Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Deep Space Nine;" the continuing adventures of Quark and Odo! (dream)

For three days straight, I've been dreaming about watching new episodes of Star Trek's Deep Space Nine. The worst part is, I never remember the finished episodes! I just barely get to the teaser and I wake up, rapidly forgetting most of the story. 

Last night I dreamed I was watching an episode in which Quark realizes he could make a profit off of selling himself as a male slave in a female-dominated society, but he was just caught selling himself at the space station when I woke up. Aaaaaaargh!

Another night, Odo was learning more about the necklace he received with shape-shifting DNA in it by copying it. And Quark had come into legal, legitimate possession of another object with those exact properties.

I mainly watched Star Trek Voyager out of convenience when I was a kid since it gave all the kids my age something in common to talk about. Deep Space Nine reruns were playing back when I was too young to watch non-cartoons. I was not allowed, which was fine, because non-cartoons often frightened me.

I'd forgotten this about kids until I went on vacation with someone who had a four year old. She was allowed to watch anything and everything, but she hated it when we didn't watch cartoons. I wonder why things like that can be so significant to children.

I had no idea I would enjoy Deep Space Nine so much! It usually takes a while for a television show to develop likeable characters, but I instantly liked every episode and character I saw. I watched two seasons in two days. That show was on autoplay while a brushed my teeth, did the laundry, and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning watching it. #nerd

By the way, I stopped blogging for a while because the feelings I was having about my cat's illness were just too overwhelming and personal. She did recover after nearly a month of respiratory illness. We took her to a second vet who let us know that she wasn't in the final stages of renal failure. Eventually, she made a full recovery! :D

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The joy in taking care of an old friend at the end of her life. (dream, rant)

My kitty is struggling to breathe. She has a respiratory infection now in addition to kidney failure. The first vet we went to said there's nothing more they can do. After she didn't poop for four days, I took her to another vet. This new, second vet disproved the first doctor's hypothesis about why my cat is so ill: it isn't the renal failure that's killing her yet. It's still early in the disease's stage. So there's hope for her recovery now, where there wasn't before. I hope very much that the kitty will get better so she can spend a few more moments enjoying her bird videos, her naps in the catnip sprinkled on the bed, and her pats on the head and under the chin.

I've subscribed pretty heavily to Buddhist philosophies down the years, and I found a speaker who has really helped me and possibly the kitty to accept what is happening. I think she finds his voice soothing.

Buddhist teachings state that no one has the right to kill. In the case of euthanizing pets, the monk in the video below suggests that owners take aside their pets and ask if they want to go. It's not so silly a thing if you know an animal well. I look at my cat and I believe that she wants to keep fighting. So I'll keep trying to help her however I can. She has been my friend for nearly two decades, and I am prepared to care for her to whatever extent she needs.

I'm on a long vacation before summer classes. It takes most of my day to take care of her. I study for the GRE between changing the litter and washing her blankets and feeding her by hand, medicating her, giving her IV fluids and dry shampoos, checking her eyes for signs of crust, and taking her to vet appointments. I didn't think it would be, but it's a joy to have the opportunity to take care of someone you love when they're near the end of their lives. Every moment is something to be thankful for and to enjoy.


Her breathing is so labored, it wakes me up sometimes. Sometimes I wake up when she stops because I think she may have passed away.

Last night I had a dream. I was in a home a friend was house sitting in. She was keeping my kitty in the crawl space. Sick kitty was down there.

"Aren't you excited to see her?" she asked after we put up our hats and scarves.

I say yes, but I feel excited to see a yearling gazelle in her house. It stands directly in the path of the door to my cat. I pet the sweet little gazelle. The gazelle has the same colored fur as my cat.

I think the dream suggests that I'm excited that there are parts of my cat that are still present- still healthy. I yearn for her healthier days. In the dream, I'm in denial. I don't want my kitty to be sick, indicated by my reluctance to see my sick kitty, or by the dream's putting the sick kitty in the basement. I want to see my cat strong and well again. It's so painful. The dream initially seems haunting and cruel, just like her prognosis and how much I wish it weren't happening.

Monday, December 19, 2016

My kitty was diagnosed with renal failure. (rants)

Picture by Morguefile.com

Last night, I dreamed that I was laying in bed in pain. My stomach and insides felt a dull pain marked by the occasional stab. I thought about what I was feeling. I knew this pain wasn't going to go away, but there was more good in life that I could continue to enjoy. I decided that I wasn't suffering to the point that I could no longer enjoy being incarnate.

I took my 17 year-old cat to the vet because she seemed constipated. They gave her an enema and some fluids, and everything was supposed to go back to normal. But she got constipated and dehydrated again almost immediately. In under 24 hours, she had stopped eating, drinking, pooping, and was drinking entire bowls of water in one sitting. The vet showed me the results of her urinalysis and blood work, and explained  that she was undergoing renal failure- a common, incurable disease in older cats. After hospitalizing her for nearly a week total, he recommended that I put her to sleep because she wasn't going to get any better. I had no idea what to do. If she was in horrible pain, or was going to die a very painful death very soon without a doubt... well, I'd never had to put a pet down before, and I hadn't given it much, if any, thought. Whereas I was somewhat prepared for my dad to die because I knew I had to think about it in advance or I'd be completely screwed when it actually happened, I deliberately put off thinking about my cat's death. Now I was frozen, angry at the universe and in tears.

I called my mother since the cat is hers too, and fortunately, she had a strong opinion: you don't euthanize pets. In short, she said, "Take the cat home, do whatever it takes to prolong her life and allow her to die a natural death so the family has a clean conscience about the situation."

I did, and I haven't regretted it, but it's been soHard. I've had this cat for over half of my life and she has always been the most important thing to me. It's nothing for me to drop everything and take care of her now. The first day she came back from hospitalization number two, the vet had done absolutely everything he could and beyond to help her. He gave me an IV for subcutaneous fluid injections and some antibiotics and other temporary medicines. I thought she was going to pass away that night since they kept saying she might pass away in the hospital, so I slept with her and a bowl of water, and she made it just a little longer.

She couldn't walk right. She'd had arthritis in the hips for a couple years and according to her x-rays, at some point, her hip bones had "collapsed." She was covered in her own urine because she'd lost bladder control, and she was drinking so much again. She stumbled sideways to the litter box, pooped and collapsed on the other side and lay recumbent on the hard floor. I sobbed for at least the fifth time about her sad state and picked up her weak, frail body and put it back on the bed.

She peed the bed about three times that day and I kept the washing machine going. But she kept drinking water and purred when I held her, even after I had to learn how to stick her with a needle and put a lump of fluid under her skin (a very undesirable task for me. I accidentally stabbed myself to the finger bone this morning).

The next day, she only peed the bed once and I got dry shampoo and wipes and cleaned her up. I found a couple of liquid diets for her and she kept drinking and purring.

Today, she's still making it- not peeing the bed at all, still pooping, but I have decided to force feed her a liquid diet that (fortunately), she seems to like the taste of. But she won't even eat her favorite treats or drink now.

I don't care. I've measured out how much liquid diet and water she needs per day, I've bought a large syringe, a blender for the cat food, and another flavor of liquid diet, and she at least won't starve to death or dehydrate or die of constipation. I know she will pass away due to the kidneys' inability to process toxins. The doctor says that it takes about three or four days for changes to the kidneys to start taking effect in the body. I hope she will last longer than that since she lasted longer than that in the pet hospital.

It's awful thinking of what life will be like without her. It makes me wish very intensely for a self that exists beyond the material we are made of. I don't see a reason to believe in one, but I do wish that I could reconnect with her again one day in a better sort of reality, because I have always felt that this little animal is a kind of soul mate for me, however unconventional.

The doctor says she's eventually just going to stop breathing, but I've always known that. It's just a harder fight now and it's going to come sooner. And am going to fight it the best I can. I know I can't win, and I really don't care that I'm going to lose. It's the fight that matters, not the winning. She still purrs when I hold her and wants to come sit next to me. She tries to drink and eat without a syringe, and she can still enjoy her videos of birds and squirrels. So we're going to get what we can out of this material world while we can. She can feel my love for her. I just have to speak her and she knows my love and starts to purr.

While this was going on, I went to the dentist for the first time in about 3 years. My teeth are apparently in a dire state. I quit going to college for several semesters due to teeth problems and other health issues. I was paying for college, healthcare and rent out of pocket and although I'd actually been making quite good money, the expenses were devastating. Once, I spent $5,000 on oral surgery. I had no insurance to cover the costs. Honestly, if we had required health insurance back when I was first starting out in with my regionally-accredited BA, I'd be much further along. Fortunately, this time around, my once-healthy finances won't be entirely destroyed, but they are taking a massive hit with summer classes, health bills and now this. But it takes a lot of pressure to know what actually matters.

The small, insular nastiness and power struggles that plague day-to-day life in urban America are so stunningly insignificant in the face of a long, deep, sincere love. The awareness of having a love, whether present, or only in memories, grants such a profound sense of self that... I get it when one of my friends said that the desire to retaliate against offenses simply left him one day.

I used to be able to shove myself through health issues with will power. It's not working for me anymore. I wish that I had known myself sooner so that I could have had an easier time instead of jamming myself into other peoples' molds, but that doesn't seem to be the point of existence.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Soft, romantic walks on the beach... (dreams)

Picture from Morguefile.com 

I have had a ridiculous crush on someone for the past couple of months. Unfortunately, it's not someone I can date. Too many of the social morays my society imposes on me tells me that I cannot. But in my dream, this man and I accurately suspected how we felt about each other and arranged to spend the day together.

We started off meeting for coffee and getting to know each other better. We did several more things we both enjoyed- a museum, a paddle boat ride, a brief walk on a trail, a picnic...

To finish the day, we had a long walk on the beach while the sun set. We chatted without any fillers, repetition or small talk, holding each other comfortably without fears or insecurities (on my end, mainly), especially about bodily issues. We simply enjoyed the representative act of reducing the distance between us and keeping each other warm as the wind came off the waves.

At the end of the day, we parted without any awkwardness. It was the perfect day from start to finish.

I wish I had way more dreams like this one. I can't remember the last time I had such a simple, happy dream. I definitely can't remember the last time I had such a great real date! But I woke up feeling so refreshed and relaxed... being reminded of the more disappointing reality was more than worth it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The naked lovers in my backyard. (dream)

Image by Ramidio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I look outside the glass patio doors of the house I grew up in to see some teenaged friends using my parents' backyard to skate board across the deck. My cat is determined to go outside despite them. She glues herself to the glass wall and minces to the opposite end of the deck. She jumps down into a small field of untamed floral growth. She winds her way down to the little patches of chickweed and mushrooms in the dirt and gravel around the corner.

I watch the teenagers for a couple of minutes. They look like they're having a good time. I like that they're having a good time. But then I hear the key turning in the latch at the front door.

It's my dad! I completely forgot about how all the visitors would bother him! I didn't tell him about all the people I let use our yard. But as I look out of the glass, they seem to be gone so they don't seem to be a factor anyway.

Relieved, I greet him. I see if he needs help carrying anything inside. He doesn't, but he has something he wants to do as soon as possible in the back yard. He wants to set the coal out there. We talk about it, then go across the house to the backyard.

He opens the glass door and we go out to the deck. He spots something on the left. He's so startled he jumps and immediately looks away and goes back inside. As he leaves, I see what shocked him- two leftover partiers- a boy and his girlfriend. Both are beach bum types. But the shocking part is that they're entirely nude.

They're having a conversation in each other's arms while leaned up against the house. I completely forget that these are friends and have no idea what they could be doing in my backyard, nevermind having a casual conversation in the nude, in the dirt against a wall with plenty of splinter-potential.

I go back into the house to see what my dad is going to do. "I wonder how they got in!" I say. I've genuinely forgotten. I look back out the window and see them crawling on their hands and knees under a red, wire cage creating a small gap under the fence.

"That must be how they did it!" I think to myself.

I go out onto the sidewalk and take a long, long journey down one road, past the nearby elementary school. I miss a bus I think I need to take, but I realize how close I am to my parents' house anyway and walk back there.

I go back home around the front this time. I'm horrified to see my cat laying on the lawn with a massive, bleeding hole in the side of her stomach. The wound is the size of her head. I don't know the extent of her injuries. For a flash, I think that someone must have carved out the hole and pulled out some of her guts- the hole so deep and I don't see anything. But she's breathing.

She gets up and suddenly doesn't seem too badly affected. She's not bleeding anymore and walks like normal.

"Who would do such a thing?" I immediately think of all the party-goers in the back yard. I don't think I knew them as well as I thought I did. I think of ways to prevent them from taking advantage of our leniency and openness in the future. I automatically assume that someone in their group injured our pet for laughs because that's what gets them off. I don't see how I can treat the cat- I just have to hope she'll heal up on her own. I can't imagine a vet sewing up a wound shaped like that.

INTERPRETATION

I don't know. I know that my social groups are changing and that I'm still searching for the right fit. I'm still not quite satisfied with the people I've been interacting with. I've been trying to communicate with random strangers online for the past year or two and I've disliked the experience, overall. We're held to such a high standard of politeness in real life... but online, sometimes it seems as though every other person is a sociopath. I should work on my in-person socializing.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Anchored to the floor on my back like a beetle. (dreams)

Image by Pbtflakes (Own work) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I need to get up to go to school. It's not a low-stakes, missing out on attendance points sort of day. I have to be there, and I don't remember why, but something urgent is compelling me to get up.

I'm too exhausted to remember clearly or think too much. All that's important is getting up and moving. I can trust my body to automatically go where I need to be at this hour of the morning when I've woken up so unnaturally.

I'm sitting on the edge of my futon, and hoist my backpack on to my back. I start to stand up, but I tip backwards like a beetle back onto the bed. I scrunch my stomach muscles and try to sit upright, but I can't get up! I try to turn onto my side to use my legs to help me, but that doesn't work either! I'm just stuck.

My friend is at the edge of the bed watching me try to get up and waiting for me so he can drive us to school, but I can't!

It's starting to get embarrassing. I lie there and flail while I worry about how I haven't studied enough and am probably going to fail and none of the people I'm physically surrounded by at school are going to understand. Flashes of hunches about their reactions flash before my mind and I just keep struggling like a tipped box turtle.

INTERPRETATION

I do have a backpack which is so heavy I've developed little spurs at the edges of my collarbones. But there's only one final left! And I look forward to studying for that one. ^_^

What a difference having just one extra day to study makes in terms of leaving the class with a positive impression of the material and the field and the likelihood of good marks. Grades are that arbitrary. One day or an hour of extra sleep or a friend to help can be the difference between an "A" or a "C."

I had to cram three finals and a paper into two days after struggling to catch up with homework. I had to make a decision: study enough to get a good grade in one of two challenging classes and let the chips fall where they may on the other one. Or do mediocre in both classes.

I stopped being able to communicate with one instructor about half-way into the semester, whereas I was able to get into deeper and deeper and deeper conversations with the other one, so I picked that class to focus on. I paid for it on the test, but I can't say I have regrets about the choice. I wish I didn't have to feel as though I had to look at the situation in that manner, but that's how it goes. I was simply too tired to keep up the pace I started the semester with.

But one of the most interesting aspects of the dream was how the friend trying to help me up was not someone I recognized. He was Hispanic and about 30 years old. He doesn't remind me of anyone I know, but in the dream, I knew him intimately. I'm not sure what to think of vividly-invented friends in dreams. He had a solid personality and bodily presence to him.

I am fined $300 for holding baby belugas. (dream)


By Ansgar Walk (photo taken by Ansgar Walk) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I'm skipping along a series of ice flows in ice cold water with a friend. All the colors of the sunset behind us look tropical, replete with pink, purple and orange hues. Our clothing consists of Hawaiian shirts and cutoff shorts. Little blobs move under the water. On an impulse, I reach down and scoop them up. They're little belugas! Tiny, tiny beluga whales are swimming beneath us! I'm so enchanted until I realize that messing with beluga whales is illegal. I look up, hoping there aren't any ticketing drones flying overhead.

My friend scowls at me. "Let's get going!"

It's not like him to be so impatient. I don't seeing any drones, but I put the babies back into the water because it feels like the right thing to do, and I move on with my friend. We jump ice floes until we enter an igloo painted in fluorescent colors. A television attached to a human body is in the center of the room.

Lara Croft is on screen- naked and posing in the desert with a small pistol. She's covered in tattoos. Just above her cleanly-waxed privates is a smiley face with crossed out eyes- sticking its tongue out. The rest of her is covered in fine-line, gray scale portraiture of celebrities and her family. I wonder what they all mean and who they all are. I'm surprised that she has any tattoos. I don't remember that.

INTERPRETATION

This was an old dream, so I'm having a hard time remembering what was going on in my life at this point. But I do believe that every dream has significance.

It sounds as though I was really questioning my behavior. I'm accidentally doing things that are illegal, or wrong in the dream. There's a transparency in the dream, whether from the drones monitoring us or the nudity attached to a person. In addition to worry about doing the right thing on screens and in person, perhaps I'm questioning whether or not to get more tattoos. I got another one this year.

I had one that was pretty "bad ass" like Laura Croft, and I got one that was more fun and soft and feminine. One was of a type of phoenix (the mythical bird that rises out of the ashes) and the other was a flower that grows out of volcanic ash. There are a lot of emotions mixed into my tattoo journeys. Perhaps that's what the last part of the dream was addressing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The electric bill. (dreams)

DREAM

I receive this month's electric bill. It's twice what it is normally. It's not an amount that makes me say "ouch," but twice as much as usual is certainly noteworthy!

INTERPRETATION

I wake up with a start. I'd left the fan on as I fell asleep even though I didn't feel warm!

My subconscious must be extremely cheap.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Thinking about moving to Idaho. (dream)

Image by Acabashi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I'm not sure California is working for me anymore. 

A map is on-screen. Red dashes animate my path from California to Idaho.

I pull my car into the parking lot of a humble, white-painted, clapboard church and pull the hand break. Dust settles around the wheels of my white Subaru. Classes are still in session back "home" in SoCal, so I feel a bit guilty about this little vacation. My time could be better spent studying since every semester is one test after another. But I value my sanity above all. Things must be done in order to maintain it, and I have found that this includes spurts of leisurely puttering and lollygagging.

I enter the church where my friend will be. The interior of the church is far larger than I'd expected. I'd forgotten what wide, open spaces feel like.

I don't see my friend yet. But after a few minutes, enough people trickle in to fill the church. Everyone is dressed with what I would reluctantly admit, is a lack of fashion sense. However, they have their own individual sense of effort, personal expression or whatever else they hope to insert, extract or avoid in the social environment via their costumery.

I had forgotten what it was like to be around people who don't fall neatly and accurately into uniform categories based on appearances: gangsters, bros, surfers, casual business people, homeless people, etcetera. There are other problems here in this church. I can feel them brewing already. But they have nothing to do with the cultural quirks that had been irritating me so much in California, and it's quite refreshing.

Live gospel music starts to play. I start singing along. I haven't heard live gospel music in a long time and it's great fun to be in a building full of participants. As I'm singing along, I spot my friend. She sees me too, but she's not too enthusiastic to see me. I understand; she looks busy. Besides, we're quite old friends and are comfortable with each other. I don't need to extract some sort of greeting according to my own subjective, unspoken terms for how enthusiastic someone should appear.

When the singing is through, there's a meet and greet time and she and I have the opportunity to chat a little bit. I start to warm up to the idea of going here for college when I apply to grad school.

She and I drive back to California with a handful of other old friends and hit one of the same bars I used to work in. I don't work here anymore, so it feels extremely awkward. I keep wanting to get up, serve and pour. But I have to tamp down that muscle memory that allowed me to do my job for years without having to think about it.

I have a hell of a lot of math homework to do. I've brought it with me. I don't know how I'm going to concentrate with so many distractions around me- friends especially. But I know I have to, so I will.

We have a round of beer already, but I get up from our booth and reach into a side refrigerator beside the bar at the same time another man is. He laughs nervously and makes some generic deference to me. I return the gesture without thinking.

He might as well say, "Bippity-boop." And I'd reply, "Bop." It's all the same. 

Fortunately, what comes out of my mouth is, "Thanks! I'm just going to get..."

Oh, crap. I don't know what I want to get out of the fridge! I was just looking! 

I panic. The stopwatch of polite deference has begun. "...one of these!" I grab a rice milk chai in a box.

What a weird thing to drink...

I shrug and pay for it.

I'm amazed at how busy the emerald green bar is. My former coworkers are still working there and they're extremely busy. I'm not surprised they're still here, but I'm amazed I used to do this.

INTERPRETATION

I keep thinking about living elsewhere. I keep thinking that the Midwest might not be as bad as it has always seemed to me (although I've never been there). It sounds so much cheaper and easier to live there in so many senses.

In my current neighborhood, I've begun to grow weary of the constant street harassment, the tightly enclosed spaces, the overpriced housing, the rude, polarized, stereotyped and reactive behavior a lot of people are inclined towards, and worst of all... the noise. They're all the things so many people from my town of origin warned me about when I mentioned moving to Southern California in the first place (specifically Southern California. I had a stranger from Northern California assert these same sorts of accusations about the Southern half too). I didn't necessarily believe them. I thought it was too subjective to generalize like that. And I still think so. Don't take my word for it- experience it for yourself and you might find things are different. But these repeated, subjective unpleasantries have stood out in my mind recently. (Also bear in mind: most of my complaining is related to living in the ghetto as a poor student. I've no doubt my experience would be different in another neighborhood with slightly different circumstances, like... not riding the bus and walking all the time or living next to a homeless colony.)

I got rid of a lot of old cultural problems from my culture of origin by moving, but were those problems worth trading for these? Grabbing the milk instead of drinking beer with my friends could suggest some of this as well as the sense of trading social problems while on vacation in Idaho. They're dramatically different types of problems. I think this principle has won out over the old adage that you can't physically run away from emotional problems. I used to think that, but man, was I wrong. Even a couple weeks' difference in seasons or a different set of people living on a given block dramatically shape one's entire perception of the world for that day. Reality on that scale is different for that time period for those people. It changes things- sometimes a lot.

Someone once told me that everyplace is hell until you meet that exact right mix of friends. Unfortunately, I think I left that special group here behind when I went back to college.

My surprise at my old working lifestyle is a reflection of how I don't feel that I can tolerate crowds and noise and chaos anymore. The unique chaos of this place is becoming tedious to me. Even the most bizarre, shocking things now are often expected. Here's an example of my newfound jadedness at insanity and the insanity that the sane believe they are not participating in- the insanity they would never- could never see themselves as participating in.

I was walking to the grocery store when I nearly tripped over a woman, sitting on the sidewalk in a v-position, kicking her legs out and doing a breast stroke in air, all while sucking in her cheeks and opening her eyes as wide as they could go. I walked another block and saw that she was physically imitating a cartoon fish painted on a mural. I thought, "Ahhh... that's actually quite good! Reactivity, public solitude and free association. Good qualities in an actor. That's probably partly why there are so many crazies living in LA. History influences the present, and although LA is no longer a Mecca for actors, perhaps it long, long ago attracted and sent out the 'vibe' necessary to attract some of these traits, and a lot of those people never left and passed it on."

I sometimes don't feel as though there is nearly as much mystery, excitement or cultural morays that I can figure out or explore. I even comprehend the frequently-noted "snobbery" and the reactionary anti-snobbery speckled about here and there. It isn't that I don't understand many of these quirks when they bother me; it's that I don't approve of them. Then again, it seems easier to attribute your biases to aspects of whatever theory you've created or adopted since you don't intend to waste further resources on investigating those things. But I've always wondered if perfect understanding will have to result in approval- or perhaps the material wasn't truly understood if you can't find a piece of yourself inside that approves.

Fortunately, there's still plenty of shiny to keep me here in my new major. And because of the stress involved in pursuing it, I sometimes do just want to retreat into the routine I had found myself in with old friends- the kind that are like warm, salted butter on popcorn. Comfort food. Everyone knows each other. We know we basically hold each other in positive regard, despite time, change and other fundamental differences. That's it. There's no confusion, debate or inflexibility to it. We know we care for each other and have enough faith to believe everything else is eventually going to end up being a mute point.

I only have about 2 more years in this specific part of the LA area. Then... who knows? I'm looking forward to more changes and new challenges.


Friday, July 8, 2016

A friend resorts to prostitution. (dream)

By Joseolgon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I'm watching an old friend move into a new apartment with her kids and significant other. They've begun a routine in which he takes the kids to school while she goes to work. Her work is the only thing that allows them to afford such a spacious home in a prime location.

She's begun working for a euphemized online pimping company. It finds Johns for her.

The pay puts her in the middle class. It offers her kids a chance to do better in life. They don't have to worry about food or listen to their parents fighting over money. But it's sad for me to watch. I wish I could do something about this, but the more I think about what I could do and how it either isn't my place or I don't have the resources to do it, the more powerless I feel.

At the same time I recognize the strength it takes to do what she's doing. There's an incredible fortitude co-mingling with the lack of dignity inherent in prostitution. It can't be easy to sustain this lifestyle, emotionally- especially not for someone as bright, kind and sensitive as my friend. But maybe she's cutting through all of society's absurdities by living like this. In order to acquire the modest comforts of the middle class, she easily bypasses the irrational games others expect her to play, instead playing a game that's completely contrary to their hopes for the possibility of popularity. At the end of the day, she's alive as they are and has just as much opportunity to enjoy other aspects to her life and her family (or not). And professionally, on a day to day basis, she's been no more or less fake and ridiculous than nine out of ten people.

For whatever reason, you won't see the best in people right away. I'm just fortunate to have seen the best in her a long time ago, even if things are a little bit strange right now.

I continue thinking of all kinds of ways for her to change her own situation- ways that might allow her to fight to collect income doing something she actually wants to in depth. But no matter how far into the future one reaches with one's imagination- building a potential future that could be exactly right for that person, it will never pay for kids' clothes, food, basic modern necessities like the phone and internet, etc., and ultimately, ideals only exist because reality sucks so much. We wouldn't need them if reality was great.

So she needs to do this for now. And I feel stuck. I am a distant, uncomfortable observer that understands the golden handcuffs.

Her apartment morphs into a silent auction/thrift store after she's done for the day. The decor is saccharine: Rococo filigree lines all the furniture and wall paper. The apartment is a diffuse, cold white with splashes of pastel cyan.

The auction only sells items in a nude-pink tint which is fashionable at this time. I'm surprised my friend is taking as much interest as she is. I know she doesn't care for these colors, even if they flatter her. I love these colors even though they don't flatter me. I never think of myself as tending not to embrace trends until I'm around friends like her. Funny how much my self-perception can change based on my understanding of who I'm around. She wants to wear her shoes her way and no amount of peer pressure is going to sway her.

I pick up a shoe that I might like to buy. It looks too small. I look at the sole for some more information.

Size 4. 

It's a child's ballet shoe. I put it back.

I pick up an old woman's heeled, Mary Jane shoe in the same shade of pink. It's huge!

Size 9. Much too big.

I put it back and sigh. I really want this color. I feel as though I need to drink it in for a while.

I keep searching the auction for something, but everything seems overpriced, too worn (the shoes are used), uncomfortable, or just... not quite right- even though the color is always exactly what I'm looking for.

My friend can't be thinking of buying anything, although she's looking at the turquoise items that appeared on another shelf a little while ago. But she's just happy to be there and enjoys being there- unburdened by my own sudden, distressing fixation on finding shoes in this pink color and under a certain price.

INTERPRETATION

My 30th birthday is coming up and the shoes stand out to me as my accepting my feelings about where the timeline of my life is. I probably have about 20-60 more years I need to plan for, and about 40-50 of those years will revolve around career and trying to build a home (like the dream-friend had to do). I don't know about you, but in my early 20's, I received an official notification from the government saying that I should not expect social security to support me when I reach retirement age and that I should prepare. I don't think I should plan to retire, but to be able to work at something I can enjoy at any age.

I am developing a renewed sense of purpose about those remaining years and want to plan them out. In the dream, I became fixated on choosing exactly the right shoes at a reasonable cost. I have to drop old goals and pick up new ones, the way I picked up and put down shoes made for different purposes, although I had the gist of the color I wanted.

Shoes tend to symbolize journeys. The shoes were all used and available at a cost, but pretty, which testifies to the fact that I'm okay with looking at what other people are doing in order to follow in their footsteps and seeing what it cost them to get there and if it's worth it to me, personally.

Life is not what one expects, but it must be enjoyed anyway, through any and all corresponding tears. I've been watching a YouTube playlist about emotion just for fun. I've been playing it up until the point that I practically fall asleep listening to it. One of the researchers mention that one of the key shifts that happen in peoples' emotional systems as they age is how they tend to accept sadness at the same time as happiness, recognizing that no emotion is meant to last. The dream-friend's successful prostitution suggests this kind of mood. The dream-friend's interest in simply being at the silent auction suggests that I should also enjoy the moment since she seems to be a symbol for another side to myself- both of us existing in the same house.

Monday, June 27, 2016

My teeth fall out while I'm visiting a professor. Another one puts them back in. (dream)

Image by I, DavidShankbone [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I'm in one of my professors' offices, visiting. It's an orange-painted sewer underneath a subway station.

"Try to take a bite out of this," he says, holding out a blue-gray, rubbery block.

Try? It's definitely not edible. It looks like rubber. I do bite, but I change the way ordinarily do it in order to try to tackle this it. I go slowly. It's rock hard. Somehow, two of my teeth loosen.

That can't have happened...

I roll my tongue against them lightly. They offer no resistance and don't spring back into place. They're definitely out, but might still be dangling by a thread of flesh.

I don't say anything. I do get up, find a way to silently convey my goodbyes and exit.

I need this fixed now. I can't go around with two huge, gaping holes in my mouth. 

It's hardly vanity; you simply won't get work or help or even paid services if you look too scrubby in this town. I get out my phone and text my major's adviser. He agrees to an appointment.

He knows everything. He'll know what to do.

Feeling a little more at ease, I find the right subway platform and wait, taking note of the city's brick red and burnt orange theme.

I didn't bite into it that differently from normal. 

Well, I guess I should've known with that guy. If he tells you to do something, you'd better do it exactly right, because he's already thought of every possible contingency.

But would he know that someone's teeth could fall out if they didn't bite exactly the way he suggested?

I rant to myself until my train comes and I get to my stop. I go up to my adviser's apartment building and take the elevator up to his office. I step past the black, Gothic door cage which covers the archway like a lacy exoskeleton and I enter a spacious, orange-painted apartment lit only by a desk lamp. Books and papers are strewn all over the living room. There's a clear view of a full moon outside. It was a sunny afternoon only a minute ago.

He's expecting me, but he's clearly got a million other things running in the back of his mind. It doesn't bother me. I'm not worried that he won't be able to concentrate on our dental appointment, because it's him, but I do wonder what those things that are on his mind could be.

He assures me that these things happen, that he has to meet with his wife at a certain time, but that the teeth should reset before then. I'm glad I won't have to embarrass myself in front of the first teacher. My adviser assures me that this happens to students all the time. He asks me to sit in a chair while he builds a tooth out of UV-curable material.

I try to picture what my teeth must be going through today. I still don't understand what's happened or what's going to happen, but I have to make several more appointments before my teeth will be fixed, unfortunately.

He leaves me alone in his apartment while he goes to his appointment with his wife. I'm amazed that he would trust me to stay here with my teeth cure. The sun comes back up, illuminating the room and the wind flutters the papers a bit. I'm able to start looking at them.

INTERPRETATION

Teeth almost always represent knowledge. Loosening teeth represent the need to acquire new ways of chewing into and digesting information. Trains represent journeys. This dream is pretty straight forward. It represents some of my feelings in my journey in education up until we get to the second apartment in which the adviser urgently has to meet his wife.

In the dream, I definitely wasn't under the impression that it was a fantastic event he was looking forward to, although this particular individual is more emotionally-neutral and stable than the one I dreamed about earlier, so it's not certain. But there's still that odd, uncomfortable meeting and the sense that they're both upset and planning something around their wives, and it doesn't match up to anything in real life. So it must be some sort of archetype or role I'm assigning to them. And I don't know how that would fit into my subconscious experience of life at this time. I wonder what archetype for instructors and their spouses I would build for myself would be, and why would I build it that way! I've never read about such a pairing in a dream dictionary before.

One thing that makes me laugh is how my first professor's office hours are in a sewer- a very nice, comfortable, furnished sewer. I think this is a reference to Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The man impresses me so favorably in real life! He has great facility with the exam material and is constantly surprising me with new tidbits of information. He's funny and interesting and well-versed in areas outside of his department. He helps lots of students out with a variety of subjects that have nothing to do with the classes he's teaching. He's not afraid to challenge or call us out on... "things" either, which I like (represented by the hard, rubber shape he wants me to bite into). Sometimes I think he must be psychic.

I've always been equally impressed with the next professor I went to in the dream too, whose similarly orange-painted "office" I attend (orange symbolizes friendship, enthusiasm, and possibly spirituality since some Buddhist monks sport orange uniforms). The moon and the night and the dark all represent more comfortable, cool, "deeper" journeys to me, personally, since I've always been a solid night owl. I'm very interested in one of the subjects he specializes in, so perhaps that's why I'm reading his papers, even when he isn't present. There aren't undergraduate classes in his specialty, so I'm trying to learn more about it on my own.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pogo fight! (dream)


Image by Zach Dischner (A 'Sunny' stretch) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I'm bounding up and down a sunny dirt road on my pogo stick. I must be sailing 50 feet into the air with each spring. The country air is fresh. I can feel the wind blowing through my long, blonde hair. I get more freckles and sunburns every summer I spend working at this camp. But out here, it's so apparent that vanity will turn to dust along with every other part of nature. It's just another beautiful part of life's cycle.

The road I'm bounding down seems to lead to nowhere and it seems to have no end. No cars or trucks are in sight.

Plenty of people from the camp are walking down the road though. They seem "down to earth," dressed for the pleasure of prints and sentiment rather than being driven by the need to manage their image for work or anything but perhaps the neighbors.

Suddenly, a woman in her sixties comes racing diagonally across the dirt road. She starts screaming abuses at another older woman. But this other woman doesn't seem to know who the fighting mad one is! Neither she nor I can see why this is happening.

The screaming woman punches the other one in the face! The other still looks too bewildered to defend herself.

I think they're both hotel guests...

I stop, and in midair, adjusting my trajectory to intercept the two, I think to myself, "Why am I getting involved? Involvement isn't going to benefit me." But it's too late. I can already feel my body reflexively moving to stop the fight. I land my pogo stick exactly between the two and grip the aggressor by the throat, pushing her back just as I sail 50 feet up into the air again- happy and safe- soaring away all the commotion below. The women sound like squirrels swearing at me.

I don't care... I think to myself with a bit more wishfulness than sincerity. I'm a little scared of what they're going to do- both to me and to each other.

Good thing I'm one of the camp managers... 

But I doubt that's going to offer me any protection from a person in that state of arousal.

I pogo back to the dark, wooden cabin, trembling a little, but my mood is mostly unsullied.

I go back to my room and wonder what, if anything, I should do next. Should I call the cops? I don't have a position of real power, but it sounds like it. I should probably tell my own boss, but would I get in trouble for physically intervening?

Then the cat wakes me up. I feed her little kitty treats. I go back to sleep.

I'm checking my cell phone. A map navigation app appears on the screen. Huge blotches of the map and screen are grayed out. A button pops up. It says, "Accept." I have no other options.

I wake up to my cell phone alarm and see the "Cancel," and "Snooze" buttons staring at me and realize I had only dreamed that I woke up and fed the cat earlier.

INTERPRETATION

The first dream seems to be a rehash of a fight I recently saw on the bus. I see a lot of fights. I rarely intervene. I've also been thinking of going "hoochie" blonde and I often worry about my skin. I did cut my hair recently and that gets a strong reaction from people, which is odd to me. You'd think they'd have more interesting things to think about.

The pogo stick consistently seems to symbolize a sense of working to get free in my dreams. The last time I dreamed about one of those, I was in a crowded city under stress. This time, I was sailing and in the country. Maybe I yearn for some open space again. Or maybe I realize that doing so would mean I might have to take on an underpaid, uninteresting job with minimal power and an irascible, often dangerous general public to deal with.

The second dream is telling me to accept that I can't know for certain how the future is going to turn out. That's relevant to what's been on my mind recently; I keep trying to find opportunities for side work or experience related to the career I want to switch to, but I'm not finding many substantial options that seem promising. And I'm worried about a lot of other things. My mother is going to get remarried at some point. I never thought I would have two fathers, but it's almost certainly going to happen. I'm paying for summer classes out of my pocket. That's eating into my formerly full funds. And of course, I'm always worried about my grades and my opportunities for grad school as my GPA inevitably continues to shrink and I see more and more ways I make ridiculous, sloppy mistakes on practice GRE exams.

But as I get older, it seems as though resources and issues simply come and go as the need arises, no matter how much or how little I worry about it. Being a camp manager of some sort seems to indicate a sense of taking charge of problems, regardless of the cause. The fight seemed so nonsensical and I never bothered to get the reasons for it before moving into another dream scenario. That suggests that the reasons for the problem are unimportant in this dream-lesson.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sledding after getting mad at an ex-boss; Kierkegaard. (dream)

By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I'm visiting one of my old jobs. My former boss is obese, uncomfortable just walking to the soda machine a few steps away. He's wearing the primary red shirt and matching, impractical, only-ever-to-be-worn-indoors baseball cap that reeks of chain restaurant.

He's talking and talking about many values he wants to impose on others, and although I think that's fine at first, they seem increasingly narrow-minded. Everything he says suggests that he hasn't understood a diversity of perspectives- most alarmingly, the perspectives of people in his community, like his employees and customers.

I feel words, thoughts and impressions building in me- a ball of energy circulating in a conic vortex near my throat. I don't feel as though I can escape. I have to stand there and listen to this garrulous man. But I see so many holes in the things he wants all the people around him to take as axioms. What angers me is how they're consistently mindsets and beliefs that subtly help to further his own personal gains in small, petty ways at far heavier costs to large groups of other people.

When I get to about 10 or 20 different holes in his assumptions and see that he has no interest in checking those, it starts driving me crazy. I don't even know why he wants me there. It's like I'm supposed to absorb him.

Do restaurants even need to exist?- certainly not as many of them do- nor do they even need to be staffed by people, even if people do need or want a place to gather, eat, relax, study, etc., outside of their homes. But my God, he takes selling junk food at 50% above cost seriously... herding people and bending them to his schedules and expectations. But his rationale starts going down a long path that keeps on branching further and further away from what really matters. He seems to feel entitled to interrupt anyone's lives without appropriate compensation.

He says the first thing that comes to mind, and although it's technically inoffensive, I find it insulting based on the association of ideas he's speaking out of. I don't have to work here or live in this area. I'm just an observer who's going to be here and gone, so I have no stake in this. But after a long time, I finally blurt out: "You should be nicer about what you say. Because people remember some of it- maybe for a long time."

I have painted a very poor word painting, but at the same time, I feel selfishly vindicated. I've said what I felt like saying, even though it was inaccurate, kind of ridiculous and definitely spiteful, failing to actually communicate what was on my mind.

Then I am on an enormous, clear, snowy hill and go sledding with friends and classmates from elementary school. We have a great time!

INTERPRETATION

I wrote a paper dealing with Kierkegaard. This particular type of battle of personalities makes me think of him. And that got me started looking at all kinds of philosophy videos.

I'm thinking about cleaning up and posting some of my old undergraduate papers since they won't be of any use elsewhere in the future. If I do, I'll post them on my Weebly site.

I've also been dreaming about snow non-stop, which is odd since it never snows in California and the Christmas season is far, far away. In this case, the snowy hill symbolizes a feeling of release in the cold- the warmth of friendship in a frozen wasteland.

The dream restaurant looked like a fusion of several restaurants I've worked at before. I'd never had the man in the dream as an employer. He looked and felt like a fusion of several of both my and other people's bosses I've either observed or heard about, in-person, online or by through social media. There were a couple features in the man's face that were similar to a few old boss's, but it was an abstracted role that the dream-person symbolized.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Stars, scales, ratings ...bureaucracies! (rants)

I just turned in a bunch of grades for my classmates. I ended up being the "leader" for a project and I had to fill out an evaluation form about each of them. It feels weird to me to do things like that. It isn't as though I can be certain that I'm offering feedback to people who want me or any else to offer opinions about how to pinpoint ways to improve. They're more like trapped animals. So I feel ambivalent about any automatic feedback system involving a person as a person from person to person: how was your service today, instructor feedback, etc. 

It's potentially useful, but it would be impossible for it to be too informative with prompts like "On a scale of one to five, please rate how positive the __person_as_an_object's____ attitude is." I would never hire someone in the real world based on someone else's assessment of their soft skills unless I was hiring someone who was about to be paid to deal with crazy people- probably people who have very little money to spend in the first place. I wouldn't have a strong incentive to value the units in either position very much. Both seem more disposable than not in most situations since there isn't much money involved and no time-consuming, costly or rarely-completed training is necessary.

Giving feedback is dangerous. I don't want to risk bringing injury upon myself when I get nothing out of it. I need to know someone wants to know my thoughts, not that they are forced and I am an intruder. Besides, I believe that the truth has a time-limit in most cases. The only exception I can think of right now is math or perhaps the scientific method. Every time I've had to grade papers other than my own, I have felt uncomfortable, unless they are people people worth risking offending (or, sometimes, principles worth defending. That's trickier though; I don't know what to think of that). For example, if I'm required to train a new hire, I need to know the person wants guidance. I've been told off by trainees before, and despite knowing that they aren't demonstrating that they can do the job to what I believe the employer's or customer's satisfaction is, there's not much I feel I should do in most cases.

I am never comfortable rating media on a scale or point system either- not even if I love or hate a book, movie, etc. This is sort of a review site (although I haven't been able to read or review nearly as much as I had hoped. I might have to give up on that), but I don't ever relish using stars or scales. I don't know of a better alternative for large-scale products or systems though.

Things like this have always tied into how I feel about the causes of mass violence in our times. I don't see how it's possible for us to eliminate terrorism and school shootings when we pay people low wages, restrict their access to education and job training, make them feel desperate, small, temporary and nasty, all while knowing they have increasing access to increasingly effective weapons or the technology to make them. It only seems more and more inevitable for things like this to crop up the more small larger numbers of people are made to feel.

Again, I don't see a really good alternative. I really enjoy the benefits of stiff competition and I think lot of people do. I may not be able to be a big fish in a little pond, but I am pushed to try harder, and I like the results better than when I don't have more incentives, whether positive or negative. I don't at all see the idea of "cream rising to the top" manifesting; it's more like the relatives, the cheap, and the group-think rise to the top while one or two people who benefit the most go on vacation.

It's very rare for someone to go rogue, so I guess things work out well enough for most people. But it seems to me as though we as a planet are ever-increasingly less able to afford to let people fall through the cracks, emotionally. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I discover that one of my professors is cheating on his wife! (dreams)

See page for image author [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I'm exiting class in a hurry. The halls always fill up to the point that we're all jammed up against each other. We're in my hometown, but we've all transported in a clump from LA. It's abnormally crowded for this place- my hometown, but it's very sparse for SoCal. The transplant reminds me of the times I decided to redecorate my aquariums as a kid. Sometimes I had enough allowance money to buy an extra decoration or a small upgrade in volume and I'd just move around the fish and the majority of the decor to another aquarium; all the furniture and fish were basically the same.

In this case, the people are the same, but the weather is very different. The light is dim, the air is a bluish gray, and it's cold and snowing outside. There are no leggings or skateboards here. The majority of us are dressed in thick jeans, solid boots and poofy jackets.

One of my professors is outside. I arrange a meeting with him in order to get some help with a couple of concepts later that day.

I leave campus and drive to Wal-Mart. I enter through the home and garden section and window shop, dithering about until I feel like going inside. I stamp the remaining snow off my boots, and when I look up, to my surprise, he's there too. He's just a little further down the entrance from me.

I chuckle. If I were in California, there's no way I'd be bumping into him. For one thing, there'd almost certainly be 7 people squished between us- even if he was only 5 feet away.

He puts his arm around the waist of an attractive blonde woman in her late 50's or early 60's.

Awww. 

Wait... I don't remember his wife looking like that...

I pretend I don't see them and turn my back, pretending to look at something on the shelves across from them.

Garden hoses... yes... they're amazing... amazing, amazing, amazing...

I look at garden hoses until, out of the corner of my eye, I can see her leave the store and go back out into the snowy weather. I look up, thinking he must be gone, but he's not. I pick up a bag of flower bulbs to mask my intentions and catch little glimpses of what he's purchasing.

I'm alarmed by what he's buying- especially in combination with the angry, determined expression on his face. He purchases rope, a hatchet, an auger (for drilling holes into the surface of frozen lakes) and some other things I don't stick around to take note of. I don't want to know and I don't want him thinking I know. I slip back out of the double doors as discreetly as possible.

I ponder what he's thinking of as I drive back home. I take a nap and eat a little to recharge.

Very soon, it's time to go back to class. I'm going to have to honor that meeting with him. I really don't feel like it. I have to take my family's motor home in a snow storm, and that's never fun. I get into the hulking vehicle and crawl at least 10 miles under the speed limit up and down hills- always wondering whether or not I'm going to make it- especially not on time.

I get back on campus and to my class. It's dark out and the lighting is yellow.

It's the same professor- standing right there, even though our meeting isn't until later. He's watching for me, and seems pleased that I've arrived on time, even if it's for someone else's class.

So am I!

I've decided that it's none of my business what he has going on in his personal life. I start going to my class and I spot his mistress. She looks extremely unhappy. She pulls him aside. They have a conversation in low, ominous tones.

I bet he's planning to kill her. I bet it's going to be her- not his wife.

INTERPRETATION

Buh hah! I can't imagine this real teacher cheating on his wife. I actually don't know if he's married or not at all, but I assume so based on his texting habits. I might have seen a ring too- I can't remember.

I don't know what this one is all about. In the dream, I'm taking an entire home with me (not all of it, but I could live in it, and I'm also risking losing it in the storm), and I'm layering my past home with my new one (the transplant).

I guess this might relate to how I have struggled, for most of my life, with deciding whether or not to fight back and when to fight back: assertion. Doormat or potentially engage in a power struggle? Tell someone about the hatchet or mind your own business? It seems as though it's one or the other when you aren't dealing with people you like and vice verse (I actually like this teacher in real life, but in the dream, for some reason I really didn't).

*End of the semester update: Hah, there ended up being some things about this instructor's style of relating information that didn't jive with the way I saw things. I might have sensed an agglomeration of issues approaching. Maybe the dream is showing me that I know I have a pattern of ignoring impending issues or not knowing what to do about them or how to prevent them since I'm blending my entire house and two main locations.

I even chose this instructor based off of ratemyprofessor.com and other websites because he had such glowing reviews. I don't even see why I bother trying to strategize based off of online reviews anymore. They're proving themselves to be highly untrustworthy whenever "soft skills" are involved. I have had so many good experiences with persons or institutions who have attracted a lot of flack.

I wonder if I could've done something sooner to ward off the damage to my grades that resulted from the inability to communicate with this person- to look around for more tutoring sessions at more locations much, much sooner, making a more concerted effort to befriend classmates, being more strict with my studying sessions, etc. I hope next semester goes more smoothly all the way to the end instead of just at the beginning.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The glowing, lace-covered ball. (dreams)

Image by Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

DREAM

I am non-corporeal, but I am not omniscient or omnipresent.

I'm watching over a house occupied by a man and a woman working together to understand the properties of a grapefruit-sized, glowing, lace sphere. The ball is on top of a pedestal in the exact center of the room.

The walls of the room warp and undulate. I don't think this couple can see it. Even if they'd grown accustomed to it, they would take note that the curves of the walls are a fluid vortex at certain points. But they enter the swirling areas and exit without noticing.

It's not that I'm seeing things either. Although, like the couple I don't think that this swirling dimension affects me in ways I can understand, I think I just notice it because of how my consciousness is contained in this new "body."

The woman is in her late twenties or early thirties. She watches the man with interest. I suspect that her interest is in him rather than the sphere. Her makeup is done with skill and subtlety. She's wearing a thick, nude, off-the-shoulder lace dress. Her dark blonde hair is in ringlets.

The man is the same age. He's tall and thin. His brown hair has been trimmed into a neat bowl cut. He wears a tuxedo without a bow tie, cufflinks or cumberbund. I'm under the impression that he's a hipster, since I know the time is the 20th or 21st century, but I can't tell for certain what the era is yet, and I don't trust my impressions.

They don't react to me either, so I assume I'm invisible too. I think I'm the only one like me nearby. I can't tell for certain though. I don't know how I could tell if there are any others like me around. This transfer was extremely sudden and I'm still disoriented.

I can move to different locations, but I don't feel any of the constraints of gravity or air resistance. I'm not breathing. I'm not floating. I'm seeing, but I don't have eyes. The light is a little different from what I'm used to. There's an even, incandescent lighting in the room, but the white lights glow brighter than usual. Things that wouldn't ordinarily glow white are glowing.

I go outside and see that the daylight looks fairly normal, but brighter. I go back inside. I can zoom in and out of this house within certain parameters. It's hard for me to understand that I still exist, given this absence of physical markers to define myself, but I know I must. I think of Rene Descartes.

If I stayed this non-corporeal state for a long time, I could pick up a lot of information I never could have before, but I could also never be omniscient. I am greatly constrained by time and place- just a different kind of time and a different kind of place, and I still only have about the same processing power and perceptive abilities. So I'm essentially a ghost, but I have no memory of how I got here. I don't even think I died. Maybe I did, but why would I end up here?

The man moves the ball, in such a way that I wonder if it can levitate on its own or not. It seems light all of a sudden, but trapped in a thick, viscous fluid. I also wonder how much these two know about why this thing behaves the way it does. I don't know who they are or why they're interested. All I know is that they are excited, and that this is a somewhat guarded secret.

Everything is so new and refreshingly disorienting. I zoom in and take a closer look. The lace ball is resting on a clear, plastic pedestal. The material further confirms my suspicions about the time period.

There's a spiral staircase and a couple of other rooms- all of which are warping, unlike the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. I feel that the center of mass of the warping house is always where that lace ball of shifting material determines, no matter what bizarre shape the house takes on. I wonder if they're going to figure it out and how they're going to figure it out since they can't see it.

They don't seem aware that the lace is incidental and that whatever is inside the ball can never physically move too far away from the center of the room. I can feel its inner turbulence. There's a force coming out of it that doesn't feel like anything I experienced in my former body.

The man is able to pick it up to some extent and move it around, but the ball won't go beyond a certain spot. He tugs it one way or another too far and it becomes immobile. He doesn't understand why. I don't either- not substantially. The ball's mobility is unpredictable. I can see its mobility change, but there doesn't seem to be a pattern. The man waits a few hours and finds that he can take the lace ball all the way up the stairs.

Then he really gets excited and starts shouting enthusiastically at the woman. She starts laughing at his giddiness. 

INTERPRETATION

It's spring break! When I go back, my homework is going to be calculating the center of mass for 3-dimensional objects, which reminds me of what I may have been looking for in this dream. I didn't actually know what was going on in the dream- I only had a vague impression, and in real life, I haven't read the lesson, but only listened to a brief lecture about it.

I'm also reading a book for fun for the first time in a couple of months! It's about chaos (nonlinear dynamics). I love it. It briefly discussed a disc of material being a replacement for the standard "point particle" used in physics 1 (classical mechanics) when calculating the gravitational attraction one heavenly body has on another. So this feeds into the image of the warping walls and the sphere which warps the space around it.

When I was about seven or perhaps younger, I remember our class moving from math to art class about once a week. And for several weeks, I would think about how nonsensical math seemed to me. I would listen to the lessons we had about how to draw trees. I would look at all of our pictures of trees and houses and people, and I would compare it with adults' pictures, and I would think to myself... "A tree does not look like a long, straight stick with dozens of smaller, evenly-spaced sticks coming out of it at evenly-spaced points. A face does not have perfectly symmetrical eyes. When we make these snowflakes, they don't look real. A real snowflake is mangled and missing legs and a drawing of a tree looks more real when you gnarl the branches and make them deviate at unpredictable intervals." When I read about chaos... this long-buried memory resurfaces.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Monochromatic noir- strolling in the rain. (dreams)

This image is a publicity shot and is therefore in the public domain.
Publicity still of Humphrey Bogart

DREAM

I bear a striking resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, although I'm not a man. I've even inherited his trench coat. I'm going to an opera with an old friend. We enter the lobby. Triangles splash compass patterns across the walls and ceiling. The opera house was built in the 1800's, but it's been renovated in bright reds and yellows and rich, chocolate browns for the present: the late 1930's.

My friend is gussied up, but she looks tired.

This isn't how I remember her from early childhood, I say to myself. But she just doesn't care as much for opera as I do. 

But deep down inside, I know we're getting older and the cares of life are running us down.

I bring all my homework into the concert. I have to be carrying 20-50 pounds worth of calculus. I do my homework while the soprano on stage sings. I check in with my friend. She seems to be okay with things, generally, and is enjoying herself somewhat, but she mainly seems happy not to be running around feeling like she has to contain a tornado. She's practically falling asleep.

After the show, we meander down that part of the city in the rain. Everything is black and white with vivid highlights in primary colors. She wears a red dress and red lipstick. The color flatters her. I can't remember her wearing it like tonight.

We chat about the old days and how it's hard for her to get out now that she has a baby. I'm glad I have work to do, but it's also hard for me to get out because of it. She gets into a cab and we say goodnight.

I walk around the city a little more, just to get out the jitters from that last high note. A horse-drawn cart clops by. Another old friend pops out. He's wearing an 18th century tweed suit, complete with cape and cane.

I'm surprised! I'm even more surprised that it flatters him! We walk and talk the rest of the way home.

It starts to rain harder. I look back at myself- Humphrey Bogart. That's what I physically see, but I know I'm looking back at this old friend. And in a sudden flash, I know that I am my friend. We've swapped essences and I am in his body looking at me, and I feel the way he feels in my presence. There's no doubt about his feeling of comfort and affection for me. He has a very nice calm compared to the background sensations of my body- or Humphrey Bogart's body. Or my old body- however you'd want to describe it. But I know this feeling my friend has could change, and powerfully. And longer. I respect this difference and enjoy the observation of it. I reenter myself and a serenity passes over me- my favorite flavor of happiness.

INTERPRETATION

I wake up and my kitty is in the crook of my left arm, purring. Her chin is laying on my neck. Rain has a soft, regular rhythm, sort of like a purr. It's so nice to have whatever frequency kitties purr at running through the liquids and wave functions in this burdensome physical form we must be thankful for, maintain and endure.

My body allows me to exist on this plane, but I certainly do have a love/hate relationship with it most of the time. I would prefer to exist as a sentient, peaceful being without material form. I wonder if that's possible and if we're capable of detecting it.

My backpack full of homework has been killing me. The 50-60 pounds of calculus at the opera  I brought out is laughable- I am certain my textbooks and other accoutrements must weigh closer to 100 lbs.

Other influences include how Ilsa is Bogart's old "friend" in Casablanca, and there's a sense of warmth, loyalty and shared memories between Bogart and Captain Renauld at the end. The film was about the French Resistance, we're about to watch a French noir in class, I'm watching an MIT course done by a man with a French accent, and one of my favorite calculus instructors had a French accent.

This was a nice dream to have though because people around here have been driving me crazy lately. Just overhearing them lately has been driving me crazy. I hear the following conversation behind me right now:

"Marilyn Monroe is a world leader, but she shouldn't be! She should be kicked out! There's nothing real about her. She's not a real person. Marilyn Monroe wasn't even her persona. She had lips, a chin job, a nose job... She was so insecure she needed someone to come with her on set to assure her she was a good actress!"

And...

"She told me I had Autism because I wasn't looking her in the eye!"

Buh-hah! I get annoyed when people use Autism or Bipolar or other diagnostic labels as insults. Many of the finest people I know have Autism, Bipolar disorder, etc., and they are aware of and defy the stereotypes quite beautifully too.

I don't think think that people who use psychological terms as insults are aware that anyone can be diagnosed with a mental illness. I mean that literally. A philosophy of unconditional acceptance for human nature is mandatory to effective clinical practice. Psychology is worthless without it. Putting the ideas of  psychology into practice without having ingested ideas like I'm Okay- You're Okay is like trying to do calculus without knowing the unit circle.

I feel that that using psychological jargon in SoCal has become a really trendy thing for people trying to get away with being nasty without getting in trouble for it, or for people who are unusually adverse to feeling confused to quickly end those uncomfortable feelings. In polite society, we know it's morally incorrect to use theories designed to help people to attack them. Psychological ideas should be premise by premise arguments leading up to conclusions which should be able to predict peoples' behavior, if those ideas they are accurate. But person A doesn't necessarily look away from person B during a conversation because person A has Autism.

When I was 17 and started my psychology program, I always wondered how the people in my books came up with what they did, but I believed that they were grown ups in a huge institution with tons of people to help test and refine their ideas, and that I was young and didn't know enough to be able to say they were wrong. Unfortunately, I don't know how I would have known that psychology was a poor career idea for me, personally, without learning a certain amount about it first.

I was thinking about how our interactions with other people are so often done with the goal of inducing an emotion in them. Sometimes, that's great. It's often really nice to try to make people feel happy. But that also causes huge problems when we take that principle and hope to shock, awe or induce fear in others in order to get our own way or to silence people when we don't understand how to articulate our ideas. Those two scenarios are equal opposites, but everything contains its own opposite. So they're the same thing, in some respects. I think that things might work out better in the comments of trending articles, YouTube, etc. if our interactions were driving us towards friendship with each other instead of moments of emotion. But then again... I'm not so sure, because our friends sometimes hold us back from doing what makes us happy or can influence us poorly.

I still can't get the phone company to send me my phone bill to the correct address because some psychology genius in their customer service department is convinced that I have this long-running story about not receiving my bills in order to avoid paying them. Not so! For a while, I did not remember what date, amount or address to mail my checks to and they wouldn't take my card online. And so the infamy of SoCal's holier-than-thou customer service lives on. With a twist.

I miss caring about people. I miss the people I've cared about sincerely and without reservation. It's irritating having to care about people strictly on principle for as long or as often as I've had to these past two years or so. I miss feeling a sense of trust and goodness in another person. I miss feeling that caring can be easy, safe and good.

My usual joy in eavesdropping has been leaving me cold. I'll listen to people's conversations and the snark rises within me. Perhaps that's why I'm dreaming about people and things I've cared about before. It reminds me that this is just a small bubble of all possible experiences.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Jazz and narcolepsy: three dreams influenced by what I've fallen asleep to.

For a class, I listened to a jazz album called The Complete Science Fiction Series- a compilation of two albums put together in 1971 by avant-garde saxophone musician and composer, Ornette Coleman. The full album is available for free listening on YouTube here.

I thought it would be interesting to see whether or not unusual music like this would influence my dreams, so I left the YouTube playlist on shuffle and repeat as I went to sleep.

This is the first track.

I haven't formed a stable opinion about the album yet, but if anyone else has, I'd like to hear about it! Leave a comment, a private message, or send an e-mail.

JAZZ-INFLUENCED DREAM

I'm on a high-speed bullet train, sitting in a spacious dining car booth, watching a woman standing in the aisle. She's looking through the window with her back turned to me. It's the 1930's. A coiffe of her polished, hay-blonde hair peeks out of her wide-brimmed hat. The hat matches her green-blue dress, although it's trimmed with feathers, lace and sprays of pearls, lending a femininity to the crisp lines of her outfit.

The winter landscape streaks by.

Now I'm in a house. It's the kind of house that doesn't want to offend visitors. It has white walls, a preference for khaki, and pastel wallpaper accents underneath matted and framed embroidery and landscape giclees. It's lazy, calm, day, insulated from extreme cold by the snow.

I've been sitting on a window seat, looking outside for several minutes now, allowing my thoughts to dither. Rotund snowflakes fall from the cobalt sky.

It's the Christmas season and I'm enjoying the warm nostalgia in the neighborhood. Friends and neighbors I've known for years in the sleepy cul de sac are milling about, showing off new winter coats, gossiping, throwing snowballs, picking up groceries and... *gasp!* I even catch a couple flirting with each other...

INTERPRETATION OF JAZZ-INFLUENCED DREAMS

These two dreams were influenced more by the last major thing I felt before going to bed than the music. It was the day before Valentine's Day and I thought, I like Valentine's Day. I can see why other people don't, but it's a holiday, and something about repeated celebrations across a large body of people I have connections with creates a pleasant sense of nostalgia. It's not the same as Christmas though. Christmas is a nostalgia-gasm. 

So I suspect that I was secretly yearning for Christmas. However, the train and the 1930's feel was influenced by Cubist and Futurist paintings related to other course material for this class.

AFTER FALLING ASLEEP AT THE COMPUTER

It's night. I enter the same small strip mall I used to enter almost every month for 20 years. I'm annoyed that so little has changed. I walk up and down the same aisles. The stores cycle as I walk. The businesses often aren't the same for five seconds, but the same, uninspired architecture and its peeling, off-white walls remain. I feel contempt for the city for its inefficiency and lack of innovation.

I wander through an old grocery store that's always been attached to a different, much larger mall. It's overcrowded and dirty. I don't think anyone here cleans. I don't buy anything. I move through it in order to go deeper into the mall.

I pass by one of the eternal dollar stores and pop up and drift away in these sorts of malls. This one has been around longer than usual. I enjoy looking for deals on cheap chintz I don't need. It feels satisfying.

I exit and wait for a bus at a corner stop that's nearly buried in the snow. It takes forever to get there, but when it does it's large and sturdy. I enter. It's heated. I enjoy watching the city go by and feeling the warm air blast on every now and then. Everything is coated in white and gray due to the snow, the gray skies and the concrete and metal.

I arrive near the first strip mall again and walk back to the parking lot where my car is. I enter an old, dimly lit bar I used to frequent. Not much has changed. I exit and start walking down those same halls. They turn white and dirty.

I'm in the hall of a horrible grocery store I used to work at. I hate those sorts of places. They aren't bad to shop at from a consumer perspective, but you don't realize the sort of everyday evils people are put through until you look behind the scenes at places that expose minimum-waged workers to the general public. They're sitting ducks.

People sit in break rooms having uninteresting conversations. Bosses monitor silently and fill in reductive, restrictive and inefficiently-designed forms for the business.

The hall changes again and I'm in a warm, beautifully-designed hallway that reminds of the Los Angeles train station. The arches, tiles and incandescent lighting are gothic and art nouveau. I open the door to a cafe to get my homework coffee. I'm immediately hit by a long line going right to the door. The hiss of commercial espresso machines- steam forced into metal-ensconsed milk- is a familiar comfort.

I look to the left and see one of my best friends from high school. She was about 6 years older than me. I forget exactly how much by now. But she looks young- maybe only sixteen! I never knew her then. I was sixteen back then and she was my age now. We have reversed positions.

"Cheryl, what are you doing here?" I asked.

She looks at me, totally unphased, not at all surprised to see me. She seems exhausted. "I decided to move to San Francisco."

"Oh wow- I know you always said you wanted to have a cafe in San Francisco!"

She doesn't pause in her quest to dust the mugs and syrups sitting on the shelves. "Yeah," she says. "I'm finally doing it." There's no excitement in her voice or demeanor.

We catch up a little and I continue to marvel at how young she seems in both appearance and in terms of the life questions she is resolving for herself. It feels extremely bizarre to me. I ask if I can continue to stop by and talk to her in the future.

"Of course!" she says, busily pushing chairs in and fixing up the flowers in their vases on the tables.

INTERPRETATION

I fell asleep while typing a message on Facebook and I must have been thinking about writing to Cheryl. She wrote to me the day after I had this dream.

I often wonder how strong the influence the analytics the internet runs on us is. If you want to try something scary, search for the names of private individuals you know personally under Facebook's "gifs" option in messaging, or see what YouTube thinks about you by seeing how its suggestions change if you leave YouTube on autoplay all day.

I seem to be comparing and contrasting where I was and where I am. When I was good friends with this girl, I was in a very inbetween place in my life- just graduating from high school and having gone into my counseling program- not having a clue as to what I was going to do with the degree, while soaking in all the life challenges she went through as someone just old enough for me to get a good, solid preview of what I could expect to deal with in the next 10 years. I look back on those experiences and consider them invaluable. I am looking at the lives of older people now in order to see how they end up dealing with the challenges of parenthood and whether or not the choices they've made drive them to change careers or to invest more into their careers or to do the same things they've always done (symbolized by the shifting businesses in the same architecture).

I'll probably have to move in the next few years since I know I'm going to grad school. I'm thinking a lot about where I would prefer to live for six years of my life. I will have been in this part of LA County for about that long when I finally graduate with my first fully-accredited degree. A lot of experiences pack themselves into six years, although I'm at a point at which six years seems to fly by very quickly.

I don't understand how so many people go straight from high school into college and into grad school. I wouldn't have had enough experience with how the world really is by doing things that way- not enough to feel satisfied with my long-term career plans. I think they are fortunate in many respects.

I think of how I've burned through a third or so of my life and it amazes me. Was any of this real? What will my experience of life be when I'm 90? Will I retain all my memories? I'm already stunned at how much I retain (and I'm also surprised and dismayed at how this is generally not information of a productive variety).

I never hear anyone exclaim their surprise at how predictable their lives were and how they knew just how things- even the most mundane, technically predictable things- would end up feeling. The feelings that arise out of the inevitable death of a parent or inevitable breakup or birth or career decision always seems to take people by surprise, emotionally. Will there continue to be an "I" to understand that we once existed the way we have, or will everything simply turn off the way a computer does? A computer doesn't dream once it's been shut down. That's the nature of the things Cheryl tends to make me think of. She's a very spiritual, beautiful person.

FALLING ASLEEP AT THE COMPUTER AGAIN

I was editing a couple of personal statements a friend had generously agreed to help me with when I fell asleep mid-keystroke.

I was in a class, looking at one of my professors in the center of the room. It was a new-fangled room that incorporates computer monitors at the front of various pods of desks. The walls and tables and furniture are all covered in dry-erase paint or coated in dry-erase materials, but none of the classes that meet in these rooms take advantage of it. It's a pity! I'd like to scribble all over the walls and the furniture. That was a lot of fun when I was three. The walls definitely seemed to exist in order to be livened up. After all, that's what paper and coloring books were for. My parents didn't seem to want me to take advantage of our blank walls back then, but that made a lot more sense.

The professor starts the lecture by discussing why he believes he is different. An flurry of questions runs through my mind about what would make someone different. While he is explaining, I am talking to myself:

What scale of measurement are we using to justify calling someone different or normal? Why would that scale be valid? Is the statistical average enough to call someone normal? What if the majority had a genetic abnormality? Which would be normal; the people conforming to the standard or the statistic?

What could have someone feeling this way about himself? What would be the effects of someone feeling that way? Have we done anything to encourage this feeling he has about himself? Have I personally done anything to encourage this feeling he has about himself? How does someone else feeling this way about himself make me feel?

What are the moral implications of my knowing that someone feels this way? Is action or inaction the more socially appropriate course of action?

Is this simply a way of communicating that I am not interpreting correctly? Is calling oneself first different then calling oneself weird at length and in public... not actually something that causes this individual distress?

Does he actually believe this? Does he believe this in the way that I believe he is believing this? Do most people feel this way?

Does this person feel this way due to circumstances or is this feeling due to a chemical reaction that would have taken place regardless of the circumstances which create a narrative for the feeling?

If a person speaking this way about himself bothered someone in the classroom, would it mean that self-disclosure in the classroom is wrong? If it's wrong in the classroom, is it always wrong?

Would someone feeling offended about this self-disclosure be wrong if it inhibited authenticity?

I go on and on and on like this for at least an hour while the professor's speech about himself continues. When the speech is over, the class is over, and I wake up to my computer screen. I look in the corner and see that it's 2 AM, and I haven't sent any of my personal statements to my friend!

I think this dream came about due to my looking up someone on campus who studies psychopathy. I was alarmed to see a documentary that featured a building I pass by every day housing unfettered psychopaths. I'm sure the unfettered "psychopath" was an actor for the film featuring the researcher, but it had me thinking! My friend has mentioned that I am interested in "different" people and I think that fueled the flurry of questions in the dream.

So I guess I'm very strongly influenced by what's happening around me while I sleep (or what happened just before I sleep)! That's not too surprising, but I just looked up "oneirology" and it suggests that these are "authentic" dreams and "illusory" dreams. I can't really tell the difference. It seems to me that one is more well-interpreted than the other, that's all. Please let me know if you have ever had an illusory dream! I would love to hear about it!