Tag: dreaming

My Other Life Keeps Calling

 grainy antique calling device

I have thought of writing a book based on my nightmares called The Nightmare Club.  Either that or I could take each nightmare individually and spin them into separate novels.  I call my dreams my other life because they are so unrestful and draining that often I wake up more tired than I went to bed.  And then I am haunted by them all day long.

Here’s a tidbit from last night that I shared on facebook:

Dreams featuring old boyfriends are unsettling. Nightmares in which I have to cut kittens’ ears off are horrible and also unsettling. Dreams in which old boyfriends talk about previous dreams in which they were featured is even more unsettling. I did not sleep well. My brain feels more asleep now that I’m awake than it did all night.

When I cut the ears of the kittens off I didn’t cut enough off but it was so dreadful to have hurt them at all and I knew it was something I had to do but I felt worse because I couldn’t remember why and it was pointed out to me that I hadn’t cut enough off but I couldn’t bring myself to hurt them further.

I may have mentioned the really bizarre dream within and dream within a dream I had a couple weeks ago but just for fun I’m going to recount a little bit of it again:

In my dream I was  sleeping and dreaming that I was sleeping and that dream of my sleeping self was also dreaming and she had a dream in which she had to go to the bathroom and she worried that if she dreamed she had to go to the bathroom she might actually have to go and if she didn’t wake up soon enough she might go in her bed.  The dream self of my dream self’s dream self did, in fact, poop in her pyjamas and so my dream self’s dream self woke up out of the embarrassing nightmare hoping to find she hadn’t also pooped in bed but she had, in fact, done the same so my dream self woke up terrified to discover she had too and, as you can guess, she did wake up filthy in her bed. 

I, the only dreamer left unaccounted for, woke up out of my dream and happily found that I hadn’t pooped in my bed nor did my body need to relieve itself in any way.  My heart was pounding but I fell immediately back to sleep to find my dream self seeking out a shower to clean up in and had the chance to discover that I (she, whatever) was living in a trailer on a little rectangular piece of land and I started mentally planning out a raised bed garden to grow food in because I didn’t have a lot but I wondered what I could grow in such a shady space and just as I was figuring this out I was in danger and I don’t remember more than tiny snippets of the rest of my dream that night.

My dreams are so powerfully connected to my waking self that it always feels as though I’m living two lives.  Nights with no remembered dreams are bliss.  Not all of my dreams are nightmares, strictly speaking, but nearly all of my dreams are disturbing to me.  I rarely have what I would classify as a “good” dream and often these are ones in which I feel completely safe, usually because someone is protecting me from something, so the dream might have been a nightmare if I hadn’t felt protected.  Truly good dreams are even more rare.  Happy dreams.  I have two main happy dreams (that aren’t marred by violence or anxiety or anything creepy) where I find antique stores that have not been picked over yet and I find lots of treasures or dreams in which I find amazing hats and clothes that obviously fit me.  The other mostly happy dream is when I return to 361 Scenic Drive in Ashland Oregon, my childhood home, and find 25 years of mail collected in the mailbox.  However, this dream is often shadowed in other parts, but the mailbox full of mail always makes me so happy and I wake having enjoyed my dream even if other darker things happened in it.

I have the nightmares regardless of what’s going on in my life and I have been having them steadily and frequently at least since I was 10 years old.  One thing I DO know is that they do become worse and more frequent the more I am exposed to the news of the world.  I believe that I have had much too much exposure to news through friends on facebook than is good for me.  I have stopped reading news links that friends share unless I think they will be uplifting in some way.  This is something I must work harder on.  But there are many things posted that you don’t have to click on to see that are dreadful.  One that is haunting me now is a picture of two teen boys holding up a dead puppy they had obviously strangled.  This kind of shit is candy for an already unquiet mind.

I don’t want to give up face book because I have so many happy connections there with friends I can’t see in my everyday life.  I love the casual chatter of face book.  But I may need to limit the time I spend there a little more than I do now.  I feel I must do this to protect myself from too much incoming stimuli of a negative nature.  I already hear all the voices in the world as a low buzz in my head that I can’t shut out but facebook lets a lot of extra noise in that is not healthy for me.

While I would like my dreams to take a happier turn – I must confess that if I didn’t dream as often and as vividly as I do I would feel that part of me had died.  I have become so accustomed to having bad dreams that I’m scared to wish them away – it’s like when you get used to abuse to the point where you can’t imagine a life without it and wonder who you would be.

It worries me that I think not having so many nightmares would make me feel abandoned and emptier inside.

My second life keeps calling me and I keep picking up the phone.

One good thing about all my dreams is that I am never fat in them.  Never.

It occurs to me that my dreams are the only place I can completely be myself – I don’t have to pretend to be other than I am or protect anyone from my own thoughts and fears.  Everything has full expression in my dreams and I am always my core self in them.  In my dreams the bad shit I fear is real and so I’m never crazy for fearing them and everyone else is experiencing the same world with me.

Perhaps the best thing about them is that no matter what happens in them I wake up and find I haven’t killed myself or been dismembered by a serial killer or been raped or cheated on my husband or lost my child or cut the ears off kittens.  There is nothing quite like living through a tsunami to wake up and discover that your house is dry and too far inland to be wrecked by one.

You might even say that my bad dreams are my real world and my waking life is just a good dream I’m happy to experience again and rest in after all the horrors of my sleep.

You might say that, if you thought I was really crazy.

Leaving Myself

Haven’t been in touch for a while.  On the run.  Avoiding you, maybe.  Avoiding words you might hurl against my head.  Trying not to hear you.  Because you  might tell me what I already know.  Who writes “dear John” letters to themselves?  Who makes excuses for avoiding themselves?  Who wishes to be lost in happy stories to avoid reality?  You want me to say “I do”.

I have the urge to hang blood red silk velvet curtains across the windows like a garish swath of insolence against the eventual sunrise.  I want to crown the draperies in funereal roses of pink.  I want them to crack exuberantly against the hours you clock.  I want them to be always almost open, with promises undelivered.

I know the fate of poets.  I know I walk the same tread, the same tortured thin steep path they have all walked before me.  I add only more footprints, I add only more wear to the establishment of dead dust and gentle deterioration on the weathered climb to the edge.  The same edge I’ve reached before and pulled myself back from with inches to spare.

I wish to smear my soul across the sky like northern lights.  I wish to stop being collections of words crowding a thin head and become ephemeral like gossamer dove-grey mist streaking across the world with liquid grace as though painted by a single genius brush-stroke.  I wish to be seen from the skies of Morocco to the wide expanse of the flat endless tundra of Mongolia.  I wish children will see dreams in my shape and make wishes in my margins.

But I’m not sure I want to talk to you.  I know what words hover close on your late night breath.  I know what plaque of thought is breaking free in your head that I haven’t got the magic to dispel.  Not today.  Not this week.  I promised I would check in more often.  I promised I would take your temperature every day and then I ran.  I hope you’ll understand why I’ve stayed away.

Got my rucksack over my shoulder and the slumber of self to see me go.  My path is free of emotional sediment when I don’t ask myself to weigh in.  I can fly, I can sprint, I can soar for miles across the desert plains, across the wet forests, across the sweeping golden prairie grains, through the sleep of the damned.  The answers flicker insistently in strobe lights beating behind cloudy unconscious eyes.  Fly on, sister, before you wake up, before you remember you don’t have arms.

I know it always comes down to you and me.  I know I’ll have to answer and I wonder if the pain will be less if it’s today.  I wonder if the pain will be muted in the present, under the quiet cushion of black ink on cotton stationary as I tell you how much I wished I hadn’t missed you.  A lie we’ll both accept because it’s easier this way.  I’ll apologize to you in the morning over coffee and toast.  We’ll avoid another omelet because we can’t afford such extravagance.  I’ll try not to remember the hats, the purses, and the liqueur glasses from the night before.  I’ll try not to hear the child crying inconsolably at my feet.  The party of people I don’t care about attached to me as though by blood.  The A-frame houses we photographed in amazement.  I’ll pretend I don’t remember your velvet indifference.

I was appalled by the fake snow – the white batting fluffs you suspended from string in front of the window where the dogs were playing, where the white water was rising.  I believed for two seconds it was real and felt naive and hated you for it.  I couldn’t fit down the basement escape to get out there in the weather either, a greater crime I drank over.  It was all one big trick of your mind.  Our mind.  I woke up angry.  I think you were angry too.

I still have blue silk purses with clasps of silver and red shoes you can’t find the ends of.  I raise my hundred year old etched glass to your dour face, your smaller hopes, and your disapproval and I hope you wake up to brand new skin.  I toast you, I salute you, I give you observance.  I say a tiny wish and a smaller prayer.  I bury words in the path for you to find later when you need them.  I write this letter so you’ll remember I didn’t forget.  So you’ll have something when I’m gone.  So you’ll see pictures in the mist.  So you’ll dream something new when I’ve embroidered the past in fiction.

I’m here now.  So listen.  Just listen.  This minute will pass faster than you imagine.  We’re nothing but shadows to each other, who used to be the same.  If I cut your string you must forgive me for wishing you might sail across the ocean without tether.  There is no prison you didn’t make yourself.  There is no prison I didn’t make with you with the same hands, the same imagination.  So let’s let go.

Let’s let go now.

At the same time.

Note: This was based mostly on the last couple of dreams I had.  I was trying to capture the feeling of them even though many of the details escaped me.

Gifts Come in Every Noise and Every Skin

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes.  They come in every noise and every skin.  They come with wine and they come with water.  They come in black and white and technicolor sunshine when you’re blind with sleep.  They wear the morning; words like dew on bitter tongue.  You can’t know what packages they will come in or what spice they will wear when they cross state borders and choppy oceans to reach you, battered and disfigured with the mystery of abuse.  They come saturated with the minutiae of love for you to open and be amazed.

Connectivity is a contradiction between a delicate reaching of mind and sweaty hands, grabbing dirty hands.  It is an endless chain of creation a million hands are grabbing and holding fast to through hurricane and mudslide.  A rope that chafes while it protects.  Connection ignites the the pile of tinder built in the center of our chests.  Connection is matter turning into other matter.  It’s a gift.  What connects is more than voice or note or convenience or weather or place or race or money or language.  What connects us also eludes us constantly.

The best you can ask of yourself is to offer pine-cones when they’re the most beautiful and available objects within reach.  The best you can ask of yourself is to see every object, every light, every voice, every rock, every thorn as a potential gift.  Sometimes for yourself when you’re crimped between the brambles and the quack-grass with the desperate tears of loss.  Sometimes for friends who’ve blossomed in the light of your happiness and broken under the weight of their own sorrow.  There is sugar in tiny mosses and twigs, fairies dreaming something to replace the tears.  And the gifts for strangers may seem the most impossible but it will come to you without thought or heavy head how to give the milky waxy gardenia in your hair to the rent boy passing you, seemingly impervious.

No one is truly impervious who has skin.

Perhaps fortune is thin on the ground these days.  Jobs are scarce.  Money is mean.  no one can afford to lose an inch but we’re all losing miles every minute anyway.  Still, there is something to wait for, something to wake for, something to drink for every single day.  There are always gifts, naked to expectation.  There are always gifts, climbing the graffiti up through the chain-link to open air.  There are always gifts, no matter how they’re wrapped or torn or broken or bruised or flecked or stamped or canceled.

Will you recognize them from your dampened morning pillow?  Will you see them from your window, looking up at you from the alley full of prostitutes and syringes?  Will you accept them with your grace, in any condition, and be thankful to have them at all?