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Dream Journal

Australia is My Backyard

Where I live, we have a large and expansive backyard. It’s shaped like Australia, split into sections much like the various states, with the back of the house where the Great Australian Bight would be. But also: the backyard is Australia. It has the same features, because it’s the same place — if perhaps not in an explainable way.

A good example is when my family (including my dad and sister) visit. The travel time and distance is great so it’s very kind of them to come all this way. As we’re walking along and I’m showing them around, we all make the same mistake. We get east and west backwards, and soon figure out that’s because the midday sun is actually in the north here, not the south — this is the southern hemisphere after all.

There are portions of the dream where I replay and recall things I already know. The feeling is consistently nostalgic, comfortable, only occasionally bittersweet. I’m fondly reflecting, replaying things I already know. Australia — the island continent — formed 100s of millions of years ago from the agglomeration of several ancient island groups drifting together. They each have their own vibe and color (the memory here almost veering into another dream remembered from long back, navigating the isolated Pacific isles to the north, as if I’m on a catamaran on the colored surface of an old paper map). You can just barely perceive the seams where the land was sintered together. Those sections roughly correspond to the states, in fact.

One large area we have is a mud pond in the east, around where Queensland and New South Wales might be. It’s like a big swimming pool, which I keep accessible for my neighbors. Incidentally, that’s one thing I really like about living here, is that I can keep the space an asset for the whole neighborhood. I’m crossing the mud pond to say hello to some folks on the far side (Great Barrier Reef) when I spot a stuck turtle. I lift it over to the nearest edge and leave it there to recover, but it seems it didn’t need to be rescued. It scrambles away and dives back into the mud. I just live here; I don’t know everything.

Meanwhile I still am renting. I live on the ground floor, and the previously unused space now sometimes has the landlord’s relatives. Could be the above floor, could be an attached building behind ours. They’re having a gathering so it’s a curious time to explore. It’s not exactly sneaking around, but I just blend into their party guests. No one interacts with me. By happenstance, I find my wife’s coffee cup forgotten at a dark corner of their smooth granite bar. She does this sometimes. I know I’ll be reminding my wife to try not to leave it places like that; there’s little chance we would’ve found it otherwise.

The dream is capped off when we throw a crafting party one nice sunny weekend. There are stations all over the large backyard for making arts and crafts, our community socializing together. I squat on the flat, dry Northern Territory assembling a thematic decorative hanging with native materials like wood, arranging it into a naturalistic design that reminds me of some aboriginal styles.

There’s a memory that’s sparked, from when we first moved in more than a decade ago. When we moved in, the landlord (same landlord as in waking life, actually) asked me to break down the former tenant’s greenhouse on the western side of the backyard. Was just some corrugated green plastic balanced on cheap wooden pillars, nothing that ought to be lamented. But it was so much space for plants, plants we would’ve loved. Western Australia is a big and wild place. Someone worked to make that space useful and we didn’t even consider that we might’ve used it too. I was in my early 20s and had more energy than forethought. I remember having a nice day working outside, chopping down the supports posts.

There was something else that I hadn’t thought about at all till now, the neighborhood hardware store that the old tenants hosted. Stacks of tires, bins of tools and equipment that you could pop in and borrow. I don’t even know what happened to it, but I know at some point people stopped visiting for it. And there was this badger that visited every week. Big flat docile waddling creature named Mitch. We never set food out and I guess at some point he stopped visiting too.

So there’s this lament, as I realize the my artwork is becoming what I’ll call finished. Seeing how we’ve lost these nice things in the past because we didn’t even know they were things we were losing. But the artwork is done, and it’s actually quite nice.
(what would be Western Australia)

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Dream Journal

New Home from Drawing, Same View

Measuring the dimensions of a house by drawing on paper using a pencil, which then becomes the house.

Play a little minigame of hacking the door on the side of the garage to pass the time. Angry that I’ve created a new backyard that — quite unintentionally — matches a plain, unadorned version of my childhood home, with the exact same view of the mountains. In the distance too, I see an abandoned Sears Tower.

A weird snippet of the future: Jeff Bezos and Mackenzie Scott’s child turning 18 and getting 8 billion dollars.

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Dream Journal

My Childhood Home is Ours Again, but Changed

My family has bought back my childhood home. I’m puzzled to discover that several small things that I left behind are still in place. For the entire time they lived here, the former owners took care of my plant wall (which is actually the back window of my current home). Everything has been kept in place, and the plants are still healthy. It’s been 16 years!

Other things are sadly missing. Much of the backyard has been cleared down because of the sale. There’s no sign of the cactus garden, the row of agaves by the side-yard, anything near the sheltered window of my teenage bedroom. All over, there’s a lingering tinge of The Other, those unseen people who lived here for years. The property feels hollowed-out, barren, despite all the uncannily familiar landscaping and fences and everything else.

I run along the top edge of the back brick wall as fast as I can. The wall isn’t as narrow as it felt when I was a kid — there’s an odd mixture of delight and melancholy, as I consider how I never thought I’d be able to do this again. How I can do it as many times as I want now.

Near the furthest corner of the wall I survey the horizon of the desert valley. In the distance there’s an area I can clearly make out a strange red cloud. I indicate it to one of my companions, wondering if it’s a concern — I’m told it’s just a high amount of large particulates, suspended dust from desert winds.

As I’m going through inspecting rooms I come to the garage. I’m sure it only used to hold three cars, but the darkened empty space appears to have at least four spaces. Little bits of random ephemera can be found across seemingly every surface; I wonder what else changed. Near the water heater I find a funnel attached to a tube. It’s attached to a small device making a high-pitched noise — I guess it must be for controlling roaches. (I’ve never lived in a place that had roaches, that I know of.)

Outside, the air is clear and oppressive. Although I grew up around here, I sense that I’ll need a period of adjustment where I can get used to these environs again. Everything has changed and grown different than what it was, but I still remember how it used to be. Myself, too — my adult senses perceive the world differently than I once did. I know I have to get to work soon. At high noon, I feel like an alien on a strange planet.

An isolated snippet, perhaps from a separate dream: soft plush shelving at the base of a stairway in a little room at the bottom of the stairwell. In it are kept pet rodents, or perhaps more likely material for their keeping. All stacked within. Very reminiscent of a weird meme I saw recently, of plush shelving.

Departing much later, I locate a three-piece visor — curved plastic semi-circles joined together at the temples. It takes some adjusting but I figure out how to wear it below my chin and above the crown of my head, with a light-up box close over my eyes. This obscures them like some cyborg ninja from a video game, one I can’t place correctly.

A mysterious final sentence, left over from notes and not reviewed in time to make sense of it: “Discovering receipt inside book which proves it was the same guy.”

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Dream Journal

Flowerpot Micturator, Property Lines from Above

I get a sneaking suspicion, a strange feeling to check the backyard. I just catch someone who looks like the landlord’s soon peeing in a potted plant downstairs in the corner. Though I race down, whoever he is has gone into one of the disorganized downstairs storage rooms. Even though I have access to them, I’ve already lost the trail.


From a view high above what might be the English countryside, studying the distribution of settlement. Perceive the compounding of development, long stretches encompassing multiple human lifetimes. Switching to a view the property lines, I notice a spot where the markings are smaller and crowded together, a little lake in the middle distance. The architecture is a bit strange, fitting on to misshapen hexagonal plots, catering to the whims of the wealthy who could build at such location. A modernist concrete barn with few windows cited close to a low point near the lake.

Recently, I was closely examining satellite photos of a sheltered neighborhood in my city whose streets I never knew existed.

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Dream Journal

Treehouse Neighborhood, Grandma’s Backyard

Exploring a classy in a spread-out plot of cleared forest. Rounding a corner, out the window I see identical treehouses oriented in a ring. Turns out this is an expensive neighborhood developed by a couple I know. My enchantment is instantly dulled. They named their development the vaguely evocative “Crested Walnut” and haven’t even had much luck with people interested. Makes it less special and all.

In the backyard of my grandmother-in-law I take letters nailed into backyard fence. They moved to that house in the sixties and the notes have never been cleaned up or looked through. Grams mentions that they weren’t the first buyers; another owner lived here before them. While hollering at folks further in the yard there’s an odd moment where I notice the color of the walls. They aren’t all a single color as I remembered, but painted wild strokes of faded blue and orange, crosshatched in a surprisingly sophisticated artistic gradient.

Next door, a compact Victorian house is sometimes covered in a tarp, hiding its secrets. On TV, two celebrities (re)enact a skit they improvised. The host is rich and famous, well-regarded like Oprah. I’m suspicious of their motives, but everything seems innocuous.

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Dream Journal

Animation of the Corner of a Painting

I remember where our truck is parked here in San Francisco and it’s gotten a ticket by now. No need to have kept it there, but instructions led me to believe that it was necessary for that time.

I watch the corner of a painting like the Garden of Earthly Delights, a recently assembled animation which shows animals morphing. The action skips around a bit with sections that have been lost over hundreds of years.

I vacuum a fence to where there are no more dead leaves in the backyard, but it starts to feel so clean it’s not our backyard anymore. This unusually parallels actual cleaning I’ve recently done in our own backyard.

Queen Elizabeth, a law passed to make her decrees about family easier to enforce. Learning about this in the gutters of a miniature golf course.

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Dream Journal

A Nice Neighborhood Stroll, Pretty Femboy Look , & Our Newer Place

Walking back from Mission Street, the main street in my neighborhood, I spot the panel of a lone phone booth that might still work. I idly start wondering about how many of those used to be around — how I’ve witnessed the changeover during the relatively time I’ve lived in San Francisco — how not long ago, wherever I was on the street, I’d have a mental map and know exactly where the nearest payphone would be. I also idly wonder how much it would cost to get one installed as a novelty, say in in a rich person’s backyard.

On the way back to my apartment I take a rest, laying down in the mouth of a slide, gazing at the sky while my waist is through the middle of part of a clothes hamper. I ponder the bemusing question of what time of year it’s best to arrive in Antarctica: the 6 months leading out of winter, or the 6 months leading into it? I have a playful argument with someone unseen about the sacrifices I’ve made going to Antarctica when I did (worth noting: I haven’t actually been to Antarctica).

I get up from my rest, floating above the trashed out grass-overgrown parking space, noticing as a car pulls in that I forgot part of the plastic hamper which I wear around my head. I float down to nab it quickly as the rumbling car takes the space. I’m dressed today in an aesthetically-pleasing purple velour lapel shirt, worn underneath a pair of white overalls shorts. I look glamorous. I recognize that with my pretty long hair this is what someone would probably call a “femboy” look. Meanwhile I’m already late for an exercise class I occasionally take at 2:00 pm to the north near Potrero Mall. I’m not worried about being late, even though at this point I either arrive in the middle of class or miss the whole thing. I remember that the hamper hat (that I just picked up from the ground) has in its brim an empty glass bottle; I decide to store it on the balcony of my apartment. Floating up to the landing, it’s been recently replaced with a metal grating and is still packed with disorganized chairs (a short bamboo one, three rocking chairs of two different types), etc. Realizing I can organize it slightly differently, I pull a chair or two into the sideyard just beyond. The sideyard is narrow, with a fence of prickly pear cactus, exercise equipment which came with the place, and a view of the Latino neighbor’s wide lawn just beyond (despite being on the third floor). This is the second place owned by our landlord where my wife and I have lived, having made the decision to move out of the Fartpartment a few years ago — while making a deal that we still get to visit the old place now and then. But the reality is that this new place is much harder to get nice, there hasn’t been an organic long-time progression of acquiring stuff and finding a place for it. This place has a backyard, it’s a better layout, but it’s been months or even years and it still feels like we’re moving in. It’d be nice to visit the old place again soon.

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Dream Journal

Landlord Fixing the Stairs

The landlord is in the backyard, and the wooden stairway has had one of its columns eroded away. I call him and he actually starts to fix it. I discover the shady lower column, underneath the landing, is also broken completely through. There’s barely anything holding up the right side anymore. The physical orientation is oddly different than our normal backyard, rotated somehow — the landlord too — both true-to-life and not. Lazy overgrown potted plants grow thick and lush over puddles and concrete, everything seems to have a fine coating of moss.

The view zooms out, showing the Victorian building that Ais lives in being a relic of earlier development, isolated in a business park, itself within a large airport and whose roads serve cars as well as planes. Reminds me of Alameda.

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Dream Journal

Tree Cottage in Washington State

A group of about 6 girls charge into the boy’s locker room, in towels, to officially request better treatment from a coach/official. Unexpectedly, they take the intrusion seriously and treat it the same as if boys had charged into the boys locker room, and have the police arrest them. They sit in a row in jail looking dejected and shocked.


Two sisters, one on a motorbike. Experience of sucking one’s own penis, but from the perspective of slutty sister. Feels like a baton or walking stick.


Watching what seems like a pricey daycare service van with a male driver yell at a few of the toddlers. I raise my eyebrows trying not to show my disapproval — it’s hard enough being male in childcare, I think, and the woman working with him looks like just as much a pill. I use a back door through the messy garage.

Tree in a grassy fenced backyard somewhere in sparsely-populated rural Washington state. I consider it for the site of a cottage-sized tiny home. But if instead I put it in the chain-link fenced lot next door, it looks like it would fit snugly, even have a backyard of its own.

There’s a zombie outbreak. Only one survivor, the smartest man there (someone who appears as the Deep Space 9 character of Chief O’Brien). The town has to be abandoned and they reboot the series.

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Dream Journal

Peculiar University Housing

Moving into a shared dorm apartment. They seem unprepared when I move in. Mickey is there, his brother Zach. It’s an underlit bachelor pad with tile floors and bare walls. There’s a small, wraparound sideyard of slatted wood, which opens to wooden benches in the sloping, grassy backyard. A pond filled with lively, tropical rings of algae and moss, craggy decorative rocks, and looks like a living volcanic pool. I get acquainted with a large snail that lives there.

There’s a portal in one of the rocks which emanates concentric rings, and staring into it I can see the world linked beyond, where my snail friend is from. Quite out-of pace, in retrospect.

I ride my scooter on a wide expanse of asphalt, eventually noticing there are dips and holes spaced in an even grid. Some are deep, deep pits. I inform the school administration about the deep ones on our property, which they seem perfunctorily apologetic and give me an extension.

I then sit down to watch an assignment for one of my university classes with my wife Lynae. The program auto-loads an episode of The Cosby Show, which I am categorically uninterested in ever since Cosby’s rape allegations. I skip it and instead manage to find an episode of Deep Space 9 in the course database, which of course I’ve seen before, but is happily comforting.