Uh oh, I think I’m stressed out about something. Take a look at these dreams I had last night:
White Rabbit (“I’m late, I’m late!”)
I was alone in my apartment, and I had to get across the bay to a dance class in San Francisco. Erik was going to meet me in the city. I dressed in a hurry, but didn’t have time for breakfast; luckily, I found a pack of those peanut butter cheese crackers in the car, and it was bigger than usual and had 23 grams of protein. But Erik also expected me to bring breakfast for him, so I tried to stop someplace along the way. Traffic was terrible and it was hard to merge, so there weren’t many options. I called Erik while I was driving, to ask if he minded if I didn’t get him anything, but he said irritatedly that he did mind and he really needed some food. I finally pulled into what looked like an office building, and was shocked to find plenty of parking. This can’t be free, I thought, and I tried to pull up to the ticket booth, but the man inside just stared at me. So I parked and rushed into the elevator.
The elevator was filled with friendly young Asian women. One of them asked, “Going up?” and when I nodded, she pressed the one button, which said “1” and had a star by it. I had thought we were already on the first floor, so I was confused, but she looked like she worked there and knew what she was doing. The elevator did indeed go up. But it then came back down again.
“Oh,” she said, “do you not have a parking permit?” I said no. “In that case you can’t access any of the higher floors.”
One of the other women jumped in. “If you really need to come up, you can give the parking guy $58, or if you’re sure you won’t get in an accident later, you can give him your car registration, and he’ll give it back to you after you’ve gone across the bridge and come back.”
This sounded like a horrible deal, and I was already late, so I just left. I started to drive across the Bay Bridge but realized I was almost out of gas. I spotted a Shell station on the bridge and was about to pull in, when I noticed their gas was $7.99 a gallon! So I pulled back out again, but regretted it as soon as I did, realizing gas was bound to be expensive on the bridge, and I really was in danger of running out. A little while later I noticed another Shell station, and this one was charging $11.99. Figuring it was only going to get worse further along the bridge, I pulled in.
I ran into the convenience store, thinking I could also buy some food for Erik while I was there, but all those hot-food things (like the nachos and hot dogs) were empty. There was a bored-looking blonde woman sitting behind the register; she did not acknowledge me. Then I noticed a gas pump inside the store. “Oh yes,” I thought, “I need gas.” I pulled out a porcelain soup bowl and started to fill it with gas. Naturally, the bowl was so shallow, after the gas went in it just shot right up the other side, splattering everything. I had gasoline on my hands and clothes, and it was all over the counters in the store. The woman came over and said, “Not like that,” and took the pump outside (it had a very long hose) and started pumping the gas into my car the normal way. I felt stupid for not realizing I didn’t need to use the bowl.
I looked at my watch and realized I was almost certain to be late, but since there was a slim chance of getting to the class on time, I still had to try. I looked outside and the woman was still filling my car.
Erik, Al and I were hanging out in a suburban house with two little boys and their mothers. It was the younger boy’s birthday, so there was a chocolate-frosted cake on the dining table with special candles that spelled out “J O L,” which meant “joy” in their language. The mothers were outside, setting up for the party, and the boys were inside. The older boy ran into the dining room with a dessert plate, grabbed a hunk out of the cake, and ran off with it, whooping. The younger boy said, “It’s my birthday, I can do it too.” He picked up the J candle, which was blue, and used the hook of the J to carefully scoop out a little bit of cake. But before he could eat it, the older boy began yelling, “Outside! Outside!”
We ran to the window and saw first: one of the mothers lying face down in the grass, not moving. Then we looked to the other side of the yard and saw the other mother also slumped face down over the picnic table, also not moving. We raced outside and Al began doing CPR on the first mom, while Erik and I ran over to the one at the table. She was breathing shallowly and making an indistinct “ehhhhhhhh” noise; her eyes were unfocused and she did not register our presence. I gestured at Erik and he began pouring water over her face. I picked up the lady’s cell phone and dialed 911. While it rang, I looked up, and saw Al pouring water over the other mom’s face.
Mommy picked up. “Is that house ready for sale? You know we have to get it on the market very soon; these people are depending on us.”
I paced around the house. Somehow I figured 911 was still listening even if Mommy was talking to me, and I gasped, “Please send help! Two women are unconscious here.”
While I was waiting for a response, I heard a knock at the front door. I went to it and tried to look out, but the peephole was obscured. Then I realized the house was supposed to be on the market and these might be realtors. I went into the living room and sat down, not knowing what to do.
While I was supposed to be at the zoo with the family, I ended up in a gigantic room filled with all kinds of machinery. The woman in charge challenged me to put the machines in order. I looked around and saw various pieces all over the floor and shoved into, hung onto, or placed atop other machines. All these pieces looked like they would snap easily into place in their respective machines, so I thought it looked like a fun quest. I told the woman I would do it, and I started picking up pieces and fitting them into machines.
I did this for a while, and it was kind of fun. I’ve always liked putting puzzles together. But pretty soon I realized the room was so vast and the machinery so complicated, I might be doing this forever. At one point I spotted a bullet covered in brightly colored enamel (like a Le Creuset pot!); not knowing what to do with it, I set it aside.
After a time, I found a machine with a hole in it. I thought the bullet might be intended to go in there. Before I could put it in there, the woman reappeared, and informed me that many of the machines were intended to shoot out bullets.
“You have to time it right,” she said. “All the machines in this room work together in a precise balance. If you do not insert the bullets at the right moment, they will shoot out indiscriminately, instead of at the moment they were meant to. And you will not know when they will emerge, or in what direction.”
I then realized I was trapped in a prison of mythological proportions. I could never figure out how all these machines worked, even individually; I would never ever be capable of discovering how they worked together. If I inserted the bullets, they might shoot me or someone else. I would never be allowed to leave.
At this point I realized my family was expecting a video communication from me, to tell them how things were going at the zoo. I looked around and there was a kiosk for sending such messages. I opened up a new message and saw that I could put in a “zoo” background so it would look like I was there. I started to do this and was busily inventing things I might see at the zoo so I could tell them anecdotes (“oh, there’s a man over there with his baby, looking at the monkeys! The baby’s so cute”), when Shra came in and saw me. I was very annoyed to see her in this place.
These dreams are as crazy as my usual, but they all have something in common. It sounds like I’m feeling some time pressure, doesn’t it?!
Time, money, and family pressure it seems. Hope your day goes well so you can forget about these scary dreams! 😐
Thank you. 🙂 After I wrote this entry I made a big list of everything that’s making me feel pressured — EVERYTHING, even the things that are so senseless that I was embarrassed to write them down in my private journal — and that helped. I find it always helps to get specific about my anxieties; generalized stress is worse than actually knowing what the monster is. 🙂