27 March 2011

A fascinating book on states of consciousness

This is a great book describing twelve states of consciousness, including advice on how to enter some of the more exotic ones. Personally, I think Stephen LaBerge (the leading researcher on lucid dreams) is a bit of a flake, but from what I can tell his science is sound. Paul Ekman also has a mention, though his research is rather peripheral to the topics in this book. I have been a huge fan of Ekman generally for years. I follow the blog of one of the "natural lie detectors" identified by Ekman's research, Eyes for Lies. Also recounted is the story of the Dream Machine's inspiration by Brion Gysin's passing down a tree-lined lane and experiencing alternating light and dark at the approximate frequency of the brain's alpha-wave rhythm. This was a familiar story to me; my old upstairs neighbours had a copy of the original book Warren cites, and they had a homemade Dream Machine in their apartment. From what I understand, they never actually managed to induce any hypnagogia with it though. Nevertheless, I am very interested to try some of the techniques outlined in this book.

26 March 2011

A hostile boyfriend, a littered freezer

I think I had a fairly coherent dream in the middle of the night or early in the morning. However, later, after waking briefly and then going back to bed, I had one of those rambling, disconnected dreams that seems characteristic of that sort of late-morning nap, and it displaced any memory of the earlier dream.


I am in bed, on the phone with my friend H. I am talking on a white, corded telephone; I have it in the bed beside me. white trimline phone I fall asleep talking to her. I wake up, listen to see if she's still on the phone, and hear what sounds to be she and her fiance K having sex, so I hang up.

Later, I come downstairs to find H sleeping (apparently postcoitally) on the couch. I think, "Didn't she realise [my boyfriend] D was here [at her house] too? He could have walked in any moment." A man comes into the house; I presume he is K, although he doesn't look like I remember him. D makes some innocuous remark such as "Good afternoon," and the man takes it as an insult and becomes immediately aggressive. "What did you say?" he asks. D prudently replies "I didn't say anything." I look at the man more closely, trying to figure out whether or not he really is K. I notice that this man's ears are not pierced, and I know K has probably about 2 gauge holes in his earlobes. [Another big difference is that the dream man has shoulder-length hair, while K is bald, but I don't think I made that connexion in the dream.] I start to realise that this is not K, but rather a disturbingly aggressive man that H had taken up with during a period that she and H were broken up. [No such thing happened in real life, and no such man exists.] I conclude that H and K have broken up again, and that other man is back in the picture. The man is already becoming somewhat threatening toward D and me. I don't want to be staying at H's house with him around. I see a cat that looks like my cat C and remember that C is here also and we have to take her home with us. I pick up the cat, and I'm not sure-- is this my cat C, or is this H's cat?

There is some problem with my refrigerator/freezer. I look inside the freezer and remove three large plastic pieces (are these interior pieces supposed to be removable?) There seems to be lots of dirt and debris in the freezer. I have to stand on a stepstool to reach all the way inside to clean it out. The bottom two steps of the stool are not firm when you stand on them but springy, so they depress under your weight and feel somewhat unstable. [In the dream, that seems to be a normal design for a stepstool.] With just my toes on the stepstool, hanging most of my weight on the top of the closed fridge door which is at chest level for me even on the stool, I reach deep inside the freezer compartment to clean it out. With a paper towel I sweep out a bunch of orange fluid. I remove some cotton, a Q-tip, some random detritus. I find a piece of blue felt that apparently used to line the freezer pushed deep in the back and pull that out, tossing it to the floor.

D's father says we are only renting and aren't responsible for the refrigerator. I come down off the stepstool and join a small gathering of D's family. A round table holds a small buffet of snacks and appetisers; a platter of chicken wings surrounded by carrot and celery sticks is the centerpiece. The chicken wings taste more like vinaigrette than buffalo sauce. I am collecting a little "bouquet" of alternating one- and two-bone wing pieces which I plan to fasten together somehow and save for later. D's father continues about some woman we should bring in on this dispute over the fridge. He says something like "You know she's good because most of the time they only refer to her as 'older;' only when they know they have someone coming in they say that she is 'better.'" And he adds something about her son living some place instead of Massachusetts, or maybe it was that the son lived in Massachusetts instead of some place else-- the logic here was something like the son is smart and knows how to attain the best lifestyle, so you can tell this woman is really good.

white trimline phone The phone I talk to H on in bed is the telephone my grandmother had in her bedroom when I was very young. I remember when she got it; she had always had rotary telephones, and this new white phone was the first push-button phone she got. I think she got it before my parents got one, which would make it the first push-button phone we had in my family. When you picked it up, a light behind the buttons came on and illuminated them, so you could see them clearly even in a dark room. Later this phone became my bedroom phone in my room at our (my parents' and my) house. I think I took it while my grandmother was still alive because she got a new phone, but I don't remember for sure; it's possible I didn't get it until after she died. As I mentioned in another post, the artefacts of my early life have been on my mind lately.

25 March 2011

All dressed up and no place to go

I am dressed up in a fancy dress, make up, and high heels for my friend and music teacher N's [birthday?] party. I am not actually invited to the party but just going to see him and give him my best wishes. [This is not strange in the dream, it's somehow normal or expected.] He greets me in the hall outside his apartment, and then he retires into his apartment as guests start to arrive.

I lie down in the hallway outside N's apartment. [This hallway does not at all resemble N's actual building.] diagram In the dream, N's apartment opens off a small hallway that has no other apartments off it. The hallway has a couch against one wall, under a large, bright window. I seem to spend a long time on the floor, either reading a book or napping. Then another of N's students arrives, an attractive blond guy. Apparently he is early for his lesson, so he sits on the couch to wait. I get up on the couch too and we start making conversation. My dress has ties on it that fasten at the back on the waist. I ask the blond to tie these for me and he does, with me kneeling on the couch facing its back, looking out the window. I look toward N's door to check if he is ready for the blond, and I see the door is ajar, signaling that N is ready.

The blond and I go inside. [The inside of N's apartment in the dream, while not exactly accurate to real life, does quite closely resemble N's actual apartment.] I have some more conversation with N. The blond sits at the piano and starts to warm up while I speak to N over by a mirror. I tell N that I am "super-hot" for the blond guy. [N actually does have a blond male student that I find quite attractive, but the dream guy doesn't really look like him.] N replies that he is too. I find this remark very cryptic. I know N doesn't mean he is sexually attracted to the blond, so he must mean something else, but what? The blond has become quite bored with waiting for N's attention, and starts watching television, flipping through channels. N gives me a hug that seems to want to progress to picking me up off the floor and swinging me around in a circle, but it doesn't. [It would be quite a trick if it did; N isn't even in my weight class.] I remark that "My dad is 6'2"; he would be able to swing me." [My dad actually is 6'1".]

I leave N's apartment, but there is a "third-person" interlude where I see the action in N's apartment even though I am not there. The blond is so annoyed at being kept waiting that he retaliates by playing the same song on the piano over and over a hundred times to annoy N.

I go home, which in the dream is a rectangular purple house. There is a driveway that goes all the way around the house like a U. I am near the bottom of the U to the left of the house when I see headlights coming down toward me. I consider going back up to the sidewalk to get out of the way, but I decide that will put me right in the car's path, so instead I continue around the U and back up around the right side of the house. I walk up a couple steps onto the porch. The front door seems wrong; I expect two large square screened cutouts in the door, one above the other; instead there are two large squares of wood in these positions. These squares are painted a lighter purple than the rest of the house. I wonder if I have beaten D home. I ring the bell [or did I knock?] and D answers the door. I come in. D asks where I was and I remind him about N's party.


At my last music lesson, I commented on the height of N's doorway (it seemed small to me) and mentioned my 6'4" uncle; this exchange must have prompted the mention of 6'2" in the dream. I have always been very disappointed at my short stature. I used to wear 3" heels on a regular basis, both to be taller and give my legs and ass a sexier line. Since gaining weight some years ago, I have not been able to wear high heels.

The two elements that stand out the most in this dream are my appearance, and windows. I am dressed up and made up in the dream, wearing high heels, and my long black hair is down. I actually have never had long black hair; I've had long hair, and I've had black hair, but I've never had long black hair. Long black hair in the dream goes along with my "idealised" appearance. In the dream I am very aware of my attire, the way one is in real life when all dressed up and not completely comfortable. I very much like to be all dressed up and used to dress up often (at least once a week), but since putting on weight, I haven't bought anything but purely practical clothes, so getting all fancied up hasn't been part of my life for a while. I think my propensity to favour an elabourate costume and makeup is part of my theatrical nature. Before my weight gain, I had at least my body and a provocative style of dress to draw attention to myself; now even that avenue of "theatricality" is closed to me.

The second motif that I notice in this dream is windows. There is a window behind the couch; N and I talk by a mirror (in some ways very like a window); my odd purple house has two large square cutouts in its door. The window at N's home is bright and airy; it looks out on a beautiful vista. When I return home, I unexpectedly find the cutouts in my door sealed. I always intended to pursue a career in performance, but didn't really know how to go about it. While I did the "normal" things (get a degree, get a job in an office), I was still planning on pursuing this career. (When? I don't really know. I thought, abstractly, that I would build a performance career while maintaining my full time office job, but practical realities make that plan fairly unworkable.) Without my even noticing it, the window to start such a career closed, and now I find myself older than an ingenue, trapped in a mundane job I can't stand.

This dream is very similar to the one I described in "Outside the party," even including a similar male stranger. It also includes a professional musician (N) who is known for dressing in an outlandishly flamboyant style. I myself am at my most attractive, but even so, I am not invited to the party; I sleep on the floor outside until it is over, and then I may enter to converse with its host. Clearly this dream is one more in the pile I am amassing of dreams concerned with my thwarted ambitions of performing.

20 March 2011

A muddy swath, an archaic shop

There is a long narrow grassy strip which shades into a dirt strip, and then to mud. There is a narrow strip of water perpendicular to the grass/dirt strip. I am with one or two other people, and maybe some children. I have to walk along the dirt strip. My shoes or boots are getting very muddy. I get all the way to the end and turn around to come back. Now there really isn't any solid area left; it's all soft mud or muddy water. On my way back, I get completely muddy all the way up my chest. When I reach the starting point I enter this place sort of like a gas station; I want to get cleaned up.

That gas station place is now someone's home, or maybe it's a combination home/shop. I go in past the first room (a kitchen, I think) into a sitting room. Everything in the place has a pall of age, like an old aunt's house where she hasn't changed anything for thirty years. There is a television on, but there is no or very low sound. Across the room on a small end table or tray table is an old-looking radio with a wooden cabinet. [It doesn't look like any actual antique radio I have ever seen, but more like something I might come up with if asked to design an original "antique" radio.] I have to adjust this radio to hear the television sound. The volume control is a small smooth silver knob on the radio's left side. By the time I go to set the channel, I have forgotten it again. I think that it is something like 1013 AM, but that doesn't seem to be it. I go back to the side of the room where the television is and consult some reference. I find that it is in fact an FM frequency, 1.14 FM [maybe it was 101.14 FM, but maybe I just think that on waking because 101.14 makes more sense than 1.14]. When I turn back to the side of the room where the radio is, I notice an old woman is sitting in a chair to the left of the radio. The old woman lives here, but I don't know who she is personally. I get the radio tuning adjusted. I go back through the kitchen and look outside from the doorway. I see a wave, a minor offspring from the tsunami, roll down the narrow waterway.


Recently I watched the movie Slums of Beverly Hills. In one scene of the movie, a Lady Remington shaver lady remington shaver can be seen on a nightstand. My grandmother had this exact razor and I was always fascinated with it, probably mostly because of the way the cylindrical two-compartment box opens by swinging out on a pivot. I even used the razor a few times as a young girl before I started shaving with a regular blade. I had completely forgotten about this shaver; I hadn't thought about it in years until I saw it in that movie. Thinking about it reminded me of other items in my grandmother's house that always held a special fascination for me. The wooden headboard of her bed had a radio built into it; the middle of the headboard featured a small white power/volume knob and a large white dial shaped like a disk with an arrow head that pointed to the selected frequency and a tail opposite the pointer. I think the knob and dial were meant to look like ivory (though I believe they were plastic). When you turned the knob, it took some time before it actually came on. I think the point of the dial arrow lit up a dim orange. Since it was only an AM radio, the sort of programming that I ever heard on it, talk programmes or strange old staticky music, was quite incomprehensible to my five- or six-year-old self which made it all the more intriguing. On a shelf above a counter near a window in my grandmother's kitchen were a small assortment of knickknacks and an old Motorola radio. If it wasn't the exact one shown in the picture, it was one very like it. I always liked the look of it. I remember my grandmother playing some radio programme of Polish polkas on it.

I also thought about my Aunt M's and Uncle D's house. (Aunt M was really my grandmother's aunt.) They must have died when I was less than ten years old, so these are really ancient memories. Aunt M lived in a farm house on a vineyard. Her water came from a well so we were always being reminded to conserve it. Everything in her house was old in that way that makes it strange and bewitching to a small child-- similar to the things you know well from your own home but just different enough to be eerily unfamiliar.

I think all this rumination on these artefacts is responsible for the appearance of the home/shop place in my dream, and the decidedly Aunt M-like lady who inhabited it. The weird setup with the radio and television in my dream clearly was inspired by my recent viewing of an episode of the The Ricky Gervais Show in which Karl Pilkington tells about man who had two broken television sets; one had no picture and the other no sound-- by using them together, he could receive a complete broadcast.

The wave in my dream has so much in common with that in this youtube video I saw the other day of the tsunami reaching a canal in Hawaii that I am certain it was derived from that image.

19 March 2011

A bitter argument

In reality, I am trying to get a small food business off the ground. The business is named after my friend and music teacher N; his likeness appears on its labels. Currently I am making preparations for a vending event I am planning to attend this summer.


I am taking a music lesson with N. [His apartment in the dream does not reflect his actual apartment.] Before I leave, he shows me some t-shirts that have been printed up advertising my food business. I had had some items in my shopping cart at an online printing service, including some experimental t-shirt designs which I had not intended to purchase. Apparently N had checked out everything in my cart and now I was stuck with hundreds of dollars' worth of advertising materials in a design I did not want. I am very angry and I say I had not intended to order these items. I leave N's apartment, and a few blocks away meet my boyfriend D. I tell D how mad I am and he convinces me to go back and tell N so. D offers to come with me. D and I go back to N's and I tell him very angrily that it was not up to him to check out my cart. I say that I am trying to get a business started and that he has cost me a lot of money. N becomes angry with me and says "Fuck you." I say "No, fuck you!" and give him the middle finger, and I leave again. [Some more stuff happens here that I don't remember.] Later that day, I meet N again and he apologises for getting mad and telling me "Fuck you." I accept and we reconcile.


The meaning of this dream seems quite clear. I often think that N has some unreasonable expectations, for instance, insisting that lessons be rescheduled rather than simply missed for contingencies such as illness or inclement weather. D supports my opinion, but knows I have a hard time confronting N about this issue. When some circumstance causes me to have to miss a music lesson, I get very stressed at the thought of having to notify N; D always offers to call him for me, but I never accept this offer as it is my problem to handle. At our last meeting I mentioned to N that I thought it should be acceptable to miss a lesson now and then when unforeseeable conflicts arise. When N replied that allowing cancelations in such cases is the beginning of a slippery slope towards students' feeling they can cancel without notice any time they please, I pointed out to him that while that might be a valid objection generally, he has known me for many years and should have confidence in my diligence; I honour all my commitments and cutting me a little slack the few times a year that something comes up is not going to lead to a general deterioration in my attendance. He acknowledged that perhaps some more leniency is warranted in my case and said he would consider that in the future.

In the dream, the argument was much more belligerent than any conversation I ever have had with N. There are many occasions when I think he is being unreasonable but I tone down my opinion or don't voice it at all. In the dream I got the chance to really lash out. Also, in the dream, even though N is the one who has stepped out of line by checking out my shopping cart, it is he who exhibits hostility in the argument first. I get to scream in anger at N while preserving my self-image as "nice" and "reasonable" by yelling "fuck you" only after N has instigated the altercation.

16 March 2011

A hysterical non sequitur

What a hectic week this has been. I have been getting to bed late and waking up painfully tired with no memory of any dreams. Here is a dream I had as a preteen or early adolescent.


I am in the garage of my family's house. My father [maybe it was both my parents] is on a ladder trying to fix something. I am on the ladder too. One of my parents says something explaining the next step we will take to fix what we are working on. I seriously doubt that this plan is going to work, and expressing my expectation of how I think it more likely to turn out, I (only half-seriously) remark, "Crash, as we hit the ceiling." This pronouncement strikes me as so hilarious I wake up laughing hysterically.


In fact, for the next several days I could not relate that statement from the dream without breaking into hysterics. Even just thinking of that phrase would send me off laughing.

14 March 2011

You can't always get what you want

I am at an outdoor music festival, the sort of affair where you camp in the woods for a couple of nights and listen to jam bands all day. It seems to be the particular festival that I go to every year [although its physical layout in the dream is not accurate to the real festival].

I have a pipe; I seem to have a plan to "get the pipe ready" before finding someone from whom to buy some weed. "Getting the pipe ready" seems to mean lighting it four times. Lighting the pipe itself four times; it seems to light like a candle. I am walking through the large, mostly empty field, stopping every now and then and lighting the pipe, then blowing it out. After I have lit it the required number of times, I start on my way back to my trailer [I don't really have any trailer; I always bring a tent to this thing] where I plan to put away my pipe before setting out to locate some pot. When the trailer is in sight but before I reach it, I hear the opening French horn line of "You Can't Always Get What You Want." I'm singing along with this line, and then singing along with the lyrics of the first verse which seems to have been layered over the French horn part. It's really beautiful and I was very disappointed that my alarm woke me at just this moment.


I had a dream featuring this festival a few months ago. The version of the fest in that dream was different from both the version in this dream and the real-life fest.

Recently I decided that I want to learn to play the saxophone. I have been reading about them and looking around to buy one. I was thinking about what that French horn line would sound like on the saxophone, either in the dream or just after I woke up, I'm not sure which. I think the pipe in the dream represented another kind of pipe, the musical kind. Last night's episode of The Simpsons featured guest stars Cheech and Chong; that could be somewhat responsible for the particular form the representation took. The common association of marijuana with musicians is probably also involved. Also, recently my piano teacher has been prodding me to play "Memory of a Free Festival," which may have put festivals on my mind.

The appearance of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" might show I am trying to accept the reality that I am not going to be a professional performer, but also that I am trying to embrace my new pursuits ("sometimes you get what you need") of writing and perhaps playing the saxophone.

13 March 2011

A battle repeated

Last night's dream is unusually fuzzy because I was awakened suddenly this morning by a loud noise.


I and some allies are in a complicated building with several enemies. We are trying to accomplish some goal [what? rescuing someone maybe?] without being killed by the enemies. In one scene I am protecting some comrades in a dark, narrow hallway while an enemy man is coming toward me, firing a gun at me, but his bullets all either miss or are deflected by a piece of metal I am using as a shield. Somehow [was it a knife or did I get a gun somehow too?] I kill the enemy man.

The whole situation has resolved, but now it is repeating. I am in the same scene again with the enemy man. This time however, I have no fear, since I already know how it is going to come out.

The situation repeats again. However, this time it takes a turn, and I don't end up in the scene with the enemy man. Instead, I am in a mazelike room with blue walls. It is sort of like a library or an office; there are a lot of tables. I am trying to elude discovery by the enemies in this room. I hear others in nearby corridors and try to avoid them, but we come upon each other anyway. They turn out to be allies. There is a contingent of the allied group using this room as a base of operations. I am still unhappy to have been found by them, as it seems there is some competition among members of the total allied force, but still I am glad I've been found only by them and not by the enemies.


The repetitive nature of this dream along with its adversarial scenario gave it the feeling of a video game. I don't actually play any video games. (Ok, I have played Silent Hill 2 a few times, but it was years ago.) I find it interesting that one of Friday night's dreams also involved an element of repetition. Having scenes replay within a dream is not something that generally happens to me-- I'm sure it's happened a few times in my life, but none that I specifically recall-- and now it happens on two consecutive nights. The nature of the repetition is not the same both dreams. In "A dangerous construction site," a scene plays out in front of me over again; it's as if I'm reviewing the same point in time on a cosmic DVR. In this dream, it's more of a Groundhog Day-like repetition; I am living out the same experience again and again.

The hallway setting of the repeated scene reminds me, upon waking reflection, of the climactic scene in David Lynch's Inland Empire where Nikki (Laura Dern) kills the Phantom. However, as I recall that scene (and I could be wrong about this), that hallway is quite bright; or if the hallway itself isn't bright, then when the Phantom distorts or when he is shot, I think it was a white background to the scene. David Lynch's work is itself so dreamlike that perhaps it doesn't make sense to try to interpret a personal dream symbol as referring to or derived from an image in a David Lynch movie; probably a more likely explanation for the similarity is a common psychological source for my dream and Lynch's movie imagery (if I may say so without coming off as too much of a Jung partisan, which I am not particularly).

12 March 2011

A dangerous construction site

I'm in D's and my apartment, talking to my mother on the phone. I'm trying to think of things to tell her, and I say, "Oh, that building next to us is going up really fast." [In reality, there has been a building site next door to our building since we moved in, but only in the last couple of months has the building actually started to materialise. I keep meaning to mention its rapid growth to my mother on one of our calls.] I'm looking out the window at the building under construction. Two large arcs, halves of an oval, are being lowered into place on the construction site. They look like halves of an arena, lined with tiers. They have a Lego sort of look to them, although they are huge. They have the appearance of shiny, grey, translucent plastic. Then some large oblong thing, sort of like the platform window washers stand on, comes swinging in. There are several guys also suspended high in the air on lines. One guy is meant to catch onto the corner of the platform, but he misses and swings precariously out over nothing. I am terrified. The scene of the platform swinging out and the guy missing getting onto it "replays" once or twice. In the final replay, I can see the guy scramble and manage to get onto the platform. D or I say something like, "That's why the kid is so calm," referring to another guy (who is rather young) who is on another corner of the platform, working away unperturbed even as he clings perilously to the outside of the railing.


Yesterday I listened to Barenaked Ladies's Born on a Pirate Ship which includes "When I Fall," a song with skyscraper window washer imagery. Heights are probably my greatest fear. Even watching movies with scenes at height disturbs me.

I debated about whether to label this dream as "neutral" or "scary." The sight of the guy dangling from the platform was very scary to me within the dream, but no more so than seeing such a thing in real life would have been. The dream itself did not scare or disturb me like a nightmare, so I have decided to leave it as "neutral."

An old apartment, nudity, and Stephen Colbert

My boyfriend D and I have moved back to my old apartment, or at least to an apartment in my old building. [My old building was a poorly maintained, pre-war walkup; we currently live in a beautiful 2007-built high rise.] A realtor lady is asking me about any defects in the apartment, I think maybe to get a record of the condition of the apartment before I take possession. I mention the big hump in the living room floor. [My old apartment actually did have a huge hump in the living room floor.] I tell the lady, I used to always say "Jimmy Hoffa is under that hump," or, "we could ride half-pipe in there."

It is midnight. D and I are in the bedroom. We are in the bed, maybe watching TV. Our apartment is on the fourth floor out of five [actually, I lived on the third floor out of four], and there is an opening in the bedroom ceiling that looks out on the stairs to the fifth floor. We see a naked guy, presumably a fifth-floor tenant, ascending the stairs. There is a white metal ladder from our bedroom up to the fifth floor hallway. D jumps up and starts climbing the ladder, I guess out of curiosity about the naked guy. As the guy ascends I get a view of his underside, but I don't notice any genitals. He seems to have just smooth skin there. Also, I notice he doesn't seem to have much or any hair on his body.

D seems to have transformed into Stephen Colbert. He decides to go out into the hallway naked as well. He goes out of the apartment (naked) and returns a few minutes later. Apparently some people with children were also in the hall at the time, leading to a horrible misunderstanding. They think D/Colbert is some kind of pervert. D/Colbert is sitting on the bed (which is now against the outside wall of the bedroom, instead of in the middle where it was when we first saw the naked guy). I hear the angry people from the hall coming, so I sit on the bed in front of D/Colbert to block their view of him. diagram The people come to the doorway of our bedroom, but not finding D/Colbert, they leave. I turn around to talk to D/Colbert, but he is not behind me! I look and see he is on another bed against the opposite wall. This second bed seems to be sort of like a bunk bed; there is structure above the bed where D/Colbert is, so he is sort of ecnlosed. There are blankets hanging down around the bed like drapes. The configuration reminds me of a dorm room where the resident has made like a little tent or fortress to define his space.


I don't recall having any dreams set in the old apartment while I actually lived there-- which I always thought was odd, because I had been living there so long-- but I've had several set there (or a version of there) since moving.

I had two conversations involving hair yesterday. At work, my friend and colleague K and I discussed the relative hairiness of different ethnicities in general, and of ourselves and our partners in particular. Then yesterday evening on my way home from work, I stopped at a shop near my home and purchased a necklace and earrings. While ringing up my purchase, the shop owner told me about a time she had met the designer, and mentioned that he had no hair at all on his head. I asked if he had that disease where you have no hair at all anywhere, and she said no, she just meant he shaves off all his hair and eyebrows. I think these mentions of hirsuteness vs smoothness contributed to the stranger's smooth appearance, maybe even to the extent that his genital area was completely smooth-- not just hair free, but completely free of any disruption to its surface.

However, when I first reflected on this dream after waking, the first thing that came to mind was the very weird thing I saw once on Ugly Americans. weird naked guy The guy in my dream didn't look like that cartoon at all; he looked fairly normal (except for his lack of body hair and genitals!). This weird naked guy appeared once for literally one second on Ugly Americans. His appearance was totally out of the blue, not connected to anything else in the episode, and has had me wondering what the hell he was doing there ever since.

In this dream, D and I move into the apartment in which I used to live alone. Like the cluttered room dream, I think this dream includes an element of my irritation with some of the trade-offs of cohabiting. I lived alone for ten years and controlled everything in my space. Now that I have to share quarters, I feel that my space is invaded, that I no longer have the control over it that I had living alone. The second bed with its blanket curtains reminds me of a college dorm, a place where, though a room is shared, it is clearly and explicitly demarcated into individually allotted areas. Perhaps the passage through the ceiling in my dream shows that I know I need to "open" my space to D.

There is still a lot unaccounted for in this dream, so I am not labeling it as "interpreted."

09 March 2011

A letter to Mandy

I am at my parents' house. We are watching some movie. The song "What Can You Lose" plays in the background of the movie. "That song is from Dick Tracy," I say. Someone mentions something about Mandy Patinkin's irritating vocals, and I say, "Yeah, what is he, a castrati [sic]?" Then I pick up a pen from the end table and mime writing in the air while I recite my imaginary letter:

Dear Mr. Patinkin,
You have a very distinctive singing style. I was wondering how you came by your unusual singing style. Is it just a lot of training? Or did you actually get castrated? It [your singing] is very annoying. Please stop.


I loved the movie Dick Tracy; it is the first (maybe the only) movie I ever saw twice in the cinema. I bought every piece of merchandise you can imagine: posters, caps, buttons, magazines. I had the Madonna album I'm Breathless on cassette; just last month I finally got around to purchasing an mp3 version of it so I could hear it again. (Who has a cassette player any more??) I also have the piano book for that album. (It's all Sondheim, very good music.) A few weeks ago I decided to start learning/relearning some of the songs in that book.

The movie came on some cable channel Sunday afternoon and I watched it again for the first time in years. I still loved it. I especially loved Madonna's musical numbers. I also discovered that after all these years, I still find Mandy Patinkin's singing in that movie as annoying as ever.

07 March 2011

Land shark

Another childhood nightmare. Again, the details of any plot elude me at this date; it is the final image that I have remembered all these years.


I am being chased by a shark. I run into a parking lot to escape. I run as fast as I can, but the shark catches me. It closes its jaws around me from the feet up. Only my head remains when I wake up in terror.

06 March 2011


Another dream from my early childhood. If there was any plot to this dream, I no longer recall it (though I feel like maybe it somehow also featured a shopping mall...?).


frankeberry Between the bed and the wall in my parents' bedroom at my grandmother's house, I see the Frankenberry cereal mascot with eight writhing pink octopus tentacles. It terrifies me.

Gashed actor

I meet a black guy named Dave or David. I think we met by having a car accident with each other at the bottom of my street [actually the street where I lived for ten years, but moved from about three years ago]. He says he will be so delayed by the accident, that he might as well just stay here. He asks if he can spend the night at my apartment. I agree.

It is night in my apartment. [It doesn't look like my actual apartment or any place I've ever lived. It looks more like a hotel room.] Sometimes it seems like there are two beds, and sometimes there is one big bed that we are sharing. The blankets are in disarray, and they keep getting moved around. Then Hugh Laurie is there. I am an actress on House, so I know him from work. [Obviously not true in reality.] Laurie and I are sharing one bed, and David is in the other bed. I ask Laurie if he would like a blowjob. He declines. I ask him several more times in different ways throughout the night. He is not interested. Finally he says he is going home. I am uncomfortable with the thought of being alone in the apartment with the stranger David. I whisper to Laurie please to make sure David leaves before Laurie goes. Laurie gets David to leave. Laurie is lying in the bed. Maybe I proposition him again. He shouts in pain and jumps up. I see two gashes in his back, one maybe two inches across halfway down the left side of the back, and another a little smaller a bit lower on the right side of the back. Internal parts protrude through the gashes, especially through the larger gash. The protrusions are like oblong strips coated in dark red blood. A few strips are a light yellow; they resemble wide flat rubber bands. I ask what happened and Laurie says he stabbed himeslf.
I am with my parents in the town of E. [My mother grew up and her mother lived her entire life in the town of E, about thirty minutes away from the town of W where I grew up and my parents still live.] We are in town for some sort of big function which is starting in a couple of hours. We are at some pre-party associated with the later event. Everyone is dressed quite formally, but I am wearing plain pants and a white sweater [a sweater that I actually own]. I didn't bring any other clothes. I want to go buy a dress, or go back to W to get the one dress I own that fits me. My mother has gone into a changing room to dress for the big party. I go to the door of the changing room to tell her I have one dress in W and I want to go back to get it. She says "M?" [the name of my eighteen-year-old male cousin] and moves away from the door as she is not fully clothed. I tell her no, it's me, and go into the room with her. It is quite a large room, and other women also are getting ready in there. My mother tells me I have to have more clothes that fit me. I tell her I have a size sixteen dress in W, I don't want to buy any more large clothes. I tell her I am not a size sixteen, meaning in my self-concept I am not a size sixteen. I say, I am a size-- but before I can complete the sentence a guy standing there says "a size two?" [How absurd. I never have been a size two in my life!] "I'm a size eight," I say, which is the size I want to get back to, the size I still am in my mind.


The main gist of the second dream, my mother nagging me to buy more clothes in my current size and my resisting, is so mundane it might as well actually have happened. There are some points I could explore (why my mother confused me for M, why the male stranger suggested I was a size two), but I prefer to focus on the first dream.

Hugh Laurie's appearance in this dream is easily explicable. I watched this week's episode of House last evening (thanks to the magic that is DVR), and just before I fell asleep I was thinking of Sherlock Holmes (the creators of House deliberately included in the series many similarities to the world of Sherlock Holmes), so no mystery there. It may be notable though that in the dream Hugh Laurie did not speak in his normal voice but in an American accent, even though in the dream he was Hugh Laurie and not House. It seems I may have conflated Laurie and House somewhat in this dream.

The other night I was quite drunk in a bar. While talking flirtatiously with a stranger there the topic turned to "celebrities I have blown." It is not an impressive list, and Hugh Laurie definitely-- and unfortunately-- is not on it. But it does get the subject of blow jobs into my recent thoughts.

Who is David? I don't know anyone named David, nor any black men. Nor have I been in any car accident recently.

In a previous post I described my lifelong intention to become a performing artist, and my recent pragmatic decision to focus on writing instead. In this dream, Hugh Laurie-- an actor and a pretty good musician-- rejects me over and over; I feel I have been rejected by my chosen profession. Also in this dream, an actor has been stabbed in the back-- by himself. Perhaps I feel a self-betrayal in giving up my performance aspirations.

05 March 2011

A comprehensive dream research web site

A fascinating website by dream researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz:


This site provides lots of information, including the authors' own studies, other dream studies from the scientific literature, and links to many useful dream resources.

A cluttered room

My boyfriend D and I live in what in real life is my parents' house; in the dream it is our house or apartment. It is a Saturday. My bedroom and the living room are a chaotic mess; stuff is just everywhere. I say I am going to clean all this up today. My cat C perches on the rim of an empty litter pan and pees in it. I comment on how strange she looks, hanging her ass over the edge like that. I notice that this is not her normal litter pan. This is a bright orange, uncovered pan with no litter in it; her normal pan is grey, covered, and full of litter. [My parents' cat's litter pan in reality is bright orange with no cover.] I look around the messy bedroom and see her normal litter pan a few inches away. However, the room is so messy that the pan's entrance is not accessible to her. In the dream, I observe more than one instance of C "hanging her ass over the side" of an empty pan and peeing in it. The absence of litter makes the sound of her peeing rather distinct as well.

Among the many items covering the messy floor is a very large grey plastic uncovered box. It contains a jumbled assortment of items belonging to D-- an unfolded shirt, some keys, et cetera-- that he is going to be storing. C is perching on the edge of this box too, and then she steps right onto the surface of the water it is now filled with. Then I see the box is filled with a transparent gelatin that C is walking on. D's items are visible at the bottom of the box, now encased in gelatin. Apparently it is one of those boxes that comes with this powder that turns to gelatin when wet. [?? This seemed a perfectly common item in the dream.] I tell D that C must have peed in that box and activated the gelatin. D is annoyed that now he has to extricate all his things from the gelatin. However, it turns out to be easier than we thought to free the items; the gelatin is firm and peels away from D's things with no problem.


I am slightly compulsive about tidiness. I insist on having everything in the apartment "just so," and D and I are constantly in conflict over this. In this dream our home is "littered" with out-of-place articles. The only place that doesn't contain litter is C's litter box! This is the opposite of "a place for everything and everything in its place." This dream shows my preoccupation with keeping a tidy home and my perception of D as an impediment in this regard. Perhaps I wish all his clutter were neatly "encased," as in a block of gelatin.

I'm sure there are hundreds of ways my subconscious could have represented this concept. The particular choice of C and her litter box probably is due to nothing more than her recently having had a medical procedure that required me to retain her used litter in a sealed container for several weeks before disposing of it. Just the other day I finally threw out all these weeks' worth of used litter, so cat litter was on my mind. Additionally, D's and my apartment is small enough that when it is quiet, you can clearly hear it when C pees. It is possible (though I have no way of confirming) that as I slept I actually did hear the sound of C peeing in her box just outside our bedroom.

04 March 2011

Outside the party

Last night's dream was a bit disconnected. Or maybe it was actually several separate dreams. In this dream, I actually was writing a description of a dream! This blog is really on my mind!


I don't remember much of the first one. I was in a video rental store picking up some videos. Some guys were there sort of harassing/flirting with me. They were there to get pornographic videos. I don't remember if I was shopping in the porn or regular section.
My boyfriend D and I are in Japan. We are all packed and ready to leave to return home. We either are in the airport, or getting ready to go to the airport. I think, "By eleven o'clock tonight, we'll be home in our own apartment in our own bed." My Japanese college and friend B is there. I ask her how long it would have taken to sail to Europe [apparently our apartment is in "Europe" in this dream] hundreds of years ago, and she replies uncertainly "One thousand [or was it fifty thousand?] weeks." Even in the dream, that estimate seems high to me.
I am sitting at table outside a diner-- or, actually, it's more like a hot dog stand. From my position behind the side entrance I can see into the restaurant through its glass door. diagram The interior is very white and fluorescent, with lots of metal and Formica. A bunch of people, some of whom I seem to know, are inside having a great time. It's a party atmosphere in there. There is another outdoor table right in front of the restaurant. I can see it ahead of me and to my left. A handsome guy is sitting at that table, facing in toward the glass front of the restaurant. He is broody in a "Breakfast Club"-y kind of way. I am interested in him. [I don't recall if he was someone I actually knew in the context of the dream, or just an appealing stranger.]

At the table I am writing with a blue ballpoint pen on a piece of ruled notebook paper. The surface of the table is not smooth; it's like cement or a school desk that has had a hundred sets of initials carved in it. It is annoying to write on. I was writing a dream account. It was about something that starts without consciousness (like pre-birth?) and then becomes aware. The only exact phrase I remember writing was "normal maturation cycle." I was going to write "normal maturation process," but I had used "process" in the previous sentence, so I specifically stopped and thought to come up with a different word. The pen is becoming leaky. The point is becoming increasingly coated in thick, gooey ink.


I really barely remember the first dream; I don't have a clear impression of it. The second dream I find interesting because it is the second or third dream I have had involving an airport in the last few months. B's appearance is no surprise, as I was just talking to her at work yesterday. She showed me a picture of her brother, a musician; she mentioned that he is about the same size as she is and he sometimes wears women's clothes because they fit him well. Since B is Japanese, setting the dream in Japan could be another reference to her.

The last dream is the most interesting to me, for a number of reasons. In "lucid dreaming" circles, the appearance of text is supposed to serve as a "reality test": in dreams, text may appear strange, including weird characters or being unintelligible. That certainly didn't hold in this case; I had no trouble writing (except for the poor table surface), and could read and apprehend my writing clearly.

The concept I was writing about is not so clear. Reflecting on it after waking, I was reminded of the description of the Dark Passenger in the third Dexter book, Dexter in the Dark. The book describes this entity that exists seemingly from the beginning of creation and gradually becomes aware of itself and of its abilities to interact with the world.

It seems that I am very much on the outside looking in in this dream. I believe my placement at a remove from from both the party in the diner and from the appealing young man at the other table is a representation of my recent, somewhat reluctant (and still not 100% firm), decision to become a writer, a decision of which this very blog is the first product. I always believed I would be some kind of performing artist: a musician, a comic, an actress. As my life advances and doors close, all of these professions become less and less plausible. In the last few months, I have considered writing as an alternative. Choosing to write has some advantages: it is still in the artistic realm, even if not as sexy as being a performer; it doesn't cost anything; and I have enough proficiency with language that with practise I could become good at it. But the writer is observer rather than actor. (At least, the kind I would be is. No Kerouac, no Hemingway, no Hunter S Thompson, I.) He sits apart from the world, and creates a copy of it in his prose. He fantasises a rich, exciting life, but realises his fantasies only on the page. This dream shows I am still clinging to my hopes of joining the wild party, of meeting the handsome stranger, even as I embark upon the path of writer.

03 March 2011

A food-stroking concession

This is a dream I had in the fourth or fifth grade. I found it so interesting, when I had to put on a puppet show for a school assignment, I based it on this dream.


I go down into the basement at my grandmother's house to get some canned food. [As a child and teenager, I spent at least one or two nights a week with my family at my maternal grandmother's house; her house was a second home.] In front of the shelves where the food is stored, I find a little stand with a woman [and a man? my memory now is fuzzy, though it was clear at the time] behind it, with prepared food on offer. When I try to order some, I see it actually is just pictures of food that are available. And those are not even actually available for the taking-- when I select an appetising picture of a perfectly roasted turkey with trimmings, the woman does not hand it over, but only holds it out to me with the instruction, "Stroke the food! Stroke the food!"

02 March 2011

Wriggling and squirming

I am wrapped in a blanket lying in the grass at some kind of animal park. Many other people are there as well. Lots of different animals are wandering about, including a number of large and small snakes. One large snake passes by just beyond my feet, then turns and goes back the way it came; I pull my feet up slightly to try not to block it. I notice quite a few very small snakes, mottled yellow and black, also milling about. I pull my blanket tight around me to keep these snakes from getting inside. I feel some itching or wriggling at the small of my back though, and wonder maybe some snakes or something is in the blanket anyway.

I'm ready to leave. I stand up, dropping the blanket. I am wearing a (yellow?) sheath dress. I realise something definitely is inside the dress. There is a little space in the dress, but it is tight enough around my hips that I cannot get my hands up it. I shimmy and wriggle, trying to shake out the animal(s), but they are trapped at the tight part of the dress. I see a couple getting up from their own blanket near by and ask them please to get the snakes out of my dress. The woman reaches in and pulls out one of the skinny yellow and black snakes. It is injured, apparently mortally; one end of it is bifurcated for a couple inches of its length. The woman casts it over to the corner of the park. I wonder aloud if maybe we should finish killing it, but we don't take any action. I feel an itch/pain in my ass, and the woman from the couple confirms she sees an injury there; probably I was bitten in the snake's struggles to free itself. As I walk through the park to leave, I manage to dislodge two or three more of the small yellow and black snakes. The small cut in my ass continues to irritate me, and I rub at it as I walk.


Snakes don't bother me. In fact, I really like the larger snakes; small skinny snakes freak me out a little, though. However, one of my colleagues, K, is so intensely afraid of snakes that even any mention of snakes upsets her. Knowing this about her, any time I see a snake in a movie or on TV I think, "K wouldn't like this." In the dream though, K did not come to mind.

The obvious reading of this dream would conclude that I find something to be a "pain in the ass." However, I am certain there is more going on here than just that. Snakes may have been on my mind after seeing the Harry Potter clip on the Academy Awards Sunday night. But why the snake divided in two partway down its length? Why the sheath dress? I don't have any good interpretation at the moment; I will post one later if anything comes to mind.

01 March 2011

A monster shakes the earth

Here is another dream I remember that I had as a very young child.


I am in the living room of our second-floor apartment. I hear a tremendous crashing, so loud the earth shakes with every clap. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I run down the stairs to our external door, which is deadbolted. I look out the window and see a gigantic-- like, storeys tall-- version of this guy blue muppet monster pounding over the horizon toward our house. I am terrified. I try to scream, but I cannot make any sound, only a voiceless wheezing.


I believe this dream was my first experience of the "unable to scream" phenomenon. This experience is not common for me, but I have had it a few times. It hasn't really bothered me as an adult as I generally recognise it as an instance of sleep paralysis even as it's happening. In spite of being frightened by this dream as a five- or six-year-old, I still love all things Muppet.