I worked as a tree surgeon in my madness-of-youth days. Scaling, shaping, cabling and removing portions of trees. Ropes, leather saddles, climbing spikes, chain saws, pole saws, pole clippers and so on. The first time I ascended to a height of more than 20 feet I was scared — holding on for dear life. But you gradually get past that and before long you’re almost a spider monkey. You know what to do and how to go about it, and any fear of falling is pushed into the depths of your psyche or, you know, more or less ignored.

Early this morning or during the hour of the wolf, I dreamt I was 80 or 90 feet high in a huge, century-old eucalyptus tree, but without my climbing gear and once again hanging on for dear life. It was my task to somehow cut loose a huge leader that had snapped and half-fallen but was still hanging onto the main trunk. No way was I even thinking about how to accomplish this task. I would have had concerns about this kind of job during my tree-climbing peak days, let alone in the year 2019.

The feeling I had as I evaluated my situation was a metaphor, of course, for how I sometimes feel about writing Hollywood Elsewhere, and the thoughts of possible doom and tragedy that nibble at my soul, and of the hungry salivating wolves waiting below if I should fall and crash into the ground and break my back in the bargain. Then I felt myself slip. I woke up like Jimmy Stewart did from his Madeline Elster nightmare in Vertigo.

Nice life, huh?