Welcome to DreamCircle.com

This site is in loving memory of Elana Kestrel, 1962-2013. She did superb journalism and interviews in a specialized music field at her own expense, before the Internet was a household word. She hoped to put her work online, but wasn’t able to do so before cancer ended her life.

Elana (on the left of the banner picture) and Christopher Allen (that’s me on the right) shared love and life for a decade, most of that with my being her caregiver for her war with cancer, as it spread and ultimately caused her shockingly sudden death in late 2013.

elana-and-chris on rainbow-day

In better days, a friend noticed a rainbow behind us as we visited an air show.

Elana wrote this as what turned out to be the last post on her earlier blog, describing her original vision for this site:

Back in the mid 80s to the mid-80s I (Elana) used to be involved in the then-obscure electronic music scene. The superstars of that era were artists and bands such as Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, Klaus Schultz and Vangelis. Other shining stars such as the late Mike Garrison, Mark Shreeve, Steve Roach and Michael Stearns ruled the scene, yet now seem to almost forgotten compared to the golden era of electronic music.

Since this era began back in the 70s before the Internet some fans responded by becoming amateur journalists, chronicling the scene as it unfolded. In the USA, Jim Finch began the International Electronic Music Association in the late 70s producing many issues of his SYNE magazine. Over in the Netherlands, KLEM magazine was published regularly in the local language, yet succeeded somehow in spreading news of the scene all over the planet.

Other amateur magazines came and went, such as the “Contact List of Electronic Music” in Canada, WAVES in Germany, Space Rider in England, Synthesis as published by Jason Marcewitz in Philadelphia. Last but not least, from around 1988 to around 1996 DREAMS WORD was created by a motley group of friends known as Electronic Dreams in Portland, Oregon.

The publisher of DREAMS WORD is the same person who now is in charge of DreamCircle.com. My goal with DreamcCircle is and always has been to capture this lost history of electronic music. I plan to scan my own work and the work of other English-speaking amateur magazines mentioned above into PDF and archiving them on this site.

In doing this, I have to deal with the fact that I am in a race between my ambitions for this site and the fact that I have late-stage breast cancer that has spread to the liver. Chemo causes me to sleep up to 18 hours per day and I am sick the rest of the time.

Still this pile of amateur magazines sit in a box in my room every day, as if silently pleading to be put on the internet so that this era is not forgotten. I hope to answer the call before I am completely, utterly, physically unable to do so – or they find a cure for my especially-stubborn form of carcinoma.

I plan to begin by archiving my own works and putting them on Dream Circle. Next I plan to scan Jim Finch’s impressive amount of work on SYNE magazine (which dwarfs my own by a large margin) and adding it to the archive. (Thanks for the permission, Jim!) Then in drips and drabs as permission comes in, I will scan and archive the miscellaneous pile of English-speaking zines that came and went over the years back then.

Can it happen? Let’s hope! It helps that I spent several years working in graphics and I have an expertise in both Photoshop and Acrobat. I can make these old, tattered amateur magazines shine. I plan to make each page easily printable on your home printer so that you can reproduce these old works.

That is the hope. That is the dream. I hope to somehow again gather the circle of friends I had back then and together we can make this dream happen. Hence the name “Dream Circle”.

Expect that this effort will come with frustrating long waits at times as I deal with the latest damn-thing that my cancer serves up to me. All I want is to be able to accomplish this effort before I must go to the next world. Stay tuned for what happens next. You’ll find out when I do via my upcoming blog.

Welcome to this dream.

Twenty-four days after she wrote that, she died.

My goal is to complete what she envisioned.

Elana chose to love, to be with, to dedicate her commitment, to someone. She chose to do that with me. She told me that if it had not been for knowing that she was loved - for knowing that I loved her - she would have not pursued the cancer treatment, which, difficult as it was, kept her alive for the better part of a decade after her diagnosis.

Without my love, she told me many times - and each and every time I told her that I felt shame at not being enough to save her - she would have simply refused to fight. She felt that her own life was not worth fighting for on its own, but a life to share with me was worth the fight. I look back on her depth of devotion for and care about me, her steadfast belief in me, celebration of the successes I sometimes had in my life, and desire to see me succeed futher, for our shared joy. As I do so I am humbled and grateful.

And, when I sometimes slip to despair at her loss, I also remind myself that she wanted me to be proud of how much I did help her and how much I did mean to her. It is impossible to appropriately honor and provide a memorial tribute to someone, while denying full acknowledgement and respect to her choice of what - and who - meant the most to her.

Therefore, it is appropriate for me that while honoring the work she did to celebrate the music she loved, I also honor her choice of life partner she loved, and to whom she entrusted the conclusion of the work she had done and the continuation of the work she would have done, had life let her continue. And that I honor what life itself meant to her. And how I am grateful and proud that I helped her reach for a higher definition of her own worth and value, as she also helped me to do.

There is a fulfillment of this, through this site, that has been incomplete, and it is time now for it to become completed. These are things appropriate to put on the site that she started, and that honors her after her passing.

Commitment to build a life together has a price and a reward. Emotional and life intimacy through sharing life's journey is the reward. The inherent and unavoidable cost is vulnerability to pain and loss. That is the mandatory, and sometimes brutally so, price that we may not ever be called on to pay, but that some of us sometimes must.

Those who have not dedicated their lives to the love of another person, with the inherent cost required by emotional and life intimacy and commitment to build a life together, might not understand. Those who have also been widowed have done so, as have many of those who have chosen a path of partnership that is still ongoing.

There are some things that are true, necessary, right, and good, which simply cannot be adequately put into words for those whose life paths have gone in a different direction. It is not wrong, or lesser, or not enough, for some people to choose an entirely independent life path, which does not include the commitment of a primary romantic relationship and life partnership sustained through better or worse - in my case, til death did us part.

For those of us who have made this commitment, life remains incomplete until we convey what we can of the life story and meaning and preciousness of those we have lost. This is a necessary, right and good, true and significant part of my own sense of closure and completion on Elana's tragically foreclosed and incomplete life. And there is more I must do to complete what can yet be finished about that in my own remaining lifetime.

Elana wanted Dreamcircle to have two parts: to serve as the archive of her own work, and also to serve as a central hub, an online home, a referral and connection resource as delighted to make introductions virtually as she was delighted and delightful at making introductions personally, for the creative works of some other people; and I was intended to be one of those people. And while she absolutely meant this to include music, she did not intend for it to only include music.

Her own creative spark, for example, included visual design and handcrafted artwork, as well as her journalism. Dreamcircle so far has been incomplete, because it only attempted to honor one portion of what mattered most - and who mattered most - to Elana. She had an immense interest in music that expressed a creative passion and ingenuity, the combination of musical inspiration and craft with technological skill, fused together in a new way that knocked her socks off with its meaning and power.

She had an immense interest in understanding the thought process, the creative craftsmanship, the life experiences of those who made this music. This is what made her interviews so openly free flowing an invitation for the artists, and so compelling to read. She intended to share the music and to honor, appreciate, celebrate those who made it, and to provide a community for those who loved it.

She succeeded at all these goals for a while.

The only failure came when she did not realize that she could ask for appropriate financial support from the community in order to be able to carry on the work. This was not about not loving the music enough, or not appreciating the musicians enough, or not caring about the community enough. It was about having not yet overcome the damaging effects of very extensive abuse experiences in her past.

This damage kept her from fully valuing her own worth, which in turn would have let her value her work. With that accurate internal sense of self-worth in her heart and mind, this would have let her easily learn about how to ask for a return of supportive caring energy exchange; in the form of subscription rates to sustain her work as an ongoing business.

Looking back, I believe that at the time she shut down the newsletter - before she and I fell in love - if someone had talked with her about how it's okay, actually it's a good, rightful, beneficial thing for everyone, to let those who benefit from something contribute to its ongoing support, she would have agreed it could be good for others, but not right for her. "Other newsletters could charge enough to actually cover costs," I think she'd have said, "but that can't apply to little ol' me."

I think she might well have said, "I get the concept of letting people who can afford more pay more, and then I could give a sliding scale or scholarship to people as broke as I am. But, asking for more in the first place is better than someone like me could deserve. That kind of approach would be good for someone else. But I am not good enough for it myself."

Her inner thermostat of what was okay for her, and what would be too much, was set at a very, very low level. Her inner definition of "too much for me" was actually at a level lower than what would provided a continuously safe, healthy, harmonious, pleasant, trouble-free good life, a life that included productively doing and sharing her best work without any hint of self-harm or financial destruction.

It is the tragedy of her life that the shatteringly painful abusive experiences she'd had earlier in her life, had trained her to set her thermostat so low that she'd somehow, perhaps, not be a target any more of violence and cruelty, of bullying and destruction.

The evil done to her was, of course, not in any way caused or incited or inevitable from her not being a good enough person. It was caused by those who hurt her not being good enough people. But, as she and I deeply discussed throughout the years, it is the greatest success of evildoers that they can transplant their own shame into their victims.

This is what had happened to her. I am not saying that "the thermostat" was a deliberately conscious, fully aware choice, that there was some marker point in her mind to say, "more than $x is more than I deserve." If she had put it into words, x would probably have been substantially under the poverty line.

As with all debilitating injuries to the psyche and soul from trauma, it was a way of seeing, a sense of interpretation of life, a feeling about life's meaning for her, that was not perceived as verbal step by step chain of cause and effect. It was a dark storm cloud that often blocked the light of truth - the simple truth of her being good enough - from her perception.

I have seen this is countless examples of people with all types of businesses and careers, that are far below their potential level of reciprocal contribution and reward. It was true of Elana not just with her business, but also with her own career.

She'd taken in deprecating lies and falsehoods she'd learned from abuse, such as feeling that hiding away in a back room job where nobody would have the misfortune of having to interact with her, was all she could hope for. This was from the same smashed-down mindset that kept her from appropriately charging a reasonable price for her newsletter.

The low thermostat does not just hurt the person who has it. The loss is most obvious and distressing in their own lives, for what it costs them of harmoniously healthy and happy times of life, for the underminding of peace of mind and hope for the future; the psychic cost can be even more expensive than the lost money.

But the unrealistically low thermostat of success imposes a great though largely hidden cost on society as well. For it deprives the rest of the world of the best contributions that the person could have made, the full development of their potential for good work.

In Elana's case, how much better would it have been for so many people, if she could have had her journalism be its own self-supporting career path? What if she could have easily afforded to travel to do additional in-studio and concert-backstage interviews; to have included video, and then online video, as the technology became more affordable - but for one broke as a churchmouse? What if she could have established an online radio service providing the best of this music to subscribers?

How do I know the nature of the thermostat so well?

It is not just from conversations with her. It is because that same smashed-down thermostat, as a consequence of harmful traumatic abusive experiences before she and I got together is the tragedy of my life, too.

My thermostat was set at a higher level than hers, but still at an insufficient level to fulfill the good I could have done at the day job career, and freelancing, and business. Looking back, I see opportunities that were present and good, but that were invisible to my own eyes because of that dark cloud, that terrible ceiling to life, put in by the thermostat sense of "no, that would be too much good to hope for someone like me."

The greatest work of art each of us did, was to help each other to heal those inner wounds, through the grace that comes with commitment in love; to find a break in the clouds for the light to shine in, the light of each person's own inherent, God-given dignity and worth and right to succeed in life.

With our own studies of psychological growth, and our ongoing daily conversations to help each other with this growth, and wonderful counselors we got to work with at the cancer center, towards the end of her life she had made such profound strides towards honoring herself fully; that is what made possible her even seeing it as possible that her journalism archive was important enough to share online.

I am very happy, grateful, and proud that even in the time of our close and dear friendship before it developed further into mutually committed love, I was able to help her find a new path in work that paid much better for her, and that was far more compatible with her innate strengths and gifts rather than with the awful lies.

Taking my suggestion, she was superb at providing technical support on the phone, talking with one person after another all day, solving their problems and offering guidance from her expertise in ways that were happy to receive! Including, to my amazement, her being able to guide people through complex graphics operations with software like Photoshop, by voice only, before the days of ready online screen sharing!

Later, when we were together, we jointly did some marketing consulting on promotional web and graphic design and copywriting. She joyously shared her point of view about how to honor and celebrate what our clients had to offer - the very same theme as the newsletter, for this was such a delightful part of her personality - and clients appreciated the joy she brought, as much as the specific technical work of site navigation and so forth. The same love and care she had for the music, she had for me.

It is time for what I suppose could be considered Dreamcircle version 3. The first version being her own initial vision and drive of a creative projects site for herself and others, but initally, for her arts and writing. The second version being my carrying on the posting of her writing and the building of an online version of the archive of her celebration of a unique genre of music that for some people, including both her and me, is astonishingly powerful in how deeply it connects with our spirits, moves our hearts, intrigues and fascinates our minds, compels our attention and welcomes our love.

And that leads to the question she strove to answer: "What kind of men and women were able to make these waves of such meaningful sound? And how did their lives and their ideas lead them to do so? And how can we share both this music and this understanding of its makers, with more people who might also find it inspires them just as much as it does us?"

The third version being to complete not just the archive, but also the completion of her vision of helping others - including myself, and what I have to share of my own perspective and my own artistry - including my views on Elana, and on music, and on the shocking power of abuse to destroy, and of love to rebuild and heal.

After my own cancer and chemo, with tremendous kindness and generosity of spirit, an old friend of Elana's offered to help me relocate in an effort to establish a new life. This led to only partial success. I had a safe place to work through the hardest edge of the grief at losing her. I did find some work and did have some excellent experiences being of service to clients.

But, in a way I did not realize because of my own unhealed inner thermostat's limitations, I did not realize that I had moved into a region that is unhealthy for someone with my medical history.

In a "boiled frog" scenario I lived through in these most recent years, without realizing it my health, energy level, and mental alertness declined - and this is not at all the fault of my friend! - to a level of depletion and exhaustion. I realized I'd need to leave the area to regain my health, but knowing this, local people did not want to hire someone with, at least mentally, one foot out the door!

As a consequence, helping me became a very unrealistic, excessive burden on one person's kindness.  I had fallen in the same trap as Elana had, of devaluing my own worth to the extent of not seeking shared help from a COMMUNITY of caring people, with it being a pleasure to participate in reasonable
exchange of value and energy and resources, not a burden, as the work and its outcomes are shared.

This new plan will be shared the week of August 26, 2019.

Thank you for reading.

With love for the magic and passion of music, art, and commitment, Chris

 I can be reached at: chris@dreamcircle.com. (Full contact page will return as part of site restructuring on August 27, 2019.)