Dream Journal

The Old Hostel, a New Boat

Early in the morning I have two thematically-linked dreams that I think I’ll remember — but they’re missing now, overwritten. They were from first light perhaps 6AM (when I put on my eye mask that helps provide darkness. They feel like fruit which has been torn from the branch and had the scars crust over.

A visit the the Financial District of our town with it’s smooth asphalt roads for fancy expensive electric cars. I don’t go here often but my wife and I met here, at the old hostel. Strange to visit now. It hasn’t changed, really, but I have. Though it does have a different name — “Desert Inn ” — but the vibe of everyone there is so startlingly familiar. There’s such a strong nostalgic pain as I look over the young people socializing around the pool and courtyard. The same types of people; the kind of person I was once, in my early twenties. It’s the openness and energy, a kind of power without knowing you have power. I notice my old mentor Chicken John leaning against a wall nearby the entrance, waiting on some of his boat crew.

I haven’t seen his new boat, a big sailing ship he’s been aggressively working on for months (if social media is to be believed). I follow him onto the tall ship. This has been his new project since after we separated. He likes to keep busy. Though feigning for a moment to treat with respect, he quickly finds an excuse to demand something from his crew of lackeys — the kind of person I used to be — and leaves me as if I’m not there. The status quo. Fine for me, as I go about investigating the more interesting nooks and crannies. I end up on the lower deck of the white-painted hull, and then in an outer room that could be a sunlit dining hall with a roof of gauzy plastic sheeting. I realize the ship isn’t on water, or even docked, but set into the center of a grassy disused common. I recognized his cleverness, managing to convince some functionaries to have it permanently parked as if it were the town’s, when it’s really his private property. It looks like just any other strange vintage ship turned into a building, if you can believe it.

I head away and find a jumble of rocks artfully rolled up against what acts like a gate at the end of the common. Mossy and landscaped, I jump from tip to tip on each rock’s point… upon recollection, not unlike how I visited Point Emery in the East Bay for sunset yesterday. Although in the dream, I also do this on a bicycle.

There’s an extended sequence where I care for Chris Farley (or a very Farley-like figure). He’s a great guy but a terrible mess of a life, drugs but also personal choices, and it’s an intense job. I do this perhaps twice. I realize I won’t know how to relate this to someone who’s not done something similar. Here, writing now, I suppose I really don’t. Seemed important to remember at the time.

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.

Dream Journal

Frozen Offices, Freezing Time

Ambling along a boring straight street of an office park. Boring isn’t the right word — faceless, eerie, liminal are better. With my every step the foam façade exteriors creak, with age, even with just the wind. Like the entire place has been ignored since the 1980s. Starting to feel like I’m sneaking around. I stop to read the plaque next to a door; it’s a video game company that hasn’t made anything since 1989 yet claims to be releasing a new game in a week. And there it is, on a plaque of all things.

In their offices I start zooming around, teleporting and phasing through rooms. I use an ability to freeze or slow down time. People really do work in these identical offices, and there are many of them. Cheerier than I’d expect. Unexplainably like New Orleans in the winter. Bland, predictable, the same old conference rooms, but in good condition. I inspect the structure from inside the walls and it’s sound.

In the middle of the office space I begin operating on pair of dogs (or maybe donkeys), male and female.

Brushing my friend Tracy’s arm with a smooth flat hair brush. Her husband Don watches me carefully but with calm apathy.

Dream Journal

Surviving Zombie Apocalypse / Revisiting Grandma’s House

I’m proudly surviving the zombie apocalypse. I can zap around, I’m vigilant and quick. These zombies aren’t mindless but seem to hunt together as if controlled by an overlord somewhere. Despite my cocksure attitude I’m keenly aware of being constantly in danger. The world is changed and though I’m getting on, I know this isn’t what it should be. There’s a moment where I (or someone controlling the teleporter) accidentally teleport into a classic officer’s club/New Orleans style place called the G.A.&G — which happens now to be a zombie headquarters.

Staying up the night before on a writing spree of five stories, completing an assignment from 8th grade. Could be the same year; could be decades later. I’ve cobbled together two complete stories so far, maybe three. I consider for a moment how the teacher should’ve made the deadlines spaced out. But something clicks and I realize it’s my teacher from 9th grade, while the classroom is from sixth. An idea begins to form of why it was silly to re-do the assignment. Could be the beginnings of lucidity.

I’ve collected my pet rats together in a box. These are a new set of hybrids made from recombined pieces of earlier pets (giving reality to a metaphor I’ve been using lately for when all our older rats died off last year). I carry their box as far as inside a massive building and against a partially destroyed wall of the zombie-haunted zone. The gesture is carefree, but I’m also tired. My wife points out that they can now get loose, and there are many other rats roaming here. This is exactly the idea though — they have their little gang group, a home base in the form of the box, they won’t have a better chance than this. They need to survive in the world just like us.

In the basement bowels of this apocalyptic interior I find myself nostalgically watching a TV program from the 80s. I’m lounging in a disguise. Someone next to me is apparently in a new bodysuit. I say “you must be Chris then” assuming it’s my brother. I never am sure, though.

Revisiting the neighborhood of my maternal grandma’s house. It used to be exactly 10 minutes drive from my home when I was small, maybe 4 years old. I gradually piece together how it was on Fritz street, itself a branch off Glenn street where we lived in Santa Rosa (note: we did live there but these places aren’t real). It’s been redeveloped, that much I knew — but I never guessed how I wouldn’t even recognize it. It was once an overgrown single lane like you might find in the English countryside. Due to its convenience just off transit routes now it’s a thoroughly chopped up suburban neighborhood. There’s a poorly selling development of built-out treehouses. My Nana’s house back then was a compact little warm wooden space, like the inside of a boat. It was perched on the ridge of a hill overlooking the foggy pine forests of a wide valley beyond. Even that shows scattered signs of human colonization now.

I recall the flooded channel between two ridges as I saw it as a child in the 1980s. Smoking men used to paddle across in dinghies. I witness one instance where a wheelchair was transported off the back of the boat, dragging in the water, using its electric motor as an improvised outboard. I think then, certainly not all the regulatory changes since my youth haven’t been improvements.

Dream Journal

Colored Boulders of the Arctic

In the middle of an obscenely bright sunny day within the Arctic, I cross a bridge over a recently dug small boat channel. I watch a little outboard-powered dinghy pass toward the sea and I’m reminded of a radio story I just heard, about a worker for this company (oil or gas) that put endangered seabird eggs in harm’s way. Cynically I judge that nothing will change, the worker was fined but the company will never be punished. The stones making up the beach here look like huge boulders of sea glass, gobsmacking in the unusual daylight. Just heartbreakingly beautiful, large and small, stretching far into the distance, and I reflect on them being trade restricted by the government — it would seem this actually gets them sold only to the rich, creating an artificial shortage to boost prestige. Yet I also consider how each one ever bought was picked up by a human being, a person that came to this harsh climate and carried it out. The stones are indeed beautiful.

Hiding from Starfleet. I flee into the rafters behind ceiling tiles in order to technically serve a proscribed punishment (like “time served”) and avoid further investigation — investigation which would be recorded officially. I consider my tiny vial of an artificial drug, the one I keep in one of my personal round miniature bottles, and whether it was worth the price of faking insanity. I keep it hidden between pages of a book. It was a prize from some past devil’s bargain of mine, connected with why I now must hide.

A MTV-style “prank” entertainer (who reminds me of Jim Brewer) is getting strapped into the seat of a very long swing to perform a stunt. To great fanfare he’s suddenly released, plunging at a wide, dirty, graffiti-covered wall. His swing is perfectly measured and calculated — such as with a weight measurement taken immediately before — that his face barely stops impact. It’s close enough he could lick it. Honestly, an impressive stunt.

A feeling of flying on my motorcycle while I’m riding on a raised viaduct. I adjust an eyepiece I’m wearing slightly. It takes me a moment for my eyes to realign, and I have a scary moment of absolutely not knowing where the freeway is. I recover, shaken, understanding that my familiarity with the road helped save me.

I’m here visiting an out of town city (Seattle, or maybe Coachella Valley) and eager to see some fond old sights. Though… because of that I’m also conflicted about whether I want to see friends who live in town. I also get to listen to an old favorite radio station as I ride, which broadcasts in a couple of different cities. Granted, I am listening to it via internet radio and could do this any time, it’s still nostalgic. It reminds me I can go to a music store not far away a bit past where the viaduct curves then slopes down. It’s nice to recognize the layout of streets below which I remember from long ago.

Dream Journal

Gremlins Do-Over

My persona takes the form of Bobby Hill (from the King of the Hill cartoon), playing a lengthy game all the way through — making terrible choices in difficult situations the entire time. But as the game is about to end, I return to the first level and change my original actions… following a pair of invisible girls through a gateway I’d rejected previously as being an obvious trap. Surprisingly, everything clicks into place smoothly after that. It’s as if I’m playing on easy mode now. Because of this, I don’t know whether the rest of this dream narrative comes before or after…

Gremlins are released into the dream. Present in every scene, they somehow represent failings and hindrances I’ve acquired in adult life and have diverse transmogrified forms, perhaps a tequila bottle, or computer hardware. That would make this akin to Gremlins 2: The New Batch. The original gremlin isn’t cuddly either (like the Mogwai named Gizmo in the original), more like a small green papier-mâché spider one might imagine as a New Orleans parade float.

Another scene, an apartment set for a 1920s movie, an earlier era of Hollywood. It’s made to look like a sitcom that’s an agglomeration of cultures and ideas. One odd detail is a string of koosh balls garlanded around the kitchen island. The young actress who is playing the director has to have explained to her (given the inclusion of several “sensitive” African elements) why the scene is problematic. This is the first time the word is used this way on film, fairly early for when the actual movie was made in the year 2000.

Zooming out from this setting to a reality TV intro showing the cast next to another cast, meant to demonstrate their relative honesty and humble character.

In the same set, an iMac is brought in with a VHS slot to be repaired. There’s a minidisc or two inside and I offer to transfer it to digital by introducing myself to the cool woman who brought it in. I say I’ll get her contact info from my homepie friend Josh (also standing nearby). I have to prevent gremlin-rats from crawling inside the slot. What they represent, I’m not sure, but surely they represent something.

A Schwarzenegger-dad type stands on the steps at the top of a hallway giving ultimatums; it’s like having an angry Zeus for a father. I’m a small petulant boy, a bit like John Connor in the Terminator, stamping my feet in defiant rebellion. I purposefully walk up the steps to pass this dad of mine to express my frustration, only for his façade of tough love to crack into love and forgiveness for me.

I find a long-lost brother of mine. He’s younger, without my knowledge of alcohol or drugs (this is filmed facetiously, a plate of dried leaves being snorted, something to throw the kiddies off) or really any of life’s inevitable mistakes. We search for a place I encountered earlier — a place which called me in my own father’s voice — as we walk through hallways in a near-symbolic (non-realistic) space. We suddenly find the same door again, leading to the command deck of an old-timey submarine. But my brother half-heartedly feigns some reason he doesn’t want to go in. I pretend not to understand his objections. However, when we enter it’s at an earlier stage than when I visited before; it’s still being constructed as it’s a stage set, the wooden ribs of the submarine exposed. One detail: someone has to go and manually rope something up outside, wrapping rope around their shoulders and torso, implied to be a suicide mission — they call it “happy man”.

The dream ends, or perhaps starts over.

Dream Journal

Good Old Burning Man, I Suppose

Invited back to Burning Man, with the camp my sister stays at. They last stayed in 2015 — it doesn’t seem so long ago.

When I first get into camp I find a few emblems lying on the ground at he entrance. My old rabbit fur bag of elfstones (that I carried in middle school) appears to be there, as well as some important books from my past.

The camp is indoor and outdoor. There’s a book counter in our camp, and the bookseller asks me if I know that a photo of mine is currently first place in a competition. He seems to be clued in to the unusualness of the situation, and I can’t fully recall if it’s a photo I did take, but I definitely can’t remember submitting it. He reminds me of my wife’s dad’s friend, Loren.

Nice slow conversation with friends in our camp about bringing a good smartphone camera to Burning Man. Mickey is there, my sister Alia too, I even notice my dad sitting at the end of a table — had hung out with him without even realizing he was my dad.

The photo from the competition comes out: a very clear photo of statuary in a twisting wood, the lighting a deep velvety eerie calm midnight. Studying it closely, the sensation forms of how the angle, framing, color treatment, and more are recognizably my style. It must have been made several years ago now.

I help haul out stuff we’ve brought this year, much of it packed into a rundown old ’70s luxury car (one of those big fat Buicks or Cadillacs) parked on the roadside exactly behind the spot where I parked last time. After that long discussion on phone cameras earlier I happen to uncover an old Motorola flip-phone. Though only here for novelty purposes, it proves worthy of close examination — a true artifact. Somehow I finally appreciate just how many individual technological bits and pieces were sorted out in its making.

The chaos of the festival is just coming into swing, though it’s early yet… and a bit more reserved than I remember. I watch a procession of long mechanical costumes march up a slope toward us. An articulated worm-dragon, I realize, was probably made with help from my friends Don & Tracy.

Mickey is futzing around camp, pensively searching for a special spiritual emblem of his that’s missing. Meanwhile I’m feeling annoyed as the bookseller has closed shop early, and without notice. I could’ve asked him about the emblem — I’m worried a book I traded could’ve contained (or perhaps was) Mickey’s cherished talisman.

We settle down together at a table, playing some emulated old video games. Mickey brings my heavy motorcycle boots over and sets them nearby, which bothers me until I understand he wants them as a cool prop for his fighter jet game. Following that is yet another emotional conversation, both of us worried about different things. It strikes me suddenly that we’re both distraught somehow yet still doing exactly what we want — this is a true vacation, with no genuine adult responsibilities, and we’re both literally playing Nintendo just as we would in our childhood. (Though, odd detail: I have a Steam Controller and he’s still using a keyboard and mouse.) Our mood improves immensely after this observation is made. Ironically but perhaps unsurprisingly, when I unpause my game it crashes to the JavaScript backend. One can only sigh, or laugh, and wonder at the predictability of such things.

The bookseller returns unexpectedly soon afterward, having only taken an evening break.

The music playing in my head, as I woke up and tried to remember as much as I could: N.O.H.A. – Do You Know

Dream Journal

The Best Place in the World [for] Chinese Restaurant

Twilight in my home city of San Francisco, watching down a street as a bicyclist rides uphill on a sidewalk. I yell at then, manage to get one good “don’t ride bike on sidewalk” as they ride right through a group of pedestrians. Afterward, one good “fuck you” for good measure.

Soon after I find the person, a gray haired but well-put-together lady, a woman of a certain age, while I’m walking crosswalk. I listen to her, get her to tell me what’s wrong: she’s a tourist, a meeting soon. Yet something is switched around in these dream streets. It’s the same setting as other dreams of San Francisco, ones with canals, or social revolutions, or maybe in the southeastern neighborhoods years before my time.

I escort her to her meeting, around a strangely colorful yet hostile SF. The streets bright yet cloudy. She enters her meeting in a plastic-walled tent, a dining establishment just off the sidewalk, while I maintain eye contact. She still doesn’t like how I called her on her riding behavior, but I’ve also been nothing but helpful since. “Good luck, be well,” I say through the window, pausing before mouthing “God bless”. I don’t know her well enough to know how it’ll be received — it feels customary, almost too automatic, tonally off-the-mark.

By coincidence, I’ve also arrived at a destination of my own. I used to work at a Chinese restaurant (in waking life too), and it’s in the building adjacent to the tent. The elaborate yet homey sign outside proclaims “The Best Place in the World [for] Chinese Restaurant”. In truth it’s more of a neighborhood cafe/novelty museum. I walk in and they immediately remember me; I ask them to refresh me on my job since this is the first time in 15-18 years I’ve been there (I worked at Kitty Ko’s Golden Phoenix in 2002 irl, thereafter dreamed of it for a few years after perhaps, so this may be unusually accurate). The chef and chef’s husband still don’t speak any English, but greet me enthusiastically nonetheless. Behind the cash register nothing seems to have changed either, and I’m re-warned about the black electrical cord dangling inconveniently in the walkway behind the front counter.

Reacquainting with the place, I remember there are two sections of novelties, plus a back room. They’re separated by age-appropriateness (or morbidness depending on who you ask). One item in the collection that I remember distinctly is a Victorian-era ambulance for the disabled — it’s an open-air carriage with the cheery “spinach-leaf green” color of a hospital, with robin’s-egg blue accent stripes. However, the coverings for passengers, jet-black and shroud-like, made for the privacy of hiding disfigurement and/or pain, are 100% what a modern person would recognize as the Grim Reaper.

I note all this to my sibling Patrick/Alia, who’s sitting at the bar counter. They seem mildly interested but ask instead about the back room. I’m curious also, squeezing through a narrow opening of blocks in the back wall. There are stacks of boxed-up unused novelties. There’s also the entrance to a vast underground performance chamber, something little-used in my time there, which I’d nearly forgotten about.

A group of string-instrument musicians along the back wall of this cavernous hidden space immediately begin playing (reminds me of Azerbaijani cover band Bizimkilər). Looking over toward the stage, there’s also a dance troupe waiting patiently. In hope of introducing them so they don’t have to continue waiting, I go over and ask the first girl I saunter up to what her name is. She answers “Jeanne Artas”. I have to ask if they are the Artas, or if it’s her personal name.

Another group of audience members, a school group of kids, clambers down the improvised brick blocks in the walls — nothing like a stairway and certainly not considered ‘accessible’ by conventional building standards. But this is technically a private area of the business. I reflect for a minute how this huge enclosed space is completely unapparent from the street, and how many of these hidden human spaces there must be, collectively, across the city and the world. I ponder this aloud to the girl, Jeanne, how such a large space could be secreted away, how it even fit. She ponders too, and notes that Kitty, the owner, also owns the coffee shop next door, and perhaps a small corner of it had been used so as in making the entrance of the tall auditorium. To me this is hardly an explanation, and I regard her incredulously.

I kept the dream alive to write down despite/because of the name “Lenipobra” repeating in my head while hypnogogic. A name from my current book, Consider Phlebas, which I had previously forgotten.

Dream Journal

Moving After 10 Years

Moving out of the apartment we’ve lived in for 10+ years, there are new people moving in soon. Various recollections:

  • Shelves and shelves.
  • Packing things away with boxes, yet often while being inside them.
  • Hundreds of semi-forgotten nostalgias.
  • Turning a Brita mini-fridge back into a working water filter fridge, from a litter box.
  • A tiny desiccated plant box, a former fridge magnet.
  • The wood on the top shelf of cabinets has sagged down from all the bottles kept on it, almost to the point of the bottles falling off. One notable unidentified bottle in a high kitchen windowsill, from a hike my wife and I took once on the day that would be our anniversary — except in the narrative, this hike actually occurred on our wedding day.
  • My friend Val was there, to express her sympathies.

A narrow tall Victorian house (like the Carson Mansion in Eureka, California) up on a hill. I’ve negotiated with our landlord or perhaps the temp-stay management to let me store stuff in the attic there. Yet I haven’t even been up there by the time our scheduled check-out date arrives.

During the dream I constantly have the feeling that all the solutions I’ve sorted out over the years are being dismantled, one by one.

A Russian-style hot tub hut with distinctive green tiles is another place we’ve rented, and another place we’re also giving up. Frustratingly, I realize we’ve only visited 2-3 times. On the side, the green ceramic vertical tiles (like long pyramids) have fallen off a small section, revealing what I never noticed — small handmade classical Russian banya tiles, even more beautiful.

Displayed on a rotating platform nearby is a model train made to resemble an expensive handmade miniature yacht, built of metal, wood and cut glass.

“Maep” is a strange word said by a midget which is used to remind me: time is up. Time is up, and I awake.

Dream Journal

Australia, What Might’ve Been

I go return to Australia now, as myself, a middle-aged man. I end up spending much time reading in a dark pub and saving really good memes. The room where I’m staying is compact and oddly shaped, on the corner between two long rural streets. The whole thing is very much a nostalgia tour but it’s made more difficult on account I didn’t have Google Maps in Australia back then. I remember one thing on my to-do list: “ivywalk”… though I admit I don’t even know what that was. It’s relaxing — yet nostalgia itself is a kind of pain, the bittersweet pain of a place you cannot truly go back to.

At some point near the end of this trip I consider revisiting the town I spent the last days of my younger trip in, Shepparton, where I was humbled as a salesperson and walked up and down the sheep inhabited main street. This is… somewhat close to my real-life waking memories. I try to think of even one person I could visit there, and the one who comes to mind is the charming old lady Josephine, the only customer I feel I actually helped, getting her new bill put under the name she’d always chosen to use: Jo. And yet she was fairly old then, and that was 14 years ago.

Curiously enough — and this is the waking truth — last November I had a brief lucky few hours when I could’ve bought deep discount plane tickets for Qantas 100-year anniversary. I had a three week trip for two all queued up (for $1400!) yet ultimately we decided that even that wasn’t quite low enough for us, what with food and lodging too. I’d quite forgotten about that untaken chance… today would’ve been about when we flew back.