I think after yesterday‘s heaviness, we needs must uplift ourselves with some ’80s radness! Oh, as if you don’t want to…don’t resist the urge to Running-Man or Cabbage-Patch if need be…
Ah…okay, fan yourself off. The reason I pulled this little nugget from the cyber archives is to set the theme as I backtrack to the writing prompt about dreams.
Four posts ago, I mentioned that page 22 of Room to Write asks us to recall a dream: “It can be a recurring dream, one from childhood, a daydream or a nightmare.” As we write about it, we should be noticing which portions of the dream sequence evade our memory and which become sharper. We can fill in any gaps, change, or expand on any of it that we wish. I’d like to relate a few…
The first dream that leaps to mind is a recurring one that I had as a little kid. I know exactly where it stemmed from: a TV ad for a television station that had something to do with the seasons (or “series,” as they say in the UK) of its television programs not yet coming to an end…I don’t know if it was approaching summer re-run time or what, but what I do recall is that my dream was this extended variation of the advert in which I was the woman involved. I was wearing a peasant dress and being chased by a hunchback all throughout a dark, cobwebby, grey stone castle. The corridors, evil perils, and my evasive techniques would vary night to night, but every time the dream ended the same way: the hunchback would corner me at a dead-end. With my back against the wall and arms outspread, I’d merely repeat the line the woman in the commercial would say (though in my dream, it was probably sheer nonsense coming out of my mouth), and the hunchback would grunt, turn around, and walk away.
A recurring dream I started having later in life involved water. The situations and story lines were always different, but the water would be there in some form or another. Sometimes I was on a sinking ship a la Titanic, sometimes I was standing on shore watching a massive tsunami (of Deep Impact proportions) rolling in at me , or water levels for whatever reason would rise gradually inside my home. In all of them, I had time to stare down my ultimate death and prepare the air to be swept from my lungs.
Adding to the list, I get that typical one in which I lose my teeth. Whereas the last two dreams recurred within the span of probably one or two years, this particular one with the teeth has resurfaced my entire life. I don’t always lose my teeth entirely; sometimes they are loose to the point of my knowing it’s only a matter of time. Again, the story lines of those dreams will vary, but within them my dream-self burns in mortification, as it’s a total blow to my vanity. I always feel entirely helpless and unable to hold them in place (not to mention terrified what the dental bill is going to come to).
And to conclude the list, yes, when I was a student I would have the dream about having to take an exam I didn’t study for or showing up to class wearing something ridiculous, but the curse of becoming a teacher is that you keep having those dreams!!! This time, though, it’s that I show up to class without having my lessons planned, or I show up at the wrong classroom on the first day of school, and the students are never very helpful to me in this dilemma. Since I’m on hiatus from teaching at present, I don’t get these anymore, except that just a few nights ago I actually had one of the more freakishly normal dreams I’ve ever had—nothing bizarre, really…same classroom and students as I really used to have…except that at the end, I broke down sobbing over how much I missed teaching. (Um, no need to call Freud in to psychoanalyze me on this one…I think Dr. Obvious can take it from here).
Okay, so what would happen if all my recurring dreams decided to recur on me at once?
I’m running through the corridors of the high school…it’s a centuries-old one in the vein of Hogwarts, and I’m late to teach my lesson on Beowulf…today, we are to debate to what degree Grendel’s mother is a sympathetic character, but I haven’t crafted my specific discussion points nor procured enough copies of the text to distribute nor written up or copied the handout nor strategized how to best divide my students up (Individually? Pairs? Collaborative learning groups?), and have I differentiated for their multiple intelligences?
I walk into the copy room only to see the photocopier spraying out sheets of study guides as a cluster of frantic teachers scramble to claim and collate their own; there is no solution nor sanctuary here. Panicked, I pivot on my heel and chase down the hall to an unfamiliar stairwell where I feel and hear the grumbling of a predator: Grendel! I trip up on the low hem of my skirts as I jog down the steps, my sweaty palms on the railing exceeding the pace of my slippered feet. I duck into the dank blackness of a janitor’s closet as I hold my breath to hear ever louder the rattling huffing of another; I will be trapped here if I stay, surely given away by the scent of my perspiration (or dry-erase markers), so my only hope is to dash and pray I do so in enough haste.
With my heart ricocheting off my breastbone like a racquetball in my alarm, I automatically navigate the twists and turns of the school halls, unsure of where to find my classroom and lamenting this loss in last-minute time to prep my lesson—when I arrive at my class, if I live to arrive at my class, alas, I shall have to wing it. I grind my teeth in anxiety, debating which is the lesser of two evils to occupy my mind away from the putrid, humid breath at my neck, only to find that my top front teeth begin to sway against the bottom ones. One slips out wetly, grazing my lower lip as it falls and trails bloody saliva down my chin; another tooth three teeth over then gets crunched between my molars before I suck it onto the bed of my tongue to better projectile spit it back at my foe in defense. By twos and threes, my remaining teeth ease out of my soupy gums, and I try to organize them with my tongue against the roof of my mouth as ready artillery; in rapid-fire, I spray them out, their pale ivory now bloodied pink, and they pelt my pursuer like quail shot.
I’ve bought myself some time.
Up a winding staircase I go, clacking against the polished stone surface, slipping to my knee before recovering quickly and charging onwards toward an upper level corridor open to the air. Heaving sharply cooler gusts of air through great gasps, I run headlong into the painted cinderblocks of a dead-end. Hearing the bell sound off, I realize it’s over…First Period has already started, and I’m not there to take attendance in time to send it off to the Main Office. Truancy slips will be issued, and it will be all my fault. I press my forehead against the icy surface of the wall and slowly roll my skull around on its pockmarked surface to spin and face my adversary.
And there he is, slightly worser for the tooth-bullets, but still formidable. He growls in low rumblings with a taloned claw upraised, and I start to tell him something about television reruns when a surge of foaming saltwater blasts through the open windows. I swallow it along with my words as my body flails for orientation and gives one last spasm in its urgency for oxygen.
As it all bleeds over into black, I think a forever-silenced prayer…that my substitute teacher will not let any of those students side with anyone who would have spawned Grendel.
Um, yup, just as demented as any of my dreams would be. The spin I’ve taken on this exercise was stupidly fun. After focusing for as long as I have been on one main, continuous story line for my project, it was rejuvenating to take a random tangent that is not too serious or personal. I think I’ve dragged this post on long enough, so will bid you good night and crazy, distorted dreams 🙂
April 12th, 2010 at 22:43
Oh my what in the world are you eating before you go to sleep? Gee whiz, I would be out dreamed by you, and I have plenty of distorted ones. Try this before bedtime. Drink plenty of water or juice, but empty your bladder before you retire. You’ll probably have to get up at least once, but the hydration will improve your sleep. Also, before retiring listen to soothing music or read or watch something positive and gently uplifting. Lastly, no food for three hours before bedtime and eat soothing foods. Give it a go and see if this helps. Oh, and tell yourself you do not need to clench your jaw whilst you sleep.
I still have dreams where I am trying to take my now deceased Mother with me and it is a nightmare. Also, dreams where I am to go on stage but have no costumes or makeup, or my hair isn’t done and we haven’t rehearsed. Stuff like this. I usually work while I dream and this makes me wake up feeling depleted.
Good writing. I did a lot of this before my blog turned fattening.
April 13th, 2010 at 17:43
Brilliant, thank you! I’m glad to say my sleep isn’t plagued often by dreams like these, though I know people who have never had recurring dreams and was surprised after I thought about them yesterday how many I’ve managed to accrue. Great advice on the hydration and doing calming things right before bed–my hyperactive mind does take time to settle down sometimes. I know what you mean about working while dreaming; I feel like I should get paid overtime for those 🙂 Thank you for the compliment, and your blog may be fattening, but it’s fun! Your quiche is like art. Oh, and your kitty…I used to have one identical to Bobby that an ex-boyfriend got custody over and soon after shipped off to live with his parents. Aw, I do miss her.
April 14th, 2010 at 05:41
I have to say, I’m kind of jealous about your recurring dreams, I’ve never had them! In fact most night I don’t dream- or even if I do I never remember them and this really frustrates me, I know dreams are great source of inspiration for most writers…
But it’s been great reading your writing exercise on dreams, made me feel like I’m peeking at someone else’s mind while they’re sleeping and that is a big deal for a poor soul who doesn’t get to dream a lot! 🙂
April 14th, 2010 at 17:20
Oh, but dreamless sleep must be such good sleep…you probably have the healthy habits that Theresa advises on above! I, on the other hand, had better get myself drinking more water and eating less food before bedtime…In any case, you are more than welcome to peek into the dementia of my mind, as long as it doesn’t disturb you and give you not dream, but nightmares 😉