Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Two more dreams: The Presentation and The Prison

I had a strangely detailed dream Tuesday morning. I had another Wednesday morning. I want to preserve them.

In Tuesday's dream, I had been asked by a friend to give a brief and humorous presentation on the topic of...masturbation. It would be done as a slide show, and was to last about ten minutes. I decided my presentation would cover a broad history of the topic, mentioning The Sin of Onan (who "spilled his seed on the ground" rather than have intercourse with his own daughters, as God had commanded), masturbation celebrated in music ("She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper, "I Touch Myself" by the DiVinyls), and famous masturbators who had gotten caught in the act (Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens, who was arrested in 1991 for masturbating in a porn movie theater, and, in a nod to current events, political commentator Jeffrey Toobin, who had been caught earlier that day masturbating on a Zoom call during a simulation of the upcoming Presidential election.)

That was the plan, anyway. In practice I never got around to preparing any of this, and now it was the day of the presentation.

The presentation would be in the second floor of The Gallery, a building that no longer exists on the campus of the University of Scranton. In the mid-to-late 80s, The Gallery was an old Chemistry building repurposed as offices, some classroom space, and a large study lounge that occupied the second floor of the building. The lounge was also the site of the art gallery that gave the building its name. I was there only a few times. I remember the large windows that were treated with an energy-saving film that reflected sunlight during the day, but reflected internal light at night. In the dream I needed to have some of these windows removed. I brought in a crew and a crane and we carefully chiseled out a bank of windows and removed them, only to discover that we had accidentally removed a built-in large screen TV that I planed to use for my presentation. We decided to clean the TV - it hadn't been cleaned in over a decade - and reinstall it.

I awoke realizing that the amount of mental work I had done in the dream would have allowed me to actually create this presentation with just a little more effort.

This morning's dream was a lot more serious. I had been arrested as a political dissident in a society slightly more authoritarian than our own. I was imprisoned in a large, labyrinthine prison in the wilderness outside of town. I was not yet being subject to punishment or re-education, and may have been awaiting trial.I managed to slip out of my cell and, with the aid of others, was able to find a way out, a sort of broad water outlet like the overflow of an infinity pool, that formed a small waterfall down the side of the building and outside. As is often the case in my dreams, it was a very tight fit. We had to remove our bulky jackets to get out. (Otherwise our prison garb was all-gray, much like the stuff worn by Kirk and Spock when they were prisoners on the Roman planet in Star Trek.)

I was quickly recaptured and put back in prison with no known consequences. I immediately set out to escape again. This time I was accompanied by Lo, who I had known in real life several years ago. When we got to the escape point I decided I would not try to squeeze through the tight opening again, and decided instead to walk through the lobby and out the front door, after announcing my intentions to the desk guard. I was seized and once again recaptured.

This time I was to be taken for what I assumed would be psychological torture. Among the people assigned to me was a young, evil, clean-cut, 1960's version of Chaz, the now-deceased leader of the writing group Lo and I had belonged to. He was stern but friendly to me in the manner of O'Brien in 1984. He told me about writing he had done that I had never known about, including some writing for science-fiction comic books in the 1960's. He opened a locker and let me see a few. He told me that, when all this was over he wanted me to organize and curate all of his writings for eventual publication. I was flattered by this offer, and some of the other prison officials expressed jealousy.

Lo's mother was summoned, apparently played by Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, but with long, curly, unkempt, black-and-gray hair, looking much like Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter movies. She was there to be interrogated and, apparently, punished in her daughter's place.

I don't remember much other than that. Just a feeling of everlasting hopelessness, a feeling that others would suffer punishments, sometimes for things I had done, but I would be OK as long as I played along. Overall, a very bleak and disturbing dream.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Dream: Back to Work

Someone posted a question on Twitter the other day: Has anyone been having especially weird dreams lately?

It's a weird time in America. Deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise. Donald Trump, who somehow won the electoral college in 2016 and was installed as president, has managed, after considerable effort, to contract the virus, and while he received levels of treatment unavailable to us peasants, it is likely he is still infected - and he insists on having in-person campaign events, including one yesterday at the White House. (2000 were invited. About 400 showed up. Word is many of those who showed up were paid to do so.) Trump is trying to push through hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, the ultra-conservative activist judge (with three years experience on the bench) he nominated to fill the Supreme Court seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just days after Ginsburg's death and less than two months before the election. Right-wing terrorists in Michigan have been arrested for plotting to abduct Governor Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the state government through armed violent insurrection. Huge swaths of the west coast are still on fire. We've run out of letters in the alphabet for hurricanes in the Atlantic, and Louisiana is currently dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Delta. Less than four weeks to the election, Luzerne County's mail-in ballots were (allegedly) just sent out on Friday from a facility in Akron, Ohio.

I'm still working from home, as I have been since March. My organization is taking this disease seriously, but there are concerns that the top management of our parent company may issue a business-as-usual order and call us back to the building at any time. And that's what my dream was about.

It didn't start off like that. Or maybe it did. It started off with me going to visit my cousin a block away, something I haven't done since the disease took hold in this area. While in real life she is holding a book for me that she acquired from the books-for-sale shelves at the library where she works, in the dream I think I was going up to pick up some plants. I got them from her father, who has been dead for fifteen years, and we spoke briefly, possibly about me going back to work.

Next thing I knew I was there, standing in line waiting to go back into the building for the first time in ages. (In reality I've been there two or three times since we bugged out.) I don't remember the process of getting inside, but I do recall that once inside I realized I wasn't wearing my ID - it was in my pocket. The building I went into wasn't the Kafkaesque office building that I actually work in, but seemed to be the nightmarishly complex factory building I last worked at in 2012 - and which was demolished earlier this year. I took a wrong turn almost immediately and realized I was lost. Looking down, I also realized I was barefoot, a startling and very odd detail.

I wandered the building for a very long time, well past my starting time, past areas where things that I couldn't comprehend were going on. (I am suddenly remembering that I have had several other dreams in a similar factory setting.) I finally found some people I could talk to and asked about directions to my work area. They tried to help me, but I wound up getting lost again, and at one point I stopped to scratch the belly of a large white wolf-dog that was casually stretched against a wall. Eventually I found my way to a security desk, and they had a helpful YOU ARE HERE map posted above their desk. I worked out that I was on the opposite end of the building from the area where I was supposed to be, an area marked SUTTON COMPLEX. I woke up wanting to look up where that name might have come from. 

Not pictured: The map from my dream

The facility in Olyphant, PA known as Specialty Records, WEA Manufacturing, CINRAM, and finally Technicolor. I worked here from 1992 - 2007 and again from 2007 - 2012. Technicolor closed down in 2018, and the place was finally demolished in June 2020. Fun fact: for much of the time I was there, my emergency evacuation spot was "the big oil tank in back," top center in picture - one of many places I would not want to be in the event of an emergency.
As far as dreams go, this isn't even in the top ten for weirdness. It seems like a variation of the standard "can't find my class" / "can't find the room for the final for the class I forgot to go to all semester" dream. The "barefoot" detail was something I've never had before.

(...I just remembered I had another dream a while ago, about being summoned back to Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences as an adult. While I had a hard time finding the classroom and got there late, I wasn't the last one to show up, and I quickly relaxed when I realized that this was a program solely focused on learning about cutting-edge science, in a non-competitive, ungraded environment. I meant to write about that, but never did.)

Note 1: Getting lost in the bowels of a building is something I'm familiar with in real life.

Note 2: There was apparently a sequence in this dream where I attempted to make eggs for breakfast and discovered all of our eggs were broken. Some had fractured shells, others were completely shattered, bits of shell floating in raw eggs in the egg keeper. I was pretty upset about this, and was relieved to see that in reality our egg supply is intact.