Thursday, July 27, 2006

My mind and other places not on the map

Miz T writes, “This letter is coming from some part of me I’m not close to right now – I feel as though I’m yelling to myself down an airshaft and my body is taking notes.

“I wish I could say I don’t know how that feels,” I reply.

Not pleasantly or unpleasantly lethargic the last couple of days, I have the sensation of drifting slightly outside myself. It began yesterday morning when I’d risen at some ungodly hour and then sent myself back to bed for an extra hour. I dreamed this private episode of the X Files:

It starts with leaving several bags of groceries on the number twenty bus. I am in a small coffee shop/corner store on the Herring Cove Road, where I’m waiting for the bus to loop and return so I can retrieve my forgotten groceries. In front of me is a huge black payphone, old-fashioned, with a rotary dial. There is nothing on it, no phone company stickers, no brand name, no instructions. I am annoyed with myself for being forgetful and I’m anxiously trying to find the number of the transit company so that I can ask them to radio the driver and tell him I’m picking up my lost shopping, but the phone book pages are printed on blue from beginning to end – no yellow pages, and I can’t seem to read the alphabetical listing.

Suddenly I am home. But it’s a mistake. It’s not my home. The place is old and dimly lit, musty and empty - everything in it is made from wood so old that even the paint has worn away. I seem to be standing in a kitchen. The only colors are brown and grey – and the counters and cupboards, even the floors and ceilings meet at crazy angles. Another of those featureless pay phones hangs on the wall. I’m desperately repeating Weedy’s phone number to myself but realize my purse is missing. Somehow, I manage to find several coins and drop them in the phone. As the last one registers, a recorded voice cuts in, “Citizens do not need to place outside calls.”

This blood-chilling assurance sends me running to find an exit. Coming out the front door, I stop long enough to get my bearings. The surrounding houses and streets are as colorless as the house I’m in…leaning, toppling, sinking into the ground. There isn’t a blade of grass, a leaf, a weed. The landscape is tumble-down brown, mud and rock and it’s completely abandoned. The air is stagnant. A street sign lolls at a 30 degree angle near me. It reads, “Cavendish Road” – my old address.

Frantic, employing the logic of the deeply terrified, I think, Of course, this must be the other Cavendish Road, the one in Dartmouth. Whether it is or isn’t is a moot point, however, because I have to get out of there. There’s a rickety board sidewalk leading away and I follow it, stopping abruptly as it ends at the top of a cliff-steep hill. No stairway. To my left, the ground slopes steeply down…mud, imbedded with rocks. There’s nothing to do but slide down.

The dream shifts. I’m with another woman and we’re in the food court of “the mall.” The mall is a large institutional room, with cheap tables and chairs. A few people sit talking at the tables. There are no windows, no colors – and as I look around, I realize there are no food stalls. All that relieves the tedium of the walls are sloppy, hand-lettered signs, carelessly taped up. “This isn’t a mall,” I tell my companion. “Look. Look around you. Look those signs.” But she doesn’t believe me. The people at the tables, I know, don’t know this isn’t real either.

And there, on one of the walls is another hideous black pay phone. I start to chant Weedy’s phone number in my head. I can’t make a mistake, can't forget or misdial. I fumble through the coin section of my purse and pull out pieces of metal - misshapen and melted, coins fused together. Finally I find a surviving quarter and drop it in the pay slot. This time I'm making the call. I'm getting out of here.

“Citizens do not need to make outside calls,” the voice in the phone says.

And I wake up.

Saturn transits to hit Pluto. The heavyweights are playing in my ballpark and, it would seem, I may be the ball.

If anyone has a recipe for dreaming sugarplum fairies dancing in your head, now is the time to send it.


Teri said...

Wow. I love those freaky dreams, but they do have you feling off for days, don't they!? This was a prize winner. Any hypotheses as to the symbolism of the dream -- what it means for you? If anything?

Good to have you back/sorry your holiday is over!

LJ said...

Hi Teri...

I've had a little help on this one...but yes, I have a bit of a hypotheses..

I keep hitting up against no fuel (food=energy, I forget my groceries, I'm in an abandoned kitchen, then a food court with no food) no power (money=energy/power)to get myself out of a dead past and inauthentic places.

My friend who is good with dreams believes this to be one of my "selves" dreaming...a self who feels, pretty obviously, trapped. The voice on the phone is The Patriarch - this archetype always tells us that everything is fine (no one but me thinking there is anything wrong with the "mall") and that we shouldn't make a fuss or disturb the status quo. "Citizens do not need to make outside calls." Sit down and shut up, in other words. The Patriarch is a real creepy figure in my dreams and shows up over and over to assure me that my perception is off-kilter, when it clearly is not.

I think the dream is coming from a dread of going back to work - and facing another exhausting, frantic fall term, along with teaching on Saturdays. At least part of me feels like there isn't the energy - or an alternative.

I've recently been very interested in this particular archetype since KD sent me, "The Shadow King/The Invisible Force That Holds Women Back" by Sidra Stone (one of the founders of Voice Dialogue therapy). The writing is not fabulous, but it's certainly respectable - and her clarity & insight on how this archetype works (for good and ill)has been a real help to me. I'm often able to understand elements of my dreams - but certain things always escaped me...and in almost every instance, what escaped my understanding was the Patriarch archetype, right to a "T".

I stayed kind of locked in the space of this dream for two days...and I'm glad I wrote about it. And creepy as it was (I woke up with a splitting headache)...I value remembering dreams. In my experience, they are never "nothing"...they always give you a good reading of where you are...

Thanks for taking time to comment while you settle into your new home.

Mary said...

I value remembering dreams too. Unfortunately I rarely do.

I don't know the details of the places you describe (obviously) but the 'feel' of the dream rings bells for me at the moment as well ....and your interpretation in the above comment is powerful in itself.


TrappedInColorado said...

Hmmmm...I never read anything into dreams. Call me a cynic or a realist but they are just random sparks of various brain synopsis. They sure freak me out sometimes, though. I use to be able to control them, be lucid in them knowing it was a dream. I have lost that ability and miss it terribly. You're a teacher, huh? Teachers, nurses and single most admired women.


herhimnbryn said...

lj, do you always remember your dreams with such clarity? I sometimes have dreams when I am in a dozing state, but rarely remember them. More a 'feeling' of either exhultation or depression!
The book you mention sounds interesting, may have to seek it out.
Have no spells for good dreams, sorry. Can only suggest, bath with essential oils before bed and a cup of cardamon spiced hot chocolate.
Sleep well!

Darkmind said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Jeesh, tell me about it L, this morning I woke up fresh from standing in the galley of a half-sunken ferry, staring at a fridge with the words "what's lost in seconds cannot be made up in hours" wrtten in blood by the fridges' now-dead occupant.


LJ said...

Mary...I don't remember mine often, either. But sometimes I'll wake up with one and get up in the middle of the night to write it down. It's like my subconscious is tugging extra-hard for attention. And yeah...I'll bet you relate to the astrological part!

Trappedin...Very few lucid dreams for me...although I used to be able to direct them a little in the early morning hours. (And not a teacher full-time. I'll be teaching craft part-time in the fall. Hate to revoke those admiration credits!)

Darkmind...The logical reading part of our brains isn't operating when we dream. Dream language is in metaphor. I was surprised (when I woke up) that I could read the sign post or clearly remember my friend's number. Usually I can't. Or worse - I read something important in the dream but can't remember what it said.

Marko...Whoa, honey. We'll talk about that one!

Herhimnbryn...When I can remember dreams, they are generally that clear. And I take notes in the middle of the night if a dream wakes me up. I'm also pretty visual - and can recall, if I have notes or the dream is fresh. Often, if I shut my eyes, I can bring it back very lucidly. I don't know if your cure will work - but it would be pleasant enough to try for no reason at all.

Thanks all. Happy dreams.

zhoen said...

I don't often remember my dreams, but the ones that stick tend to be involved and frustrating. Yours made me think of mine where lightbulbs keep going out, and I walk around in the dark.

Vita said...

What about meletonin taken before bed?

LJ said...

Z- There's a nice clear dream metaphor.
I like it when dreams (even the icky ones)are clear. Light bulbs burning out, walking in the dark, blocked exits or no money and a favorite of my personal dream language, faking knowing how to drive.

V- Meletonin is not sold in Canada. A bad batch was sold years ago and people taking it developed a rare blood disease, so it's never been approved here.
I have managed to get it from the States - and ONE night, I slept like I used to...naturally, just drifting off. After that, it seemed to have no effect or the reverse effect.
Believe me folks - a chronic insomniac for over ten years, I've done it all...from warm milk to self-hypnosis to salt baths to drugs. I'm thinking a good swift blow with a blunt object might solve the problem. But then...there would be side effects.

phlegmfatale said...

I'd say you need to make something, something colorful with no blacks, grays, or whites. Make something as a ritual exorcism of the stifling, engulfing drabness and oppression of that dream. Really interesting - it's like one of mine...

LJ said...

PF...tell us your dreams! And yeah. I'm always up for that...for making an escape with color. It's a good backup plan for the greys and blocked exits.

Edie said...

Thank you for directing me here. i say, turn them into art. There's some wonderful stuff in here and strongly written...I'd love to have this in a creative writing workshop. You'd likely have a whole wonderful collection of stories after a term in my class...great stuff!