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    1. Reflections / Zznvogayi (WILD + FA)

      by , 06-08-2015 at 08:24 PM
      Ritual: I haven't let myself get bothered by my dry spell of the last few weeks, since it was easily attributable to lack of motivation and practice. My work life has been much more relaxed, so I think dreaming has been less psychologically necessary. I'm starting to observe a consistent pattern where I get lucid more frequently and intensely at times when I am under the most stress in waking life. I always think I'll have more time to work on dreaming when that stress disappears, but usually I find my motivation disappears along with it. I think this is because when I have more free time, I indulge in other kinds of experiences that satisfy my mind in a way similar to dreaming: films, books, and especially computer games.

      Recently I started getting irritated with the bad dream recall and lack of lucidity, and decided to put more work into it. I did a few WILD attempts where my inability to count much higher than ten revealed my lack of mental focus and clarity, and they went nowhere. Today I found myself wide awake after sleeping four hours, a perfect WBTB, so I decided to try again. I didn't want to take any active supplements (alpha-gpc, galantamine, or piracetam), but I also didn't want to miss out on the placebo effect and reifying of intentions that might be gained from swallowing something, so I took a few tablets of bacopa and one of NAC. For good measure I also strapped on my MotivAider, set to 45 minutes, then lay down to do some counting. My focus was still crap.

      I was not fully asleep yet when I felt the first pulse of the MotivAider, however it roused me enough that I noticed I was seeing some really amazing hypnagogic patterns. This is the first time I've experienced such distinctly geometric and symmetrical patterns in the hypnagogic state. I got up to use the bathroom and was amazed at the way the patterns persisted every time I closed my eyes, moving and transforming. I was tempted to wake up more fully to sketch them, but realized I could make better use of this state, so I preserved it and kept watching the imagery as I lay back down in bed.

      I decided to skip the counting this time and work directly on tactile sensations. I concentrated on trying to move the dream body without activating my real one, and there was that inevitable ambiguity at first, but then I reached up to touch my face and I was pretty sure it was my dream arm that did it. I felt around my mouth with my tongue and was sure of it: the taste in my mouth felt too flat, too muted, to even be the normal background mouth-taste that we typically overlook. When I was confident that I had integrated into the dream body, I got up into my bedroom.

      WILD, "Reflections / Zznvogayi": It is my first time getting lucid this month, so I decide to try a TOTM. The mirror task is convenient, since there are large mirrored sliding closet doors only steps away from my bed. I walk over and stand in front of one. At first I think the reflection bears a close resemblance to me, only with fuller cheeks and smaller eyes. But rapidly these features grow more exaggerated until they no longer look like me at all: the face is horribly bloated and the eyes have all but vanished beneath the puffy surrounding tissue. I recognize this as DR: I've been reading Gyo, a horror manga by Junji Ito, and it's full of faces like this. I force myself to keep watching as the image becomes more and more hideous, as though it is deliberately trying to unnerve me, but I remain calm and at last it vanishes.

      It seems like the show is over, but the TOTM instructions were to keep looking as long as you can, so I continue watching the mirror. For a while it shows no reflection at all, just an empty dark space. Then a new reflection appears. This woman is beautiful, elegantly dressed in an archaic ballgown. I note that the bottom of her dress expands into almost a full half-sphere, and recall that this style was characteristic of the 1850s. I look up toward her face, but even though the expansive bottom of her dress is brightly illuminated, her entire upper body is in deep shadow and I can make out nothing but the silhouette of an appealingly slender torso. I keep staring until finally a tinge of light illuminates the lower curve of a shapely breast. I never do see the rest of her. As I continue watching, she is replaced by a male figure. I have the impression of a hairy man in rough clothing or primitive furs, but already the dream is deconstructing itself around me and when it stabilizes I am in another place entirely.

      I find myself at the top of stairs leading down through water and rockery, landscaping that reminds me of a Chinese garden, though the buildings on all sides look contemporary. I wander down the stairs wondering what to do next. In late May I finally started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, and was delighted to discover that one of the core characters is a lucid dreamer. This gives me the idea to try to summon him. Summoning people, historical or fictional (I rarely attempt it with WL people because I feel like it would be rude to deal with their doppelgangers), has always been my weakest area of dream control, but I'm determined to make it work. At first I hope to recognize the character among random DCs passing by, but don't see any likely candidates. Then I notice that at the bottom of the stairs is a large cafe, with a number of tables clustered in a semi-interior space with no front wall. This gives me an idea.

      The cafe is organized enough to have a hostess desk, so I approach the two women working there and tell them, "There's someone waiting for me." When they ask his name, I say "Solas." One of the women acknowledges that he is here, and tells me to follow her. Oh my, is my trick actually working? I worry that I might get too excited over the prospect of success and destabilize the dream, and of course even that thought comes dangerously close to doing so, but I quell it and force myself to keep going along with the events I've set in motion, despite my impatience. So I follow the hostess, who leads me among the small circular tables toward one where a man is sitting by himself. I squint at him, trying to figure out if he really looks like Solas. Not so much: his face is thin enough but the features aren't right, and his skin has an odd greenish cast. I do my best to will his appearance into a better fit with my expectations, but this doesn't work. Oh well, appearances aren't everything. Maybe at least he'll identify as the character?

      I sit down at the table and say, "Are you Solas?" He confirms that he is not. I don't remember our conversation clearly, but I recall being impressed with this DC's confidence and sense of his own identity. He seemed to find my questions foolish or nonsensical whenever I attempted to steer him toward my own ideas of how the scene should play out. For instance, when I asked something like "Are you from Thedas?" he replied emphatically, "I am from here." Still trying to keep up with the DA:I theme, I asked, "Is this the Fade?" I seem to recall he had an interesting answer to that, but I've unfortunately forgotten it.

      At some point either I ask for his name or he volunteers it... and it is both odd and unfamiliar. I repeat what I think I've heard: "Vinyogi?" He shakes his head and says it again. This time I can make out that there are four syllables, with the emphasis on the second. "Zunvogayi?" I have to try several times before he's happy with my pronunciation, but it sounded something like that. I ask how to spell it, thinking this will help me remember it better, and he explains that the first syllable is spelled 'Zzn', but clarifies that the second 'z' functions as a 'u'. He gets up to leave and I follow, badgering him about how to spell the rest of it. He asks why I want to know, which I realize is a reasonable suspicion. I try to come up with an explanation that will sound bland and plausible without mentioning that I'm dreaming this, so I say something lame along the lines of, "I like to keep records of my activities."

      Outside the cafe we head left down a path and then turn to the right, where some DCs are gathered looking at a long thin object resembling a small oar that is attached to a wall with a number on the paddle end. From their conversation I gather that it is a house number, and possibly they are trying to figure out if they should proceed with some kind of heist. Zznvogayi pulls out some cards and lays down four of them as though doing a divination. There are words and pictures on the cards, but they don't make sense to me. From what I can tell, the cards suggest that "if you have guts you get ice cream." I tentatively interpret that to mean that bravery will yield rewards... a favorable oracle? The DCs discuss the matter among themselves. Meanwhile I'm still pestering Zznvogayi to tell me how to spell the rest of his name, which he finally does. Of course it was just as complicated as the first syllable, and all I remember now is him explaining: "The 'v' and the 'd' are the same." "That makes sense," I reply, thinking how easily the two letters could merge based on linguistic similarity, and the fact that in some languages, like Sanskrit, they commonly occur in the compound phoneme 'dv'.

      I want to make another attempt at summoning Solas, but this environment is too modern and urban to be suitable, so I decide to find somewhere better. Since there are a lot of DCs around I offer to make a show of it, announcing, "I'm going to make a portal!" Sure enough, this gets their attention and a small audience gathers behind me. I realize that with so many people watching I ought to give them a good visual spectacle. I begin by establishing, a few feet above the ground, a smudge of light colored deep cobalt blue. Then I wave my hand in a circle to rotate the light, spinning it into a flat vertical disk. I recall the beautiful hypnagogic patterns I was watching earlier as I fell asleep, and decorate the disk similarly. When I feel that the portal is well-established, I step through, trying to fix my thoughts on an environment appropriate to DA:I. However, at the spur of the moment I have trouble remembering any setting in particular, and for a while I find myself floating in unconstructed dream space. I focus on staying in the dream and finally a new environment forms around me. Across well-groomed lawns are large buildings whose style is unmistakably contemporary. There are no windows on the side wall of the building that I'm facing, just a four-digit number to identify it. This place looks like an expensive corporate campus: very far from what I was hoping for!

      FA: It was probably the disappointment that woke me, but I had so much to write that I immediately went into "preserve and recall" mode, grabbing the notebook next to my bed and jotting down as many notes as I could before the memories faded, starting with the name 'Zznvogayi'. At one point I noticed that the pen wasn't making any marks on the paper, and remembered that earlier I had covered part of that page with an oval of wax. I tried to remember why and thought it must have had something to do with portals. I flipped over to a new page and continued taking notes, until I woke up more fully and realized that I was not actually writing, it had been an FA, and I would need to pick up my notebook for real and do it properly.
    2. Cafe Conspirators (NLD)

      by , 04-02-2015 at 10:04 PM
      Recall: 2/10 upon waking, 5/10 after finding the thread. It was hard to remember anything at all when I first woke up, but I persisted until a few details came back, and that let me pin down a few detailed scenes at least. The overall plot remained vague. There were a lot of additional fragments from earlier sequences or prior dreams that I've left out.

      I'm hanging out a woman who is at least a generation younger and we're getting dressed to go out. I have a vest in grey and black hues that swirl into one another in a cloud-like pattern, resembling the soft color variations of tie-dye, but subtle and not at all gaudy because of the dark colors. I'm wearing it over a thin long-sleeved, collarless knit shirt. I don't remember the color, maybe sort of mustard or yellow ochre. Then I try on a few pairs of pants to figure out which will match best. I decide on the dark grey corduroys but now I can't find them... where did I put them? I was just trying them on! I go through all the drawers of the dresser and they aren't here. Now I'm stuck wearing dark blue denim pants that don't match at all. I go into the next room and am relieved to find the cords on the bed... not sure how they got there since I didn't remember coming into this room, but I assume I was just spacing out and don't think to RC.

      Some unclear sequences. The young woman and I go into town, and meet up with a third woman, who involves us in some kind of conspiracy. There is a fourth woman visiting town that she wants to engage in conversation under the pretext of just being friendly, but she has some more complex, sinister plan (that I don't remember in the slightest). We follow the visitor and after she ducks into a cafe, we follow suit. It has gotten cold and rainy out, so we pretend we've just stopped in for a hot drink. We hadn't intended to engage the visitor yet; the conspirator wants to do so but the young woman and I are afraid it will come across as too abrupt and awkward, so we are frantically trying to communicate across the table with our eyes and subtle shakes of the head that she should not go approach her. (The interior is small and no one else is here, so we can't speak aloud about our plans.)

      The waitress comes over to see what we want to order. I see a drink named "Raksiteli" on the menu that I'm sure I remember having here before: I recall it is served hot in a tiny glass, tastes like honey mead but is strongly alcoholic. (I think the dream was merging "rkatsiteli," the name of a grape used for Eastern European amber wines, with "raki," a strong spirit that I did once try in a delicious honey-flavored version.) However, each glass was priced at $22, which seemed way too high! I remembered having four or five in a row last time... did I really pay that much? I thought maybe this time I should just get some coffee. I spent so long browsing the menu indecisively that I started to think I must be annoying everyone, so I told the waitress to get the orders of the other people at the table while I made up my mind.

      Meanwhile, the cafe was filling up quickly with other people. The whole time I was inspecting the menu, I was also glancing up occasionally at the woman, the one we were targetting, sitting across the room at the bar. I thought it might help if I caught her eye a couple times, making it seem accidental, so that it wouldn't seem so random if we did decide to approach her. I was startled when she began walking over to us, but it turned out she was joining some people who had recently sat down at the table to our right. This worked out well, because overhearing their discussion (the tables were very close together) we made some comments and soon joined their conversation.

      They were talking about apples for some reason—probably also deciding what to order—and I commented that I really don't like apples, especially cold from the refrigerator. "You should warm them up, then," said the woman sitting on the bench just to my right. I admitted sheepishly that the one way I do like apples was to hollow out the cores and fill them with butter and brown sugar, then bake them in the oven until wrinkled and brown on top. After I confessed my sweet tooth, the visiting woman, our target, now sitting across from me but at the next table, took a plate of whipped cream from their table and offered it to me. I couldn't tell if she was just being kind or if she suspected our plot and was getting ahead of it... might the cream be drugged? Was it intended to knock me out? But I thought it would look suspicious if I didn't accept some. I exchanged some silent glances with the people at my own table while we tried to assess her motives and decide what I should do. Without saying a word, we decided that I would try some of the cream, but that my companions would not, just in case the friendly gesture was something other than it seemed.

      I used an online program to try to create the floorplan of the cafe. I didn't get the proportions quite right, so there should be four seats at the bar in the upper left corner, and two seats across from the wall benches at each of the small tables (allowing them to seat four people each), but this gives a general sense of the layout. I was sitting with the two other woman at the table on the bottom left side of the room, the younger woman to my left and the conspiratorial woman sitting in the chair across from us. The visiting woman was sitting at the bar at first, then moved to one of the chairs facing the table just to the right of ours, where two or three other people were initially sitting.

      Gay marriage ban-04-02-15_cafe-floor-plan.jpg

      Updated 04-03-2015 at 07:15 PM by 34973