatonic scales on the guitar. This is not a big deal… I can do it in real life, on the first four strings of a guitar, because they are tuned the same as a bass and I used to play contrabass when I was a kid. Anyway, the pentatonic scale (for music people, C-D-E-G-A-C is the one I mean) is not only a staple of guitar soloing and African music but also the scale used in all of that music that sounds very very Asian. The pentatonic scale is the quintessential East Asian music scale. It’s actually used extensively in bongchak music.

What is bongchak music? I wouldn’t answer this except it’s important to my dream. Bongchak is music that is popular in Korea among the members of the older generation. It’s kind of a cross between cheesy grandma pop music and German oompah music, with a bunch of chinoiserie mixed in (that is, a lot of stereotypically East Asian-sounding musical content on saxes and guitars). You usually hear it at gatherings of old people, and in taxis… always in taxis. I think it was popularized here during the Japanese occupation, but I don’t know for sure.

Anyway, I was showing John how to play with pentatonic scales, and he began to fiddle with the sound patches on the amplifier I was using. Never mind that I don’t have an amp, and that amps don’t have the kind of various sound capacities he was exploring in my dream. The point was that he was doing a lot for his first introduction to music-making.

The dream jump-cut to a few months later. At that time, John returned to my abode wearing a fur coat and sunglasses, and speaking with a twangy nasal voice (which is not his real-life normal voice; it sounded tragically Dylanesque). He began to berate me for not quitting teaching and going into bongchak full-time, and showed me the hot Korean chicks at his side as proof that I was a fool for staying in the education business.

I don’t know what the hell these dreams mean, of course, but I do know that my dreaming is a sign that I am sleeping more than usual. And that’s a good thing.

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