Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I was showering in a bathtub with no curtain. The tub was in a large room that was still under construction — the lumber and wiring were visible. Because of a slow drain, the tub was almost completely full of water, some of which had sloshed over the side and onto the floor. Not wanting it to overflow, I turned off the water — but then I remembered that my hair was still full of shampoo, so I turned the water back on to rinse it out, except that now the nozzle was on the other end of the tub, and I could see kids playing outside through a hole in the wall where a window would eventually be. As soon as the shampoo was gone I turned off the water, only to find that my hair was already combed and dry. I stepped out of the tub fully clothed: I had on new dark-gray corduroy pants and a colorful sweater vest I thought I had worn many years earlier. I walked with confidence, minding my much-improved posture, into a corridor that led to a large conference room that had been divided with temporary carpeted partitions and makeshift doors into small galleries. One gallery had a display of small carvings that looked like little beehives with faces on them. The next gallery was called the Glass Room. In it were several small round dining tables set for dinner, complemented by heavy, ornate glasses rimmed with glitter. The glasses were wide, without stems. Across from the Glass Room there was a snack bar, but no one was on duty. I walked past the snack bar into another room that turned out to be a dirt lane into what I thought must be the eighteenth or nineteenth century. There was straw scattered along the side, and the walls were lined with enormous old books. I saw a gigantic set of encyclopedias; each volume was about a foot thick and four or five feet tall. I walked further, then entered a wealthy old library: another wall, at least twenty feet high and forty feet long, lined with beautiful books of various sizes and bindings, covered with dust. I wanted to look at them, and wished there was a ladder. I turned away and went into another room. My brother and his wife were there. I told them I couldn't sleep — that I hadn't slept for years, because the bed was so hard, no matter how well it was made. My brother nodded, then said he had the same problem with that bed, that he rarely slept more than five hours a night, unless he was "working on Saroyan" — referring not to our cousin, Aram, but to his father, Willie — in which case he didn't sleep at all.
During an early morning thunderstorm, I had the following dream:

My mother (who suffers from dementia) and I were having a long, involved but coherent conversation. As a thunderstorm started, she got scared, broke off in mid-sentence, turned to me and said, "You need to call your family." She wouldn't tell me why, but insisted upon it. She even started dialing for me but didn't know the number. For some reason, I told her to dial615/859 (the first few digits of my father-in-law’s number in Tennessee), and that was enough to get through. My sister-in-law answered the phone but didn't say hello; it was just her voice listing all the people who were there, including my other in-laws. I could hear them all talking to each other over the phone, but no one seemed to know I was on the other end. I kept trying to tell her why I was calling, but she didn't act like she could hear me.

Eventually, one of my sisters-in-law came into the room with Mom and me, and greeted us. She asked how Jerry was, and since I assumed she meant Jerry Jennings, the mayor of Albany, I said something like, "Same as always. Thinks he runs the world." At this point, I remembered my mother’s directive to call my family, jumped up in my dream and actually woke up. It was 4:44, and the storm was fading in the distance.


Some of my family and friends were throwing me a party. When my husband and I arrived at the party, it soon became clear that it was a baby shower for me. I was surprised I was pregnant, but not really, and the one problem was that I had been drinking wine during the days before the party (since I hadn’t realized I was pregnant). I apologized to my husband for jeopardizing our baby’s heath, and he assured me the baby would be fine. My dead mother-in-law began handing me gifts, and after I received many things for the baby, she gave me two presents I recognized somehow, gifts from my husband. One was a strange watch somehow made of denim, and the other was something made of glass, like a small balloon. At some point during the shower, two smallish men came in to talk to us (we all were apparently going to a concert after the shower), and they were very nice and kind. I remember looking directly at their faces and realizing that they were deformed. But I kept looking and smiling at them as they smiled back. Then we piled into my mother-in-law's car and drove to the concert.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dreamovie 68

I return to the American School of Tangier, though it looks nothing like the school itself. I am on the bottom floor of the dormitory, and it is quite empty, and the person I have just been talking to decided he didn't want to talk to me and has left me alone. I try to get the attention of others, whom I cannot see, so I take a potted flower and put it in a lounge area. I leave the room and hide, and the flowerpot explodes. The bomb isn't powerful, though, so it doesn't damage anything, but it leaves gooey gobs of a gelatinous green substance on the walls, which sticks to the walls in well formed clumps.

The building remains empty, and no-one comes to investigate the explosion, so I leave and I discover that Karen is with me. As we cross a side street in the city of Tangier (which is not Tangier at all), a car pulls ups at a corner and the mad who would not talk to me is driving the car and he rolls down the window. He wants to talk to me now, so he does, answering my now forgotten question. He also has a question for me.

He drives off and Karen and I continue walking, finding ourselves in a residential neighborhood that is obviously American. As we walk along, more people join us, people we apparently know. We are trying to travel along a certain defined course through the neighborhood. The goal of this enterprise is to expend as much energy as possible doing so.

I decide to ride a bike over the trail. People say that that will make my trek too easy for me, but I say I'll set the gears to make it as difficult for me as possible. I do that, and still I move much more quickly than everyone else--yet I do use much more energy as well, since I set the gears in a way that makes even going downhill a difficult proposition.

Dreamovie 69

I am at work, though not a workplace I'm familiar with in my regular life. The space I am in is much like a kitchen, and I am pulling out drawers and sliding shelves in cabinets looking for something. All I find are piles of butter knives, which I run my fingers through as I look for something else.

I move by touring bus to another location, another archives. It is raining on the highway as we travel, and we stop at one point and stand on the side of the highway watching vehicles drive by. Ray is one of us on the trip. I don't remember anything he is doing, but I recall he is talking. I remember hearing his voice.

The place we end up at is an archives in an old house, something of a mansion. Kathleen used to work here and she is looking for someone she knows. We are milling around on the corner as we waiting, talking. Eventually, the woman Kathleen is looking for comes out. She has long dark hair and seems much younger, early 30s, than how old she should be. Her name is Iorria. She walks out to the corner, talks to us for a little bit, then continues around the corner with one of the men in our group. As she leaves, I realize that I know her, and I tell our group.

Our group follows in Iorria's path, entering the building. We find ourselves in a large room with a cramped felling because it is overfilled with books. This does not seem like an archives at all to me. It seems to be nothing but a library. In one corner of the room, just under a bank of windows, I find a large illustrated book resting on a dictionary stand. It is focused on a particular branch of science, one I have never heard of before. I open the book, pretending to pretend to be interested in it. I recite the title of the book aloud, stumbling over the pronunciation.

Kathleen comes into the room, excited about the place, but I do not know why.

I am on a highway going somewhere, though I don't know where.

I discover that I am living in a city, specifically in an apartment with a strange mass of people, mostly children and an old man who is our leader. I understand this fact before some of us leave from there to go to an event in another location. A bus takes us there, and I know that the event is somehow related to my work.

When we arrive, we exit the bus and walk to a large nondescript building in a parklike setting. The building is white with a large concrete overhang that protects a deep porch before the entrance to the building. We enter the building and wander through a reception.

In the basement, some meeting relating to work is going on. Two staff from my work are giving a presentation, and they begin complaining about some hypothetical situation. I complain back to them, and Gail (who is one of the presenters) asked why I am disputing what they are saying. I say it is because they do not have enough information to make a decision. She is skeptical of my answer. The room we are in is something like a kitchenette in an office and it has the same drawers and sliding shelves as the earlier kitchen did.

Nancy and I have to leave quickly for another event, and we leave with a group of others who were on our bus. I now have a bicycle, so I use it to jump over the steps leading down from the building. These steps are arranged in three sets of steps, so I make three jumps. Apparently, the bicycle is supposed to speed up my travels, but I end up behind a group of people walking a pathway through the park to the bus. And I don't think to ride the bike around them and on the grass. Nancy says that we're five minutes late already and it's my birthday in time: 5:25. We are going to the installation of an eagle scout, and Nancy has to give a speech there. We hurry to the bus.

As the bus returns us to the city, we see a few things. First, there are four wild turkeys perched on a third-floor windowledge of an office building, then we see five of these birds resting on a concrete platform by a building, each a flattened oblong of bird. An old woman is sitting by them, trying not to disturb them. We wonder about capturing the birds to use them as food, but we realize that will make the turkeys more skittish and we won't be able to enjoy their docile presence any longer. We also see a large brown building that serves as a home for boys. It looks like a pleasant sturdy building, but as the bus passes it we see it is surrounded by a fence and is no longer open.

At the bus station, we try to figure out what to do next. We are inside the station and an official there is asking for receipts for whatever we have bought that day. We don't know why or what he's going to do with them. One woman extracts her day's receipt from her purse for him. But I decide to leave, trying to find my apartment in the city.

The apartment requires me to walk up four floors and the stairs are huge taking up most of the available space on each floor. Our apartment turns out to be just the wide landing on the fifth floor. There is no other room there. The apartment includes an armoire at one end of it, which is filled with our stuff, and a large bed covered with papers, CDs, and toys. Some of my apartment mates are there, including a young black boy who is very personable and who is looking through the items of the bed for a CD of his. He can find two others, but not this particular one.

Without leaving the room, I am in China on a trip and walking around the same city I have just returned to. I am quite disappointed by the experience, noting upon my return that I have not even had any Chinese food while I was away. Back at the apartment, AM talks to me about China and about this one woman who was hired as an actress to work in a restaurant. She is not considered a good actress but is the best they could hire, and they do what they can with her. As she tells me this story I agree with the conclusion as I look out the window at a tall pine tree ending with an almost bare point that rises feet above the rest of the tree.

I then find myself in the presence of the actress AM has been talking about. She is blonde and American, which surprises me. I cannot tell what kind of actress she is because she is not acting, but she is ebullient. She has the outgoing character of many actors.

A black man with short salt-and-pepper hair shows up at our apartment, and he is a bishop, dressed in a bishop's less formal attire. He is there to talk to us. As he does, a man arrives looking for his son, and we realize that the bishop is simply the boy with the missing CD, who has somehow grown and aged over the course of a few minutes.

Dreamovie 70

I am running in a train station, not fast, but steadily. I'm not trying to catch a train but catch up with someone. When I do catch up, I talk to the person.

From the train station, I somehow make it to a fire station, which is crowded with people. I am on the second floor when an alarm comes in. Instead of sliding down a pole to the waiting trucks, we move towards the open second-floor window. As we stand at the window, the wall opens up and we see a helicopter floating just feet above the window. The helicopter sends out a rope and we attach our harnesses via clip-on hooks to that line.

This line helps the five of us slide into the helicopter most efficiently and safely. But we don't slide up into the helicopter. Instead, we slide down into the shell of another helicopter, our fire department helicopter, which is now suspended in the air outside the firehouse, but higher into the sky. The line that we used to slide into the helicopter is now a fuel line being used to fill our helicopter's gas tank, but it's also keeping us aloft.

I'm the pilot, and I can feel the helicopter plummeting to the earth, though the passengers appear not to feel it. The tension in the line holds us aloft just long enough to allow me to gain control, but the helicopter swoops down and then over, in a dramatic half-loop, as I begin to maneuver it. By this point, the helicopter is not low near the ground but high up over an old city that includes a number of burning buildings.

I fly the helicopter low over one large building, and we dump water so close to the fire and with such volume that the fire is instantly extinguished. We continue putting out fires across this dark grey city.

After putting out all the fires, I fly the helicopter low over a building that resembles the Colisseum. One of the firefighters, a woman, is filling the center of that building with water while she stands inside the building. She is about twice as tall as it is, and the water is up almost to the edge of the surrounding walls. I tell her to stop filling up the building because she will drown the people there, but she doesn't stop. She asks why it matters.
Feeling sad, I went to a diner to meet a friend. The diner had only three walls. My friend wasn't there. A woman who looked very bored nodded in my direction from behind the counter. A family of people with very large heads, grotesque from their thoughts, got up to leave, completely ignoring their little girl who was rolling and kicking unhappily on the floor. The girl's head was also grotesque, much too large for her body. She jumped up and ran after the adults. My friend arrived just as they were leaving. "The thing about strawberries," he said to me, "is that they're wild. All you have to do is go out and pick them." In my mind I pictured long rows of commercially cultivated strawberries wet with dew, and how wet the workers' feet and pants and hands become when they pick them, especially in the morning. I knew my friend was aware of strawberry farms, and that he had, in fact, picked berries to earn money when he was in school. But I also knew he was right — strawberries really are wild, and will take over your backyard if you let them, and even take root in sidewalks, curbs, and streets. Strawberries, everywhere. Their color and scent. I thought, "Now, that's exactly what we need."

Friday, November 14, 2008

A scenic sky journey at dusk becomes a free-fall when I'm separated from my traveling companions. At first, when they're still in sight, I yell to them that it's windy, and that I won't land where they expect. They yell back and wave from their drifting balloon-less basket — they think I'm joking. Then I'm swept into darkness over the ocean. Falling through miles of dense clouds, my face wet, I wonder how far underwater my momentum will take me, if I'll be able to make it back to the surface, or be killed on impact. Should I try to land on my feet, or go in head first, arms extended? I try turning every which way, but nothing seems right. And then, from the front window of my childhood home, I see a small group of friends and relatives in the graveled driveway. I go out to greet them. They ask me about my ordeal. I laugh and tell them it was nothing. Their expressions are sympathetic; they are there for my funeral.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I was standing on the steps of the theater in Chicago where Oprah is filmed, the whole place vast and empty. I wondered whether the pinky-purple of the set contributed to how cold and drafty it was. Also odd was the pervasive feeling that I was standing at a great height, the dizzying vertigo of standing on a very tall and very narrow platform. People started to file in until the space was full and then it was a stadium into which people just kept pouring and pouring. And in this great wave of people was tangled Oprah herself. She was crying, rivers of mascara down her cheeks, a curly wig slightly askew. I approached her and said, 'Thank you for helping to elect Barack. I really mean that. Thanks.' She was very gracious, said 'Of course' and kept joyfully weeping. In the dream, she was also going to give me a job and I thought, 'Oh dear, this means moving to Chicago....' and thought of the constant chill and I believed that this was all very good but that winter would eventually break me.