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    1. 3/19/15 "Spheres of Gas" + "Jidori Chicken" (NLDs)

      by , 03-20-2015 at 07:28 PM
      NLD, "Spheres of Gas": A journalist or scientist was reporting from near the top of one of the world's tallest mountains. He or she was filming the thousands of frosty white spheres, each one a few inches across, that spread in clusters over the rocks, and explaining about how these were a type of gas (carbon dioxide?) that was naturally sequestered here in solid form. The purpose was to expose some misinformation that was being spread about climate change. I think the prospects were dire, because changing conditions would cause the release of the gasses.

      He was well above the frostline, so high that he was barely within a breathable atmosphere, yet he could look down and see the beautiful warm waters of the tropics directly below. When he was done with his report he simply jumped off the sheer mountainside and floated gently down to the sea, landing precisely in center of a spiral of white sand in the brilliant blue water. All this time my perspective fluctuated between observing him/her and being him/her (perhaps that is why the gender feels ambiguous?)

      NLD, "Jidori Chicken": I'm at a grocery store looking for something to cook for lunch. I remember that I like venison sausage and ask about it. They don't seem to have any but give me a sample of cheese spread. I think I could fry up some chicken if it is fresh enough, and I find a small cut-up chicken with a label proclaiming it is only nine hours old. "Jidori chicken!" I think approvingly, having long wanted to try one of these ultra-fresh birds, but I wonder if the label is accurate given that it must have spent at least some time sitting on the shelf. How often do they update the label or clean out the old ones? I decide that it must be at least daily and put the chicken in my basket.
    2. Time Stop + Sphere (DILD + DILD)

      by , 03-05-2015 at 10:23 PM
      Ritual: WTB 11:30pm, WBTB 5–5:45am. Took supplements (l-theanine, alpha-gpc, piracetam, bacopa), did about half an hour of relaxation/breathing/counting on my back. Toward the end had brief series of vivid hypnagogic images (close up of eagle's head, view of a forest) then snapped back to full wakefulness. Not worried, this always happens. Turned on my left side to fall asleep. Woke with dream at 6:30am, so I had probably been asleep for about fifteen minutes.

      DILD, "Time Stop": I've just finished a multi-course meal at a nice restaurant and I'm standing a the bar afterward, where the proprietor is offering me a special drink. While she prepares it, I notice that I can barely stand, my legs are crumpling under me, and I stagger as I try to regain my balance, hoping no one will notice. I kneel at the bar, which is low enough to accommodate this, to disguise my inability to stand. This is so embarrassing... am I drunk? I think back and don't understand how that could be, since I've only had ordinary wine pairings with my meal. Then I realize the truth: ohhhh... that incredible heaviness in my legs, that's just because I'm falling asleep!

      I'm relieved to understand what is going on, and also impressed that I can think so clearly about the fact that my real body is falling asleep in bed without disrupting the dream. I decide to go on with the narrative that is playing out because I really want to try this drink. The bartender sets an unusual glass in front of me. It is shaped like a particular wooden table made by Isamu Noguchi circa 1941, but with a semi-circular indentation on top for the drink. It is made of hollow light blue glass and the interior is full of crushed ice, to keep the drink cool. The whole thing is very small, like a sake cup, and the indentation looks like it holds less than an ounce of liquid.

      The How Many Grapes Can You Fit In Your Mouth Game!-isamu_wooden-table_c1941_sm.jpg

      I try the drink, which is a clear liquid, pleasantly bright and floral in taste, in flavor a bit like St. Germain but lighter-bodied and not so cloyingly sweet. I complement the bartender and ask what it is made of. "Catfish liqueur," she replies. I'm impressed! I wouldn't have guessed, as the taste was not the least bit fishy. Another girl asks how the drink is made, and narrates as the bartender shows her: "So you mix it with that blue stuff, then top with..." I look at the bottle she's indicating. It is a gallon-sized jug made of translucent plastic containing a clear liquid. It reminds me of those extra-large bottles of Heinz white vinegar, but the shape of the bottle is more like that typically used for laundry detergent. There is a graphic of naturalistic forest trees on the front of the bottle which makes it resemble the cover of a nature magazine. The brand name clearly reads: "Gesuckt." From the name I assume it is a foreign import, probably German, and wonder if I can buy it at any of my usual grocery stores.

      My earlier thought about "fishiness" has now taken the form of a chunk of sardine or mackerel that I discover lodged between my gum and upper lip. I reason that it must have come from a dish I ate during the meal earlier. I prod it out with my tongue and finish chewing it. Meanwhile I'm walking away from the bar toward the restaurant area. There are a lot of people in the room, which reminds me—hey! I could try the TOTM again, see if I can do it properly this time.

      "Freeze!" I say loudly, but people keep going about their business. I remember the difficulty I had with this last time, and it also reminds me that I'm supposed to be stopping time, so I switch wording. "Time stop!" I command. I say it a few times, still not getting much result, so I decide an explanation is needed, addressing the room in a loud voice so that everyone can hear. "I said 'time stop!' That means everybody stops moving. Time stop! Time stop, everybody!"

      I look around and find that everyone has frozen in place. Okay, this is better, I seem to have gotten the point across. Now I'm supposed to put someone in an embarassing position. I didn't plan ahead for this, so I'm going to have to come up with an idea on the fly. My gaze falls on a stout old lady in the middle of the room. I walk over and unbutton her light blue jacket and white blouse. Inside, she's wearing a pink bra, and I'm relieved to see that it has a front closure, so I unhook it and reveal her breasts. I hope I'm not being too mean, but remind myself that it's just a dream so there will be no lasting harm.

      Now I have to get everyone moving again. What's the opposite of "time stop"? I try some variants: "Uhhh... go. Start. Start moving." This works, but meanwhile I had taken my eyes off the old lady to check whether everyone else was back in motion, and when I look at her again, her clothes are already back in order and no one is reacting as if they had seen anything unusual. I chide myself for not paying closer attention. I'd better try again.

      "Time stop! Time stop!" This time the DCs react much more promptly, like they're getting the hang of it. Okay, what should I do this time? I look around for ideas. Among a group of people in one corner are two meathead-looking guys. I go over and start posing them really close together, much closer than a couple of straight men would normally be comfortable with. As I move and angle their bodies, I notice that it doesn't feel so much like time has stopped as that they are just playing along while I reposition them, and there's some difficulty, maybe even slight resistance, as I lean their faces together as though they were about to kiss. Finally I get it just how I want, so that their lips are almost touching. Then I step back a few paces so that when I restart time, I'll have a clear view of both their reactions and the people around them.

      This time I restart the scene with more confidence, like I'm getting the hang of this too. "Okay, renew!" I command, punctuating the signal by clapping the first two fingers of my right hand into the palm of my left. It feels like being a movie director.

      I watch closely as people start moving again. I was hoping the two guys would either react with comic embarrassment or, even better, be overcome by a latent attraction and really start kissing. Instead, they simply draw away from one another without any expression or commentary, and no one around them takes any visible notice. I'm disappointed with the blasé behavior of all these DCs, but I have to admit it makes sense: they're projections of my own mind, after all, and I'm fairly blasé myself most of the time.

      Observing a dog walking through the room, I momentarily wonder if I should try again, but the lackluster reactions of the DCs has sapped my motivation, and I feel that I have adequately performed the TOTM. I wonder if I should wake up and write... but the dream seems stable, and I'm reluctant to end it earlier than I have to. However, I'm aware how easy it is to start forgetting the details if I don't record them promptly, so I do the next best thing and start verbally recounting my memories of the scene, to help fix them in mind for later. As I'm doing this I end up waking anyway.

      Interlude: From 6:30 to 7:15am I record my notes and then return to bed, going to sleep with no further techniques. I wake up at 8:30am from another DILD.

      DILD, "Sphere": The plot has been going on for a while but I don't remember much detail from before I become lucid. I'm sitting on the toilet in the bathroom of a house that belongs to a male friend I've been hanging out with for most of the dream [!WL]. I feel guilty when I notice that I've almost used up all his toilet paper. I tell myself that I should really stop giving into the urge to use the bathroom when I'm dreaming. This isn't waking life, where it actually makes sense to go if you feel like you have to. In a dream it's completely pointless, a waste of time, and kind of gross. If I'm doing this, it's because I'm too caught up in the idea of a physical body. I'm reminded of something Sageous wrote in the forum, how he doesn't really have a body in dreams anymore. I should work on getting less attached to mine.

      The How Many Grapes Can You Fit In Your Mouth Game!-michio-ito_fox-mask_1915_sm.jpg

      I get up and go over to the bathroom sink, studying my reflection in the mirror. It's actually a close resemblance, as far as I can tell through the mask that covers most of my features. The mask is reminiscent of the one worn by Michio Ito in his 1915 "Fox Dance," though mine lacks the long snout and doesn't cover my mouth. Also my eyes are clearly visible through the sockets. The fact that I am wearing a mask does not strike me as odd, and instead I ponder what to do about my body. I don't think I can eliminate the idea of it all at once, so it might be best to proceed in stages. What's the most radical distortion I can think of? I know! I'll become a sphere.

      I keep watching my reflection as my face starts swelling and widening. It looks disturbing at first, like obesity or an illness, and I have to focus on making my whole body expand, not just my face. Not only can I witness this happening in the mirror, I can actually feel it. As I become rounder and rounder, I remind myself that there is no reason a sphere should only see out of two frontally positioned eyes. I should try to expand my concept of vision to include the area behind me. This only partly works: I'm now getting visual feed from what seems like the opposite side of my sphere, and can perceive the rim of the tub and a bit of the floor and shower curtain, all very close up. However in the process I lose my frontal vision, and as I try to experience both visual fields at once I become disoriented and start rotating in place, which makes sense given that I'm a sphere with nothing to stand on anymore. The disorientation gets so bad that I'm afraid it might disrupt the dream, so I let my body snap back to its familiar structure, satisfied that I had a reasonable success for my first try.

      I look back in the mirror to check my appearance again. My reflection looks like it did before, and I'm still convinced that it is just like waking life—although in retrospect I realize that my dream-self had a brunette bob rather than the shoulder-length brown hair of WL. I'm still wearing the mask and want to look at the face underneath, so I take it off. There are more layers of mask under the first, and I peel them off one by one, until I'm finally just wearing glasses, and take those off too. Finally my face is uncovered, and I am satisfied that it is a good likeness. I notice an unusual vividness to my eyes, which are sparkling and happy, and I am pleased with my appearance.

      Stepping outside, I realize that I'm still carrying my glasses. Should I just throw them away? I feel a natural reluctance, but remind myself that it's a dream, it doesn't matter. Then I reason that I might want to use them later: this could be a good trick to improve focus if the dream gets hazy. Sure, I could always manifest a fresh pair, but that will be easier if I condition my expectations by saving these now. So I slip the glasses into my jacket pocket.

      What should I do now? I'm in a great mood and have no particular task in mind, so I decide to explore the dream world. Perched alone on a grassy hillside I see a strange building, very gaudy, with red roofs under a gold dome: it looks like a cross between an old McDonald's and a sultan's palace. I realize it is a restaurant of some kind and head over there.

      I'm still feeling unusually happy and excited as I walk in, so I pump my fist and go "Woo!" My enthusiasm has been making the people around me more friendly, I notice, and remind myself that I should try to be more like this in WL. The restaurant is small inside, like a cafe, with a several tables and a counter where I go up to order. Despite the counter it is not a fast food restaurant: the menu consists of about six innovative dishes printed on a small square of white paper.

      "What's the tastiest thing on the menu?" I ask, then realize I have a craving for spicy food and ask, "I mean the tastiest spicy dish."

      "The D-4," replies the server. I check the menu and the description lists this as a big steak dish, which sounds too heavy and will take forever to prepare, so I look at the appetizers instead. There are only three listed, but two of them sound like they consist of just three pieces of fish, served nigiri sushi style. The fish that interests me looks like langoustine, but with the soft, ribbed texture of monkfish. The server tries to warn me that it's a very small dish, but I say, "I know. It looks like someone has already left one here," pointing to the piece sitting on the menu.

      I put in my order and take a place at a small table, then get up to think this over. Can I really commit valuable dream time to sitting down for a whole meal, even a small one? Shouldn't I be doing something more productive? Maybe I should just leave. But I consider that the experience might be interesting, and I can even try to combine it with a task—the circumstances are ideal to work on summoning, something I've always struggled with.

      I walk back over and tell the server, "Actually, I'm here to meet somebody." I pull out my phone, wondering who to call among the characters I've tried (unsuccessfully) to summon over the years. But then I notice that someone is already sitting at my table, so I go over to see who it is. I've never seen this guy before: he looks like he's in his twenties, with straight, mousy-brown hair and thin, very pointed features.

      "Hi, are you here to meet me?" He nods.

      Okay, I think, rolling with the circumstances, this could work. I'll meet someone new, like a blind date. "What's your name?" I inquire.

      "I'm Denny, a crass ass." He looks bashfully down at the table.

      This odd term rings a bell. Didn't I, much earlier in the dream, long before I got lucid, meet a guy named Paul who used the exact same term for himself? What an oddity; I don't think I've ever heard that term in life. What could it mean?

      "Did you say, 'a crass ass'?" I ask, enunciating clearly. The young man nods.

      "Why would you call yourself that?" I am genuinely mystified.

      "It's what my friends call me."

      Unfortunately I woke up before I could find out anything more!

      Updated 03-12-2015 at 08:00 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , memorable , task of the month
    3. Making Breakfast (NLD)

      by , 10-16-2014 at 06:00 PM
      I was trying to make breakfast. I was standing in front of a kitchen island with a stove range with at least nine burners, maybe twelve, frying up slices of some sort of eggy loaf and making pancakes from a batter that appeared to contain whole grains of barley. Periodically I would go from there to the refrigerator, where I was checking on a large glass jar of liquid in which I was somehow (the logistics don't make much sense in retrospect) attempting to make a complicated frozen cube that contained a whole strawberry and some kind of alcohol.

      After going back to the stove, I noticed that the things in the frying pan were on the verge of burning even though the heat was set to medium-low. What confused me even more was that the surface of the pancake batter appeared to be burning as well, though it was still in the bowl. I figured the latter must be an effect of oxidation, contact with the air, and mixed it up some more.

      I checked on the refrigerator again and saw that at least my big strawberry ice cube was freezing properly, because it looked visibly white and opaque within the liquid. As I watched, it floated up and popped to the surface, but fortunately there was enough extra room at the top of the jar that it did not splash out and make a mess.

      I went back to the stove... but now the arrangement had changed. Where was my frying pan? Had someone come and moved it? Now an empty ceramic baking dish was sitting on the hot burner! That wasn't good, they're not supposed to be used that way! I hastily moved it, and although I was concerned that the cookie tray I set it on might be cold enough to make it crack from the heat difference, I couldn't spot a better place to put it. The stove was crowded with pans and dishes, none where I had left them, and I wasn't sure what had become of the food I was frying just a moment earlier.

      Who had come and re-arranged everything? My breakfast was going to be ruined! None of this made any sense! In desperate frustration I wailed aloud, "What the hell is going on here? What could it be? I don't understand!" But instead of recognizing the inconsistency as a clear dream sign, I woke up with those words still ringing in my head.
    4. Sampling confections, riding a horse in 1920s San Francisco (DILD)

      by , 10-14-2014 at 06:42 PM
      Ritual: This was my third experiment with the vibrating alarm. Again it was successful, though in a somewhat inexplicable way. I had intended to get lucid but slept from 1:00–6:20am, and realized when I woke it was too late for a proper WBTB. So I used the vibrating alarm, set to go off in 45m. It was 7:19am when I awoke again, so it must have triggered, but I never felt the vibration at all this time. I had an NLD I don't clearly recall, and then a DILD—in which I simply became aware that I was dreaming, with no particular RC or "aha!" moment. The lucidity was low-grade, though, in that I never remembered the tasks I had intended to work on.

      DILD: I found myself in K&L in San Francisco. (This is a real wine store that I like, but the dream version had no physical resemblance to RL.) While browsing I noticed all the good food in the cases—fresh food, like slices of cake on plates, ready to be eaten—and reflected on how amazing the food culture is in SF that you can even get great fresh food in a wine shop. There was a tray with samples of wine, generous pours of about two ounces in full-size glasses, and another tray with samples of a variety of little cut bars and pastries. As I began eating and drinking, the impression dawned on me that I was dreaming, but I felt that I was not fully integrated. (This must have been dream logic; I was already deep in dream so there was no question of integration, but apparently what I was sensing was that I was not fully lucid.) I thought that using my senses would help, so I was focusing on the tastes and textures and even the sounds that occurred as I sampled the various confections. I wanted to find one that was more savory than sweet. A couple pieces were green in color, which seemed promising, but they turned out to be more dessert-like than I had hoped. I was amused to notice how I was behaving with dream protocols: if I didn't like a piece, I would just spit it out and leave it on the tray, an act that would be incredibly rude and disgusting in waking life!

      I thought after I got better integrated I should go explore the dream—wasn't there something I was dreaming about earlier, a wilderness landscape, that it would be interesting to get back to? I recollected it only vaguely. But first I wanted to try each of the food samples. The very last one I tasted was savory after all, and had a kind of bi-layer construction with a spicy-savory mixture sitting on top of a nest of dried coconut strands—it was my favorite, and I wished I could get the recipe.

      Nearby was a little display box full of pamphlets or maybe even CDs about nuns, and as I leafed through them I saw that they broached the question: do nuns wear their habits even when they are locked away together in their nunneries, or do they, like Muslim women, remove their head coverings when at home? I felt that in waking life I knew the answer but now I couldn't remember. I thought about it and considered that the tradition of nuns covering their head must be related to similar phenomena in related cultures and places, such as the way women have to cover their heads when attending a Russian Orthodox church service. I figured it probably did have ties to the tradition among conservative Islamic women to cover their heads. I concluded on this basis that nuns would indeed remove their wimples when alone among themselves. (In retrospect I'm pretty sure I wrong, but I can't say with absolute certainty. The only Christian nuns I've met don't wear habits at all!)

      Earlier, when I had decided that I would go explore the dreamscape after I was done here, as if in direct response to my thoughts a horse had promptly cantered up outside the shop and stood there waiting for me. (If only my human DCs were so obliging!) Now that I was finished eating I went outside and prepared to ride away. The horse had been completed tacked up when he arrived—excessively so, I had thought, as he seemed to be carrying bedrolls and other long-distance gear—and when I mounted he had definitely been wearing a saddle because I distinctly braced my foot in the stirrup and held the pommel to get on. However, no sooner had I started riding away than I felt I was slipping around a bit and was surprised to discover that this was because I was riding bareback. Oh well, it will be good practice. I remembered how some people say that LDs can help you practice RL skills, and I figured that I could certainly use some practice improving my seat and position, so I decided to focus on that for a while and see if it paid off in this week's lesson.

      I still felt we were in downtown San Francisco but everything felt old-timey. Even the cars looked like 1920s models. Fortunately there weren't many of them, because I was moving through the city at a canter. I realized how unrealistic this was: in RL I would hesitate to stress the horse's legs by cantering on hard paved streets, and I definitely would not cross intersections without stopping, like I was doing now, but since I knew I was dreaming I felt it would be okay. Crossing the street still felt dangerous as there were sometimes cars coming, but there weren't too many of them and they were going slow enough that we were able to dodge one another. I was cantering because that is the gait where I need the most improvement on my seat and position: I was focusing on trying to keep my legs long and heels down, with my core on, back straight and shoulders back.

      We cantered right out of the city, though I was paying so much attention to my form that I didn't have much to spare for my surroundings. Just as in RL I noticed the tendency for my legs to creep up and my torso to lean forward at the canter, so I was trying to counter these bad habits and reinforce good ones. At some point I finally halted the horse, and I worked on trying to do that properly as well, keeping my seat deep and using my weight properly. The dream ended around this time, as though by halting the horse I halted the dream.

      Updated 10-15-2014 at 08:24 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid