brothercyst: THE DREAMS

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


God, they're so fucking trite sometimes. I feel lame when I have adolescent wish-fulfillment dreams. Last night I dreamed some nonsense about wandering around the shopping center in the town where I grew up. I was going from store to store, buying things, occasionally shoplifting. A girl who I used to like back in high school--nine years ago, Jesus, I'm twenty-six--was riding around on a bicycle, saying flirtatious things whenever she passed. (She never said anything flirtatious to me in high school.) Her skirt was black, filmy, and translucent, revealing immodest underwear. Honestly, grow up, subconscious.

I prefer dreams that take me to incomprehensibly mutated versions of my life, like this water tiger dream or the crawlspace dreams or the museum toad dream or the vibrating presence one or that thing from the other day. Also acceptable are nightmares that get my blood pumping. When I was younger I used to have those all the time. Once when I was nine or ten or so, I had a dream about a person hung from a wall, being shot repeatedly by a torture/execution squad and vomiting all over himself while being shot. The dream was so vivid, and the sense of horror and humiliation so visceral, that for three days afterward I was incredibly well-behaved because I believed--actually believed on some level--that the dream was a warning or premonition of some kind, and that if I was bad, my parents would arrange to have this done to me. I had a similar dream around the same age where some version of my parents let alligators in a nature preserve tear my stomach open. (My parents are very nice people and were never cruel to me.) It's been a long time, though, since I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart thudding and the "real" memory of some awful dream clinging to me. I do like when bad dreams happen and I wake up and realize they're not real.

I remember once in college dreaming that I had lost one of my arms and the dread of knowing that I would now live as an amputee for the rest of my life. Waking up, I was overcome with such a sense of relief that I was almost euphoric.

Another time, in college, I dreamed that my roommate and I were killing people with a machine gun as they came running out of military barracks. (These kinds of dreams are not normal for me--which is one reason I remember them so vividly.) We killed a lot of people. Then we were arrested, and as the handcuffs were slapped on me, I woke up. You know how the dream consciousness carries over to the waking one for a moment? My first, exhilarating thought was, "Whoa... I just got away with murder."

There was also a time period when I regularly had dreams about being put in jail, usually in solitary confinement, with no shoes. I was never able to identify the cause of those dreams.

Most unpleasant are good dreams involving success, riches, or sudden good fortune. Then I wake up and realize that, no, I didn't find hundreds of shining gold doubloons at the bottom of the pool.

Do other people remember their dreams clearly? Do you? Do you have mundane dreams? Horror dreams? Are you yourself in dreams, a version of yourself, or someone else entirely? Do you do things in your dreams that you would abhor in real life? Do you tend to have wish fulfillment dreams, or horror dreams?


Eric Shonkwiler said...

The most common dreams for me of the past five years or so all involve me being mutilated in some way. Someone staples my arms a hundred times or I get slivers of blue glass jammed into my hands.

The second most common involve me beating the hell out of people. There was a time or two I killed them and the police came for me, and the dread that melted away when woke up was wonderful.

vorgefuehl said...

the thing that bugs me about my dreams is that they're supposed to be taking place in locations that I know well - my home or elementary school or work or something - but the location is never right, it never looks like it's supposed to. I think this might be because the part of the brain that stores memory of location is not accessible to whatever's active during dreaming. but it ends up creating this whole wizard-of-oz motif of not being able to go home which gets overlaid and emphasized.

Jon Cann said...

I used to have vivid dreams a lot more often than I do now, possibly because I sleep really badly these days. Some were mundane, others were sad, a lot were romantic, and then there were my few recurring nightmares. Most often/recently these took the form of some violent intruder chasing me through my house trying to stab me, and I would narrowly evade them until I got backed into a corner. Usually, my reaction to waking up after one of these is to immediately rewrite the ending so that I survive. There's always an obvious escape route that my dream-self seems to have forgotten.

I understand that there's some relationship between dreaming and ambient heat. This may be why I always, always have crazy dreams when I get sunburned (regardless of how badly I sleep).

Anonymous said...

I dream huge cinematic dreams but no matter what the subject matter someone usually insults me. Like the other night when I-a man-- was giving Ashton Kutcher gentle kisses while he was shooting up heroin and thus didn't care and I was making up Philip Seymour Hoffman's bed which had a giant wet stain in the middle of it--Natalie Portman had to keep insulting the way I looked. It always happens. I think I might have low self esteem.

N A said...

Good dreams, everyone. I didn't know the ambient heat thing.

I've always heard that if you eat a lot before you go to bed, you're more likely to have vivid or intense dreams. I sometimes like to eat a large cheesesteak before I go to sleep.

Little Miss Nomad said...

I had horrible night terrors when I was young and couldn't sleep in a room alone until I was 14. Thankfully, that's subsided, but I have recurring dreams about taking unsafe elevators to the tops of towers, rarely taller than Harkness, though once it was a skyscraper, that are careening and are ready to fall over at any moment. Weirdly, last night, I had it again--only this time, the tower did fall over, but it was a shorter one and landed lightly and no one died or appeared very injured. Hopefully, now I can go back to my car accident/airport without my shoes or passport dreams...