Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I take on a second job coloring in pictures of Darth Vader in order to take my mind off of my first job. (dream)

Image from


I'm a cop. A murderer is on the loose in my City. It's my job to figure out who did it and who's next.

I have a hunch that the killer is someone close to me. I might just be getting paranoid. It's easy to feel that way when you've seen so many photographed remains of people with two arms, two legs and families like yours. There aren't enough differences in the world to convince me it could never happen to me or the people I care about. The City is big enough to hide in, but small enough for all of us to know each other by a networking distance of no more than five people. Everyone's been affected.

The culprit is male. He has to be at least 6 ft tall in order to execute the crimes he has with the techniques he's used on the bodies. There's an element of craving in the stabbings- an envy for the kind of intimacy most people achieve through legal means.

I haven't landed him, so I haven't been paid yet. I'll need a second job until I can solve the case. I'm reluctant to take another one on since this one is so important, but I'm worried enough about my finances and creature comforts to slink back to my old job and ask if I can have it back, temporarily.

I'm lucky. As I walk through the double doors up to the counter, I find the right person- someone who knows how to reach the big boss.

A couple of minutes later, the big boss comes through the doors to see me in person. I'm surprised at how happy he is to see me and to have me working for him again. He's willing to work around my schedule and give me as many or as few hours as necessary to stave off the debt collectors. I need to spend the bulk of my day reading for this case and developing the tools I need to become a more effective investigator. There's no confusion between us about where my priorities lie. He's okay with that. After all, we both know it's a very simple job as far as jobs go... and I work cheap, and we both know it.

I'm a meat machine doing simple tasks and holding people's hands. My mind is allowed to wander. After a couple weeks of this, I look back at what I've done during this absent-mindedness. I've drawn a little, but I've also spent a day or so coloring a page of Darth Vader climbing a ladder on a hill. And the ladder is leaning against a star at night.

Roseart crayons. I like that brand. I colored in that African landscape with Roseart crayons when I was 5, and the results were nice. 

I haven't changed much. I still feel a compulsive need to color boldly within the lines when I'm doing it for someone else. Even pressure, repeated layers of color bringing about higher or lower intensities (my dad brought that to my attention when I was about four) and realistic, symbolic color. Darth Vader is black. The wooden ladder is brown. The night sky is navy blue. That is that. There's no question about the inappropriateness of coloring Darth Vader orange or the stars black.

I eat some of the kids' snacks and I watch them run around the lobby at work, playing tag. I look up now and then to keep making sure they don't get into trouble. Aside from that, my mind is free to consider what the killer is doing... how he's doing it... why he's doing it... who he is and when it's going to happen again.


Hmmm! A hard-boiled detective coloring and babysitting and thinking while all the action is off-screen. I'm not sure this would make a very good treatment for a screenplay. Fortunately, dreams are not concerned with external conformity. Dreams are one of the few places left to be free without having to cut oneself off from the world and its material resources. They form one of the cores of life's pleasures. Career counselors always ask, "What do you enjoy doing on a day to day basis?" If I had things my way, I would dream, wake up, write it down, then roll over and dream again- at least until I ran out of material. I suppose I would, eventually, but we'll never know.

That said, I'm building up to a major turning point. Changing my location and then my educational and career goals has fundamentally changed many of my perspectives. This is reflected by the big case I have to figure out and the fact that I feel as though I need to take a break to stop, watch "kids," and color in the lines. College is often about coloring in the lines, and the children I watch playing at work symbolize my desire to watch how this subculture in California operates. The "kids" I'm observing are the ones having more fun at work than me, suggestive of watching the paths of the freshmen and sophomores here- although this fun derived from schooling definitely does not reflect all the students I've observed. I am behind the counter struggling to figure something out without making much progress, which suggests a sense of separation.

I'm not sure why Darth Vader or why he's leaning against a star. I don't know what he was doing up there. It was a very calm and happy picture. He was happy. I was happy. He was collecting stars like he was picking berries. Perhaps the act of coloring represents a need for more diffuse rather than focused thinking when trying to tackle problems I find difficult. In A Mind for Numbers, I'm reading about how task switching helps to encourage diffuse thinking, which needs to alternate between sessions of focused thinking in order to problem solve effectively.

Also, Vader represents a traditional sense of "evil," which I suppose I have always struggled to comprehend, as someone raised in a religious culture, though I can't say I believe in an objective, real evil. I view it as a cluster of thoughts and feelings we fear about ourselves most of the time. The average person expresses it in fiction- watching or making myths like Star Wars. But other times, as in the case of serial killing, yes, we feel a level of outrage at how much arbitrary pain one of us has put another through, that evil, known to us only by a subjective, deeply personal feeling, feels as though it must exist.

I don't know why Vader and the serial killer are present, aside from the fact that most dreams will tend to extrapolate to negative possibilities. *shrug* Why not Vader. I saw him at the bus stop outside this workplace once. He was cool. He even came in and did a lightsaber demonstration for a birthday party. The dream might be recalling that from years ago! Maybe I wouldn't run out of dream material if I just slept all day for the next 50 years.