Maria Callas in Pink Polyester
By k.marie.petrarca on June 01, 2013
So I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to write next. Since I have so much to tell you, I'll have to break it down into manageable posts. Today, I shall tell you about my dream from a couple of nights ago. We've all got them, right? This one just happens to be ultra-surreal, and I hope you find it as entertaining as I did.
It is important to mention that for the past year, ever since I decided that I wanted to make Italy my home as soon as possible, I have daydreamed of little else. Okay, "nothing else". During the past year I have filed many anecdotes about my research and the application process away in various places - my computer, my blog, my friends' ears, and my own mind - both consciously and subconsciously. During the day things are linear, cohesive. But at night things morph into a messy, paper-filled cabinet of too many thoughts to bear - documents hopelessly strewn on the floor and over every available horizontal surface. Just the horizontal surfaces? AMATEUR! There is a secretary that enters the mind who, despite the overwhelming nature of the disorder, manages to run the shredder and fill the waste can. She categorizes all the seemingly-unrelated paperwork into tidy piles and places them into neatly-labeled folders. Perhaps that is the reason that I started to dream about the whole thing. The past year has left me with far too many mental documents strewn about needing organizing. This quest has taken on a life of its own. Literally! No, seriously... it has taken on a life of its own like the dreams of REM sleep!
I do not often remember my dreams, but this one was phenomenal! And it did not need any creative embellishment for it to be told. It is at once linear and nonsensical, comforting and disconcerting. It was so vivid, it was as though I were watching a movie. And while it was short, when I awoke, the memories of it, both visual and visceral, were crystal clear! Who were the players, you ask? Well, since it was my dream, of course I was in it. But so was long-dead Greek-American soprano and paramour of Aristotle Onassis (prior to his undeniable attraction to Jackie O steered him away like a shipping magnet), Maria Callas. Yes, THAT Maria Callas! The third strangely notable character was star of stage, screen, and television, Scottish actor Alan Cumming, with whose work I am not really even that familiar. Yeah, I don't "get it" either. This dream references a line from an R.E.M. song which Michael Stipe sings with Patti Smith called E-Bow The Letter - "dreaming of Maria Callas, whoever she is." No, I do not understand what the lyric relates to. I only know it manifested itself as a reality... an actual dream of Maria Callas. And while I certainly cannot speak for him, it's doubtful even Stipe himself would be able to articulate the reference in the song, as so many R.E.M. songs are comprised of an inexplicable stream of lyrical consciousness. And while few do the "stream of consciousness" thing well, Stipe is a master.
But as luck would have it, I DO KNOW who Maria Callas is! And in my dream she was a clerk at an office in which I had official business related to my citizenship application. And she was waiting on me (talk about grandiose, eh)! She was seated behind a reception counter, much like a 1960s-era school secretary. While I would have expected more of a bouffant style, her hair was pulled back in a smooth chignon, like she wears it in this photograph from her role in La Traviata. But in my dream, she wore a pink polyester suit with large, round matching buttons and 3/4 length cuffed sleeves. It was very 1960s office staff, save the sleek hair which was much more reminiscent of the timeless and ethereal creature she was on stage.
I informed her of the purpose of my visit, and she pulled out a birth certificate with perfectly typed lettering bearing the name and vital information of my Italian-born great-great grandmother. The interesting thing about this is that my great-great grandmother was born in 1854 when the vital records in the town of her birth were hand-written. But there it was - typed, crisp, vivid. She then smiled at me and proudly announced that she had shared my great-grandmother's birth certificate with actor Alan Cumming. And while it even seemed strange in my dream, I asked her, "is he my cousin, too?" Well, so far as I know Alan Cumming is neither of Italian descent nor my cousin. And just as I asked the question, the dream was over. But why dream of him at all? Or her? If dreaming really is the mind's way of purging clutter to make room for acquisition of new information, then my mind had a lot of clutter and a whole lot of purging to do.
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