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Dream Journal

Peering at Yard Prettiness

At the edge of a very wide artificial pond serving a fish market, I pull out a special creature. A frilly fish that I know belongs in an aquarium. I have to take it somewhere across a barrier, perhaps up to another pool.

Helping at friends P + S house while they take care of their baby. While I’m there I idly volunteer to take care of the backyard. I have a moment where I’m distracted by the lovely light teal color of the painted fence, the perfect color contrast it makes with the stubby plants growing along it. It’s strange thinking that a landlord painted it such a nice color, but then again it looks like it was painted in the 50s or 60s. Walking through the backyard, I shake a tight bundle of tree branches which is laid on the grass and set it upright. It’s like getting a witch’s broom to stand up straight.

Peeking out of window of my childhood bedroom, I observe the nicely-built brickwork in the front yard. There’s a half-barrel for a fountain, and behind that the neighbor kids play next door. Reflecting on how I’ve been privileged by never having had to move away from this house for my whole adult life, but that’s it’s also constricting to have to still fit into the same space.

The window has a warped shelf in front of it, and I set down a wide milk-glass bowl on it. It predictably tumbles to the floor, landing oddly on its edge, and leaving a distinctive symmetrical chip.

There’s a shiny holographic plaid sticker which I examine, turning it side to side. (This marks the transition to wakefulness.) Moreover, train authorities can swap your luggage out on the train car if they need room at any time — which makes the service useless. Connected with the sticker somehow.

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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. (Western Australia is a big and wild place.) It 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. 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.

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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

Prince Andrew’s Art Class

My third grade crush is swearing and idly playing with her junk, talking about “cunt cunt cunt”.

Prince Andrew (or George W. Bush) is teaching an art class. Has some hapless young students, some journalists fishing for stories. Hard to learn anything as he actually doesn’t have ability to communicate his aesthetic sense, if his royal one is worth communicating.

I pack up to leave early on my motorcycle, as  this class is on a Friday. The Prince is rambling about his mistress/lover not showing up. I clean around the sink during my many attempts to get out of there, and leave a bin of pancakes with a lid for the next folks who will use that space. On the way out I take an old bag someone has left behind so it doesn’t rot there, but it has an Apple Watch clipped to it — now I wonder if this good deed is essentially stealing the expensive watch.

“Patrick library” written on a sign with a photo of a forest fire. Trying to figure out what that means, and show someone else, but the words become more faded and harder to find the more I look around. I end up in a back room, with a few parking spots for rented electric trikes behind a hospital’s ER. I give my parking spot up voluntarily for a frazzled mom.

Planting trees in a backyard which represents America, possibly. Two of the pines will grow oddly where they’re sited, I reckon, but I’ll wait till they grow in and harvest them. The credits roll with soft music (which is an unusually on-the-nose ending for a dream).

But interestingly, what actually ends the dream is me repeatedly rehearsing what notes I will take upon waking. So, here we are then.

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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

Ice Spiral Tower; Dating Over Different Backyards

A mood detector and translator — for guinea pigs — beeps out “cunt! fucker! safety! what’s that!? over there!” Seems surprisingly accurate, though I’m not able to spell out how exactly (you’ll have to use your imagination, dear reader) but now I’m annoyed that I know for certain how easy it is for me to pick up a guinea pig wrong and irritate it. Wish I didn’t know, actually…

A clothesline of skulls and other bones stretches across the city towards Plarvolia — for artistic purposes. As I gather some bones, I realize they may be only enough to fill a single transported line, rather than the usual convoy that she typically sets it up for. Perhaps enough to fill a single box.

Within a photorealistic video game universe, I ascend the long spiraling ramp of an icey tower. Proves very easy for me; perhaps I’ve trod this path before. As I climb higher I hear the voices of a pair of Native American brothers discussing money that I owe them. I keep navigating up and up, like a vertical glacier. At the top of the tower I discover a metal statue with jewels scattered about its base that resemble Infinity Stones. I pay them no mind. Instead, I focus on collecting small horse-shaped carved figurines from nearby stair alcoves, ignoring the “main objective” of the statue and jewels. Winning is not my priority, as it was never my objective, though certainly someone else’s.

For the first time now, I utilize my ability to flash between scenes (similar to fast travel in other video games). An sudden shift in scenery transports me from the straight garden pathway of a 1920s-era California country estate to a bright 2-story orphanage full of white, sunny windows. In this level of the game’s story it’s where I am being raised. But there are also multiple Home Alone-style criminal adult baddies who are chased me, hiding like the guards in Legend of the Hidden Temple. When they catch me it resets, and I attempt again to navigate through or around the ground floor rooms.

I find myself dating multiple girls, a situation that began around the same time. I effortlessly carry on multiple conversations, often switching from one person to another in the next room. Remarkably, I can recall each girl’s recent stories and seamlessly pick up where we left off when I encounter a different girl. These interactions take place in a narrow, unremarkable communal space, divided by wooden fences into backyards that are a dull blue and translucent in tone. It’s somehow based on the design of my childhood bedroom? Hm. During a barbecue, I access hidden panels where I keep stored equipment for certain occasions. Despite the complexity of juggling multiple relationships, I’m doing quite well.

Over a fence, I join a conversation about young Australians who have developed a new casual tense of their own invention. This isn’t just slang either, but genuine emergent grammatical innovation. I note that this has happened like three times now in my life. I observe that these kids find the demands of formality-entrenched work culture to be at odds with their Aussie attitudes, leading them to develop a new way of communicating with customers in their teenage retail jobs. This inevitably leads to the absorption of this new casual lingo into formal expectations though, necessitating yet newer forms of casual lingo. And so the treadmill marches on…

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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.