a tower, a turkey, a text and a tart (dream log)

These notes are marked return to sender
I'll save this letter for myself
I wish you only knew
how good it is to see you
see you

~Foo Fighters

Well now! I've been speculating on the symbolic functions of several types of activity in my dreams, and last night I had a dream with all of them and then some.

As a final word on my scary and embarrassing medical saga, I resumed penicillin-ing last night. It does cause some notable throat irritation. But in the absence of a panic attack and the other things I'd done to make my throat and lungs angry with me, it does not in fact cause me to die. Or even to become convinced I am going to die. So I can continue medicating my stupid pharyngitis. Good news there.

I went to bed early, a little before eleven. My hope was that the extra sleep would do me good and help my immune system win faster. Instead (or perhaps in addition) I got an awesome long dream! Sequentiality was disturbed during this dream, so I'm just going to set down these scenes in a sequence that seemed most fitting as I reviewed them over the course of the morning.

I was on the floor of a dimly-lit room which was shaking violently. The floor was carpeted, with that functional thin carpet of an indeterminate dull color through which you can feel the hardness of the floor. The ceilings were high, I wasn't paying attention to entrances and exits. I felt very calm, comfortable even, as though being in a dim, violently shaking room were a perfectly normal situation. On a low table in the middle of the room were several things, including my glasses. I had to get to my glasses and put them on. But because the room was shaking and jerking and trembling so violently, it was incredibly difficult to move even a few inches from where I lay. Again and again I tried, clawing determinedly for handholds on the carpet with both hands, then with both hands and feet, trying to scoot myself across the floor. Finally I did reach the table, get my glasses, and put them on. The feeling of satisfaction was the sort that makes you say, "hmph! 'bout time."

I was on the top floor of the Sears Tower. Through the floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows I had a crystal clear view of the city, and the storm brewing over it. The sight of both exhilarated me. Clouds and lightning and wind and rain and all their stormy colors raced over the city, which despite the cloud cover was lit all through by the clear glow of the half-sunlight you get at dawn and dusk. I was practically dancing with excitement. I had to see more. I knew the view from the east side of the building would be best, so I ran around towards that side of the tower.

When I got there, however, the place was filled with rich people in fancy dress, who looked at me scornfully. I knew that the entire top floor of the tower was filled with them, that this was their party, and I didn't have a ticket. I was moved away from the windows by means not pictured, bitterly enraged and frustrated that I was no longer allowed to look out through the windows at the storm. I ended up in an interior room, low-ceilinged, lit with wall sconces that filled the room with yellowish electric light. The room could be compared to a smallish conference room at a rather nice hotel, right down to the high-quality fake ficuses by the doors. Other people were already seated at dinner tables throughout the room. They were also in fancy dress, but like me had been refused entry to the party going on outside. Some looked up at me sympathetically when I came in.

There were serving tables to one side of the room on which roast chickens could be seen. The food did smell delicious. I moved towards a seat, still fuming. Some fellow--waiter, maitre d', or simply a guy sitting at the table I was headed to, not sure--asked me if I wanted to eat. I responded acidly, "I don't have a ticket, are you sure I get to?" I was then presented with a sort of basket in which there were only two pieces of chicken left, one of them clearly a wing. I picked up the other, hoping it was a drumstick, though it didn't look much like a drumstick. When I turned it over, it in fact was a drumstick, but a huge one, which had clearly been torn off the rest of the cooked bird and was a bit ragged-looking. It had to have been a turkey leg; no chicken drumstick is that large. I picked off a bite of meat and tried to find a nice crispy bit of skin to go with it. The skin was pretty soggy, though, and the piece I eventually tore off and ate didn't best please me. Come to think of it I'm not even sure whether I ate any meat or not. Just a substandard piece of skin.

Latter half of the dream is where remembering the sequence really gets tough. Frustrating, because a different sequence here would make big differences in how I should interpret it.

I was reading a poem. I got a distinct author-feeling in my mind, and when I was awake I easily identified the author-feeling as Mark Danielewski. The author of the awesomely fantastic and inimitable House of Leaves. He has a second book, a poem-book, called Only Revolutions, which is written with just as much skill but is too dense and over-the-top with the "omg look how formally convoluted I can make my poetry and it still lets me put blood in it!" to be any fun to read. (Not that I am in a great position to criticize on that score. We see our own faults in others most clearly, eh?) The thing I was reading was different, a dream of an epic poem. As I read, I went to the place the poem was about.

This was a cave; the walls, ceiling and lower parts were all roughly carved or worn from the same matte rust-colored stone. I was calm here, in the same way that I had been in the shaking room at the beginning of the dream. The ceiling was very tall, and the room was several times longer than it was wide. The floor was all pockets or little pits, some empty, some piled with human bones and skulls. They may have been laid out in a rough sort of grid, but I wasn't paying attention to that. A slightly wider ridge of the same stone ran down the middle of the room; I was standing on this. Through both the empty and the full pockets, and in and out through some of the crumbled holes in the walls, things like tentacles or smooth worms slid endlessly. They coiled around the bones and shoved themselves through the eye sockets of the skulls. Interested, I carefully thought about what would happen if I were to fall into one of the pockets, or even just leave the central ridge on which I was standing. The tentacle things would swarm over me, eating away all my flesh and leaving me a skeleton like the ones I saw. But I would remain aware; it would hurt when they took away my flesh, and every time one of the things slid over or through my bones, I would feel the crawling nastiness of it. And this would go on for ever and ever, just as it was for the bones I could see in the pits already. (Seriously, if dream-me didn't understand the practical difference between think, which causes dream things to actually happen, and think about, which causes dream things to be represented, I would be so metaphorically screwed in dream situations like this one. The idea made me shudder a little bit when I woke up and thought it over.)

Impressive as this design was, I still felt a feeling of smug superiority. I had a thought something like, "this is a place worthy of inclusion in Dante's Inferno, but my work has all three parts--the inferno, the purgatory, and the paradise."

I then turned my attention to the exits. The first exit, I knew was a trap. Ahead of me and to the right, just before the partial wall marking the midpoint of the room, there was a rectangular hole in the ceiling through which bright white light shone. I could see a thin ridge, which would provide less solid footing than the central one on which I stood and ran perpendicular to it. It met the right-hand wall at a spot almost, but not quite, under the hole. There were enough pocks and crumbled gouges in the wall--throughout the room, but there in particular--where it seemed quite possible that a person might be able to climb up the wall and pull themselves up through the rectangle of light. How I knew this was a trap, I don't know. What would happen if the trap was sprung, I also don't know, and didn't stop to think about it. The second exit felt dangerous, but wasn't a trap. It was straight ahead down the center of the room; if I just kept walking forward on the ridge where I stood, I would eventually reach it. This exit was just a door-shaped rectangle in the wall with total darkness visible in it. I experienced a mild and momentary worry about the lack of a nonthreatening exit.

Then I was reading the book of the poem again, and as I read I grew more and more excited, thinking to myself, "I am so better than this guy. I can best this, no problem", or thoughts of that nature. The last few pages were not like regular pages; they were behind iron brackets that made the book bigger and more solid but also made the text harder to read. The last couple of pages I almost couldn't read, until I realized they were meant to be backlit, and viewed through the brackets like stained-glass windows. I held it up until there was light behind it and managed to read the end of it. Still felt confident as hell I could do better, or had done better, something like that.

Hardest scene to place in sequence. Hence, likely most important in the dream. I was in the basement bathroom of the house I grew up in, and I was pouting and/or having a tantrum. Not only had I locked the door from the inside, it was a tall steel door with a reinforced lock plate, rather than the flimsy wooden one the actual bathroom had had. Pearl and Dave were outside the door, very worried about me. From time to time one of them would call through the door, trying to convince me to come out. I paced back and forth, sometimes almost totally calm, other times angry and sullen and crying. I must have come out, but I don't remember opening the door to do so.

Last scene, me and some other people were in a room chatting. The room felt a little bit under-constructiony, but was in the same place or building I'd been in when I finished reading the hell poem. I needed to go into the bathroom to make a wardrobe adjustment, and a hot blonde chick followed me in there. We didn't close the door completely. She was fully visualized, which is unusual in a dream-person for me, and just barely underage so she was deliciously taboo. She came on to me outrageously and I totally let her, up to a point, at which point I said something like, "We need to be careful, there's other people in the room out there."

I woke up briefly, a couple hours before my alarm rang. Both because I'd gone to bed a couple hours earlier than usual and because I'd left a ponytail holder around my right wrist, which had caused my right hand to fall asleep. Fell back asleep almost immediately, and I don't know if any of my dream occurred after that or not. I suppose it doesn't matter.

There's a lot of stuff in there that I'll be thinking about for quite some time. Right off the bat I can tell my unconscious mind is very, very happy about the idea of doing another epic poem. I also suspect that dream-me wants to shoot for a triptych, with denizen being the first part, the poem I need to start soon being the second part, and the third part yet to come. That's what I initially take the Dante comment to mean. Dream-me also believes (meaning that I myself internally believe) I am a better poet than Mark Danielewski and is prepared to be boastful about it. Conscious me tries to be more polite and always makes sure to point out my own bias and the relativism inherent in the appreciation of art, dangit.

I think the dream-poem may actually have been denizen. What other epic hell-poem do I really know well enough to visit as a dreamscape? Further, if at very least the template of the dream-poem was based on denizen, it would support the idea that this dreamscape was connected to my other dreamscape, the basement of the old house. And in this subject as in no other, my belief makes it so to a certain extent. Plus if the poem to which I felt so superior was in fact my own, I don't feel nearly so bad about my haughtiness and scorn. I hate scorn, as the early part of the dream makes clear!

It occurs to me the Dante comment may also have been referring to phases of spiritual development. The rectangle of light in the ceiling of the hell-place was familiar and not just because I knew it was a trap. And since we're talking about representations of the internal architecture of my personality before, I can say with confidence have dreamed that rectangle before. From the other side. That danged "demon factory is closed" dream. In the empty-and-freshly-painted workroom in the basement of the old house, there was a rectangle in the floor. Through that rectangle I could see into a hell-place, and the monochrome little girl looking up at me from it. Neither of us moved towards the other, nor did anyone present move to speak while I was in the workroom. From which I conclude that opening is now a window, not a door. Used to be a door. Now a window only. Hence, to one on the underside, a trap. A bird smacking into a window horizontally can be horribly injured or killed. How much moreso a person (or thing) who makes a precarious climb up a sheer wall above a pit of certain doom, and makes an awkwardly angled leap at what looks like a clear opening? If I can figure out a way to do it, I should find a way to write something on the window. Y'know, for safety's sake. I'm not in full communication with all parts of me at all times, and in any case I wouldn't want any of my invisible friends (or friennemies) to get hurt.

If I go ahead and make that connection, declare those dream landscapes to be flush against one another in this way, then this dream says some interesting things. The existence of the second exit down there I find especially intriguing. A further basement of mine, or a point of egress into some admittedly unpleasant area of the collective unconscious? I am not entirely sure I want to find out.

The earlier part of the dream, in the tower, I find encouraging in some ways and embarrassing in others. For example, the glasses. Things which, when you look through them, make your sight clearer. A good symbol for the availability to the unconscious self of a personality faculty which would otherwise be difficult to describe in terms of its components. An ability to put things in perspective. Very good to have. It interesting, because ever since the time I accidentally took the image of the measuring stick with the broken-off pointy end into a dream with me, I've been trying to think of a more permanent weapon-symbol I could transit in a similar way. Seems I've been wanting to make something other than the thing I needed next. Ah, well. Let's not get ahead of our curriculum, young Skywalker.

The shaking room, which turned into the Tower, is one of those locations that makes me want to conclude the action was taking place outside my personality. At very least it represented many aspects of my relationship with the world outside myself. In the past I've had dreams where I encountered something like a massive burst of static which felt like a powerful electric shock and woke me up out of my sleep. Sometimes with a temporary holdover of dream paralysis, sometimes with an out-of-breath feeling as though I'd just been dropped into bed from a height. The shaking room in this dream was actually a hell of a lot like one of those bursts of static/electricity. Except I was able to hold myself together and just barely able, with a great deal of effort, to recognize what I needed to do to compensate and then do it. Good progress there if so.

My anger and envy of rich or powerful people, and bitterness because I feel excluded from the most exciting parts of public life, were right upfront in the dream. I try to be polite and not let such feelings make me act like a jerk in waking life. But it's clear I still need to deal with those feelings. Or else my desire to act mean and rude, even to people other than the ones at whom my anger is directed, will still be there. And I will deprive my soul of its best available sustenance (soggy chicken skin, anyone?) because I am being sullen, which isn't good either.

Basement bathroom part is interesting. That was one of my childhood scaryplaces and I have dreamed it before. But this is the first time I was my full self and also in that room. I had locked myself in, I was upset, and realpeople were worried about me and wanted me to come out. So, some areas of negative emotion that I am walling off and keeping entirely to myself. Which are hurting me and making others worried about me. When I am able to move outside of this pocket of sulky and bitter and angry and scared, then good stuff happens.

Whole morning spent on this dream log--so glad things at work are slow. :D But I haven't managed to create the very first Fiction Friday yet. :( Maybe this afternoon, maybe next week. We'll see how I feel.