Friday, January 16, 2004

When All Else Fails

What can I do to entertain you? How can I enlighten and fascinate you? Shall I do a little dance? Recite a little poem? Share my hopes and dreams?

Well, if I did a dance, you couldn't see me... I lack that technology (but I got up and did an abbreviated Charleston, anyway, just for you). I don't know any poems, really, only bits and pieces of them ('Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe... Tyger, tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry... In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately pleasure dome decree, Where Alph, the sacred river ran, Through caverns measureless to man, Down to a sunless sea...). I don't really have any hopes; today is quite enough to be thinking about, without trying to formulate what it is that I really want in this world (I have everything I really need, and all my parts work, what more can a girl ask from life? I also have a tiara, a thirty-four waist, and really cute black dress shoes...).

I do dream a bit, though.

Caroline and I saw Big Fish on Wednesday, and absolutely loved it! It was so much fun, a beautiful story, great cinematography, wonderful writing, all of the wonderful Tim Burton whimsy with none of the usual counterbalancing darkness, Billy Crudup and Ewan McGregor to drool over, Jessica Lange and Albert Finney to admire... and an ending that had the both of us crying like little girls for a good ten minutes. We jointly recommend the film, but caution against trying to make too much sense of the narrative. The best way to approach the film is not with just a suspension of disbelief but with an entire expulsion of disbelief... it will all make perfect sense by the end, so worrying about it in the beginning is just wasteful.

Afterward we repaired to the Asqew Grill (fine dining on a stick!) for dinner. Over orders of basil lamb with garlic mashed potatoes and Italian sausage with polenta Marinara, we talked about dreams. Caroline had just had a dream about being a contestant in one of those dating reality shows, but in this one it was a sort of free-for-all where a bunch of women were introduced into a room full of Slavic youths who were looking for American brides. Most of the boys were of the Bel Ami Czech type, but this one really tall and not terribly lovely blond boy (Carlone doesn't care for tall blonds, preferring the black-hair-and-blue-eyes combination on girlish youths) claimed Caroline for his own; while Caroline was filling out the necessary paperwork with INS, she cleverly substituted the name of another boy she fancied for the boy who fancied her, and ended up actually marrying him before she left the room.

The reason Caroline related this dream is because about halfway through she woke up and had to go to the bathroom... but she was so interested in what was going on, she wanted desperately to return to the dream. And so after being awake for about fifteen minutes, she went right back to sleep and picked up the narrative exactly where she left off. She had never been able to do this before and was very pleased.

This led me to tell of a dream I recently had, the first time I ever died in a dream. I was a mobster of some sort, and I was shooting at this other mobster guy in a large house or hotel. I had this ridiculous gun with unlimited but very weak and tiny bullets, and he had a shotgun with only one very powerful bullet. So I was trying to kill him before he could get that one shot off, and I must have emptied a hundred or so rounds into him and I knew he was dying, but he was dying too slowly... so instead of wasting any more bullets I just gave up and tried to hide until he finally dropped dead. I was hiding behind a bed in this really quite attractive red-and-black laquered Art Deco bedroom (paging Doctor Freud, paging Doctor Freud), and the man I was trying to kill (with whom, incidentally, I was in love, but he obviously belonged to a rival gang) used his one shot and hit the bed behind which I was crouching. Well, I of course thought he'd missed me, and so sat up and aimed at him again with my silly little gun. "You realize I got you, don't you?" he asked as I emptied a couple more rounds into his neck, "through the mattress, right on top of your head."

It was the most peaceful feeling, dying in a dream. I could feel there was a great bleeding hole in my head, it didn't hurt at all, but I knew that you can't live with a shotgun wound in the top of the head; suddenly it all seemed so silly and meaningless to have been involved in all this struggle and killing. Nothing mattered, and it was wonderfully calming. So this man I killed and who killed me lay down with me on the floor, and we died in each other's arms, cuddled together as a couple might cuddle together on a sofa to watch television, and the last thought I had as I drifted into black oblivion was "This is nice." Then I woke up.

Caroline was interested that I'd had a dying dream for the first time, though she'd had them ever since she was little... but her dying dreams were always scary and painful. I related that I'd never felt pain in a dream, though I had felt fear of pain before. Mostly my nightmares were about betrayal and powerlessness. But dreams about death have always been very peaceful and calm.

As I was telling Caroline about the dream, though, I remembered a dream I had some months ago (I think I wrote about it here) where I killed a man and then made love to him as he was dying. This had been another first... I almost never have sex in my dreams, and I had certainly never killed anyone before, so it was very disturbing to me... especially since I remembered it so clearly, the beauty of his naked body and the terrible waste of his death, the texture of his skin under my mouth, the size of his penis, the softness of his mouth, my power over him. I've been afraid to look up the possible meanings of these dreams.

Anyway, we continued comparing our dream habits: Caroline's dreams tend to have a logical narrative thread, where mine usually meander all over the place and don't make any sense; Caroline feels sensations in her dreams, pain or cold or flavors or what-have-you, where I tend to register sensations only intellectually, knowing that I just felt or tasted when I didn't actually experience the sensation itself; Caroline often leaves her body in dreams, and watches the action as if it were on television, but she is never anyone besides herself, where I often change characters and viewpoints in my dreams, become other people, but never see the action from any perspective but a human one; and death is a common terror in Caroline's dreams, where I dream of it terribly seldom and then only recently, but it was always rather pleasant.

I have often considered studying dreams as a hobby, but it seems to murky and odd a field of study. Most of the dream books I've read for interpreting dreams have seemed overly mystical and silly, fortune-telling books as vague as Tarot for Dummies or the horoscopes printed in the comics pages. And then there is this reticence about knowing too much about my own subconscious... perhaps I fear finding out for sure that I'm really crazy, or at least a bigger psychological mess than I already suspect.

So anyway... there are some dreams of mine, for your entertainment and edification, as well as a couple of Caroline's thrown in as a bonus. Hopefully in the near future I will be able to come up with something a little more riveting to offer you. I've been having difficulty writing lately, particularly a difficulty thinking of things to write about, and I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps it's because I'm avoiding writing something that is taking up all the space in my brain? Perhaps, perhaps.

Pleasant dreams to you, and to me, and to this guy...

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