• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

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    Non-Lucid Dreams

    1. Photographing the Dragon Moon

      by , 09-11-2014 at 07:30 PM
      Ritual: After five hours of sleep I woke naturally and was determined to make a good WILD attempt. I spent an hour-long WBTB reading and writing about dreams, then returned to bed just before the sun rose. Despite a promising transition phase in which I observed hypnagogic visuals and audio distinctly manifesting, I was interrupted by frequent re-awakenings and eventually realized it was time to turn on my side and enter real sleep. I fully expected to WILD at this point because the conditions felt ideal, but instead I just had NLDs.

      NLD: I had just left a cafe and was walking down the sidewalk to where I had parked a couple blocks away. The sky was oppressively dark, darker than seemed natural, and I composed a couple lines to try to describe it:

      The world cowers beneath an enormous dark,
      Unrepentent and unredeeming.

      I wasn't sure if I liked them but figured I should write them down as soon as I could, because if I came up with a whole structure I could always come back to it and work it into something better.

      As I entered the parking lot I noticed the moon. The last few days have seen a huge harvest moon, but this one was even bigger, with that sallow yellow hue that tints it when it is still low in the sky. Moreover, the pattern on its face was unusual: it resembled a winged dragon, drawn with iconic simplicity and in a rampant position like a figure on shield heraldry. I felt an urge to photograph it.

      I opened the passenger side door, left it open, and sat down on the edge of the seat to brace myself so I could try to frame a good clear shot of it on my iPhone. I thought I felt movement and the image was bouncing around on the screen, the moon lost among some trees now. Was the car driving off with me? How inconvenient! I reached to the side and jerked up the emergency brake, then returned to my attempt to take a picture.

      As I held up the phone again and looked at the image on the screen, I was more alert to the possibility of movement this time, and yes, I was able to confirm from it that indeed we were moving, and this was preventing me from taking clear photograph. Bad car! We were now driving rather quickly down a city street so I scooted fully inside and managed to get the door closed. (I realize now that in the dream the car door was hinged in the back and opened backwards, flat against the side of the car, rather than being hinged in the front and opening outwards as in WL.)

      Once the car door was closed I wanted to get control of the car back, so I awkwardly climbed over into the driver's seat. A towel seemed to be wrapping around my feet and impeding me, but with some effort I managed to get myself seated appropriately so that I could take over the driving. I had been planning to do some other things before leaving the quarter of the city that we'd come from, but by now we had driven away too far for it to be convenient to return, so I decided to just go home instead.

      After that I was waking up, but there was one more scene where I was standing next to a tram and again wondered if I wanted to return to the area I'd been in at the start of the dream. Once more I decided not to, since I couldn't be sure the tram would go to the right place either, and I was at that point under the impression that it was the tram, not my car, that had driven off with me.

      Then I realized with exasperation how absurd it was that dreams continually present me with situations that are extraordinary by the standards of waking life, yet I usually don't recognize them as evidence of dreaming. Why not? "I guess I just don't find them strange" was all I could come up with. Later I realized that I was at least still half in a dream state as I had these thoughts, and didn't realize I was dreaming then either.
    2. Fishing

      by , 09-09-2014 at 05:36 PM
      NLD: I was in large cavern with pools of water on either side of a land bridge and wanted to go fishing. I found a rock-lobster tail on the ground and since I didn't know where it had been or how old it was, I didn't want to eat it, but thought it might make useful bait for fishing. I baited my hook with a small piece of the lobster meat and cast the line. I wasn't sure how deep the water was but let the line sink naturally. I wasn't using a modern fishing rod, but the old-fashioned kind made of a single long bamboo cane with a simple length of cord attached to the tip.

      Soon I got a bite, and from the degree to which the pole was bending, I knew it must be something big. I didn't want the pole to snap so I rapidly moved up to the end where the cord was tied and started drawing in the line directly, folding it around my elbows like rope as I was able to pull it in (it was a rather thick cord, closer to thin rope than the modern fishing line filament).

      When I had drawn in enough cord to see my catch surface, I was startled to see the shape of a giant lizard breach the surface of the water. I momentarily wondered whether it was an alligator or a crocodile but couldn't remember how to tell the difference. Right after that I realized that the difference didn't matter—this thing was dangerous either way! I needed to cut the cord and quietly back away before it recognized me as an antagonist.

      Updated 09-11-2014 at 06:48 PM by 34973

      non-lucid , dream fragment
    3. Touching the Phoenix

      by , 09-03-2014 at 07:00 PM
      Probably because I had been thinking of the "Expecto Patronum" TOTM before bed, during one scene in a long sequence of NLDs, there appeared a phoenix resembling the one kept by Dumbledore.

      NLD: I was standing outdoors talking to three men (random DCs, no resemblance to anyone from WL). At one point I noticed a very large bird flying overhead, crimson and crested, and recognized it as a phoenix. I thought this was a remarkable thing to see, so I lifted my right hand in the air as a gesture of acknowledgment and welcome.

      The phoenix turned began diving toward me. What would happen if it touched my hand? I momentarily worried that it might choose that moment to burst into flames, consuming me. But I kept my hand up to see what would happen, and the phoenix flew right over my head, just low enough that my fingers grazed its soft belly feathers.

      I felt honored and delighted by this contact, so when it turned for another pass I kept my hand elevated, and it happened again. When it turned for a third pass, I wondered if it would be okay if I switched hands: would changing the pattern scared it off? I raised my left hand, and it flew down to gently graze that one too.

      As it readied itself for a fourth pass, I began to suspect there must be something deliberate about its actions. What was it doing? I had the impression that it was trying to protect us. But what sort of protection could be imparted this way? "Fire resistance," I thought, and in another simultaneous scene, as though the dream had split into two concurrent but disconnected spaces, I was consulting the new D&D Player's Handbook I had been browsing in an earlier dream sequence, looking up the rules on fire resistance. How much FR might we get from touching a phoenix? +1? +2? Total protection?

      Meanwhile, in the main scene, the phoenix was turning for a fourth dive. "Touch it," I instructed the others, so they would be protected too. Why was the phoenix trying to protect us in this way? Were we in danger of some immanent conflagration?
    4. An Expected Journey

      by , 08-28-2014 at 08:29 PM
      Type: Paranoia/Evasion
      Perspective: Mixed (initially Self, transforming to Character, male hobbit)

      NLD: The dream began with a long complicated plot set in a futuristic world. The antagonist was trying to find me and some other people; I had the codes to some device of his that would frustrate his plans. At this point my dream character was still me, I know this because enemy agents were using my name and even showing around a picture of me. (The prevalence of this "paranoia/conspiracy" theme in dreams is one of the reasons I suspect—pure speculation—that schizophrenia in waking life is a condition related to dreaming.)

      Enemy forces had located us, were closing in, we knew we had to run. We decided to split into two groups that would flee separately. I was with a group that was going to go on a very long journey. There was no perceptible shift in the dream or narrative, but by the end of the dream this was all entirely a group of male hobbits, and I, going with them, was also a male hobbit. There was no precise "moment" when the shift took place though, the dream narrative was continuous, and the transformation imperceptible: I was still "me' before the start of the journey then woke up remembering that I was one of the hobbits.

      I had anticipated that we would need to flee and already packed a backpack, so while the two group leaders were waiting for the rest of us to prep and join them, I went and grabbed it. I checked inside first to make sure I had the right bag. I saw lots of warm clothes—that was good, I'm always inclined to get cold. I grabbed a few more things from my pile: a fleece jacket, a wide-brimmed hat. I was already wearing a leather pouch around my neck with my ring in it. When I had noticed this earlier I had wondered why my ring was in the bag instead of on my finger; I assumed I had to hide it for some reason. (Source: the dream played out with an increasing LOTR theme, so this could be a nod to the way Frodo carries the One Ring; it could also be day residue, as the other day I had taken off my ring for a long time for some task.)

      On the table with the gear I was choosing from was a sort of talisman made of a round disk of leather, as well as a few masks which I grabbed at the last minute—they weighed almost nothing and might come in handy. I considered the options: should I put on a mask before we left? If I needed to conceal my identity from those who would recognize me it could be useful, but if we were trying to pass incognito among people who wouldn't already recognize me, wearing a mask might draw too much attention and be a disadvantage. But better to have the option than not.

      I was the third one to gather around the group leader, a male hobbit, and we were waiting on about three others. While we were waiting I went through the masks I had grabbed at the last minute to make a more careful selection, trying them on in a mirror. A couple were cheap plastic full-face masks, and I wasn't sure if they would stand up to the rigors of travel, so I set them aside. I kept one, though, because it gave me a scary monster face and I thought it might be handy if we needed to play a trick and scare someone. I kept a plain black eye mask and another one that was just a single sheet of light brown translucent plastic—it weighed nothing and could serve as sunglasses, I figured. For now, I decided to wear the simple black eye mask. When I put it on, I noticed that I was strapping it over the glasses I was wearing: they had huge round lenses. I didn't remember owning glasses like this, but that was just one of many, many clues that should have alerted me to the fact that I was dreaming—I had not an inkling of it.

      When our full group had assembled, the leader then instructed us to get rid of a lot of stuff that he figured we had probably packed. He had a list of very specific things we were supposed to give up, unnecessary objects that he said were a result of "emotional packing." Already on the table were a lot of little boxed games, like dice and tile games (source: Scrabble on Colbert last night). I worried that our long journey would get dull and depressing if we didn't even have a few games with us, but I understood his reasoning—we needed our packs to be as light as possible if we were to outrun our pursuers—so I reluctantly gave up some things as well.

      There was one item that I wasn't sure about, so I went to consult the leader. It was a boxed set (I hadn't opened it yet) containing a special kind of saw blade that could function as a lathe, cutting wood into round or shaped dowels. The leader and I opened the box and inspected it. I felt a tool like this might be useful at some point, though I couldn't think of a precise situation in which I would need to lathe a dowel to survive. The only problem was that the tool was made out of solid metal, a complex shaped piece about eight by eight inches, and it was extremely heavy. "It's about as heavy as a two-liter bottle of water," I estimated aloud. This decided it: the leader reasoned that water was more essential, so if the tool cut down on the amount we could carry, it would have to go. I reluctantly left it behind. Later as we began our journey, I thought back and regretted this: I realized that dowel-shaped wood might be very useful in making traps, and moreover that even if we had only brought the tool with us to sell, we could probably get up to 50,000gp for it, because it was an object from our futuristic world that would be completely unique in the fantasy world where we were going.

      I realized that we were pushing the limits of the time we had left and needed to leave right away. But as the leader and I stepped out from the room where we'd consulted about the saw blade, something caught my eye. It was a tiny fluffy grey kitten sleeping cozily on its back, lying in the hallway against to the wall on our right. "Wait—just two seconds," I said to the leader, "Look!" And we knelt down and tousled the kitten's belly. I explained, "It reminds me of something Sam said: this is what we're fighting for." I was remembering the line late in LOTR where Frodo is losing heart and Sam reminds him "That there's some good in this world... and it's worth fighting for." Naturally my version involved kittens.

      We then rejoin the rest of our group—which was more diverse in the beginning but by this point consisted of the full set of LOTR hobbits plus me as a random male one—and started down a lane. No sooner had we set out then I look behind us and see a group of fierce orcs, at least eight of them, less than fifty yards behind us and moving faster than we are, already closing in. Did we waste too much time with our preparations, losing our head start? I needed to act now, or our journey would be cut off before it began. Fortunately I recalled that I knew Ars Magica magic (all that practice in LDs paying off!)

      Twisting to look back while still running at full tilt, I held out my hand and blasted a frost effect at the group of orcs: it created a slippery ice slick on the ground where they were running and also iced their bodies directly, covering them with a pale layer of frost and slowing them considerably. I knew it wouldn't last forever so I was already trying to decide what my next trick should be. A grease trap on the ground might be useful: the lane was narrow and walled on both sides, so they wouldn't be able to bypass it. Then I was trying to remember the mechanics of Ars Magica spells: were they limited by a specific pre-set quantity (like in D&D) or could they be chosen freely but the rate was restricted by a mana pool, or could they cast at will but it was just really hard to succeed at the roll? Around this time the dream must have despaired of my ability to transform even a thrilling adventure chase scene into tedious decision-making and option-weighing, and I woke up.

      Updated 08-28-2014 at 08:40 PM by 34973

    5. Proto-Lucid: Half Memory, Half Dream

      by , 08-27-2014 at 08:00 PM
      NLD fragment, early: There was a band of Thai Buddhist monks in Bangkok called "Sacred Light." Contrary to what you'd expect, their music was surprisingly harsh and experimental. A musician from another band commented about one of the group, "His music has an edge of irrancidity." I woke up and for a few minutes I remained fully convinced that "irrancidity" was as much of a real word as "rancidity" (sort of like how you can legitimately say either "regardless" or "irregardless").

      NLD: (I'll gloss over this since it was tedious and contains a lot of RL details. It was a basic anxiety dream: I was performing a task at my workplace and I was ill-prepared, everything was going wrong, and a senior colleague was observing the whole fiasco.)

      Proto-lucid: After the anxiety dream I half-woke and was reminded of my speculations lately about the degree to which increased stress in waking life might actually be a condition actually favorable to lucidity. I slipped from these musings into a proto-lucid event—I don't want to call it a "lucid dream" per se because it felt too superficial and unformed. It started when I transitioned from my half-awake thoughts into walking past the house where I grew up. The back door was wide open, including the screen door, and this bothered me. Was the house abandoned? Or were the people who lived there now just careless? It was not a good idea to leave the door open like that because the nearby wetlands meant that the summer air was always thick with mosquitos and biting flies.

      I stepped up to the threshold and called out, "Hello? Hello?" There was no response. The interior was decorated differently than I remembered, which I attributed to the fact that other people lived there now. I was reminded of the last episode of "The Leftovers" I watched Sunday night and figured that with the door wide open like that, even a large animal like a deer could wander inside. I decided not to go in—it didn't feel like "my" home anymore and I would be intruding on someone else's space, even if they weren't present. However, the wide open door still annoyed me, so I closed the inner screen door. Then I mostly closed the outer door as well. If the inhabitants came by and found their door unexpectedly closed it might startle them, but they should know better than to leave it open in the first place.

      I continued walking around the side of the house and headed down toward the chicken house and barn. I was impatient to cover the distance so I started running, and I was reminded how good running felt when I was living here in my teens. Sometimes I would just run across the grass with sheer exhilaration and excess of energy. It's been a long time since I've felt like that—especially when running! When I got to the space between the two buildings I peeked into the chicken house, but it was empty so I went into the barn instead. I had noticed some people in the pasture so I crept quietly through the barn to the lower area where it connected with the pasture and peeked around the wall. Yes, there were definitely a couple people in the pasture, about a hundred yards away. I was pleased that the dream was finally starting to take some initiative and manifest something other than the basic environment. However, I didn't want those people to see me, since I still felt like an intruder now that they owned the place, so I remained hidden.

      I went back inside the lower level of the barn and headed for the stairs that led upstairs. Meanwhile I reflected on how muddy and vague the environment still was, despite the fact that the dream had been otherwise stable so far. My senses were crap. I had experienced this in plenty of WILDs—which in hindsight this might have almost been, though since it had started in a non-standard location (my WILDS typically involve me "getting up" out of bed) I simply might not have recognized it as such. But at that time I still didn't want to give it credit for being a real dream at all, because I felt that it didn't quite measure up. Maybe I'm getting too critical; on reflection it looks more like a real dream than it felt at the time. But that's probably just a trick of print: the dreamstate was not really rising to the occasion, and I felt too much like I was "working the controls," as it were.

      Anyway, I was contemplating the muddy, vague environment, which I felt was being shaped almost more through my conscious memory of the place than through the independent activity of the dream. Last night I had been reading a thread on DV about ADA, which included claims that greater awareness in waking life can also sharpen one's dream senses, and I couldn't help but acknowledge that my ordinary level of perceptiveness in waking life is probably much lower than most people's—because in effect I've spent most of my life practicing how to filter things out, not let them in. That said, my dream senses are usually reasonably sharp (with the exception of taste and smell) and my recall can be quite good, but I thought that perhaps the muddiness of the environment this time had been conditioned by that chain of thought.

      I headed up the stairs to the upper level of the barn. I wandered around a bit more but don't recall encountering or thinking anything else of note before I woke up.

      On waking, I realized that the circumstances were now all in order for a proper WILD attempt, but although I went through the ritual in a way that felt like it should have been successful, in the end I just fell into a period of regular sleep without even an NLD to show for it. This has actually happened several times over the last couple weeks, which is irritating given my satisfying successes earlier this month.
    6. Fragment: Ice Cubes

      by , 08-25-2014 at 06:29 PM
      Complex narratives but poor recall all night. Just one fragment has enough clarity and interest to preserve in writing:

      NLD: There was a big bed of ice cubes spread out over the floor, about fifteen by twenty feet wide and up to a foot thick. It was there to chill something that may have been on a small round platform in the center of it, but I don't remember what. I was more interested in the ice.

      The ice cubes were all different sizes. I lay down on them on my back at one point and found this extremely comfortable: they weren't as cold as one would expect ice to be, but refreshingly cool. In fact, I wasn't sure they were proper ice, because most of them weren't melting. Only the smallest ones, spheres of ice about two inches in diameter still in their plastic molds (just like the ones I use for gin and tonics, I recalled) showed a slickness of water inside the plastic. I decided I'd better take care not use any of these ice cubes in drinks, however, in case the water was contaminated with chemicals.

      The largest ice cubes also intrigued me. They were rectangular blocks around nine inches high and deep by about fifteen inches long. There was a slight asymmetry to their form, a matte textured surface of striations, and they weren't melting at all. I noticed that the blocks of this size appeared very similar to one another and knelt down to investigate more closely. After comparing two in detail, I determined that yes, they were clearly products of the same mold, however the molding process had resulted in very slight irregularities: one sculpted corner was complete in the first block but slightly truncated in the next as though the mold had not been filled completely the second time.

      I find it amazing that I can muster such a close comparative appraisal of aspects of the dream environment, demonstrating that my critical thinking was not completely impaired, and yet completely fail to muster even a sliver of the kind of critical apprehension necessary to recognize that I am dreaming.
    7. Fragment: Stage Magician

      by , 08-22-2014 at 06:44 PM
      NLD: I was a stage magician, a white male in late middle age. I have the impression that my character looked and talked a bit like the actor Bill Nighy. I had been doing a really long show -- it started at 6, now it was 9pm, I had just taken a break and had to perform one more brief act before I could wrap up and call it a night. I realized I should streamline the show, this was exhausting, and the audience was probably almost as weary as I was.

      I was trying to find my way back to the place where the theatre was located in a huge new building that had been recently constructed for my show, but I took a wrong turn and found myself on the roof. Up there I ran into a colleague who resembled (or was supposed to be?) Gary Gygax, and we commiserated, "We're getting too old for this shit." I retraced my steps, passing a teenager who I asked about something, but his answer was unhelpful.

      As I made my way back to the theatre I was carrying a large bag of stiffened canvas printed with a cheerful decorative pattern. I had picked this bag up from the room where I had gone on break. It held a nested series of ever-smaller bags made from the same material. I was planning to give these away as prizes at the end of the show, like we always did, based on calling out random ticket numbers. I wondered if I should give away the largest outer bag as well, or save it to carry the smaller bags again next time. I examined it closely and realized that it had some discoloration around the handle and decided that it wouldn't make a very nice prize because it wasn't in new condition.
    8. Two Fragments: Representational Influences

      by , 08-21-2014 at 07:07 PM
      NLD, first sleep: Several of us are downstairs in a house at night. The front door is wide open. Through an adjacent window, I see a man sitting on a bench next to the road outside, waiting for the bus. Perhaps he tires of waiting, because after a while he gets up and walks right in the front door. I recognize him as "The Vagrant," a character played by Johnny Depp. He wears white face make-up and an old fashioned suit and hat, resembling a mime from the Charlie Chaplin era. I feel hospitable toward him and offer to let him sleep in the wife's room, as she is not home. (I have no sense of who "the wife" might be; there's something impersonal about all the DCs; they are more like roles than individuals.) Someone standing nearby ("the husband"?) gives me a dirty look for leaving the door open and then telling the vagrant he can stay. I don't openly acknowledge the glance, but gives me a sense of foreboding: I don't know anything about this guy, and I've just offered to let him sleep in one of the upstairs rooms. If he turns out to have ill intent, we'll be leaving ourselves vulnerable when we go to sleep.

      Scene change. There are about three of us upstairs now on a sort of balcony, in addition to the vagrant, who is swinging on a rope. He has not said a word since entering the house, and I start to wonder if we should be worried about his intentions. I consult the DM, who is not physically present in the scene: "If I do 'sense alignment', is it blatant?" It feels as though I ask the question aloud, but in a way that does not manifest audibly in the dream scene -- I'm asking OOCly (out of character). The DM confirms that, yes, the effect would be blatant, meaning that I can't cast the spell on the vagrant without him noticing, either because I have to make distinctive invocations and gestures, or because he would be able to subjectively feel the mental intrusion. I don't want to cast the spell if the vagrant will be aware of it, because at this point I already strongly suspect that his alignment is not on the "good" spectrum, and I don't want to alert him to my suspicions. After the vagrant leaves off swinging, one of the other players on the balcony asks the DM if she can use the same effect on the rope that he has just let go of. She's trying to be clever: a rope, obviously, won't notice anything amiss or feel itself being scryed on. However, she seems to be missing the obvious, so before the DM has a chance to respond, I scoff jokingly, "You can't 'sense alignment' on a rope!"

      Note: I'm interested in the way dreams can take on aspects of other forms of representation. Mine are often heavily influenced by structural elements from films, video games, and even tabletop gaming, the first and last of which were strongly present here.

      NLD, second sleep: The fabric of the dream was very thin and immediately frayed upon waking because I did not keep still enough. There was an elaborate plot that I wasn't able to piece back together. However, I was with a group of people that were playing costumed characters, acting out scenes that were somewhere between a play and a LARP.

      Afterwards, an actor who is a dwarf (of the genetic, not the fantasy variety), comments to me about his disinterest in playing out live-action versions of stories he has already filmed or done on stage. "Kid, we want to see it, or we want to hear about it. We don't want to live it. We've already done that."

      Note: This dream appears to have been incubated by the thoughts I wrote down after the last dream about the various representational formats that have been an influence on my dreaming. Dream would like to remind me that I left out plays and LARPs. Thanks, Dream, I guess my dreaming is also influenced by plays and LARPs (even if I haven't engaged in either since the '90s). Anything else?

      Updated 08-21-2014 at 08:14 PM by 34973

      non-lucid , dream fragment
    9. Parking Mishap

      by , 08-19-2014 at 08:03 PM
      We stopped at a Greek take-out restaurant. I saw bags of take-out orders being loaded onto a plane to be shipped all the way to Greece. "Wow, this place is hardcore," I thought.

      We had parked right under the nose of the plane, where there was a niche just big enough for the car (a 2006 silver Volkswagen bug) to fit. I was a worried because it looked like the plane was about to take off, but figured it would be okay, since the plane would have to back up first, which would release the car from underneath it, and then the plane would turn ninety degrees to access the runway. The car should be fine. Still, I thought I should check. I called up to a lady in the cockpit, "Hey, is it alright if we park--"

      Before I could even finish the sentence, a metal plate slammed down over the nose of the plane, closing up the niche where our car was parked. Meanwhile the plane began to pull backward, flattening the top of the car. There was a white flash and the sound of an explosion, and I knew the car was ruined.

      I was annoyed because I had been hoping to inherit this car when my husband was done with it. Still, what was done was done, and there was no point getting bent out of shape now. So I tried to stay calm and figure out if there was anything practical to be done.

      Note: 2006, the year of the car, is clearly WLR (waking life residue), as last night I was comparing various editions of a book that included this year. The plane is also WLR as I've been flying a lot recently. Not sure where the Greek restaurant came from.
    10. False Memories, Failed RC

      by , 08-16-2014 at 01:47 PM
      My husband and I were visiting a city that felt familiar and somewhat reminiscent of an East Coast city like Boston, though it had no correspondence to any RL place I've ever been. We had just finished a nice meal, and were walking along the street. We leave the commercial avenue and start walking into a nice residential area. After about two blocks I realize that I need to pee, and the best bet is to turn around and go back to the street we just left, so we walk the two blocks back.

      At the intersection with the commercial avenue is a group of people standing on the street. They are foreigners with black skin, and both the men and women are wearing long flowing light blue robes, very elegant. Despite the darkness of their skin, something about the shape of their faces and the sound of their language looks more South Asian than African, and I am trying to remember where they are from. Isn't it some small country or island between India and Africa? What was it called, Malvania? That's right, I remember, they are Malvanians, and they are here as refugees from their home country. (Obviously there is no such country as Malvania in waking life, so this was a clear case of false memory.)

      I cross the street find the public restroom just where I thought it would be. To reach it we had to walk into a little courtyard and then go downstairs from ground level. One stairway leads to the women's room, the other to the men's. However, when we arrive we find that the line is incredibly long, with about three dozen Malvanians, women and men respectively, waiting on each stairway. Some of them are holding things like toothbrushes and soap, and I realize that since they are refugees who are living on the street, this is probably the only facilities that they have access to. I am sympathetic, but unfortunately I really need to pee now, and I'm not sure what to do.

      "Come with me," I say to my husband, who is in the same predicament. I have just remembered that less than a block from here is a theatre I've been to before, and I'm pretty sure that there is a restroom in the lobby. We exit and walk further down the street. I'm trying to remember what time it is. Will the theatre be open? I think it must be at least 11am or perhaps just after noon, so they might have started the early matinees. Luckily we do find the door open and go inside. (More false memories, as none of the locations I was "remembering" bore any resemblance to RL places, much like the city at large.)

      The route to the restroom is more complicated than I recall, leading back through several turns and passages, but I follow the signs and we eventually we find our way there. I'm grateful to discover that there are no lines! So I go inside... or try to. The door to the women's room pulls outward, but it is stuck. It is getting caught against a wire rack that is jutting from the side of a cabinet that has been installed too close to the door, so the door is only opening a few inches. Even though I'm of average size, I can't seem to squeeze through. I try to force the door open wider, tugging on it until the metal rack that is blocking it actually begins to distort and bend, letting the door open a few inches wider, just enough for me to slide in sideways. I think how distressing it would be if I were just a few pounds heavier—I wouldn't be able to get in! But I have passed this obstacle.

      Inside the restroom at last, it looks very familiar and I remember that I have been here before. (Again, no correspondence to anything in waking life: if this was not pure false memory, then it must have been a setting from some prior dream.) The room is tiled in light green, but everything about it is old and broken down, an absolute ruin. Only about half the tiles are intact, the rest are broken or completely missing. There are not even stalls for privacy; the toilets are just arranged openly around the walls of the room. Many of them look in a state of poor repair as well. However, one detail is very different this time. Last time I found myself in this room, it was disgustingly filthy, but today, unexpectedly, it appears to have just been cleaned. It is as pristine as a room this run-down can be made: I can even smell the odor of cleaning chemicals in the air. Nevertheless, the memory of how dirty it was last time makes me remember that this is a dreamsign—and also, ever since the last failed RC in similar circumstances earlier this month, I've been diligently RCing every time I've found myself in a public restroom lately. Since I've been traveling for the last few days (in RL), I've had the chance to practice this a lot.

      Fortunately there is no one else present, so I can RC very blatantly without being afraid of looking foolish. I lift my fingers to my nose and very forcefully try to breathe both in and out. Nope. The breath is fully stopped in both directions. This RC has worked really well for me since I started using it recently, so now when it suggests I am awake, I let myself be convinced. To some extent I realize that I'm actually relieved about this, because I've been having a nice interesting day so far, and it would be annoying to realize that it was all just a dream. On the other hand, I reflect, I'll be even more annoyed if I wake up later and it turns out that I was dreaming and failed to recognize it. But I feel confident in how attentively I performed the RC, so I figure I probably don't have to worry about that.

      The dream went on for a while longer; the last thing I remember is being in a cab en route to some further destination. When I finally did wake up, all I could think was, "You've got to be kidding me!"

      Note: My suspicion is that it is actually the very diligence with which I've been practicing this RC for the past few days that made it fail this time: every time I pinch my nose in waking life and can't breathe through it, I reinforce the sense-impression of what that feels like, which is perhaps what allowed the dream to duplicate the sensation.

      Note: In reflecting on dreams in which I perform an RC but fail to recognize that I am dreaming, I have noticed something odd. The moment during which it occurs to me to think, "Hey, I wonder if I'm dreaming. I'd better check," actually feels like lucid-type awareness, even if the failed RC quickly leads to a passive resorption in the narrative.

      Updated 08-18-2014 at 12:53 AM by 34973

    11. Tedious Questionnaire

      by , 08-10-2014 at 03:46 PM
      I came in from the outdoors, where I was doing something I can't recall now, and joined a group of other people in a room. It was like a big classroom, there were two or three dozen of us, and, we were each given papers relating to a long questionnaire with instructions for how to fill it out. There was a white sheet, a green sheet, maybe even a blue sheet with the actual questions, and a portion to be answered by computer, and the instructions were very confusing. The white sheets were all pre-marked with answers from various previous respondents -- different for every sheet -- which made things even more confusing. "So are we supposed to put our answers on the green sheet only, the computer only, or duplicate them on both?" After asking a lot of questions along these lines I went to a smaller room and got started. There was a middle-aged Asian guy sitting in a chair who had already gotten through a few questions.

      The first question asked me about the window curtains in the room, and a display of copper figures set up on the window ledge. I was to axamine these first, then return and answer some questions about them. I examined them and was able to ascertain that they portrayed the flight of Helen and Paris to Troy, the event that led to the Trojan war. While I was studying, them, the aministrator of the questionnaire (a middle-aged white guy with a stern military bearing but remarkable patience for my constant questions and expressions of disgust at the confusing protocols) came into the room to see how we were doing. He gave us further advice not to answer the questions in such a way that we would incriminate ourselves, The Chinese guy nodded ruefully as though he had already made that mistake. "I haven't even finished the first question yet!" I exclaimed, frustration in my voice. Even the first question was so complex it was taking forever. "I'm supposed to examine this tapestry first!" I was tempted to point out that I would probably be here until late at night, well after the others had all left, which I assumed meant that the administrator wouldn't be able to go home either, but figured it was too early to say for sure. So instead I just complained, "And why does it start with question 'B'"? Indeed the very first question was labeled "B". I was afraid my tone be too irritable and anger the administrator, but he just nodded sympathetically and left.

      I turned to the text of the actual question. It said that the copper figures on the windowsill had been made in the 13th century by an artisan named "Jason" something. I wondered why such old pieces had been gathered here, in this unremarkable building, instead of in a museum somewhere. Then the question went on to suggest that the identification of some of the figures had changed over the years, and asked which ones I thought they were. I had noticed that some of the figures had small white sticky labels with the names of the characters handwritten on them, so I concluded that these must be the ones that needed special identification, likely because they had previously been understood differently. So I wrote something to that effect on the green sheet, trying to keep my answer concise because the form only provided a single line to write on.

      Then I moved to the second question. It was more abstract. It was something along the lines of, "If you are in a building and instructed to find room 190B, where would you look?" (I'm not sure of the exact number; it was a 3-digit number followed by the letter 'B'.) I had a brief vision of an exit that led directly outside, thus evidently on the ground floor. I was starting to wonder if these were all trick questions. Feeling sarcastic and and annoyed, I wrote: "Is this a Google application?" (I've heard that Google tests potential applicants with puzzles, though we had been told the questionnaire was just a standard performance measure.) I thought the vision of the ground floor might be deliberately misleading, and remembered how the numbering of soom buildings got confusing because they were built on a slope so the ground level was different on either side, and wrote next, "Is the building on a hill?" I reckoned then that the "B" might be significant and provide the easiest answer to the question, which didn't ask which floor the room was on, after all, only where to find it. The number itself might be a red herring. So I concluded my response with "Is there a 190A?" I wondered if it would be acceptable to answer the question with three questions of my own, but given how irritating this questionnaire was, I decided that I would not restrain myself from responding sarcastically when the question was vague.
    12. Failed RC

      by , 08-08-2014 at 06:03 PM
      I was in a big enclosed public space like a mall and needed to use the restroom. I found the ladies' room, which was a relatively large one with around nine stalls in a single row. I found a stall that was clean and was about to go inside when another woman barged right ahead of me. The next stall I checked had an unflushed toilet, as well as the one after that, and the third one was clean but had no toilet seat. I decided to use it anyway. I stepped into the stall and then remembered, "Wait... aren't dirty public restrooms one of my dream signs? This one isn't particularly dirty but still, I'd better RC." I counted my fingers and saw nothing unusual, then focused on the sensation of gravity and it also felt completely normal.

      I remembered the time that I had failed an RC under similar circumstances and decided I'd better make extra sure. So I focused on levitating, really putting a lot of effort into it, but my feet remained firmly stuck to the ground and even the sensation of gravity or my bodily awareness did not alter or feel any more dream-like. So that was how I knew I was awake... until some time later, when I actually woke up, and wondered how the RC could have failed so completely. The gravity RC is usually very reliable, and even on the rare occasions that I don't levitate promptly, I'll notice that gravity or my body don't "feel" right. On this occasion the illusion was perfect!
    13. Hypnagogic phrases

      by , 07-18-2014 at 10:24 PM
      Woke after five hours vaguely remembering a dream about being on a space ship. Some kids were catching a ride by hanging on to our landing gear as we went between stations, and I wondered how they didn't freeze and suffocate in the airless void.

      I wasn't planning on doing any real practice since I didn't sleep much last night after my excellent LD got me out of bed early and writing furiously, but since I'd woken up from REM I thought I'd run through some SSILD cycles just for fun... and this provoked a sleeplessness that eventually got me out of bed an hour and a half later without having fallen back asleep at all. So no dreams, but I did manage to record fragments of the hypnagogic phrases that manifested at certain points:

      "...the beautiful eye, and the faithful smiling hand..."

      "...the stress of a healthy city farm too..."

      "...semantic, and by the way kill the emperors..."

      Mostly these were just words running through my head without any corresponding imagery, but at one point I had a hypnogogic image like I was looking at a forum post (unsurprising given that I waded through almost the whole SSILD thread yesterday, a tedious enterprise at 36 pages). So this one I "read" visually rather than thought directly. My recall of first few words flickered out almost immediately, but the sentence concluded "...and the king's building in apotheosis."
    14. Packing to Leave

      by , 07-16-2014 at 10:48 PM
      Type: Procedural
      Perspective: Character, adolescent boy

      NLD: I'm a young boy with no parents who has been raised by relatives, perhaps an aunt and uncle. They've been very stingy, working me hard and giving me the minimum that I need to survive. Now I'm about twelve and they've decided that I'm old enough to strike out on my own, so I am preparing for the journey. It is winter, so I know that I'll need to pack carefully: I'll need a bundle light enough to carry but with the necessities to survive. I've already prepared most of it, and now I'm consolidating. I have a little backpack with my journal and a suede pocket with a zipper that holds my writing implements [RL: I have one like this], and a few more things I deem essential. I had a Hello Kitty riding glove in the backpack, a single one for the right hand, sized for a child's hand, and I realize it isn't essential—it isn't even mine—but sentimental; it belonged to a girl who was my best friend. The thumb is split at the seam and she lost the left-hand glove so she let me have it as a memento. But as I pack things from my room I come across a similar glove for the left hand, slightly different in color but with a matching Hello Kitty pattern. I wonder at first if it's the lost partner of the first glove, but the different hue suggests that the match is coincidental. Still, I decide that I can put them together and give them back to the girl. I won't have a memento of her anymore, but at least then there will be one less thing in my pack, and maybe she'll be able to use them again. They still look usable, even worn as they are.

      I have a big heavy box, a long rectangle, with heavy glass partitions. I know I'll never be able to carry this, but the first part of my journey will be by wagon, so I'll load it on board and try to use up or trade away the contents before I have to go on foot. I forget what the original contents of the box are, but there are some empty spots and I also have a few bottles of beer, a light brew in clear glass bottles, so I'll consolidate by putting them in the empty spots. So now I have the heavy long box, my little backpack, and a bundle containing my clothes and bedding. Once I get rid of the heavy box, I'll be able to carry the rest. But I still need to worry about food.

      There was another whole side plot earlier with my uncle, and me lying on my back in the water of a pool or pond, and him having compassion and perhaps even offering to let me have breakfast in the big house before I go, but I can't remember this well.

      From the building where I was packing, which is on a hill next to another building (the big house where aunt and uncle live further off to the right) I go down the hill to the stable where I've been working. I've been working as a farmhand ever since I got big enough, but still being a young boy and small for my size, I've been able to squeeze into a tiny spot between the other hands on the seat of our crowded wagon. I figure the fact that I don't take up much room will come in handy when taking the wagon out.

      I go through the stable saying goodbye to the animals. I also come across another girl I know (not the one I was thinking of earlier), a dark-haired, slightly older teenager leading a dark bay horse. I tell her I am leaving and we say goodbye. I wish I had something to give her, but figure she knows that I have very little and won't hold it against me that I didn't give her a parting gift.

      In the back of the stable I say goodbye to a big gray rabbit who is in an empty open stall, then a few minutes later come across a little white rabbit at the bottom of a bucket with a few inches of water in it, so the rabbit is half-submerged. I worry that it can't get out [RL: this comes from the fact that I've found deck lizards in a bucket in my garden in this predicament a few times], so I reach in and lift it out. I want to take it over to the big rabbit where it might find a friend, but as I'm carrying it, it bites me. Being a wild rabbit who is undoubtedly frightened at being handled this is understandable, and I don't mind, though I worry that it might be carrying rabies or some other disease. The wound is on my thumb [RL: I have an old scar from a real rabbit bite there] but doesn't look deep. I set it down quickly and watch as it hops straight over to a bowl of cream that the cats have left uneaten in a bowl and consumes it all ravenously. I am somewhat reassured that it doesn't look rabid; its actions now seem very deliberate. I reflect how well-fed the cats are, that they would not even bother to finish this bowl of cream, compared to the little rabbit who doesn't even naturally like cream, but is probably devouring it because of such great hunger and thirst. I go back to the big rabbit and wonder if I can get him any food or some stalks to chew; he doesn't seem interested in the hay in this stall, but there were some larger, sweeter stalks, like corn or sugarcane, over where I found the little rabbit, so I bring some over.

      Next I plan to feed the chickens. I have a shallow rectangular tray that I take back up to the building on the hill to prepare some foods, like cut up tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg for some reason, other vegetables and fruits. As I exit again carrying the tray, I'm standing for a moment just outside the building distracted by my thoughts when I feel someone press something into my left hand. It's not money, it's segments of something that has the texture of nuts. [Not any substance recognizable from RL.] I look up and find a tall young man with a dark beard [odd how often this archetype appears, I've never known someone with these features in RL]. He says his name is Keith, and this is for the food—he abruptly grabs a handful from the tray. I have the impression that he is starving but too honorable to just steal from me, so he has offered this token payment, but won't risk rejection by asking for the food. I feel sorry for him—and realize that I might soon be in the same boat, as he looks like a traveler—and offer, "Would you like any more? Take the hard-boiled egg." I figure that will offer him better nutrition than the handful of grapefruit or somesuch that he has grabbed in his haste. He thanks me and takes the egg and a few other things, and leaves.

      As I continue down the hill back toward the stable, I reflect with satisfaction on the fact that I was not frightened or startled by his abrupt appearance, but kept my cool and even managed to be generous. I also remember two other occasions earlier when guys stopped by hoping for food in a similar manner. (I think this was a false memory, that is, I don't think these events actually occurred at any point earlier in the dream, they are just something I was "remembering" at this point.) I realize that all these hungry travelers probably means food is scarce on the road, and I'm going to have to deal with this very situation soon. It occurs to me that hard-boiled eggs might actually be a good thing for me to pack; they won't last long, but in this cold weather they might last two or three days, and they'll be great nutrition. However, that had been the only egg on my tray. How could I get some more? Would aunt and uncle let me have them? They're just eggs, but they've been so stingy in the past. Still, they did offer me breakfast. I hope they meant it; I should eat a big breakfast before I leave. I ate little yesterday and nothing so far today. What if leaving on a full belly meant the difference between life and death, adding another day before the possibility of starvation? But maybe they'd be more likely to let me have the eggs if I brought them myself to the house and only asked if I could boil them. I can probably get some from the hens in the stable: it's morning, some of them might have lain already. Could I even boil them myself, and avoid asking aunt and uncle altogether? But I'm not sure how I would start the fire, or find the pot to boil water in.

      I set down the tray, and the chickens start eating. While they are occupied, I check their nests. Sure enough, I find an egg... and another... and another. Three eggs in this nest? This worries me actually—why hadn't the eggs been collected for the past few days? They should still be good to eat, but—had aunt and uncle been intending to let them hatch? If so, they might be angry with me for taking them; once they cooled down (they are still warm from the heat of their mother) they would no longer be viable. I'd better wait and ask, maybe the girl I ran into earlier will know. Also, are these even hen eggs? They are a bit larger and bluer than I would have expected. Could they be duck eggs? Without the fowls in their nest it's hard to know. But duck eggs might be better to bring, oilier and more nutritious, even if they taste a little odd. I go a little farther and find another bank of nests that I think are those of the chickens; so I conclude that I was right about the ducks; the chicken eggs are also about three to a nest.

      I table the egg question, but there's something else I need, something that is in the building next to the one I live on on top of the hill. I call up and say I am from a radio station, HKWAN—the stable does double as this radio station so I am not lying about that, but fibbing a bit by suggesting I am an employee of it calling on official business—and ask for the password to get into the building. I wince a bit as I ask, knowing that the girl will never give it away to someone calling up on the phone, and sure enough, she says she can't. But then I realize, of course I still know the password to my own building, and maybe I can get what I need from there? I no longer remember what it was I thought I needed though, and around this point the dream ends.

      Updated 08-02-2014 at 10:51 PM by 34973

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