From my dreams
Updated: Feb 8
My fellow fugitive was gasping as we ran up the stairwell of a dimly-lit industrial building. The implicit understanding was that some invisible authority, be it parental, or spousal, or otherwise, was deeply disappointed in our lack of preparation. Yanking open a door, I was greeted by complete darkness.
“Great,” I thought, “how am I supposed to get past this?” I tried to shimmy against the wall but was blocked in every direction. Suddenly the lights switched on and I found myself in a room stacked full of thousands of wine bottles. This made it possible to run across to the opposite exit, but when I opened the door, the knob broke off in my hand. “Gahhh!! Just perfect…They’ll be here any minute”.
I tried desperately to fix the doorknob but it kept slipping out of my hands - then I fixed it, but realized it wasn’t connected to the door. In my ineptitude I failed to notice the dinner guests arriving up the regal stone stairway to my right. But to my amazement, when they reached the top they began applauding and snapping selfies with me, believing my mechanical deficiency to be part of some elaborate performance.
This is a world with an epidemic of vampirisim. In the media, they’re reporting that when you turn into a vampire, experienced time passes more slowly.
I was following a smartly dressed lady down what seemed like a 19th-century London road (or maybe it was Prospect Park?). As we approached a crossing I noticed that everything around me (the people, the horses, a carriage) everything started moving more and more slowly.
(sad, defeated) “This is it…I must be turning into a vampire.” There was a certain sense of defeat in this intuition. A sense that the slick integument of lies keeping mortality in check was starting to break down. But this passed into mild amusement when it became clear that it was all just a movie musical. I knew this because I started singing “everything is slowing down, everything is slowing down…
Most passersby paid no attention, but there was this one Nosferatu-looking guy who stared knowingly at me.
“I’ve been to this market before,” I thought, “but I didn’t know they had an empanada stand.”
The hard-working owners, a middle-aged, portly little Italian-American woman and a slender woman from Jamaica, beckoned me over.
Me: “Ok, so I have this empanada shell, but why is there a gaping hole in it?
Oh I see, I’m supposed to fill it with ingredients from the shelf and give it to you to deep fry?”
I had wanted to get some of that pork belly but it seemed too troublesome, given that it was tightly wrapped in plastic and locked in a box behind a sliding glass window. Stuffing the empanada shell as full as I could, I realized that I was putting way too much meat in, and started worrying that my gluttony might be noticed, and punished.
At this point the Jamaican woman started softly and fretfully groaning. “Oh no, now it’s coming…it’s coming”
Then, a distant screeching echo followed by a low witchy-sounding voice saying “you like to eat blood?…” I looked down at the shelf with the various ingredients and saw torrents of blood streaming across it. The thing is, I don’t remember being very disturbed by this, at least not yet.
I woke up in my childhood home. It was a drab little bungalow with ill-considered attempts at style: garish postage stamp-themed wallpaper, brown, foraging-height shag carpet. I felt a strong need to tell someone about my dream.
When I started recounting it, it occurred to me that I had visited this shop before in other dreams. I was about to get to the part with the weird voice, but each time I tried, someone new would come into the room and interrupt me. This was starting to get a bit ridiculous. Now, I looked over and saw Harvey, my dog, trying to initiate play, in his typically terrier way.
“I wanna watch Nick at Nite”, he said, but I would not entertain such a frivolous request. He repeated his plea again and again.
“Harvey, I’m your dad”, I burst out, finally laying down the law.
“Now where was I? Oh yeah, that weird disembodied voice.” “what happened again?” That lady said “Oh no it’s coming, something is coming”. Blood, and then …….(open mouth, tense vocal cords, no sound) …….I couldn’t bring myself to quote the witch. I suppose I must have thought, or even known, that quoting the voice would instantiate it again in “reality”.
At this point I woke up again. I had been reading a copy of “The Dream Work”, and was trying to make a habit of clinically describing the physical conditions I found myself in after waking from a dream. Thinking back on the moment with the voice made tears well up. I noticed my tongue was far back in my mouth, which was very dry.
It reminded me of an awkward moment at one of those Whole Foods wine tastings. It was just me, the sample lady and a mother with a young kid. The sample-hostess mentioned that one wine paired well with pork, to which the mother responded with a comment about porcine uncleanliness, followed by a lengthy exegesis on a passage in the Bible where Peter has a vision in which the voice of Jesus (in red text) tells him not to call anything unclean that God has made clean. Then she said that it’s not the meat that’s unclean but that you have to follow the law or some such thing. I thought of my mother, a lapsed Jew cum hippie vegetarian spiritualist, and further, of my own lapsed faith, of my inability to resolve my love of animals as friends and as food.
I was having a conversation with someone about how terrible Mickey Rooney’s character is in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We were on our way to watch a director’s cut, with substantial lost footage newly restored. In this version of the movie, there was a scene where Audrey Hepburn and Mickey Rooney were in a cornfield. Mickey was dressed in this tight-fitting black leather BDSM suit that included a triangular Vietnamese-style rice farmer’s hat, also in black leather. He started forcibly kissing Audrey while repeatedly saying, “my ancient princess." Then it cut to a close-up of Audrey’ s face while Mickey was abusing her off-camera. She was covered in mud. I thought, “my god, how horrible.” but Audrey faced the camera with a look of quiet perseverance, which made me feel a little better.
Setting: a mildly dystopian city, at night.
I was either a woman or watching a movie about a woman, but controlling her actions. She (or I) had decided to kill some guy who was hiding in a building somewhere. On my way to his hideout, I entered a dank alley and found a cardboard box sitting in front of me. Inside were two objects: a dusty old book and a white baseball glove. I decided the baseball glove was best suited to perform the killing. But upon approaching the building in question, I saw some police scoping it out from across the street. Realizing that if a dead body were found, they might remember someone walking into the building (and, honestly, how could you forget a white baseball glove?) and they might finger me as a suspect.
At this insight, I aborted the murder (or was it a revenge killing?). I turned in the opposite direction and began strolling down the sidewalk amid the well-lit flouresence of a shopping district. On the sidewalk, facing the shops, was another policeman with outstretched arms holding a gun, kind of like one of those mendicant, pedestrian-zone “statue” performers? Oblivious consumers were just walking past him like nothing weird was going on. Seeing the gun, I decided it would be better to walk around behind him. But when I tried this, the cop, without moving his head to face me, yelled out “walk in front of the gun!”
A dream in which I can only remember the roof of an airplane hangar with the words Japanese Alien Dance Party painted on it.
The rocking of the Metro North train made me forget the dream I had just had. Noticing the woman across from me, I said “excuse me, but aren’t you Elizabeth Warren?”
“Good eye”, she said. I told her I had a fair idea of her policies, but was intrigued to know more about her cultural touchstones and influences, what sorts of books she reads, etc. She replied that she likes Winnie the Pooh books and went on to explain that Pooh is always ready to sacrifice himself at the slightest whim of Christopher Robin, his superior. She said that that was a good model for the average citizen to imitate.
I told her I thought that was a terrible role model for the average citizen, at which point we broke into a fierce quarrel about civics.
She was not about to back down from her opinion.
I told her, “you know, you just don’t understand dialectical logic."
“Yes I do…”, she protested.
“No, I don’t think you do. It’s one thing to use Pooh as an example of self-sacrifice for children, who need a clear and simplified model, but quite another thing for that model to be generalized to the entire citizenry. Look”, I said, “I’m not arguing that it’s a completely erroneous model, but you have to take a critical approach and resist standardizing it into a universal paradigm.”
She would not hear of my objections and the quarrel intensified. Seeing that we had no hope of finding common ground, I finally blurted out in frustration, “Well, you’re not going to be president anyway!”
It was an old-school video arcade with a game called “Jeff Goldblum”. “Oh," I thought, "I remember this one.” The demo screen consisted of a portrait of Jurassic Park-era JG. The body was motionless but the eyes moved first from side to side, then apart in opposite directions, then up down, then disappeared completely. The two eye-whites merged into one—and a giant eyeball came down, then a cartoon image (Jimmy Corrigan-style) of a bearded man’s face appeared in the gaping oculus. At this point I pressed the START button, but it wasn’t a game at all - it was a documentary. The opening footage was of a suburban living room with lots of kids running around, a slightly balding man, and Jeff Goldblum. The narrator’s voice piped in: “why is Jeff Goldblum at this man’s party?” Then to an interview shot, where the balding man said, “I’ve developed a game that is thoroughly captivating, despite minimal set up.” The "game" was apparently as follows: someone had baked a bread stick that looked like a small snake with an alligator’s mouth. Children were using it like a puppet and spraying cheez whiz in its mouth. BTW: It was young Jeff Goldblum, but with grey hair.
While walking down a nighttime street with a group of friends, we happened upon some sort of modernized brownstone. The steps leading into the entrance were rectangular light panels in rainbow colors. Two members of my group climbed the stairs and were greeted (or abducted?) by a classically broomsticked witch. Witnessing this terrible sight, I froze on the sidewalk. The witch came down a few times looking for more people, at which point I realized she was just an amusement park performer. She finally came down with an audience manifest in her hand and called out “Mark Butler? Is Mark here? Where’s Mark?” I was like "I’m not Mark - I’m just gonna stay quiet and motionless". She pulled out some sort of vacuum hose, saying “I know, I’ll just suck up everything that’s not Mark”. She started sucking up everything around me including her own face, which revealed a skinny plastic skeleton head. “Funny,” I thought, "she didn’t suck me up...maybe I am Mark!"
Hiking down a mountain road
I looked up into the sky
and saw a giant Earth
on the horizon.
Studying it more closely,
I tried to make out which continents I was looking at,
but they were all oozy
and in a strange configuration.
I thought, “How can I see the Earth from the Earth?”