ebogjonson.com's dream log archiveebog has dreams, apparently
August 22, 2006
the IV drip - a dream
Just a fragment today, or maybe just a premise: I dream about going about my day in downtown Los Angeles, hours days and weeks compressed into bright flashes--that or concealed through sleight of dream-editor's hand, the passage of time implied through various acts of suggestion and misdirection. It's all completely regular right down to the stench at the corner of Fifth and Spring, except for the way time is being fast-forwarded and how I am going about my business in the dream while tethered to an IV drip. It a towering unnatural thing, maybe 8 feet tall and I drag it around everywhere I go, sometimes pulling the stand, sometimes letting it trail behind me like a slow dog on a leash, bag and stand securely linked to me by a generous length of tubing that has been discretely buried in by right forearm by a spike hidden beneath neat loops and bands of tape.
I am mortified by the assembly, by the spectacle I imagine my biomedical ball and chain must present. I have to tip it to get through doorways, meaning I have to wait until I am the only person going through as not to present an obstruction to traffic. Revolving doors are out of the question as are certain elevators, bathrooms, stairwells. The stand makes a constant clanging racket and I try my best to minimize the squealing the thing's loose metal wheels make as they wobble against the concrete sidewalk. I put a great deal of energy into being invisible and then realize that I already am, that my embarrassment is misplaced. No one is paying me or my IV drip any attention, not even the homeless addicts and junkies and last-stop hustlers who are tethered in their own way to their own set of invisible toxins and chemistries. I barely register on the radar of the flophouse security guards, ranking neither as threat or local curiosity. No tourists stop to take my picture.
I don't have a clue what is the in IV drip. I can't recall when it was prescribed or attached to me. Adding to the mystery is the fact that thing releases just a single drop into my system every 24 hours. Why not a nice, neat pill, I wonder? One a day, like a commercial, something I could get at the pharmacy and put in my pocket. It strikes me as a kind of extravagance to prescribe a single drop drip on a 24 hour cycle. I am tethered to the drip but the drip in turn seems utethered to any legitimate medical purpose, suggesting art projects, obscure forms of masochism or sadism, the pleasure of hidden audiences, arcane scientific experimentations. Each time a drop falls I take to paying extra careful attention to my mental and physical state in hopes of spying telltale side effects that might point me towards the IV's contents or chemical composition, but weeks go by and I come up with nothing, bupkis. Is the thing some kind of cronenbergian organ, a permanent prosthesis, new flesh from medical waste and debris?
Just before I wake up I wonder if I am going to dream through to the end of this actual, IRL week, specifically to Friday when I have made plans to go see a movie with some friends. I stare at the IV stand and am filled with worry and wariness, paranoia, really, my mind bubbling with unanswered questions that lead me to further imponderables. For instance: the stand will clearly not fit my in my car, and that being the case, how will I get to the movies and how did I get it home with it in the first place? It really is baffling: I might be asleep but this is still LA, and no story that precludes the use of my car can properly be understood as being set here, not even when it's a dream.
Posted by ebogjonson at 1:25 PM | Permalink
May 16, 2006
cj walker had a dream of hair
A list of famous dream inspirations, including Madame C.J. Walker's inspiration for hair grease:
"He answered my prayer, for one night I had a dream, and in that dream a big, black man appeared to me and told me what to mix up in my hair. Some of the remedy was grown in Africa, but I sent for it, mixed it, put it on my scalp, and in a few weeks my hair was coming in faster than it had ever fallen out. I tried it on my friends; it helped them. I made up my mind to begin to sell it." [link][hat tip boing boing]
May 3, 2006
the island resort - a dream
wherein I dream about going to work on a tropical resort. This was a long dream, so it is broken down into parts, the first being below:
I dream that I have taken a summer job working as a waiter or bartender on some kind of island resort. The dream logic is that I am going to (finally) indulge myself in a clichéd whim, that I am going to do it before I get too proverbially old. I've never driven cross-country. I never moved to Japan to teach English, never applied to film school. The one time I gave everything up for love I in point of fact hedged my bets, trading in an old life as a writer for a new one managing internet companies. What I am (dream)thinking is that I have earned a summer playing in the sun.
The resort is run Club Med/Fantasy Island style: guests fly in against the backdrop of a pinkish sunset, guests are greeted and garlanded with orchids, guests happily give control of their lives over to attentive staff for a week or two, to pleasure machines and instrumentalities that hum away constantly and invisibly, guests fly off. Me, I'm here to be staff, so I fly off from Los Angeles in a mildly decrepit charter jet that touches down hard at a strictly functional, single-runway. (How many hours later? Is this island in the Pacific or Atlantic?) My only greeter is a punishing, noontime sun, and I think to myself that I have landed behind the curtain, a backstage to the place where all the dreams are being made.
There are at least a hundred other summer employees flying in with me and no sooner has the plane stopped taxing than we join a slow moving queue that starts right there in the plane's aisle. The queue snakes out of the cabin door, down the simple stairs that have been wheeled up to the plane, and across the weed and grass-cracked tarmac for hundred and hundreds of yards, all of us shuffling towards a bunker-like building that sits in the distance behind shimmering heat haze. There is no sign of anything suggesting a high-end resort, but the bunker sits directly against tall, thick line of trees. I imagine the resort lying in splendor behind those trees, in the cooling shadow of low, lush green mountains that huddle at the horizon.
Once the queue has moved enough for me to get a fuller look at the airport I see that there are dozens of other planes on the tarmac, each slowly spilling their own cargo of summer staff. I have two immediate realizations: almost everyone here is white, with a smattering of black and brown and Asian faces, and almost everyone on the tarmac is just a few years out of college, the even mix of men and women all looking a good ten-to-fifteen years younger than me. Many have come to work here in groups, some of which seem large enough to have been split between several planes, and people break off from the lines and rejoin them as needed, chattering excitedly and high-fiving and hugging, our progress towards the bunker slowed by these reunions to a hot, near crawl. The traffic flows only one way, and after each plane has been emptied of passengers and refueled it backs away from the throng, roaring off into the sky. I think to myself that it should bother me just a little how everyone arrives here and no one leaves, but then this doesn't feel like that kind of dream to me, like a horror movie or nightmare. I think to myself that, anyway, it's the beginning of the season. What kind of idiot leaves paradise this early, before it's even started to bloom?
Hours pass stop-motion style, the sun changing angle overhead. I'm not frightened by the strange lack of context or activity on the tarmac, but I am confused. I wonder whether the resort is in some financial distress or is just poorly run. There seems to be too much milling about, and the bunker seems too small to hold or process everyone. Despite the large number of new arrivals there doesn't seem to be any HR or orientation staff. I don't feel hungry or thirsty but can imagine both, wonder if anyone will pass out from the heat and the sun, where the bathrooms are.
I am three-quarters of the way to the bunker before I see my first resort official. Up until then it's only been pilots and bored flight attendants and fuel technicians sweating in the sun (we were all told to bring single carry-ons, so there are no baggage handlers), but now a small, perky white woman is moving methodically up the line, a clipboard and neat stack of manila envelopes in her hands. She spends just a few moments with each person, nodding at them and handing them an envelope, sparing a few words here and there. When she get to me she flashes what feels like a particularly friendly smile.
You must be Gary, she says. Welcome.
Before I can wonder how she know I am me, she hands me an envelope with my first name written on it in a school-marmish cursive, keeps plowing up the line behind me. I open the envelope and find the application I had mailed into the resort's management company, but closer inspection reveals that the "Gary" recorded here isn't me. The last name, address and SSN are all wrong, as is (most glaringly) my date of birth. According to this I am 49, a middle-aged male looking to while away a few months in the sun with children half his age, or maybe to marry a wealthy, vacationing dowager.
I drop out of the line to bring the mix-up to the staffer's attention. She frowns at me, rifling through her stack of envelopes. When she finally finds the right envelope I tell her, No harm done; at least I know that I'm not the oldest person here. She makes an uncomfortable stab at a laugh that leaves me tight with embarrassment. I may not be the oldest person here, but in her mind I was clearly enough of an outlier to be grouped with him. I peer up and down the line for this other, older Gary, hoping not for solidarity but for a chance to disavow him, but endless rows of 22 and 23 year-olds smile back at me. Their rote enthusiasm and youth, their well-exercised bodies strike me as an implicit indictment. I feel fat and old in comparison. I wonder if I have made a mistake coming here.
By this point the multiple queues snaking away from individual planes are converging, picking up speed in jerky fits and starts as groups of friends (found or newly made?) organize and re-organize themselves for advantage that seems largely social, rather than positional. I feel like I am the only person on the tarmac actually trying to get to the bunker. For a brief spell the queue's endless shuffle leaves me standing next to a young woman of vaguely Middle Eastern / Mediterranean extraction, and she quickly morphs into an ex-neighbor from my waking life. She will turn out to be the only person in the dream I actually know, and even at that early stage she seems a strange choice for special guest star. All I can say for sure about the actual, undreamt of girl is that she was plainly pretty, sweeter than she was smart. She had road-tripped into LA from a tiny Midwestern town with a group of friends and ended up happily waving good-bye at them as they drove home, her planned, week-long visit turning into a six month stay on the ratty couch of a warren-like, transient-filled loft. She worked odd jobs and partied before eventually disappearing back into the heartland, and I remember her mostly from awkward elevator rides in the early morning or late evening, both of us silently meditating on disappointment or hope as was appropriate to the hour.
As in waking life, we have very little to say to one another in the dream. A hug and a few awkward expressions of surprise at having run into each other "like this" exhausts our entire universe of possible exchange, and during the queue's next spasm of expansion and contraction she starts drifting towards another part of the line. There is a moment or two during which I could safely, plausibly stop her, perhaps suggesting that we reconnect on the other side of the bunker, but I let her disappear, worried that she'll take my overture as a come on. I think a little wryly to myself that if I actually wanted fuck her (in any particular way, as opposed to just ambiently or categorically) I likely would have found a way to be more "on" conversationally, but to what end? I don't want to talk to her, I'm just worried that I won't know anyone else here or make any new friends, that I'll go all summer with no one to talk to.
My fear doesn't lead me to interact with anyone else on line, and I don't leave my place to join any newly accreted crews, so my movement towards the bunker is relatively swift and unimpeded. My accelerating forward progress starts to strike me as an index of my likeability; I feel like a limp rag-doll sinking to the bottom of a toy chest over constricting cycles of under-use, newer toys below me being fished out for play and then re-stocked above me. As bodies peel off from the queue I wonder if there are people who will spend the entire summer like this, making friends at the airport and cycling through the line, never getting where they set out to go. I notice for the first time that more planes are landing, disgorging new arrivals. There must be thousands of us on the tarmac, and now and then some intrepid soul will wander to the front and ask this or that question about what is happening. I answer the questions I can, which turn out to be almost all of them, what with all the hours I've been waiting. I'm surprised by how much information I've stored, think back to how confused I was when I first landed. Everything seems so obvious to me now - the etiquette of cutting, the manila envelopes, the pattern-making dance of affinity and disinterest, all that movement and waiting and choice graphed on a single, curving line. I know a million things that the people behind me don't know and even if it's only by dint of just standing and persisting, even if the information is pointless and gifted to those who do no more than wait, I know it all the same. The knowing means I'm almost there.
Something changes in the dream just then, though, shifts invisibly under my feet as if I'm some kind of cartoon character striding across a map, left foot on one color, right foot on another. Just as quickly as it arrived my mild confidence that I know where I am goes all to hell. It's because of the bunker, because of how close to it I've gotten. The bunker reminds me that the things I need to know all lie ahead of me and not behind. The only real information I have about what's coming is a literal value concerning the queue itself, a variable that declines by one or two or five every time people peel off or enter the bunker. Ninety nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven, ninety, eighty, seventy-seven, seventy - As the number of people in front of me enters a range that can be mapped to a plausible human life-span, I start mentally subtracting my own, current age, creating a second, nestled set of numbers (62, 61, 60, 53, 43, 40, 33) whose decline I track with an inverted, mounting anxiety. When that second, nestled value jumps down to a value less than my age my mind goes blank, gets filled by a cold, mute, voiding terror. Although I'm still walking towards the bunker I feel frozen in place, my limbs heavy and unresponsive. A reset button has been pressed somewhere inside me and I find I can no longer say exactly where I am or what I have come here to do.
And then I'm next, standing in front of a pair of sliding glass doors that lead into the bunker. In the dream I have trouble recognizing the door or the bunker, have to force myself to think through how I got there in step-by-step units. I know I got on a plane in LA, know I came here of my own volition, but the why's leading up to the flight have gone all hazy. The doors themselves are unstable, hard to pin down. They suggests portals and magicks and teleports, instrumentalities of displacement that work across great distances and perhaps states of matter, dimensions. The glass is tinted and I am unable to see through it, but I can tell without touching that the surface is cool, a border distinguishing highly differentiated zones of temperature, air-pressure and moisture.
A man sits high on tennis-official like chair next to the sliding doors. The angle of the sun and the brim of his hat prevent me form discerning his race or age, but I know he is smiling down at me.
Welcome to the resort, he says.
Something about this jogs my memory. It strikes me a something you would say to a guest, but as far as I can remember I have come here to work. Perhaps I am in the wrong place, standing on the wrong line?
I look over my shoulder at the tarmac one last time before going into the bunker. If I was awake I would gasp; there must be millions of them.
[to be continued]
Posted by ebogjonson at 6:34 PM | Permalink
February 1, 2006
cholesterol - a dream
I got a high, bad number from the doctor last week, which I imagine prompted the following. Too much red meat and avocado, not enough oatmeal. More fish, perhaps?
I dream in strobing, slasher flick fragments where I'm both the knife-wielding maniac and his prey. This particular slasher flick is set in Japan and its POV hops from character to character, alternating between a barefoot, deranged ronin or ninja, a smallish Japanese woman, a running, running teenaged boy. Everyone is terrified (even the killer) but no one seems to know exactly what is happening or why.
Initially I stalk myself in a park, the ninja shadowing a couple taking an evening stroll. The couple is Japanese, middle-aged and dressed in sedate, modern grays. They are a husband and wife and they are taking what seems like a daily, post-dinner (fish?) constitutional. There is something angry in the way they're not speaking. The silences are big, loud things that crowd the space between the pair's shoulders, plenty of cover for me to disappear into. I walk just a few feet behind the couple for some time, wondering who they are, what they're thinking. After several hundred yards of following and watching, some kind of internal alarm goes off in my head, a single ringing tone that tells me it's time to reach out and slit the husband's throat. He collapses against me and disappears into himself in a wordless sparkle, a smashed ember or defeated videogame character. There's no blood except on my sword and even that seems like a formal convention, just an aesthetic marker indicating use as opposed to any kind of evidence of the murder I've just committed.
Now I'm the Japanese wife and I'm and running. Although I'm likely pushing 50 I take to my feet easily. I have a mild headstart - the killer is holding his sword this way and that, appraising it - and, moreover, I'm angry that my husband is dead and that I've been trapped in someone's stupid horror movie. The anger makes me fast and clear. I'm afraid to be sure, but I don't want to end up like my husband. I think about rules, about plausible yet unexpected plot twists. I don't hear the killer but I know he's somewhere behind me trying to close. He's like a disease, something I have. Until further notice I'll be carrying him with me everywhere I go.
Further notice appears right on cue in the form of a pool that I almost run into. I skitter to a relieved stop at the edge, think again, take a deep breath, dive in. The water is cold like liquid moonlight and the briefly pierced surface calm closes back over me like a layer of something heavy and fatty. I shudder gratefully into the water underneath like a patient with a high fever settling into a cold bath. I drift down to the bottom, where I find a filter outlet pushing out bubble-ridden water. I cup my hands over the grille, collecting and sucking down moist, metal-tinged air. For some reason I feel sure I've escaped. It's dark, I think, he won't see me in the bottom of the water. He won't want to get wet.
Now I'm the killer again, and I'm standing at the edge of the pool. The part of me that knows I'm dreaming knows the Japanese woman is pressed against the bottom, but the part of me that is the killer looks away after a while, grudgingly impressed that the woman has managed to escape. I don't understand the roots of the killer's compulsion but soon I've wandered off, searching the landscape for prey. The park has turned into a series of fenced-in suburban backyards replete with swings and garages and more pools. Empty clotheslines and redwood furniture. It doesn't at all seem like Japan, looks more like Long Island. I pad through yards, peer into darkened homes through rear windows. I have the feeling that I'm actively hunting the locals but don't dream anyone but the killer, don't do anything but watch and wander. Then some paydirt: I stumble onto a group of teenagers getting high on a back porch.
Although I'm an anachronistic barefoot ninja wielding a bloody sword, the teenagers strike me as odd, as temporally displaced. Their hair is big and shaggy and 80s. Their t-shirts are all touting tours for imaginary 80s bands and their jeans come in (currently) unpopular acid washes and cuts. One of the teenagers (a boy) is dry humping one of the others (a girl), while a third (a boy) watches, waiting his turn. I climb up to a high place (a garage?) and dive into the three of them. I spin as I fall, the tip of my sword tracing a glinting corkscrew pattern. It's a videogame move lifted out of X-Men Legends II: Apocalypse, one of Wolverine's special attacks. The part of me that knows it's dreaming is mildly disappointed. It seems an unlikely videogame moment to show up in a dream, but later when I'm awake and writing this down I remember Wolverine's healing factor, think how handy it would be to have such a thing.
The girl looks up (too late) and sees me arcing towards her. Her eyes go wide and she stops her perfunctory writhing and moaning. The boy on top of her frowns in confusion. Does she want want him to stop?
And then I'm the third teenager, and I'm running, running, running. I don't know if my friends are dead but I don't turn and look. There is a clearly a bad thing behind me but it's completely silent. The quiet feels smug, like a judgment, like a bet being made against me. I run faster. I notice that my heart is pounding. It feels strong but I don't trust it, can imagine it giving out on me at some inopportune point. I wonder what would hurt more: collapsing from a heart attack, or being sliced and stabbed to death.
Now I'm the Japanese woman again. I look up from under the surface and watch the figure of the killer and the boy run back and forth past the pool's edge. The figures are watery and wavy, reduced to a few essential details like an 80s haircut and bare feet and a weapon. Lying calmly on the bottom of the pool the chase strikes me as poorly resolved and inconclusive. I feel sorry for the running boy, trapped as he is between the killer and his heart, which the dream has decided is definitely defective. It annoys me that events on the surface are so locked in, subject to little more than the passage of time. Time will tell if the boy's heart gives out, if the boy gets caught by the killer. The arrival of the rising sun (so thoroughly predictable!) will either reveal my hiding place to the killer or reveal the killer to the waking world. It all feels fated, so much hinging on a handful of resistant, intransigent variables. The best thing the boy could do for himself is come down into the cool, dark water with me, to calm down and reduce his various inflammations. I could tell him to do this, but the thing is that I really don't want him bringing that killer down with him. So I wait.
Moments before I wake everything in the dream changes. Now I'm a light-skinned black actor taking off make-up in a bulby dressing room mirror. Next to me is another actor, an older white dude with a clipped, British accent. We are winding down and discussing the ins and outs of the performance we've just given, some sort of broad, theme-park play about a Japanese woman and a ninja killer and some American teenagers. There are no other actors, so I'm curious to see how the two of us could have pulled the whole thing off. But before any dots can be cleanly connected I'm awake and standing, pissing like a racehorse into the toilet.
I don't remember getting up and into the bathroom, think that give or take a few minutes I'd have wet the bed like a baby. A close call. The last time I wet a bed was the morning my fatther died. I was in my mid-thirties and I walked around in a fog shame and embarassment that day until my mother blew it all away by leaving me screaming and wailing phone message about how Dad was dead. It seemed a useful coincidence, the two unlikely things happening on the same day, and every morning since I've woken to a dry bed and thought to myself how no one I know was going to die, not today at least.
My urine is particularly copious and foamy and yellow this morning. Standing over the toilet I think of articles I've read on the Internet about how yellow foamy urine is a symptom of varied implication. I think that if I'd spent another couple of minutes in dreamland I would have pissed myself for sure. I want to write that I wondered who it was that had today's brush with death, but that'd be a lie. I know who it was.
Posted by ebogjonson at 12:08 PM | Permalink
December 5, 2005
paris - a dream
Mostly fragments today, but on the upside it seems I finally got around to processing the waking trip I just took to France.
Dreamt of travel, travel, travel by train, plane and helicopter, all of it on or about an unnamed volcanic island populated by French-speaking black folks. (Haiti? Martinique? Genosha?) On the books the island (a city-state really) is a high-tech, black-run paradise, ziggurat skyscrapers reaching for a postcard blue heaven, but the streets are heavy with moist banana smell, the tiny republic rotting away in stages, pretending to a high-mindedness (liberté, egalité, fraternité?) that never quite trickles down into anyone's day-to-day.
I fly into the city on videogame wings. I see my plane (propeller?) from the outside, its fuselage an unlikely burnished super-silver. Code generated lens-flare blossoms like firework across my mental image as the plane glides, swooping down through shaving cream clouds before buzzing the city-state's man-made canyons on the way to the airport. I watch and watch and get that funny sense of awe I get whenever I play a next-generation game console for the first time. Who knew an extra million polygons would look this good? Those Japanese cats sure know their stuff.
I'm on the island for business, here to buy a building or maybe a business. I'm carrying a lot of someone else's money, digital money or maybe encoded the old fashioned way in my signature or handshake. An old boss of mine flies in with me, but once we're on the island we never go look at any sites or meet any people. I walk around the city looking up at the buildings - think Blade Runner with sunshine - the celly pressed to my ear. I'm on hold the entire dream, that or I'm having testy, broken-French conversations with receptionists, hotel operators, assistants. I can't get through to anyone. I lose track of my boss and then have to call and call looking for him. He's left his hotel room and has gone sightseeing. No one can find him.
I ride the island's subway aimlessly. This particular system comes with just two lines, each with exactly four stops. A vast, imperial central station connects the two lines. The central station is bloated, a marble monstrosity. Its surface has been carved out of pinkish-brown stone and the place has the under-lit, unfocused ambiance of museum statuary that's been shot by a tourist using digital camera presets and weak flash.
A hotel operator berates me for my poor French. I speak better French when I'm awake but can barely put together a sentence here. When she puts me on hold I notice that all phone numbers on the island come in the same format:
I take in the recurring 29, decide that for the rest of the dream I'll pretend to a vague numerological unease. In my waking life, I always take note of numbers that could be subsets of a plausible lifespan, like my age plus one for example. (This year, the lucky number is 38.) I suck on the 29 like it's a particularly resistant candy, some kind of mental gobstopper. Do I have 29 more years of life? Did I die when I was 29? Soft-center or chewable?
When I'm not on the train I ride in a helicopter that takes me from building to building. More pixellated aeronautic excess. My pilot talks too much too, tells me how he dreams of emigrating to America. I nod absently, wonder if I could fly the thing if I had to.
There are men with machine guns guarding the streets.
The wandering motif that consumed the whole first half of the dream suddenly evaporates. I forget it as if it never happened. Instead of traveling and wandering I now dream that I have been in my hotel room since the day I arrived. I lay in bed eating crepes, watching French television. I watch "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in German for hours, as well as "The Weakest Link." I discover a genre of talk show where 10 or 15 Italians sit on a stage chatting and laughing. It's the same set-up every night. I'm baffled by the booking - politicians? Footballers? B-list celebrities? An African-seeming gent walks on stage in a tweed jacket and the crowd goes wild. He waves back coolly, his hands clasped over his head.
The hotel room morphs around me, extravagant and minimal at the same time. I am Dave Bowman slowly chewing a Kubrickian steak.
The European women on the television all have enormous breasts. I wonder if this is a natural phenomenon, or something innate to the televised European. I'm confused by their plenitude. I have flown in from California, where every other woman is an actress with implants.
Except for the Italian African I never see any black people on the hotel television. I wonder why if the island has its own channel, why the hotel doesn't carry it.
I decide that there's something gravitationally off with the island. On the pressboard desk in my hotel room sits a doodad, one of those magnets that's been floated on a superconducting surface, science in miraculous action. This particular doodad is eccentric in design and execution - a wine cork stuffed like a pimento olive with magnet, then floated in a U-shaped, superconducting trough. Every now and then the magnet, like a cat suddenly starting at nothing, rotates impossibly on its axis. I call down to ask the concierge if the island is prone to earthquakes, but he only berates me for my poor conjugation.
Just before I wake, my dream settled down to a single arc with the appearance in my room of Chantal, an old friend from high school. In real life Chantal had been one of the few kids at my high school who lived in my neighborhood, and she was also one of a handful of Haitian kids attending besides me. In the dream she lives on the island and has come on goodwill mission to get me out of the room.
"You should see the sights," she says.
Before we can leave, though, she loses her favorite brooch somewhere in my hotel room. I can't leave the room until it's found. She describes it to me in great detail, a silver duck with pearl feathers, blue gems for eyes, a golden beak. Days pass, flashing by in bursts of looking and waiting. Chantal seems increasingly annoyed at me, as if the loss is my fault. I make increasingly desultory searches of the hotel room in reaction to her anger, moving the couch and peering under the bed. I find brooches - gilded Hello Kitty characters, mostly - but none of them hers. I go to sleep, wake up and find her moving the cushions on the couch around. I worry that she will read my journal while I'm sleeping.
The next time she leaves, she takes the dream's POV with her. She goes home, where she has dinner with an older woman who may or may not be her mother. It seems that I have disappeared. No one answers the phone in my room when she calls. The hotel staff has ventured in, found my things but no me. She asks about her brooch. Negative.
The older woman worries for my safety. It is getting dark. Chantal demurs. She explains that when we were in high school we would stay out after curfew all the time, dodging patrols and skirting checkpoints.
"He'll be fine," she says. I dream of agreeing with her. I wonder what it is I am doing.
December 4, 2005
the village - a dream
I dream that I am some kind of vaguely dirty hippie walking the earth like Caine in Kung Fu, only with a laptop, a Caddy and locks. The town I have just entered could be anywhere - a village in the northern prairie, or maybe it's an isolated California desert hamlet. I'm clearly a creature of my own present, but around me the dream is marked by temporal instability and confusion. Sometimes I feel like I'm visiting the early 1960s, other times I'm in a far-flung, post-apocalyptic future, my travels the only thing connecting isolated places struggling to hold on after some unspecified cataclysm.
I have a car, some kind of kitted-out (in a Mad Max way) two-door low-rider Cadillac sedan. Although I'm capable of off-roading it, I have driven into town on what remains of the pre-apocalypse highway system. (The drive in confuses the setting further, as it looks almost exactly like the drive up Francis Lewis Boulevard to my high school in NYC, only without the buildings.)
The locals are almost exclusively white. The town doctor is an aging Latino dude and the nurse is his comely catholic daughter. The town sheriff is white, but his deputy is literally Officer Williams from Reno 911, only minus maybe 15 years and 20 pounds. Her nails are lavish and did, glistening curls are pressed against her temples. After some gentle vetting by the sheriff and deputy (she seems happy to see another black face) I am allowed to mix and mingle. The townspeople are wary of me, but I don't feel unsafe or particularly unwanted. It's just clear to both sides that I'm not from there and that I don't belong there. Everyone is politely waiting for me to leave.
(I never learn the town's name. No one mentions it.)
The dream takes a turn when I discover a series of ovoid underground caverns where a group of "survivors" are living. The underground part of town is vast, way vaster than the aboveground town baking in the sun, and except for the doctor, nurse, sheriff and deputy there is no overlap between the two sets of residents. The folks underground are also polite, but they seem to live under the thumb of an unspecified tyranny, something that even the town elders - the sheriff and doctor - fear. The proceedings have a religious, potentially demonic air to them, all the residents wearing brown sack cloth robes over their clothing and monastic hoods.
I meet a woman in her late thirties underground, an odd, coquettish white woman who smokes and carries herself like an older, stretched out version of Audrey Tautou from Amelie. We have a passing encounter in the cavern's gift store (?) that blossoms into a recurring interaction after she notices my outlandish, foreign dress - Levi's, some busted, vintage Nikes, a tee I bought at the MOCA Basquiat show, an American Apparel jacket made out of Tyvec paper. When she takes off her hood it's like a scene from a bad movie - surprise! It's a girl! It turns out she's the town librarian. She studies me and the contents of my knapsack with intense academic curiosity. I learn she's not from the town either, that she was once a traveler just like me, but she's decided to settle here - that or she's been trapped so long (by what? The unspecified horror?) that she's accepted the terms and condition of her imprisonment.
When I look at the stretched out Audrey Tautou librarian (it's the same when I'm around Officer Williams and the nurse) I become acutely aware that I'm dreaming. I look at her (at her and her and her, three women, three times) and ask myself (another 3) whether she's going stay a generic dream character or whether things will take a more one-on-one turn. The answer always pivots on the same plot point - will she decide to run away with me? Can I steal her away from the town? All three times I realize the answer is no without having to go beyond subtext and flirting. The nurse is too tied to her father, the deputy has duties she takes seriously, and the librarian has been out and above before and was scarred by what she found there.
The town gift shop (again with the funny, random bits) is art directed like something you might find in an airport terminal - magazines, candy, bottled water, neck pillows, cell phone doodads. The librarian leaves me alone there, and for a few seconds of dreamtime I find myself zapped out of the shop. Now I am sitting on an airplane in mid-flight, reading an in-flight catalogue. The listed wares I'm reading about are miraculously doubled, present both on the page in front of me and yet also materialized back in the town shop, which both still exists and doesn't, occupying as it does some weird, dimensionally adjacent dreamspace. The woman sitting next to me on the plane is a rather beautiful Chinese lawyer (as in Chinese national) and I get absolutely nowhere talking to her - for one my Mandarin sucks, for two I'm still dressed like a dirty, traveling hippie, hipster museum tee or no. I cut eyes at her internally, uncharitably assuming there is also a racial component to her disinterest.
Huh. An SD ram card is being advertised in the in-flight catalogue that has a program on it that teaches English-speakers Mandarin. No sooner do I notice it than I'm zapped back to the gift-shop, peering at the rack that contains the cell phone doodads. I find the Mandarin card on the rack, but on closer inspection discover it's not compatible with my Treo. It occurs to me that the thing to do instead is to learn Spanish, which is available for my particular phone. (Is the town in California after all?) But - details, details - I realize I don't have a headset with me and can't imagine how I'd learn Spanish on my phone without one.
I decide to leave the town. As I walk out of the underground city I run into the librarian. We exchange books and I promise to return for a visit. As I walk out of the caves and then out of town, I find that everyone aboveground is agitated, rushing mysteriously to and fro. The road back to my car has also gone flooded in my absence and (shades of Katrina?) I have to hitch a ride on a piece of floating driftwood that's being pushed by two locals equipped with gondolier's poles. As they push away from the town what feels like hundreds of young white college kids start streaming in the opposite direction, carrying kegs and beach blankets, heat radiating off their sun-purpled skin like they were freshly boiled lobsters. It's fucking spring break.
The locals pushing the driftwood get lost. Instead of taking me to my car they've circled back somehow and landed us on the exact opposite side of town from where I'm parked. I get off the driftwood and decide to hoof it to my car on my own, pointing myself towards the center of town. College kids are swarming everywhere. The crowd parts and I see that buried in the midst of all that spring break is another dred walking towards me and away from the town's center. He could be my twin, except that he immediately shames me with his dirty hippie authenticity. His gear is either all brandless or is some next level esoteric brand with which I'm unfamiliar. He's unburdened by electronics and has the rangy, lean look of someone who's been out of doors. I feel fat and soft in comparison.
We exchange ritual dred acknowledgements and then compare wandering hippie notes. He's been walking the earth as well, for years it seems, and has been to some of the same places I have, even knows the same people I do back home, wherever that is. We both lament how the town's been spoiled by the arrival of all those college kids, confess to each other that if there's anything that could make us feel sorry for a town like this, it's the arrival of ten thousand fratboys. We wonder how the word got out, how everyone knew to come, whether or not the kids will discover the underground caverns.
We're getting along quite nicely and it occurs to me that the natural thing to do next is suggest we travel together, but instead of inviting him along I find myself gripped by three forms of panic simultaneously - class panic, liberal panic and then homosexual panic. What if he judges me for traveling around in a cushy Cadillac instead of walking? What if he wants to rob me? What if he wants to fuck me? Wait - what if I want to fuck him? I mean, I had just spent most of the dream trying to maneuver the nurse, the deputy and the librarian into my car.
Before I can get any specific resolution on any of these questions, though, he announces that he absolutely has to leave town as quickly as possible. There are too many college kids around us, and their "energy" is disturbing to him. I have to keep from rolling my eyes at this talk of energy; all of a sudden I don't like him. I notice that his locks are bleached blond, which strikes me as a damning incongruity. We take our leave of each other, make vague plans to keep an eye out, one for the other, down the literal road.
The dream starts to unravel, events and locations galloping past me. I am in the middle of town where thousands of kids are milling about. The sheriff and the deputy are desperately checking bags and confiscating alcohol from underage kids. A parade float roars by. It's the webcast of MTV's Spring Break Beach House. A white guy from Jersey in a sombrero and fake mustache is tossing business cards from the top of the float. "Senor Sanchez," the cards say, "Senor Vice President." His email is printed and his cell phone number is handwritten. The deputy is searching my bag and is puzzled by my multivitamins. Now it seems that the town is located in 1962 in Southern California. "Whole food" multivitamins will not be invented for 30 years. She shows my pills to the sheriff who shows them to the doctor. Doc is a real pill himself. He winks at me, says he's sure I'm just a nice traveling hippie and not a junkie. He pops one of my vitamins and does a cartoony full body stretch, announces that he hasn't felt this good since he was a boy.
His daughter, the nurse, is peering a little awed at the other contents in my bag. What is this flat little typewriter with no paper in it? What about this round, thin wafer of plastic that plays music and shows movies? How about this little handsized thing with the buttons?
She just about trembles. "Are you some kind of humaniod space alien?"
Even though wakefulness is ripping the dream into little pieces all around me, I allow myself a theatrical pause in response, my eyes narrowing into cooly appraising, science-fictional slits. "It's not so much a question of where I'm from," I tell the girl, "but when."
Her eyes widen conspiratorially, she inhales "oh!" in a perfect little wordless hop. As I wake, I think that it would have been nice to have more time, and then I instantly revise myself. The dream is what it is.
I'm always of those two minds about these dreams, especially with the early morning, pre-waking wisps I remember well enough to record. Am I author of the dream, am I spectator? Neither/both? In the mornings I often dream of straining towards outcomes that are invariably sexual, and I invariably dream of failing. Every now and then I get lucky, but instead of experiencing it as a gift from me to me, I go all bare knuckle on myself, crowing about how I made new moments through brute force and phantasmagoric will. It's funny and I never know what to make of it when I'm awake. I lie on my back reviewing what's happened, sniffing at pieces of dream like a tentative cat exploring a recently emptied shopping bag. I tilt my head away at the neck everytime I catch an unexpected whiff, the rest of my body frozen.
Posted by ebogjonson at 3:45 PM | Permalink
December 3, 2005
fight club - a dream
I dream that a friend invites me to some kind of weird, word-based "fight club." The event takes place in the middle of the night in Downtown LA, and the two of us take my car to get there, me driving and him giving directions that lead me down one way street after another towards a secret location in an underground parking lot. When we get there (somewhere on S. Spring?) we find an anonymous entrance blocked by a metal gate and a uniformed lot attendant. The attendant peers into the car (he knows my friend by sight) before opening the gate and waving us in. I cut my engine on my friend's instructions, rolling into the cavernous, empty space.
Inside I find two or three card tables have been set up in a semi-circle of parked cars. My friend hops up and down excitedly next to me as we approach. He is an expert player, has been here before, and there is a sense in which this outing is really for him. I'm an amateur, a virgin and it's established from the get-go that I have no shot of winning tonight's fight club. He tells me that word fight club is like getting high or laid - you don't get to enjoy your first time.
The contest isn't like a MC battle or cipher, being more like boggle with elbow checks. Game play is simple: six or seven players sit at a table, waiting for the dealer to toss a milk crate worth of large, baseball-sized letter cubes on the table. Each cube has a single letter on all six sides and during each one-minute round players reach and grab and push for the same letters, building words that they hold out in front of them like a pressed together stack of blackboard erasers. You are not allowed to hit another player, but if you have a word in your hands (minimum three letters) you can legally hit their stack with yours in order to dislodge letters you need, or to reduce the opponent's score by making them drop letters. Everyone has a different strategy. Some people are defensive, using their bodies to block out a section of the table, some people are predatory, smashing at opponents with "the" or "and" over and over again, accumulating small scores while others lament the loss of big money words like "satirist."
It turns out very quickly that I'm better at this game than my friend. Although he's bantering and giving me advice, he quickly falls to the bottom of the table's ranking. He's burdened by all kinds of preset/received strategy and ritual, while I just lash out at words and letters with a desperation that surprises everyone at the table, me most of all. I quickly realize that each of the players is engaged in some kind of jokey mental drama to help psyche themselves up, an overlay that they're putting over the game to help structure it. For some strange reason I can see each gambit when I look at the players: some imagine themselves playing poker in the Old West, others are commanding battleships in a war room. Still others see themselves as playing kinky head games, their words stages in an invisible seduction. For a while I try to use an overlay too, picturing myself as James T. Kirk/William Shatner, the rhythm of my reaching and grabbing for words mimicking Kirk's cadences. It's so damned unlikely, though, unstable. The overlay takes me out of the game, so I abandon it. I keep track of what the other players are doing, anyway, hopeful I can use their tricks against them.
The game enters an elimination phase and surprise, surprise - my friend is one of the first to go. I take an uncomfortable amount pleasure in his defeat, wonder when I had started being so jealous of him. He takes up a supporting spot behing my right shoulder and watches my game improve with every round, and the next time I peek up out of the game I find there are only three players left at the table with me. To my right is a pretty, curly haired brunette, Jewish or maybe Mediterranean/Middle Eastern, to my left an anonymous white dude. (I look at the girl and wonder if the dream will include sleeping with her.) Sitting across from me is a brown skinned man in his fifties sporting a mustache and receding, medium-to-low 'fro. He is my main competition, but I don't know whether that's because he's the best player or the only other black person left in the game. I start punching and slamming at his words exclusively, some of them breaking, some of them repelling me. I ask myself what I am willing to do to win, how hard I can hit before the dealer decides I am attacking him and not his words.
It's the last round. Each off us has an accumulated pile of letters and words on the table that we warily watch and protect while waiting for the last toss by the dealer. I make a decision and start shoving letters and words into my pocket, down my pants, down my shirt. The white guy to my left suddenly turns into Larry David and he wants to know what it is I think I'm doing. He complains to the dealer, who ignores him and tosses the last crate of letters. Instead of reaching for words like the other players, I kick at the table as hard as I can. It's too well anchored for me to knock over, but the other players' piles are upset. Larry David is shouting, crying foul in that Larry David way of his. I ignore him and dive under the table, where a handful of cubes have fallen. I can hear Larry above me demanding the dealer stop the game, but the dealer rules that I haven't done anything illegal. The older black man appears under the table. He stares at me impassively, measuring me and conveying a vast animosity without uttering a word. It occurs to me that I have made a blood enemy tonight. I wonder what I should feel about it,
Fight club is over and the dream turns from competition to comedy. All of a sudden I am running for my car like a silent movie burglar, my pockets suddenly sack-like and weighed down by letter cubes. I juggle cubes in my hands and in the crook of my arm, desperately try to keep it together. Larry David is chasing me, high-steeping cop to my crook, and Benny Hill theme music is blaring somewhere - in my head, over the parking lot PA system, out of someone's car. Larry cuts me off somehow before I get to my car and there is a mock set of eye-level camera matches, the two of us squaring off like gunslingers in a Mexican spaghetti western. We circle each other. Each one of us is struggling with our haul of cubes, but we still take one-armed jabs at each other, take full-bodied swipes with elbows or chins. We rear back like Loony Tune bulls about to charge. We bob and weave, little rascals staging a boxing match.
Suddenly we're wrestling, but the clinch is only a set-up for further sight gaggery. Larry's got an arm around my neck and seems to be thinking noogie when his eyes goggle wide at something in the off-screen distance. Exclamation points about pop over our heads and the camera (?) jump cuts to reveal a pickup truck barreling towards us. We leap away from each other onto our respective asses, sending our cubes flying.
Cut to the receding pick-up truck. The brother from the table is driving. He waves back at us without turning his head, his arm stuck out the window, a perfect right angle bent at the elbow. His 3 o'clock wave moves only at the wrist, as regal and disdainful and automatic as Queen Elizabeth's. Next to him sits the white girl. She winks at us lasciviously through the back window, opens her shirt and presses ample tits against the glass. Soon after a hail of me and Larry's combined, previously airborne cubes hits the other side of the glass from where her nipples are pressed, letters banking and clanging into the pickup's cab. Proverbial insult to phantasmagoric injury.
Cut back to a two shot of me and Larry David on our asses, mouths agape, double and the triple taking at the receding pick-up and each other. Jump cut to black and credit, "Curb your Enthusiasm" theme music - Dump dump dump, duhhh, duhhh, duh-nuh duh-nuhhhh - blaring. I have an acute sense of dreaming just then, but instead of feeling tickled at my inventiveness I wonder why I didn't engineer myself into a closing two-shot with dude in the pick-up truck, why the white guy ends up my main ally/foil. (And then, of course, there is always the problem of the girl.)
The dream ends and I wake up all at once, completely lucid. Unlike most mornings, which are marked by dawdling and stumbling, by sleep-drunken grabs at evaporating wisps of dream, I reach for my journal knowing I'll be able to regurgitate this particular dream in a single burst. I tell myself I will go to the gym once I'm done. I wonder about the free boxing class they offer at my Y, decide to take it.
Posted by ebogjonson at 2:51 PM | Permalink
October 5, 2005
dust - a dream
wherein i dream about dust, new lofts, moving, martian terraforming and the logistics/ethics of taking advantage of an invisible woman
I dream that I move into a new apartment, a smallish but nicely appointed loft. The building is in a sketchy commercial zone in what feels like an American any-metropolis, and it sits straddling the top of an irregular hill, at the curved tip of a sharp, eyelet bend in a road. While my section of the building is residential, the structure itself is largely made up of empty commercial spaces, like an abandoned factory or warehouse. The abandoned spaces are accessible from my apartment if I crawl out a window and across a dangerous rooftop made of thin metal panels that look like re-purposed aluminum siding. The panels don't seem like they should be able to support my weight but I crawl across them anyway in order to explore the empty spaces they connect to, which are huge, spooky, gorgeous. Although I've only just moved in much of my building seems slated for demolition. The building super is constantly at work taking rooms down with a wrecking ball while I explore. It's a bit of a race against time, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for or why.
At one point, for reasons I can't explain, I put a raw Purdue chicken onto the end of a folding wooden measuring stick. I unfold the measuring stick to about broomstick length and I swagger around with the chicken and stick on my shoulder like some kind of comic-strip hobo. At other times I extend the measuring stick to its full length (72 inches?) and walk around with the chicken bobbing in front of me like an alien probe or a grotesque, slowly decomposing strap-on. This all greatly amuses me in the dream, but it nonetheless feels observed, like play-acting. A put-on.
Disaster! It's not that the fully extended ruler cracks but that the raw chicken slips off the end and disappears into the gloom. Try as I might I can't find it. The super appears just then with some other tenants. Everyone is chatting about nothing and I slyly search the room for the chicken, hoping not to draw any attention to myself. I worry that the chicken will rot and that they'll smell it and that I'll get into some kind of trouble.
I can't find the chicken. It occurs to me that if I can't find it, neither can they. The room is so full of dust that I imagine the chicken lying somewhere encased completely and hermetically and safely in viscous, dry muck. I picture frying the chicken in the flour-like coating, then I scratch that, picturing instead the dust as a perfect, odor-trapping sealant. An embalming agent. The chicken would rot away to nothing and leaving a fragile tri-d shell of dust behind for someone to discover years hence and ruin with a curious breath.
The super and the other tenants and I leave the room and walk across one of those fragile metal roofs. They walk and I crawl, slowed by my twinned terror of falling off or through. Soon the group has completely outpaced me, left me far behind and alone. I'm barely moving, my crawl is so slow. I start showily working through my fear - talking loud to myself about putting one foot in front of the other and such- when I notice there's something wrong with the visuals. Instead of being outside on a roof, it looks as if I'm on a cheap, enclosed set, the sky and the roof edge painted-on optical blurs designed to fool cameras but not human eyes. The more I look I realize there's nowhere to fall and that the fragile-seeming metal panels are more floor covering than rooftop. I get up, walking stage left and then out of frame in pursuit of the super.
I find the super (the other tenants have vanished) and the dream changes genre and locale just then. Now I'm an avatar in a virtual colony on Mars and he's the colony headman. The context for this is unclear, but I imagine it has something to do with distance labor - the experiences I have with my avatar in this virtual world, the work I do, all manipulating a machine that is actually on Mars busily turning the red desert into a green human paradise.
I'm new to the colony so the headman is giving me the mandatory tour. He takes me back all through the loft building I'd just been exploring (and that he had been demolishing) and he re-explains its architecture to me as the stuff of extraterrestrial homesteading - living quarters here, storage there, med center, machine shop, Martian water extractor, and so science-fictional so on. He gives me a lazy layman's history of virtual colonization, perks up slightly as he goes over this particular colony's charter, waxes a little philosophical as he explains that the logic of the virtual world is Matrixian: (yackity) die here your real body dies (smackity) there.
It's boilerplate. I nod politely while he dutifully prattles. I stare discretely out the windows at the Martian landscape. It's beautiful, vivid like a View Master.
At one point the headman startles me back to virtual reality by carefully informing me that there's an invisible hacker bedeviling the colony and colonists. Initially the hacker had only indulged in pranks, hiding things or spraying graffiti or setting up petty conflicts between colonists, but they'd since moved on to dangerous sabotage and physical attacks. So far he'd been unable to purge the colony's database or systems of the hacker. He admits this with some embarrassment, shares that the other colonists are at bit angry with him and his inability to deal with the situation.
We are in an elevator when gets to explaining all this. I look him over. He's staring pointedly away from me to hide his shame, and although I'm inclined to say something politely encouraging, the more I look the more convinced I become that the angry colonists are right, that he could be doing something more. His avatar, which could technically look like anything, is a sloppily dressed and haphazardly thrown together reproduction of the super from the first part of the dream, gut and two-day shadow and bald-spot and all. His clothes are dirty and gray, low-resolution. The code in his toolkit, which hangs around his waist on a workman's belt, is a confused mass of out-of-date versions and shareware.
He's either over-matched or doesn't care. I wonder what I've gotten myself into.
Just then, right on cue, the elevator slams to a stop and the headman starts grabbing for his own throat, choking. There is a thin, translucent cord looping around his neck, garroting him. I can't pry my fingers between his neck and the cord. I try to reach around behind him but I'm grabbing at air. What I am assuming is the hacker sees me coming each time and expertly twists away from me like an unseen bullfighter, turning the headman this way and that. The headman's eyes start rolling back into his head and his fingers start losing their grip on the invisible hands and cord choking him. I decide to stop trying to grab what I can't see and instead lower my shoulder and slam into the headman. He falls backward towards the elevator wall but stops short of it, cushioned by (and in the process crushing) an invisible layer of hacker. I keep slamming myself into the headman until there's a groan that isn't his and the invisible cord and choking hands release, allowing him slide gasping to the floor. While he lies there catching his breath I pad carefully around him on the constricted elevator floor but don't find anyone, just a vividly green length of electrical cord, abandoned and therefore now visible.
Once the headman is back on his feet the tour and dream quickly proceed as if nothing had happened. He leads me down a corridor to an anteroom where some children are playing on the floor in front of a closed set of double doors. Beyond the double doors is a large, ornate meeting space like a legislative hall or an Ivy seminar room. A dozen or so people sit surrounded by a sea of fixed, front-facing chairs. The entire colony is here and they're holding an impromptu town meeting. It's about replacing the headman.
I'm new here, so I sit back and away and listen to the long litany of complaints. The hacker turns out to be only one of many things the headman has been doing wrong. I feel a mounting sympathy for him as the meeting progresses. His inadequacies seem to be mostly political and personal. His people don't seem to like him much and doesn't know to hide the fact that he likes them even less. Moreover, with the exception of the hacker, the strikes against him are largely luck-of-the-draw snafus, inevitable glitches of the sort that always arise during the build phase of any large project. The next headman - and by the way this meeting is going, there is going to be a next headman - will inherit a reasonably well-crafted, well-run colony and a clean political slate. He or she will do half the work of the headman and look like a managerial genius.
My eyes drift out a window to the red desert and I see the children. They've left the building and are out in the middle of nowhere. Their hands are linked and they're being dragged laughing across the Martian landscape in a little V-formation, except that the tip of the V is missing, invisible. They're moving fast enough that a contrail of dust has been kicked up behind them, the incomplete V and the line of dust behind it pointing directly at a cliff.
I jump out the pane-less window (no need for glass in this simulation?) and race after them. Behind me I hear sounds of confusion among the colonists, then the screams of mothers. I'm strangely pleased to be running, running, running across Mars. I'm thinking about what Morpheus tells Neo in the Matrix: there is no air, I have no legs, I can run as fast as I want to. My mind keeps drifting off to contemplate the virtual landscape. It's too beautiful, I think, more beautiful than the actual Mars must be. I wonder how the sensor data from the terraforming machines on Mars is being converted into this scene, trying to deduce how much of it is utilitarian and how much is simply aesthetic excess and pixel-jock doo-dadery. I try to deduce how much of this is being filled in at the whim of the graphics engine and how much of denotes actual Martian topography. I wonder if there's any lag between here and Mars and if the simulation is smart enough to fill the gaps in with incident and narrative and action.
I reach the children and the hacker just before they reach the cliff. I aim at the invisible tip of the V and throw myself. My arms clamp around a waist and hips that are unexpectedly soft and I tumble once, twice - uh-oh; I've miscalculated - three times and then the gravity variable gets dialed down to nothing. Free fall.
Over the edge of the cliff a world of slow-motion, strobing contrasts is hiding. An elbow persistently smashes itself into my jaw. My face is swept by long strands of hair that smell like calendula and peppermint. The cliff face is striated with thousands of lines, faked millennia of sediment appearing out of nowhere. There's no sound of air rushing past until I notice its absence and bring it into being. There's a knee in my gut.
I hit the ground. I'm a little chastised when I realize the drop wasn't nearly as far as I'd imagined it to be, the slightly paltry distance putting my heroic leap and race in a less impressive light. I over-reacted; none of the kids would have died. While I'm thinking all this through the hacker is busy rolling away from me and getting onto their feet. They're good and fast and now there's a boot in my face. They're good and they're fast but today it seems I'm lucky. The blow from the boot is glancing and mostly just turns my head, the better to spy another boot nearby covered in dust. This other boot is planted, taking weight. I can see it well enough to imagine sweeping it out from under the hacker and then I decide to do just that and then there's nothing. I lie there wondering if I've missed or if the hacker has pulled another disappearing act when there's the sound of skull hitting rock like a clap of little thunder - more luck for me. Then there's just confused groaning and a settling cloud of dust.
The dust is like breath magically revealing the traces flesh leaves on cold glass: unmistakable, informative, temporary.
The dust tells me that boot I just kicked out into the air is a stiletto boot.
The dust tells me that the boot (when stared at long enough) resolves into a long calf just above a slim ankle. The dust settles on the hacker like a kind of substantiating strip-tease; the hacker writhes in pain, kicks up more dust. The cycle allows me to follow an outline that slopes into what has to be a strong, thickish thigh. The thigh morphs into a generous curve of buttock, and when the hacker writhes again the buttock arcs radially into a hip that flares into a flat belly like an incoming tide. The tide recedes before the daunting rise of breasts, and the vagaries of dust keep bringing the hacker in and out of focus, and in and out of focus until I can piece her together from memory.
Right. Her. She is a she.
She is also just shy of completely knocked out. I doubt the authors of this simulation would have cause to code in the possibility of an avatar skull fracture, but either way the story logic in effect will likely keep her out of action for a bit. For all I know she could be sitting there on her end desperately trying to will her avatar to rip my face off and instead all it does is groan and clutch at the back of her invisible head. There's blood there, substantiated now that it's outside her simulated invisible body, and it mixes with the Martian sand into an ochre plaster-of-Paris that brings fingers and strands of hair into sudden relief.
She's rolled in a way that's getting dust on her lips and into her mouth. It's a fine, sparkling dust, sprinking her tongue like eye shadow.
I take a deep breath. I look down at her moaning and tossing and decide she's wearing a cat suit, super-villainess like, or maybe like a dominatrix. Then it occurs to me that she might be naked, that the boots and the dust might be her only costume. I wonder about then if this dream is about to shift genre under my feet again. I ponder the technical and aesthetic conundrum of fucking an invisible woman. Would I look down and see my own cock thrusting at nothing? Would the places where her wet surfaces had met mine linger, visible and disquietingly anatomical? What about the problem of the cum shot, both internal and external? Also the emotional logic of this particular turn vis-a-vis my dream character. She's incapacitated, after all; is it a rape if she's invisible, simulated, a hostile hacker, the figment of my dreaming imagination, all of the above?
It turns out not to be that kind of dream, though, because what happens next is that I throw her over my shoulder and turn back towards the colony. Just before I wake I think, they'll make me the headman for sure now. The dream ends before I can decide whether or not I want the job.
Posted by ebogjonson at 1:21 PM | Permalink
August 21, 2005
ported dreams, dec_01-mar_02
[from my pen and paper journals just before I left NYC for Cambridge]
Dream - 3/17/02
Dreamt I was planning a bank robbery. The targeted bank is a small, flat, window-less cinder of a building, reminiscent of a Jehovah`s Witness Kingdom Hall or a funeral home. The robbery is going to be committed by me, Jim and two other people. We practice it over and over, and I`m feeling confident until a fifth member joins us (Arul?). He asks many, many questions about my plan, asks the right questions. I have answers, but he gets me thinking. What if I have made a mistake? What if there`s a flaw in the plan? I don`t want my friends to get killed and I don`t want to get caught. When the day of the robbery comes things don`t feel right so I abort the robbery. I can`t tell whether I`m being cautious or timid.
The dream changes. A few months have passed and I am hiding out in an apartment in some generic projects. I remember planning the robbery, but don`t remember what happened. I walk around my cramped, dingy one bedroom trying to remember what went down. Did we get the money? Did anyone get killed? Why am I hiding? About then I notice there`s a dismembered body in my apartment. There are piles of tightly sealed garbage bags all over the place and each one contains a limb or organ. There's no smell because of the care taken in sealing the bags, but the sacks are heavy with liquid, the contents soft and jelly.
Who the fuck did I kill or get killed? Where is my money?
I decide to get rid of the parts before any smell or rot seeps out of the bags. I consider melting the parts in lye in the bathtub, but am concerned about the stink and gore. I think about moving it piece by piece to the dumpster but worry that someone will see me, discover the corpse. I think about all the movies I`ve seen where someone is trying to dispose of a body but all the depicted methods seem stupid when carefully reviewed. I stare out the project window at the kids standing on the basketball court, consider my options.
Dream - 2/12/02
Dreamt Jim showed me a short film he`d directed. It`s an action comedy about Asian-American teens, shot in the style of an HK action flick. It`s good, real good and seeing it makes me feel old and envious.
The screening takes place in an airport. Cole and Natasha come through. Natasha is impressed by Jim`s film, Cole is noncommittal. Nicky is with him, and we are introduced as if we have never met.
I also run into my father, who tries to get me to wait with him for two arriving passengers. I refuse. It turns out the couple he is waiting for is a bourgie black couple I know from Yale. I can`t imagine how my father could possibly have ended up greeting them at the airport, but I don't like the idea of him being their driver.
[EBOG's NOTE: The female half of the couple had, in her youth, been voted one of the four (or was it five?) most beautiful incoming black Yale freshwomen by the watchful junior/senior Kappas who kept track of such things at that time. She actually was one of the most beautiful women I had seen until then, but in a strangely still way that suggested a kind of sacrificial willingness to sit motionless in the cross-hairs of male desire. I remember catching a lucky, alcohol-fueled break and fooling around with her freshman year, this followed by almost a decade of sexual tension on the increasingly rare occasions that our distinct slices of black a Yale/NYC touched or overlapped. When she married her climbing clown of a husband I remember being washed over by an unexpected wave of disgust. In college we had joked about moving to France and making movies. I would direct and she would be my muse/star. (Did all this happen while we sat in the dining hall conjugating French homework? Idle language exercises suddenly finding unexpected application?) She had insisted at the time that it had to be a blockbuster and that I had to cast [MALE NAME] as her love interest, [MALE NAME] being an odd, incognegro that for some reason had caught her fancy. I had agreed to both terms immediately and without reservation. Starlets are to be allowed their fancies, I figured, because muses and directors had different, deeper, potentially sacrosanct connections. As for the question of the opening weekend, that went in one ear and out the other. I was 17 at the time and wouldn't give serious thought to such matters until I was 30. When she married the climbing clown it occurred to me that she had really meant it when she had intimated (in so many words) that she would willingly make herself the object of a man's creative focus, that she would sit there and be beautiful in exchange for a big enough marquee. The climbing clown is a climbing clown, but he has made her the star of a fine and long-running drama popular among the Black American moneyed-classes, i.e., The Tale of the Black Ivy Leaguers and their Architecturally Significant Brownstone.]
I tell my Dad he should just let [FEMALE NAME] and her husband take a cab, that they can certainly afford it. He tells me that for the life of hime he just can't understand why I'd be so rude to another black Yalie.
George Bush II arrives at the airport while I am arguing with my father. I try to leave the terminal, walking upstream through the crowd of soldiers and functionaries. My dream POV is shaky and hand-held, agitated. As I make my exit I walk past a midget marching band setting up. Bush drives by in a golf cart. He is short, reddish and driving himself. He looks, it goes without saying, like a clown.
Dream - 1/22/02
Dreamt I was in a Vegas-y midtown. I am either hanging out with an old homeless woman, or I am an old homeless woman. The homeless lady that I may or may not be is going on and on about the funny thing that happens when she lies down on the concrete to sleep. Sometimes the city looks like ugly she says, like teeth, but when she rests her head on her arm just so the city looks like Amsterdam. Arul appears suddenly. He tells the old woman\me that her priorities are all fucked up. Forget arm or no arm he says. Get the fuck up off the floor.
Dream - 1/19/02
Dreamt I was at work, only the office is a classroom. Instead of desks we all work at chair/tabletop combos. [NAME CHANGE] is giving some kind of lecture by a white board. As he gesticulates and enthuses I keep thinking: this man is not a grown-up. I look around the room wanting to know where the real teacher is.
I am not paying much attention to the lecture so I find myself getting a public dressing down about my attitude problem. I'm annoyed, but have to admit that I am acting like a sullen little shit, adolescent and eye-rolley. Except for annoyance at the public nature of the rebuke, I don`t feel terribly bad or concerned about my behavior. The situation in the office/classroom doesn`t seem real to me. It feels like play-acting, perhaps a re-enactment of a scene from a John Hughes movie, The Breakfast Club or Weird Science.
One lecture ends and another begins. The new lecturer wants us to re-organize our chairs so that we sit in a circle. I decide to sit on the floor at [WOMAN`S NAME THAT IS NOT THE NAME OF MY 2002 GIRLFRIEND]`s feet. She is wearing very nice, shiny Jimmy Choo boots and a shortish denim skirt. I am leaning against her, the back of my head on her exposed knees. She is massaging my scalp, digging her fingers into the center mass of my locks. She does this offhandedly while listening to the lecture, a slight, sleepy smile on her face. Every now and then she taps a pen against the crown of my head like I'm a pad or notebook. Blank, I am, wondering if she will write something on me. I lean farther back into her hands and her fingers and settle against her like a sigh. I think to myself: This is not a bad place to be sitting. When I wake up, I feel bereft, think that perhaps I should be crying. I feel ghost fingers in my hair and a tightness in my chest for days every time I see her in the office.
Dream - 12/29/01
Dreamt I was Nelson Mandela. He/me has just delivered some sort of speech, and as I am getting into my limo, I run into an old college roommate. He was a drama student and he is now a successful South African sitcom actor. I flashback to our old apartment\dorm. It is ratty, small, collegiate.
Flash forward. We reminisce and decide to have a drink. We go to several bars, including now unrecognizable college haunts. Gentrification has filled them with white people, liberal white college kids who are "honored" to be having a pint with Nelson Mandela. They get on our nerves, and me and my old roommate are carried away with nostalgia, start a bar fight. My presidential bodyguards materialize, intervene, break it up. We`re so old, the bodyguards have to carry us back into the limo. I look at the guards, embarassed that I have dreamt Nelson Mandela into such an undignified, un-Mandela-like circumstance, but they wink at me, assure me that my roommate and I could have taken those Boer fucks easy. It occurs to me that the guards don't just work for Mandela, that they love him with the fierce tenderness of children protecting a parent. This realization moves me to happy\sad tears: I feel happy for Nelson, sad for Gary.
The dream changes. Now I am a junior member of the US Congress. I am in Brooklyn riding a Manhattan-bound green line train with two ranking Republicans. I don't know where we are going, but I feel like I've been tricked into participating in some kind of bullshit collegial exercise, the dedication of a highway perhaps. I avoid eye contact with the rest of the riders, don't want anyone to think I am with the Republicans by choice.
One of the Republicans is a crazy, right-wing Cuban lady from Miami who keeps crawling and cavorting on the subway car floor. There is something vaguely MILFish about her, so even though I don't want anyone to think I subscribe to her politics I wonder briefly whether this might turn into a sex dream. I consider then discard the possibility. She is plainly pretty and well-preserved, and rather nicely poured into a maroon, polyester pants-suit, but the way she keeps crawling on the subway floor disturbs me. I wonder if she's been infected by some kind of virus.
As we approach the river and the last Brooklyn stop another motive for our trip begins to emerge: Some sort of disaster has brought us together. 9/11 goes unmentioned. We are on an express train, and when I check one of the stops for the local the other Republican - a very red faced Midwesterner - asks if I wish I were traveling with Democrats. "New times call for new solutions," he says. He seems sincere but I still wish he would stop talking to me in front of the other riders.
I shout at him: "I'm only doing this because of what happened." He laughs at me.
"Sure," he says.
I get off the train at Astor Place. The congresswoman gets off with me but the other Republican stays on the train. It turns out I am going to meet an ex-girlfriend instead of going with the Congresspeople. The crazy Cuban woman scoffs, tells me I need to move on, says I should come with her instead. It occurs to me that she is propositioning me. She looks better, less insane when standing upright, but the talcum powder between her cleavage looks like it has picked up dust and dinge from the subway floor. I beg off and she stalks towards the East Village, angry.
I go to the café where I'm supposed to meet my ex. My ex has blown me off at this very spot several times, and she does it again. As I wait for her, though, the dream develops a split-screen and I'm able to watch her hurry through a game attempt to meet me. I see her dressing, putting on make-up, looking for a babysitter. She is trying to call me to tell me she is running late, but the minutes on her cell, which I used to pay for before she became my ex, have run out. She looks at the phone incredulous, as if only just realizing that I have stopped paying her bill. The dream becomes a close up of her face. She's wearing a lot of make-up, dramatic eyes, high gloss Mac lipstick. I note with a mix of cruel pleasure and disquiet that she seems haggard, used-up. She keeps glaring at her dead cell, angry, but also grudgingly impressed that I have asserted myself by not paying her bill. Just then I think the crazy thought that if I had slapped her more than the once (the only time I ever hit a woman and the main reason I left), we'd still be together, trapped in an endless constricting (but unbroken) cycle of sin, debt, and shame. We'd end up like a doomed addict couple, bound by a craving not for rock but for the grim, intense high of having our ever sinking expectations (of each other, of the opposite sex) met.
Her preparations start to falter. I'm annoyed that she is going to blow me off again, but I have to concede that she tried. She made an effort to meet me. When the she gives up completely her side of the split screen collapses. I sit in the cafe anyway, enjoying two cafe-au-laits and a perfectly buttery and flakey croissant, dreaming of breakfast just before I wake.
August 5, 2005
wherein I dream about school, time travel, Saabs, girlfriends ex and otherwise, Hustle and Flow, and the Pacific Coast Highway....
At some point (mid-point? I can only recall the second half of the dream) I decide I need to research successfully sold and produced screenplays if I'm ever to become a screenwriter. [Some solid backstory: Wesley had called me the previous day to discuss a film idea.] Towards this end, I somehow identify (Craigslist? Black Filmmaker's Yahoo group?) a guy who can help me, who I then meet on a street corner somewhere in LA - West Hollywood-ish. He's brown-skinned, short, skinny, bespectacled. His hair is oily, post-curl. He carries the screenplay for Hustle and Flow in a ziplock-type plastic bag with a handle, a disposable briefcase. In another ziplock bag is the fat stack of index cards which preceded the script, dude obviously having run into one of the innumerable writing gurus who recommend the index card thing. (Think Robert Mckee.)
Dude hands me the materials and walks off. He isn't Craig Brewer, the white writer-director who actually made Hustle in the solid, but I accept the work as his own and promise to get it back to him in the next few days. Why he is doing this for me isn't made clear in the dream.
The dream shifts and I am visiting my high school/college. It's only a physical shift: I'm still my own age and know that I graduated successfully with my high school diploma and BA years ago. What few students I encounter all seem old enough to be college juniors, but the physical plant is that of my solid high school back in Queens, NYC. I wander the halls until I find the wing (east? west?) that looks down Francis Lewis Boulevard. I stand at the window at the end of that hall for a spell, staring south with some sadness towards what used to be my home. I'm not sure what year it is outside the window. 2005? 1986? 1995, perhaps? I try to deduce my temporal location from the gear on the street (I am pulling for 1986, hoping to spy some pinstripe Lee Jeans) but there are too few kids out for me to make any judgments. The best information I have is the lush green of the trees along Francis Lewis and the angle of the sun. They suggest that I'm visiting late in the day in July or August. School's out and the summer session doesn't take the entire day.
I press my nose against the window. It's refrigerator cool. I imagine throwing myself against the pane and falling, take stock of the height and run a mental projection of glass spray backwards and forwards. I don't intend to kill myself, thrilling instead at the thought that breaking through the boundary will somehow turn the clock back, make me new again.
There is a sudden commotion in the school behind me. One of the students, a tall, lanky Arab/Mediterranean/Latino/South Asian kid (reader's choice, as long as he's brown) has been stung by a bee. He's allergic and his distress takes the form of hyperventilation and a fakey paralysis. He can't move his arms or legs, can't get out of his chair, but he does manage a dopey, secretive half smile. It strikes me as a strange expression for a potentially dying man. It reminds me of the mugshot of the British terror suspect under arrest in Italy. A few days later someone had made a joke about his lawyer being do-able in a uniquely Italian, MILF-ish kind of way, which, I had countered with the observation that the mother in last season's 24 was a TILF - i.e., a Terrorist I'd Like to Fuck.
This isn't a sex dream, so soon I find myself helping the bee-stung boy's teacher and some of the other students carry him down the back stairs to the nurse's office. He's about 6'4" or so, making for slow going. One of the people helping turns out to be my ex-girlfriend Rachel. We carry the kid into the nurse's office, which doubles as the nurse's bedroom. She's kind of an old bag, the nurse, but she reclines on a mid-century modern daybed in a parody of seduction nonetheless, her white skirt riding up ancient thighs, her flesh-colored stockings a wrinkled ruin due to an unseemly loss of elasticity. She's smoking and doesn't bother to get up, telling us to leave the bee-stung boy on the matching daybed that has previously been hidden under a huge pile of junk - ashtrays, empty cigarette cartons, magazines and old pantyhose. As I leave, I glance back into the office and decide that the nurse bears more than a passing resemblance to one of the nuns who taught at my high school.
[In the solid this particular nun also ran the college admissions office and for years I'd held a grudge against her for her failure to urge me to apply to any Ivy League schools. It was another counselor (Mr. Milano?) who pushed me towards Yale at the last possible moment in spite of what I remember as the nun's vague disapproval. Left to her devices I'd have gone to St. Johns, NYU at best. Not the worst of fates - NYU's film program had been my dream until Mr. Milano introduced me to Yale and its various deconstructions - but I never shook the feeling that had I been Irish or Italian she might have been better able to imagine me in New Haven.]
Next up: I'm sitting in the dean's office with Rachel and some other people. The change in scene effects another geographical shift, as the dean's office is in California. I take note of the air temperature and the moisture and make an internal declaration that we're in Santa Barbara, maybe Ojai. The dean is Rachel's father, an odd thing seeing how the man in my dream is an addled, desiccated, British snob and solid Rachel is one of those wry, livewire Jewish girls from a Michigan college town. For some reason or another I lend the script and the cards to Rachel and decide to drive back down to LA. I'm in Ingrid's car, a sporty red Saab, and it's a beautiful day. I don't know how to drive a stick but I'm flying down the Pacific Coast Highway in fifth gear anyway. I'm a little filled with awe at the ocean off to my right even though I know that behind me to the north sit stretches of mountain and water unlike any I've ever seen and that, moreover, I've been ill-equipped to properly imagine by years of city dwelling. I make a mental note to take the drive north with Ingrid when I get a chance. I get to thinking it would have been foolish to jump out that window back in Queens.
The dream starts to sputter and shake just then like a car running out of gas. Three things happen nearly at once:
1 - Dude who gave me the screenplay and the index cards calls my cell and asks for them back. He explains that Hustle and Flow opened #1 on the box office while I was away (back east?) and for some reason this means he needs the materials back ASAP. Even though I know the movie didn't open that well, I congratulate him and tell him I'll have the Ziplock bags back in LA by evening. As I turn the car around, it occurs to me that if I'm stopped for speeding and my car is searched the bags could be mistaken for drugs. I take note of the speed limit, lay off the gas.
2 - The dean's office in Santa Barbara/Ojai turns into a publicist's office. Rachel turns into an imaginary British film publicist named Thelma and her fake father, the dean, turns into a writer/editor I know in the solid. As I walk into the room Thelma announces that I'm not to worry: she has already shipped the script and the cards back to Craig Brewer. This gives me a moment's pause and I spend the rest of the dream waiting for an angry phone call from the dude who actually gave me the script and cards. It never comes.
I try to make writer-on-publicist chitchat with Thelma in hopes of getting back onto her particular advance screening list, but I'm inhibited by the awkwardness I feel around the writer/editor. A few years ago he had asked me to write a piece for an anthology he was editing and I'd never delivered. Unfortunately, a number of websites had promoted the upcoming book using an early, pre-publication press release that listed me as a contributor, and these pages sit in my google results to this day like non-disputable negative entries in some unholy editorial credit score. The pages are like virtual thorns embedded in the skin of my ego and self-esteem, and anyone associated with the project could easily pluck them out - if only they hadn't moved on with their lives years ago. The thought of those pages being out in the world makes me crazy, makes me feel like the web itself is some kind of malevolent antagonist, makes me feel sick with self-disgust, all of this despite the fact that there were other writers listed on that press release who also didn't make it into the solid anthology. Do they cringe every time they see those false positives, I wonder?
3 - Ingrid is in the Saab with me. We're somewhere between LA and Santa Barbara/Ojai. In the solid the two of us had taken a trip north along this same coast this past spring, spending a few days in a B&B in Santa Barbara. I had driven a rented car and she had videotaped me as I sang along to the radio, my tunelessness inter-cut with great swaths of majestic, empty ocean. This time around she's driving and I sit camera-less, watching her and watching her until morning.
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