IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Wake Up Screaming

     Last night around 3:30 I was having a nightmare so bad I started screaming FULL-VOLUME, while still sound asleep, and my husband had to shake me awake. As you would expect, he was pretty freaked out, and said of all the times I've started screaming in my sleep, this was definitely the worst and loudest. He was very concerned, and I had to reassure him that I was totally fine.
     It was weird, because usually I wake MYSELF up with the dream-screaming, and it's usually sort of "sub-volume," which is still disturbing enough. But this time I could tell I was full-out screaming, and yet I wasn't waking up. It was like I was stuck in the nightmare.
     It was disorienting and freaky. The emotion in the nightmare was total anguish, not fear, which made it even worse. It's harder to come down from anguish, than from fear. Don't you think?
     When I was coherent enough to glance at the clock, it was exactly 3:33, and if you follow Satan on Twitter, you'll know 3:33 a.m. is considered the "Devil's Hour," by various different creepy interpretations. So I was like, "Shit!" (Because I saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and I know how that all played out.)
     As I lay there panting and waiting for my pulse to stop racing, I looked over at Anthony, who was lying next to me, wide-eyed, with one hand on my shoulder, and thought, "Wow, I am SUCH a catch!"
     Then I got a case of the giggles, and had to explain myself. What a freak. I kept picturing myself lying there in bed SCREAMING, and poor Anthony panicking and thinking WTF, and I couldn't stop laughing. So I had to get up and get a drink of water and read some comics for a while.
     I'm a very happy person by day! I don't know why I'm such a freak in Dreamland.
(P.S.- I'm kidding about Satan on Twitter. I mean, maybe he does have an account, but I don't follow him, and I have no idea if he's divulged anything about 3:33 a.m.)

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Puppets, Aliens, Jan Brady, Bjork, and Separation Anxiety

     Last night I struggled to keep my head above a stew of disorienting dreams that all bled into each other. I'm not sure of the order of these things, but here are the various elements:

     I was hanging out with Jan Brady, and we were looking through a bunch of old photos of us together as children, at birthday parties and such. The photos were obviously from the 70s. They were square, and had that distinctive coloring to them. I wasn't sure if Jan was actually Jan Brady, or just a family member or friend who looked a lot like her, and I didn't want to offend her by the comparison, and not knowing if she really WAS Jan Brady or not.

     Bjork (or possibly Mimi, a longtime library friend I met when she was in charge of the children's room at the Santa Ana Public Library) and I were receiving help from eerie yet beneficent aliens in order to operate a large machine. The machine (like the photos of Jan and me) looked distinctly 70s-era. It was that gross tan/beige/Band-Aid color, very large and blocky, with reels and slots and lots of buttons. It also had color ink cartridges. Bjork (or Mimi) and I were trying to thread long strips of film through it, but we couldn't figure out which slots or trays to put it in.
     I don't know what the purpose of this machine was. It was all very mysterious and exciting. But the aliens' instructions were too complicated and confusing, and we just couldn't figure it out. My dad was hanging out nearby in another room, and wandered by to say, "Wow. It's amazing that even WITH alien assistance, that thing is still too complex to figure out."

The one in the dream looked kind of like this.

     Anthony and I were with a big group of friends up in L.A. at some sort of art/performance event. Lots of people performing one after the other. Everyone there was actually performing briefly at some point, even Anthony and me. There was an organized line-up, with Anthony and me following Matt and the rest of our group of friends. Anthony was last, so as I followed Matt into the performance area, Anthony was in back and I lost sight of him.
     I was involved with these big elaborate European marionettes made of papier mache. In the back of the venue there were shelves full of them, and they were totally cool. One of them was even a Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus. I discovered that they had hinged mouths, and their bodies unscrewed at the waist line so you could remove the lower half and put your hand up into the torso in order to work levers that opened and closed the mouth. The mouth made clicking noises that fascinated me.
     I guess it was designed with the detachable lower half so that you could convert the marionette into a hand puppet. The strings and crossbar must be removable.
     I did my brief performance, whatever that was (details not included in dream), and grabbed my Santa puppet and made my way past the curators in the lobby and out the front door. I joined my friends and we all waited for Anthony, who should have been right behind me.
     Other performers started coming out, and I grew puzzled, and then anxious. Anthony had been RIGHT BEHIND ME in line. I went around back to the rooms where the performers were all lined up ready to go, and searched for Anthony everywhere. No sign of him, and everyone I asked knew nothing about him. I circled back out to the lobby and asked the curators, who also showed no sign of knowing anything about Anthony.
     By that time I was getting panicky. I wanted to call or text Anthony on my cell phone, but of course it wasn't working and I was getting weird error messages I didn't understand. I stashed the Santa puppet in the car in the parking lot and went back circling through the venue. No sign of Anthony ANYWHERE. I could feel it in my chest, this horrible constricting ache.
     I noticed that there were a lot of former classmates from high school in the line-up waiting to perform. Not all of them nice. I started fearing that maybe some dangerous bully types had abducted Anthony. It turned into this awful cycle of me going through all the rooms of the venue, searching, asking people, then out into the parking lot, desperately trying to get my cell to work, then back into the venue searching...
     At some point I finally woke up, and went straight into the living room to find Anthony, who had woken up before me. I gave him a big hug.

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Gummi Bear Cell Phone

     I dreamed my friend Laura picked me up on my lunch hour and drove us to the beach, where we went our separate ways, planning to meet up later. We were supposed to stay in contact with our cells, but I had this weird new cell phone that was rubbery, nubbly, and shaped like a big Gummi Bear. The keyboard was sort of virtual, in that there were no real keys, or markings to tell you where each letter was, you just had to imagine a keyboard wrapped around the body of the Gummi Bear and "type" across the surface of it. Obviously, that's very difficult and inexact, and I kept ending up with these totally garbled messages. I had to keep deleting and starting over.
Imagine this about the size of a chihuahua, and nubbly.

     The Gummi phone had a lens in its chest that would project images as holograms in mid-air, but the problem was everyone else could see them, too, and for some reason Laura kept texting me dirty pictures. I was horrified and embarrassed, and kept trying to turn the Gummi device OFF.
     Then I dreamed about a woman with an elephant-themed zine. There wasn't much to that part.
     The best part of the night was a dream in which I was perusing the aisles of a toy store. I have lots of toy store dreams. This one was very Lego-centric, with plastic facades for Lego playsets, such as a castle, and a dinosaur rock mountain complete with rubber dinosaurs and giant insects.
This isn't exactly what the playset in my dream looked like, but it's close.
I would have pooped my pants over this playset when I was a kid!

     Anthony was with me, and for some reason he had these boxes with him that were filled with his own vintage toys, which were fragile and valuable. Some dumb toddler boys kept trying to get into the boxes, and Anthony kept having to very politely remove their hands and get their attention away from the boxes. Their mother wasn't paying any attention to that. Even in my dreams, parents let their stupid kids run rampant.

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Teacups with George and Rene

Not quite what it looked like in my dream, but actually cooler. This is the Teacup ride at Disneyland Paris, and doesn't it look awesome?!

     I had a dream that I was riding the Teacups with George C. Scott and Rene Auberjonois, and some girl from Ohio.
     It was kind of an anxiety dream, because at the time I was riding the teacups I really should have been packing back at a hotel Anthony and I were staying in. I've stayed at that hotel before in my dreams, it seems to be a consistent part of my mind's dream geography.
     We were there for some sort of comic book convention. It was the last day, and we were going to just get up and drive home, but I slept through my alarm and woke up at 3pm, totally missing checkout time, which was at noon. For some reason, we were staying in separate rooms, and of course MY room was a shocking mess of trash and clutter. Food wrappers, coffee filters with loose grounds lying all over the floor, photographs, bags of comic books and toys I'd been buying at the convention all over, bags upended and contents strewn. Clothes lying all over the room in heaps and tangles. I stared at my mess in despair, then began frantically trying to get it all cleaned up and packed.
     When I first woke up and realized the situation, I couldn't remember Anthony's cell number, and was panicking because I needed to call him and wake him up, too. I had a new cell phone and couldn't figure out how to use the contacts/address book, I just kept pushing buttons and trying to find Anthony's info in the stupid phone. Don't know why it didn't occur to me that I could just walk down the hall and bang on his door. Then I realized that the key to my room also fit his door, and it was in my pocket the whole time.
     In the way dreams work, despite the panic and anxiety about getting packed and leaving, and getting Anthony up and moving, I ended up wandering off to the Teacups, which were not affiliated with Disneyland, and were instead part of a themepark/carnival connected to the hotel.
     A friend of ours from Ohio was getting onto the ride with George C. Scott and Rene Auberjonois, and I just had to say goodbye to her, since Anthony and I were having to rush off.
     I jumped into their teacup, excusing myself for the interruption, but explaining how we'd woken up late, missed checkout, and needed to get the hell out of Dodge and on our way home. George and Rene were very nice about it.
     The girl from Ohio was excited because she was planning to move out to California where all the cool stuff is, and then we'd get to hang out more. I acted excited about that prospect, but was thinking that she would probably be annoying in longer doses.
     Before I could finish saying my goodbyes to the girl from Ohio, the ride started. George and Rene didn't seem to want to spin the wheel and make us go faster. I offered to do the spinning, but they hemmed and hawed. They're pretty old, you know.
     I woke up before the ride was over.

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Daycare Time Travel Improv

              This was a significant dream because of the way it followed me into wakefulness, with no clear line between the subconscious and conscious mind.
              I was dreaming in the early hours before I woke up, influenced obviously by watching episodes of “Abby & Brittany,” the documentary/reality show about conjoined twins who work as student teachers with elementary school kids.

Abby and Brittany. I love these girls.

              My sister and I were working at a day care center, and organizing a play with the kids. I don’t know what my “sister” looked like, and we weren’t actually conjoined. But we were making occasional asides to a documentary film crew, explaining what we were doing with the kids. That’s why I’m sure it was influenced by Abby & Brittany.
              We were going to need to use water in the play, because there were scenes by a river, and something about carrying a bucket of water, so my sister and I had hired a man and a woman who were water technicians so we could have real water in the play.
              The water techs came in with all this equipment, and I told them they could set up in the bathroom. Apparently real water is very complicated.
              The kids were all sitting in a group on the floor, and my sister and I were walking around them, asking comprehension questions, to make sure they understood why the water techs were there, and that they all understood their parts in the play. Their parents were there, too, on the sidelines. Then we had a break so they could all work on props and costumes and stuff. I was narrating for the film crew how nice it was to see the parents and kids all doing their part. For example, a black boy was ironing a purple shirt for a costume, under the direction of his father. I was very impressed that a father and son were willing to do ironing. (It wasn’t significant that he was black, I just thought I’d mention that because I was pleased to note our daycare center was at least somewhat ethnically diverse.)
              We started doing run-throughs of the script, and getting into the concepts in the play. It was a time travel story, with at least one scene in settler times, hence the rustic water bucket.
              One of our littlest charges, a tiny little girl with a pixy haircut, was narrating for that weirdly omnipresent documentary film crew (a la Abby & Brittany) how her directions were to act out a time travel scene on the street, and if a passerby came into the shot, she was to pull them into the scene with her, and hopefully get them to improv with her. She was like Dakota Fanning or something, eerily mature for her age.
              My perspective in the dream shifted, and I was suddenly a stranger on the street, and that precocious little actress was dragging me into the scene about a time travel vortex. It was really tricky, because as a stranger I had no idea what the broader context of the story was, any details I could work with. But I decided to go along with it anyway.
              I had been holding some bags or something, like Anthony and I had been out shopping, and he was there with me. I handed him my stuff, plus my wallet and keys for some reason, as if those things would have been impediments to being able to act/improv effectively. As I was handing him all this stuff to hold while I participated in the scene, I said in a hokey stage voice, “Oh, no, the time vortex has ripped all my identification away from me! If I die in some past era, no one will know who I was!”

Every daycare play needs a T-Rex.

              Somewhere around this point in the dream, I was waking up. There was a perfectly seamless transition between dreaming and day-dreaming, though. It took me a few moments lying there in bed completely awake before I thought, “Why am I day-dreaming all this weird shit about a time travel improv?” And then I realized that my brain had continued the dream from sleep to wakefulness. I’ve never had a transition as seamless as that before, I can’t even explain how weird it was. Usually you wake up and the dream evaporates, and you maybe remember some of it, but your brain doesn’t just keep going. It’s like somebody forgot to say “cut!” and my brain just kept the film rolling. I even turned off my alarm while I was trying to come up with dialogue for the scene. I really wanted to work dinosaurs in, but wasn’t sure if the kids had the budget for that.
              Anyway, before my brain finally said cut! we finished the scene, and the film crew were all so delighted with my brilliantly comedic performance that they begged me to keep filming with them. But I knew Anthony wanted to continue shopping, rather than hang out with these complete strangers, and I didn’t want to hog the children’s spotlight, so I demurred. For the sake of the children.
              They were like, “How will we explain your character’s absence now?”
              I suggested they have the very next scene begin in dinosaur times with the little girl at a makeshift grave for me, because I DID in fact die! Isn’t that funny? For some reason in the dream/day-dream it was, like, SUPER funny.
              Anyway, that’s about when I was awake enough to realize I didn’t have to figure out how to explain my character’s absence in their stupid time travel daycare improv.

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Asian Swapmeet; Hillbilly Moonshine Truck; Apocalyptic Flood

       I dreamed I was helping run a booth at an Asian swapmeet for an Asian family I was friends with. It was actually a cross between a swapmeet and an indie convention. The booth had lots of fascinating things for a round-eye like me. Jade dragons, Buddha statues, little dolls, scrolls, etc. The best thing was a soft-sculpture radish doll with the most adorable little face full of wisdom and peace. I wanted that doll really bad. I said I was buying it as a gift for my friend Julie, but even in the dream that doll was probably going to end up mine.

       Setting up the booth was a lot of hard work, lifting and unpacking boxes, and putting displays together. Then I was busy helping customers. For some reason we also had a table of heavy metal T-shirts, and these two teenage boys gravitated straight to it. The taller boy put his arm around the younger and, pointing, said, “I’d like THAT shirt, for my boyfriend, here.”

       It was hard to tell if they really were gay, or just joking around, so it put me on edge. The shirt they wanted was something with a screaming skull, and they wanted it in XXL. I had to crawl under the table to look through the boxes of shirts for the right size. I couldn’t find it, so then I had to go to a back room area of our booth and go through a whole bunch of backstock boxes. We kept all the backstock under the tables, especially the T-shirts and caps, because apparently those are most frequently stolen. As soon as I started getting boxes out and going through them, this asshole guy tried to steal a baseball cap, and I yanked it right off his head and told him to beat it.

       That dream ended, and the next began with Anthony and me getting into Julie’s Lexus.


       Someone had professionally printed Julie’s job title and the words “GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE” onto the head rests of every seat in her car. She was very proud of this, but it gave me a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. She drove Anthony and me to a dangerous hillbilly area of the Inland Empire, to a little restaurant that made Asian sandwiches with French fries stuffed in them. It was all pretty ghetto, and when we were sitting down eating we really started noticing how scary the other diners were. Scraggly beards, dirty clothes, and they were totally leering at us.

       When we decided it was time to get the hell out of there, we discovered that Julie’s car was gone, so we found an abandoned old truck and appropriated it. The problem with the truck was that instead of a regular gas tank, it had this awkward exterior trunk in the trunk bed. The trunk was filled with moonshine whiskey, and connected to the engine via a long hose. I drove the truck, trying to navigate us out of the Inland Empire backwoods, but the roads were confusing and poorly maintained. Mostly just dirt and gravel, one-lane affairs like in the old days. Whenever we drove past people, they were scary hillbillies looking for trouble and violence. One time we barreled down a narrow tree-lined road just as some hillbillies were shooting at each other ahead. I swerved down a side road to avoid getting caught in the middle of it.

       The truck ran out of moonshine, but luckily we found a gas station and a freeway onramp. The truck didn’t run as well on actual gasoline as it did on bootleg whiskey, but we got on the freeway and raced toward home.


       Somewhere on the freeway, the Inland Empire dream dissolved into an apocalyptic scenario in which I knew that a gigantic flood was due any minute. I was by myself, in what looked like a big city park with lots of tall trees and hills. It seemed important to climb as high as I possibly could, that if I could just get high up enough I would be above the flood level and might survive. I picked the tallest tree I could find with lots of easy-to-climb lower branches, and scurried high up into its branches. I made it to the very top.

       At first I thought I’d made it to safety, but then I got a sinking feeling and felt a shadow gathering over me. I looked up and saw that the wave of the flood extended impossibly high into the sky, much higher than my treetop perch.

       I thought if I could just hold on through the breaking of the wave, maybe the water would course down around me and still leave me high and dry when the wave moved on. But as the flood crashed down onto my tree, the trunk and all its branches splintered like matchsticks.

       I drowned/woke up.

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : arterial spray

          Usually I can watch horror movies right before bed without any problem, but last night I watched the last 20 minutes of the Amityville remake. It's not even a good remake, but there's a scene where Ryan Reynolds is seeing visions of the previous occupant's suicide by throat-slitting, and you see Ryan's face covered in showers of arterial blood spray. As I watched it I was like, "Eh... Whatever. Time for bed."
          But I had this nightmare that I was in a multi-level hotel, going up and down elevators trying to escape a serial killer. I ended up in a lounge just as the killer entered the room. Just by chance, I was behind some other people at the bar, mostly obscured from the killer's view. He had a switchblade, and cut down a few people around me, so I dropped to the ground with them and played possum.
          He slit the throat of a man right next to me, and as I lay there on the ground praying I wouldn't be discovered I could feel the man's blood spattering across me.
          Luckily the nightmare either ended there, or shifted scenes, so I wasn't discovered. But it was bad enough, man!
          I woke up, and my mind quickly shifted from serial killers and blood spray to diarrhea. The word itself. It's a nuanced word, with the double-R and the silent H. The double-R gives it an appropriate growl/grunt, and the silent H reflects a miserable silent breath of discomfort. I started getting ideas for poop-related pop art, and that's when I realized it was time to just accept that I wasn't going to be able to go back to sleep.
          I got out of bed, fed the dog, got a cup of coffee, and here I am...

IN THE DREAMHOUSE: 3-headed sock puppet

          A few nights ago I had this surreal dream (hard to describe) that involved sock puppets I had made, and putting on a show with them, and stringing little Christmas tree lights through them for eyes. There was also playground equipment; swings hanging from chains, that sort of thing. I levitated up to a chalked gymnastics bar and was performing puppet shows on the monkey bars or whatever they were. Before I went to bed I had NOT been drinking or smoking anything, so I'm not sure why my dreams were so loopy.
This was my first attempt at drawing the 3-headed sock puppet from my dream
          The first time I tried drawing that 3-headed puppet, my creative license took over and I made it too cute, with a little hat and some props. Then I realized the REAL 3-headed sock puppet with lights for eyes looked more like this:
More lumpen, less jaunty
          Now maybe I can stop thinking about that stupid puppet.

IN THE DREAMHOUSE: the Winchester Mystery House

          Last night I dreamed about the Winchester Mystery House YET AGAIN.  I dream about it probably once a month, and have done so fairly regularly since I first visited there with my parents when I was about 7.
          I had been staying there, like it was a hotel, and was actually crying about having to leave it.  There was wallpaper with a pattern of weeping cherub's faces in relief, and I kept running my fingers across their faces.
          In the dream, Anthony and I were staying there with my stepsister and her husband and sons.  Our beds were on this broad second-floor gallery, and our last morning there a sinister man with a black mustache served us brunch.  He obviously hated us, and I was afraid he might be slipping poison into the food and drink.  I glanced up and noticed a procession of ghosts serving themselves from a sideboard along the wall.  I eavesdropped on their conversations, and discovered many of them saying perverse and obscene things.

          Somewhere along the way my stepsister and her family turned into the cast of I Love Lucy.  Anthony and I were moving furniture with them, and of course hijinks ensued.  But the hijinks element was incongruous with the spooky setting and huge unwieldy gothic Victorian furniture.
          Part of my dream was also the story of two children, a brother and sister, who were trapped in the Winchester House, and only the girl survived.  She had to fight an evil ghost woman who wanted to trap her soul there forever.  The ghost lured the girl up into the highest reaches of the house, even a vaulted attic.  But the girl managed to trick the woman and cast HER into the heart of the house forever. 
          When the girl finally escaped the house and walked along the seashore, she came across a crab that had her dead brother's face, and realized he had been reincarnated.  This was like a happy ending to their story, though, because she was glad his soul wasn't trapped forever in the Winchester House.

IN THE DREAMHOUSE: Tidal Wave Canyon

          Last night I had a long, arduous dream about being part of some survival trek over a mountain range.  There was a whole troop of us scaling this rocky, uneven terrain, and I was exhausted, my legs aching from trying to find purchase in the crumbling slope.  I was really anxious about my speed, wanting to make sure I wasn't in last place, so I kept looking behind me.  Most of the time I was in the very middle of the line of people, but I wished I could have been studly enough to be at the front.  I was self-conscious about my puffing and straining, worrying that my legs (or heart) would just give out before I made it to whatever our goal was.
          When we finally got through that part of the journey, we ended up in a vast red canyon, with no sign of civilization anywhere.  Only in a dream could you climb a mountain range and find a canyon at the top.  There was also a bunch of towering palm trees, which quickly became very important.
          A huge tidal wave was headed our way, the wall of rushing water stretching up farther than we could see.  The only way we knew to possibly escape being killed by it was to scale the palm trees and hang on for dear life.  We climbed as fast and as high as we could.  My tree was very skinny, and bowed low with my weight (too many Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees?), which worried me since I needed to be higher than the water after it settled.
          The wave hit and we all blacked out from the force of it, each of us clinging to our individual palm trees.  When I awoke, the water had mostly drained from the canyon, but I was perplexed about how I survived drowning in the initial deluge.  Even in the dream it didn't make sense to me.
          Susan, an old friend from school, had the tree next to mine, and she had also survived.  After that, though, we all went our separate ways.
          Then came a period of rebuilding after our ordeal.  I wandered through the canyon, finding small groups of people from the original survival team that had splintered off into sub-groups.  Each little enclave seemed to be building houses right into the canyon walls, kind of like the cliff-dwelling Anasazi.  Most of the new communities told me they had first asked permission from the local native tribes, before building their houses.  But the last group I came to, and for some reason decided to stay with, had NOT asked permission.  Instead, they had built their housing using very raw materials, trying to mimic the color and texture of the canyon walls, and carved native animals into their furniture and household items like clocks and kitchen ware.  They were hoping that if they simply showed enough respect and reverence for nature, it would be enough to keep the native tribes appeased.
          I was nervous about that.  It just seemed stubborn to me, and I was considering seeking out these mysterious natives, none of whom I'd seen any trace of on my travels, on my own. 
          But then I woke up.