• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views




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    Memorable Dreams

    1. Six Episodes (DILD + FA)

      by , 01-25-2017 at 06:26 PM
      Ritual: I went to bed at 1am last night, early enough that I hoped to get some dreaming in. I'd had good luck with the "Dream Leaf" supplement last time, so took the blue tablet before bed, together with two tabs of bacopa and a vitamin D supplement (the latter unrelated to any dreaming intentions). I slept deeply and I don't even think I woke up for a few hours. I still have no clock in the bedroom since I've been charging my phone downstairs, but I estimated it was around 4 or 5am when I first woke. At that point I took the red pill and went back to sleep. I woke a couple more times but was disappointed that I didn't recall any dreams. Finally it must have been around 8 or 8:30am and I felt almost awake enough to get up, but I thought I would give it one more shot. I mixed about half a teaspoon of Piracetam in some water and swallowed that before going back to bed. That's when the magic happened. It was about 9:30 when I woke up again after a linked series of lucid dreams.

      1. ???
      I feel certain there were one or more fully developed scenes initially, but so much else happened afterward that I lost all memory of these earlier episodes when I woke. One thing I like about tasks is that they act as a focus for memory as well as intention.

      2. Gifts under the Tree
      I was in my bedroom and already aware of dreaming, and it felt like some scene had just concluded. The thought occurred: Didn't I mean to finish the gift task properly? I'd better get that done before I wake up or I'll be annoyed. I remembered that my error last time had been forgetting to look under a tree for the gift. However, I looked around and saw that there was no tree in this room. Rather than waste time trying to find a tree elsewhere in the house, I decided to brute force it and manifest one right in the room. My ambivalence about this inelegant solution nearly destabilized the dream, but I was determined to finish the task so I managed to hold it together, even though I had to do this by getting down on all fours and crawling across the room toward the corner where I decided the tree would be.

      Everything had gone dark but I figured as long as I could still feel the floor, it was not too late to restabilize. The texture of the floor was distinct, hardwood, and I could feel the smooth boards with small grooves between them, so I focused on that until the visuals kicked in again. My sight slowly returned, and although the lighting remained dim, I could see an illuminated Christmas tree in the corner I was heading for. Is it lit with real candles? I thought, noting the especially warm quality of the illumination, and remembering the nineteenth-century images that had always captured my imagination. But then I remembered why we don't do this anymore: Isn't that a fire hazard? I felt a flicker, not of the candles, but of the dream nearly destabilizing again at my irrational concerns, so I forced my attention away from the lights and onto the area underneath the boughs. I was still on my hands and knees so it was easy to peek underneath.

      There were three objects. Two were wrapped, one rather messily, but the last caught my eye because it was unwrapped. It was a single glove, and from the position of the thumb I could see that it was for the left hand. No sooner had I observed this than two more manifested, in different colors, also for the left hand. As I wondered about the possible significance (nothing occurred to me) the pile got larger... maybe a dozen left-handed gloves were now strewn under the tree. This was getting out of hand (no pun intended) and anyway I preferred to choose a wrapped gift, so I withdrew my attention from the gloves and looked at the other objects. The first two hadn't appealed to me, but now I saw a flat, rectangular, neatly wrapped item that seemed perfect, so I picked it up for a closer look.

      As I tore through the several layers of wrapping and tissue paper, I came across small textual clues that made me think this must be a gift from my spouse. It turned out to be a book, a beautiful old volume bound in leather that looked like it couldn't have been published later than the nineteenth century. The title was printed in small stamped gilt letters on the front cover. It was something like Personalities of Note, and subtitled Pple of Our Time, where I understood "pple" to be an abbreviation for "people." The author was identified as Lord Lytton, a name that I knew I recognized from WL history but couldn't immediately place.

      Turning the book over in my hands and admiring the beautiful cover, I discovered a library sticker on the lower part of the spine. I wondered what library had held such a fine book and looked on the sides of the closed pages where the name is sometimes stamped. The top side of the pages had been coated with gleaming silver pigment, further attesting to the book's quality, but there were no stamps on the outside. I found it inside the back cover: "Library of _______" (I can't clearly remember the name but it was a one-syllable word ending with "nsk," similar to Svensk or Minsk, but something else I think). I continued to look for a "discard" stamp or some other clue that it had been deliberately divested from the library's holdings. I couldn't find one but reasoned that it must have been; surely it wouldn't have been given to me as a gift if it was still a part of a library's collection, and anyway, ex-library books are very common these days.

      I opened the book hoping to read some passages, but despite the English title and author, the text was unmistakably in Cyrillic. This was disappointing since I don't read Cyrillic, and I concluded that it must be a translation.

      3. Vampire Interlude
      I don't recall the transition, but found myself lying next to a blonde boy. I realized that I was a vampire and that also reminded me that I was dreaming. I fed on his blood and gave him advice on his sexual difficulties.

      4. False Awakening
      I found myself lying under my down comforter in a very plausible facsimile of my WL bed, and even though I was lying sideways across the foot of the bed, I didn't think it odd because sometimes I'll lie in odd positions when I want to relax a bit more but avoid falling back to sleep. I felt aroused and began touching myself, but then I noticed an odd feeling of displacement and realized that even though I could distinctly feel the pressure of my fingers when I flexed them, my hand was resting at my side and not actually in contact with any other part of my body. I correctly deduced that this was because I was not fully awake. Eventually I was able to persuade myself that if I was lucky enough to still be in the dream state, I should make better use of it, and forced myself back out of bed.

      5. Explaining Massage to the Snow Lizard

      I flew out the window and landed in heavy snow. Now that I was on my feet, I found that the snow was so deep I could barely push my way through it. I was actually enjoying this, because I've been disappointed with the quality of the snow in the WL winter so far. It was night, and I was walking around a vague dream version of my house, but the thick snow made me feel like I was in some deep kingdom of winter. Wondering what to do next, I tried to remember any of the other current tasks of the month or year, but I was having trouble coming up with them. I thought hard until one came to me: the massage TOTM. This wintry realm seemed like an odd place to look for a massage, but part of the fun of dream is improvising, right?

      Movement in the air made me look up, and I saw thick-bodied, pale blue lizards flapping slowly through the air. Maybe I could convince them to do it! I beckoned them down, and two of the snow lizards landed and gazed at me curiously.

      "I'd like you to give me a massage." I instructed. They looked back blankly. Either they didn't understand the concept, or didn't understand why they should comply. I worked on the latter angle: "I need you to help me! It's for a Task." I tried to make the word "task" sound very important. "Please just rub my back a little." I sat down and turned my back to the nearest lizard.

      What the lizard replied was so peculiar that I repeated it to myself many times afterward, making sure I would remember the phrasing: "Mr. Cooper, could you please salute the Constitution? I mean, lift your shirt." I found it very amusing that "salute the Constitution" was apparently a local euphemism for "lift your shirt," though I had no idea why he addressed me as "Mr. Cooper," a name that inspires no particular resonance. I complied with his instruction and looked foward to the prospect of a massage, since my back muscles have actually been sore lately in WL and I've been needing one.

      I should note that by this point I had already been dreaming for so long that I was starting to worry how well I would be able to remember the details, so I was actually carrying around my dream journal and taking notes. I recognized sadly that they would be unlikely to persist into waking (though I always, irrationally, hope that somehow they will), but I figured that the concentration of writing down details might help me better fix them in memory. I jotted down what the lizard had just said while I was waiting for the massage to start. I think the second lizard was looking on quietly the whole time.

      The lizard wasn't doing anything, so I tried to instruct him in how to give a massage. "Stroke my back," I suggested. He limply touched it. We wrangled a bit but weren't getting anywhere, so I decided to try a different tack. I lay face-down on the ground and insisted, my exasperation rising, "Just walk on my back! Walk directly on it!" I remembered when I was little my dad would have me walk on his back this way, so it was a valid form of massge. I was afraid the lizard might be too heavy, but reminded myself that since it was a dream I couldn't come to permanent harm. But the lizard still balked.

      I sat up again, trying to come up with a solution. I remembered shiatsu, how it uses chopping motions. I thought that might be easier for the lizard to master, so I attempted to explain it. Finally I felt something vaguely massage-like as the lizard patted me several times on the shoulders with the flat part of its front feet. (For the first time I contemplated the anatomical differences that might make this challenging for the lizard.)

      "Great!" I exclaimed, pleased that we were finally getting somewhere. "Okay, now keep doing that."

      But the lizard sounded like someone awkwardly trying to escape an embarrassing social encounter as he replied: "Ummm... it was nice to know you..." and disappeared into the night.

      6. The Lonely Beauty of Dream
      Somehow after all this I still wasn't awake. I could hardly believe it myself. I knew I should force myself awake at this point, I was juggling so much in memory, and had so much to write down—and the dream notebook I was still carrying was not likely to be much help, though I continued to jot down details.

      But I didn't want to wake up. I was enjoying this too much, and wanted to see where else it would go. I was still next to the house, but the sense of winter was fading as I walked around the corner, feeling fully in my element and murmuring: "This is my domain." I walked into the house, which still felt like mine even though it had no resemblance to WL, noting how detailed it all was, even a bit cluttered, boxes of cereal on the counter. What should I do next? I didn't feel like attempting another task as I already had so much to remember. As I approached the front door, which was open on a beautiful bright day—it was no longer dark outside, and the trees were green now—I was inspired to try to see the dream world at its best.

      "Show me the beauty of dream," I commanded as I walked through the doorway back outside. I was addressing the dream state directly now. I repeated this a few times, and indeed, the natural landscape around me was incredibly lovely. I walked to the edge of the trees and pulled down a fir bough to admire it. The needles were an unusual shade of purple.

      I continued admiring the landscape until I was struck with sudden note of melancholy. Everything was so beautiful, but what good is all this beauty if you have no one to share it with? That was always the problem, wasn't it? Could this explain something about the kind of beings we are, why we choose to cohabit a shared dream despite all the inevitable conflict? I felt a hint of that distinctive sensation you get when you're stoned and think you've stumbled on some revelation of cosmic importance, but at the same time you realize that it will sound bland and foolish when you look back on it later. The sense of loneliness persisted, so I attempted to break through the solipsism, to summon something to me, to reach out and find some other cognition.

      A spacecraft flew low across the sky, seeking a place to land. It was not an alien ship but clearly of human make, chunkily built. I don't think it resembled anything in WL but was probably inspired by films or games: the first thing I thought to google was 'mass effect shuttle' and the image results are actually about right. I was surprised to see, as it came closer, that the word "AMERICAN" was written in block letters across the side.

      The shuttle settled to the ground and I walked toward the landing site. The hatch opened and a few people came out, walking in single file. The guy in the lead was wearing his suit, but no helmet. He was a dark-haired, middle aged man with a rugged face. I thought he resembled the character Group Captain Peter Townsend from The Crown, which made sense because we've been watching that show lately, and the character was a military pilot.

      I wanted to signal my benign intentions so I held my hands out and up. The captain also held his hands up, although I noted that he did not let go of the rifle in his right hand, he just wasn't pointing it at me. I guess he felt wary and uncertain of my intentions. "I come in peace," I announced to reassure him, though it occurred to me that he should be the one saying that—I lived here. As we came closer I slowly (so as not to startle him) brought forward my right hand, inviting a handshake. He slung his rifle over his shoulder and did the same. I brought down my left hand to clasp his in both of my own, feeling warm and benevolent. "Be well," I said sincerely.

      At that moment I felt the irresistable pull of waking draw me out of the dream. I hadn't intended it, but it was perfectly timed.

      Updated 01-25-2017 at 06:32 PM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , false awakening , memorable , task of the month
    2. "Fading Gift" (WILD) and "Elephant Ride" (DILD)

      by , 01-12-2017 at 06:55 PM
      Ritual: After a year or so of initial successes with galantamine, back in 2010–11, it had stopped working very well for me to the point where I hardly ever use it anymore. But last night after going to bed late (around 3am) and waking up just before dawn, I still felt heavy enough with sleep that I thought I might give it a shot. (Galantamine is a stimulant, so the main risk is not being able to get back to sleep.) I took one of the red pills from a bottle of "Dream Leaf," which I had nearly given up on since it had never worked for me before, possibly because I only tried it long after I had gotten "over" galantamine. I know the red pills contain galantamine from the distinctive effects, but I must say that it greatly bothers me that this supplement neglects to identify the presence of galantamine on the label, or even on their website, much less clarify the actual dosage. In fact, I would go so far as to call this obfuscation shamefully irresponsible and borderline criminal. Galantamine is a powerful substance that should never be given to people without their knowledge. So for ethical reasons I dislike this particular supplement and definitely would not recommend it, but galantamine is galantamine, and on this occasion it actually worked. Woke and wrote at 9, so I'm a bit underslept with a slight galantamine hangover, but it's been so long since I've had this sensation that I'm almost enjoying it.

      I've always found galantamine dreams a bit superficial, but that's not always a bad thing. My recent attempts to force dream events to unfold in a detailed and realistic way, in the name of quality, often prove counter-productive. Sometimes a little "cowboying" is necessary to get the job done, especially in the inherent instability of the dream environment. So tonight's dreams were ultimately successful, but not exactly Masterpiece Theatre.


      WILD, "Fading Gift": I was lying on my back in bed, and recognized I was in dream even as I started making elaborate sweeping gestures with my hands, but continued gesturing for a while to increase my sense of motor control. At one point I closed my eyes and scratched my scalp, and I was amazed that the sensations felt exactly like like waking life. "I am the dreamer," I murmured a few times, as if to fix the idea in mind.

      I recalled how often I make unnecessary difficulties for myself at this transitional stage and told myself that if I was already dreaming, I didn't need a ton of preamble before getting out of bed—I should just get up. So I did, and it was fine. I've really been wanting to do the "finding a leftover present" TOTM, so I started looking around the room. (As has become typical lately, the room did not resemble my bedroom in WL.) I looked under the dresser, on the table... nothing so far. I felt a slight contradiction in my mental outlook: on the one hand, the best way to find the present would be to expect or even to will it to be there, but on the other hand, since it was a present I wanted to be surprised rather than force the issue. So I allowed myself only a vague expectation and kept looking. I found a wooden cabinet much like the one in my office and when I opened the door there were a few presents on the middle shelf. The first two I noticed, very small objects, I rejected as not quite right. Although they were loosely covered in wrapping, it wasn't taped down, so it looked like they had already been opened and then put back.

      I kept looking and on the left side of the shelf was the perfect gift: a wide cylinder about six inches high wrapped in red and white paper with a red ribbon rising vertically on four sides to form a neat bow at the top. The paper looked familiar at first so I studied it for a moment, but it was not any pattern I've seen before. It consisted of thin white lines on a red background, but they were awkwardly curving and abstract, like an elaborate doodle.

      Just as I started to open the present, I felt the dream begin to fade. I moved quickly, trying to open the box in the little time I had left. When the top came off, I plunged in my hand and felt... tissue paper. I was almost awake now, and as I reached past the tissue paper I felt like I crossed that indiscernable border between dreaming and waking consciousness. Or maybe it is not so indiscernible: what had just disappeared was my sense of touch, without which the dream had lost its tangibility. Vision lingered a little longer, and I saw my hand pull out a thick gold chain the length of a necklace, sparsely ornamented with tiny flowers that were each composed of four thin petals of white enamel. I was dissatisfied, however, not only with the gift itself (I don't care much for jewelry and this was definitely not my style), but with the fact that the dream was fading so fast that I couldn't determine to what extent dream imagination or waking imagination (not that I clearly understand the difference!) had determined the nature of the gift.

      I went back to sleep, resolving to try to get lucid again and complete the task in a more satisfactory way.

      DILD, "Elephant Ride": I was lying in bed but felt uncomfortable, realized I was still wearing day clothes, including a bra. Ugh, had I passed out last night? As I removed it, I noticed it was a lacy underwire thing that didn't even look familiar. I wanted to get back to sleep but the television was on loudly, so I tried to find the remote to turn it off. There were four or five remotes on top of the dresser, and I pressed the power button on all of them but nothing worked. On a couple, the image would cut out as though it were turning off but then come right back, and other remotes had no effect at all. Fine, I'll pull the damn plug, I thought grumpily, but the TV was mounted on the wall and on closer inspection it seems the wiring was concealed behind the wall. I settled for muting the volume (at least that worked) and turning the screen to the side, which accomplished little but expressed my annoyance with the device. [Possible source: I just got back from visiting my mom, where the TV was on loudly in the mornings, making it hard to read or work.]

      I headed back toward the bed, but suddenly realized I must be dreaming. That would explain the difficulty I just had with the televisions, at least! And with the realization came the memory of my earlier lucid episode and my dissatisfaction with the TOTM I had attempted. I was pleased with the chance to try again.

      Looking around, I soon spotted a wrapped gift on the bedside table. It was a small square box, around two inches wide and one inch high, made of that shiny gold cardboard that is common in gift boxes, and wrapped with a red ribbon. I started to untie the ribbon and realized that I was wearing gloves. At first I thought it an oddity, but quickly understood that it was just the dream's way of representing the slight awkwardness I felt in my fingers as I tried to complete this fine motor activity. I considered pulling off the gloves but recognized that it would just be a pointless waste of time, and decided instead to ignore them. At least they were thin gloves, and didn't impede me that much in my attempt to open the box. By the time it was open, they were gone.

      This time I was very pleased with what I found in the box. It looked like a single confection of some sort. "Perfect, I love food!" I thought to myself happily. I pulled it out and looked it over. It was not very distinguished in shape, light brown in color and vaguely round, but a bit lumpy. There was a darker spot in the center like a piece of chocolate. [Possible source: I've been eating my mother's Christmas cookies, which have a spot of apricot jam covered with chocolate in the center. They have a much firmer texture overall than this one did, though.] The surface was dry but felt a bit pliant between my fingers, a sort of rubbery texture.

      I bit into the confection and found the mouthfeel similar to what the outer texture had led me to anticipate. There was just the hint of a thin crust, and then the inside was soft but chewy. It reminded me of mochi but was firmer and easier to chew. At this point I was analyzing it with the idea of possibly attempting to recreate it in waking life. I knew that it would have to be based on glutinous rice flour. However, the overall taste was lightly chocolatey and fruity. I looked where I had bitten and distinctly saw raisins, both black and gold. There were also pieces of another fruit that was harder to identify. It had faint striations that reminded me of the fresh jackfruit I had eaten last night in WL (so that was probably the source), but this had the texture of a dried fruit. Can jackfruit be dried and baked into cookies? I couldn't say. If not, I thought that dried apricot might work just as well. The taste could have been either; it was hard to tell with all the other flavors going on. I finished the confection and found it very satisfying. If I ever do manage to recreate something like this, I'll have to post the recipe here!

      I felt that I had now completed the TOTM satisfactorily, so what next? I looked around the room, and wondered if I should just leave through the door and go exploring. But somehow that is never very satisfying; I usually get better results when I am pursuing a specific idea of some sort, even when the results are not what I expected. The dream felt reasonably stable, so I wondered if I might attempt one of the TOTYs. I recalled the "riding" theme, but unfortunately, I hadn't looked at the list lately and couldn't remember the specifics very well. There was a window here... maybe I could summon a bird and ride it through the night sky? That sounded fun, but I didn't think it was on the list. The only one I could clearly remember was the elephant ride, because my studies have given me such a distinct impression of how elephants were used in battle in pre-modern Siam. I had always planned to try that one, but how do I get from my dream bedroom to pre-modern Siam?

      I tried to remember the transportation spell from Harry Potter, but the command wasn't coming to me. All I could recall was "flue" something, and anyway there were no fireplaces in this bedroom (unlike my WL bedroom, which does have one!) I decided my best bet was probably the window. I knew you needed to mount an elephant from someplace high, so if I could summon one over, I could probably just descend from the window directly to its back. Then once I was on the elephant, it would be easier to get to Siam. On the way to the window, I felt impelled to opened the middle drawer of the dresser as I walked past. It was nearly empty, with just a few stray pieces of clothing... but in the far right corner was the gleam of gold. It was a pile of chocolate coins! You know the ones, disks of chocolate wrapped in gold foil stamped like currency. These were a few different sizes. I realized these might come in handy if I ended up having to buy the elephant, so I grabbed a handful and put them in my pocket.

      I opened the window and felt the cool night air. The window was on the second storey, as I had anticipated, but looking out, I actually recognized that this looked nothing like my house. To the left, I could see a garage door extending perpendicularly to the wall my window was in. The house appeared to be painted beige. Across the driveway, which ran next to this wall to meet the garage, there was a wide grassy yard bordered by trees. I looked up at the night sky above the trees to see if there were any familiar constellations, and immediate recognized Orion. Of course... it seems anywhere I go, I see Orion, even in a dream. He was at an angle, almost on his side, just over the treetops... but not exactly the same in WL. At first I counted four stars in his belt, instead of the usual three. The more I looked at it, the more stars accumulated, but only in certain areas, so pretty soon Orion appeared to be wearing not only a belt, but also a brassiere, which amused me, and a crown. The crown had spikes pointing upward, like the common representation of crowns in modern iconography, but matching spikes adorned the brassiere and belt. At this point the whole shape of the constellation was getting a bit thin and stretched, and while I'm sure these transformations could go on indefinitely, right now I needed an elephant.

      I knew my husband was in the next room, probably working, and even though I suspected this was dream logic, I hesitated to shout lest I annoy him. (Though I suppose it is still reasonable not to want to annoy the dream husband.) So I tried to summon the elephant quietly. Nothing happened. After trying for a bit without results, I decided to take a more dramatic approach. I stepped through the window and jumped, setting my intention for there to be an elephant down there, so I could land on its back.

      There wasn't. But the results were promising nonetheless... from unconstructed dream space, I managed to conjure something plausibly like the interior of a palace in Siam. It was a bit of a hack job, without much detail, and I confess the throne was far too low (must not have been the formal audience hall), but it was sufficient for my purposes. There were various ministers standing around (another embarrassingly inaccurate detail; no courtiers would stand in the presence of the king in early nineteenth-century Siam! Good gracious!) and the king was on the throne, but a bit vague. My initial impression was that he resembled the recently deceased Rama IX, but that troubled me because I was going for an earlier era. I tried to make him look more like Rama III, but it wasn't working very well, so in the end I just didn't look too closely. At any rate, the king was vague enough that he didn't quibble when I handed over my handful of chocolate coins and requested an elephant. I didn't feel like getting into complex negotiations; I just allowed myself assume the success of the transaction and walked away.

      As I exited the interior of the palace and momentarily noticed the bright sunlight reflecting off the whitewashed arch of the doorway, I felt a flash of familiarity. Of course, I thought to myself, This must be the Grand Palace, I've been here a few times. I let my memory conjure something akin to the elephant-mounting station I remembered observing there, and walked over to it. There was no elephant there presently, so I waited for someone to bring it around... and started getting impatient. No one seemed to be doing much, or paying attention to my repeated request. They must not understand English, I considered. I'll have to try it in Thai.

      "Chang!" I shouted, the Thai word for elephant. "Ma nee!" I realized how rude I must sound: while "ma nee" would probably be correctly understood as "come here," or, given the contextual clues, "bring it here" as I had intended, it was a terribly rough and simple way of speaking. It was the sort of thing you might say to call a dog. I hadn't even appended a perfunctory "kha" at the end. But then I started wondering what level of politeness would be proper in this situation. I was in the palace, which made things more difficult, because royal Thai is another ballgame altogether. But what was my own social standing here? In speaking roughly I was assuming a great deal of authority... maybe that was not so bad in this situation. Fortunately, I saw my elephant being brought around before I was able to go too deep down the rabbit hole of Thai honorifics.

      It was a disappointing elephant, by any standards... not only small but kind of flabby and soft, a cartoonish cross between a real baby elephant and Dumbo. Moreover it was completely unadorned, with no harness or howdah. I momentarily wondered if the lack was due to an inadequate mental impression of what a howdah should look like? But no, I could picture it clearly enough in my imagination... it just wasn't on the elephant. I guess that's what I get for being rude to the staff. To add insult to injury, they didn't even properly lead the elephant to the mounting station—though it was probably too small to get on from there anyway—they just dumped it on the stairs, where it crumpled over weakly. On the bright side, this made it easy to clamber up on its neck, so I did so and prepared to forge on.

      I knew I had to enter a battle, so we promptly exited the city. I had thought to do this properly on a magnificent war elephant with a howdah and a driver and four soldiers to guard the legs—I've seen plenty of paintings and movies of proper war elephants in action—but instead I was alone, bareback with no weapon, on the most pathetic elephant I've ever seen. But at least in dream there was no risk of actually falling in battle, so I figured I could make do.

      We had barely gone past the city walls when I saw the invaders approaching from the jungle. That wasn't much of a stretch; it seemed like Ayutthaya was always under attack. (I had originally envisioned myself in Bangkok, but had already slipped back to an earlier era more appropriate for elephant combat). The invaders were on horseback, I noticed, and I was relieved to see that they were only coming in ones and twos, given that I was going to have to take them on alone. They had long black hair and Asian features, and naturally I assumed that they were Burmese... until I got close enough to swing at one and saw the pointed ears. Elves?! Last night I was playing Witcher II and Pillars of Eternity, and the portrait of Aloth in the latter game closely resembled these invaders, but I wasn't sure why they were showing up here. Also, I'm fond of elves and felt loathe to fight them. Fortunately, our combat was more play-acting than anything. I had a good mental image of the kind of long-handled glaive I should be wielding, but though I swung it toward the elves and they gamely mimed being struck, the weapon did not visibly appear in my hands—and I was thankful that it drew no blood.

      So I marched forward on my pathetic elephant, going through the motions of bashing the elves (elves?!) with my invisible glaive, while they went through the motions of being knocked aside, until the jungle started to coalesce into a new kind of space, a kind of wide passage under an increasingly low ceiling. The texture of the ceiling interested me, and from my position atop the elephant I could reach up and just touch it. It was covered with a kind of thick cloth, like a yellowish patterned felt, and I reached into the seams between two pieces and felt something hard and smooth. I pulled it out and found an object streaked with yellow and brown that resembled a wild bird's egg, but it was too hard and irregular, so I thought it must be a stone. I slipped it into my pocket. The felt overhead was gaping at the seams so I grabbed it and tore it off, revealing a kind of wide hatch with a knob for a handle. I wondered what it might be concealing so I pulled it open... and found the dream space deconstructing, muffling me in a soft blankety texture. Instinctively I tried to protect myself by putting the stone I had just found in my mouth, but I was still being enveloped in the stuff. I tried to pull at it with my hands, and as my fingers sank into it I was struck by the familiarity of the texture, like coarse sheep's wool—not the clean feel of a fleece, but the dirty, oily texture it has when it is still on the sheep. That was the last thing I felt before waking.
    3. Roan Unicorn (DEILD)

      by , 04-29-2016 at 06:00 AM
      Ritual: Was working *really* inefficiently yesterday—took me almost eight hours to finish a 22 page article (one with lots of pictures, even!) because I kept looking things up and building my powerpoint at the same time. It was already after midnight before I started reading the 50+ page article (with almost no images) that I was also supposed to finish before bed, so I crapped out at 2:30am without getting it done. I woke at 8am and continued reading in bed, then napped again at 9am—so it became an inadvertant WBTB. Woke at 10:15 after this amazing dream, so I guess all the stress and angst paid off (though it is now 11:15am after writing up my account, and I am no closer to finishing that article! Yikes!)

      Earlier NLD: Some interesting features actually. I'm in what I take to be the sheriff's office of a small lakeside town. The building is rustic and wooden. I am one of the cops, a man like the others. They're all macho, gruff, with mustaches. I notice a small boat in the lake just off shore. Although it looks like an innocent fishing expeditiion, I have a definite premonition of what is coming next. I know that someone is lying prone in that boat with a gun pointed toward us, and there are other shooters positioned strategically nearby, and any minute now they're going to fire. I know my colleagues brought this on themselves so I leave them to their fate, diving into a side room and locking the door. There's a random guy in here so I tell him to get down, we're going to be under fire. Meanwhile I make use of whatever time I have left to arrange the furniture to better blockade us, turning the tables and chairs over so that we can crouch behind them like shields. All of this feels like it has happened before—not in the vague sense of deja vu, but a very concrete and specific way like when you replay an encounter in a video game. For this reason I know that if we just position ourselves correctly and keep our heads low enough, we'll make it through this. The bullets start flying. I feel one zing very close to the left side my body, provoking a strange vibration. Did it hit me? Not quite. My sense of repetition is so strong that after the bullets stop, I predict even before lifting my head that I will see a bullet hole in the lower right hand corner of the window behind me. I turn around and there it is, just as I had predicted (not so astonishing in a dream, after all, but I hadn't realized I was dreaming yet). I pull out my phone and snap a picture of it to document this remarkable event before going back outside. I decide the only sensible thing to do is slip out of town immediately, so I take a side path through someone's backyard.

      DEILD: Around this time the dream destabilizes enough that I become lucid. I wonder if I can restabilize and continue. I remember the principle I've devised for this: don't worry about visuals, focus on physical movement. Tactile integration is what is needed, then the visuals will re-establish themselves naturally. I dance my way back into full dream state. Now what? I remember my goal to continue with the TOTYs, and decide to try the Unicorn task.

      I set my will to summoning a unicorn and soon see a suitable animal galloping toward me down a lane that bisects the fields. This is no ethereal being, but a sturdily built strawberry roan that just happens to have a horn on its head. I found a picture online that gives a good sense of the coat color, only in mine the red hues were more pronounced across the top of its rump.

      How old is everyone here?-strawberry-roan-2.jpg

      After it reaches me, I realize I don't actually know how to climb on a tall horse bareback, so I command it to kneel so that I can get astride. Now we need to find a portal and travel to another land, but I had a plan for this: I've been wanting to visit the Wood Between the World.

      I canter the roan unicorn back down the path it came from, priming my expectations to see a pool of water as we round the corner. We get halfway around and I still don't see water, but I keep my anticipation high. There it is, after all! I didn't see it at first because it is a very small pond, not much more than ten feet across, but sufficient for my task. "The Wood Between the World," I murmur, imagining what it will look like as I canter up to the pool and have the unicorn jump in. Although I've done my best to maintain conviction, we splash into the pool and... now the unicorn is standing in water up to its knees. We haven't gone anywhere.

      This portal was a bust, so decide to look for another, passing a group of teenagers as I leave. I travel down the road until I find myself in what looks to be a luggage store room, like the kind you might find in a train station. The oddest thing is how familiar it looks: I have the distinct impression that I remember this place from an earlier dream this very night, but I can't tell if it is false memory or true. Nothing useful here, but as I leave I spot the group of teenagers again, and ride up to them. I ask if they know of any portals nearby. They mention the pool.

      "I already tried that one, but it didn't work." The kids confirmed that, yeah, they don't work anymore, the magic is too weak. But the magic may not be gone entirely—one kid points out that if you stand near the pool and the background music fades, you can still hear something. This brings my attention to the music. I hadn't been paying attention to it, but a song has been playing in the background all along since I became lucid, like a soundtrack. It is a woman singing in a foreign language—it reminds me of the second half of the song "Bjarkan" from Wardruna's album Gap Var Ginnunga, which would make sense, because that's the main thing I've been listening to lately.

      The kids can't think of any way to strengthen the portal magic, so I ask if they know of any other portals nearby. They point back across the field and tell me to look for a small shack. I ride over and find the door slightly ajar, so I go in. The door swings shut and clicks behind me—it seems to have automatically locked. Nevermind, I was planning to use this as a portal anyway. How do I pass through? Maybe I should stand here astride the unicorn and let the environment around us shift phase. I begin to try to reimagine my surroundings... but I am interrupted by a cry of alarm.

      It comes from a young couple, a boy and girl, who had apparently been making out in a sort of nook or loft halfway up the side wall of this shack. They are startled by my presence and furious when they discover that I have accidentally locked the door. "We'll die in here!" wails the girl. I look around. This shack wasn't built of terribly sturdy materials, I'm sure we can find a way out, even if we have to dismantle it. Distracted by the unexpected crisis, I forget about portalling and even forget that a locked door should be no barrier to me as a dreamer.

      "This wasn't designed as a prison, we'll find something." I reassure them. I look around carefully and notice an opening halfway up the side wall in one corner. It's six or seven feet up: all we have to do is climb to it, then jump over a gap of a few feet to the low flat roof of an adjacent shed. I dismount and give the girl, Sarah, a boost to help her climb up. Next I go to help the boy, Tom. His head is now attached to a long pole, like a broomstick, instead of a body, so this is easy: I pick up the pole and pass it through the opening to Sarah. Now my cat is here for some reason and also needs rescuing, but there is a paper grocery bag handy, so I put the cat in the bag and try to hand that across to Sarah. Suddenly uncooperative, Sarah threatens to dump my cat out of the bag. I am flabbergasted. Why would she suddenly turn against me?

      "But I showed you the way out and helped you!" I protest. Sarah and Tom are unsympathetic; it is clear that they feel no obligation to return the favor. My annoyance reminds me what I am capable of. After all, there was another way this task could go—that wasn't how I planned to do it, but now that I've been provoked, maybe that's how this will play out. I look back at the door, remembering the classic "Knock" spell from D&D. "Unlock," I command, pointing at the door, and the latch obediently clicks open. I get back on the unicorn and walk calmly out. Tom and Sarah, who have just climbed down from the shed, are astounded to see this. They are even more shocked when the unicorn gores Sarah through the chest with its horn, tossing her body aside like a limp rag. Tom watches in horror, and then his turn comes. Despite my scruples about killing, once I felt that these DCs had justified it by their treachery, I dispatch them without hesitation or remorse. Instead, I find myself wondering if my unicorn will be transformed by this dreadful act—I was envisioning something like the "bog unicorn" in Dragon Age: Inquisition—but it remains a roan horse with a spiral horn protruding from its head.

      Okay, apparently now I'm committed to the murder version of the task, so I need a third victim. [Note: I was mistaken about this; the task only required two.] I remember that earlier in the NLD I had encountered some unpleasant people in town, so I ride back in that direction. On the way, I see a number of people working outdoors. I reflect how easy it would be to pick one at random... but that would be wrong. I can't just run up to a random DC and spear them, unprovoked. I do try to maintain *some* ethical standards.

      The people working outside resemble medieval peasants. Actually the whole scene has become more medieval in appearance. Just past the peasants I see the remnants of an old ruined stone structure, reduced to its foundations and a few half-standing walls. Congregating around it are men that I take to be warriors. They have brown or red hair, some balding, and many flaunt long beards decorated with bands and beading. I ride up without attracting any attention. What if I just pick the most evil one? "Show me a rapist," I instruct the dream. Surely among a band of what appear to be tribal warriors from some feudal period there must be no shortage of those, given that it was a standard aspect of warfare in many early societies. So I'd better be more specific: "Show me the worst one." The results are inconclusive: I look over the men again and there is no clear candidate.

      I recall D&D includes a spell that can be used to check alignment. Maybe I can frame it this way? I instruct the dream to reveal the most evil person by making them glow. Now I see one: the glow surrounds a burly guy with his back to me, looking out over the water. He has short brown hair shaved into a distinctive flat line where it meets his neck, and his head is bare on top, either bald or shaved. As I approach, he moves away and I lose sight of him, the glow fading. I study the crowd but since I only saw the guy from behind at a distance, it is hard to be sure which one he is. I don't want to pick the wrong guy. I attempt to cast the spell again, but now the glow seems to be targeting someone else. While trying to sort out this confusion, I spy something across the field, even better—no, perfect!

      It is a jousting tournament!

      The jousting is already under way, but I ride up and boldly demand to enter the lists. The organizers comply without too much fuss. But I also have demands to make about my opponent: "I wish to find the most immoral among the contenders."

      Meanwhile, the more honorable among the knights point out that without a saddle I will surely be unhorsed. Worse, without the protection of armor or a shield, the lance will surely pierce and kill me. I shrug off their objections, thinking that without saddle or armor maybe I can do some stunt riding and duck down to the side, avoiding the lance entirely. After all, my intention is not to strike my opponent with a lance—my unicorn's horn must fulfill that function to complete the task.

      I continue to insist that I be matched against the most immoral of the prospective opponents. There is some debate about who that should be. A man wearing ecclesiastical robes and a cross seems to be the top choice, which makes sense given everything I've heard about the medieval church. I realize that this is all taking a very long time and add to my demands:

      "Also, I demand to go next!"

      The organizers comply with this too. My bout is set up. But I'm not entirely happy with what I see. Facing me at the other end of the lists is a tall black woman on foot, wielding a club in each hand. This isn't what I had in mind: she is not even a jouster! And I sense that she is clearly not the right match: did they assume she was immoral from a medieval sense of racism or xenophobia? Or is she immoral in the fun kind of way, a free-spirited woman who lives large? Either or both seemed likely. This wasn't what I was looking for. If I have to dispatch someone, I prefer that they be genuinely evil.

      "No, this is not the right opponent!" I protest. "I mean, who is the most immoral to the people?" There is no response at first. I have the impression that people are intimidated from replying aloud, so I ride up close to the audience in the stands and ask again. Listening closely, I hear a whispered name: "Lüsswig." I ride along the stands and the whispers of "Lüsswig... Lüsswig..." are unmistakable, repeated everywhere by people trying to speak anonymously under their breath.

      I return to the center of the lists and announce: "I shall fight Lüsswig!"

      Lüsswig turns out to be a guy wearing a long grey cloak with a hood that is closed in the front, completely covering his face. He removes the hood, revealing himself to be a man with short dark brown hair and full cheeks covered with several days worth of stubble. A smug, sinister smile spreads across his face at the prospect of the coming match. [Note: I've spent a long time trying to figure out who Lüsswig resembled, and the best I can come up with is a badly shaven Jonathan Frakes.]

      "Yes, this is a better choice," I declare. His glee is slightly unnerving—he clearly thinks he will best me. I mentally prepare myself by deciding that it must be his destiny to die by unicorn.

      We take our places at opposite ends of the tilt and... I can feel the dream fading... oh fuck fuck I was so close... hold it together, surely I can... no, I'm in my body, in my bed, it's gone. Lüsswig you bastard... I guess you win after all.

      I can only assume this will augment Lüsswig's dastardly reputation. Stories will spread of the mysterious unicorn rider who disrupted the jousting tournament, arrogantly demanding to fight the most evil of men, but then fled the moment she realized was it was Lüsswig!

      Notes: So close! So very very close to completing the unicorn task! I could have finished easily had I taken the practical (but vicious) route and chosen a third victim at random. But no, I had to be honorable and look for someone who *deserved* it...

      Oh! Oh! I just looked up the terms of the task. For once I misremembered the details to my benefit—I thought I needed to murder three DCs, but now I see it was only two. So I did it after all! And then my mistaken conviction that I needed a third actually led to some pretty cool extra scenes.

      Updated 04-29-2016 at 07:01 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , non-lucid , memorable , task of the year
    4. The Reluctant Dragon (DILD)

      by , 02-25-2016 at 09:43 PM
      Ritual: Set vibrating alarm for 40m at 6:20am. I don't remember it going off, but I began dreaming that I was trying to fall asleep, until it gradually dawned on me that I was already dreaming. It was 7:19 when I awoke, so given that the dream must have manifested at some point after the signal went off at 7am (since it was not interrupted by it), it could have lasted up to 19m. I'm classifying this as DILD and not EILD since lucidity was not initiated by recognition of the device signal.

      DILD: Initially I am on a beach, lying on a sort of cot, trying to fall asleep. There are other people all around me, and their activity and noise is keeping me awake. I mention aloud to someone nearby that I seem to be entering REM state even while awake, as I notice crisp and colorful visuals superimposing themselves over my visual field. Even though the new scene is layered over the old one, it is distinct enough that I can make out details: I am at the edge of a river running through a futuristic city. Some sort of V-shaped flying craft is flying in tripartite geometrical formations up above, the crafts each giving off light colored red, white, or blue, each grouped into a separate section. Is this meant to be a patriotic display?

      I do not change position, but the cot I'm lying on becomes a sort of couch as the environment around me resolves into a room full of kids. Someone plays a video on a TV monitor, which annoys me because I am trying to fall asleep and the music is distracting. But then they mention that the video features Jonathan Tweet, and the name sounds familiar. When I remember it is one of my favorite game developers, I take more interest in the video and sit up.

      Something makes me think this is a kind of school where the kids are learning lucid dream abilities. One boy, bald, sits to the left of me on my couch and he's trying to test his powers against me. He takes my hand in his, which begins to glow blue, and I realize that he's trying to "crystal" me, that is, harm me with the pale blue light he is creating. I counter it easily, however. This frustrates him and he begins trying to bite me. He opens a disturbingly wide mouth and tries to chomp down on my hand, but I counter him by softening both his flesh and his resolve, so that mouth sags toothlessly and he never completes the bite. We go through this cycle three or four times before I tire of the game and get up.

      By now I'm aware that I am already dreaming, and I walk into the next room, recalling my personal goals. [I accomplish a personal task, finding a certain fictional character, then suggest that we become dragons to fulfill one of the TOTYs.]

      I lead the way to a window and lift it open. We're about four storeys up, but I jump out without hesitation and spread my arms, letting the air catch me. As I fly off to the left, I focus on trying to develop the "feel" of a dragon body: four legs, wings, tail, scaly skin. I haven't tried this before and the results are so-so, a fluctuating hybrid between the new bodymap and my usual one. I am flying over what strikes me as a mid-twentieth-century city. There are no skyscrapers, just a mixture of low commercial and residential buildings that cover a wide expanse. I recall that the task requires me to destroy a village, but the city below seems too urban to qualify. Would a neighborhood count as a "village"? But my moral qualms kick in, and I hesitate to bring wrath upon an innocent residential neighborhood.

      I fly further on, toward the edge of the city, looking for a more remote target, preferably one with few occupants. After exploring the land for a while, I find a spot that, while a stretch to call it a "village," at least satisfies my ethical preoccupations: it is a cluster of buildings around a large industrial apparatus, evidently a manufacturing concern of some kind. I don't notice any people wandering around, so hopefully there are not many on site to be harmed. I can't imagine I'll find a better target (at least in relation to my own concerns, rather than the specifications of the task), so I begin circling over the site, breaking the buildings and bashing them down. Meanwhile I focus on maintaining my dragon form; this takes constant vigilence because it is so unfamiliar, and too easily slips into sensations more congruent with human limbs.

      What color dragon am I? I recall that D&D dragons can take many different colors, with corresponding breath weapons. On the ruins of the factory, I test acid and frost breath in turn, trying to decide which feels more natural. I like the effects of frost—after freezing metal walls solid they shatter in a satisfying way—but then I remember that the task specifies leaving flaming ruins in my wake, so I switch to fire. There isn't much in the way of visuals; rather than great gouts of flame, my fire breath is more of an intense heat that makes metal glow red. But I dutifully knock down and burn the factory into rubble.

      Afterwards, I hover anxiously over the destroyed site to see if anyone was harmed by my stunt. (I know, I know, I make a terrible dragon.) I do spot someone—something?—running around frantically, but as I peer closer, it does not look human at all. Curiously, it appears to be a small white gem that I take to be a cubic zirconia, attached to a tiny wire loop that looks like it must have once been the pendant of an earring. The sense of scale has been skewing dramatically as I have been peering closer, and now I feel back to my normal human size and form, kneeling over ruined buildings the size of an architectural model. I look carefully and spot two more little gems running around. Unless there are more I don't see, three victims isn't too bad, and at least they're still alive, even if they're looking understandably anxious. (How do gems even look anxious? It was something in the way they moved.)

      [I've been concentrating on my task and realize I have lost track of my friend. I look for him and we are briefly re-united before I wake up.]
    5. The Birth and Rebirth of a Phoenix (DILD)

      by , 02-16-2016 at 07:43 PM
      Ritual: Yesterday was full of work and stress, conditions that I have previously correlated to vivid dreaming. I worked until going to bed at 2am. Woke at 5am to feed the cat, then again at 6am after a dream that culminated in an experience of intense frustration, vivid enough that I spent around 45 minutes writing it down—an unintended but useful WBTB. Since today will also be very busy I did not do any other lucid practices, however, I had primed myself a little by reading the list of TOTYs last night. Apart from those conditions, the following dream was spontaneous, and I woke from it at around 8:45am.

      DILD: I am at my mother's house, but it is unlike any WL house. I am in a long room with high ceilings, very spacious and sparsely furnished, with no modern accoutrements. Maybe it is the medieval look of the interior that reminds me of the TOTYs, and I become lucid. Which would be a good one to do? Fairy would be easier to do outdoors. I could turn into a dragon but then I'd have to destroy everything and I don't want to wreck my mother's house. Phoenix? That would be a good one. I try to remember the details. I can't just summon it directly, I have to burn something, right? I look around the room for something suitable.

      On the far end of the room is a table under a shuttered window. The table is covered with a white cloth, and spread across it is an assortment of jewels and precious stones. These look ideal. I select a faceted gem and place it in my left palm. It is small, only about six millimeters across, transparent with cobalt blue striations, like a combination of diamond and sapphire. It is faceted into what I think of as a classic gem shape. [According to online sources, this is simply called a "round" cut.] I walk slowly across the room back toward the couch where my mom is sitting, concentrating on the stone and willing it to catch fire. The stone feels inert in my hand, and I feel that I have chosen the wrong one. From the coloring, this stone is clearly attuned with ice, not fire. I should go back and pick a different one.

      I return to the table and find a small stone of matte earthy red color. This is more a mineral than a gem, and it is shaped like a narrow lozenge, almost a centimeter long, pointed at the ends, and only a few millimeters wide in the middle. I begin to will it into flame, but immediately have second thoughts. The stone is so skinny and small, it would probably make a scrawny phoenix. I go back to the table to look for a better one.

      I decide to find a gem that could pass for a phoenix egg, examine the options more carefully, and finally come across a good-sized stone around three centimeters across. It is also matte and reddish, but a generous oval in shape, and the top is composed of randomly assorted rounded protrusions, like bubbles. The bottom has been leveled off and already set into a metal frame. I decide that this one is ideal, put it in my left palm, and begin to invoke fire in earnest. Around this time my mom tries to talk to me about doing some household chore but I hush her: "Not now, I'm busy."

      The stone resists at first, but I do not let myself doubt my ability to do this. I've summoned fire in my palm before. This time I'm just transmuting it from a substrate. I will a flame to emerge from the stone and soon it does—but I notice that in the process, the stone has transformed into a candle. The candle is larger than the stone, filling my hand. It is a 6cm tall cylinder and is conveniently fitted in a round container. Between the candle and the sides of the container is what looks like a filling of crumpled dry grass.

      The flame is burning on the wick in the ordinary way, and I will it to expand and consume the whole candle, turning it into the phoenix I am trying to create. For a moment it burns quietly, but then the whole object transforms again. Briefly I seem to be holding a bundle of smoldering dried grass, around a foot in diameter, until the whole thing explodes and violently flies apart, patches landing in various places around the room. Failure? I'd better check the remains.

      I wander around to a couple of the smoking remnants, but see nothing notable. I remember that I need to keep my expectations high, so as I walk toward a third, larger patch, I anticipate finding a baby phoenix. Sure enough, when I prod at the charred dried grass, underneath I discover a tiny, long-necked, bird-like creature! The phoenix has hatched! But it is it skinny and completely limp. What can I do to help? As a creature of fire, I reason, it must need heat. It is probably freezing to death.

      I gently pick up the baby bird, which drapes across my hands with no sign of life, and take it to the fireplace. Luckily there is already a good fire burning. There is a kind of metal chain screen separating the fire from a metal grate on the hearth. Sprawled on the grate, soaking up the heat, is a long iguana-like lizard that I had previously noticed on the table when I was selecting jewels. I figure it must be a salamander, with the same need for warmth as my new phoenix. Should I place the phoenix in the fire directly, or on the grate? Since my hypothesis about the wisdom of putting the phoenix in the fire is as yet untested, I decide to lay it on the grate in case I need to remove it quickly.

      The experiment goes well. As soon as I lay the baby phoenix next to the fire, its body begins to perk up and fill out. It grows until it resembles a toucan in shape and size, though red in color and with a sleeker bill. Success! But was there more to the task? I can't remember if we were also supposed to fight something, and figure I'd better do that as well as long as I can maintain dreamstate. "Let's go fight something!" I say to the newborn phoenix, and it hops up on my shoulder.

      I head past the table with the jewels and open the window in the end wall. The window is a square aperture about three feet on a side, fastened with a single wooden shutter. The shutter is hinged on one side, flush with the wall when closed, and opens inward to the left. This truly resembles a medieval house in that there is no glass in the window, so it is easy to climb up and out. I pause on the sill and bid the phoenix to fly on ahead. Meanwhile, I hang up the long metal hook that I used to open the shutter so that I can grab it when I come in later, then use another device that resembles a hook attached to a wire loop to suspend myself from the sill and ease the drop to the ground, which is far enough below that it requires some precaution. I have the feeling that I have done this many times before.

      Once on the ground, I look around for someone or something to fight. I am on a grassy lawn that extends between a number of different buildings. The buildings themselves don't leave a distinct architectural impression—I wish I had taken a closer look. Instead I was scanning the ground between them, but all I see are ordinary people walking about, none of whom seem like suitable opponents. I don't want to be an unprovoked aggressor.

      The dream begins to fade. I worry that the abrupt transition to a different space might have unbalanced it, and I immediately take steps to stabilize, falling on my knees and examining the details of the grass while running my hands over it for texture. For a moment the grass turns grey and although I see all the usual plants among it, like clover, everything looks unusually small. But then a voice hails me from above and the dreamstate resumes its integrity: "Do you want to fight?" I promptly agree.

      I am facing a man who is accompanied by a creature resembling a muscular, short-haired white dog. The man has a sword, and immediately begins to strike at me. Although I am unarmed, I find that I am able to parry his blows with my hands without too much discomfort. I suspect that I could turn the fight to my advantage if I want, but the whole point of this exercise was to fight in tandem with the phoenix. Where is that bird? "Phoenix? Phoenix!" I call anxiously.

      The blade keeps falling, and I keep catching it and pushing it aside, but luckily the dog is hanging back for now. Suddenly to my relief the phoenix swoops in, aiming a stream of fire at the dog. More gouts of flame follow, consuming the man and dog, but they do not go down easily. I watch the phoenix, who has now taken human form, take a blade right through his stomach, angling up toward his chest. It is an unmistakably lethal blow, and I run over to him as he falls. I feel guilty for having put him in this predicament—but recall that for a phoenix, there should be a way to fix this.

      Looking around frantically, I am pleased to discover a fireplace in my immediate vicinity. Nevermind the unlikelihood of finding a fireplace outdoors; it is just what I need so I don't question it. I drag the phoenix, currently in the form of a slim Asian boy, over to the hearth and dump him directly onto the flames. I expect the fire to heal him; instead he begins screaming as his skin burns and chars. It is horrifying, but I hold him down as he struggles—he was dying already, this is the only thing that might help. Maybe this is how it is supposed to work. A phoenix has to die to be reborn, right? The human body blackens and burns away. Sure enough, in its place I find a little baby bird, looking much like it did initially but yellow instead of red this time. I wonder if its pale color means it needs to eat. The bird pecks at some morsel of food near the fire and I try to tempt it with something better. "Here, eat a hot one." I pluck an olive-sized piece from a row of snacks baking in the fireplace (I don't feel the heat, just as I didn't feel pain from the sword earlier) and offer it directly. The little bird compliantly swallows the morsel, growing in size and turning red again.

      I feel that I have completed the task to satisfaction, so even before I wake up I begin reviewing the details, making sure I commit them to memory. There is a moment when I am back in the same house as the beginning of the dream and ask someone to remind me the name of the guy I fought. "Ziggy Starduster and the Hoarfrost," comes the reply. I note that they definitely said "Starduster," not "Stardust." Since I only hear rather than see the names, I briefly wonder if the dog's name is spelled "Whorefrost" or "Hoarfrost," but decide that the latter is more appropriate on a number of levels.

      Updated 03-29-2016 at 07:47 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , memorable , task of the year
    6. Three Houses (DILD)

      by , 06-22-2015 at 11:02 PM
      Ritual: Slept from about 1:45 to 6:15am, woke to record a vivid NLD, decided to turn it into a WBTB and try to get lucid. I wanted to use some light supplements but nothing powerful, only alpha-gpc and bacopa... but after wondering why one of the bacopa capsules I'd just swallowed was white, I realized, oh shit, when traveling recently I had put some galantamine in the same bottle! I had no interest in taking galantamine this morning but now it seemed there was nothing to be done. Then I had an idea: since piracetam counters the more unpleasant effects of galantamine, and since it now frequently acts for me as a lucid trigger on its own, what might happen if I took the two at the same time? It had never occurred to me to try this before.

      Writing this up after the experiment, I feel like an alchemist who has just stumbled across the philosopher's stone. Wow. After going back to bed 7am I did some prep before falling asleep and then found myself dreaming lucidly for over an hour, waking at 8:30am, probably my longest stint to date. Then I wrote up everything I could remember, lay back in bed to remember and write down some more, went back to sleep, and found myself in another semilucid that presented itself as building on events from the previous dream (though I'm not convinced it actually was). At 10:30am I woke again, feeling thoroughly surfeited and satisfied with so much dreaming.


      DILD, "Three Houses": The dream lasted so long that there was even a point midway through it where I thought to myself, "With everything I've already experienced, how am I ever going to remember all this? There's just no way, especially if I keep going. Should I just wake up?" But the answer came readily, "No way! I want to keep experiencing it, even if I can't remember everything later." There were a number of shifts and transitions that might normally have destabilized the dream and woken me, but I felt confident in my ability to navigate them safely.

      Although I don't clearly remember the beginning of the dream, I'm sure it was a DILD because I recall having one of those thought sequences like, "Hey... I think I might be drea—yes, of course I'm dreaming. Duh. I knew that." Experiences like these confirm for me that lucidity goes beyond mere dream awareness (which in itself can be non-lucid, as I've experienced many times) to encompass that awareness of dream awareness, a kind of meta-awareness, that enables agency. Once I had agency, it was on to my tasks. I had two main tasks planned, working on the "intellego" technique from Ars Magica and trying this month's bonus TOTM. I prioritized the latter because it is time sensitive.

      Random house: Although I was upstairs in a house when I got lucid, I decided that to do the task properly I should start with a fresh one. I went out to the balcony, which looked out over some tall pines bordering the backyard, and easily levitated into the air. I was floating over a residential neighborhood with numerous houses to choose from, so I tried to let instinct guide me. Although the outside of the house I picked didn't inspire any sense of connection—it was an ordinary two-story suburban home in blue-grey clapboard—I figured I should look inside.

      My first distinct impression was how heavy the front door was, one of those old ones made of solid wood. I had to manually lock it behind me and the bolt was hard to turn, though even at the time this struck me as mere DR, since the sensation of forcing the bolt was identical to what I have to do currently with my patio gate in WL. After entering, I found myself in a short plain white hallway, and started wandering through and trying various doors.

      Although my intention had been to find house that represented me, and I even muttered something to this effect aloud a few times as I wandered through this one, I still didn't feel any connection with this place. All the rooms on the ground floor were vacant and a bit dirty, as though someone had moved out in a hurry. I wondered if I was seeing an empty house because I've never actually owned a house of my own in WL, having always rented, so I never had experienced a house that truly did represent me. I opened one door and it led into an enclosed porch or sunroom, also empty. I went back inside and found an interior room with no windows. I thought that if I did live here, this would be a great place to build bookshelves, something I've always wanted to do if I had a house of my own. This house, however, didn't look like a place would ever really want to live, much less a place could represent me in any meaningful way.

      I was annoyed with how empty and uninteresting the ground floor was, so as I went upstairs I reinforced my intention for the house to represent me. At the top of the stairs were two rooms, and these were cluttered with scattered boxes of junk. Might this represent a cluttered state of mind? I looked around at the seemingly random stuff, but once again I felt no connection with it. There were big boxes crammed with vinyl record albums... but I've never owned any vinyl, having grown up in the era of cassettes and then CDs. There was a smaller box containing smaller records, and I tried to remember what that format was called. "Eight-tracks" was what I came up with—clearly I didn't have full access to WL memory, because I'm well aware that eight tracks are those big chunky early cassettes, and only after waking did I remember that the miniature records are properly called "singles." I've never owned any of those either. When I saw that another box on the floor contained an open bag of what appeared to be maxipads, I started to get annoyed. This is just random junk! Sure, I'm a woman, I occasionally use maxipads, but I really don't think they have any special meaning for me... apparently the dream is not cooperating with my intention. That part, at least, is nothing new. My dreamstate has never been entirely cooperative.

      I went back downstairs and out through a garage. It was mostly empty, but there was a chest of drawers there, where I began to try out my second task. "Intellego," I said, touching the wood (I wasn't sure if the Form should be "Corpus," so I left it blank.) All I could read from the chest of drawers was a vague impression of the craftsman's hands, and a feeling that it might have been made in India. That made sense, I figured... how much information could I expect out of furniture, anyway?

      I went outside and looked up into the sky. It was full of fluffy, almost cartoonish clouds. "Intellego auram!" I shouted. I got no response, even when I repeated the command several times and focused specifically on the wind. Well, what did I expect to learn from the sky? The current strength and pattern of wind currents? What possible meaning could that have for me? I suppose it was a failure of imagination, but "intellego auram" produced no impressions at all.

      Aspirational house: I wasn't happy with my first house attempt, but figured I should try again. I tried to find a house that looked more like something I would actually want to live in. Stone walls, of course, something old and solid and dignified. I "located" such a house but it felt a bit fake, like I was forcing the issue, maybe even creating an overlay of what I wanted to see over what was actually there. I tried to remind myself this is dream, nothing is "actually" there, and went through the front door.

      This front door was also pleasingly solid and heavy, and it latched shut on its own, a big improvement over the last one. I found myself in a little coatroom or antechamber, and from there passed through another door into a spacious kitchen. As I walked in I was still determined for this to be the house I was hoping for, so at first I felt like my impressions were driven more by imagination than dream. But after a moment dream took over, and my vague wishes solidified into a magnificent kitchen. It was long and narrow, and over to my right I had the impression of a stove range where a woman was cooking. To my left was the food storage area, consisting of a large refrigerator, floor-to-ceiling stainless steel doors that turned out to be the cupboards for dry goods, and the glass doors of a built-in freezer that also occupied a whole section of the wall. Although I had created the basic structures through my own deliberate imagining, as I now opened the doors and peeked at the contents, I was satisfied that dream had followed through and spontaneously filled in the details. When I opened the door of the refrigerator, there was even a beautifully frosted white cake, and although I thought I heard the woman across the room warning me not to touch it, I couldn't resist lifting up a corner of the plastic cover and using my finger to swipe a bit of the frosting. The vivid taste made me glad of my mischief... just like real buttercream!

      I don't remember the other rooms of this house as clearly as the kitchen, though in contrast the last house it was furnished and even peopled. Upstairs I ran into a guy with a beard and mustache and decided to work on my ongoing attempt to summon game characters. I wondered if it would work better if I started with a character I had less interest in, so that I'd be less concerned about "getting it right." Last night in DA:I I had some conversation scenes with Blackwall in which I basically friendzoned him, so I tried to transform this DC into him by visualizing the scene I remembered. The voice was easier than the face; it wasn't a complete success but not a complete failure either. Unexpectedly I ended up kissing the DC (which was not in the original scene), and it was at this point that he seemed most like the game character, though I didn't take our interactions any further.

      In further exploring the upstairs of this house, I opened a closet door and found myself in—I'm not sure what to call it, maybe "the labyrinth," a kind of claustrophobic dream space that perpetually replicates itself. In the past I've experienced it when I've portaled and accidentally found myself trapped in a seemingly endless series of tiny doorless rooms. This time it wasn't even rooms, just a texture like pebbly pastel-colored styrofoam that was pressing in on all sides. Wherever I pushed through in any direction, I found myself in another identical space. I even "airlifted," a technique of rising vertically that usually extricates me from unpleasant or threatening situations, but was still stuck in the labyrinth. In the past, the only way I've gotten out was to wake up, but this time I was determined to keep cool and persevere. Sure enough, eventually the sense of claustrophobia receded and I found myself in a new scene. Maybe the labyrinth is no more than a virtual rendering of unconstructed dream space.

      I was now outdoors on a street far too narrow for cars, and cobbled. It was pleasingly archaic, and I wondered if I could work on the DA:I theme some more. The only distraction was the brightly colored balloons that were attached everywhere for some reason... a festival? At the end of the street I climbed a steep staircase to the second floor of an unpainted wooden building, and on an inspiration, I thought, "When I turn the corner, I want to see my dream lover." (I've been thinking it over in WL, and decided that I might prefer this over a mere "guide." But my DCs have been so inconsistent that to date I've identified neither.)

      I turned the corner and... sitting in a rocking chair was a drab, ugly old woman. (I already mentioned how perverse my subconscious can be.) I didn't want to be rude, so I approached her with questions. At my wondering why she appeared in this form, she answered, "We take different appearances." I had the feeling that the "we" included both of us. Although I was not attracted to her in this form, I thought there was something familiar in her eyes, so I kissed her anyway. Around this time another DA:I character, Sera, came climbing up a rope onto the balcony of the room, and I thought perhaps the dream was suggesting that we take a stand for lesbian love. I was up for this, so I yelled at the young man pursuing Sera up the rope that he had better climb down as quickly as he could, if he hoped to stand a chance of surviving when I cut it. I pulled out my knife and let the taut rope brush against the sharp blade, severing some of the strands to show my threat was serious. The man started climbing down again, but the rope was not as durable as I thought, and my knife hadn't cut through more than a third of its width before the rest of it broke and unraveled, dropping him to the street. I peered down anxiously but was relieved to see him stand up again, apparently unharmed. "Sorry!" I shouted, and genuinely meant it.

      Things only got weirder from here, and at the point where the jockey told me, "They should tape our warm hands to the wheel," and I was going over this line trying to make sure I would remember it, I started to wonder if I should wake myself up. Hell no, I decided. So there were more things I don't remember clearly, and I'm not sure how I found myself in my old house.

      Old house: I was in the house where I lived from the age of ten until I left for college. This was so far into the dream that I can't be sure if it was another attempt at the TOTM that brought me here, but once I found myself in the house, it definitely felt relevant to the task... of all the places I've lived in my life, this was the one I felt the most connection to, and it lives very intact in my memory. I floated through it like a disembodied spirit, mostly impressed by the accuracy of what I saw. But there was something drab and empty about it, too, perhaps because I was aware that everything I was saw no longer existed: the house was sold shortly after I finished college, so although it still stands, it is no longer the home I remember.

      I started in my bedroom, floated through the upstairs playroom I shared with my brother, drifted down the stairs, and then made a circuit through the dining room, into the parlor, through the closet that connected the parlor to my parents' bedroom, and through the adjoining bathroom. Everything looked ordinary and intact until this point, when I saw the first oddity: a white enamel woodburning stove, a kitchen model, was in the bathtub for some reason. I continued floating into the kitchen, where we did have such a woodstove—original to the house—though the real one was black cast iron and much too large to fit in any tub. I concluded my tour in the living room, having made a complete circuit of everything but my brother's room, the pantry, and the workroom.

      There was something festive about the decoration of the living room, perhaps because of the many wonderful Christmases we had enjoyed there, and another oddity: a giant pair of elk horns, which when I looked closer appeared to be attached to an actual elk, although it was standing as still as a statue. I assumed the elk horns were DR, since I had recently been impressed by pictures of the giant Irish elk, an extinct species (neither specifically Irish nor actually an elk, to be pedantic) that sported massive antlers. It reminded me of the elk that Thranduil rode, and my earlier successes inspired me to attempt another thematic summoning. I clambered on the back of the giant elk and rode it outside (conveniently ignoring the fact that there is no way its antlers would have fit through the the ordinary-sized door that led outside from the living room.)

      for americans-giant-irish-elk.jpg

      Outside it was winter, everything covered in snow, and I found myself in a hilly landscape with no connection to my old yard. I focused on finding Thranduil and saw him up ahead on his own elk, actively battling a pack of large winter wolves. He was alone and I feared that if I did not intervene I would lose the chance to talk to him, so I charged ahead using fire magic to clear the pack. When the battle was done and we stood alone again, surrounded by the fallen wolves, he gave me an imperious look and said coldly, "No Lothian tickets will be given to see me." Although I wasn't sure what he meant by "Lothian" (or why I feel like it should be capitalized), I had the impression that he was telling me that he was not someone to be summoned at whim by a mere dreamer. So I changed tactics, presenting myself as his sister. According to the lore I don't even think he has a sister, but it worked.

      "So, our father in the middle of a storm brought anzu fruits for our hunters," I informed him, pointing to a cache of green and orange spheres buried under a patch of ice. Thranduil accepted my new identity and greeted me with a prim brotherly kiss, to which I responded with somewhat more than sisterly affection, though I tried not to go full Lannister on him. It was here that I awoke at last, delighted to have finally made some progress in the character summonings that, to date, I have found the most difficult type of tasks.
    7. Dream Battle / Rainbow Tasting / What's Up My Sleeve? (DILD)

      by , 06-14-2015 at 08:18 PM
      A woman and I are running from a pursuer, another woman. "Faster, faster!" the first woman urges me. "Don't look back, it will slow you down." I don't see why I have to run away, but fine, I'll play along... I do look back, however, and I'm surprised how close the pursuer is. This motivates me to try to put some distance between me and her, so I run harder... and yet I can't seem to make much gain on her. I'm perplexed: I know I should be able to do this, I'm dreaming, it's not like I have to rely on my physical stamina. I wonder if the answer is in running with more short strides rather than trying to cover more distance with each step, much as one is advised to run in WL, so I try out variations. I'm making progress, but concentrating so hard on my running form is becoming tedious. "Imagining running is almost as hard as the real thing!" I comment to the woman fleeing with me. Getting bored with this situation I decide to put an end to it, and succeed in sprinting ahead to the point where I can turn a corner and leave the pursuer's field of vision, at which point I figure I've made a fair escape.

      However, it turns out that my pursuer had an accomplice: I now find myself in a struggle with a huge brawny man with a shaggy brown beard. I perceive him as a Viking, and I'm aware that his name is Torvald. He is connected somehow with the woman who was chasing me earlier, and is likewise an antagonist. Our struggle manifests partially as a kind of combat, but it feels as much like a battle of dream control as a physical battle.

      I easily resist Torvald's initial attempts to subdue me, but his immense confidence makes me wonder if I should doubt my own. I go on the offensive and try to put him out of action more permanently, trying various tactics to destroy his body. For instance, at one point I imagine his body being crushed by a great weight from above, and although this has him stretched out supine on the ground for as long as I'm actively thinking it, he is soon back on his feet. I try crushing his heart and throat from inside his body, but he is only briefly inconvenienced.

      I wonder if fire would do the trick, and visualize Torvald's body burning to ash. Though I've said nothing aloud, he appears to understand my intentions, and rather than actively resisting like he did with my other attacks, he simply denies the efficacy of this approach. "Fire won't work," he tells me flatly. I refuse to acknowledge this and continue contentrating on the image of fire consuming him. "Fire won't work," Torvald tells me again. I'm thinking: how could this be? It's my dream, isn't it? Fire should work if I say it should work. So I redouble my focus on the fire. With patient indifference, Torvald insists: "Fire won't work." I find this disconcerting, because apparently my confidence is unable to overcome his. Aren't I the dreamer? But there is no time for philosophical questions; we are still in combat. I switch tactics: if he is resistant to fire, how about ice? I start to try to freeze him—even if it doesn't destroy him it might at least slow him down temporarily—but Torvald has found the opening he needed and pins me to the ground.

      Torvald's inexplicable ability to ignore my attempts to burn him makes me wonder if I should worry that he could actually harm me. But I have a superpower too: as the dreamer, I am invulnerable... aren't I? I decide to play it safe, and secretly project my "real" identity to the roof of a nearby building. It is a large square brick structure about 8–10 stories high, and I crouch behind the low brick railing that surrounds the flat roof, tempted to peek out at the combat occurring down below but not wanting to let Torvald see me and discover the trick. So I transfer my perceptions back to my body on the ground, which I now regard as a mere DC, and thus disposable. If my attacker succeeds in destroying this body, it won't matter: I've secured my identity elsewhere. Torvald actually glances up toward the roof when I think this, and I quickly realize that I need to guard my thoughts as well.

      "Do you have someone watching me?" Torvald asks. I am relieved, because although he suspects that there is an observer on the roof, he hasn't seen through my whole trick—he doesn't seem to recognize that the person up there is actually me. I project a new thought toward him, gleefully: I recall how undercover police have been tracking him, and that I've been using our encounter to distract and delay him until they were in position. Maybe none of this was true earlier, but it doesn't matter: this is a dream battle, so it is true now! When Torvald looks back down at me, I grin mockingly and deliberately call him by the wrong name, "Harald," just to annoy him further. The game is up, and my undercover officers move in and force Torvald to release me. I'm not sure what happens to him after that... pleased with having solved the dilemma, I simply walk away.

      What's next? The last incident was not one that I had intended, but now I'm free to work on tasks. I enter a wide clearing and wonder if I should try the Dragon Age task again. I've always liked the idea of aligning dream space with fictional environments from books, films, or games, but I'm still trying to figure out how to do it. I suppose the first step would be to remember a concrete environment from the game and try to insert aspects of it here. I played DA:I just last night, so I should be able to access those memories... but as I seek them out I feel a tremor of dream instability, and decide not to push it. If there's a risk of waking, I should put that task off until later. For now, there are still a few TOTMs I haven't tried this month, and I decide to work on those.

      "Taste a rainbow." That one is easy to remember. I imagine a rainbow in the sky, and produce something very faint and not at all rainbow-colored. The colors are largely ochres and earthtones, and not even in proper lines but arranged in a more tesselated pattern over the arch. I'm not being a perfectionist at this point, so I accept this as a "rainbow" and shrink it into a stick of candy in my hand. The colors have changed in the process, and for some reason the candy stick is white with swirls of red and blue. Still not rainbow-colored! But I take a bite. The texture is interesting, lots of little pieces that crunch between my teeth, but the flavor is a real disappointment: vague, muted, and blandly sweet. Apart from "sweet," no other descriptors really present themselves. This won't do. A rainbow should taste more unusual than this! I decide to start over.

      This time I put more work into the rainbow itself. I first visualize it, then focus on the faint transparent arch until it becomes more clearly visible, but this also has the consequence of making it more material. Now it appears like a physical object, a two-dimensional vertical banner in an arch about ten feet high and twenty feet long, right in front of me. I work on correcting the pattern so that it has rainbow colors in properly aligned stripes... I see some improvement, although it is a C+ effort at best. It looks better than my last attempt, anyway, so I approach the "rainbow" and try to take a bite directly out of it. The experience is like... chewing on a shower curtain. It really feels like I've put a sheet of plastic in my mouth, although the material is soft enough to crush between my teeth. Again the texture is more prominent than the taste. I put all my attention on the flavor, trying to detect anything describable, and think maybe I get some underlying fruity notes, but again it remains vague and uninteresting. Taste and smell are the least developed of my dream senses... I wonder if I could improve them if I worked at it?

      I feel like I have adequately completed the task, anyway, and wonder what to try next. In all my efforts with the rainbows I had hardly paused to note all the people sitting at various tables around this clearing, like picnickers, but observing them now, I figure it might be fun to try the magic show. What would a stage magician do? I guess the most basic tricks involve having something up one's hat or one's sleeve? I notice that I am completely naked, which has long since ceased to embarrass me in dreams, but gives me a mischievous idea.

      "What's up my sleeve?" I start circling among the various tables, challenging the audience members to come up with a response. One of the first responses is: "Following a guy from Eton to [...]?" (I forgot the second place name.) This answer reminds me of the earlier scene, and how I resolved the conflict with Torvald. This DC must have been one of my officers! "Are you an undercover cop?" I ask him in reply. He grudgingly nods. "Not anymore!" I'm joking about how he has just blown his cover, but it also feels like an appropriate analogy to my own lack of sleeves... I'm not "undercover" either.

      I continue asking, "What's up my sleeve?" and collect various other responses from the audience, all of which were non-sequiturs... but I reasoned that the illogic of the question itself (since there was no sleeve) invited such creative responses. After hearing from seven different people, I realized that I might have trouble remembering all this when I woke up, so I stopped and went over their answers again, one by one, to help fix them in memory. Already I had trouble recalling two of the answers, but one of the DCs helpfully reminded me, additionally pointing out that the answers varied between the metaphorical (things that never could go up a sleeve) and the literal ("Three shekels" was one of these answers, I think). Meanwhile I was getting ready for the grand finale to my show, when I would reveal my own answer to the question. I had been planning on the groaningly obvious "Nothing!" and was ready for the big reveal when I noticed that something had changed... now I was wearing clothes, including a short-sleeved shirt. I realized that if I was going to go for the groaningly obvious at this point, I would have to answer "My arm!"

      I felt myself start waking up, and I already had a lot to remember and report so I didn't resist the process. I woke up slowly enough that I was able to concentrate on those seven answers from the DCs and hold them in mind, with what felt like excellent clarity and accuracy. And then something happened... as I crossed the threshold, despite all my care and preparation, the memories abruptly tattered, the details dissolving. The only one of the seven answers I could still remember, and that incompletely, was the first—and that I suspect only because it was anchored by its reference to the earlier scene.

      Updated 06-14-2015 at 10:11 PM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , memorable , task of the month
    8. Drones + Smallpox + Bed Monsters (NLD + FA-DILD + DILD)

      by , 05-09-2015 at 09:55 PM
      Ritual: It was a great night for dreaming, probably because I went to bed so much earlier than usual, though I've also been especially attentive to my RCs for the last couple days. I went to bed a little before midnight, and I'm also currently on the East Coast, so the clock was three hours ahead of my usual time zone. My sleep was punctuated with the usual half-dozen wakings, though I didn't do any specific night practices other than try to pay attention to the transitions between sleeping and waking, and in this I was not persistant or prompt enough to pull off a WILD or a DEILD. But by around 6am I woke up from the first DILD, spent until 7:30am writing it down, then went back to bed and lucked into a second one.

      NLD, "Drones": I'm standing by a floor-to-ceiling, wall-length window in a big hotel suite, looking out over the curve of a bay. From the height we must be somewhere between the 20th and 30th floor, and to the right I can see another tall building, or perhaps an extension of the same hotel, following the curve of the beach. Ahead and to the left is the flat horizon of the sea. It would be a pleasant view if it weren't for all the drones hovering in our field of vision, each one carrying a sign with a single word on it, white block letters on a black background. The words seem to be completely random.

      "It's like some dystopian future," I comment to Peter Dinklage, who is standing to my left. I muse about what it would be like if the drones were weaponized, and turned on us like machines tend to do in science fiction. Though a chilling thought, they are awkwardly constructed without any armoring, and look like they would be easy to shoot down.

      Then I notice that although they are not armed with guns, each drone is fitted with a camera, which is just as bad in some ways. Are they conducting mass surveillance on us? The cameras are all pointed directly at us. As I watch, a see a few drones of a different type fly in very close. They are not carrying signs, and they are disk-shaped, topped with a transparent dome through which we can see tiny people inside operating them. The pilots can't be human: even though I am standing next to a dwarf, they are much smaller than him, the size of babies, but with adult features and pointed ears. One of them waves at us, and Peter Dinklage says something like, "This is really disturbing."

      FA-DILD, "Smallpox": Shortly after this I have the sense of waking up, though it is not a typical FA; I do not find myself in bed. I feel like I am standing in the same spot, in the same room, only awake now. Everyone else who was in the room a moment ago is gone, and there is no longer any impression of a view. The light has changed, becoming greyer and dimmer: it felt like late afternoon a moment ago, now it feels like early morning.

      At once I notice that something is wrong with my body: a dense network of small patchy blisters is completely covering my skin. I look at myself in third person, as though in a mirror, and see them everywhere: covering my face, my chest, my arms, every patch of visible skin is mottled with these raised lesions. I know exactly what they are, too, I've seen them before in historical pictures: these are smallpox pustules, apparently in an early stage, since they are slightly lighter than my natural skin color and haven't scabbed or opened yet.

      Immediately my rational mind rejects the scenario: didn't I get vaccinated for this? I realize I don't specifically remember getting a smallpox vaccine, but... isn't that because smallpox is extinct? I can't recall the details but I'm sure I remembered hearing that. Surely it's not making a comeback, like measles, because of all these anti-vaccers? But that can't be right—if smallpox were coming back then vaccinations for it would have become available, and I'd have been first in line.

      This can't be happening. I try to will away the pustules but nothing changes. I remain unconvinced. This can't be happening, it must be a dream. If I can levitate, I will know it is a dream: I put my mind to it and though I do not levitate properly, I can feel that gravity is definitely different from waking life. So it is a dream! Okay, that's what I thought. Thank goodness I don't really have smallpox. Now I just need to fix my appearance.

      I go into the bathroom and look in the mirror, trying to will my skin smooth again. The pustules are stubbornly persistant, but a lock of hair turns white and I decide to transform the rest of it for fun. It instantly turns stark white, but the texture remains smooth and silky. This gives me the idea to turn my skin jet black, like that of a drow elf. I concentrate and most of it transforms, but there are still pale patches on my forehead and upper cheeks, and when I look down at my legs, they are a streaky grey that is fading out toward the ankles, more like body paint than skin pigment.

      On the bright side, changing the color of my skin finally got rid of the pustules, leaving it smooth again. Now I just want to even out the color, but the pale patches resist my initial attempts to darken them through will alone. I try to use my hands, as though spreading pigment over the resistant areas, and this helps a bit, but it is not an easy fix. As I peer closer into the mirror during this process, I notice that my eyes are solid black. I can't remember if this was the correct color for drow eyes, but I really like the effect. By the time I complete the skin transformation, my hair has faded from snow white to a yellower bone white, and this looks better and more natural with the jet black eyes and skin.

      During this process my hair has been going through stylistic variations, always long and straight, but hanging down in different ways, and smeared with substances like blood or oil. I figure this makes sense for drow fashion, since living underground they probably don't bathe all that often, making hair treatments like oil very practical, whereas the bloody streaks look impressively gruesome. Although my skin won't stay pure black, it doesn't fully revert to its natural shade either, but retains traces of color, like streaky orange-browns on a muted blue base, while the hair stays yellowish-white.

      WBTB: I woke up and spent over an hour writing the report of the last dream, but afterwards it was still early enough to go back to bed. Although I was not sleepy, it was a pleasantly lazy morning, and I enjoyed drifting in hypnagogic imagery. There was a period of ambiguity where it became increasingly difficulty to tell if I was having waking or dreaming experiences, and then I slipped again into full dream.


      DILD, "Bed Monsters": I was wandering through the large house belonging to my in-laws where I am currently staying, and I had lost count of the number of bedrooms... there had to be more than twenty. Just how big was this place? At that moment I realized, no, of course it is not so big in waking life, it is because I am dreaming that the size has been exaggerated. Dreaming, eh? Wasn't there something I had meant to do, if I found myself dreaming in a bedroom? Suddenly I recalled this month's TOTM, to make friends with the monster under your bed. Oh! I should get back to the room where I'd been sleeping! I dashed back so quickly I was afraid I would destabilize the dream, but luckily it stayed intact.

      I peered under the bed but it was a pleasant open space. It looked like there were a few banal things stored under there, but nothing looked sinister or monstrous. I felt around for something to work with, and my hand closed around a small plush object, which I withdrew and examined closely. It was a small brown teddy bear, only five inches long, with a plump, pear-shaped body and tiny beady eyes. There was a lighter brown oval around the bit of stiching that served as a nose. I was impressed with the detail with which I could perceive it, but had no idea how was I supposed to "make friends" with it. It seemed totally inert, a harmless stuffed animal. I set it on the thick folds of the comforter piled on the bed. "Dance!" I commanded. It just sat there. "Dance!" I tried a few more times, but it remained inaminate.

      I walked around to the other side of the bed, setting down the teddy bear on a dresser. I turned away for a moment, and when I looked again it had changed: now it was a sort of bell-shaped plastic structure hanging from the ceiling by a string. I couldn't tell what its purpose was, but it still appeared to be an inert object.

      It occurred to me that I had been walking around and standing right next to the bed completely heedless of the space underneath. If there really were monsters under there, I'd have to watch out for my ankles! I wondered if this was the problem, that I didn't really have any lingering childhood fear of monsters under the bed. Perhaps I should try again with more intent.

      I bent down and looked under the bed from this side, trying to keep the idea of monsters in mind. I still didn't see much under there: it was a light and airy space, just like in waking life, completely different from the overstuffed space under my bed at home. But I did see a scrap of cloth within arm's reach, so pulled it out. It turned out to be a little crocheted cat, only about three inches long, white with some orange spots. I guessed it must have been made by a total amateur. The body seemed floppy like it was unstuffed, and as I turned it over in my hands, I discovered that it was actually crocheted in a single flat piece with the four little legs sticking out horizontally, so only when it was folded in half along the back did it look plausibly like a cat. The head was the only piece that appeared to have been crocheted with any semblance of three-dimensionality. As I studied it closely, I saw tiny points of bright green contrasting with the dominant the white and orange: there was a little green tuft on the trip of the tail, and projecting from the head was a narrow appendange like the antenna of a cartoon alien, also topped with a green point.

      However, this object also showed no sign of motion or life, so it would be hard to say I was "making friends" with it. But then my eye caught a glimpse of orange fur near my feet: my cat had appeared! I wasn't surprised that she had turned up: when thinking about the task in waking life, I had reasoned that she really was the monster under my bed. Though I adopted her when she was about five months old (the best guess of the shelter) she had been living in a feral state before that, and even after five years of comfortable indoor living she still has the edgy instincts of a street cat: she hisses at the slightest provocation, and holes up under the bed for hours whenever a stranger is in the house.

      I knelt down to ruffle her long, soft fur, which felt totally life-like, but I noticed the color was off. In the dream she was calico, with big orange patches, but I remembered that she was a tabby in waking life. I wondered if she could qualify as my dream bed monster—though right now she was acting very pleasant and relaxed, and I figured it probably wouldn't count because I had already made friends with her in WL.

      Yet again I peeked under the bed, and this time at last I found the perfect candidate for my experiment. I felt that it was connected somehow with the tame cat at my feet, as though all her feral qualities had separated into a different animal. This one had a tortoise-shell coat, all the same colors as a calico but in smaller, more mingled patches. Although the fur resembled that of a cat, the body suggested another animal entirely, with a narrower head and tapering snout. I was pretty sure it was a fox. Best of all, it was already hissing and snarling at me! This was the monster I had been looking for!

      Now all I had to do was make friends with it. I began calling to it in the cooing, overly affectionate voice I might use with my cat. "Come here... lovely sweetie... lovely sweetie. I have treats for you my love... treats for you my love." The animal reacted as any feral creature would, holding its ground and continuing to hiss and snarl. I could see the tension locked into its body, poised for fight or flight. I reasoned that since it was a dream monster, the best approach would be to hug it, but that wasn't obviously wasn't going to be possible while it was still under the bed. I needed to draw it out first.

      I reached under the bed and the animal snapped at the air and threatened to bite me. I considered drawing my hand back for a different approach but decided to let it go ahead and bite, inspired by that wonderful scene in Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind where Nausicaa tames the fox-squirrel by remaining calm and patient when it bites her finger. Plus, since it was a dream I didn't have to worry about physical harm. So I kept reaching toward the animal until it bit down on the middle of my left index finger. The pain was surprisingly clear and sharp, but easily manageable. I kept thinking of that scene from Nausicaa and projecting similar expectations on this situation. I felt the animal relax enough to take a few steps closer to me, but it had not yet emerged from under the bed when the dream abruptly faded. Intriguingly, even after I had fully transitioned to wakefulness, I could still feel a distinct itch in the second joint of my left index finger where the animal had bitten me.

      uncontrollable things in lucid state-nausicaalarge1.jpg

      Updated 05-10-2015 at 04:09 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , non-lucid , false awakening , memorable , task of the month
      Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails uncontrollable things in lucid state-tetonausicaa01.jpg  
    9. Castle Infiltration (WILD)

      by , 04-24-2015 at 07:52 AM
      Ritual: WTB 12:45am, woke 6am and felt rested enough to do a solid WBTB and WILD attempt. Read LD books for an hour then returned to bed at 7am. I took bacopa, L-theanine, alpha-GPC, and even ventured to add a little galantamine to the mix, breaking open a Galantamind capsule and adding half the powder to my alpha-GPC solution. I lay on my back and counted, also deciding on my intended tasks: muto herbam and my lucid dare. For the hell of it I added in a short mantra on the off-counts: inspired by the DC's weird question last night ("Who is your mantra?") I was using the name of an intriguing DC from a prior dream. I started losing the count quickly and after picking it back up a few times, drifted off somewhere in the 30s. Eventually I woke back up, used the bathroom, and checked the time before lying down on my left side to sleep. It was 7:30am. Woke up at 8am with dream.

      WILD: I quickly started to feel promising bodily sensations, able to move in ways I was sure weren't "real." At one point I felt my husband's face very close to mine, thought I could feel his breath against my face, and was afraid this distraction was going to wake me. Feeling a bit rude, I pushed him away. After that he got up and I hoped he had understood my reasons—recognized that I was in the middle of a dream attempt—and wasn't annoyed. Of course in retrospect, I'm sure that none of this actually happened; not only does the geography of the bed make it physically unlikely, but my husband was still fast asleep on his side of the bed when I woke up to write this report.

      As soon as I felt I had full bodily control, I started trying to get out of bed. I threw caution to the winds because I've started to suspect that a lot of the barriers to transition are self-imposed. So I got out of bed as soon as I could manage it, and although I felt awkward at first, moving very herky-jerkily as I tried to walk out of the room—a bit like a marionette whose puppetmaster is still figuring out the right use of the strings—I soon got back into the feel of it.

      I walked into the kitchen, where my attention was caught by what looked like a big wad of gauze or lace, about 18 inches in diamter. In shape it resembled those scrunchies you use in the shower, but it was much larger and made of lacy white gauze with silver sparkles. The texture was wonderfully detailed, more distinct than anything else in my field of vision, so I decided to pick it up and use it for my first experiment. The simpler of the tasks I had planned was to practice a bit with transformation and with plants, so I held the gauze in my hands and commanded, "Muto herbam," envisioning the form of a long-stemmed red rose.

      The material was resistant at first, so I repeated the command a few times and intensified my will. Eventually it shrank compliantly into a red flower, but the blossom appeared to be that of a tulip, so I continued staring at it sternly until it manifested more layers of ruffled petals. I studied it to make sure it was a proper rose and not just an ambitious carnation, and when I was finally satisfied with its form, I lifted it to my nose to smell it. It actually did smell like a rose! This impressed me all the more because I so rarely have any olfactory impressions in my dreams. (Then again, I guess I don't spend much time sniffing things.)

      I wondered if I should leave the house to perform my next task. I'm still working on my lucid dare, which requires me to find an camp of elves in the forest and join them in making music. My initial impulse was to leave my house and look for the forest, but that hasn't worked well before, so this time I thought I would to try a different approach and transform the environment around me rather than bodily leaving it. I looked around the room for another plant suitable for my experiment and was pleased to discover a spindly sapling with lots of thin twigs tipped with narrow yellow flowers growing in a pot. I went over to it and commanded "Rego herbam," commanding it to grow into a tall tree. Nothing happened at first, but eyeing its numerous twigs I had another idea for how to use it.

      The sapling was slightly taller than I was, so I backed up against it and pulled its flexible branches around me to create the visual impression that I was surrounded by a thicket, once again commanding "Rego herbam." The trick worked! The twigs filling my field of vision became a real thicket in which I found myself hiding on a hillside, trying to remain unseen as I peered down at a large camp of about two dozen people occupying a cleared basin just below me. I hoped they were elves! But they didn't seem merry, and I didn't hear any music. They were dressed in muted earthtones and went about their business grimly.

      I can't remember if I actually observed the camp being raided, but by some means I understood that this was a camp of rebels whose people were being oppressed and frequently captured and sold into slavery by the inhabitants of a nearby castle. I was aware that had several been taken away recently, and decided that the best way to ingratiate myself with the camp would be to rescue them. So I transported myself into the castle dungeon and began to search for the captives.

      The first door I opened led to an empty room, though it definitely looked like a classic dungeon, with rough-hewn and filthy stone floor and walls. Returning to the corridor, I saw that there were lots of identical doors, and I didn't think I had time to try them all, so I let instinct guide me to another door across the hall. At first this seemed promising: there was very little light filtering in through the tiny windows high in the wall, and in the shadows I thought I saw four figures manacled to the walls around the room. As I walked in, planning to free them, I found that either my eyes had decieved me, or the dream had shifted: the manacles were there, but this room was just as empty as the last. It made me wonder if what I had seen were the ghosts of past prisoners.

      As I went to leave the room, I was startled to discover that the door was now half-blocked by a chest-high mound of stone rubble. I started to climb over but it was too steep, and afterward the blockade looked even higher, taller than I was. If I didn't act soon I would be completely walled in! So I mustered my concentration and simply pushed through the pile of rocks. The stone felt very resistant and I had to use all my strength, but finally burst through into the hallway. I was surprised how exhausted I felt after this feat. Given that it was a dream, it shouldn't be any harder to move "rocks" than anything else, but I felt completely spent. While I paused to regain my strength, I heard people approaching from around a corner to my left. There was no time to get away, so I simply held very still in the doorway and concentrated on being invisible to them.

      There were three people in all. One person passed by without giving any sign of seeing me. Two others followed, walking together, and to my consternation they stopped at the door, right in front of me. Although they didn't seem to see me, something appeared to have caught their attention (the dislodged rocks?) because one of them pulled out a handheld device and started waving it in my direction as though scanning something. I wondered what would happen if they tried to walk through the doorway. I still seemed to be invisible, but would they be able to pass right through my body? Or would they bump into me? I decided not to risk it, and I was also a little worried that the scanner might detect my presence, so I reached out and grabbed one of the people with each hand. I willed them both to fall unconscious, and they slumped to the ground. The one to the left was a woman dressed in "business casual," while the guy to the right appeared to be a uniformed security guard. I immediately knelt down and hastily stripped the latter of all the tech I could find on his body: earpiece, cellphone, and a few other little widgets that I didn't recognize. I thought I heard another person coming down the hall, so I transformed into a bird and flew out one of the small barred windows high up on the walls.

      The castle was on a gently sloping hillside, and I was now flying over a wide rural landscape. At the base of the hill was a wooded region, and far beyond that I could see the curve of the ocean shore. I figured I would still be able to find my way back to the camp, since I had just come from there, so I let memory or instinct guide me. Meanwhile I focused on making sure I was flying properly, since I haven't spent much time in bird form. I alternated between flapping my wings and holding them stiff and outstretched so that I could glide on the wind. I felt like a large bird of prey, and I was clutching the tech I had just stolen in my talons.

      I flew over the forest until I saw a clearing below that looked familiar. Descending felt very realistic, because I was circling just like a raptor would, wide at first and then in a narrowing spiral until I landed. To get the attention of the people in the camp, I decided that I should not be an ordinary brown eagle, but a white eagle. Apparently this drew a little too much attention, because on the way down I discovered that someone was shooting arrows at me. I decided I could use this to make my entrance particularly impressive, so at the very moment that I touched the ground I not only turned back into a woman, I also grabbed an arrow that was about to hit me right out of the air.

      Earlier I had not made sure whether or not the people in the camp actually were elves, and now that I look around at closer range, I see only round human ears. I approach a couple people who are talking authoritatively, like leaders of the group. One is a capable looking woman with short, dirty-blonde hair. I ask her if there are any elves in the camp, thinking to myself that if I do find some, I'll give them the tech I stole as a friendly gesture. No one can specifically point to any elves, so I ask, well, who was shooting at me? I figure that if there is an elf, it might well have been the one lobbing arrows. The woman points across the camp. Following her gesture, I notice a slight figure huddled on a bench, completely wrapped in a dark grey blanket.

      I walk over and lean down in front of the figure, trying to gently tug the blanket aside to reveal its face. It seems shy, hiding its face under the blanket like this, but I soon discover the reason. As I begin to reveal its features, they are the last thing I would have expected. The head is made of molded transparent plastic, with a suggestion of human features on the outside and circuitboards within. It is an android!

      The android has a high, almost childish voice, and evidently feels very bashful about its unusual appearance. It tries to prevent me from pulling back the blanket, protesting, "I look repulsive."

      I completely disagree, and tell it so: "No you don't. You look amazing." It reluctantly lets me tease aside the blanket to reveal its whole head.

      At this point a man walks up to us. He looks to be in his forties, balding, a bit stocky in build, and with rounded features, kind of resembling Rob Corddry. From his dress and demeanor, I immediately intuit that he is the creator of this android. I realize that he would be the ideal person to give the tech I stole from the castle guard.

      "I have something for you," I say without preamble, and fill his hands with the little pile of objects.

      He looks delighted. "This will be really useful."

      We start chatting a bit about the android, and I ask if he knows where to find any elves. He's not aware of any in the camp, but I overhear a snippet of conversation from people standing nearby that I think might be relevant to my question; one of them mentions a place called "Junkyard Bay" and I resolve to check it out.

      "What's your name?" I ask the inventor. I feel a bit silly always asking this of DCs, but I like to know.

      "Dira," he says. That's how I assumed it was spelled, but from the pronunciation it could just as easily be "Deera." He asks mine, and I tell him.

      Dira is looking at me like he finds me really familiar, but can't figure out where he knows me from. "We haven't spoken before this? No beer? No comfort?"

      I am perplexed by his laconic queries until I realize that he's asking if he might have met me in a bar or a brothel. I might have been offended at the implications if I weren't so fascinated by his distinctive manner of speaking, so unlike my own speech patterns. How could a DC, a projection of my own mind, demonstrate linguistic traits so utterly unlike my own, to the point where it took me a moment to make sense of what he was saying? It was one of those moments that make me wonder if my reductionist assumptions are correct, but I'm not ready to go down the path of madness without better evidence than this.

      I shake my head, since I'm pretty sure I've never met him in either dream or waking life. He asks my name another time, and I repeat it. I've been using my WL name, having forgotten my former resolution to use an alias with DCs.

      Dira starts explaining something about the locals: "What's particularly important for the native Ukaran communities is the..." there was more, but it was complicated, and I was still trying to figure out what was going on.

      "Ukaran?" I ask, to make sure I heard correctly.

      "Yes, the Ukaran and the Utankaran."

      I had the impression that he was implying that the Ukarans were the people in this camp, and I'd already seen the problems that they were facing—oppression and human trafficking on the part of the people in the castle. I wondered if the oppressors were the Utankarans. The similarity in their names suggested that they were closely related but (in the manner of such things) probably deeply opposed social groups.

      Updated 04-24-2015 at 08:50 AM by 34973

      Categories
      memorable , lucid
    10. Sparked + Victorian Gentleman + Let the Right One In (NLD + DILD + FA)

      by , 03-12-2015 at 07:36 PM
      Ritual: WTB 1am, WBTB 6-7am recording NLDs, woke 7:45am with DILD + FA.

      NLD, "Sparked": Walking home at night. Someone drives past in a dark vehicle and I say, "Turn on your lights!" Then I feel embarrassed when I notice she is actually walking. She enters the apartment two doors ahead of mine. The door next to her place is open, and there are people just inside it who give the impression that they are workers, not residents. My bed is the first thing I see when I open the door of my apartment, and I'm pleased to see a large box on it. Oh good, that thing I ordered has arrived.

      After looking through the first box and strewing its contents, plastic wrap and styrofoam all over my bed, I open a smaller box that has also arrived. It contains a speaker that I ordered. When I first pull it out of the packaging I am disappointed: the surface is surprisingly dirty. Is it just shelfworn, or did I get a refurbished one by mistake? I'll be annoyed in the latter case, since I thought I was ordering a new one. There is some molded styrofoam that seems like the original packaging, if that's any clue.

      The speaker weighs almost nothing, and I remember that this is a special lightweight system. It's portability is limited by its size, however, at about 8x10 inches. The back of it consists of flaps are supposed to fold together in a clever way. As I go to remove the last of the styrofoam supports, something unusual happens inside my head, like an electrical disruption.

      I remain calm and think I'd better tell my roommates about this in case it incapacitates me and I end up needing medical attention, so I say aloud: "Hey guys, something weird just happened to me. I felt a "pop," saw a flash of white light, and now in the back of my head I hear a tone that is steadily increasing in frequency."

      "You need more sleep," someone suggested. He could be right, but I didn't see the relevance. I do want to go back to bed but I'll have to clear all the box mess off it first.

      What was happening to me? I had a contextual clue, at least: "It happened when I touched the speaker for the first time." Perhaps the device had built up some kind of strange electrical charge that I had triggered?

      All this time the tone was whining to higher and higher pitches, and I waited with curiosity and slight anxiety to see what would happen next. When it seemed like it had become so shrill that it would soon pass beyond my auditory range, all that happened was that I woke up.

      Note: The other day I read about "exploding head syndrome." This might have been a minor instance of it! The "popping" sound and flash of light are apparently classic symptoms. This is only the second time I've experienced something like this.

      DILD, "Victorian Gentleman": I'm at a computer trying to order something online. I don't recall what it was, but the cost was over $200. There were some complicated webforms to navigate, and then after some difficulty finding my wallet, my credit card was missing. Meanwhile my stepmother-in-law comes over and offers to let me run her card instead. "No, no, no, no," I say quickly, trying to deter her, having just spotted mine on the table. Too late, she has already run her card and made the purchase. Well, that was nice of her, even if it wasn't what I would have asked for. I should show appreciation. I hug her and say, "Thank you."

      Walking outside afterward, I have second thoughts. Was I rude to simply thank her? Maybe she hadn't intended the action as a gift. But even if she had, perhaps it would have been more polite of me to ask when she wanted me to pay her back, and that would give her the option to be magnanimous and say it wasn't necessary. But if she had assumed I would pay her back, wouldn't it be rude of her to create an extra hassle for me that I hadn't asked for? I had told her "no" and she did it anyway. I conclude that under the circumstances, my response was adequate and I should let it go.

      As I walk back in the house, behind me I hear a man's voice, distinctively low and gravelly. It is really familiar. Who is that guy? I think he must live next door; I'm always hearing that voice. I sneak a look back before going in and spot him: he is older, gaunt, with straggly grey hair. I think he looks like an aging biker or a math professor (they can look more similar than you might think!)

      I continue in the house and decide to repack my suitcase, which is in disarray, when it occurs to me... wait. I have the impression that I hear that man's voice all the time, but I suddenly suspect that I only hear it in dreams. Could this be a dream, then? I realize that it is. This gives me the confidence to go back outside and approach the guy, intending to find out who he is. I would not want to so brazenly walk up to a stranger in WL, but this is my dream so there is no reason to hesitate. As I step back through the door I find myself with handful of silver rings in my right hand that I am putting on the fingers of the left. Why did I grab so many? I'm going to have to put multiple rings on each finger to make them all fit.

      Only one person is in sight now, a dapper gentleman in Victorian dress walking by from left to right. He has a neatly trimmed beard, a black frock coat, and a top hat. I've always been fascinated by that era, but in dreams I've never been successful in my attempts to meet historical figures. I wonder if he'll really acknowledge being from that time period. Maybe he's just dressing up?

      I get his attention and ask, "Are you from the Victorian era?" He confirms it. I'm interested now so I start walking alongside him, suggesting, "Tell me about yourself." As he begins to reply, I look more closely at his face and realize that he is strikingly good-looking. On a whim I seize his arm and pull him off the road, then push him against the door of a nearby house and start kissing him, thinking meanwhile that in waking life I would never do this with a stranger. Though taken by surprise he responds willingly. The only thing marring the pleasure of the kiss is a little piece of fingernail in my mouth—I must have been biting them—and I try to move it with my tongue so it won't come into contact with his mouth, which would be awkward. During a break in the kissing I manage to swallow the bit of nail, and the gentleman never seems to notice.

      After that interlude we continue together down the street. It's odd that I so quickly lost interest in my more intellectual inquiries and succumbed to mere erotic instinct... and annoying, in that I never did get to hear the DC's account of himself. My lucidity apparently faded quite a bit in the process (it was never very keen in this dream), because it doesn't occur to me to ask again, and instead I just walk along with little further thought.

      We stop at a shop whose front opens right onto the street, and the gentleman wants to buy an unusual kind of candy that I've never seen before. It is some highly-processed, artificially flavored substance that comes in brightly colored plastic packages. The package can be activated in such a way that its contents will burst out like a foam snake. This is marketed to kids as a toy as well as a snack: they can have mock battles trying to hit one another with the candy snakes, then eat them afterwad. The girl minding the shop explains this to me while showing her a green stain spot on her T-shirt from where one of the candies had landed on her. So they stain clothes, too? I look down and am glad to see that I'm wearing something casual.

      FA, "Let the Right One In": I wake up and get out of bed to record the dream. I don't notice anything unusual as I'm walking across the house, but pause in confusion as I go to sit down at my computer. Where's my chair? Why would my chair be gone? Surely I'm not dreaming? At first it feels improbable but gradually I realize that I am. Interesting... well, I want to explore this, but I don't want to lose my memory of the previous dream. It is still clear in mind, so I review the events and even recite a list of key words aloud to help fix my impressions. Then I look around to see what this new dream has to offer.

      In contrast to the relative normality of the house, correct in layout but more sparsely furnished than normal, the view outside is catastrophic and extraordinary. A wide frozen river of swelling ice is flowing motionlessly where my patio should be, and cascading down toward the city in the distance. Just beyond it looms a mountain of pure white ice, with a matte, knobbly texture like that reminds me of spray-on styrofoam. Craning my head up, I can just see the narrow peak glittering in the sun. Everything looks incredibly clear and vivid, beautiful and frozen but apocalyptic.

      The landscape is packed with people, whose clothes provide little patches of bright color. Bodies are frozen into the river and wander in groups along its banks. The only place free of people is the slopes of the ice mountain, steep and white and pristine. As I turn my gaze from the east, where I saw the river and mountain, to the south, the view becomes more grim. A whole crowd of people outside presses right up against the glass wall of my house, looking longingly inside, their bodies almost grey with cold and frost. I feel compassion for their plight, but I'm not sure what to do about it. My house is not big enough to accommodate even a fraction of the throngs who want to get in.

      The people on the left, closer to the river, were all standing very still, but as I continue along the wall to the right, the people on this side are becoming more restless, with a few actively trying to break in. Some are attempting to cut holes in the glass. I wonder how long before they'll get through, and realize that I might need to start warding the walls against them. Then I see a segment of glass fall in, and realize that one woman has just succeeded in making a hole. It is about three feet high and a foot or so wide, in the shape of a narrow heart or mitten. Before she can slip through, I aim my flat palms toward the gap and begin to refreeze the glass (I don't seem to be distinguishing between ice and glass here). After a thin layer of glass or ice manifests over the hole, I pick up the piece that was removed and put it back in place, willing the gaps to fill in.

      As I continue along the wall, the situation is getting even worse. There are already more holes. In fact, one woman has just crawled inside. I pick her up like a manniquin to remove her. The crowd is too think to restore her to ground level, so I toss her on top of the others... she can crowd-surf.

      I come face to face with another woman who has made a hole in the glass. "You're not real, you're not real," I protest against her attempted incursion. It occurs to me that I should respond to her vaguely threatening presence with kindness. I embrace her and kiss her on the mouth, but she is oddly inert. It's like kissing a doll. I have nothing but a faint impression of staring blue eyes... blank eyes. "You're not real. Do you understand that? The reality of you is that you're not real."

      She remains stiff and unresponsive, but doesn't back down, so I try an alternate tack. If she wants to get in the house so badly, then I will welcome her. I grab her arm and start tugging her inside. At this she actually resists, telling a woman standing near her outside, "Don't let go of my arm."

      This is an interesting development. "Don't you want to come in?" I taunt. "A minute ago you were clamoring to come in." The dream ends.

      Updated 03-13-2015 at 08:55 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , non-lucid , false awakening , memorable
    11. Mirror Lake + Coitus Interruptus (DILDs + FAs)

      by , 03-12-2015 at 07:52 AM
      Ritual: Too tired to work late so WTB 12am, woke 4am to finish work. WBTB at 6:15, woke 7:15am with first DILD.

      DILD, "Mirror Lake": Woke up with fragile recall... as I was getting down notes from the end of the dream, ended up forgetting much of what came before. Thought about it and some scenes came back, but there might be gaps.

      I recall an NLD at my grandma's house involving lots of cats and kittens of all sizes and personalities. I was trying to negotiate conflicts between them and protect the kittens from dogs who seemed on the verge of trying to eat them. I woke at one point (though I now suspect this was an FA) and reflected, oh, those were such obvious dream signs (grandma's house & cats), I should be more attentive.

      Not sure exactly when I became lucid; it might have happened around this point. I recall lying in bed, thinking it was just like my real bed but instinctively aware that I was dreaming. (In retrospect, typically, room and bed were nothing like WL.) I lay on my back staring at the complex patterns that were playing across the ceiling in black and white, complex and shifting geometric abstractions.

      From there the scene changed. I recall the transition clearly, because I found it interesting how I went from lying flat on my back to sitting in a partially reclining chair in a movie theater without ever feeling as though my body had changed position. Corresponding with my new angle of vision, the patterns on the ceiling have now reoriented to become the images on the movie screen, and transformed from abstract to representational. When I was lying in bed I had the impression that my husband was sleeping to my right (odd because in WL he sleeps on my left); now he is sitting on my right in the movie theatre. The rest of the room was empty in the earlier scene, even lacking furniture apart from the bed: the movie theatre, by contrast, is packed with people.

      Having experienced all this so distinctively, especially the odd ambivalence of change/no change in my position, I become curious about my dream body and feel it with my hands. How lifelike is it? I'm impressed with its solidity and the distinct way I can feel the muscles moving under my skin as I twist in my seat. (In retrospect, the muscular movement may have been exaggerated.)

      Even though I'm only touching my side and hip, the attention to my body makes me feel slightly aroused, and I am reminded of the recent forum thread where the OP asked if it was possible to maintain lucidity through orgasm. Certainly, I had replied. Though I've done it before, some years ago, eventually I decided not to get distracted by dream sex so it's been a while. It now occurred to me to see if I could still do it, if only as an exercise in maintaining stability. I hesitated momentarily since I was in such a public place, but shrugged off those concerns—this is my dream, how much more private can you get?—and indeed no one around me notices or reacts as I move my hand discreetly downward.

      All it takes is a few minutes of pressure with my fingers to get myself off. I watch the images on the movie screen to make sure I don't lose focus on the dream. The intensity passes and the dream remains stable. I once again marvel at how easy it is to orgasm in dream compared to the cumbersome efforts required of the physical body. After the movie ends—I don't recall the story at all—I leave the theater. I remember being impressed at how long the dream lasts and how continuous the spaces feel, though in retrospect I don't clearly remember all the ground I covered.

      The next thing I remember is a scene inspired by day residue from work. I talk briefly with colleagues, mostly people that I observe have no correspondence to WL. When I get bored with this and turn to leave, a woman asks, "You're leaving already?" I go out the door carrying a large textbook in one hand. I briefly consider discarding it, but decide to keep it with me for now.

      Beyond the doorway I find myself in the hallway of a university building. It's hard to say if it is dorms or classrooms, but there are lots of flyers and decorations all over the walls. I note the peculiarities of my vision: the environment is really stable, with lots of detail, but everything is a bit dim and out of focus. I'm deciding what to do next and recall the mirror TOTM. There are always public restrooms in hallways like this, and there will undoubtedly be a mirror in the restroom, so I walk down the hallway and look for a likely door.

      I reach a corner where the corridor takes a right turn to the left, so I continue in that direction. After turning the corner, I encounter something unexpected: the hall is much darker here, as if the lights have gone out, and the way forward is block with big stacks of boxes. Interesting... why is the dream trying to stop me from going down this hall? Curious, I levitate and cross the barrier easily—the boxes were only stacked high enough to be an obstacle to someone on foot.

      A voice calls out from the darkness behind the boxes, apparently a guy stationed at a desk there to make sure no one gets past. "You can't go back there," he warns me.

      "Why?" I ask, genuinely wanting to know the answer. The barriers the dream is throwing in my way are becoming more and more intriguing!

      His excuse is really lame and boring: "There are books being deposited."

      "Okay," I respond indifferently. I ignore him and continue to levitate down the hallway. Halfway down I encounter a door on my right. Will the guard pursue me? I have the the impression that he starts to get up from his desk, but I've moved so quickly that I have a big lead already. To further distract and delay him, I throw the big textbook I've been carrying in his direction. Helpfully, this frees up my hands so that I can open the door.

      I have the impression that the door was supposed to be locked, but I bypass it effortlessly. As I twist the knob and push the door open, I can feel the distinct tickle of thick cobwebs brushing my right hand. This gives me a creepy thrill... is there actually some peril here? Why would the dream try to keep me out of this room? Just past the door is a pair of light switches on the wall to my right. I flip them but nothing happens. Typical.

      Although the room is darker than the hall outside, I can still vaguely see. It is unremarkable: just a storeroom with a few boxes stacked here and there. However, one detail draws my attention: it is very thing I was looking for, a mirror! The mirror is large, at least 3x8 feet, and lying flat on the floor in an arbitrary position as though it is merely being stored here. This is great, I can try the TOTM! I've used mirrors as portals before, but they were always vertically aligned. The fact that this mirror is flat on the floor suggests a new way of using it: instead of pushing or walking through, as is natural with vertical mirrors, I should just run over and jump in as though it were a pool of water. I figure it will work as long as I can avoid any doubts or second thoughts.

      I take a running jump and fall into the mirror's surface. My alignment isn't perfect—I end up on my back sinking half into the mirror, half into the floor, but I don't let this bother me. There is a momentary disorientation of unconstructed dream space, then I watch curiously as a new environment begins to coalesce, wondering where I'll find myself.

      It was predictable, really: after thinking about the mirror-portal as a pool of water, that is exactly where I end up. I am floating on my back on the surface of a very calm body of water, like a pond, and I can hear a stream bubbling somewhere nearby. This is actually quite peaceful and relaxing, and I think how nice it would be to float here for a while... but I'm already waking up.

      FA: There is a brief FA where I hear my husband's breathing on my right—still the inverse of our actual positions in WL—and then I wake up for real.

      Interlude: From 7:15 to 8am I wake and write the notes from the last dream, then return to bed. It is hard to fall asleep, taking about half an hour. Everytime I get close to sleep, some unexpected noise wakes me: my husband's alarm clock; a text message; and finally an unrelenting sequence of pounding and clattering at the house next door, as though someone is alternately assembling and destroying a pile of scrap metal.

      Spoiler for Sexual content:

      Updated 03-12-2015 at 07:58 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , false awakening , memorable , task of the month
    12. Hong Kong Apartment + Trail of Smoke (DILDs + FAs)

      by , 03-08-2015 at 08:03 PM
      Ritual: WTB 12:30am, woke 7:30 with first DILD. No techniques, hadn't really intended to get lucid, but I was wearing a Jawbone fitness tracker on my wrist to bed for the first time. It's a bit tight and I think the unfamiliar sensation served as an anchor for consciousness.

      DILD (eventually), "Hong Kong Apartment": I am in Hong Kong with my husband, staying in the apartment of someone unknown to me. I'm curious who this guy is and why we're at his place, so I'm attentive to my surroundings. It is a one-bedroom apartment and the layout feels familiar; I figure it must be a common floorplan here. The first thing I remember is being in a small room of unclear function, a study maybe, and looking at a plaque on the wall. It depicts a Chinese character, the archaic version of that character, and the pinyin transliteration: sōng, corresponding to the English word "page"—not the leaf of a book but the job title. From this I suppose that the young man who lives here must be serving as a page in the Hong Kong government, in the same way that there are pages in the US Congress.

      My husband is talking to me, and I'm vaguely following his words but not entirely sure what he's going on about. I'm still trying to figure out why we're here: does my husband know the guy who owns this place, or is this some kind of Airbnb arrangement? Meanwhile I'm trying to wrap an enormous porkchop—the size of a prime rib steak—that I have for some reason. It is fully grilled but no one has eaten it yet, and I'm not hungry now so I want to put it away. It had been wrapped in butcher's paper but I'm having trouble re-wrapping it, and this distracts my attention for some time as I end up having to use a piece of foil to supplement the paper where it is torn. As I finally wrap the porkchop successfully and go to put it in the fridge, I see that there is fresh lettuce in the fridge, and I've also noticed dirty plates on the counter. I had assumed the apartment's owner was letting us stay because he was away somewhere, but these details make me think he must be currently living here and could walk in at any moment.

      I know my husband needs to leave for some meeting or event, and our conversation is delaying his departure, so finally I say in exasperation, "Get out of here already!" Right after he goes out the door, I worry that he might have misunderstood my tone of voice and thought I was angry, so I opened the door and called after his retreating form, "I didn't mean to speak harshly." Meanwhile a girl with short, curly blonde hair is walking from right to left in front of the apartment, and I think she might be someone he had just been referring to—at the time I even recalled her name, something with the initials "J.S."—so I gaze at her curiously. She looks back at me with the self-conscious but indifferent air of someone wondering why a stranger is staring at them. It seems like it would be awkward to start a conversation so I go back inside.

      Alone in the apartment, I look around at the decor. There are a lot of hand-carved wooden animal figures, and they remind me of a set that I bought in a museum shortly before Christmas, but couldn't figure out who to give them to. They seem to match this guy's tastes... maybe I should give them to him, in thanks for the loan of his apartment. It seems like a nice gesture so I plan on it. In the center of the main room, which has an open floor plan connected with the kitchenette, is a wide square column that is hollow inside to serve as storage space. I note with interest that there are a number of oversized books here. One of them is at least four feet tall, and the title on the spine reads Disney as Orientalism, accompanied by some Disney-style graphics. I make a mental note that later I'll want to pull that one out and flip through it. It's so big it won't fit on a table—I'll have to do this on the floor! It is the largest of the books in this closet, but none of them are small. Several others are about three feet tall with matching red covers, and I see that one of them is about Shanghai. Books of this size must have cost a fortune... this guy must be doing well here. I wonder if it would be rude to read his books without asking permission first, but figure there's no harm in it.

      I wonder how I'll explain my presence if this guy shows up while I'm here by myself, since I'm still not clear on who he exactly is or why I'm at his apartment. In fact, this question starts to bother me, because it seems like I should have a better explanation. Of course, it's always possible that I'm dreaming, but... I want to discount this at first, since it seems to contradict what I'm experiencing from this environment. It is so detailed, lifelike, and stable, it really doesn't feel like a dream. But I make myself take the time to think this over more carefully: if I am actually dreaming, that would explain a lot, like why I had a porkchop, something I almost never eat, and the difficulty I had wrapping it. It would explain why I am in Hong Kong with no idea why I am here, and why I find myself in the apartment of a guy I don't even know. I don't use any techniques to RC, I just think it over and gradually recognize the illusory nature of my surroundings: indeed I am dreaming!

      So now what? Normally I would apply myself to some task or other, but I had specifically made a point not to do so this time, if I got lucid, because I'm facing too much work today to spend hours writing up my report. So my plan was not to do anything specific, but simply to contemplate and enjoy the dream environment. (For some reason I had the idea that this would save me time writing things up later, although that is proving not to be the case!) I walk toward the back wall of the apartment, which is completely transparent, and look outside. It is still night, but there is a well-lit open-air bar just below, with a stream running behind it. There are a surprising number of people down there, and all seem to be relaxed and enjoying themselves, like guests at a resort. I sit down to watch the scene, while thinking back over what I've just experienced. I'm still impressed by how detailed and stable this dream was. For instance, that Chinese character on the wall—it was so clearly articulated, even though I don't think it was one I've ever seen before, and I strongly doubt it's even a real one. I wished I had looked at it more carefully, and focus on reviving the mental image. I think can remember the top elements of the modern version of the character, but I'm vague about what composed the bottom, which was complex, and I had not studied it closely at the time. The archaic version was simpler, and I can remember it much more distinctly. Concentrating on this inadvertently wakes me up.

      Interlude: After writing the above account and going back to bed at 8:45am, I certainly didn't intend to get lucid again, given that I've already spent a lot of time writing when I should be working, but I never want to rule it out. I ended up having several FAs, the later ones bringing on a very long bout of lucidity, in which I just wandered around exploring rather than working on specific tasks. There would still be a lot to write up but given time constraints I'll have to keep it brief. Woke for the day at 10:15.

      FA: I was in the bathroom thinking that I should make a more consistent effort to recognize those little discrepancies that might make me notice I'm dreaming, like I did in the last dream, without realizing that I was actually dreaming at that very moment.

      FA/DILD, "Trail of Smoke": I hovered for a long time on the border between sleep and waking and enjoyed observing its ambiguities. For instance, there was a point where I was convinced I was immersed in dream visuals but hearing everything perfectly accurately from waking life (I was probably wrong about this). I caught at least one FA and was pleased after my failure to catch the last one. Then a long dream followed where I was basically lucid the whole time, but also knew I wouldn't have time to write it up in much detail, so only certain episodes that were especially interesting stand out clearly in my memory. I really can't take the time to include them all here, but the last scene was worth mentioning:

      I am wandering through a dream environment typical for me, a labyrinthine enclosed public space, and having just seen someone smoking on a magazine cover, I now find myself smoking a cigarette. The smoke doesn't dissipate completely but lingers faintly in the air along the path I have walked, like that memorable scene from Donnie Darko (2001). It looks like I could potentially trace back the smoke and rediscover all the places I have visited in the course of this long dream. This makes me wonder: how big is the dream world? And the answer seems obvious: there are no boundaries, it is as big as mind itself. Standing in that world even as I recognize its boundlessness, I feel a sense of awe.

      I gaze at the glimmering smoke trails and murmur, "All the places I've been are like a trail of smoke that follows me."

      Updated 03-12-2015 at 07:59 AM by 34973

      Categories
      false awakening , memorable , lucid , non-lucid
    13. 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
    14. Propeller Arms (NREM?)

      by , 01-18-2015 at 08:29 PM
      I had taken a two-hour nap earlier in the day, so when I went to bed at 1:45am I did not feel particularly sleepy. It seemed like a good opportunity to get lucid, so I fixed intention on fireworks task and did a few rounds of SSILD before falling asleep.

      I had an NLD that was strongly WoW-influenced (day residue) in which I had gotten stuck in the middle of a quest chain and was searching the environment for objects that had a yellow exclamation point over them. This went on for a long time but at some point I finally recognized that I was dreaming. Although this pushed me near waking and disrupted the dream, I had enough awareness to avoid moving and held on to dreamstate as well as I could. I searched for something to better anchor me there, and noticed that I could distinctly hear voices conversing, although I could not see the figures—in fact I couldn't see anything at all.

      I don't recall the specific words now although I could hear them clearly at the time. I recall how spontaneous and random the conversation seemed, with no relationship I could discern to day residue, my own memories, or even the earlier dream. I listened carefully to try to figure out what was going on. A younger girl who sounded like a teenager was arguing with an older woman about something she wanted to do. At first I assumed it was her mother but then decided it must be a caretaker after she called her "Nanny" at one point. I was not involved in the scenario, I was just listening in the dark.

      Even though I didn't feel integrated into my dream body and lacked visuals altogether, the audible conversation was so vivid that I figured I must be reasonably secure in the dream state, so I figured I'd try the TOTM and see if I could coax a better REM state into effect. The fireworks task was perfect for this, since it was something I could attempt without moving much or needing anything from the environment. I imagined holding out my hand, palm up, and shooting fireworks from the center of my palm. Something did happen: I could half-see a kind of ghostly outline of my hand, like when you look at it in almost total darkness, and then above the palm emerged a faint graphic that resembled a model of the solar system, with the planets hanging in space and lines indicating their orbits.

      It's hard to describe what "seeing" this was like, since it was neither seeing in the usual sense, nor was it merely thinking or imagining, but something in between, or possibly different from them all. Have you ever been in a situation where it was so dark that you looked at your hand and weren't sure that you were really seeing it or your mind was just filling in the outlines where it knew they should be? It was a bit like that, but different, because in addition to my hand I could also "see" the solar system graphic, an image I would not have expected, and because ultimately I didn't feel like I was really "seeing" any of this with my eyes, even dream eyes. Part of the problem is that I still didn't feel fully embodied, so the darkness didn't just feel like an absence of light, but like a condition—inner darkness as opposed to outer darkness? Even at the time I suspected I wasn't in full REM. The visual impression was there, but it didn't register as genuinely visual.

      I decided that I must not be dreaming deeply enough to see properly, and this gave rise to a more substantial physical sensation of lying in my bed, as though I had woken up, yet I knew clearly that I was still in the dream state. I had half a mind to try fireworks again right then and there, and half a mind to better integrate with the dream body, so it seemed like what happened next was an amalgamation of the two intentions. I was focusing on my hands and they began to rotate rapidly, not the normal rotation permitted by the wrist joint, but a full 360-degree rotation, as though they were propellers. They were moving so fast that I could feel the vibrations throughout my whole body.

      Although this result had been spontaneous and unexpected, I wondered if I could use it to leverage myself out of the bed, since apart from my weird propeller hands, I still didn't feel well-connected to the dream body. I hesitated to try any larger movements lest I accidentally move my real body and wake up. So I let my left propeller hand slacken and lifted the right, willing it to turn into something like the blade of a helicopter that might elevate me vertically out of bed. The propeller movement became wider and faster, as though my whole forearm was now spinning around the elbow, and the vibrations intensified, but I felt no sense of lift. I remembered that helicopter blades needed to be angled a certain way in order to provide lift, and tried to will my propeller arm to work similarly, but I guess I don't know enough about aerodynamics to convince myself that I could pull it off!

      Since the right arm was not doing the trick on its own, I put my left arm back in play to provide more oomph. Now both my propeller arms were rotating at incredible speed and I could feel the whole bed vibrating along with my body. I couldn't believe that all this movement wasn't waking up my husband, who was lying pressed up right next to me. This is a common failing of dream logic: even when I am perfectly aware that I am dreaming, I irrationally worry that something I am doing might disrupt his sleep. Around this time I woke up for real, and of course he was over on his side of the bed, so the feeling of close physical contact had also been a dream impression.

      It was unusual that the audio and physical impressions were so clear but that the visual field remained opaque. Is this an NREM state? The closest parallel I've experienced to this in the initial stage of many WILDs, right after transition, and in those cases I have also theorized that REM hadn't fully kicked in yet.

      Updated 01-18-2015 at 08:32 PM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , memorable , task of the month
    15. Meonarra (DILD)

      by , 12-21-2014 at 03:39 AM
      Tonight I'm in a hotel and had gone to bed at 12:30am, early for me, after a big meal with lots of wine. I slept for a few hours and it was probably around 3–4am (an estimation, I didn't check) that I started water-cycling. I've found it the best way to avoid a hangover: I wake up at intervals to drink as much water as I can comfortably consume, which inevitably means also having to use the bathroom frequently once the rehydration sets in.

      I had already woken a few times in the night and this waking seemed no different at first, because dream logic prevented me from realizing how odd it was that I was walking down a long hall to use the bathroom rather than just using the one in the room. Yet from the start, something made me wonder if I was dreaming. I tried jumping and levitating but it was inconclusive. It didn't occur to me to try other checks. I went in the bathroom and noticed it looked just like one I had just been dreaming about before I woke up, which also seemed suspicious, but I still felt very embodied and awake. I even noticed how clean and inviting this bathroom felt, in contrast to the unpleasant aspect they often present in dreams. I felt awake enough and had to pee urgently enough that I was tempted to just go ahead and use the facilities, reasoning that if I was actually dreaming then with careful intention I should be able limit this activity to the dream state and not accidentally release my bladder in waking life. But uncertainty made me hesitate—I couldn't afford to be wrong about this! Something still made me sense that I was dreaming, even if I couldn't seem to prove it.

      I noticed a woman sitting nearby, which did not strike me as odd, but opportune. I approached her and asked, "Am I dreaming?"

      "Yes." I was struck by the simple decisiveness of her answer. It was also uncharacteristically straightforward, given the usual evasiveness of my DCs.

      "Thanks for being honest. Usually when I ask people in dreams—" (I used this phrase instead of "DC" because I was afraid she might it insulting to be reduced to an acronym) "—they say 'no'. Why do they do that?"

      She shrugged slightly. "They're probably just nervous."

      I wondered what they might have to be nervous about, but wanted to understand what made her different. "Then why were you so honest?"

      "I represent your higher functions." I'm pretty sure this is what she said, or very nearly. It struck me as an oddly technical response.

      This DC really intrigued me. She seemed so smart and self-aware, in contrast to the typical dullness and blandness of those I try to interact with. I looked at her closely. She was a slim young woman who appeared to be in her twenties, pretty, with glossy shoulder-length black hair and an Asian cast to her features. Her demeanor was calm, precise, and assured. I wanted a name to remember her by, so I asked: "What's your name?"

      She promptly uttered a string of numbers, something like "2166309."

      Perplexed by this response, I pressed, "I mean in letters." If she couldn't answer, I decided that I would name her "Murasaki." I had just been reading about the names of Japanese colors so the word was fresh on my mind; I knew it meant purple, and the woman was wearing a bright purple shirt and looked like she might be Japanese. I also recalled that "Murasaki" was a name of ancient pedigree, being the heroine of The Tale of Genji as well as the pseudonym of its courtly author. But my deliberations were unnecessary, it turned out.

      "Meonarra," she said. At least that's what it sounded like.

      I pressed for clarification: "Can you spell that?"

      She might have started with an "M," but what followed was not a series of normal alphabetical letters. She specified particular accent marks and chemical symbols that I wasn't even familiar with. Her explanation of the spelling sounded far longer than the actual name, and at least half of it seemed to be special characters. Even listening closely, I couldn't follow it at all. I wished I had a way to record it other than my own weak memory. I reflected how people in many pre-modern cultures had developed their memories to an extraordinary degree, but we, who can almost always rely on other means of recording information, have very little ability in that regard. I wished I had a notepad to write down what she was saying, but there would be no point: I couldn't keep it with me when I woke up. So instead I just asked her to repeat herself: "Can you say that again?"

      She obliged, but it sounded completely different this time, and I could swear the new spelling ended with a "D." That wasn't anything like the name I thought I'd heard. I figured if I couldn't spell it, I should at least make sure I had the pronunciation right. "Meonarra?" I asked, pronouncing the first syllables as "mee-oh." She corrected me; the first vowel was more like the "a" in "after," so it sounded like "mae-oh."

      I realized that I was falling into a rut by obsessing over the name, and the dream was not going to last much longer. "Can I see you again?" I asked Meonarra. "I'd like to have a conversation sometime."

      She shrank back with a stricken look, as if I'd suggested something completely inappropriate. "No! That's _____'s territory." I didn't quite catch the name, but I think it was two syllables, might have started with an "I," and sounded male. Similar to "Isaac"? But it wasn't exactly that; I don't think it was a waking-world name.

      I wasn't sure what was wrong with my request, but I tried to reassure her. "I just mean to chat, like we're doing now. I'd like to see you." I realized that I was drawn to her. I couldn't tell if it was the stirrings of a romantic attraction or if it was just that I found her so interesting. But the thought awakened a sensuous impulse and I put my arms around her. I recognized that it was the dream state itself that made it so easy to slip toward this sensation, and I asked her why dreams had this quality. I can't remember how I worded the question, and can't remember her reply, if she had time to make one before I woke up.

      Writing this up it perhaps sounds more bland than it felt at the time. It was one of those dreams that felt really significant, even if nothing much happened. I regret that I got so pre-occupied with her name. Although my waking mind really likes to have names for things, a tendency that bleeds over pedantically into lucidity, I'm not sure if naming things is especially useful or meaningful within dream itself. It is becoming clear, at least, that the kinds of names things have in dream are not always as clear and straightforward as our ordinary linguistic appellations of waking life. Instead they appear to operate much like written text in dreams, characterized by the shifting instability of dream logic. So it might have been better if I could have thought of more substantial questions to ask her, instead of wasting the whole dream just trying to pin down her name. I do like having something to remember her by, but what else might she have told me if I had been able to come up with a more introspective line of questioning?

      It is now 6:43am (it was a few minutes before 5:12 when I started so I've spent over 90 minutes writing!) and the sky outside has blossomed into an unbelievably beautiful pink sunrise. I'm going back to bed.

      Updated 12-21-2014 at 03:48 AM by 34973

      Categories
      lucid , memorable , side notes
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