• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

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    1. One Hundred Eighteen

      by , 11-11-2017 at 07:50 AM
      (more jetlag dreaming)

      In which I show off in front of people I knew as a teenager, then turn into a child...

      I'm in my childhood home once again. The dining room is a giant swimming pool. The only light in the room comes up through the water, a greenish glowing light that casts wave patterns on the dark walls. The room echoes with a bubbling sound, as if we are listening to an aquarium filter.

      S is sitting at one edge of the pool, leading a meeting about something very important. A couple dozen people are sitting on underwater benches as if they were all in a hot tub. They have clip boards and are taking notes. S is making a presentation. I should be in attendance. I feel guilty for arriving late. There are a few other stragglers and she calls us over without naming any of us individually. I know she's done this so that I'm not singled out. I walk around the perimeter of the pool, but I don't see a place for me to sit. I will have to join someone else. I look at the people gathered, hoping to find someone who will let me sit with them. I don't know or trust any of the gathered people very well; I have not seen most of them since I was a child. S has stayed in touch with more people from our home town than I have.

      After walking most of the way around the pool, I finally settle on DWG. The alternative is to draw attention to myself by acknowledging that there is no place for me to sit and causing a scene by making others move. Even though S is a very close friend and the meeting is important to her, I feel like I can't do this, so I take my chances that DWG will accept me. I haven't seen him since we were teenagers, but he's still looking hip and attractive. Most of the other men present have a frumpy middle-aged look about them. I dive into the pool, swim over to DWG and slide up to rest in his lap. I lean back so that my head is against his chest and my arms are draped across his legs. From the outside, I look casual and confident, as if DWG and I have an existing relationship. Internally I'm hoping he won't reject me. I'd be humiliated.

      He plays along. He accepts me as casually as I approach him. He puts his hand on my chin and turns my face up to kiss him. It's electrifying. I'm happy that we still have so much chemistry decades later. I know that the public display is inappropriate, but I'm also enjoying the attention. Of course the mature part of my personality knows that no one cares what we've been up to since high school and that making out in a meeting is annoying and selfish, but the sneering and self-absorbed side is satisfied to show off. We are beautiful. Our lives are interesting. High school was worse for us than the rest of them, but we've made it well into adulthood without their dullness. And now we're alive with sexual electricity.

      Everyone else disappears and the dream just becomes a typical sex dream except we're in the water so my body feels light in his lap. I'm facing him now and his hands are on my hips. But when I look down at his penis, I see that there are feathers sticking up, like a comb, on the head. He notices that I'm surprised. He says, "that's why it's called a cock".

      Now we are on a school bus. We are younger. DWG pulls up his pants and I sit next to him on a bus seat. I look out the window at a cow pasture and see a bull mount a heifer. I look back at DWG, but now he is JAB. This makes sense because we are children. I look down at my shoes with delight- they dangle above the bus floor. JAB tells me that I've missed my stop.

      I grab my backpack and walk towards the front of the bus. The driver is Ms. L, as obese and brash as ever. She's smoking a cigarette and thumping her hands on the steering wheel to Don't Mess With My TuTu, blaring with static from the portable radio sitting on the dash. I tell her that she's passed my house without letting me out. She responds that it's my own fault. If I hadn't been sucking on a boy's face, I would've noticed.

      She stops the bus right there in the cow pasture and tells me to get out. It's only a mile or so home, and I know the way. I climb over the barbed wire, but my skirt gets hung and tears. I slosh through the muddy field with a torn skirt, kicking the crawdaddy mounds along the way.
    2. One Hundred Seventeen

      by , 11-11-2017 at 07:26 AM
      In which I help a dead girl find her remains and lead two living girls to a seance...

      We're in the main hallway of my childhood home. A young girl is with me. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a ponytail and held with a scrunchy. She's leading me around the corner from the foyer and into the carpeted hall to the bathroom where she will show me where her remains are hidden. She can't touch anything herself since she's dead already. I open the bathroom door as she directs, and she points at the base of the tub which is made up of two porcelain squares, caulked together. I've never noticed that they are walls to hollow compartments. The girl insists that I push on the square to the right, and the compartment opens, revealing a baking tray with rectangular pieces of pizza. I look more closely and see that these pieces of pizza are her bones.

      I walk into my parents' room where there are two other girls, but these are alive. The dead girl insists that these two living girls are key witnesses to her murder. We must only convince them to walk down the main hall and into the dark living where a medium is holding a conference of ghosts where they must testify. The girls are reluctant to trust me, and they are terrified of the dead girl. As I'm trying to persuade them, Buster runs into the room with the pizza-bones in his mouth. I wrestle the remains from him, but they are already destroyed. The dead girl and I rush to the bathroom to see if there are any remains to salvage. Most of the evidence is destroyed. The dead girl starts to cry, and I feel guilty and foolish for leaving the door open. Since the dead girl is a ghost with no material substance, I can't comfort her. I just watch her cry. I'm useless.

      Then the two living girls peer around the corner into the bathroom. Seeing the dead girl cry, they feel less scared. She is their age, and they are compassionate. The bolder of the two enters the bathroom, and I explain the situation. She gets down on her hands and knees and looks into the empty tub compartment. She reaches her hand deep inside and pulls out a small human jaw bone, intact with a complete set of teeth. It's more than enough remains to both identify the dead girl and to use as evidence at the ghost conference. Now I've only got to convince the girls to follow us into the living room.

      The thrill of the mystery motivates them now, but they are still afraid of what awaits us in the living room. It's dark, so all we can see are the candles and swaying figures. We can't tell who is living or dead. I assure the girls that it doesn't matter which are the ghosts and which are the living as they are all harmless people who only wish to work for justice. But as I'm saying it, I realize that I have no idea if this is true or not. I could be leading these two girls into danger. I'm surprised at myself for being so reckless with young children. It doesn't seem right, and I pause at the front door of the main hall. I realize that the responsible adult thing to do would be to grab the hands of the two living girls, throw open the front door, and run- leaving the poor dead girl to the ghosts where she belongs now. But the two girls now are excited by the thrill. Rather than being terrified, they are now tantalized. They've fallen into a pattern in which the bolder girl claims that she is not afraid and will go ahead. The more timid girl urges her on but stays behind herself. The bolder girl, though she's just as scared, refuses to lose face and so steps forward. The more timid girl follows, holding her hand. And like this, the two girls step into the dark living room. I should have taken control of the situation like a grownup but instead I stand with the dead girl and just watch them.

      A medium is holding a seance. The room is full of ghosts. It's cold and dark. The two girls start to tell their story. Immediately, the house starts to shake. I hear a bell ringing and my heart jumps.

      I get out of bed and walk into the dining room. The bell rings again. I pause in front of the table and look around. I'm disoriented. I try to assess where I am and what is ringing. I think to myself, I'm alone. I don't know anything else. I don't know where I am.

      Suddenly, my mother-in-law steps past me. I recognize her, but I'm still disoriented. She tells me that she'll get the door. I still stand there, disoriented. I understand the words. I realize that the ringing is the door bell. But I don't really understand what is going on. My husband walks in. I realize I look foolish. I try to explain that I'm so sleepy that I was confused about the sound. The words feel heavy in my mouth. I can tell by the looks on their faces that I'm not making sense. I decide to shut up before I talk in my sleep. I turn around and walk back to the bedroom.

      Updated 11-11-2017 at 07:49 AM by 38879

    3. One Hundred Sixteen

      by , 07-06-2016 at 03:27 PM
      In which I chat about free will with a woman from Wenatchee, Thailand...

      I'm sitting in the living room of my childhood home. It is a Heathrow waiting room. A Thai woman, about my age, sits with me. She looks a lot like G's wife- short and cute with black bangs framing her smiling face. We chit-chat about our travels.

      She is returning to Thailand for the first time in twenty years. She has repeatedly overstayed her visa but has managed to get extensions each time so that she's never been illegal in the UK but she will be illegal from the point of view of the authorities in Bangkok. She's not terribly worried about this; she'll just have to pay a fine to enter. She's far more concerned with how Thailand has changed in the years she's been away. She feels she's more British now than Thai, but with the Brexit vote, she'll have to return home.

      I've been to Bangkok more recently than she has, and she asks my impressions. We talk a little about the city, and she tells me she's from a lakeside village in the south. She says it's the most perfect place in the world.

      What's your village called? I ask her.

      Wenatchee, she says.

      Wenatche? Like the town in Washington?

      Yes, the same. Not too far from Lake Chelan, she answers.

      But that's not in Thailand, that's in the US. I'm very confused.

      No, it's in Thailand, she insists.

      I tell her that my best friend lives in Seattle and that we've visited Lake Chelan. It's definitely in Washington state. She maintains that Washington state is actually in Thailand, and she points out that my best friend is married to a man from Bangkok. I'm astounded that she knows this, and I'm suddenly confused. Perhaps Thailand and Washington are connected somehow? No, that makes no sense.

      I'm pretty sure that Thailand and Washington are two different places. I've been to each.

      Americans are always trying to explain things to me about my own culture, she responds. I grew up there after all. I know a little more about it than a tourist.

      Well, that had to be true. Still, it just didn't settle well with me. I tell her that I don't mean to be a know-it-all but I'm really confused. She asks if it would be helpful for me to look at a map?

      We walk over to the center of the room where a dozen featureless two-inch tall figures stand around. They are round and lack any anatomy at all- just blobs of people. They have large faceless spherical heads connected to cartoonish limbs that look like gobs of play-dough rolled into cylinders and stuck onto round torsos. These clay men are shell white and animated.

      They don't have to worry about anything because everything is going to happen exactly as it always was, she says. She balls her fist and smashes one of the figures into a flat lump of clay. It was his time.

      Are you saying we can't escape our destinies? I ask.

      There is nothing any of them can do about it. It's just a fact that at some point, they are going to each be squished into a giant featureless mound of clay.

      I can't argue with the logic of that. Of course it's true. That's exactly what is going to happen, eventually.

      So we have no free will? I ask.

      She laughs at me. Everything is going to happen in a certain way. No escaping that. The only thing you can do is decide how you feel about it.

      The little men run around the floor of the airport. The Thai lady and I stand up to go back to our seats, and on her way, she steps on one of the clay figures. It sticks to the bottom of her shoe. She scrapes it off, and there is now dirt in the clay. Bits of it sticks to the airport carpet.
    4. One Hundred Fifteen

      by , 07-05-2016 at 07:32 PM
      In which there is a rat snake in my garden...

      I ride my bicycle up into my driveway to find a circus trailer parked under the large pecan tree in my front yard. I walk around to the front of the trailer and see a fat bald man sitting in speedos juggling ceramic whiskey jugs. As they fly in the air in a circle around his torso, a snake's head peeps out of each jug. A very tiny woman dressed in a pink ballerina costume spins on her toes next to him, her arms arched above her head.

      What's going on? I ask the man.

      Juggling, he answers.

      What are you juggling? I ask.

      Juggling jugs, he answers.

      Why are there snakes in your jugs? I ask, starting to get annoyed with him.

      Because they're enchanted, he answers.

      I'm exasperated at this point. None of this makes any damn sense.

      What the hell are you doing in my front lawn? I ask.

      He stops juggling. He lets the jugs fall to the ground where they break. Dozens of small rat snakes slither from the broken ceramic pieces and scatter about my front garden.

      The fat man and the tiny ballerina pack up their trailer and leave.

      I stand outside for a moment and watch the snakes, then I realize they must be babies. There is probably a mother snake somewhere nearby.

      Suddenly I see a thick rat snake slowly slithering up the middle path of my front bed. She has her head lifted as if she is ready to strike, and she flicks her tongue at me. She's long enough that she could strike me in one rapid flash. I slowly back up my front porch steps and open the door without taking my eyes off her, then I hurriedly let myself into my living room and shut the door behind me. Even though she's just a rat snake, I don't want to feel the force of her bite. She's huge and terrifying.

      I stand at my front window and look out at her in the garden. Her eyes glow red as she stares at me. I've never seen a rat snake behave this way.

      Then she slides over to my house and starts zigzaging her way vertically up the tiles towards my roof. She finds a small hole near the eave of the patio cover and flattens herself so that she enters my attic.

      Oh! I think. Fantastic! She'll eat those damn squirrels!

      Updated 07-06-2016 at 02:59 PM by 38879

    5. One Hundred Fourteen

      by , 07-05-2016 at 07:12 PM
      In which I stomp across a farting bean field in the nextdoor neighbor's backyard...

      I jump the fence into my neighbors' backyard and am surprised that I land in shallow water. They have converted their entire yard into a rice paddy. Instead of green plants protruding to the surface, there is a layer of dried white rice carpeting the ground beneath the water. As I slosh through the field, hard rice sticks to my feet.

      I look for a path to their backdoor that will cause the least damage to their crops. About halfway through their yard, I notice that I'm now walking over dried black beans also submerged in water. With each step, gas bubbles rise up to the surface and then float up into the air where they pop with a loud toot. They stink like farts. This is hilarious to me, and I start sloshing through the been field tooting up a smelly ruckus while singing, Beans, beans, the perfect fruit, the more I stomp, the more they toot!

      My neighbor steps outside. What are you doing?

      I freeze. I look at her. I lift one foot into the air, then stomp it down hard through the water to smush a bean beneath. A single bubble rises to the surface then pops in the air, releasing a green smelly gas. I giggle. Get it? I say, They're beans! And they cause farts! I laugh hysterically, out loud with my mouth open.

      My neighbor just stares at me. She has a butterfly tattooed across her face, its wings spread open across her eyes as if it were a party mask.

      Is that a real tattoo? I ask her. I can't believe she'd tattoo her face permanently. I look away, pretty convinced that when I look back at her, her face will be different. I just barely perceive some feeling that somehow, the appearance of things can be changed if I just will it to be that way. I can't quite remember why this might be true, but I'm pretty sure I can do it. I stare at my feet through the water and think really hard about her face being different when I look back. But when I look back at her, no; there is still a butterfly tattooed across her face.

      It's real. Do you like it? The work is undeniably beautiful, but I can't get over the fact that there will now be a giant butterfly across her face forever. I try to get used to the idea.

      Face tattoos are all the rage in Ohio, she says.

      Updated 07-05-2016 at 07:35 PM by 38879

    6. A Visitation

      by , 06-30-2016 at 06:48 PM
      I don't think visitations or ghosts or life after death are true (and moreover, I don't want them to be true) but being objectively sure that something didn't really happen doesn't change the fact that you believe it while it's happening. In any case, I'm not so foolish as to not accept peace that is offered to me, regardless of how it happened.

      This isn't how I normally post my dreams. This one has left me with some pretty weird feelings all day. And it's hard to write about so I'm just going to ramble it all out as it comes to me without worrying at all about writing correctly or choosing the right words or whatever. It was very intense.

      I'm walking through a hall in a dark noisy restaurant when I think I see H. I see people who look like her at first glance all the time out in public, but this time she recognizes me also and comes up with a HEEEYY!!! for a hug. It scares me at first, then I realize it really is her- inexplicably. She looks good- healthy and smiling. Her hair is cut like right after C was born. She's vibrant.

      Something must've changed for me in recent months because I felt none of the usual desperation to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her or somehow convince her to stop, think, ask for help, turn back time, or any of the other typical intense feelings that usually accompany these dreams. Instead, I just think, oh- she's here right now. It's OK. Make use of the time.

      And the dream then took on that shiny, ringing, clear quality that I've come to associate with lucidity. I knew I was dreaming. I tried really hard to focus. It felt like an intense effort because I kept getting distracted by things and then redirecting my focus on H again.

      We were sitting in the same side of a restaurant booth. It was noisy and dark all around us. H's hair was longer now, just above her shoulders and curly. She was leaned against the wall and I was facing her with my back to the aisle. I kept getting a creepy feeling on my back and I kept having fleeting thoughts that she would change at any minute. That she would become a zombie or that she'd start to look decayed. At any moment, I expected her brains to explode out of her skull, but then I remembered- no, it wasn't a gunshot. I looked at her arms, expecting to see them covered in blood, but then I thought- no it wasn't slit wrists either. I started to wonder what it was, how had she done it, and I could feel a memory deep down in me, of her drained of color on the couch, slumped over, of her mashing up pills in the kitchen, and then I pushed it away- I wasn't there, I didn't see that, here she is now, maybe it didn't happen. Disbelief is a powerful thing, and the horror of it all started rising up in me- it was real, I thought of H bloated and wet in the viewing, but I pushed the memory down, down, down. I had to focus on what was in front of me. It was like staving off panic. I wanted to run or shut my eyes and fall back into a deep sleep, but I really did latch ahold of some deep strength or trust down in me and ran with it. This was H, not a zombie, not a body, maybe a ghost. I had to go with it.

      So I forced myself to look at her very carefully. This is the part I can't really describe because her face was very real. It was really like looking into her eyes, looking at her face, her smile. I kept saying, wow- I've missed your face. She laughed a lot. I put my hand on her face and asked if this was weird. She seemed very deep and serious at times, very patient, then she'd laugh. Meanwhile, I kept feeling the dream slipping away and it was really difficult to stay in it. I would try to think about what to say- it seemed there was something very important I needed to say- and the more I'd try to think about it, the more the dream would get away from me and so I had to keep refocusing on her face which was seriously vibrant and as real as if it weren't a dream at all.

      I told her I loved her. I've done this every time I've dreamed about her, and this time it was very clear and we seemed to mostly be on the same page. She told me she loved me. She had not done that in any other dreams. At one point, I did ask her what the hell she had been thinking. I don't even think words exist to express the disbelief- I mean, there is a confusion that's unsettling. I just can't understand it. I need an explanation. Like if I can get the missing piece and put the puzzle together then I can undo it all. What was going through her mind? She looked away and seemed very distant and slightly annoyed- the way she was when she wanted to avoid a topic or deflect or when I was being tedious. I apologized. I told her that I was sorry for not having been a good friend lately, and I told her how I kept replaying all the signs I missed and that I was so sorry. She seemed resolved. She seemed to have deep regret too, but it was something that could be tapped into rather than something that was raging on the surface. It seemed like she was telling me to move on already, but I could tell it bothered her. It was the same response that she had the morning after she was arrested and I went in angry to confront her. Her response showed that she had already internalized how much she'd fucked up and that now what she needed was for everyone to let it alone.

      Then it was her face again, so real. It was like a flashing series of her face - laughing when we were young, intense when we were having serious conversations, patiently irritated when I was being immature. Different hair styles and different ages- images of her flashing before me.

      After that, we were sitting at a table now in the middle of the restaurant. I refocused my lucidity again and thought about how real it all felt. I could simultaneously feel myself in bed- I could feel the pressure of my eyelids. But here I was, everything as vivid and detailed as if I were awake, sitting at a table with H. We agreed that it was real. I asked her about what it was like being dead. These didn't seem like the right words though, because here she was, as real as can be. She started talking about some issue with some women in the place where she exists now. I couldn't really understand what she meant. Apparently they had some task that they had to carry out together. I asked if it was like heaven? It wasn't that exactly. She was less interested (or unable) in telling me exactly what it was like being dead and more interested in talking about this particular disagreement that she was having with some women who were also in this place/space/whatever. I thought to myself, this is typical of our conversations.

      I fell asleep. I lost lucidity. It happened while trying to follow H's story.

      I'm at my neighbor E's house. A small black dog has come up in her yard. The dog plays with my dog. I notice that it has a collar, and I call the owner. He says he lives upstairs- could I bring him the dog?

      There is a stairwell leading up the pecan tree in my front yard, and at the top is the long gated corridor of an apartment complex. I push open the gate I see two shiba inus. They run to the edge of the platform and look down to the ground as if they are about to jump over back towards my yard. I stand very still and call them towards me, assuming that one of them is Saskia. But they come to me and I see that they are both strange shibas. Right as I scoop them up into my arms, the door at the end of the corridor opens and a shirtless middle aged thin smoking man comes out. He's wearing sunglasses and jeans and has the leathery skin of a man who's had too much sun. He calls the dogs- all three are his.

      I'm riding in a car with E now. She's on the left and I'm on the right. The car is like a go-cart; we sit on top of it. I have the steering wheel but no brakes. I realize the brakes must be on her side, and I tell E to coordinate with me so that we can drive. She says we should switch sides. I ask her to grab the wheel. Just as I'm about to climb under her to switch over, I remember H.

      I'm back in the restaurant. H is sitting at a different booth now. Across from her is a woman about our age. They are animated, discussing some drama involving people I don't know. They have their smart phones out and are texting someone about all this drama. She is still real, she is still vibrant, clear and healthy looking. But she's very engaged in the current moment. H was always very good at this, while I'm always spoiled the present by spending too much time in my own head or getting meta about every situation. Even now, I want to return to the question of what it is like being dead, what she was thinking when she did it, how she feels about it now. I want something deep and life changing to happen. She listens to me say these things, but she's clearly moved on to another conversation. I have no interest in the woman sitting across from her. H has always had a lot of friends. Some stay around for years, some come and go. Because I'm judgey or perhaps even snobby, I've never understood most of her friendships outside our own trio. They were mostly (not always, but most of them) transient and uninteresting- shallow relationships with uninteresting people based entirely on shared conditions / work places / drama. This isn't always true of course- some of her friends were amazing people. But in between all the really interesting and serious boyfriends and all the really deep and creative friendships were dozens of random and uninteresting short term affairs and third wheel women who I knew would not be in her life more than just a few weeks and therefore I never put out any effort towards getting to know them. To me, H had a brighter spark than the vast majority of the people in her life. And I looked at this woman, summed her up and dismissed her. Then I started to feel a little jealous that I had to share my time with H with another random person.

      I thought all of that in a second and also hated myself for being such a bitch about it and for trying to make the moment about me. Clearly, H had given me a visitation, and here I was asking for more and continuing to misunderstand her. What I've learned since she died is how deeply she could live a moment. She lived in the present, and she was always willing to share other people's experiences in that same moment. And this is why her life was full of people everywhere she went. After she died, one of the things that was hard was recognizing this for the first time, feeling gratitude for having known her so well, and then immediately feeling regret and shame that I took it for granted when she was in my life. I'm too meta. I'm too judgemental. I don't experience the moment. And even as I was sitting there realizing this, I was thinking about all of this rather than joining in the moment with H and this other woman.

      I sat back and shut up and listened to them talk. It became clear to me that they were talking about the same situation that H had tried to tell me about before. It was not something life-altering or deeply important. Just some issue in their daily life where-ever or whatever that is when you are dead. They were discussing what to do about different people. They were gossiping with some indignation about something that seemed rather petty to me, especially since the larger context involves the answer to what happens after you die and they seemed completley uninterested in discussing that at all as if it were a non-issue. And I realized that H was absolutely FINE. She was behaving in exactly the way she always had, handling everything the same way she always had, so she had adjusted and she was fine. This was H, living whatever this new life was, and being OK. It was a really peaceful feeling. She was totally wrapped up in the daily life of whatever situation she was in now, she had friends, I needed to stop trying to drag her out of that and back to the death and to my grief. It's not about me and it's not about the death. She knows I really did love her and would really do anything at all for her, and I got to tell her that. It was just something that happened in a moment- it doesn't change everything about her; we don't have to stay in that moment forever. Now she was moving on, and this conversation had nothing to do with me. She was gossiping and rolling her eyes about whatever it is that is happening in her life now. She is sharing a moment of indignation and friendship with this woman. I didn't need to barge in.

      So I left.

      Then the dream was flashing images again- mundane things including memories of times with H, but loads of things. The waterfall at Hamilton Pool. R before his hair turned grey. Washing dishes. Picking sticker burrs out of Lucy's feet. I could feel myself still in my bed, that eyelid pressure- and the images were overpowering. Someone says, "This is all there is. This is the way you go back home again." But I don't know what that means. When I think about going back home, I don't even know where that would be. Probably the words were just nonsense. The important thing was that I felt, really vividly and intensely, a desperation to continue being alive. I mean, a real desire to live. It is an almost tangible burning thing.

      That was the end of the dream. The whole thing had taken place between snoozes on my alarm clock around 5 this morning. When I woke up, I didn't remember any of this for a few minutes, and then it all came flooding back to me when my husband asked if I'd had a nightmare. I had. I had forgotten. Earlier in the night- around 2 - I'd been sleeping on my side facing R with my back open to the bedroom. And I'd had a nightmare that a zombie or a ghost (the sort that has been haunting me since H died) was attacking my back- poking and tickling me and I couldn't move to stop it. I screamed, woke up, went to the bathroom, went back to sleep, forgot until R mentioned it. When he brought it up though, I remembered the feeling and then instantly remembered sitting in the booth with H staving off that panic- feeling that something was behind me but fighting to focus on staying in the dream with H. And then I remembered the rest of the dream that I just typed up.

      Updated 06-30-2016 at 07:20 PM by 38879

    7. One Hundred Thirteen

      by , 05-05-2016 at 07:15 AM
      In which I had my first sleep paralysis nightmare...

      I'm body surfing the sideways waves of a cove. The tide is low enough that they break on the beach and not up on the rock cliffs enveloping the cove. But I know I only have a few minutes before I must get out and scale the cliffs when the tide comes in. There will be no beach left that is not submerged.

      I'm wearing my black and hot pink one-piece swimsuit. It's an athletic cut, like you'd see on Olympic swimmers. But there are women body surfing with me, and they are all in bikinis. I notice this and feel awkward about it. I wonder how they keep their bikinis on; when I'm not in a one-piece, the waves thrash them off me.

      Ted Cruz has conceded to Trump. He is in seclusion somewhere, in a cave nearby. His sister comes out to the beach to make a statement on his behalf. She walks out to the sandy beach in the center of the cove and starts to speak. The other women and I continue to surf. Somehow, we can hear and see her perfectly.

      She's casually beautiful, without any of the attempts to try to be sexy like the bikini girls. She has lovely olive skin and short thick black hair. She's radiant, and she wears glasses, a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans. She's poised; she speaks deliberately. She is serious, because it is a serious matter, but she's got some subtle humor as well. She shines. I take a wave onto shore and linger there in the sand a bit to listen to her. Despite the fact that Ted Cruz is horrific, I acknowledge that his sister is clever, charming and charismatic. Too bad she's not running for president.

      Then she leaves the cove, and Donald Trump walks to the center of the beach. He is naked and also enormously fat. He sits crosslegged in the center of the cove and stars into the distance. His lips are pursed, and the fat hangs over his crotch and scrotum so that he looks as if he lack genitals. He does not say anything.

      The other women and I continue to body-surf for a few minutes, but the tide is rising. Besides, Trump's presence makes us nervous. I notice that the waves are breaking against the rock cliff behind Donald Trump. I avoid crashing into it, slide across the sand, and exit the water. I climb up the wall a short way above the breaking tide. I see my husband, snuggled up in a blanket among the rocks, sleeping. Donald Trump is on the beach below, still sitting still and naked amidst the pounding tide.

      I find a nearby rock outcrop near my sleeping husband that is long enough to accommodate my body, and I curl myself up into fetal position to sleep. I snooze contentedly for a while, and then I roll over onto my back and stretch out my arms and legs so that I luxuriously take up the entirety of the outcrop.

      Three Indians climb up from the beach. They are a young woman in her mid 20s with long curly black hair and a slim build, as well as two younger teenage boys. They step over our sleeping bodies and nestle themselves into nearby outcrops to sleep as well.

      I can feel my body stretched out. I can feel the bed beneath. This is confusing because I know that I'm on rock. I wonder about this, and then I feel my body even more. I feel each breath I take. I hear the waves below. I hear my husband sleeping nearby. I feel the pillow under my head.

      A woman's voice asks me a question. I ignore it, and I continue to stay still. By now, my mind is awake.

      When I do not respond, she calls my name and asks why I'm ignoring her. I do not wish to speak to her, so I lay very still and focus on my breathing. I feel my chest move up and down in my sleep. I feel my arms stretched out above my head. I feel the pillow under my neck. I hear my husband's breathing next to me. He is very close now.

      The woman says, "I'm disappointed in you. I didn't know you were such a coward that you would pretend to sleep."

      I hear her, but I pretend I do not. I continue to focus on my breathing. I stay very still. I am asleep, I say to myself. I am asleep, I repeat to myself over and over again. I am asleep. I feel the mattress under me now.

      The woman says, "You are pretending to sleep. You are wasting your time thinking of unimportant things. It's very disappointing. I'm finished watching you. I've seen what you are, and you will not take advantage of opportunities anymore, and so I'm done with you."

      Her words hurt. They sting, and I want to confess or defend myself or discuss these issues. But by this point, I've already pretended to be asleep for so long that if I do anything other than continue to pretend to sleep, I'd have to admit that I could hear her all along. So I do nothing. I lay there, with my arms outstretched, and focus on my breathing. I am asleep, I tell myself. I am asleep.

      Then, I can feel that she has knelt down next to my head. She says, "You are pretentious. You are wasting your time. Keats was right. I know you can hear me."

      I'm laying there, pretending to sleep, wondering what in the world she can mean by such a thing as 'Keats was right' (about what? and in what poem?) when the Indian woman and the two teenage boys walk over to me. The two boys sit down on the rock near my head, but the woman straddles me. She starts tickling my ribs, and it is unpleasant to the point of being painful. I try to push her away, but my arms lack all strength and coordination, and all I can do is flail them about unskillfully.

      The woman starts laughing at me. She continues to tickle me, only she's more forceful now so that she's ramming her fingers into my ribs and stomach. I shout out, "help me! stop! help me!" but the teenage boys sitting near my head just look on and laugh. The woman grabs my arms by the wrist and stops me from resisting at all, and with her other hand, she starts punching me in the stomach and in the ribs. I realize that the teenage boys will not help. They will stand by and refuse to help me. I feel completely overcome and helpless.

      I think that I'm totally vulnerable and at this woman's mercy. My own torture will only be limited by her whim. It's going to get worse. It's a horrifying and hopeless feeling. The disregard of the two teenagers watching me makes it all the worse. They could intervene if they were willing to. They simply refuse, and for no reason other than they don't care. I think that if I could just make them care, even a little bit, they might stop her from punching me and poking me.

      I continue to call out. "Stop. Help me!" I'm gasping for air and suffocating at this point, but I try a direct appeal to the boys. "Help me, please! Help me!" I want to tell them that they, personally, can stop this, but I'm so short of breath that I can't call out to them. The woman is holding me down and punching me and laughing, over and over again.

      My husband is still snoozing nearby. I change tactics. I call my husband's name repeatedly. He does not move. I shout at him to wake up and help me, but he does not stir at all.

      Then, I think, this will go on, in slow painful detail, until she kills me. It could take years. Eternities even. Maybe that's what the warning about Keats meant. Maybe I'll be dealing with this pain for the duration of time.

      I try to face my assailant. I'm having trouble speaking at all at that point, but I concentrate very hard on holding air in my chest until it hurts and then letting it all out in one giant burst in which I scream, "STOP IT!"

      I hear the words echo, and my husband shakes me awake. I'm back in my own bed in my own room. Eerie light in through the window tells me that this isn't any more real than the nightmare. Husband says, 'What are you dreaming? You shouted STOP IT.' My middle of the night real-fast description: "Donald Trump was lording over an island of demons that wouldn't stop tickling me." Husband laughs, so do I. But seriously the dark feeling has not yet left. It was a very disturbing nightmare.

      I've had sleep paralysis my entire life. This is the first time that I've had a nightmare during it, and also the first time that I was not aware of what was happening. Even though I could feel myself in the bed, I was not lucid. Usually when I have sleep paralysis, I feel myself in my own bedroom in my own house, and I can control what I'm thinking. Not this time. It was a terrifying hopeless helpless feeling that bothered me all day.

      Updated 06-09-2016 at 08:04 AM by 38879

    8. One Hundred Twelve

      by , 04-02-2016 at 07:43 PM
      In which the water balloons will not burst...

      My nextdoor neighbor, her daughter and I are standing outside on the sidewalk. We have a bag full of water balloons. I pick one up and throw it on the ground, but it just bounces. It does not burst. We take turns grabbing the balloons and throwing them at each other or throwing them on the street. None of them will pop. The child becomes bored. My neighbor and I are confused and frustrated. Why won't they burst? Why did this work when we were children, but it doesn't work now?
    9. One Hundred Eleven

      by , 03-03-2016 at 03:57 PM
      In which I join a cult to seek safety from zombies...

      I've found an old VHS recording of a young curly haired guy explaining how a particular charismatic cult leader is attempting to destroy the world. Curly provides a logical argument explaining why we should all be very concerned. I'm convinced. Later, I google the situation and discover that the charismatic leader will deliver a speech in my home town very soon. I decide to attend and see what it's all about.

      When I get there, I'm asked to sign in. I worry that it might not be wise to leave a record of my attendance. After all, if the charismatic leader actually does try to destroy the world, I don't want my name on the list of his rosters. So I make up a name and write it instead. I walk towards the meeting room, but an older woman sitting behind a folding table waves me towards her. She offers me a sticker. I put it on my shirt. She tells me she hasn't seen me here before. I say that I've really only been following the situation via VHS tapes. This intrigues her. She asks if I saw Curly's tape. I say that I did. She asks what I thought of it. I tell her that Curly makes a very good argument, but I was curious to see the other side. She is smiling during this entire exchange. She is looking at me as if she's a tolerant elder, seeking to redirect a lost youth. I'm hardly young, I tell her. She says age is of no matter.

      I walk into the meeting room. It looks like a 1970s elementary school auditorium. The wood panels of the stage rise up about three feet from the industrial carpet where the audience sits, cross legged. The room is chilly and damp; the rusty crank windows are not quite closed and rain thunders on the metal roof. Commercial fluorescent strip lights hang from the ceiling, completing the dreariness of the setting. I take my place, sitting on the floor with the rest of the crowd. It's hard to see over some of their heads. I sit criss-cross applesauce and lean back with my hands behind me on the floor. My fingers fidget with the small hard knotted balls of the carpet; it's dirty.

      Our charismatic leader comes out on stage. The crowd claps half-heartedly. They do not stop talking amongst themselves, and he has to shush them to be quiet. I think that I've wasted my time by coming here, and I look behind me to the door. I wonder how I can get up and exit without anyone seeing me.

      The charismatic leader begins to talk about world domination, about chosen people, about the decay in social morality, and about Curly. No one seems particularly enthused. I stand up, and, keeping my head down, start to walk towards the exit. I don't make eye-contact with anyone.

      On the way out, the same elder lady stops me. She wants to know if I've seen all I need to know to counter Curly's claims. I tell her that I figure Curly and the charismatic leader are in cahoots. One makes accusations about the other and vice versa so that both of them can garner attention. She says that if I really believe that, what do I propose we do about the zombies? Do I have a better idea how to handle them?

      Zombies? Oh yes. I look to the front windows again and see them snarling at the panes. What to do about the zombies? I'm forced to admit that I feel a hell of a lot safer here, in this old building, with this crowd, than I'd feel out there with the zombies. OK then. I'll stay for a while.

      I start to walk back towards the crowd, but the elder lady calls me over to her again. She has an invoice for my previous visits. She asks that I pay my dues from the last few meetings and also that I pay back the loan she gave me when I bought the charismatic leader's books. I have no idea what she's talking about. She points to my name in the roster and shows me the invoice again. Seems I've chosen the name of another member, one who does not manage his funds very well. I can't tell her that this isn't really my name because I'd hate to be thrown out with the zombies. So I give her all the money I have currently, and we arrange a payment plan. Then, she lets me return to the meeting.

      The charismatic leader is now down from the stage, walking around the sitting audience. He points to one sitting man and says, "What about him?" Everyone turns to look at this man, and all at once everyone starts to gasp or shout with alarm. It is a zombie! But the charismatic leader just stands there, calmly, pointing at him. The zombie sits still, his eyes rolled back in his head and his mouth half open with drool coming out. He breathes with slow grunting sounds, but he does not move. He seems completely unaware of anything. Eventually, the audience settles down. They look to the charismatic leader.

      "I have made the zombie passive!" Everyone cheers and claps. They all sit down again, this time in rapt attention. The charismatic leader jumps back up on the stage and delivers an eloquent and enthusiastic speech now. I'm mostly taken in. I really believe this man can save us and pacify the zombies. But I still keep looking back at the one still zombie. His presence makes me uncomfortable. And the zombies banging at the glass- surely they could get in at any time? I just can't rest easy.
    10. One Hundred Ten

      by , 02-29-2016 at 12:01 AM
      In which I am selected to replace Scalia...

      Obama has selected me to be the new Supreme Court Justice. There is nothing I can do to protest the decision. I must serve, despite being wholly unqualified. It's my first day on the job, and I'm supposed to meet the other Justices at the golf course at Bastrop State Park. I arrive, and I'm given a black robe. I opt for a lace collar like Ruth Bader Ginsberg's.

      I walk over to the HQ building in my new robe. I ask to speak to the person in charge. I'm told there isn't a person in charge. I ask for my boss or direct supervisor- whoever it is that is supposed to train me and tell me what to do at work. I'm told that I'm in charge of myself. I tell them that I haven't the slightest idea how to do this job. They respond that I better keep that to myself.

      I'm baffled. I have no idea what to do. I stand outside the HQ trying not to panic. Kennedy and Kagan drive up in a golf cart and tell me to climb in the back. We drive off road on the park trails towards the course. Our black robes billow out around us; I'm trying to hold down all the fabric by pushing it under my thighs and tying my sleeves in knots around my wrists, but the cloth keeps flying up over my head and all over the back seat. Kagan is laughing heartily and Kennedy is smiling. I can see that they are good-natured, so I admit to them that I don't know how to play golf. They tell me not to worry about it. They say they'll teach me.

      We get to the golf course, and Kennedy shows me how to swing a club. But for me, it's no good. Each time I give it a shot, the club gets tangled in my robes and I trip myself. Kagan laughs some more. I'm really getting stressed about everything, and they tell me to relax. It's just a game, after all. I respond that I'm freaked out because I haven't the slightest idea how to be a judge. I say I can just follow them around and sit to hear cases when they do, but there's no way I could write a dissent or make any important decisions. They tell me to stop worrying so much. They explain that all I have to do is play golf since all of their decisions are determined by who wins the rounds of golf anyway. I am not comforted.

      In which I set my neighbor's house on fire...

      I build a small fire in my fire pit, then I go inside to make a phone call. When I come back out, there are small grass fires all over my back yard. I fill up a bucket of water and start running around to put out all the small fires. They are spreading faster than I can put them out, and I realize I'll not be able to fight the fires with water. I run back inside and start frantically searching for my fire extinguisher. It's under my refrigerator, and I can't reach it. I finally manage to knock my refrigerator over and get ahold of it. I run back outside, but by this time, it has spread to my nextdoor neighbor's house. The fire is climbing up the wall towards the roof. Her father is there visiting, and he is hosing down the roof and yelling at me to hurry up and extinguish the fire. I can't figure out how to pull the extinguisher trigger. I fumble with it for a while, and then I realize it is empty. I tell the father that I will go grab a bucket of water and help him that way, but I know it is hopeless.
    11. One Hundred Eight

      by , 02-28-2016 at 11:44 PM
      In which H is in the passenger side of a car...

      I climb in the back seat of a car. I say something to the drive. The front passenger turns around to face me, and it's H. She's smiling and looking healthy and natural. I tell her I'm always happy to dream about her. She says she's glad to hear it. Then her face changes. Her body changes- she becomes a taller and larger person with a different face and shorter hair. I ask her if she is still H. She says she is, but her voice and demeanor don't reflect that. I think I only have a few moments to spend with her, so I might as well say the things I mean to say. I try, but it doesn't seem like her anymore. I tell myself the face shouldn't matter, but I feel totally different
    12. One Hundred Nine

      by , 02-24-2016 at 08:36 PM
      Basically one long dream that had three distinct parts.

      In which A's new dog's former owner returns...

      I'm returning to an upstairs apartment after walking Lucy and Moose. I can picture the layout of the flat, but it's not a place I recognize from real life. When I open the door to the apartment, I enter an open rectangular space with a wall of windows directly across the room from me. To the right of those windows is a hall leading into a kitchen. There are people in the apartment, including my mother. I don't know all of them.

      Moose is dirty from a walk to the river, and someone tells me that his owner will be upset that she has to wash him again. What owner? Not A. A asked me to walk him in the first place.

      Now we are downstairs. Moose is in a crate, sleeping. Two women, one with curly long strawberry hair, sit nearby. They are both all about their calm smiles to the point that it is difficult to communicate with them. I'm trying to figure out how it is that they think Moose is their dog. They explain that he just runs off sometimes to live with others. He's theirs, though, and they want to keep him. I tell them that he's been with A for months now and that he really loves his new life. He looks so sad sitting in the crate. I tell them how he gets to walk down to the river and go for a swim every day. They just shrug. We can take him for a walk whenever we want, so long as we don't get him dirty.

      I'm back upstairs in the apartment, trying to text A to let her know what is going on. I'm furious and confused, and I'm eager to scheme a way to keep Moose. Maybe they'll let us buy him from them. I'm having trouble texting because I can press the letters properly. Meanwhile, there is a knock at the door.

      In which H is a zombie, again...

      I open the door, and H is standing there. My initial feeling is terror. She looks healthy and pretty, but her hair is wrapped in a tight fitting cloth- not quite a turban. It looks like that part of her head has been wrapped up in plaster bandages that have dried into a cast around her skull. Otherwise, she looks normal.

      Many things rush through my mind in a second. She can't possibly be there because she's dead. Maybe she's not dead and it was all a misunderstanding. No that's not possible- I saw her body, I know she's dead, it's been a year and a half, any misunderstanding would've been cleared up by now. So it's not possible for her to be standing there. Maybe it's not her. I look at her more closely. It is her, she is smiling now and coming inside. I'm terrified because dead people can't come to your house and walk inside. I wonder about the cloth wrapped around her head. Is this is a new fashion? Is it holding her skull together? There was nothing wrong with her skull when I saw her body. She looks young and healthy and happy. I'm going out of my mind with confusion and fear, and more than anything, I want to run, but there is nowhere I can go so I keep backing away from her, slowly, trying to grapple with the impossibility of her presence.

      Ah, I realize, this is a dream.

      I feel slightly less scared, but also exhausted. Usually, in dreams, I'm glad to see her. I try really hard to take advantage of the opportunity to tell her things. I try to focus, but those feelings aren't there this time. I'm just afraid and tired, and I don't want her to be in my dream.

      By now, she's in the kitchen chatting with other people. She's leaning against a wall laughing. She's taller than I am. That's not right. But I shrug my shoulders- it's a dream after all.

      I look up at her. She seems very big now. Her shoulders are wider than usual. I try to give her a hug, but I can't quite reach up to her or wrap my arms around her. She looks down at me, mockingly, and says "Are you going to tell me you love me?" It's what I always tell her when she's in my dream. But now, I feel it's insincere. I look internally, but I can't find feelings for this wide, tall, H-like being with the cloth wrapped around her skull. I realize I'm going to regret it later if I don't tell her that I love her, just on the off-chance that this really is her and it really is a visitation, but I think that lately I've been thinking/talking about her so much that I've projected my own thoughts/words on her to the point that I can't even find the original sincere feelings and memories anymore. It's not been about her- it's become about me and how I tell that part of her story, and I wonder if she'd agree with it and I feel selfish because she's not here to correct it and I wonder if I'd even notice if I slipped into bullshit. You can go so far into your own bullshit that you can't see anything clearly anymore. I should stop talking so much.

      Just as I'm about to walk away, she says, "Are you going to start praying for me now?" The mocking tone stings. She does note my insincerity. Of course I'm not going to pray. I tell her that I'm not going to pray. I don't even believe in god or that she's in heaven or that she's here visiting and it wouldn't make any sense for me to pretend I do just because a dream image that I create asks me such a thing. Then for a second, I see what is maybe something real in her eyes, and I think, oh shit, what if this really is a chance to help her. Why can't I listen? Why can't I turn off my thoughts for a second and really let it be about someone else. I stop my rant. "Why? Do you want me to?" But that little glint is gone, and she is a zombie again, walking towards me, and I'm terrified.

      There is another knock at the door, and I have no idea what is on the other side, but I know it's not good. I rush to the door and lean against it to hold it shut. There is an immense force trying to blow the door in, and I'm digging my heels into the floor trying to keep the door shut. I shout out for the other people in the apartment to come help me, but no one else seems troubled. They tell me just to let the door open, but I know some real horror would fill the room. I'm begging others for help, and finally my mother comes over. She half-heartedly leans against the door with me. She's doing it to make me shut up and perhaps even to comfort me. But she doesn't believe me that we MUST keep out whatever is on the other side.

      My eyes are squeezed tight and I'm still holding the door closed with all my strength when my mother starts telling me to open my eyes and look towards the window. I hear the panic in her voice, so I respond by closing my eyes even tighter. I tell her not to look, not to think about it. This is a dream, so if we don't engage and we don't see anything, nothing can hurt us. If we think of other things and try to keep THESE events out, we'll fall into another dream. But she's insistent that I must open my eyes and see what is happening.

      I do. I look towards the window and see all the people coming in towards us. I only look fast- just a quick scared glimpse- and then I shut my eyes tight again. They are coming towards us. My mom is fully panicking now. I tell her to relax. Focus on her breathing, keep her eyes shut, don't think about what is happening. This is how you can end the dream. It's not real, just relax and don't think about it and it can't hurt you. It will go away. I'm telling her this and focusing on my own breathing. The door starts to feel softer; my head rests on it like its a pillow. I'm thinking of my body, relaxed and floating, and I'm blocking out the sounds and sights around me. But my mother keeps shouting and pulling me back into this dream. I start to think about what is happening. I'm terrified, and I start to think that I need to see who is attacking me so that perhaps I can defend myself. Against my better judgment, I look up again and see the people surrounding us, looking down at us. They are tugging my mom's hair, poking her in the ribs, kicking her legs, tickling her. I tell her again, Don't think about it! Shut your eyes! But then it starts to happen to me too. I've engaged with them. One of them, a woman, starts poking me in the ribs too. It starts out as a tickling annoyance, but it starts to become hostile and suffocating. I start to panic. I start to struggle, and the more I struggle, the more hostile the people become.

      And then, I put a stop to it. This isn't real. This is a dream. I lean against the door. The door is a pillow. I'm in a bed. I focus on my breath. The ribbing and beating and struggling and shouting become softer and more muffled. I stop fighting. I relax. I let it happen because I know it isn't real. Slowly, it passes, and I'm sleeping, warm and soft.

      In which I get an MRI and meet an old friend...

      Someone is shaking my shoulder to wake me. I sit up and see R crouched over me. I look around. We are in a small dark waiting room with some 12 other people. I'm sleeping on the floor, inappropriately. I've passed out drunk, it seems.

      The others are couples or parents with children. The mood is somber and tense. I can tell that they are judging me. What sort of fully grown woman gets so drunk in public in the middle of the day that she has to sleep it off on a waiting room floor? I'm embarrassed.

      I stand up, stumbling a bit, and try to stretch my arms. As I do, I hit an older man who is standing with a cane, and he falls over. He's a large (but not fat) older (but not elderly) black man, dressed in warm layers (coat, blazer, vest, shirt, slacks, boots, city hat). He falls to the ground slowly, and when he hits the ground, his legs fly up into the air. His wife runs to his side. I bend over to try to help him. He's on his back with his legs still up in the air. The wife says nothing, just holds his head in her lap as she glares at me. The fallen man says nothing either. He looks me straight in the eyes, then reaches into his blazer pocket for a wooden professor pipe. He lights it, and then smokes, staring at me from the ground with his legs up in the air. I tell him I'm really sorry, and I mean it. I'm also mortified.

      I walk away and stand with R again. Because I'm inebriated, I lose all sense of reflection and start to act on impulse. I say that I'm going to read while I wait, so I pull out Burroughs' Queer which is what I happen to be reading in real life at the time. I try to read aloud, to entertain the waiting group, but I'm not able to make out the words because I'm so drunk that I see double. I place one hand over my eye and try to read with the other, but it's no good. In my grandiosity, I decide that no one will be able to tell if I simply fake it and make it up as I go along, pretending that I can read.

      I orate. I wave my hands around as I speak. I pace around the crowd, exaggerating my facial expressions for emphasis. They are captivated. They shift in their chairs and stare at me silently. At some point in the story, I realize that I've lost track of my thoughts and that I needed to refer back to something I'd mentioned before, but I couldn't remember what it was. I realize that I'm running out of ways to complete the sentence that I'm on- that the end of this sentence is approaching and that I can't remember what it was I was trying to say. I get there and just stand there with my mouth open, my mind blank, and I blink at the crowd. Did they notice I screwed up? Are they enchanted? Or can they tell I'm making it up as I go along?

      I decide the only way to save face is to claim that this is performance art. I begin to ramble about post-modernism and the deconstructed narratives. I'm keenly aware that I don't actually know what I'm talking about, but I hope they won't be able to tell. I run back over to R and begin to climb up his body. I put my foot on his hip and I grab his arm and hoist myself up until I'm standing on his shoulders. I'm towering above my audience, and I continue my oration, waving my hands madly.

      And then I fall. On the way down, I strike the same older smoking man, and he falls too. We both tumble out of the waiting room and down a flight of stairs. People rush to the older man's side to see if he is OK. They help him stand. They light his pipe. They scowl at me. I'm a fool. I return to R's side, but when I look into his eyes I can tell he's ashamed of me.

      The commotion has caused the management to check on us. A middle aged woman rolls over to us in a wheelchair. She has a hard face with a sharp nose and dark skin. Her hair is swept back from her forehead severely. She's beautiful, but not pretty. We recognize each other instantly. It's TM- a girl I knew in elementary school. Then, we attended different middle schools where she became friends with H, K and S. Then all five of us went to high school together, and though she and I were never close, we always seemed to have a lot in common. Aside from our elementary friendship, we had these mutual friends from her middle school time.

      "C and R!" she shouts. "Fancy meeting you here!" I'm surprised because I haven't seen her since I was in high school so she's surely never met R. For a moment, then, I doubt that it is her. I look right in her face, and yes it is her, but she is quite a bit older looking. I realize that I must look old as well.

      I hug her and ask about the wheelchair. She wasn't in a wheelchair last I saw her. She does not tell me what happened, but instead demonstrates how she can twirl and dance around in her wheelchair. She says she is the star of a reality show in which modeling contestants compete in wheelchair bound dance offs. As she rolls about in her chair demonstrating this, the floor lights up beneath her Billie Jean style and spotlights follow her from above. I mirror her movements beside her, letting her take the lead, and we dance together in front of all the waiting people. See, I think to myself, I'm not a fool. It's fun to be flamboyant.

      She asks about K, and tells me to take a selfie with her and send it to her. R comes over and takes the picture. It's unflattering to both of us. He tries several more times, but there is no improvement. I'm not photogenic, I shrug. She does not ask about H. I keep expecting her too, but she doesn't. If I post the selfie on FB where K can see it, then TM will likely scroll through our pages and learn about H. I wonder if it is better to let that happen or to pull her aside and tell her myself. They were not close. I doubt she could be truly affected. I decide it would be awkward so I leave it alone, even though I realize that I actually want to tell her about it. I want to tell the story to someone who knows H but doesn't know already know what happened. I wish she would ask me about her, but she doesn't.

      Instead, TM explains that she is a nurse and that she and the doctor will guide us through our MRIs. They apologize for the delay, but it is complicated running a recording studio at night and an MRI clinic during the day. We nod our heads. Of course this is complicated.

      The doctor walks me over to my sound board and starts adjusting switches. He wipes down the equipment and clears out the cigarettes and empty beer bottles. The sound boards transform into the shapes of coffins. He hands R a kazoo and asks him to play. R plays poorly. The doctor explains that if I feel that something is wrong inside my sound board, then I should tell R to play the kazoo and he will come over and open it up and let me out. Then he tells me to climb inside. It opens like a coffin, but the interior bed still has volume knobs and sound switches that I'm sure will poke me in the back and be quite uncomfortable. I ask the doctor if he is sure this is safe and if I should take a sedative or something. He guarantees that all will be well. I climb inside, and he starts to lower the coffin lid. Only then to I remember that my podiatrist wrote the wrong diagnosis on my MRI form. Wait! I shout. R plays the kazoo. The doc haults the closing process. I explain that I need my heel imaged, not my ankle. He nods as if he isn't really listening and doesn't really care, and he closes me inside.

      It's uncomfortable and I have no way to communicate with anyone on the outside. I hope that R will make sure everything turns out OK and advocate for me, but I'm not sure that he even cares enough any more. He seems more disappointed or ashamed than anything. I wonder if it's even worth the hassle for him anymore.

      Updated 02-24-2016 at 08:50 PM by 38879

    13. One Hundred Seven

      by , 11-02-2015 at 04:10 PM
      In which I have a terrifying nightmare...

      Im walking down the residential street to my childhood house. I take the patio entrance, holding the screen door open with my hip as I fiddle with the lock. It takes a while, but finally, I get the door open, and I enter. The house is dark. From the corner of my eye, I see a shadow dart down the hall, then I hear a door slam. I realize Im not alone in the house.

      I shout, hello but there is no response. I walk into the living room, and I flip open my cell phone. I have no signal. I hear footsteps in the back of the house and a voice saying that Im going to die. The closest exit is the kitchen door to the garage, so I run towards it. I get the door open just as the intruder appears in the living room. I only see him for a second- a man, dressed in black, his face covered by a mask.

      I shut the door behind me and enter the garage. Its dark, and I fumble around the wall searching for the button to raise the garage door. I find it and click it just as the man enters the garage behind me. I run over to the door and wait as the cables slowly crank it up the tracks. When the door is lifted a few feet, I duck underneath and run across my driveway. Im panicked and not thinking clearly, so I take a fraction of a second to pause and focus. I look to the left, at the front porch of my nextdoor neighbor, then I look in front of me, to the door across the street. Which can I reach faster? Which is more likely to have an unlocked door? I see the masked man emerge from the garage. Hes only a few seconds behind me.

      I focus on my nextdoor neighbors front porch and feel a surge of adrenaline. If I sprint as hard as I can, Ill make it before he gets to me. I clench my fists and try to run, but I cant. I can barely walk. Im clumsy, and I keep falling over. Even though I can feel the power in my muscles, I cant seem to get going. My legs are heavy, and Im moving slowly. I no longer see the killer. Again, I try to use my cell phone. Now I have a signal, but I cant see the numbers or direct my fingers to hit the right ones. Im trying to call 911, but instead I keep dialing 201. Jersey. Meanwhile, Im wasting time that could be spent trying to run.

      Briefly, I consider how dangerous it is that I always lose the ability to run in dreams. During my childhood, other kids chased me to this same patio, and I usually made it safe with an ollie ollie oxen free! But now that a masked killer is chasing me, I can hardly walk.

      Finally, I reach the patio steps and grasp the railings to pull my limp legs up onto the porch. I ring the doorbell and shout for help, then I reach for the doorknob, desperately hoping that it is unlocked. Before I can try it, though, a man opens it and I rush inside his foyer, locking the door behind me.

      Im shouting that someone is trying to kill me; we must call the police. Hes remarkably calm, standing still, smiling widely and showing me his perfect white teeth. Hes young, late 20s, and very well-built, with biceps like tree trunks. But his face is bright and clean-shaven, and he has thick styled blonde hair with frosted tips. Gym rat, I think. Preppy jock. Or gay. Maybe gay jock. Who is he? I remember that Mr. B, who lived there during my childhood, had died. My parents told me that an older retired couple had moved in. Judging by the decor, the house appears to belong to retirees. And I catch a strange smell coming from inside the house.

      The gym rat tells me to calm down, and I follow him into the kitchen where he picks up an oversized and outdated cordless phone. I tell him to dial 911, but he dials 201 instead. I start screaming that there is a murderer just outside the door and that no one in Jersey can possibly help us. Gym rat smiles widely again and says that he knows all that. He says not to worry, that hes already called the police.

      How can that be? I ask him. I just got here.
      Ive known there was an intruder in your house since you returned from paddling.
      So you called the police a few minutes ago?
      Just relax. Everything is going to be OK.
      Who are you? Do you live here?
      This is my parents house. Theyll be home soon, and then we can all have a nice chat.

      Something about this exchange seems strange to me, and I start backing out of his kitchen. The gym rat notices Im upset, but he does not pursue me. Instead, he tells me that hes just had a baby. He points towards the bassinet in the living room.

      She was born in May, he says. My first baby. I start to relax a little. I look at the bassinet. Its on the floor next to the couch in a typical suburban living room. A lace blanket covers the opening. Shes sleeping, the gym rat says. Come have a look at her.

      My niece was born in May, too, I respond. Theyre at a fun age right now. Im trying to calm down and make small talk. I keep looking to the window. When will the police arrive?

      The gym rat crouches down next to the bassinet. He removes the lace blanket and smiles down at his baby. Then he says to me, Dont you want to come see her?

      I walk over and look down. The babys belly is exposed, and I see a rose tattoo just above her belly button. The skin of her stomach is red and raw. Im not sure what Im looking at; Im confused by what I see. Who tattoos a babys stomach?

      They say you have to be very gentle with babies, the gym rat says. He looks up at me and smiles. I guess I wasnt gentle enough.

      I look at the baby again and realize what Im seeing. Her belly isnt just red from the fresh tattoo, its bruised blue and purple, swollen from beating and bloated from decomposition. This rotting baby is what Ive been smelling.

      Immediately, I run towards the door, and this time I can run. The man doesnt follow right away; he stays on the floor smiling down at the dead baby. For a second, I think Ill actually escape. But, just as I reach the doorknob with my left hand, I feel his grip on my right wrist. I turn to face him.

      Hes calm. He grabs my left wrist with his other hand and holds my arms, now bound, in front of him. His grip is gentle, but when I try to pull away, he tightens it. He shakes his head and clicks his tongue at me. No, no, dont do that, he says quietly. Still, hes smiling.

      I think of the babys bruised stomach. My skin is going to look like that. Im going to take a beating. It will begin as soon as I struggle, and there is no way to escape. Im caught. Its going to be torture; I cant even die to get out of it. Im terrified.

      Updated 11-02-2015 at 04:16 PM by 38879

    14. One Hundred Six

      by , 08-10-2015 at 09:25 PM
      In which I try to go to the beach with the British royal family...

      Prince William texts me that he'd like to spend the day at the beach. He sends me the address, and R enters it into his phone to get directions. We are led to a narrow island and are eventually driving down what appears to be nothing more than a sandbar. The sand is thick and dry, but we carry on because the phone tells us to. I argue with R that he's being foolish, but he claims that the phone would not send him down this far if we aren't supposed to drive here. Of course, we eventually get stuck in the sand. The tide is rising, and the car will soon be swallowed by the sea. I use this moment to tell R how much his reliance on his cell phone annoys me, then I slam the door and start off back towards the mainland on foot.

      I'm struggling to walk in the sand. Each step I take feels like I'm pulling my foot out of concrete, and my breathing is labored. I'm short of breath, dizzy and nauseous. R asks what's wrong, and I explain that we drove so fast out on the beach that we didn't have time to acclimate, and now we'll have altitude sickness. He argues that we are at sea level.

      I stop. I look around. He's right. I couldn't possibly be any more at sea level than this. When the tide comes in, it pulls sand out from under my feet. Something is wrong. Something is not right.

      R tells me to hurry along. The royal family is waiting for us. I start walking again. Now I can breathe freely and no longer feel nauseous, but still I struggle to pull my feet out of the sand after every step. I look ahead towards land and see that, at this rate, it will take us hours to cross the beach. We will miss our appointment for sure.

      Now I'm having trouble walking at all. My knees keep going weak and I keep falling over. I try to crawl, but even that seems impossible. I complain to R that I hate walking on sand. It's so difficult!

      But then I stop again. That's not right. Since when do I hate walking on sand? I love walking on the beach. I walk for miles on the beach. And this close to the shore, where the sand is firm and wet, I even jog on the beach. Why in the world can't I walk normally now?

      I think to myself, I've felt this before. This has happened to me before- that my legs have gone limp and I've been unable to walk. Normally, I think, this happens when someone is chasing me.

      I look behind me, but there is no one there.

      Then, suddenly, we are back in town. We are walking a long the seawall, and a film crew is up ahead filming Prince William and Queen Elizabeth as they take one of the little kids for a stroll along the beach. It's crowded, and people sit around under umbrellas watching the royals.

      I approach William to apologize, and I ask him how late I am. He responds by showing me his watch, but I notice that it is a vortex manipulator bound to his wrist with a thick leather strap. All three of them have one on their wrists. Oh, I tell him. If you can time travel, then I guess it doesn't matter if I'm late. He looks at me as if I'm crazy. I look at their wrists again and see that actually they are all wearing fit bits.

      Prince William explains that they are all ready to go to another beach as this one is too crowded. He asks me if I will bring the car around to pick him up, and I agree. I walk back to the seawall, and I see that there is bumper to bumper traffic ahead. It will be hours before we can get to the next beach. If we keep moving about like this, I'll never get to swim or enjoy myself.

      I think to myself that this is just like club-hopping with M when I was in high school. She'd demand that we visit so many different clubs or attempt to meet up with so many different people that we never actually got to hang out in any one place and enjoy ourselves; we were always moving on to the next thing.

      In which Snowden leaks reveal G's secret identity...

      The most recent Snowden report reveals that the NSA is monitoring G due to his alleged involvement in terrorist activities. I consider canceling our trip to Kazakhstan to visit him. The scoundrel! He has a double life!

      But I decide instead to warn him that he's being monitored and to express my disapproval. We Skype with him, but he is laughing, drinking and holding his baby daughter who coos cutely and tries to grab our noses through the computer screen. I tell G that I feel like a fool. We've always known he keeps some of his life private, but we feel foolish for thinking he was our fun-loving friend when really he is a hardened criminal. I know people are complex, but it makes me feel very naive. Lately, I've been feeling that there are very few ethical people in the world.

      G is adamant that his behavior has been in the service of goodness, and when I respond that working for the secret police does no good for anyone except for powerful regimes that want absolute control, he looks baffled. Then he laughs and explains that the "terrorism" that he is involved with is actually just guerrilla style Facebook posts. He terrorizes our Facebook newsfeeds with the ugly facts about the violence to animals done in factory farms. Oh.

      Updated 08-10-2015 at 09:27 PM by 38879

    15. One Hundred Five

      by , 08-10-2015 at 08:51 PM
      In which I'm caught up in a war in various Asian countries...

      I'm in the gaudy lobby of a five star hotel in Central Asia. The floors are gold marble, and they shine with reflected light from chintzy chandeliers hanging high up in the ceilings. R and I are standing in a large open hall before a broad cedar front desk behind which is a seating area with heavy hand-carved adirondack chairs on thick green carpets placed before a roaring fire. The clientele is clearly international. Some stand near us with their luggage, others are thumbing through magazines in the seating area.

      I tell R that the hotel can't seem to decide if it wants to be the Ritz or a mountain lodge. A woman standing next to us responds that the nouveau rich of developing countries never know how to decorate a place, then she leans closer and says that the building isn't structurally sound either. The whole thing will crumble in a decade.

      People around us start to stare and point at the woman. I think that it is because they can hear her complaints, so we step away to make it obvious that we are not together. But she gathers more attention so I look at her more closely. She is dressed in a long billowy black frock and a black ski mask. She wears black leggings and combat boots beneath her skirts, and she carries a black backpack. Somehow, I realize she is a Chechnyan militant, but before I can react, she opens her frock to reveal a belt of guns and bombs. She tells us all to drop down to the floor.

      I'm lying prone on the cold marble, as are all the other guests in the hotel. Young men dressed in black run about with tie wraps binding our wrists behind our backs while the woman stands in the middle of the lobby shouting her demands. We are her hostages. She wants to negotiate with Putin. He'll raid the place and we'll die, I think to myself. I'm less afraid than I am astonished that this is actually happening to me. I'm actually a hostage to terrorist rebels calling for negotiations with Putin. Then I reflect on my astonishment. This sort of thing happens to people; the history of the world is full of regular folks having their lives destroyed because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Violent political turmoil, global warfare- why did I assume I'd be safe?

      But then, someone comes up to the woman with a pink slip of paper. The woman glances at it and then calls my name. I do not respond. I do not know what that piece of paper bodes for me, and I think it is better to take my chances with the rest of the bunch. She calls my name again. I remain silent. Then she walks over to me and asks why I'm ignoring her. I see that my name is on my luggage. She must have read it while we were discussing the hotel decor.

      I stand up and look her in the eye. She asks again why I ignored her. I respond that her accent is so heavy that I didn't understand my own name. She tells me that I'm wanted in the office and hands me the pink hall pass. She tells me that R can come along too. It's so strange that at first we just stand there dumbfounded. This must be some sort of trick?

      No, she answers. We have been called down to the office where we are to begin negotiations for the release of the hostages. Did we listen carefully to her demands? I did not. I walk to the lobby desk and take out a pencil. I try to write down the demands that she is dictating, but it's no good. I can't form letters, and every time I think I've written something correctly, it changes when I look back at it. I lie and tell her that I'm writing down what she says. I hold the paper so that she can't see it and pretend to understand.

      We exit the lobby with our pink slip and my scribble paper and enter a labyrinth of empty halls and escalators. We wander around lost for what seems like hours. One of the escalators descends to a giant fountain around which people are gathered; when we come across it for the third time we realize we are going in circles. We stop to look at the window, and we see Russian fighter jets flying over head. We know that the hotel will soon be under siege and that there will be no negotiation so we abandon the other hostages and run out towards the parking garage.

      R and I are driving in the front seat of our car with my grandmother in the back. We are driving as quickly as we can away from the hotel which is now taking aerial bombing as well as internal explosions. It's in flames behind us. There is debris and military vehicles all over the roads. We know we must head straight for the freeway, but the on-ramps and overpasses are treacherous. We realize now that we are in Afghanistan, and that the infrastructure here was shabby even when it was new due to the corruption and graft involved in construction contracts and funding. We'd rather not drive on those roads, but at this time we have no choice.

      All around us, the countryside is burning. Bombs are falling from the sky and explosions fill the space behind us. The freeway is even more chaotic than usual. Cars, oxcarts, military tanks, pedestrians, rickshaws and livestock fill the roads, traveling in all directions. Meanwhile, vehicles are exploding all around us either due to bombing or landmines, we can't be certain. We have no choice but to continue to drive straight forward, but all in front of us we see cars exploding and people being shot. A big rig in front of us suddenly explodes and the freeway fills with fire. It's like a summer blockbuster popcorn movie, only it is happening in front of my eyes.

      My grandmother and I scream at R to turn around, to not drive towards the violence and fire. He responds that we have no choice. It seems unlikely that we could carry on through such a thing and survive, and I think to myself that I will probably die here. It's such a reckless thing to do, but deep down I cling to the possibility that we will make it. Statistically, some of us will survive, and I wonder what the chances are that it will be us. Everyone must think this way. I also consider how terrible it will be to burn alive, and I wonder if the impact will kill us before the fire does. With horror, I imagine being mangled and trapped inside a wrecked car, slowly burning to death.

      But we do make it, somehow. Next thing I know, all three of us are hiding in the trash-strewn dilapidated courtyard of a Soviet style concrete apartment block. A dirty-faced child with long stringy hair and a torn woolen sweater motions at us to follow her. We approach her, and she pinches the inside of my arm. The skin briefly turns pink then fades. The child laughs and says, "your skin is like chicken." She tells us she will take us to where the white people stay. It seems an odd thing for her to say, especially considering that R is not white, but I look around and see that we are now in India where the people are generally obsessed with white skinned Westerners and where simply having white skin entitles you to access the bubble of fancy air conditioned malls, hotels, sky rises and servants that make up the daily life of most Western expats living there. Fearing the explosions and violence surrounding us, I'm grateful for the privilege. It might well save us.

      We enter a second apartment block, this one full of overweight and middle aged Westerners, mostly Brits but some Americans as well. They are all sheltered in a large dark room, sitting in chairs that they've pulled together to form a circle. They are having tea, and my grandmother takes her place with them. They are clearly all afraid, and they interrupt one another discussing theories about how they will get out of here. Maybe a helicopter will save them. Maybe the news media will learn they are here. Maybe they can bribe a warlord to give them passage.

      I walk across the hall to the bathroom and look at my reflection in the mirror. My eyes look dead. They always look dead in my dreams, I think. Oh, then. I must be dreaming. This calms me down considerably. I walk back into the room where the frightened Westerners are gathered. I tell them that I am dreaming. They have nothing to be afraid of since this is not real.

      I'm standing before a set of heavy double doors. There is wooden paneling on the doors about three quarters of the way up, but the top of the door is divided into small square windows. A middle aged woman walks over to me. She has her hair piled up on top of her head and she wears several necklaces. She is wearing a lot of makeup, and all of her accessories match. I wonder how long she spends getting ready in the morning. I look into her eyes and can tell she is terrified. I tell her that she isn't real. She opens her mouth to answer, but instead she just makes a strange soundless movement with her jaw. I laugh at her. None of this is real, I tell her. We don't have to figure a way out of it. I'll wake up soon, and it will be all over.
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