• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

    View RSS Feed

    task of the month

    task of the month 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

      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. Dream Guides (DEILD)

      by , 03-14-2016 at 01:11 AM
      Ritual: I thought it might be nice to get lucid again, so I read DV before bed, though my motivation was considerably reduced when I realized that the time change had caught me unawares, and I was going to bed an hour later than I had intended! Also drank some sage and mugwort tea before bed. Those are the only relevant factors I can think of. WTB at 3am, woke 9:15am with dream.

      DEILD: I came out of an NLD and started going over it in my mind, when it dawned on me that I had not fully woken up. I was in a hallway carrying a large package; to confirm, I tossed it in the air and sure enough, it hovered for a moment before drifting back down. It occurred to me that maybe I should take up the habit of tossing things into the air in waking life as a kind of RC. But it would have to be something smaller than a large box, something more like a coin or small ball. I produced a small black ball and tried again. To my amusement, this one behaved as if gravity were operating normally. Maybe not such a good RC unless I actively intervene: I tossed it again and concentrated on holding the ball in the air. That worked well enough. I resolved to spend more time in WL trying to move small objects with my mind.

      I exited the building and thought I might try a TOTM. Even though I had just reread the list before going to bed, I now realized that I couldn't remember any of them. Thinking hard, I finally recalled the one about the dream guide.

      "I'm ready for my dream guide!" I shouted. I've never had a dream guide before, so I had no expectations. I shouted a few more times until a woman showed up. She was of hefty build, with straight shoulder-length dark hair, and looked to be in her late forties. On the right lapel of her uniform-like black jacket, resembling that of a hotel clerk (or more to the point, a tour guide) was a name tag reading "RUSH." There was something very blank and bureaucratic about her demeanor that immediately put me off.

      "Take me on a tour," I instructed.

      "A Grand Tour?" she asked. Lately I've been reading about the Grand Tours eighteenth-century travelers would take in Italy, so I assumed this was merely waking life residue.

      "Take me on a tour of Hogwart's," I proposed instead.

      The woman must not have understood, because she started saying things about temperature and time that sounded like the details of a technical process—brewing coffee, I guessed. I was getting impatient.

      "This isn't working out," I told her. Perhaps I should have been more patient, but she reminded me of one of those blank, automaton-like DCs that never have anything interesting to say. I turned my back and walked away, determined to try again.

      "I'm ready for my dream guide!" I resumed shouting, trying to muster a sense of optimism. Nothing changed at first, but I persisted, shouting about five times before another figure drew my attention. He was a short brown-haired man standing next to a bar, gazing at me with a slightly amused expression. As I walked over, I was startled to see that he was the spitting image of Michael J. Fox. This perplexed me, because I have no particular attachment to that actor, nor did I recall having encountered his image recently in waking life. I remembered that in WL he had developed a terrible disease and I couldn't remember if he was still alive. This DC looked like the younger version of him from the 1980s or '90s, and his cheerful confidence created much more favorable impression than the last DC.

      "Are you my dream guide?" I asked uncertainly. He replied with something casual, along the lines of, "If you want me to be."

      "Let's give it a try," I said. "First, take me somewhere beautiful. Then, take me somewhere that I will find interesting." Since I'd never had a dream guide before or thought much about their proper role, now I was acting on the assumption that their job was to give me tours. In retrospect that's kind of funny.

      As we walk out of the building together, he expresses a sexual interest. I'm surprised at his bluntness, but tell him okay, it's natural that there might be sexual tension between us, I can accept that. He seems relieved, telling me that many of the applicants ruled it out from the start. In fact, a lot of the essays he received closed on that note. I commiserate, noting how even from a purely rhetorical standpoint, that does seem like a terrible way to end an application essay.

      We continue through a park-like setting, and as we descend along a wooded path I see a tree with several conjoined trunks. Emblazoned across it like a light projection is the name of a website, "www.tabu.com." I look again to make sure and the text shifts. "www.tabut.com." I wonder what it means. Is this in reference to the Polynesian word "tabu," the basis of our English "taboo"? [I looked them up as I was writing this and...seriously, it's a big world out there, how could these websites not exist?]

      We walk right to the edge of a wide shallow lake. I realize we'll probably need to travel somewhere by a means other than walking, and let him know I'm familiar with some basic methods: "How are we going to get there? I can spin and teleport, if you like. And I know how to fly."

      He offers another possibility: "See that brown line?" He points to somewhere behind us. I look back, and without thinking about it we automatically start rising into the air and drifting toward a brown line that runs across the grass of the lawn. "That's where we'll transition," he explains. We start gliding toward it, and sure enough, a moment later we are flying across a completely different scene.

      The previous landscape was park-like, but we emerge higher in the air over a vast landscape. Distant hills, distinctive coloring, shades of red in the earth and sky. Everything becomes a bit clearer. "Okay, this is beautiful," I acknowledge aloud. He's definitely succeeded in the first task I set him.

      We drift closer to the ground and I notice an odd detail: an enormous fence of thick horizontal wires strung between vertical poles that must be at least 50 feet high, stretched across a valley between two steep hills. There are only a few of the wires, maybe eight, strung in pairs of two. It would be no barrier for a person at all, or any earthly creature—it's so big it doesn't even obstruct the view—but then I see what it is keeping in. They look like giant green mantis-like creatures, clearly insectoid, but enormous. Despite the monstrosity of the creatures, the enclosure reminds me of a nature reserve. Are the fences for our protection, or theirs? Perhaps both.

      I think about how my second instruction to my guide had been to take me somewhere interesting, and it would certainly be interesting if one of those things got out! However, I decide not to vocalize my thoughts or deliberately influence the course of events, instead waiting to see how things will play out.

      One of the creatures catches sight of us and scuttles over, moving with astonishing rapidity for its size. It crosses several hundred yards in a matter of seconds. It pushes against the fence, snapping at us with its mandibles. It has surprisingly long reach and the wires of the fence are being bowed out by the weight of its body—they hold, but we have to dart away very quickly to avoid the initial attack. I realize the safest course is to fly directly upward, well out of its reach, in case the fence breaks. I can feel my adrenaline pumping and have to admit, that was definitely an interesting experience.

      Abruptly the environment changes and we are back in a room that I think I recognize from earlier in the dream—but way earlier, the NLD sequence before I even got lucid. I realize the dream is ending, but I'm very pleased with how well this dream guide was able to fulfill my requests. "Can I meet you again?" I ask. His acquiescence is as casual and noncommital as when I first asked him to be my guide.

      Updated 03-14-2016 at 01:57 AM by 34973

      lucid , task of the month
    4. Do DCs Dream? (DILD)

      by , 03-02-2016 at 12:16 AM
      Ritual: Woke up at dawn after a DILD in which I was joyously flying over a gorgeous verdant landscape and admiring an enormous white castle. The detailed report took two pages and I don't see the need to reproduce them here, however, I'm amused to see that my initial notes on it look like an odd little poem:

      party, paul
      crash in kitchen
      ceiling, sky
      oh, this is a dream, isn't it
      fly up, clarity, joy
      look at that castle, it's huge!
      hello everyone, hello!

      While flying around I wondered if I should try a TOTM, and remembered that February was ending but that I hadn't looked at the March list yet. After recording that dream, I reviewed the new TOTMs and went back to bed. At first I tried my vibrating alarm, but after an hour of unproductive sleep, decided that my state of mind was not suitable for that method and took it off. It was 8am by this point and my hopes weren't high, so all I did was think about the TOTMs as I went back to bed. I was especially drawn to the one where you ask DCs about their dream, because I thought I remembered planning to try that myself at one point but had never gotten around to it.

      I actually did end up having another DILD in which I performed this task, but it wasn't very satisfying because I failed to wake and write promptly. This was annoying because during the dream itself I had been taking pains to try to remember the specific responses given by the DCs, but by the time I woke up fully at almost 10am, my memories had become blurred and vague. Here's what I can piece back together.

      DILD: I was in a room with three male friends when I realized I was dreaming, and that the presence of the DCs was a perfect set up for the task I wanted to try. I approached one of the guys and asked him to tell me about a dream he had recently. He said something to the effect that he didn't remember any dreams but was curious about them.

      What would it be like not to dream, I wondered—to be aware only of the moments when one is actually awake? It sounds like a kind of half-existence, a disturbing prospect.

      I went over to the second guy, who was sitting on a barstool nearby, and discovered that his appearance had changed. Now he resembled... a jawa? Except his robe was red... no, a dark pink. Weird. When he spoke, his voice sounded high and girlish. I don't remember the details of his reply, but it was also in the negative. No dreams to report.

      I approached the third guy and asked if he remembered any dreams. My hopes weren't high, but I was pleasantly surprised when he said he had dreamed about a location where HEMA could be practiced. (HEMA stands for Historical European Martial Arts, something I've been practicing since last year.) He started telling me about a weapon that he called a "brouheea" or something like that. I couldn't make sense of the word and asked him to repeat it a few times, so he showed me an example of one that was in a display case on the wall. It was shaped like a tiny axe, about six inches long, and the label demonstrated that the word had a complex spelling with a silent last syllable, like "Brouheeages." I thought it sounded vaguely Dutch.

      When I finally woke up some time later, it was frustrating not to be able to recall if the three guys, who I had thought of as "friends" within the context of the dream, had represented specific WL friends or had simply been random DCs who felt familiar at the time (I get this a lot).

      Updated 03-02-2016 at 12:24 AM by 34973

      Tags: hema, jawa, memory
      lucid , task of the month
    5. 2/9/16 - Familiar Beach/World Beyond the Wall (SLD/FA-DILD)

      by , 02-09-2016 at 10:20 PM
      Ritual: I had time to sleep in this morning so I was motivated to get lucid. Went to bed at midnight and woke at 6am to feed the cat. Didn't do a full WBTB, but took a few supplements (alpha-g, choline, l-theanine) plus a tiny amount (between 1-2mg) of very old galantamine. I lay down on my back to delay sleep onset and practiced progressive relaxation, a few SSILD cycles, and counting. Couldn't count very high (usually not past six, my focus is terrible these days) but clearly noticed onset of hypnogogic imagery and managed to put in a number of rotations before falling into dreamless sleep. When I awoke after a few minutes (guaranteed if I fall asleep on my back), I turned on my right side and let myself fall asleep normally, feeling adequately primed and hoping for the best. This "kitchen sink" approach has pretty much become my standard and despite being really haphazard has a decent success rate, often resulting in WILDs. This time I had an NLD or two that I don't remember well, then the following semi-lucid that turned into a DILD.

      SLD: I am on a beach. All is not well: there are what look like tiny floating islands approaching from across the sea, and on each one stands a little stone tower and a menacing-looking figure in black armor with a horned helmet. The armored figures to be using the islands as transportation. Though not quite lucid, I remember that I have certain broad powers in this place, so I walk along the beach until I spot a couple empty islands, and try to summon one toward me. It turns into a little white sailboat and promptly sinks. I try to summon the second one, and the same thing happens. So much for island hopping. I turn right and continue to walk along the waterfront.

      Something seems oddly familiar about this place—I've been here before, haven't I? I note the urban architecture up ahead, the sprawl of a city just past the beach and I'm distinctly reminded of a particular dream I had once, years ago now. It was here, I am sure of it, though this corresponds to no earthly place. I don't remember much about that earlier dream, except that it started in one of the apartment buildings a few blocks from the beach and then I went down to the parking lot, but saw the beach in the distance. [I think I actually found it, an entry from 12/29/13, but I misremembered the order of events: I was in the parking lot initially, then dropped by the beach before going up to the apartment.]

      Various people are wandering around the beach, and a distinctive figure approaches. He is a thin old man with stringy, longish grey hair, carrying three lidded boxes in different colors, each about eighteen inches square. "What do they call this bay?" I ask him. "Sigismund?" he suggests, then modifies it. "Or Sigisroot?" He seems uncertain. I am about to ask the name of the city, but we are interrupted by the approach of a huge wave. We try to scramble up the beach but don't make it in time, and the wave crashes over us. I have to struggle against the pull of its wake, meanwhile trying to reach around to find the old man, to help him if possible. I grab someone's hand in the water, but it turns out to be a short, dark-haired woman. After helping her to shore, I come across the old man again on the beach. He has made it to safety, but lost two of his boxes. I feel partly responsible for the loss of his boxes, so I go back to the water to look for them. I locate the boxes but their contents have spilled. Apparently they contained cassette tapes, so I dredge as many as possible out of the water and wet sand, restoring them to one of the boxes. After I've grabbed as many as I can find, I return the boxes to the old man.

      FA-DILD: The dream resets, perhaps a half-waking, and I am in my house again. I start reviewing what just happened, and write down the name of the bay, both variations—not sure I realized at the time I was writing in a dream notebook. As I think over the events of the dream, I realize I must have been semi-lucid at the point where I was trying to summon the islands and then recognized the setting from prior dream. I reason that if I was semi-lucid then, I must be actually lucid now. Dream logic is terrible, but this time it did the trick—thinking about lucidity made me recognize that I was still dreaming. Since I was back in my house, I decided to do the TOTM of walking through the wall. I had interpreted "my room" to mean the bedroom, so I head in there and immediately turn left to look at the wall. I'm pleased and surprised to find an ample stretch of wall between the door and bookcase (surprised because in WL there is no free wall space in the room at all, to the point where I thought I would have to do the task by going into the closet!) Instead, the dream has obligingly provided sufficient room for me to stand in front of the wall, so I press both hands flat against it and concentrate. The wall resists the pressure at first, so I increase it, then watch as my right hand starts to sink into the surface. The wall crumbles under my hand like weak plaster with an impressively realistic texture and sensation. As I continue to push, a whole section about two feet wide dislodges and falls inward under my right hand, and then I push my whole body forward and break through the rest.

      I find myself in a cramped, closet like space, empty yet messy somehow, like it was poorly constructed—for instance, there are exposed 2x4s at odd diagonals. There is no visible way out, and I remember back to a time I was exploring the use of mirrors as portals and got stuck in a labyrinth of empty rooms that became ever smaller and more claustrophobic. [The dream I was thinking of occurred on 4/17/14, and the earliest experience of this kind I recorded on 12/18/10]. Simply recognizing the dream's tricks gives me the confidence not to be waylaid by them again, so I turn left and push through that wall too. Unsurprisingly, I am in an even smaller, darker, and more cramped space. I remind myself to remain optimistic and keep pushing forward with the expectation of getting out. I push through a couple more dark, tiny, empty spaces and then find myself in one that is different. It feels like an actual closet, with coats. What catches my eye is the style of those coats: they remind me of the cheap winter coats we wore in the 1970s, made of smooth synthetic cloth in drab colors and augmented with wide fake-fleece collars. I push through the coats and finally tumble free into an outdoor space.

      It's one of those transitions that are so striking in dream. I had been struggling in narrow claustrophobic space with poor visibility, and suddenly everything has changed: I'm in open space, the air is clear and fresh, the light is bright, colors are vivid, my vision is sharp, and I feel a surge of ebullience. I remind myself that it is worth it, all the trouble I go to over dreaming, even if dream isn't always cooperative, because of experiences like this. I even notice that little flutter in my solar plexus that I associate with deep dream.

      I move forward, on my hands and knees at first. I am at the base of a steep hill, and there are a number of animals sitting on the hillside, placidly watching me, including several ape-like creatures. As I crawl through the grass, I note the distinct texture of it: it might not be grass at all, actually, but some kind of ground cover with stiff, spiny stalks that flatten rather than bend under my hands. When I get to my feet, I see that a number of these stalks have actually adhered to my palms. They look like black tubes about three inches long and only a couple millimeters across, hollow, with a longer thin hair sticking another inch out the end. I try to pluck one out and it won't come off. I have the impression that even if I manage to pull off the outer tube, the hair will be left behind. It occurs to me to wonder if this explains the ape-like creatures, which seem unusually intelligent and anthropomorphic: did other people come here before me, and end up with so many of these hairs attached to their skin that they became furry?

      I consider flying, but decide not to: I'm really interested in this place, and flying would destabilize me from this particular scenario, if not the dream itself. So I continue walking forward on foot, reminding myself both literally and figuratively to stay grounded. As I reach the end of the flat terrain at the bottom of the steep hill, I look up at the animals arrayed on the upper terraces, who are still quietly watching me. What should I ask them? I never seem to get anywhere asking the names of things, so I decide to be clever, and call up to them: "What would be a really interesting question for a newcomer to ask?" No answer. I repeat myself, but still no reply, so I start climbing up toward them.

      When I reach the upper terrace, things get complex. I can't remember what passes between me and one of the creatures, who is more man-like now, before he pulls a knife on me—though it is unclear if he he is using the knife to threaten me or the grizzled, older-looking apeman creature who is sitting to his left. I wrest the knife from his grasp, which knocks him off balance. He nearly falls off the cliff (which suddenly seems a lot steeper now, almost vertical, than when I climbed up it a moment before) and grabs on to my waist to save himself. I check my moral compass and find that I feel no compulsion to save him—something about his attitude puts me off—so I peel his arms away and he falls to the base of the cliff, presumably to his death. The elder creature has retrieved the knife, which is now lying at his feet, and I go over to look at it.

      When I pick up the knife, I find it to be a wide, cleaver-like implement made of thin cardboard with silver foil stuck to it. There is writing on the cardboard side, and I read through a whole confession, apparently by the creature I just sent to his death. The text describes an elaborate scheme that involved getting me pregnant and then killing me after the child was born, because it concludes, "I won't regret killing you when I see your features in the face of our infant." I find this repulsive and it resolves my lingering doubts about whether letting him fall was the right thing to do. I ask the elder creature if I can keep the knife, and he doesn't speak, but I take his silence as assent. I notice that there is a second knife on the ground, made of roughly-forged steel or iron and elegantly curved like a viking blade (the handle a loop of the same metal), that resembles like the one I wrested away initially, so I swap out the mock-up I'm holding for the real blade, and walk forward on the hilltop.

      I encounter another man, this one entirely human in appearance except for a strange feature: his face is completely wrapped in grimy white bandages, leaving only a bit of forehead and his hair explosed. The bandages are thicker over his left eye, but seem to adhere closely to his right—I can see the shape of the eye bulging under them—so I conclude that must be the one he somehow sees out of. Despite his odd appearance I feel an immediate affinity for him, in contrast to the last guy. He leads me into a building, where a girl approaches us and asks me, "Who made that knife?" I look at the blade in my hand. It doesn't bear a long text like the mock-up, but there is a row of runes along the top edge that I can't read. "He's dead now," I reply laconically.

      In the entryway of the building, we immediately go through a door to the right, into what looks like a machine shop. The machines are in the center of the room, and two people are operating them, but I can't tell what they're making. The machines have some kind of spinning disk that either cuts or polishes. The bandaged guy is telling me about a hardware store somewhere. "That's where the first ship came from." I have the impression he is talking about a spaceship, and gather that there is a whole complicated plot behind all of this, but I don't know the details. By the time we finish walking through the room, I am waking up.

      Updated 02-09-2016 at 10:25 PM by 34973

      lucid , task of the month
    6. Book Titles and a Headstone (WILD)

      by , 01-20-2016 at 08:58 PM
      Ritual: Last night's moment of lucidity made me crave good dreaming again, but I woke up after six hours with nothing but a few shreds of bland and wan memory. Determined to do better, I dug out the silent vibrating alarm I was using last year for my DEILD experiments and strapped it to my wrist. I set the timer for 33 minutes at first, so I would likely be asleep by the time it went off, but after lying awake for about half that time reset it for 17 minutes. I reminded myself that it would be fine if I was still awake when it went off, a good opportunity to re-familiarize myself with the sensation I was anticipating and to RC. I did feel the pulse once before I fell asleep; afterwards, given that another 45 minutes went by before I woke up, it must have gone off a couple times that I didn't notice. However, I did get lucid, even though the timing suggests that the onset was not triggered by the vibration, because when I finally woke up the alarm was 30 seconds from going off again, and I don't think the dream lasted that long (though I could be wrong about that). This would be consistent with my other experiments with this technique: it works, but not in the way one might expect. Rather than directly inducing an awareness of the dream state with its signal, it seems to be rather that the anticipation of the alarm serves as an anchor for the attention that makes it easier to transition directly into dream. Consequently, rather than a DILD I had a WILD.

      I knew I must have transitioned when I realized I was holding a piece of paper in my hands. I used the paper to better integrate by running it between my fingers and being attentive to the lifelike sensations. They were vivid enough that I figured I should just get up out of bed, even though my vision hadn't kicked in fully yet and everything was dim and blurry. Since there are bookcases right next to my bed in WL and my intention was to do this month's Basic Task i, the moment I was on my feet I started examining the books. My vision was no better overall, but I could see well enough in the area of my primary focus. Reading was surprisingly easy as well, although the words themselves did not always remain stable, sometimes changing into new ones right before my eyes.

      I read a half dozen book titles right away, some better than others, but none so striking that I felt like putting special effort into memorizing them. I hoped a few might stick with me naturally, but unfortunately I didn't remember any of them on waking. After browsing the books in the bedroom for a while, I moved out to the kitchen, where I have more bookshelves (there are books almost everywhere in my house). I continued reading titles, trying to find a really good one for the task. Finally after moving on to a second shelf in the kitchen I found what I was looking for. The book was a slim hardcover, about 9"x11" and 3/4 inch thick. The cover had a glossy sheen and was white in the upper half and a darker color, grey perhaps, in the lower half. In the very center, where the colors met, was the word: "REVOLIOTUN" in red and black stylized capital letters. I took note of how it appeared to be the word "revolution" with some of the letters transposed. I wasn't sure if this was part of the title or designated something else, like the series, publisher, or maybe just a cover design, since the actual title seemed to be printed below this in the lower half of the cover. The title was David Bowie's Dreams: Naked in Flight. This tickled me, especially given his recent passing, and I knew it was the one I wanted to bring back for the task.

      I set my mind on remembering that book, but glanced at a few more for good measure. There was one small paperback titled Blue Skulls Book that struck me, but that's the only other title I can remember.

      Now that I had completed the task, I wondered if I should wake and write immediately, but it seemed a waste of good dream state. Was it really that good, though? My vision was still terrible. "Then maybe I should work on that," I told myself reprovingly. So I looked out the kitchen window and tried to clean up my vision. "Just open your eyes," I instructed myself. "But be careful not to open your real eyes!" I actually did have a sensation like my eyes were opening, and suddenly my vision cleared up beautifully! I looked out the window and was startled by the amazing color and clarity of the landscape, a wide grassy expanse bordered by distant hills, so unlike my actual concrete pool patio. The vision from my left eye was perfect, but my right eye faded in and out: it kept feeling like something was covering it, which I tried to brush away with my fingers as though it were an errant lock of hair. I realized that it was probably the bleedthrough sensation from the way my face was pressed into my pillow (I was able to confirm this on waking) and decided I'd better do my best to ignore it.

      The beauty of the outdoors lured me, so I stepped through the sliding screen door into this marvelous dreamscape, and immediately felt my heart fill with joy. I wondered if I should plan to do anything in particular, but decided no, it was enough just to look around and drink in the sights, now that I could see so clearly. As I moved over the ground, I was more dancing than walking for the sheer pleasure of it. Momentarily I wondered if I should be careful not to accidently blunder into any WL obstacles I couldn't see, but then had to remind myself, this isn't like google cardboard: I'm not just surrounded by an illusory overlay on the real world, this is a whole world in its own right.

      "This is my favorite world!" I murmured in fervent appreciation, then caught myself. That seemed like a radical statement. Was it really true? I reflected for a moment and had to admit that it was. I felt a bit sorry for the real world—how could it compare to this? As I looked around, marveling at the beauty of my surroundings, my eye was caught by a brighter spot in the dream sky, a white disk surrounded by intensified illumination, like the sun filtering through a haze. For some reason this struck me as remarkable, and I thought back and couldn't remember ever seeing a sun in my dream sky before. Unlike the unpleasant brightness of the real sun, this one I could gaze at directly.

      I wandered across the lawn until I discovered a large headstone. It had the traditional rounded shape but was very wide, maybe three or four feet tall and five or six in width. I was pleased to discover that I could read the chiseled inscription very clearly: "THE EARLY DEATHS OF BLAKE GRACE." The name meant nothing to me, but what particularly caught my attention was the plural, "deaths." How could he or she have died more than once? Oh well, in the dream world, I suppose anything is possible.

      Encountering the tombstone hadn't diminished my joy in the slightest. I still felt radiantly happy, even when I glanced down and noticed that I was standing on a carved piece of stone that covered the grave itself, like the lid of a sarcophagus. "I hope I'm not disturbing the inhabitant!" I thought amiably, and stepped off the stone, watching closely to see if it would move, on the off-chance that the corpse might decide to rise from the grave in indignation. Even this possibility did not dampen my mood; I felt fully capable of dealing with such an eventuality, should it occur. But the dead slept. I felt compassion for the person buried here and thought I should make up for my accidental insult by doing something to honor the grave. In the hollow of one of the carvings toward the foot of the stone was an accumulation of gravel on which an uprooted mushroom was lying. I picked up the mushroom and tried to set it upright, pushing the stem into the gravel to help it stand up. The surface of the mushroom was starting to rot, but the sight filled me with a sense of tender compassion, much like the grave itself.

      After this I decided that it was probably time to wake up, since I didn't want to risk wandering off and forgetting the book title and the engraving on the headstone. Since I was waking myself up deliberately, I was able to get ready and do it in a very controlled way. As the dream began to fade into void, I grabbed a pen and got ready to start writing in the notebook next to my bed the moment I transitioned, until I realized how ridiculous this was. There was no point in picking up a dream pen—it wouldn't save me any time—I would still have to move my physical arm and grab the physical pen once I actually woke up! What a hassle!

      Updated 01-20-2016 at 09:04 PM by 34973

      lucid , task of the month
    7. Too Many Spiders / Phone Call (DILD)

      by , 12-16-2015 at 08:21 PM
      I'm in the kitchen with my husband and one of the cats. A TV or monitor (neither of which is in the kitchen in WL) is advertising a website called "soundandspeed.com." I make a note of it, because it looks like it will be a useful place to pick up Christmas gifts.

      The cat is dashing around like a maniac: she runs up to me as if she wants to be cuddled, then runs away again as if afraid. I'm lying on the floor at this point so grab her and put her under my head, like a fluffy pillow, which calms her a bit.

      The kitchen is full of spiders of all sizes. At one point I step in something that crackles like dry leaves, but I feel something wet on my foot (I'm just wearing socks) and notice that what I stepped in was the carcass of an enormous spider, at least two feet across. The legs have dried out into husks, the source of the crackling sound, but there is apparently some residual moisture in the body cavity, which is what got on my foot. I feel a surge of disgust.

      There is another large dead spider by the door leading outside, this one about eight inches across. It is flattened, which makes me think I must have accidentally stepped on that one earlier.

      The spiders seem to have come along with stuff that we brought in from the garage. There are also cobwebs and dead leaves clinging to the boxes. I'm not happy about this. I see a spider that I suspect to be a black widow, and as I go toward the sink to grab rubber gloves so that I can crush it, I see another spider on the edge of a crate that is clearly a brown widow. (Both black and brown widows are actually quite commonplace outdoors where I live in WL, so this is not an unusual experience.) Should I kill it? I remind myself that I've decide not to kill the brown ones since they are less dangerous than the black, but I can't have it living in the house, so I decide to trap it and put it outside.

      "This is an infestation of spiders," I think, as I go to the cupboard to get a glass. I ponder the word "infest" as I choose a glass of a suitable size and shape for trapping the spider. Next I need a stiff but thin piece of paper to cover the opening once the spider is inside, and I notice a piece of mail on the counter that will do the trick. As I reach for it, I notice a dead branch propped up on the counter, occupied by another strange-looking spider. It is glossy black with the red markings of a black widow, but the red forms a splotch rather than an hourglass shape. The spider itself looks oddly inflated, almost perfectly round as though it might burst. I look more closely and see a ring of tiny spiders, its young, circling around it. I decide I had better get rid of this one before worrying about the brown widow, so I grab the branch and take it outside.

      I throw the branch over the wall of my patio into the bushes, silently wishing that the spiders will have a good life—so long as they stay out of my house. Meanwhile, I notice that the surroundings look a bit different than usual; the neighbors appear to be living in an RV rather than their house, and the bushes are more sparse than they should be. As I start walking back to my house, the realization comes very naturally: I'm dreaming.

      I remind myself that I should begin a task in order to help maintain dream awareness, so try to think of what to do. No personal goals come to mind, so I think about the TOTMs and remember the one with the phone. That seems a good one to pursue, under the circumstances.

      I begin by imagining that my phone is right in front of me on top of the wall and ringing. It doesn't immediately manifest, so I decide I need to build expectation: the phone must be ringing in the house. I dash back as though I already hear it and don't want to miss the call. Bursting through the kitchen door, sure enough, I see my phone on the counter. Although it is not making an audible sound, the screen is lit up with an incoming call, so I quickly grab it and push the button.

      I hear the voice of a polite-sounding young man with a Middle Eastern accent. He is already talking, and sounds like he was in the middle of leaving a message when I took the call.

      "Hello?" I interrupt.

      The man doesn't seem to hear me at first, and continues with his message. There was more to it, but this is the part I can remember: "—honey and sweetness. Despite Middle Eastern rituals and invocation of Far Eastern gods, we regret to inform you that—"

      "I'm here! I'm here!" I insist. Finally I get his attention. He states my name. "Yes?" I ask.

      "What is your opinion of our company's business practices?"

      The question mystifies me, because I still have no idea who he is or what company he represents, so I inquire, "What is it that you do?"

      Instead of answering directly, he asks, "What do you think about your reduced number of intimid—?"

      He was interrupted by the sudden dispersal of the dream. My impression was that the last word was going to be "intimidating," but "intimate" is another possibility. Unfortunately, neither one adds much clarity to whatever it was he was about to say!

      Updated 12-16-2015 at 08:31 PM by 34973

      lucid , task of the month
    8. Minor Antics (DILD/FA/NLD)

      by , 10-15-2015 at 06:46 PM
      Ritual: Woke up around 5am after four hours of sleep and decided to make a proper LD attempt. To reinforce my intention I used supplements, my usual stack of Alpha-GPC, L-Theanine, and Bacopa. Did some SSILD cycles until I felt too wakeful, and then breathing/counting. After falling half-asleep and waking up again, I turned on my side.

      DILD: My recall is poor from the fact that I haven't been journaling diligently, and I also didn't write more than a few notes promptly after the dream, so I don't clearly recall the onset of lucidity. I just remember that I was in a small, empty, square room with white walls and beige carpet, and I knew I was dreaming. I had the idea that I should better integrate with the dream through physical activity, so I did some high-knee running for a few circles around the room, and followed it up with jumping jacks. This felt absurdly easy compared to the physical strain of exercising in WL, and the sense of incongruity almost collapsed the dream.

      I managed to hold the dream together, but now I was feeling dissatisfied, and I decided that I didn't like this room with its ugly beige carpet. I went through the door and found myself outside, which was a nice change. I found myself in a small yard bordered by beautiful vegetation, glossy green leaves and vividly colorful flowers.

      FA-NLD: At this point I had an FA during which I lost lucidity by believing I was actually awake. I recall telling someone about how beautiful the outdoors was in the dream I just had, compared to the bland indoor environment. The dream proceeded to take the form of a meeting with colleagues at work, though the details have faded.

      DILD: At some point after the meeting, I was driving in a car with two women and realized I was dreaming again. I had reviewed the TOTMs during my WBTB, and was very confident in my recollection that one of the basic tasks was to blow a car horn! That will be easy, I figured, since I'm already driving a car... in fact, I feel bad because it's almost too easy. Dream took care of that, so when I pressed the horn, no sound came out. I ended up putting a lot of concentration into trying to coax some sound out of the horn, and the best I could get was a kind of doorbell buzz.

      After giving up on my efforts to make the car horn sound louder or more realistic, I pulled over to the side of the road, and got out of the car with the two women. We were on a small rural road with a nice view over some fields. Now I wanted to try one of the advanced tasks, to pass into a DC's body. As I approached one of the women with this intention, I noticed her appearance had changed: previously she had been a fully-clothed middle-aged woman of non-descript appearance. Now I was walking toward the body of a nude young woman with no head! It wasn't that the head had been chopped off, her body just ended at the neck, a smooth stump.

      I didn't let this deter me and walked right into the body. I realized that the lack of a head was handy: since the only "headspace" I was occupying was my own, I didn't feel any confusion about my identity—although it made the task less interesting than it might have been. However, I began to suspect that since the body had been facing me as I merged with it, now my head might be attached backwards! This thought was so disconcerting that I woke up before I could look down and check.
    9. Maguro Festival (NLD)

      by , 10-08-2015 at 05:49 PM
      Ritual: My LDs have all but vanished now that I am not actively working on it (not for lack of interest, but work is way too busy right now, and I'm not playing any computer games either!) However, when I got up before dawn to feed the cat and realized I was wakeful enough to call this a WBTB, it occurred to me that I didn't even know what the October TOTMs were, so I looked them over before returning to bed. I tried to do some counting but had no focus and fell asleep. I did end up complete one of the tasks, but essentially within the context of a non-lucid dream! The distinctions between LD and NLD used to seem a lot crisper when LDing was new to me, but I would call this an example of agency without dream awareness, which I'm not sure has happened to me before. I always thought dream awareness was the prerequisite for agency, but apparently not!

      NLD: I was in a community that was preparing for a special festival. They had a great deal of maguro (lean tuna meat) and slices of it were lining a long stone staircase that cut through a wooded park-like space. I wanted to marinate the maguro like I had done at last year's festival: it had been a big hit. I tried to remember the marinade recipe, and knew that it was very basic: pretty much just soy sauce and cilantro. Soy sauce was easy to come by, but I was out of cilantro. I had a limited time before all the maguro went bad, so I had to find cilantro right away.

      I went into town to see if I could get any. While walking down the sidewalk, I saw some women holding cameras. I assumed they were photographers for the festival. This reminded me of the TOTMs, so I tried to remember the one I had prioritized. Oh right: if I see a DC, I should follow him or her. I picked one of the photographers, a black woman with her hair bound in two pigtails, and started shadowing her as she walked down the street.

      The DC only walked about fifteen feet before she turned around again, so I turned as well and continued following her. She walked back to the place where I had first spotted her and stopped again. What was she doing? I studied her closely, trying to understand her behavior. She wasn't taking any pictures; her camera hung ignored around her neck. However, she seemed to be posing to display her fur coat to best advantage. Suddenly I understood: she had put on a gorgeous costume for the festival, so now she was walking up and down the sidewalk in order to be seen!

      I decided that continuing to follow her would be redundant if she was just going to hang out on that same stretch of sidewalk, so I went into a local bookstore to ask about the cilantro. There was a guy who had a piece of paper with pictures of the various types. Right now only the cilantro from China was available, he said, but it didn't have the best flavor: they had picked it too early. I told him I'd settle for that if I couldn't get anything else.

      Notes: Since I stopped doing active dream practice, not only my recall but even the content of my dreams has degraded. The more epic and story-like elements have dwindled and my dreams currently seem to be pieced together primarily from waking life residue. This one is full of it: I ate similar slices of maguro on Sunday night; on Monday I attended a lecture where the speaker used a fur coat as a metaphor; and in the back of my mind I had been wondering if it was true, as someone recently told me, that cilantro can lower the raised mercury levels one can get from eating too much maguro. Even marinating the maguro has a precedent, a very delicious form of sushi called zuke.

      Updated 10-08-2015 at 05:56 PM by 34973

      non-lucid , task of the month
    10. Drawing a Sword/Ozymandias (DILD)

      by , 09-07-2015 at 11:41 PM
      Ritual: I went to bed at midnight and found myself quite awake at 5am, so I got up and worked for an hour. On going back to bed, I realized that although I had not intended a WBTB, the conditions were good for LDing. I had to get up at 8, so I didn't want to spend the time on a formal WILD attempt, but I thought about what task I should do if I got lucid. All I could remember of this month's TOTMs were "fart" and "draw," so picked the latter. I decided I would draw a dinosaur, since I never got around to riding one last month.

      DILD: I think I was outside my workplace—something I rarely dream of—when I reached down to pick up something off the ground. As I straightened, I realized with clear certainty that I was dreaming. I wasn't sure what had triggered the awareness, so thought it over, but there didn't seem to be any specific anomalies that I had noticed, and I hadn't RC'd either. On this occasion I just felt very naturally aware of the dream state.

      I had originally planned to draw a dinosaur and bring it to life for the TOTM, but now I decided to start with something easier. I had been at my HEMA class yesterday, so I decided to draw a sword, then manifest it and do some practice. My initial strategy was to simply draw the sword in my left palm, so that I could manifest it directly in my hand (I am right-handed, so I was using my right hand to draw with). However, the lines changed as soon as I had set them down, turning into a cartoon-like character. I figured fine, I can work with that, it doesn't matter what I manifest... but my intention to transform the drawing into a real being fizzled. Nothing happened except that the drawing changed into a different character, and then faded.

      Changing strategy, as I found myself walking next to a building I drew a sword right on the wall. It was a poor drawing, chunky and ill-proportioned, but I figured I could fix it in post-production. I put my hand over where the hilt was drawn, intending to grab the sword as it manifested. Nothing happened. I wondered if it would help to reach into the wall, in case the sword was inside it. I pressed my right hand against the wall, which consisted of a reddish, textured stucco. It resisted at first, but I kept pressing, and eventually it yielded like a crumbly semi-moist clay, and my hand went right through. I closed my hand over an object and pulled it out. Unfortunately it was not the sword I was trying to create, but a comic book.

      It occurred to me that I was always trying to make the dream state conform to my will, and I should pay more attention to the things that it offered me unexpectedly, so I took a moment to flip through the comic book as I walked on past the building. The hero of the comic was a young boy, but nothing caught my interest, so I tossed it on the ground. Lucidity got a little weak, and I found myself grilling a piece of chicken for my husband's dinner. The image of the piece of meat on the grill was, in retrospect, an obvious bit of day residue from a Facebook post I had seen last night.

      While getting the dinner ready I found myself indoors, where I made a third try at drawing the sword, inscribing an outline on the wall again. Since there was a DC in the room with me, I thought I would be clever and asked him to grab the sword off the wall and give it to me. I figured it would still count for the TOTM as long as the drawing transformed into a three-dimensional object by any means. But he couldn't do it either!

      Later I got fed up and just manifested a sword directly into my hand so that I could actually get some practice in. For some reason I found it easy to create a sword in my hand out of nothing, even though I had been unable to do it from the drawings! I went through a few rounds of the "flow" movements I had learned in my HEMA class, but found myself wondering why I was wasting precious dream time practicing something that I could work on just as well in waking life, so I flew off to further explore the dream.

      Only then did I notice the beauty of my surroundings. Some dream environments are drab, but this was one of those landscapes that is gorgeous beyond anything you've seen in waking life. Pink-tinged clouds of beautiful hue and texture filled the sky. All around me was water, interspersed with strips of inhabited land, like a strange city straddling the sea. The water was full of beautiful sailing ships of many varieties.

      I felt a bit lonely in all this splendor and wished I had a friend to hang out with. Something inspired me to seek "Ozymandias," though the name has little relevance for me (outside being vaguely aquainted with its literary source) and has never come up in a dream before, nor can I trace it to DR. I loudly called "Ozymandias!" but no one appeared. Then I had an intuition that one of the boats was his, a small craft with a complex array of small square black and red sails.

      I flew over and landed on the boat, which was not much bigger than a rowboat despite its magnificent sails. There was a tall vertical form in the prow that I had assumed was Ozymandias, only to discover that it was made of wood and evidently served as the steering apparatus. The boat was empty, even though it was not anchored but sailing freely in the harbor. Something caught my eye and I knelt down to find some single earrings and a few tiny beads in the bottom of the boat, as though a woman had been here. Though I retained a degree of lucidity, I found myself being drawn into a dream narrative. I lingered in the boat until it drifted vertically down a tall waterfall, although the movement was gentle and not frightening.

      I wanted to figure out why Ozymandias had apparently disappeared from his boat, so I transported myself to an office where I could speak to a harbor official. I told him about the empty boat and the evidence that a woman had been on board.

      "The only other person allowed in his boat is Delphine," the clerk informed me. Something made me suspect Delphine was a courtesan, so I asked about the local brothels, and the clerk described two locations.

      As I went in search of the brothel I became confused.... now I began to wonder if I was Delphine, that is, if that was the character I was playing in the dream. But if so, why hadn't the clerk recognized me, since he had appeared to be familiar with her? Could it be because I don't currently resemble her, and instead look like my waking self?

      Without resolving these doubts, I went to the brothel and asked if they knew what had become of Ozymandias. "We don't give information about our clients," the madam informed me politely.

      "He might be dead!" I insisted, explaining my discovery of the empty boat. That persuaded them to give me a piece of paper listing the dates that he had visited. That was as far as I was able to pursue the mystery before I woke up.

      Updated 09-07-2015 at 11:44 PM by 34973

      lucid , task of the month
    11. Muppets Sing of Amos and Andy (DILD)

      by , 08-23-2015 at 07:07 AM
      Ritual: I went to bed around midnight, but the knowledge that I had to wake up earlier than usual this morning, at 7am, created a subtle anxiety that woke me up at 4:30am and made it hard to sleep afterwards. The natural insomnia created good conditions for lucidity, and I woke up at 6:30am after this dream.

      DILD: Since I was lying in bed mostly awake for a couple hours, I had already gotten up several times to use the bathroom. This seemed like another one of those times, but an odd detail caught my eye. There was a steel mesh frame surrounding the toilet paper roll and someone had left a lot of used cotton balls in it. They were stained on one side with a color like Betadine. I assumed my husband must have left them there, and wondered what he had been using them for.

      On some level I suspected that there was something wrong with this scenario and decided to RC. I braced one hand on the bathroom counter and the other on the towel rack, and tried to lift myself. My body lifted effortlessly off the ground with no real muscular exertion, which made me suspect I must be dreaming. (The fact that the bathroom did not correspond to its WL layout was something I failed to notice, as usual.) I checked again, with the same results, and then to be sure, I tried the same stunt without using my arms at all—that is, levitating. Upon levitating successfully, I was confident that this was the dream state.

      It's so gratifying to get unintentional LDs! But one isn't always prepared with a task. I felt an impulse to go outside, so I went back out to the bedroom and quickly exited through the screen door. Immediately I noticed a destabilization of my vision. Experience reminded me not to fret, just relax and let images suggest themselves, the problem should straighten itself out. Sure enough, a moment later I started to notice colors, then the colors organized themselves into geometry, and before long they had resolved into a new scene: I was looking at a large stack of different colored shipping containers.

      I realized that the deck I was standing on overlooked a great harbor. There was water on all sides, and my house was apparently on some tall island in the middle. I was surprised by the number of ships that I could see moving to and fro. They came in all sizes, everything from large cargo ships to little tugboats, all looking very industrious. There were so many ships that I wondered if the place I was in lacked air transport entirely: I didn't see any planes flying at first, but a moment later, perhaps summoned by my thoughts, a helicopter veered very close overhead.

      I decided that I should do something useful as long as I was in the dream state, and tried to remember this month's tasks. Eating a moon rock leaped to mind. Okay, how should I do that? I didn't feel like shifting scenes just yet, actually traveling to outer space. I thought, well, maybe a rocket could land nearby and an astronaut could get out and present me with the moon rock. It sounded like a good strategy but I was not strongly motivated to try it, so I tabled the idea.

      As I was contemplating the possibilities, I heard music from nearby, and noticed a miniature stage on one edge of the deck. This reminded me of one of the other TOTMs, attending a concert. Well, here are some creatures playing music in public, that might count. I call them "creatures" because the music was being played by what looked like muppets, only a foot or two in height. The initial music sounded like a piano, and a female muppet was playing it, but her fingers were moving over a clear plastic stand, with no visible keys. I thought she resembled what I can only describe as the "hippie girl muppet," but googling that now, it seems to be a good search term and reveals that the name of the muppet in question (in WL, anyway) was "Janice."

      After her piano solo ended, a male muppet to her right began playing guitar. This muppet resembled Fozzie Bear, and and was singing as he played. I listened closely to the lyrics and did my best to remember them. As usual in deep dream, I was impressed how easily the rhymes came—though of course on waking, it was hard to remember the lyrics clearly.

      The first rhyme involved the phrase "...how we live," which later rhymed with "...give." There was another stanza that I couldn't remember at all by the time I was writing my report. I have a slightly clearer memory of the third stanza, apart from the absent first line:

      ...and I'll let you do the rest,
      Because you know Amos and Andy
      And can put them to the test."

      After that, the muppet went into a refrain of:

      Can you help me?
      Stranger, can you help me?

      The lines may sound plaintive in plain text, but they were a little more jazzy the way they were sung. I was listening to the song and smiling down fondly at the muppet. I felt that "Amos and Andy" was a phrase I had heard before... was it related to cookies? Or an old TV show? I was certainly willing to offer help, if it was needed, but a moment later I woke up.

      Note: Googling now, I see that "Amos and Andy" was originally a radio show in the 1920s, later moved to television, and lasted until the 1950s. I have no idea why my subconcious dredged this up! I must have thought of cookies because of the similarity to the brand name "Famous Amos."
    12. Catbird Fish (DILD)

      by , 08-11-2015 at 08:39 PM
      Ritual: It's been over a month since I've done any deliberate dream practice, due to a combination of low motivation and being really busy in WL, so this morning I woke up early to feed the cats and decided to turn it into a WBTB. To reinforce my intention, I took a very small amount (2mg) of galantamine, backed up with alpha-gpc and l-theanine. I lay on my back and tried to concentrate on my intention to get lucid, but my focus was almost completely lacking, and eventually I dozed off only to be startled awake by my own snoring. I turned on my side and fell asleep without any further efforts.

      I am in a store that specializes in custom-made, artisanal candy and chocolates. There is a table covered with samples, and I am surprised to see one set labeled with the names of my dad and a cousin, apparently commissioned by them for some event. It consists of three types of chocolate meant to be dipped into three different flavored creams. I want to try all three, but there is only one sample of each flavor and I am competing for them with other customers, so I miss out on one or two.

      My disappointment is eased when the lady proprietor brings out more samples, but these turn out to be biscuits and candy, rather than the chocolates on the first table. Still, they are very appealing in all their colors and textures, and I am standing over the table unapologetically sampling one thing after another when I feel a strange tremor in the floor. The motion becomes more intense, and the other customers start to panic because they think it is an earthquake, but I recognize that it is a different kind of motion. It doesn't feel like the ground is shaking under the building, but rather like the building itself is sliding over the ground, which is of course impossible, unless...

      "Don't worry, everybody!" I say authoritatively. "This is a dream." I open the front door to see if I was right about the movement, and sure enough, the whole building is sliding sideways through a forest at great speed. While I wait for our journey to end, I continue munching confections: I was particularly enjoying one fennel-flavored cookie shaped like twining leaves and tinted delicately green. Recalling that I was planning to resume my diet tomorrow in waking life, I figured I should take advantage of this opportunity to stuff my face with calorie-free dream food!

      The building eventually came to a halt, and I went outside to explore the new environment. I recall it was now an urban area, but some of the transitional details are vague. Somehow I met up with my husband and another guy, no one I recognized, and we drove through the city in a really nice convertible sportscar (modeled on the picture of the BMW i8 he showed me last night in WL). I think we were going to see a movie but maybe it wasn't showing (I don't remember watching one) so we went back out to get the car. It was parked some distance away, so to retrieve it faster, I concentrated on making it drive itself back to us, and to speed things up even more, I had it fly through the air.

      "Thank you, robot valet," I said, as the car gently landed in front of us at the curb. My husband got in the driver's seat, and I got into the back again, but when the DC squeezed into some weird sidecar niche, I climbed over to take the passenger seat. For some reason the car had a British layout, so the driver sat on the right with the passenger seat to the left.

      Since I had demonstrated that the car could fly, we took off directly into the air to avoid street traffic. However, our flight path didn't feel stable: we were getting buffeted in strange ways. I pointed out that while this car was incredibly aerodynamic on the ground, it was not designed for flying: a sturdy little pod would be better for this purpose. We dropped back down to the pavement and now the car performed beautifully, hugging the ground with impressive traction even though the streets were wet, and roaring forward at incredible speed.

      "Where are we going?" I asked. Even though I wasn't in the driver's seat, as the dreamer I felt like I was actually the one steering. My husband said he wanted to pick up some things from the Hall of Records, and helped me locate the building. Inside, it turned out he was retrieving some parcels that had been mailed to him. He mentioned that one package was three days late, because the sender had needed to mail out a movie script first. "Why didn't he just bring them both to the post office at the same time?" I asked, to which there was no satisfactory answer. The parcels contained research materials, and now that my husband had them in hand, he wanted to do some work. "Okay, you work," I said. "I need to go do something."

      I had remained partly lucid the whole time, but I had been enjoying the dream enough to let the narrative play out. Now that things were wrapping up, I remembered that I had planned to catch a fish for the TOTMs. I went around behind the building and conveniently found a stream flowing by. The water was shallow and crystal clear, so I peered in to see if I could spot any fish. What I actually saw swimming underwater were... kittens!

      "Actually this will make things easier," I reflected. Now I wouldn't need to bother with a fishing rod, hook, and bait. Kittens were much easier to catch! I dangled a length of ribbon over the water until a kitten surfaced and started batting at it, then lured it closer to me until I could scoop it right up in my arms. I concluded that the creature I had caught was a "catbird fish" (I'm not sure why it wasn't just a "catfish," but this was the term that seemed right at the time) and knew I should examine it closely so that I could write a clear description in my report.

      Once I was holding the animal, it was no longer the size of a tiny kitten but had swelled into a plump armful. It was no longer quite cat-shaped, either: now looked more like a stuffed animal with the bodily proportions of a totoro: big rounded torso and very short arms and legs. Although my "catbird fish" didn't physically resemble a fish, I sensed that there was something fishlike about its bones, even if I couldn't see them.

      I studied the head first, which was still cartoonishly cat-like overall, but with significant differences. The mouth was very unusual: more narrow and vertical than that of a real cat, almost beaklike the way it protruded, but with large exposed teeth. There were two large incisors on the top and bottom, but both sets of incisors were adjacent to one another in the center, more like those of a rat than a cat, but wider and flatter.

      After studying the mouth closely, I looked back up and saw that the round, wideset eyes were now completely white. I recalled noticing normal pupils before and wondered if they were rolled back in the head. Just when I was thinking that the creature was starting to look a bit scary, with its weird mouth and whitened eyes, suddenly it spoke up in a very friendly voice: "Hello!" I responded in kind, smiled at it, and continued my examination.

      It had the fur of a cat, brown tabby stripes with patches of white here and there: a white triangle on the throat and chest, a little white on the belly, and white gloves. I checked and determined that all four paws were white. After looking over the creature thoroughly, I returned the "catbird fish" to the stream.

      The environment had shifted around me: the stream was no longer outside, but occupied a room in a building that had put together exhibits pertaining to different countries. I wondered which country had supplied my "catbird fish," and looked around until I saw the words "This is Canada," inscribed under the surface of the stream. I wondered what other countries were being exhibited—somehow I knew there were supposed to be five of them—and if I could find any rooms with bodies of water suitable for fishing. It would be cool to catch dream fish from several different countries!

      I wandered around the building looking for the other exhibits, but to my disappointment, all the others were closed. I went to the front desk to ask about this, and became even more incensed when I noticed a sign informing me that the price of admission was $898.99. I complained angrily to the desk clerk: how could they justify charging so much when only one of the five exhibits was even open?! He simply pointed me to a second sign, which listed a complicated set of refunds that reduced the price of admission to only $1.25.

      "Oh, alright then." I figured $1.25 was a reasonable fee for the one exhibit I had seen, and was willing to pay. I had a bunch of change in my left hand, and started trying to count out five quarters into my right palm. The first few attempts inexplicably failed due to the shifting numbers and appearances of the coins. "This is really hard to do in a dream," I commented, and wondered if it would be easier if, instead of trying to shift the correct number of coins from left hand to right, I put them directly down on the desk as I counted.

      I started making a little pile of quarters, but had only counted out two before coins that had initially resembled quarters turned out to be square when I set them down, and I had to start a separate pile for them. The third round, quarter-sized coin that I managed to produce had a square hole in the center like those old Chinese coins, and the fourth one had three triangular holes, but by this point I realized that this would never get done if I was too much of a perfectionist. All I needed was one more vaguely quarter-shaped coin to complete my stack of five, but suddenly all the ones still in my hand appeared to be the wrong shape and size. I picked something arbitrarily to finish the stack. I was well aware of the irony of going to so much effort to pay for something in a dream, but since it was so unexpectedly challenging, I felt that it would be a good exercise to try to see it through!

      Updated 08-11-2015 at 10:00 PM by 34973

      lucid , task of the month
    13. 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.
    14. 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

      lucid , memorable , task of the month
    15. Reflections / Zznvogayi (WILD + FA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      FA: It was probably the disappointment that woke me, but I had so much to write that I immediately went into "preserve and recall" mode, grabbing the notebook next to my bed and jotting down as many notes as I could before the memories faded, starting with the name 'Zznvogayi'. At one point I noticed that the pen wasn't making any marks on the paper, and remembered that earlier I had covered part of that page with an oval of wax. I tried to remember why and thought it must have had something to do with portals. I flipped over to a new page and continued taking notes, until I woke up more fully and realized that I was not actually writing, it had been an FA, and I would need to pick up my notebook for real and do it properly.
    Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast