Monday, September 21, 2015

Musical Series: Intro and Pearl Jam is King






MUSIC has been a life saver for me. It is like a basic need. Food. Water. Shelter. Music. I have loved music my whole life. I was born into a pretty musical family and it seemed that there was always some form of music going on somewhere at any given time. I remember listening to Kenny Loggins in the car with my mother while running errands. I remember the Doobies blaring on Saturday mornings when she was cleaning. I remember very keenly my discovery of music videos on the old Night Tracks television program from artists like Duran Duran, Men at Work, The Police. With the magical combination of Muppets and music, I was aware of and familiar with most of the artists that appeared on Sesame Street, artists my mom exposed me to, like James Taylor, Carly Simon, Paul Simon and the like. Like most kids in the 80's I was also fascinated with Michael Jackson and listened to my mom's MJ records.  I was also drawn to musicals, and my mother being a fan, was given plenty of fodder to feed on. Plenty of Barbara Streisand and a flood of other favorites of my mother’s, including How the West Was Won, The Music Man, My Fair Lady.  Finian’s Rainbow was my favorite, that is - up until the later arrival of Newsies, which surpassed all others in my mind to become the crown jewel of favorite musicals!  



Needless to say I soaked up as much music as I could through all of these channels, and basically any other channels I could access. My mom's record collection. Whatever tapes I got my hands on. I remember snagging my father's copy of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' and playing it over and over again when I was probably eight years old. The first album I ever bought with my own allowance money was purchased at the Aafes in Schweinfurt, Germany. It was Richard Marx’ Repeat Offender album. I sharply remember hearing Richard Marx once in a store in Germany and in my mind is a mental snapshot of that moment. I also remember standing in line for pizza at age eleven and seeing the video for 'U Can't Touch This'. For me, music strongly ties to memories.  From age 10 through the teen years I saved up all of my money for tapes and eventually CDs. Others I remember saving for -  PM Dawn’s ‘Bliss Album’, U2’s ‘Joshua Tree’, Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ and ‘Siamese Dream’ The Fugees ‘The Score’, Radiohead’s ‘Pablo Honey’ and ‘The Bends’.  I even bought a Randy Travis album, probably the only country music album I ever owned. Music is what brought about friendships and boyfriends. The first gift I got from a guy in high school was the Stone Temple Pilots first album.













I was born as part of what I call the ‘MTV generation’. Those who were young when MTV was full of music, and was spearheading music movements, like Grunge, by bringing music, artists and music videos into the livingrooms of American youth. A time when music was becoming global. Ultimately, it was only a glimpse of what was to come with the oncoming arrival of household internet, making artists and their music accessible to the whole world instantaneously. 
I'm actually very grateful to have had access to MTV. Without a doubt, it made a positive impact on my life.



Some music is fondly remembered and brings us joy to hear, while other music changes our lives and we are never the same.  That’s what I’m here to talk about. I am trying to narrow it down to just the absolute life changing music. Music that saves. That heals. That brings us to life and becomes part of our soul.
I'm going to do a little series on the music that is most special to me, the top 5 artists/bands that have made the strongest impact on my life. I hope others post theirs, too. I love hearing about other people's relationship with music.
I have decided that the best way to do this is chronologically, so here goes.

Without a doubt in my mind the first musicians that came along and changed my life and wrapped around my soul like mother’s wings were Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Dave Abbruzzese and Eddie Vedder. Names I’ll never forget. The boys of Pearl Jam. (Though there have been a variety of drummers…)

pearl_jam_1991.jpg


It hit me like a wave.  The first time I heard their sound was on MTV, as Temple of the Dog, with the video to the song ‘Hunger Strike’, in what was likely the fall of 1992. Soon after, I discovered who Temple of the Dog was, likely through an MTV promo, as I could not just Google them. Once I discovered that they were a combination of the bands Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, I kept my eyes and ears out for them. I think Soundgarden’s ‘Rusty Cage’ was out at the time in video, and I caught them once in interview form on Headbanger’s Ball. Pearl Jam was soon to follow, as there was, at the time, Evenflow and Alive, both concert videos, as that was what they were up to at the time and how they catapulted themselves into one of the legs of the so-called Grunge music movement. Very quickly their music began to pop up more frequently in video form and soon, like dominoes, came appearances on SNL, Unplugged and at Lollapalooza. Living in the town I was in, with basically just a classic rock station, it wasn’t likely at all that I would ever have caught them on the radio. The only way I was going to get them into my stereo was by tape or CD. Thus, a clear memory of a trip to Musicland to buy the Ten album, and a lifelong fan was born.   


Most people have some idea who Pearl Jam is. This is who they are to me.
Most teenagers have angst. Its pretty much a given. I was no exception. What I also had, like too many other kids, was a lot of darkness and a lot of frustration over events in my life. I felt increasingly like an outcast. I felt like I was walking around like a zombie, carrying a secret burden, as I was. It was relevant that I first heard their sound in the fall of 1992, it was during a time when I was suffering sexual abuse from my father. Life had become too real for me. All of the music I loved before had lost its luster, it all seemed a lie. Pearl Jam came along and gave me truth, allowed me to accept emotions I had been trying to suppress, to deny. Life had kicked me in the teeth. Pearl Jam gave me both permission and inspiration to kick back. It was okay to be mad at the world. The world could deal some pretty bad shit. It is okay to disagree. It is okay to not accept the crap dish you’ve been handed.  Pearl Jam unapologetic-ally voiced their disagreement with the world, with the media, with politicians; became a voice for Gen X and through their music created masses of devoted followers and hype far faster than they were comfortable with.

I little cared about that at the time, though ultimately I credit them for planting the seeds that would grow my own political opinions, like Eddie’s persistent aversion to war. I just kept wearing out my Ten tape until I eventually had to buy a second one. To my delight, Ten was followed by Vs., Vitalogy, No Code, Yield. All of which I purchased on the day of their release, or as soon as I could..
I ignored friends that criticized the band, people that mocked them. They didn’t know as much as I did about them, and I really didn’t care. They would never understand just what an impact their music had on me, and they never had to. It was just for me to know.

Picking my top three favorite PJ songs is nearly impossible. I tried to just pick one from each of my favorite albums, but I have too many favorites there too.
There are a few, though, that have represented pivotal moments in my life

First, I love every song from Ten. When I am asked to shortlist my favorite songs, I usually just have to say the Ten album and exclude the entire album from my list. To narrow it down to one, I have to say while I do love Release, it means so much to me, but at that time in my life I was full of a lot of anger and no sense of any control of what was going on in my life. Porch complemented those feelings precisely. This particular version is from their appearance on MTV Unplugged. An event that I would definitely not miss if I could rent a time machine.




Second, I also love every song from Vs. The staunch statements made by W.M.A. and Glorified G I still agree with and are still very relevant to what’s going on in the United States, and I love those songs! This is about me, though, and I was trying so hard to put all the pain behind me, thus - Rearview Mirror.



Last but by no means least, Given to Fly just might be my most favorite Pearl Jam song, and were I to build a soundtrack for my life, it would not be complete without it.
By the time the Yield album came out, I had begun to think about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I was living apart from my mother, testing out my independent legs. Given to Fly was an anthem for me. I had come out of so much, and yet had remained bright and positive about where I was going in the world, at least on most days. I have so much love for this song, it means so much to me. It is a victory song, and it says all the things that I can’t say about what this band has meant to me. They were the wave that delivered me wings.




As an adult I have continued to appreciate their musical pursuits, and Eddie Vedder's independent pursuits as well. I am so glad they are a band that continues to make music and songs that impact my life, like 'Just Breathe', 'Sirens', 'Rise' and 'Society'.  
I am forever grateful for these guys.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy Halloween

Twice in a month. That's better..? Right?
I feel like I am ten times busier than I was last year. That's just about it. Then sometimes I'm not at all. But I am recovering from busy in those times. So they are fruitless. Well, besides rest.
Halloween is coming up in a couple of days. We've got a pumpkin. I'm making Tres Leches Cake. Hmm.
I bought candy. Its so expensive. We're gonna have to make up for it with tricks. Sorry kids.
Xana will be Wednesday Addams. Alecia wanted to be a pirate but all the affordable pirate costumes are super cheesy and she wants authentic. So she's going to go zombie.
We aren't all-out Halloweeners. Though I really do embrace the idea of celebrations like Dia De Los Muertos or Samhain. I like the belief that many cultures have that the veil is thin between the living and dead at this time. I can see how humanity drew that conclusion. Cool weather sets in. Leaves die off and fall to the ground. Predators begin to stalk prey more fervently. Evidence of our impermanence is certainly more visible. This time of year I always think of those who have gone on before us. I take time to think on them and dust the cobwebs from my memories. Making a place for the souls of the dead at our table, as in the Gaelic Samhain celebration, is a way to describe what happens in my mind. I am not making a physical place for them at our table, but I am clearing them a place in my mind to think on them and remember them. We light candles in the night and in our jack-o-lantern and tell the girls stories of those who have gone ahead. That is how we celebrate.

Anywho, as a note to what is going on with us this week. I am down a weekly client, after a series of clients that were temporary, so I am down to three days working until I track down more work. In the meantime, I spent that extra day building a menu for the week and a detailed grocery list. I often wonder if other people spend the sort of time that I do on a grocery list. Its a labor of love. And of budgeting. Leaves my head spinning. Currently I am checking out Plan to Eat in an effort to streamline the process. I will let you know how that goes. Fortunately we do have online ordering and delivery for local grocery stores. Sometimes I remember to plan ahead for that even.
Alecia is heavy on the books, though she has been a bit sick this week. She is really loving her Two Roads Charter experience and it is awesome to see her eagerly take on the challenge.
Xana is switching gears and putting off Two Roads for a time. This year has been a lot of change for her and it has not been easy. So we are easing into feeling our way through homeschooling while I am working part time. We're carving our way through. As I have said a million times in our homeschooling experience, I am SO thankful for the internet. Education NOW, anything you wanna learn, anywhere, any time. A feast for the curious mind, and THAT is how we have managed to grow such smart kids. Hungry brains and an all you can eat education buffet via internet.
David is loving his new schedule and has gotten back into biking, as well as made time for new hobbies, so that is great news indeed. He's a man who needs hobbies. A revolving door full of them.

The girls and I are so excited about the next month we almost can't stand it. We are going to see Bastille in a little over a week AND the Bryant fam is coming to see us for Thanksgiving. We don't really know how to contain ourselves.
On that note, I leave you with a Halloween Bastille song. This is one of my favorites. Embracing skeleton lovers, what a great image for Dia de Los Muertos.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Fickle Fail

So far I have failed to keep up with my blog since moving, or since - well since a while. I am going to once again attempt to remedy that. I am constantly wanting to jot thoughts down and never take the time to do it. Instead I suck up spare time with Netflix, Facebook and Farm Heroes. I am going to try to exchange some of that time. Life is short. There are so many people I would like to keep up with and I am terrible at touching base with those people. So this is a way I can at least share my life with those I love.

Having recently begun my own business in household assistance, I have been getting to know new clients. My Mondays are spent with Sarah, who is a young 20 something with three little ones, one of which is only a handful of months old. She is very sweet and just one of those people who exudes calm, positive energy. I enjoy being in her house. Its very warm, sunny, fragrant and quiet. Like most moms of multiple little ones, she is behind on lots of things at home. Laundry, dishes, regular cleaning, so its good that I can help her and she is very grateful, an added perk of the job. Its nice to swoop in and save someone from the encroaching disaster. It fulfills my own chivalrous senses; plus, what I would have given to have someone swoop in and save from the avalanche that my household has been at times! I know what a blessing it is.  Sometimes I get to amuse her little infant daughter, who is just the cutest little patoot.
Today Xana went with me because school has been really causing her a lot of anxiety, which I do not know what to do about currently. It really just wrecks my day when she has a panic attack in the morning over attending the homeschool enrichment course. Lately it has been almost every time and I am now considering removing her, which kind of throws a wrench in my plans for this year and next, when I had planned to retire from homeschooling. Forunately, I am flexible. I haven't committed myself to too many things and have had success at creating my own flexible work schedule that is subject to my own terms.
I have determined that this has just been too many changes for her in a short amount of time. Moving. An entire new atmosphere at home. A new schedule. The loss of her friend network and the loss of the little 'village' we had going. Then there is puberty, which is coming at her like Miley Cyrus' wrecking ball. Periods. Shaving. Boys. To add to all that a new, more rigorous school experience which has turned out to be nothing like what she imagined. I had thought she would thrive amidst a school environment and as all parents are at times, I was totally off on that. While she adored the idea of lockers and class presidential elections and sports, she has been crushed by the reality of hard teachers and being half a foot shorter than her peers who treat her like a little kid, having come from a homeschool group where she was like the mother hen to a host of girls younger than her. Its all been so hard, I totally get it. I clearly remember the strains of school, though I had no choice or flexibility. I simply had to go. She has not grown up with that idea. And so quick she is to say "I don't have to do this" that it has caused a conflict within me to push her to muscle through. And of course, the more I push, the more the panic rises. *sigh*

On that note...

To sum up my world for the day, I hit home and made my weekly appointed phone call with one of my besties then proceeded to fall into a short binge of Walking Dead. I am not generally a fan of zombies or or dystopian tales, but I am so invested with these characters I simply have to keep watching to find out what happens. Also, the show just has this sort of haunted lens into this whole zombie apocalypse. The characters themselves seem haunted and are so broken that they change from one scene to the next. Will they be tough or will they show mercy. What is it that they have in them this day? We think we  know what we would do in that situation, we think we know ourselves, but really, we have no idea what that sort of trauma will do to us! That is what keeps me watching. Which character traits end up panning out on the show? Which are weaknesses? I have also played the video game, which really expounds on that idea. When pressed, what would we do? The game changes based on your reactions and your decisions. I once clicked the wrong thing and there was no going back. I had a moment of devastation, as it wasn't something I would have done, but then I thought, life is like that. Many times we make choices that we look back on and think 'why did I do that? That's so unlike me'.
I think that ultimately the show finds success not because of zombies but because it wrestles with the fear of an unimaginable situation and the suspense of life-or-death decisions. That is why the show is popular and that is what I always tell skeptics who haven't ventured to watch it.

Before bed, Xana and I watched Once Upon a Time together, which she loves and I find a bit cheesy, but I keep watching because of Killian Jones, aka Captain Hook. You know me. Always a sucker for a dark, handsome, underdog hero.
We then read three chapters of the Wizard of Oz together; the original version, which I have not read til now. I have thus far been surprised by the differences in the classic film. Thus far, it turns out, there are more parallels between the original Wizard of Oz book and Gregory Maguire's Wicked book series.

Well, at this hour I guess I'm up for the day. Woohoo for earlier than expected mornings due to insomnia!
Going to throw some no-knead bread out to go with my slow-cooker lentil soup and get this day started.
Love to all.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Quiet is the Thrush



Quiet is the thrush
beneath the weeping wind.
Aching dull is the sky
to which the soft elms bend.


Heavy is the air
that moves in from the seas,
and laden with a chill
that threatens soon to freeze.


Fallow lay the fields
and broken are the walls,
open are the gates
and empty are the halls.
Useless lay the swords
upon the cobbled ground,
for not one man of valor
in armor can be found.


Weary are the souls
that have measured every hour
with the lonely grieving toll
of the church bell in its tower.
Murdered is our king
and the few left in his stead,
those who still remain
will surely soon be dead.


Breached were our defenses,
and quickly overtaken.
Broken were the treaties,
all the oaths forsaken.


Quickly will we fall
and all will be forgotten,
crosses in the churchyard
under thick grasses sodden.
Blazoned is the victor.
Our destruction is his glory.
Bold heroism remembered,
as time will weave its story

©2014 Eleanor Raif


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reading (Writing) Rainbow (a 15 min. writing challenge)


Haven't written or blogged in awhile, I needed a warm-up so I gave myself a 15 min. writing challenge.
Write for 15 min. Try to ignore your mistakes or over-analyze and just keep going.

After I finished I was reminded of Reading Rainbow. Can't tell you how inspired I was by this as a kid! I remember being glued to that show and riveted by the idea that I can be ANYTHING - in a book.




Born writer. I can’t help it. It just flows from me.
It goes on and on whether or not there is a type pad or keyboard or pencil to listen, it is born indefinitely in the folds of my mind, perpetual creation.
It is not the sound or pentameter, not the measurement, rhythm or balance of words, it is their physicality and meaning.  A constant description of feeling, thoughts, plans, intentions.

Words keep me up. Sometimes words I mean to write, sometimes words that just stream by in a trickle. Thoughts outlined and tamed, as if made physical through the vision of the letters that make them up.

Sometimes they move me to create, sometimes they undermine me.

I say born writer, and I mean it.  Surely from the moment I could express myself on paper I took to it as a fish to water, as a human to the earth. A world unfolded before me and all that passed through my mind could be recorded, shared, remembered.

Drawing never could do it or music despite my adoration for it. Nothing ever expressed what was in me, but words - words quickly became my preferred medium.

I do not claim to be a master, nor do I aspire to be one.
I merely do what I must do. I must write.

Words are my way of wooing my dreams, my careful and gentle descriptions tempt them, and they unfurl before me with eagerness. 

I have read other writer’s blogs and taken note of the pressure they feel.
To write something others will want to read, to market themselves.

As for me, I have a hard time relating.  I mean, sure, I can understand the pressure of critics, the desire to make an impression on readers, to write something that the world might call truly great.

But I write for me. I write because it gives breath to my dreams. I write that I might draw the physical from the illusionary. That I might one day recall all that has been created in my mind by reading. I write so that the story will be told.
That there will be a record of Ronan MacDhughaill’s existence, be it only in my mind. And that Ferran might make his way to Katya and not remain an echo on a scant set of neurons in my brain. That Sulimea can find life, after all he has come so far, from another planet in my mind.

I hope that one day readers will enjoy my larger works, but I am not bound by whether or not they will find them entertaining.
They are, after all, my dreams, worlds of my own creation.  I wrote them not for entertainment’s sake, but that I might capture them as one would capture fireflies. 
I am intrigued by them again and again, and that is why they were captured in the first place.

Everything else is irrelevant.

As a child, I spent a lot of time alone. Have no pity, I enjoyed every second of it. I preferred solitude to company, and still do, because of the treasure trove of imagination in me. I could be anyone doing anything at any time, anywhere, and with the power of writing, I could visit that place again and again and pick up right where I left off.

I do not aspire to change the world with my stories. There are thousands of wonderful storytellers out there.

What I do want to do is encourage everyone to write, or find some means of expressing yourself. You never know what you might discover about yourself.  You may find entire worlds within yourself that you never knew existed, and putting them into words can make them real and accessible to everyone that desires to seek them.

Share yourself.
Write. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lessons from A Dog



In January our sweet Barkley died. 
I thought a lot about him today on a walk with Denver, his nervous successor. 

Interesting that Barkley arrived in our lives, unplanned and unintended (as most great things do) at a time when we had no sense of direction and no confidence in ourselves. What we lacked he was full of.  He was meant for us, in every way.  He was chosen.  Whoever abandoned him and dumped him in a field with a bag of dog food could not know that he was meant for us.  That was Barkley’s own journey, his own bit of life we’ll never know about, but when he came to us, it was with providence. Despite whatever he may have faced before us, he came bounding with confidence in US.   
Whatever question we had in ourselves, whatever doubts, Barkley had none. He led us to find in ourselves what we could not, because no matter what demons we had, there he would be, still confident.  When we were nervous about the choices we made with the children, when we were unsure that we could ever feel our way through a real marriage, when we didn’t know even how we would pay bills the next week, he was there. Cool. Confident. “You got this.” He seemed to say.  Reassuring gazes. Following happily with a toss of the tail. Bursting with excitement about whatever was around the bend.  Unflinching.  Wholly receptive to what life had for him, for us as a pack.

When he died he left a tremendous void. A vacuum. Our faithful friend and confident mascot was gone.  However, even in his death it seemed he was reassuring us because he left us at a very hopeless point. We were at a terrible place in our marriage. We had returned again to the lack of confidence, the lack of hope, and in his death we were humbled. The only lesson his existence had left to teach us required the loss of him.  We were reminded of the brevity of life. Reminded that our opportunities to show and give love to each other, at least in this space, are numbered. Ultimately, his loss just might have saved our marriage.

A few months later we acquired Denver. I have now realized that she was the fulfillment of the lessons he gave us.  Her arrival required that the student become the teacher.

She is afraid of everything.  When the air conditioner kicks on she jerks.  Noises scare her. Trash cans scare her.  The garage scares her. The sound of the security lock scares her. Dogs scare her. Cars scare her the most, their sound, their doors, riding in them. The cat even scared her at first.  (Though, he can be intimidating.)

I realize now that all the tools we have to use to help her came from Barkley.  The things we must draw on to reassure her, all the things that we are trying to instill in her are all traces of Barkley.  Through us he is her teacher, as he was ours. Barkley had a way about him.  He could reassure other dogs with his nature.  Calm.  Peaceful. Positive. He could soothe a nervous dog and a nervous person and all the time I am working with her I feel those lessons he gave us working.  Its as if he is here with us, having to teach her all the things that he came to us already knowing. All the traits God gave him so that he could bless us are in turn blessing her and ultimately blessing us all the more because now we must learn again through teaching her all those things.  Through it all we are reminded of who we once were, of all the confidence we lacked, of all the fears we had and all the things we used to let bring us down.  Moving back to Texas has moved us to question all of it, and Barkley leaving us has been the final shove, leaving us to see if we can sail on our own with confidence in who we are, and who we once set out to be.  That we can still be all those things, and not let fear or questions seep in.  To hold to the confidence and hope, and to be like Barkley. Tossing our tail in excitement for whatever may come and not retreating in fear.

Like Denver. She comes to us full of fear. She comes to us afraid of what might happen next. Afraid of what life holds for her. With those things, though, come a heart of solid gold and an ocean of love for us.  She never knew him, but Barkley has given her so much through us, and I am in awe of the lessons within us that these animals continue to bring to us. 

Dogs blessed by a family, a family blessed by dogs.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Second-hand Memories


Recently I had been looking at pictures of my grandfather, Roy Kemper, many taken in the few years preceding his death. He died in his fifties when I was only about three, and I have a faint memory of him holding me on the sidewalk outside of his home and me touching his beard. It was sunny out and my mother was parked on the street. It is odd to have such a snapshot in my mind, as if I knew that would be the only memory I would have, though small and seemingly insignificant, I kept it as a treasure in my heart. 'Remember this man' my mind had told me.

He fathered six children, and lately I have had my nieces and nephew visiting, which makes five kids in my household, all his grandchildren. My mother told me that he would take time outs and go to a quiet room to escape the noise, for the sake of peace in his mind. I completely relate to that and lately have been, during mid-afternoon, retiring to my room for a time just to gather my thoughts and have a moment of relative quiet.  I have thought on him and wondered what he might have thought about. I did not know him well, and the only things I know of him are second hand.  I have seen pictures and have read words written in his own neat handwriting. Rare that he was a doctor with neat handwriting.

So thought provoking it is to wonder about the life of another who came before you. I wonder how others will recount memories of me to others who will come after me. I wonder what they will gather from clues left behind.  In this modern world I am able to record a lot more of my own thoughts, and I think on how useful that is, and how I wish that others before me had left as many clues to what thoughts they had and the insights they had on life.  Not that I would agree with them, but that their memory would be more than a name, and I could feel as though I knew them in some way.

Words are powerful things, left behind to speak for us when we are not there to speak for ourselves.  There is no changing them or amending them after we are gone.  A reminder to use them wisely.

For the family that may read this, if you have any dusty memories of him that you think I might not know, please share them with me. He is a puzzle in my mind I have long been piecing together, among others.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You're not friends.

"You're not friends. You'll never be friends. You'll be in love till it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other until it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Love isn't brains, children, it's blood-blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it."
~Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer


So very true, this I am learning after 12 years of marriage. It was a help to me. 
(And of course I love Buffy)











Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dreaming it all up.

I am blessed to have somehow discovered Dorien Grey and Me a couple of years ago.  I have kept up with that blog on and off for awhile and always come away with something.  This was a long response I decided to put on my own blog.  Thanks Roger.

Friedrich Nietzsche

I have always loved my dreams, they are an integral part of me.  Since a young child I had vivid and very real dreams that often left me confused as to whether I had made it up or was seeing the future, or past life or something that could not be explained.

I had a few specific recurring dreams that faded away at one point in my life, though the setting I have often revisited.  I've had dreams that flickered like old film before me, dreams that went by like slideshows of moments that I could not tell whether real or not, far too realistic for me to accept as made up.
I've had epic dreams with intricate plots and a vast set of characters that left me almost spinning when I woke up to find myself there in my bed.
They are an escape in our mind, and an amazing example of the creativity and capability of our brain to retain information. Some dreams pull up things I never knew that I knew. For example, the other night I had a very long dream, one of those epic dreams.  We had flown to Europe, some colleagues and I - people I don't know, yet their appearance and the personal details I knew about them made them like people I have always known. Isn't it amazing how our brain does that? Or does it? I've often wondered where it comes from.  The people in our dreams often - we already know them. Yet, in our waking conscious mind, we can not place them.  Who are these people?
Anyway, back to the dream. After getting to see many cities from my childhood, as well as other cities I had never been to, we ended up in some town in Germany where I met Friedrich Nietzsche.  I do not recall in my working memory the man's face, or anything about him that I may have learned somehow at some point in my life, but the face of the man was so distinct.  I remembered it as if I had actually seen him.  When I woke up I Googled him (as I am prone to do) and was so surprised that his photograph matched perfectly and he was German, which I really didn't know.
Which makes me wonder if the other things about him would have been the same.  He had a soft way of speaking, very proper and a gentle nature, it seemed.  He was well dressed, but seemed a bit socially awkward.

I have done this so many times, dreamed of people, in particular, in such detail. The stories I write always begin in a dream, and the characters often mainly spring from that same source. When I begin to write about them something magical happens. They visit my dreams again, sometimes often.  This is a wonderful thing to me, these dynamic characters I dreamed up returning to me.

What an amazing vast ocean we have in our minds of possibility! Never ceases to amaze me.
I have so much to say about dreams. Its a subject I'll have to come back to.