Sleep is weird

Think about it. Every night you lay down on a bed and through no other action render yourself unconscious. In this unconscious state your brain manufactures elaborate scenarios that are at turns amusing, baffling or terrifying. When you wake up you usually remember little to nothing of what these scenarios–dreams or nightmares–were.

And if you don’t make yourself fall unconscious every night your body will malfunction in ways that are subtle to start and end with you putting pants on your head and thinking that’s completely okay (not counting places where it is completely okay).

This pattern of falling unconscious/your mind inventing little dramas repeats for your entire life.

Sleep is weird.

Also, I probably don’t get enough sleep.

Once more into the late night

Well, it’s late again and I was so tired after work (for seemingly mysterious reasons) that I ended up taking a nap at 9 p.m. for an hour or so. Now I am thinking less about writing and more about how nice that nap was.

Speaking of sleeping, I remember–to a degree–a sequence of dreams I’ve had over the last few nights. One was neat. I could fly. This happens rarely in dreams. In this particular flying dream it seemed not only could I fly, but that it was almost mundane to do so, no different really than flying.

But I was still the only one that could do it.

Flying would be very convenient. I could fly to work way faster than the SkyTrain gets me there, and I’d never have to be delayed by medical emergencies (which happened today–I even saw the person trundled into the ambulance on a stretcher. He looked young, appeared to be either sleeping or resting peacefully [but presumably not resting in peace] and had a blanket pulled up to his chest. I couldn’t determine what had happened, and details of such things never get released, so it will be a mystery for the ages). I would be at possible risk of lightning strikes during storms, though. And I’d always be paranoid about flying into power lines. Still, I’d accept the risks in exchange for never having a fare gate refuse to accept the tap of my Compass card.

The other series of dreams included me thinking about or looking over computers, including NUCs. I also did other everyday-type things. When I woke up, I wondered why my unconscious mind would construct a bunch of utterly banal activities for my dreams. If I want to sweep the floor or plan a grocery list, I can do that when I’m awake. Dreaming is for flying and other super powers. Take note, brain!

And now to see what said brain has in store for tonight.

A haiku to the common cold and resultant dreams

Not that I’m complaining. This is more observation. Yeah.

Coughing sneezing yuck
The common cold is no fun
NyQuil my best friend

In this post from May 16th 2017 I complained about an eerily similar circumstance:

This one bugs me because it just seems so random and out of the blue. Friday I was fine, Friday night I was sick.

This same sequence happened where I felt fine all day Friday and in the evening my throat had that telltale scratchiness. Unlike then, this one doesn’t seem random at all because I have been surrounded by other sick people lately, including several at work. I powered through a two-day workshop on Monday and Tuesday as it was too late to reschedule, but to my dismay actually felt worse instead of better on Tuesday. Today, upon waking early in the morning I could feel the cold nestled deep in my chest like the chest burster from Alien and opted to stay home. I like to think this is me being generous and saving fellow co-workers, among others, from experiencing the same mild agony of sneezing, running nose, sore throat and so on, but it’s really me just wanting to curl up and nap and imagine how wonderful it is to feel healthy and how can I possibly take it for granted again after being so sick? Which I will inevitably do, because that’s just the way our brains work.

My hope is that I will feel peppy enough to return to work tomorrow. My fear is that I will rank a smidgen too low on the peppy scale and be faced with choosing between a) feeling like poop but going in anyway and risk spreading my illness around or b) staying home, feeling guilty about how I feel like poop but knowing I could probably shuffle, zombie-like, through the work day somehow, especially if I loaded up on handy cold remedies first.

Today, though, the level of guilt I felt in staying home was a big fat zero. I also had very strange dreams in the morning when I’d normally be up that included:

  • some strange medieval setting that was a quasi-musical with a knight lamenting in song about always having to fight
  • another person lamenting about something where he repeated the same word three times but I can’t recall the word now, dang it
  • the scenery was this weird pastoral plain that felt like it was at the top of a mountain, with giant redwood-like trees that didn’t render properly until you got right next to them. Yes, it was like being in a video game with poor drawing distance.
  • I think there may have been fighting, but it was bloodless from what I can remember
  • there were other dreams that were sufficiently weird that I can only remember them being sufficiently weird

All that and I did not take NyQuil first, as I’d run out a day earlier. I’m getting more tonight and look forward to what my subconscious will present to me.

And I hope I feel at least better tomorrow. Seeing the activity rings on my watch go unfilled makes me sad.

Another screaming spider dream

Well, not another. But one is probably enough.

Last night I dreamed of being in a small, cluttered bedroom or spare room in some place or other. The bed was covered in sheets, blankets and bric-a-brac. I pulled aside one of the blankets or sheets and revealed a very large, circle-shaped spider sitting on the bed. Size-wise, imagine tripling the average tarantula and you have it about right. The spider was startled and skittered in its spidery way to the edge of the bed–where another spider waited. The second spider was similar in size but was differently-colored, light to the other spider’s dark. When the fleeing spider made contact with the second spider a fight broke out.

Lesson: do not disturb a spider, especially a large, circle-shaped one.

The part that made the dream stand out, though, was not the weird shape or large size of the spiders, but rather, the sound they made when they began to fight.

They screamed.

It was a high-pitched screeching. It didn’t stop. As they grappled the screaming went on, the two voices overlapping each other and sometimes blending into one super-creepy tone, on until I awoke and wondered what I ate to prompt such a dream.

I had other dreams last night, but the screaming spiders are the ones that stayed with me. I’m good without having a repeat, really. It wasn’t scary or anything, but those screams. Spiders should not make those sounds.

Knowing when not to jump: a dream in half an act

Another night, another weird dream I can recall bits of.

I am in a skyscraper that may or may not be the World Trade Center (the original). The dream has nothing to do with terrorist attacks.

Instead I find myself drawn to climb out onto some kind of spout structure on one of the corners of the building that paradoxically curves upward at the end. This isn’t at the top of the skyscraper but it’s at a decent height. After looking around for a bit I decided I’ve seen enough and go back. Except that, due to dream logic, it is impossible to climb back up the spout. The only way off the spout is down. I look down and am comforted to find there is a large grass lawn below me, verdant green and welcoming.

I then notice that I’m perhaps up a little too high, probably at least a hundred feet, and landing on grass from a hundred feet up will likely result in serious injury, death, or both. I consider my options.

Using one arm to hold onto the curved portion of the spout, I use my free hand to pull out a flip-phone (maybe this is 2001 or earlier, after all) and calmly call 911, requesting rescue. I then wait.

A little while later I am rescued and though I don’t remember exactly what happened, I think I was helped into the bucket of a fire truck and then deposited on the nearest floor of the building, rather than being brought safely to the ground for a good scolding about climbing one-way spouts on skyscrapers. When I am safely inside I look down through a window/balcony/deck and think, “It wasn’t that far. Pfft.” The ironic part here is that I am a big-time acrophobic under the right (or more accurately, wrong) circumstances. If I was grasping onto a spout a hundred feet in the air, off the side of a skyscraper, I would not be calm, I would be in a state of shock or pooping my pants, or pooping my pants while in a state of shock. Like the previous night’s bear-chase dream, I find myself in a situation that should be terrifying and act with utter nonchalance, like this stuff happens all the time.

I kind of like it. I’m not sure what it means. I’m not sure I want to know. But maybe I do.

McDonald’s and the bear: a dream in one act

Last night I had a myriad of dreams, most of them the usual dream sort-of nonsense, though a few too many were work-related. They weren’t bad dreams but I’d rather not have dreams about work when I’m, you know, on vacation.

I woke up from one and found it so dumb I had to record it before I forgot, so I padded into the bathroom, my eyes scrunched up tight from the bright light, and tapped out the dream on my iPad, using the Drafts app. Technology is grand.

In the dream I was walking west along Trunk Road, one of the longer roads in my hometown of Duncan. For reasons I never determined my hands were spackled with moist dirt, as if I’d been planting a garden. Perhaps that was the previous dream.

I strode up the street with my dirt-covered hands and headed toward the McDonald’s near the intersection of Trunk Road and the Island Highway (no such place exists in reality, though there is a McDonald’s further down the highway). As I got close I suddenly realized I’d forgotten my uniform. Yes, apparently I worked there, it was my first shift and I’d forgotten to wear my uniform. I turned around and headed back to get it. And possibly to wash my hands.

A short distance ahead of me I spotted what appeared to be a medium-sized black bear. In comparison to me this was still gigantic. It was snuffling through some overgrown bushes in a yard. I began to back up, hoping the bear would not see me before I could get somewhere bear-proof. Alas, the bear did see me so I picked up the pace, hoping my head-start would serve me well and also hoping bears couldn’t run faster than people. As I ran some guy off to the side yelled out that if I had [something] I could use it to distract the bear. I can’t remember what it was–food seems a likely choice, though given dream logic, it could have been anything. Whatever it was, I didn’t have it so I kept running.

I came upon a parked car and ran around it to the front, leaping onto the hood, which was to serve as my refuge. The bear immediately jumped onto the hood behind me, my refuge lasting about a tenth of a second. I then curled into a ball to at least make it more difficult to gut me and waited for whatever would happen next. I wasn’t scared because I was confident the guy who yelled about distracting the bear with [something] would somehow distract the bear.

I woke up at this point, so I’m not sure how it turned out. I’d like to think I didn’t get eaten.

Also, why I was going to work at McDonald’s in Duncan is a question I won’t even try to answer.

A later dream found me talking with people at work about something (or maybe [something]) and suddenly I couldn’t breathe properly. I began snorting and struggling and woke up to find I was snorting and struggling because my sinuses had completely blocked with the position I was laying in and I couldn’t breathe. It’s a bit freaky when dreams work that way.

If I do this…

If I wear my over-ear headphones and then rub a finger on my upper-lip stubble (it’s not quite grand enough to really call a mustache) the sound is strangely reminiscent of sawing wood.

This has been my random thought of the day.

Also, I dreamed the other night that a taxi driver or bus driver said dividing something up fairly would be “fifty, fifty, fifty” and I frantically tried to find some way to permanently record this wisdom for all time. In reality I have an app called Drafts that I can summon on my Apple Watch and with a tap of the mic icon, I tell it what I want to record and it’s done. It’s simple yet always strikes me as such a spiffy, hi-tech way to record random thoughts and ideas.

In the dream I couldn’t get the app to work. I’m not sure why. The watch probably adopted spontaneous non-Euclidean geometry that made it impossible to operate.

This has been my second random thought of the day. About random thoughts.

The Dream Donut Device

A few nights ago I had a dream in which I was at a meeting at work and a group of us were gathered around a large conference table. Standing at one end was a former Academic Dean and she had donuts. But how do you distribute the donuts to people sitting around such a large conference table? In Dreamville you just use a device specifically made for just such a dilemma.

It consisted of three parts:

  • a long piece of narrow, rounded wood
  • a tube similar to a Pringles potato chip can, but about twice as big around
  • a fishing rod-style reel to act as a winch
  • and donuts

The donuts were loaded onto the piece of rounded wood. Sadly this meant no Boston Creams or other yummy filled donuts. The loaded donut “stick” would then be inserted into the long tube and at one end of the tube, the donut deliverer would use the reel/winch-like device to slowly push the donut stick out of the tube across the length of the table, allowing people to grab donuts as they slowly went by.

In the dream it was brilliant and everyone found it quite clever. In reality, it would work best if the laws of physics could be suspended, people didn’t care what type of donut they got and everyone was too lazy to just get up to grab a donut from the box (which would at least burn 5 of the 250 calories the donut would ding you).

This is apparently what happens when I go over a month without a donut.

Fly, my pretty

Last night (technically early this morning) I had a type of dream that I haven’t had for many years. No, not getting chased by vampires, mummies, robots or driver-less vehicles (the staples of my childhood and I still have no idea what was up with that), but rather, I dreamed that I was flying.

I would normally associate flying dreams (at least ones where I don’t plummet to the ground) as something positive my subconscious is surfacing and while things have not been going badly for me of late, work has been very busy, I don’t have an idea for NaNoWriMo yet and I have other assorted smaller worries and concerns. There’s a lot on my mind, in other words.

And yet last night I dreamed I was flying over a park (a park was the location of one of my previous flying dreams, too). Sure, the people in the park didn’t seem to notice or care but it was still spiffy. The flying seemed to rely on momentum and inertia, so running and jumping into the air definitely helped. Once airborne, I remained upright and could swoop back and forth, sort of a fast hovering motion rather than using a Superman-style pose.

At one point in the dream a guy started following me. I didn’t know who he was or if he was dangerous but he definitely appeared to be trailing me. I should point out that I was suddenly not flying any more. I was instead scrambling up a steep hill covered in crumbly dirt and rock, the sort of thing that I find difficult to climb in real life. The dream mirrored this aspect accurately. The guy was going to catch up to me but I had to be careful, lest I fall right into his possibly evil clutches. When I made it to the top it seemed I remembered I could fly and so I started flying around again.

I don’t remember anything else after that, but still, it was neat to have a flying dream again.

Kayaks good, little food packets bad

I’ve had a couple of dreams lately where I’ve been able to remember a few details, sometimes even when I’d be better off not remembering.

In one I was kayaking, something I’ve never done because water kind of terrifies me, especially the large oceany type you can drown in. In this dream I was quite comfortable with it as I and two others (I can’t recall who they were, alas) paddled along the coastline. At one point we ended up on a ferry and any dream I have that features a ferry never ends well. In this one we were planning to leave the ferry in our kayaks while the boat was still sailing. One of us then floated (ho ho) the notion that we could leave after the ship docked, so it all ended unusually well.

The other dream was one I woke up from this morning and as befits a Monday morning dream, it was quietly horrible.

In it I was back working as the operator at the concession, the kind of employment I relish the same way a mouse would anticipate an evening with a hungry cat. Various employees were doing various tasks while I took it upon myself to manage the inventory. This seemed to consist primarily of sorting and placing very tiny packets of something edible (looking back on the dream now I haven’t the faintest idea what these might have been) into very long slatted wooden shelving units. The work was fantastically tedious and involved. The whole dream had a terrible dreariness to it and I woke up feeling kind of depressed. Then it was off to actual real work, my mood ashen gray.

I’d next like to have a dream where I win the lottery or something and it’s not one of those ironically nightmarish things like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Brain freezes, Mars facilities and planes a-fallin’

Again I find myself unable to think of anything witty, relevant or interesting to post and the more I try to think of something the greater the blank space where that something would be becomes.

But I’m not going to post another cat image. I’m tempted. Oh, so tempted.

Instead, I will recall that I had dimly remember two dreams last night. One was being part of a crew setting up some kind of Mars research facility. This was a space station/habitat sort of thing that was going to either be on Mars or in orbit around the red planet. I remember the facility being large, clean and very empty. I don’t remember what I actually did but I like to imagine it was very important. Perhaps I met Matt Damon. I’m pretty sure publicity for The Martian is what prompted the dream.

The other dream involved me watching a passenger jet coming in for a landing at YVR, as passenger jets will do at the airport. I was watching from near 41st Avenue and Cambie and the plane was coming in north to south rather than east to west, which is silly, but that’s dreams for you. I marveled at how close to the ground the planes get when coming in, except this one actually started scraping its tail along Cambie Street. The pilot wisely pulled up, presumably to try again with less scraping. Instead of just looping around he did this strange series of climbs and descents, which I interpreted as him trying to gain momentum or height or something. I don’t know, I’m not an airplanist. The jet moved off to the west, somewhere further down 41st Avenue and did another climb but this time when it came back down it started twirling and then disappeared out of my sight, presumably crashing as out of my sight would be where the ground was. I woke up and was bummed out until I remembered the earlier Mars dream. The airplane crash dream was inspired by me watching a YouTube video of plane crashes that was a “related” video to something I watched that had nothing to do with planes, crashes or plane crashes. Probably a Boston video. Watching it was not one of my better ideas.

Tonight I’m going to watch kitten videos before going to bed. If I dream of being chased and eaten by lions I am going to be very cross with my brain.

A book of dreams

There’s a thread on Broken Forum about dreams titled “Last night I dreamed…” After the inevitable quote from The Smiths the thread has become a storehouse of dreams that range from the banal to the predictably bizarre or disturbing. I thought it might be interesting to adapt one or two into short stories. Dreams lend themselves well to the format as they tend to be fragmentary experiences that are either short on narrative or lacking it entirely.

After requesting submissions from the dozens of dreams posted, I went with the two that were suggested and will be working on them over the next month or so. If the results are promising I’m contemplating an entire short story collection using the same idea of pulling together dreams and adapting them as short fiction. I’m sure someone else has done the same thing already, as any decent idea has been worked and reworked countless times. But what the heck, I’ve never claimed to be original and the idea intrigues me. I may even have a few of my own dreams that could lend themselves to this kind of project.