Just the first scene from last night’s epic road trip dream:

I am driving my old Corolla. The narrow road is carved out of a mountainside, a steep rise on my left and a steep drop into water on my right. The mountainside has been shaped into faux bricks, which means someone put some real money into making the road. So why didn’t they take the time to make the road wide enough that I don’t feel like my car’s about to topple over and tumble into the water?

So naturally my car topples over and tumbles into the water. I am uninjured in the crash. I roll down the window– I knew getting the manual windows would eventually pay off– and swim towards the far shore. I am not a strong swimmer, but I make it almost all the way over to a dock on the far side. I am almost completely drained, and the floor of the dock is just a few feet out of reach. I can’t summon the energy to kick my way that extra little bit.

My brother comes to the dockside. He reaches out, and I reach for him, but we can’t quite connect. I’m not going to make it.

He stands straight for a second and looks around. He runs somewhere I can’t see from my vantage point. He comes running back with a bottle of Pepsi. He reaches out to me with it, and it will be long enough for me to catch hold of. I’m almost saved…

…until he pulls back. He looks at the bottle with a hint of disgust, and runs off again.

I panic. I flail. I’m going to get him in the afterlife one way or another. And then I hear him coming back…

…this time with a bottle of Coca-Cola. He reaches out to me with it, and it will be long enough for me to catch hold of. I’m saved.

And then on with the rest of the dream.

Les cymbales du soleil.

A recent dream:

I am driving through verdant French hills and the sky is bright. MQ is sitting in the passenger seat, navigating with a real live ink-and-paper map. We are running low on gas, so we look for the nearest town big enough to show up on the map.

We find a gas station. Pull up to the pump, get out of the car– turns out we’re in a blue mid-80s European hatchback. A box on wheels. Probably a Volvo.

I check my wallet. Nothing but American currency. MQ points out a machine that makes change. I slide a few bills in. It returns Euro coins, but unlike any I’ve seen. Each coin looks like a shattered shard of some larger shape made of all varying denominations. I spend a few minutes sorting through the coins, and try to decide whether the odd shapes are brilliant or stupid.

MQ stares at something behind me. I turn to look. Off in the distance stands a man wearing some dark clothing and sort of head covering. Might be a turban or keffiyeh.

He walks toward us.

I say he probably needs gas. Maybe a jump.

He speeds up to a light jog. A scabbard hangs from his side and jostles with each step.

As he draws nearer, I hear a woman yelling in a heavy local accent, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” I’m fixated on the man with the sword, so the woman may as well have been disembodied.

The man draws a saber from his scabbard and charges towards us.

For reasons unknown, we don’t run or get in the car.

MQ screams.

I back away from her and flail my arms to make myself the target. It works. He swings at my abdomen. I step back enough that the saber barely touches me. No blood, just a slice in my shirt. He freezes.

I grab his saber. He doesn’t resist. I swing the saber towards him. He doesn’t throw up his arms, or scream, or even flinch.

I swing the saber into his gut several times as hard as I possibly can. It does nothing. It doesn’t even cut his shirt, never mind his body.

He waits for me to stop, then smiles broadly and makes the ta-da pose. He pulls up his shirt and reveals a saber-proof vest. He laughs.

Then I slice his face off.

After I told her this story, MQ asked if it was sunny in my dream. It was. Good catch.


A recent dream:

I am in the garage of my grandparents’ house, which for some reason looks out over my aunt’s back lawn. I am getting ready to go home after a long day of eating.

The weather has been fine, maybe a bit warm, so I am glad to see a cloud form in the sky, right in front of the sun. That should cool things off just enough to make the day perfect.

Other clouds congeal in the skies. One particular cloud looks especially dark and is closing in from the south pretty darn fast. I think I’d better get home before it starts raining, and no sooner does that thought cross my mind than it begins to drizzle. I get in my car and drive home.

The cloud I saw earlier now hovers over downtown, but the rain never gets any heavier. Traffic comes to a dead stop south of the bridge, so I put the car in park and turn to a talk channel in hopes of getting a weather and traffic report.

More dark clouds slither in from all directions. They bounce off each other and roll over each other and spin around each other. The clouds occasionally glow, and the brief gaps between them betray a terrific lightning storm high above. The wind whips up, and this storm is darker and brighter and louder and far more forceful than anything I’d ever seen before.

I can see the high-rises downtown wobble and rattle. Debris falls from the tops of some of the older ones. Signage comes detached, and ten-foot letters tumble down or dangle by mere serifs. The wind shatters the windows on the highest floors of the highest towers, and it drags some poor souls right out, and they hang on for dear life. I can see people on the inside hesitate to approach the windows to save the hangers-on, but the wind then pushes some of them back in. The wind breaks more windows, and pulls more people out, and the cycle repeats.

The interstate is still a bumper-to-bumper parking lot, but I’m not sure I want it to start moving again.

There was more to this dream, but I can’t make out most of what’s on my voice recorder. Here’s what I remember:

1. Something was wrong with the Earth’s core. A blue holographic world map in some sort of situation room showed these massive, burning rifts across continents and along ocean floors. How that affected the skies in part one of the dream is beyond me– or maybe it was a separate dream and had nothing to do with the storm.

2. Some frauds had convinced Congress that the problem was that the core was rusting, so billions of federal dollars went to them instead of my lab.

3. The frauds and the guys from my lab were having a cookout.

And that’s it. I don’t remember if the frauds and my guys had teamed up to fix the Earth’s core, or if they realized that we were all doomed so we might as well enjoy some burgers and beers before the world ended, or what. I need to work on dream retention.

Rusting. Jesus.


Here’s last night’s oddest dream:

I was on the stage of Paxon’s auditorium. I was Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House during the 1860s. Note that I didn’t say I was playing the role of Colfax, I was him. I was attempting to conduct the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson (who looked an awful lot like Tommy Lee Jones), but he was clearly drunk. He kept playing around with the data projector’s aspect ratio, and disconnecting and reconnecting the cable. He used a bullhorn to voice absurd objections about the curtains and Microsoft Office. We tried repeatedly to talk Johnson into behaving, but eventually had to restrain him and wrest the bullhorn from his grasp. He cried a little and sat, chastened, in the front row. Then the proceedings proceeded.

I think I’ve spent a bit too much time at work lately.


An afternoon nap dream:

It is night. I stand outside a mountaintop villa. Parts of the villa hang over the slope and are supported by broad stainless steel beams. The walls are mostly floor-to-ceiling glass, and reveal a well-lit, simple modern interior. No one is inside.

The hosts, a married couple of bankers, had given me a piece of paper with the entry code. I punch in the code, the door unlocks, and I walk in.

I wander around the main room. The bar is set up, hors d’oeuvres have been laid out, but I don’t touch a thing yet. Art that I wouldn’t call art adorns the walls. I wander from picture to picture and with no one there to explain to me why I don’t get it, I fail to appreciate any of it. I assume the hosts like it since they bought it and that’s good enough for me. I sit down in a low-backed chair with no arms.

A line of 15, 20 people, presumably the hosts’ friends and coworkers, arrive and let themselves in. I have never seen any of them before. I stand and tell them that the hosts gave me the code. They walk in a line from the door to me, and after some awkward introductions they continue the line to the bar, the food, and into another room.

The difficulty is that most of the new guests speak with foreign accents so thick I can’t make their names out. Between them trying to explain their names and me trying to explain mine, the queue to the bar/food/other room develops some big gaps.

An older woman with a shock-white crew cut and a deep French accent says to call her something that sounds like a gasp for air. Her name isn’t even “eh.” When I say it back to her, I somehow get it wrong and she spends a good minute or two correcting me before I direct her to the bar and tell her to enjoy herself.

A short black man says to call him “one sixty two.” I ask him to repeat himself. He says “Yep,” and continues to the bar.

A Nordic-looking man with blonde buzz cut and heavy black-rimmed glasses shows me a business card with a strange symbol on it: a circle with two right-facing parentheses attached, one at the top, one at the bottom. I ask what it is. He says it’s his name. From then on, I just pretend to get everybody’s name the first time.

I sit down and wait for the hosts to arrive. Somebody opens a door and lets out the hosts’ border collie, which runs around the house. No one pays it much attention.

Somebody opens another door and lets out the hosts’ pet elephant. Again, the other guests don’t pay it much attention, but I am shocked at seeing an elephant. Then the shock of seeing an elephant is superseded by that of seeing an elephant indoors, which is superseded by that of seeing an elephant indoors on top of a mountain, which is superseded by that of the strange appearance of the elephant. It is the skinniest elephant I’ve ever seen, thin enough to easily fit through a standard interior door, though it has to duck its head down to do so. It looks like a gigantic greyhound with a narrow elephant head instead of a dog head.

The dog picks a play-fight with the elephant. He jumps at it, he rolls around in front of it, and the elephant goes easy on him, clearly aware of the difference in size and power. After a few minutes, the dog gets the elephant to chase him around the room. The elephant is faster and nimbler than I expect. They knock nothing over and disturb no one. The other guests barely notice and chatter away.

The dog leads the elephant into a narrow hallway, then stops and cuts back between the elephant’s legs and into the main room. The elephant turns too quickly and bangs his head on the wall. The building shakes.

The guests hush. It takes a second or two for the pain to register, then the elephant cries and mopes and stumbles into the main room. He flops over and again the building shakes. There is no blood, but there’s already a bump on his head. He whimpers as the guests rush over to him and pet him.

The dog wanders over, ears heavy with guilt, and checks on his friend. The dog starts licking the bump on the elephant’s head. The elephant stops crying after a while, but stays on the floor and basks in the attention.

The hosts have still not arrived.

No idea.


Yesterday some friends asked if I would babysit their cat for roughly one year while they’re in Europe waiting for the furor surrounding their thrill-killing and bank robbery spree to die down. I politely declined, but offered to look around for potential can-openers. So, if anyone’s interested in hosting an unassuming and fairly well-read cat for a year, let me know and I’ll pass it along.

No doubt this matter planted the seeds of last night’s dream in my brain:

I lie lay am laining am in bed trying to drift off to sleep. I can not tell whether I am awake or dreaming that I awake. The doorbell buzzes harshly instead of ringing, which leads me to believe that this is a dream. I open the door.

It is Bill, a former feline acquaintance of mine who died several years ago. He is in perfect health (which in his case is to say that he is big and fat). He trots past me as cats are wont to do, as if I am there simply to hold doors and feed him. I have no idea how he rang the doorbell.

He looks around. He opens up cabinets. He checks under chairs. He looks on bookshelves. He even manages to get the pantry and fridge open, but still he hasn’t found whatever.

He finally walks over to the couch. He reaches underneath it, grabbing at something. I pick up one end of the couch.

There are two mice with grey fur and red eyes. The mice look guilty and now they are caught.

Bill grabs one of them and bites into its gut. The mouse issues a high-pitched, blood-curdling scream. Bill munches on him and pins the other one down with his paw. He finishes the first mouse and stares at the second one, who screams the same scream. Bill swallows the second mouse whole.

A triangle of three red laser dots appears on Bill. He sees it and tries swatting at it. The dots move in front of him and lead him across the floor. He scampers after them and finds the source of the dots: a giant, armored, dreadlocked alien with a shoulder-mounted laser gun. Yes, like in the movies.

Before I can flip out, before I can even begin to ask why there’s a giant alien in my house or how it snuck in, Bill scampers up its leg and torso and buries his fangs in its neck. The alien screams a slightly deeper version of the mice’s scream. The laser gun fires aimlessly several times. The bolts blast the ceiling, the floor, through walls and windows. The intruder grabs Bill and tries to pull him off, but to no avail. It can’t position Bill so as to shoot him. The intruder tries to stanch the flow of blood with one hand and futilely flails at Bill with the other hand. The alien collapses and dies, and Bill continues to chew on him.

I decide it’s probably best to let him finish, and start cleaning up the mess.

I hope Cat Heaven is something like my dream. I hope.

A brief moment of panic.

A recent dream:

I am working on a laptop. Several windows are open, the topmost of which is a letter of resignation. Clicking on another window reveals a website for an apartment rental agency in some faraway place. Clicking on another another window reveals a listing of full- and part-time night jobs in the same faraway place. Clicking on yet another window reveals the online registration page for a university nestled in the hills of the same faraway place.

I follow a link to my transcripts. The records indicate that I matriculated at this university in recent years, but I am running low on time to complete my degree. My grades are embarrassingly low. The registration page is already filled out; apparently I am about to sign up for 15 credit hours in the Fall 2012 semester. The “SUBMIT?” button blinks.

I break into a cold sweat. Apparently I am on the verge of quitting my job, going back to a college I don’t remember attending to complete a degree I don’t remember beginning after getting horrific grades in classes that I don’t remember taking, living in a cheap apartment and working night jobs to pay for the whole thing.

Why don’t I remember any of this? What would make me even consider uprooting my life for such an ill-considered plan? And how on Earth were my grades so awful?

Then I remember that I have a great job. I have money. I can do whatever I want. A calm settles over me. I close all the windows and shut the laptop. I am at peace…

…until my cell phone beeps: it’s the President. Again. I get up, push through the oaken double doors of my office into a massive dining hall, where he’s hosting dozens of dignitaries and diplomats.

An attendant pulls my motorcycle around. I hop on it and tell Obama to text me the details later. I rev up the bike, jump it up on the hundred-foot long dining table, and speed towards the floor-to-ceiling window at the far end. Some of the guests scream, some fall backwards in their chairs, some are stunned with awe. Fine china and crystal fly everywhere. I blast through the glass unscathed, off to my next assignment.

Another place.

A recent dream:

It is night. I am in a basement. Two men and a woman are seated at a nearby table and seem to be making a plan of some sort. I approach the table and recognize them: it’s Donna Hayward, James Hurley, and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. I’m in an episode of Twin Peaks.

Recalling all the horrific things that happen to various people in the show and Lynch’s penchant for the occasional bit of random violence, I try to figure out when I am in the series. Based on the discussion Coop, Donna and James are having, it seems early in the first season. That means there’s still time to avoid being jailed, getting drawn into a love triangle or paternity battle, having my hair turn white overnight, being drugged with heroin, being imprisoned in a Canadian brothel, hanging myself in my shut-in trailer, getting shot, getting my eye shot out on my honeymoon, losing the last twenty years of my memory, disappearing into thin air, getting an arm cut off, dying of fright, watching the love of my life die of fright, having my soul trapped in a dresser drawer knob, having my soul trapped in a log, being burned alive in a sawmill, being blown up by my archrival who faked his own death, having my head smashed into a picture frame, having my head smashed into the door of a jail cell, having my head smashed onto the corner of a coffee table, being shot with a crossbow while dressed as a giant papier-mâché chess piece, being rendered invalid/tortured by a criminal mastermind/left to die under a cage of poisonous spiders, and being abducted by demons or aliens or whatever.

As they get up to leave, I pull Cooper aside– he’s willing to believe in the supernatural, the irrational, the magical– if anyone will listen to me, it’s him. I ask him if he ever watches TV, and when he does, if he ever imagines how he’d react to situations in the show. Would he act differently than the characters did, knowing how the show turns out? He says he does and would.

I say, what if I told you that that is happening to me right now— that all this is a TV show and I’ve seen it. What if I told you that I know who the killer is, and I can stop all kinds of horrors from happening?

He looks at me quizzically and turns away to take his trench coat off a coatrack.

And then I hit him with the clincher: what if I told you that Windom Earle is coming to town and I know exactly what he’s going to do? How would you react?

Cooper turns back to me. His eyes are glazed completely white.

My jaw drops.

He smiles and says, “Good question.”

He walks up the stairs. James and Donna follow him up. I follow them. Cooper and James walk through the door at the top of the stairs, but I grab Donna and hold her back for a second. I can’t tell in the poor lighting whether her eyes are white.

I ask Donna if she noticed anything strange about Coop. She says no. I ask her if he notices anything strange about me. She asks me what I mean. I ask her if my eyes are white.

She leans in. She looks into my eyes for what seems like forever. She pulls back and says it’s too dark to tell. She turns and walks through the door.