In Dreams begin Responsibilities

Title stolen from Delmore Schwartz’s short-story of the same name, a title he stole from W.B. Yeats, who stole it from some play.

I don’t always put a lot of stock in dreams, but sometimes I do. Especially when they’re recurrent. And I’ve been having a lot of recurring dreams lately. Only they aren’t good dreams, they’re bad dreams. Sometimes straight up nightmares. And it freaks me the fuck out.

There’s the one where I’m stuck in the car, going 70 miles per hour, and I can’t make it slow down no matter what I do. I can feel my heart racing as my foot depresses the brake peddle. When that doesn’t work, and in fact I speed up, I begin to panic and worry that I’m pushing the gas instead of the brakes. So I push the gas, and the car slows down dramatically before going out of control again. Then I throw the car into park while I’m driving, and it actually speeds up. It’s terrifying, and I can feel the steering wheel going slick from sweat, and I just know I’m going to die any minute. At some point in this one, I always become aware that I’m dreaming, because I pass the same scenery over and over again, like a reel on a movie. The same cars, the same trees, and the same thing happens over and over on repeat. I become aware I’m dreaming, but it doesn’t calm me down. In fact, I grow more afraid, and then the scene switches…as though my mind is trying to trick me with another dream.

What does it mean? I’m out of control of my life? Afraid I’m doing too much, too fast? Afraid that my fate is out of my hands, because no matter what I do it doesn’t make a difference? Afraid I’m headed for a crash that will ruin everything?

There’s the one where I’m being held in some lab. There is a labyrinth of corridors, all lined with animals in cages. There is all manner of mammals, human included. Their cells are just large enough for them to turn around in. I can hear the hum and buzz of the flickering lights, smell the animal fear and waste, hear the grunts and cries and howls of anguish. I’m running, running, running down one of the corridors. I’m lost and afraid, trying desperately to escape. I’m shaking my captors, my pursuers. I’m gaining momentum even as I lose steam, until I slip on the floors, slick with water and urine and hazardous waste. Just as I’m about to be shot, a man rounds the corner and shoots my pursuer. I somehow know I’m safe with him, as though I used to know him long ago. I can’t place him, but I know he’s from my past. He guides me to a makeshift operating room. I can see military personnel moving about the grounds outside. They’re watching for me, in case I escape. The man who rescued me speaks in a whisper and instructs me to lie back…he’s surgically removing chips and trackers from my body, and he injects me with some serum that’s supposed to help me elude the military. It’s really fucking weird and shady, and I’m always struck by the fact that I feel no pain. Fear, yes, but there’s no pain even as I watch my wounds bleed from the surgical procedures. Then he tells me he’ll find me again, but I’m to escape while he causes some hellish distraction to allow me to. The only thing that changes in the dream is whether or not he finds me after. Sometimes he does, and sometimes I know – even as he’s saying he’ll find me – that he won’t survive what he has to do to help me escape.

I find this one even more baffling. It all plays out like a movie. It’s very detailed. If I were an artist, I’d draw it all out, scene after scene. It’s that vivid and real. I’m in danger and in need of rescue? There’s someone I need to trust, but I don’t realize it? Or I’ve allowed myself to become trapped and need to free myself? Am I reading too much in? Probably. But this dream keeps visiting me. Over and over again. And it almost always immediately follows or precedes the dream about being in the out of control vehicle.

There’s the one where my heart is broken. I’m in love with this beautiful, dark, intelligent man. We’re in love of the deepest kind, true soulmates, or so it feels. He’s perfect. Fucking perfect. There’s nothing about him I’d change. And just as we’re about to marry, he introduces me to his family. They refuse to accept that he’s in a relationship with me, insisting that he meet someone more suiting to him and “his kind.” They bring in this beautiful girl, right in front of me. And he doesn’t fight them. She’s beautiful. Dark like him, but completely empty. She barely speaks, and when she does she only parrots what she’s been taught. The pressure from his family builds and builds until he finally relents, and he marries the girl. I’m devastated, but continue to be in his life. I’m there for their wedding, the birth of their children, forever alone. Pining away for what might have been.

This is another extremely detailed one, and I’ve left a lot out on purpose. I think I know where this one comes from, yet some of it doesn’t gel. I think it’s mostly about my fear of being alone for the rest of my life, or at least never having what I believe true love to be. I have this deep-seated feeling that it’s for everyone but me. And I’m really fucking sick of this dream, in particular.

Last night, I had those three one after the other, in that order…bam, bam, bam. I woke feeling completely drained, and I’ve thought about them all day. The only thing that would have been worse is if I’d had the truly nightmarish nightmare that I have on a semi-regular basis.

It’s dusk, and I’m running from someone. I don’t know who it is. I don’t even know if it’s a man or a woman, or if it’s even really a person. I’m just running for my life. I’m running and stumbling and running out of breath, weaving my way through a subdivision that looks like it was built in the late 70s. There are no people anywhere, and there are no cars. Not on the street, not in driveways, not under carports. Nothing. It looks abandoned Completely fucking abandoned. I always finally run up to the exact same house. Up the driveway, through the carport, and into an unlocked door. I shut and locked the door behind me and am immediately overpowered by the putrid stench of blood. Blood and meat. And I know it’s human. I don’t know how I know, but I do. My eyes widen, and my pulse races as I take in the scene: blood covers every wall. I’m not talking smears and splashes. There’s barely any white to be seen. It’s almost all coated in blood. The floor is slick, like someone splashed buckets of it everywhere. There’s no furniture, no nothing. Just walls and floors coated in blood. I don’t even have time to think about backing out, because suddenly there’s harsh pounding at the door to my back. I take off running through the house, slipping on the bloody floors. But it’s not a normal house, it’s a fucking maze. Room after room, the lighting grows darker and darker, the blood grows thicker and thicker, and I begin seeing bodies. Parts of bodies. Sometimes I see people that are still alive, victims and perpetrators. Tied up, drugged, heads lolling…others wearing bizarre leather costumes and hoods, holding medieval looking weapons of torture and death. They see me but don’t care. It’s as though there’s no fear of my escape, because there’s no reason to think I will. As I run, the corridors and rooms twist and turn and continue growing darker…and smaller…and narrower…until I’m in some strange room with concrete tiled walls. There are drains in the floor and hooks and loops on the walls, next to a bank of floor to ceiling lockers. There’s nowhere left to go. I’ve reached the end of the maze, and I can hear…whatever’s been chasing me…closing in behind me.

And then I wake up. I have one or two other recurring nightmares, but that one is by far the most terrifying. The images, the changing rooms, the twisted people and and not-quite-so human creatures I see…are fucking terrifying. It’s truly a nightmare, and I always feel really fucked up in the aftermath of waking from that one.

So. While I like to entertain thoughts of what my dreams mean, I don’t like to dwell on that one. At least not on purpose.

What about y’all? Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares? Do you put any stock into their meanings?

Dance Me to the End of Love (In Another Life)

Alone in the dark, you found me.
You said you were waiting for me,
Or someone like me.

Alone in the dark, I found you.
You walked out of my dreams.
And sat at the corner table in the back.

You looked so lonely, but you weren’t alone.
Music kept you company,
Lady Sennheiser singing in your ears.

Roulette Dares
Turning Kind of Blue
In Bliss from Visions of Johanna

I recognized you;
You recognized me.
Our fates were meant to collide.

The scent of rain infused the air.
On a wet sidewalk, glimmering under streetlamps,
We shared a kiss that stopped time.

We fucked on the sofa,
Made love on the floor,
And merged our souls beneath the stars.

You were my soul’s delight,
My heart’s desire,
My mind’s welcome torment.

Our passion unrivaled,
We fused into one.
The universe looked on in awe.

But it wasn’t enough.
I couldn’t compete
With the life you already had.

Our demons clashed,
Our souls in torment;
We wept more than we laughed.

But I can still hear your words in my ear.
They keep me warm at night.
I’ll meet you, my dear; I’ll meet you again.

In Another Life.

The Wallpaper

The Wallpaper was beautiful, ethereal. When you looked at it from a certain angle, it could make you erupt into fits of laughter. Tilt your head, and now you softly weep. Try another angle, and your heart would skip a beat. Another still, and your soul would soar beyond the corporeal. One might say there was a special magic to it, though there were but few capable of seeing it.

It covered a single room, smallish in size as far as rooms go. To say that the room was in a severe state of disrepair would be an enormity of an understatement. Furnished with two worn chairs, a small, stained and rickety tea table, a lone bookshelf overflowing and buckling from its burden and a dingy window showing only peeling paint and crusts of dirt.

There was a time when the chairs, so richly upholstered, would have been considered beautiful and welcoming in their comfort by anyone’s standards. There was a time when the varnish on the bookshelf was so rich and polished that you could see your reflection if you held your head just so. There was a time when the dingy window was carefully kept clean and crystalline, so that you could gaze upon the beautiful and wondrous lands of The Dreaming.

The Wallpaper made up for the room’s deteriorated state. In fact, only the room’s Inhabitant recognized what was happening. Only the room’s Inhabitant knew that the Wallpaper was next. The Keeper of the room, however, remained oblivious to the creeping neglect and the devastation it would wreak.

The last day of Autumn found the Inhabitant ensconced in the only chair ever used. One leg bent and tucked beneath the other thigh, the Inhabitant reached for a sip of tepid tea. The chipped cup forthwith dropped from a trembling hand as the Inhabitant saw it. The first crack in the Wallpaper.

Terrified, the Inhabitant bolted to the door and woefully wailed and begged for help. With obvious annoyance, the Keeper approached to inquire what could possibly be so wrong as to create such a ruckus. Choking on sobs, the Inhabitant pointed at the crack in the Wallpaper.

Moving closer to inspect, the Keeper fingered the new curl in the Wallpaper. Whirling back on the Inhabitant, the Keeper proclaimed that this was nothing. The Wallpaper is fine. In fact, the tear gives it character. When the Inhabitant pointed out that damage left in disrepair spreads and rots, the Keeper angrily chided and admonished against overreaction.

I am the Keeper! Not you! Only you would even notice such a thing! This is NOTHING!

With the slam of the door, the Inhabitant slowly stanched the flow of tears and sat back down. Keeping watch over the Wallpaper became the Inhabitant’s sole fixation. Slowly the tiny crack spread. Down, down, down, until finally an entire sheet had curled to the floor.

Once more, the Inhabitant begged for the Keeper to tend to it. This time, the Keeper showed a modicum of concern and immediately re-glued the curled strip back upon the wall. Mollified, the Inhabitant returned to unlocking the worlds within the precious tomes littered about the room. The Keeper stayed away, doing whatever Keepers do instead of Keeping, ignoring the Inhabitant’s warnings about the Wallpaper’s fading luster.

The day before the first frost, the wilting Inhabitant mournfully watched as the Wallpaper covering one entire wall crumbled to dust and slowly settled about the room. The Keeper heard a strange sound and finally checked on the room and its Inhabitant. The Keeper was alarmed to discover the Inhabitant keening and rocking and scraping at the thick crust of dirt covering the window.

“What’s the matter with you?”, questioned the Keeper.

The Inhabitant’s throat was coated in dust, and the response was gravelly and subdued. “I need to see. I need to dream again before it’s too late.”

“You see what I want you to see. This is My Room. And I am the Keeper,” admonished the Keeper.

With great trepidation, the Inhabitant pointed a gently accusatory finger at the naked wall and tried once more, “Look. Look at how you’ve Kept it. I warned you this would happen. I begged you not to neglect it. The Wallpaper. It’s dying.”

“It doesn’t matter. Nobody even notices Wallpaper. You’re crazy, and stop scratching at the window like some caged animal,” the Keeper scornfully returned. “I’ll paint over it. The window and the Wallpaper. So we can be done with this nonsense.”

Deep in the heart of winter, the Keeper suddenly thought of the Inhabitant and stormed into the room only to pause and look around with perplexity and great fear. The shoddy paint job allowed bits of irreparably damaged Wallpaper to peek through. The rest lay curled and crumbled about the floor. The books had gone to dust and every surface of the room thinly cased in ice.

The Inhabitant had faded: skin nearly translucent, head lolled to one side, breath coming out in slow, measured, white puffs of air.

Slowly meeting the eyes of the Keeper, the Inhabitant whispered, “It is time.”

“No… No, you can’t mean it! I forbid it!,” shouted the Keeper.

“But the Wallpaper is dead. It has suffered, and it has died. Only dust and decay remain,” the Inhabitant stoically replied.

“Why did you allow this to happen? You can’t let this happen,” implored the Keeper.

The Inhabitant shed a single tear and solemnly raised a mirror to the Keeper’s face. “Tell me what you see.”

“A Keeper. A Keeper that couldn’t Keep.”

The Inhabitant stood and touched the Keeper’s cheek. As the Keeper wailed and reached for purchase on the Inhabitant’s body, the Inhabitant slowly faded from the earthly plane. Returning home, to The Dreaming, with a faint twinkle and hope of Spring.

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The Keeper cursed and wailed and blamed and pounded the floor and begged the emptiness. And the vacuum created by the Inhabitant’s departure caused the door to swing inward, locking the Keeper into a room now devoid of anything worth Keeping.

C is for Cookie, but M is for Mottos. Which is what this post is about. Not cookies. Now I want cookies. Thanks Obama.

I’ve tried on lots of mottos over the years. A few that come to mind are:

  1. Just Do It. Tomorrow.
  2. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Scoop that shit up and put it in your coworker’s coffee. (I’ve never actually done that. See Motto #1.)
  3. Convince the world that fur is deadly to cats and dogs, so they will shave their pets. Burst onto the market with faux fur coats to keep pets warm. You’ll be a hero. And rich. (Again, see Motto #1.)

Frankly, the only one of those three to ever gain any traction was the first one. As evidenced by my lack of success with the second and third options. There have been others, but I don’t want to give away all of my lame brilliant ideas.

My current life motto is something that’s sort of been playing on loop in my head for the last few months. You ready for it? This one is for seriouses.

I’ll be dead soon.

That’s right. My current Life Motto is: I’ll be dead soon. It’s not nearly as morbid as it sounds (only it kind of is, but only kind of). Let me show you how it works:

Stephanie is trying to lose weight.
Stephanie receives a coupon for $5 off her favorite pizza.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and orders.

Stephanie is trying to save money.
Stephanie receives a coupon for Mod Cloth.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and orders.

Stephanie is trying to save money.
Stephanie receives a coupon to a book store.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and her TBR pile grows.

Stephanie has a raging headache.
Stephanie is suddenly in the mood for hip hop.
Stephanie exclaims, “I’ll be dead soon, anyway!,” and cranks up the jams as loud as they’ll go.

Do you see the problem? Stephanie needs to stop receiving motherfucking coupons, that’s what. No? What the fuck do you mean I’m abusing my own motto? Oh, shit. You mean, this?

Stephanie is being bullied at work.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…should probably make a change.”
Stephanie is afraid of change and remains in a soul-sucking job that makes her physically ill from stress because she’s a fucking pussy. (I really hate that word when it’s used like that. But whatever. That’s what came out, so it stays.)

Stephanie has doctors who have failed proper diagnoses and treatment of serious problems.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…this is no way to live.”
Stephanie is afraid of change and feels strange obligations even to doctors, so she stays and allows her health to diminish.

Stephanie dreams of moving to the Pacific Northwest.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…I should pursue my dreams while I can.”
Stephanie is afraid of change and stays put, pining away for greener grass.

So I really am abusing my own motto. I started saying it to myself precisely for the more serious things I need to address. But it slowly shifted to being used for less serious things (that also end up damaging me when I give in), and I continue to give in to my fears and worries. I continue to stagnate and wallow in my miseries and what-ifs.

I need to work on these things. I seriously do. Maybe once I’ve worked a bit on my mental health, I’ll be stronger, more confident and better equipped to tackle things like my hopes and dreams. Hey, you know what? That’s something I have actually worked toward!

Stephanie suffers from severe depression, for years.
Stephanie thinks to herself, “I’ll be dead soon…why am I content to hate myself and my life forfuckingever?”
Stephanie finally makes appointments with mental health professionals. And has actually kept them so far. And will continue to do so.

FUCK YEAH!

In the meantime, perhaps a Motto Upgrade is in order. You know how people say things like, “I’ll work on it when I have time?” I’ll let Henry Rollins wrap this up for us.

Rollins

~

Today’s post brought to you by:

The Letter M (for Mottos and Motherfuckers and Mastur…nevermind) and

The Number 99 (ask Jay Z why, since his life is so hard) oh, and also by

Josh, since he told me to get off my ass and write something for fucks sake (I know that sounds like something I would say, but those were his exact words. Get him!) (Also, that’s not quite true.) (Get him, anyway.).