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      Hi Verre!
      Please look into Dreamer's "Lucid Dares" thread - I've posted a mission for you there!
      It's under Lucid Experiences/Lucid Challenges - or go per her signature - can't seem to link from here.
      Good luck!
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    Successful Sled Ride! (FA-WILD + FA)

    by Verre on 05-22-2017 at 04:43 PM
    Ritual: The new Twin Peaks started last night, so I watched the usual Sunday shows in their second round and didn't get to bed until after 2am. I woke around 7 or 8 and looked at my iPad a bit, enough to wake up my mind, with the usual vague intention to make this into a WBTB, but the only other mental preparation I did was to remind myself that dreaming involves proprioreception, so I should pay attention to my whole body as I fell back asleep. It was 9am when I woke after the dream, which I felt had lasted only a few minutes.

    FA-WILD: During my WBTB, my husband mentioned that he was going to the grocery store this morning, so when I was half-woken by the sound of the garage door, I knew he must have left. This much was evidently a real perception, but right after that, still believing I was half awake, I heard voices. I knew my brother was in his room on the other side of the house, but I couldn't account for the other voices. [DL: My brother lives on the other side of the country, and the room I thought he was in does not exist.] Was he on the phone? But there were several voices, and the sounds of people moving around. Had he invited friends over? Then I recognized one of the voices as that of my maternal grandmother. [DL: She died over twenty years ago.]

    Despite the dreamlogic, these observations did actually make me wonder if I was dreaming the voices, not because of the incongruities that would have been obvious to a waking mind, but only because of my conviction that if my husband just left for the store, then no one else (besides my brother) should be in the house so early in the morning. I tested to see if I was getting any dream imagery, and sure enough, when I partially closed my eyes, the four flaps of a manually closed cardboard box appeared superimposed over the rumpled covers of the bed that I had thought I was seeing with my waking eyes. [DL: In retrospect, is it apparent that everything I observed after hearing the garage door was already in dream, so I was mistaken in believing that I had woken up. My mind was half awake, despite the dream logic, which is what led to the confusion about which perceptions were dreamed and which were real.]

    I realized that if I was already seeing dream imagery, then if I was careful I could probably "get up" out of bed and into the dream just like I do in WILDs. This was easily done. I crossed the room, an accurate likeness of my bedroom, and opened the window to look outside toward what I understood to be my brother's room, on the second floor above the attached shed. [DL: The shed has no second storey.] The ground was covered with snow, and I did recognize that this was incongruous with the current season. It gave me the idea to do the TOTY that I had attempted a couple times earlier, the sled ride.

    The last shot of the final show I watched last night was a woman diving backwards over the edge of a boat to go scuba diving. It made an impression on me because I had only ever dived into water face first, and at the time I had tried to imagine what it would feel like to enter the water that way. Now, as I was about to jump out the window, I decided to do it backwards like a scuba diver. For a moment I felt like I was falling and wondered if I would actually hit the ground, but then the nongravity of dream caught me pleasantly in an inverted arc, and I settled gently to my feet.

    I remembered the last few times I had attempted the sled task, and how I had overcomplicated it to the point where I kept waking up before I could finish. This time I decided I'd better just get it done, even if my solutions weren't elegant. So instead of going to the trouble of finding or manifesting the necessary sled and mountaintop, I just asserted these conditions into existence. I'm on a sled, riding down a mountain. As is typical when I "brute force" things in dream, initially it felt like a fiction, but soon I began to feel plausible sensations of sitting on a sled and sliding down the snowy slope. It was far from my best work, but it sufficed.

    I was sufficiently familiar with the task that before I had even intended it, my sled slipped through an irregular opening like the mouth of a cave, into a wide dark space. But then I wondered if this was good enough—I hadn't read the terms of the task in ages. Would a cave suffice, or did it have to be a proper hole through the surface of the earth? I couldn't remember, so I decided to play it safe and conjured a perfectly round hole, like the sort of thing you might see in a cartoon, just in front of me on the lower floor of the cave. My sled and I slipped right through, and at this point my interest perked up, because I didn't know what to expect, and had not planned or intended anything past this point.

    It was dark down here, and I had no sense of the borders of the space, yet I could see the details nearest me perfectly well in the nonlight of dream. The place felt public and even familiar—familiar as a type rather than a specific location—but I can't think of how to relate it to anything in WL. A "town square" might be the closest analogue, but of course in WL town squares don't tend to be in enormous caverns underground.

    I felt my mind shift over into observation mode and began to take deliberate note of the things I saw, but at the same time I felt really hungry and couldn't resist impulsively tasting everything. [WL: I hadn't eaten much for dinner and had even felt hungry again by the time I went to bed, so this was a genuine bleedthrough sensation.]

    My sled had disappeared in the transition through the hole, so now I was on foot. The first object that I passed, on my left, was a piece of fabric that had been fashioned into the form of an elephant, about about eighteen inches wide. It was attached to the top of a pole stuck in the ground, elevating it to just above waist height. I pulled the fabric elephant off the pole to give it a closer look as I continued to walk. White was the dominant color, but the details were stitched in brightly-hued threads, red and blue and green. The base fabric had a thick pile, almost fur-like, akin to what you might see on a stuffed animal, but the object overall was flat, lightly padded like a thin quilt. My hunger impelled me to take a big bite, and in my mouth it had the taste and texture of a sort of bland taffy. (Tastes are rarely very distinctive in my dreams.) I dropped it and moved on.

    The next object I encountered was also on a waist-high pole, and about the same size as the elephant. This one was made of paper and a bit more three-dimensional—it resembled a large origami fish folded from patterned paper. The taste and texture were even less remarkable, but I was so hungry it felt good to be chewing something.

    As I observed with mild amusement the way my hunger was driving me to try to eat things that didn't even resemble food, the rational part of my mind responded that this being a dream, there was no reason I shouldn't try to eat literally anything I could see. I put this to the test, breaking off random bits of any surface I came across and nibbling on them. One thing I remember distinctly was a table. It was a round table covered by a long, dark-hued tablecloth. I think there was a vase of flowers in the center but otherwise it was bare, so I grabbed a hank of the tablecloth and started noshing on that. I was cramming far more in my mouth than I ever would in WL, but I didn't worry since I knew that this stuff had no real substance.

    I was still in snacking mode when I came across a white-bearded gentleman in a navy blue blazer. The bronze buttons caught my eye, and without so much as saying hello, much less asking permission, I reached out and twisted off the top button, bringing it to my eyes for a closer look. Tiny convex letters around the top spelled out "Bartholomew," and a small human figure occupied the center of the button. "Saint Bartholomew?" I asked the gentleman from whom I had taken the button, while trying to remember if there was really such a saint or if I was just free associating. [WL: I still wasn't sure so I googled it. Apparently Saint Bartholomew was an apostle, and although I was not consciously aware of that, I suspect the influence of day residue, because in The Leftovers last night several disciples were mentioned, and I've never been able to keep disciples and apostles straight.] The man shook his head, and when I looked again at the button I saw the letters rearrange themselves into the name "Balthus," which seemed to make a bit more sense... in a way that I can't entirely explain. Still hungry, I licked the button. I thought it tasted a bit sour and metallic, a bit like licking a D battery but without the tingle. The bronze button had been darkly tarnished but now gleamed where I had licked it, so I licked it a few more times to polish the highlights. I looked at the letters again and now they read "Ubewiz," a name meant nothing to me, though I thought it sounded vaguely Polish. [DL: I just noticed the symmetry between the verb "polish" and the adjective "Polish," so I suspect dreamlogic lay behind this observation.]

    FA: I woke up (so I thought) and immediately fished my dream journal out of the bottom drawer of my bedside table. [WL: This was a realistic detail, because although usually I keep it right on the table next to the bed, for the past few days it has been in the drawer.] I flipped through it and couldn't find a single blank page, but I didn't want to waste any time so I started writing my notes in the margins. I was jotting down keywords: "Bartholomew, Balthus, Ubewiz," read the first line. Then I included brief notes about the fabric elephant and origami fish. I hadn't gotten very far when I woke up again and realized that I had been taking my initial notes in a false awakening and would have to start over, so once again I pulled my journal out of the drawer and wrote—grateful for the blank page this time—"Bartholomew, Balthus, Ubewiz."

    Updated 01-13-2019 at 07:42 AM by Verre

    Categories
    side notes , lucid , false awakening , task of the year

    At Least I Found Snow... (WILD)

    by Verre on 03-10-2017 at 11:47 PM
    As I was falling asleep last night, at one point I became aware that I was just below the waking threshold and was able to take some control over the hypnagogic imagery. I wanted to try a TOTY and decided to attempt sledding again. I figured my problem last time was that I had gotten fixated on looking for a mountain to sled down... wouldn't it be more sensible to establish that I was on the mountain to start with? Then all I would have to do is go downhill. And find snow, of course.

    I successfully turned the hypnagogic imagery into a scene of sliding down a mountain slope. Initially it felt more like imagining than dreaming, in part because I was not yet fully embodied in the scene, only seeing it in my mind's eye. But already it was manifesting some of the ornery characteristics of dream and resisting my attempts to imagine snow, so I was sliding over bare earth. I let the scene play along and pretty soon I started to feel physical sensations: the bumps along the ground (I thought wistfully how snow would smooth out the ride!) and the surprisingly realistic smack of low hanging leaves against my face as I passed under trees. I was on a round metal saucer sled, barely big enough to seat me, but by concentrating I could prevent it from spinning out of control (unlike the similar sled I have in WL!)

    Before long it started to feel like a real dream with physical embodiment, but I was still lucid enough that I was not concerned when my sled went over a steep embankment and into freefall: I just applied some mental "brakes" and came down gently, landing in the yard of someone's farm. The farmer was there, so I realized this would be a perfect opportunity to coax some snow into existence.

    "Can you believe the weather we're having?" I asked the farmer. "Such thick snow! Hey, where is the snow the deepest?" I tried to make my tone convincing, despite the fact that there was still no snow in sight. Apparently this worked, because the farmer pointed into the distance, and when I sledded off in that direction, soon I was surrounded by snow everywhere!

    I was back in the mountain forest, but there was a slight problem. I looked around and saw no way down but steep rocky cliffs, rather than slopes that looked suitable for sledding. I figured I should just pick a cliff and sled off it anyway, since freefalling posed no real danger. But at that moment, for no good reason, I felt a subtle pang of anxiety about completing the task, and this woke me up.

    Dreams are a wonderful laboratory for discovering all the ways that our own minds can get in the way of our intentions!

    Updated 01-13-2019 at 07:44 AM by Verre

    Categories
    lucid , task of the year

    No Snow for Sledding (WILD)

    by Verre on 02-05-2017 at 06:00 PM
    Ritual: WTB around 2am. Drank a lot of wine last night, so woke up many times to rehydrate. Just before dawn I felt the slightly anxious insomnia that often helps me get lucid, so I decided to confirm my intention with a little piracetam. For years I've been trying to come up with a good dream mantra/affirmation but never found one that stuck. Since I got lucid in a recent dream from seing the word "awaken" I decided to start with that. I wanted it to be longer and have good rhythm, so I tried "Awaken into (seeing) dream," where the word in parenthesis could be varied with any other two-syllable verb with the emphasis on the first syllable: seeing, hearing, feeling, being, dreaming, etc. I liked the versatility and hoped the variations would help keep my mind active. It seems this mantra was actually successful because it was still going through my mind well after the dream had started, although, curiously, the words had changed (see below).

    WILD, "No Snow for Sledding": The transition was very smooth, and I think the mantra actually served as a good anchor this time. At one point I was inspired to see if I could move my dream limbs, and felt that familiar ambiguity about whether it was dream movement or real movement. I was 65% sure it was dream, so I kept at it until I gently 'flumpfed' in a loose heap right off the bottom of the bed, and then I knew for certain. This dream version of my bedroom was remarkably accurate to WL.

    I was crawling at first, and from that low perspective had a good view of my two cats. They looked a little different—shorter hair I think—but I could still tell them apart. Dream logic made me wonder if I could somehow better communicate with my anxious cat in a dream. I crawled over to her and put my hands on her head, reaching toward her with gentle thoughts and telling her that she didn't need to be so anxious. It didn't work: she bit my hand! After that she went into the hallway where I was surprised to see our older cat chase her, an inversion of their usual relationship. I moved toward them and noticed a third animal, a remarkably lifelike grey squirrel—even more vividly rendered than the two cats. [Source: I had recently remarked to my husband how odd it was that I had never seen any squirrels near our house here, but he said that he had. Then just two days ago I glimpsed a grey squirrel outside.]

    I thought I had better remove the squirrel from the house, so I picked it up by the scruff of the neck—it was so realistic I thought I had better handle it carefully lest I get bitten again. I peered down to it, wondering if it might have anything to say (this being a dream and all), but no, it just twitched its nose like a regular squirrel. So I opened the window on my side of the bed, the place where in WL I toss out the miscellaneous bugs that stray into the house, and tossed it out.

    Around this point I noticed that my mantra was still going through my head, though slightly changed from what it had been as I fell asleep. It had taken the form: "Awaken, dreamer, I am dream." It occurred to me that once I was already lucid, the word "awaken" was no longer useful, and in fact might be detrimental. I thought about how the meaning of the word depended on its context: from non-lucid sleep one can "awaken" into lucidity, but from a state of lucidity, to "awaken" is to wake up. With the precarious thought of waking I felt the dream begin to destabilized, and hastily altered the mantra to: "Dream on, dreamer, I am dream." I managed to restabilize, and with the natural musicality of dream found myself adding a bit of melody to the words.

    After this my thoughts turned to more practical ends. Wasn't there a task I wanted to do? Right, the sled ride. I thought over the details. I would need to sled down from the top of a snowy mountain and then through a crack in the earth into... who knows? Finding out would be the fun part. It was snowy outside, like it is in WL, so I thought that would make a good start. I just needed to go outside and find a sled and a mountain.

    I opened the window again to fly out, but now there was a pane of what felt like transparent plastic covering the opening. I was annoyed because even in WL this is one of the few windows in the house that has no screen, so there should not be anything barring my passing. I decided to shatter the barrier with my mind, concentrated, and... nothing happened. Disappointed that I could not resolve this more stylishly, I manually peeled aside the flexible plastic panel and slipped out onto the lower roof. (This part was not quite accurate to WL: although there is a sloping side of another roof to the left, there is no level area just below the window where one could stand.)

    I willed myself to fly, but nothing happened initially. I kept focusing until I began to float up and across the yard. There were a lot of random pavilions scattered below, and I reminded myself to be observant so I would remember the details later. I flew over to the roof of a small outbuilding—the environment no longer bore any resemblance to WL—where I found two sleds. One was child-sized, the other larger, and I noticed approvingly that they were the old fashioned kind on runners, much easier to control than round saucer sleds.

    I picked up the larger sled and looked it over. The details were wonderfully vivid: it had a painted metal superstructure consisting of thin round bars painted white, and flat wide bars painted green. These encircled a small rectangular seat of heavily aged and distressed wood. I noticed an odd detail in the very center of the sled, a transparent glass sphere about four inches in diameter, half full of water. I peered closer, wondering if it was some sort of gyroscope, and saw words printed on the sphere: "FAST WATER." I decided that this was a device for boosting speed, and that I would name my new sled "Fastwater." I felt very pleased with it.

    Sled in hand, next I needed a mountain. I resumed floating through the air and scanning for suitable topography. I soon found myself approaching a steep hillock, but since it was at most a couple dozen feet high, I didn't think it qualified as a "mountain." After that was a second, taller hillock, but I rejected that one too on the same grounds. Then in the distance I saw a much taller hill with a massive castle on top of it. I had the impression that it was a German castle called "Schwanzstein," though even in the dream I recalled the meaning of schwanz (which, in common with many Americans, I learned long ago from the Mel Brooks film Space Balls). That seemed like a peculiar yet somehow familiar name for a castle, and I wondered why it came to mind. [Source: German castles have come up in conversation twice in the last few days, both the one at Wernigerode and another whose name I couldn't remember. I just asked my husband and he reminded me it was "Neuschwanstein." So there you have it. Sorry Freudians, you can go back home now.]

    I figured that the type of hill on which one was likely to find a German castle could qualify as a small mountain, and decided that this would be a good spot to sled down from. I floated closer, noting a number of stiff and oddly sepia-hued guards standing around the courtyards, as though peopling an old postcard. I noticed a perfect straight chute for sledding that ran down from the top of the mountain, so that's where I landed. Everything was in place... except... there was no snow anymore. Could I just sled down anyway, I wondered? No, I distinctly recalled that the task specified a snowy mountain. I peered around, hoping I could at least spot a few patches of snow and call it even. But the grass was as brown as the guards—there was a hint of sepia about the whole place, like a movie scene shot through a filter—and no snow was visible anywhere.

    I sat down with my sled, willing it to snow. I concentrated my expectations, imagining how the first tiny flakes would move erratically through the air. Once again the distinction between imagination and experience—which seems so improbable in the dream state—was reconfirmed, because even though I could clearly see the type of snow I envisioned in my mind's eye, the dream air remained stubbornly free of flakes. This TOTM has a lot of moving parts, I thought. It's as hard as a TOTY! A moment later I woke up and was amused to recognize my error; in waking life I would not have misremembered the category of the task, since the TOTYs are linked by a common theme.

    Updated 02-05-2017 at 06:12 PM by Verre

    Categories
    lucid , task of the year

    Let's See What's in My Backpack! (DILD)

    by Verre on 01-30-2017 at 05:58 PM
    Ritual: Woke at dawn after about 4–5 hours sleep and complex but dimly remembered dreams. Considered taking galantamine but decided against it, as my motivation was not sufficiently high. I didn't want to completely give up, so I took a quarter teaspoon each of piracetam and bacopa. Woke at 8am with dream.

    DILD, "Let's See What's in My Backpack!": I was walking through some type of institutional corridor when an odd plaque on the wall caught my attention. It was a rectangle of flat grey stone like slate, about a foot long and a few inches high, with block capital letters incised, reading: "AWAKEN."

    Like what, into a dream? I thought wryly. For that to work, I'd have to be... oh wow... am I dreaming? No sooner had the suspicion arose than I immediately recognized it to be true. I immediately went into dream observation mode, taking the plaque into my hands and examining its details.

    Feeling grateful that the dream itself had given me a clue as to its nature, I was reminded of a similar incident that had happened just earlier tonight: this was the second time I had gotten lucid due to events in the dream. A DC had said "lucid" and that had triggered me. No wait, actually it was the third time... I remembered briefly getting lucid in an even earlier dream, but I was embarrassed when I realized how quickly I had lost that awareness.

    Of course, the fascinating thing about these memories is that I have no way of knowing if they are real. I'm more than half inclined to think that they are false memories, the kind of deja vu that is so common in the dream state. Then again, I still forget such a great portion of a full night's dreaming, even now, that the possibility remains that these incidents actually occurred. There's no way of knowing for sure, which is interesting in itself. It is the perfect epistemological quandary.

    Now aware that I was dreaming, I continued walking through the institutional corridor, and felt that I had been walking through similar corridors in my just-remembered lucid episodes earlier tonight. If the memories are not false, there is nothing surprising about the coincidence: for some reason bland institutional corridors seem to be my default dream space.

    I wandered aimlessly for a bit—I think I passed a cafeteria—until I realized that if I wanted to stay lucid this time I would need to perform some deliberate action. During my WBTB I had not felt motivated to attempt any DV tasks, so that is probably why none occurred to me now. As I continued walking and wondering what to do I noticed a familiar sensation, and realized that I was wearing my backpack. Since 2001 I have been using the same leather backpack, seemingly indesctructible, every day at school and on every journey I travel. I was amused that it was with me even here in a dream, and surprised by how distinctly I could feel the impression of weight on my back. Wondering what might be in it, I realized that this could be a fun spontaneous task.

    I passed from the corridor into a very large rectangular room with walls tiled in squares of light blue glazed ceramic. The room was completely empty, with no features or furniture or people. I walked to the very center and announced loudly, even though no one was in sight: "Okay, everybody! I'm going to play the game of 'Let's See What's in My Backpack!'" I unslung the backpack from my shoulders and held it upside down, dumping its contents into a pile on the floor.

    The first thing I pulled off the pile was a winter jacket, made of smooth synthetic cloth with a quilted core. The inside was a rich royal blue, and the outside was bright red with black highlights. It was very clean and new, and resembled no jacket I have ever owned, nor would be likely to purchase.

    The second thing I picked up was a clear plastic bag with a zip lock, one of the medium-sized ones that is deeper than it is wide. It was full of coins. I looked more closely at the coins and it was clear that they were all Thai, though they resembled no WL Thai currency. "I wonder if I just got back from Thailand," I mused—meaning within the context of the dream.

    The next thing I grabbed was a plastic bag of similar shape and size, and this one also contained flat pieces of metal, but instead of being round like coins, these were engraved rectangular strips. I decided that they must be some decorative pieces I had picked up in Thailand. This idea had evidently taken hold, because the next few items in the pile were cheap Thai souvenir gifts, like decorative little pouches and other small assorted knickknacks. I set these aside impatiently.

    Next was a book, evidently a journal, titled A Wonderful Compendium of Lessons of Life Learned. I regret now that I was not inspired to open and read it! I must have figured that if the lessons were already learned, I wouldn't get anything new out of it. It did not occur to me that my waking mind might be really interested in what my dreaming mind might think to put in such a book.

    After this I pulled four different water bottles off the pile, one after another. One was a hot water bottle like you use in bed. One was military style canteen that I thought I recognized as one I used to own. Another was a flat drinking flask, fairly large in size. I think the last one was just an ordinary plastic bottle of water. My impression was that I needed all four bottles because they each served a different purpose: hot water for warming, cold water for drinking, warm water for drinking, and flask for drinking. But I realized that it was terribly inefficient to carry four separate water bottles, and I wondered if I could consolidate them down to just two, so I would have less to carry around. I decided to worry about that later.

    The last thing I pulled from the pile was a very large duffel bag, the size of the one I use to carry my HEMA gear. In WL my bag is plain black canvas, but this one was (not inappropriately) emblazoned with the Tournament of the Phoenix logo. It occurred to me that given how much stuff had been in my backpack, perhaps I should be using this duffel bag to carry it instead—but I remembered what a pain it was to lug around a huge unwieldy duffel bag, and decided to stick with the backpack.

    At this point a huge crowd of people suddenly thronged the room, all seemingly in a hurry to go somewhere, and they were sidestepping me and my stuff with annoyed expressions like I was in their way. "Hey! I claimed this space first," I protested. One DC paused to look at my Tournament of the Phoenix duffel bag and asked another DC standing across from me something about martial arts training in the area, talking right over my head (I was still sitting on the floor with my stuff). "You'd think you'd be asking the person with the duffel bag," I muttered, slightly miffed. I noticed that whereas I had initially occupied the very center of the room and had not moved, now I was all the way over near a side wall, and yes, right in the path that everyone was trying to walk through.

    I had time enough to wonder if I should wake and write or dream on a little. I decided the latter—I usually do—but found myself waking up anyway.
    Categories
    lucid

    Six Episodes (DILD + FA)

    by Verre on 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 Verre

    Categories
    lucid , false awakening , memorable , task of the month