Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The sleep of reason

log in sunlight
Originally uploaded by pwilnyc.

Weirdly, I have been having nightmares. Nightmares, weirdly, I have been having. Nightmares. Weird. Isn't that weird?

How many non-fictional adults (besides veterans, sadly) have you heard of who wake up in the middle of the night rigid with fear because a dream was so freaky? Rigid with fear, I'm not kidding. 4am and I am wide awake, cold sweat, whole body flexed and aching.

And it's not like I'm having nightmares about irresponsible babysitters, or ants, or even about my husband's brain. No, my nightmares are intricately plotted, quite exotic, and intensely cinematic. In other words, absolutely nothing like my real life.

In fact, I am comfortable telling even total strangers about my nightmares because they feel so utterly unrelated to my waking world. I'm about as well-adjusted as I've ever been. I haven't had a bad dream in years, and even then I dreamed that all my teeth fell out. Or I had to take a final exam in a class I thought I'd dropped. You know: the two most common dreams in North America. So all of a sudden experiencing these horrible things - it almost feels like 'something I ate,' a la Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend.

Except... would cheese (or in my case, gin) prompt visions of an unbelievably sinister, eyeless, charred-looking demon trying to insinuate himself into my house to suck the life out of my children? A demon who communicates via the gunky eye and nose secretions of a neighbor child?

Or... would a bad piece of sushi cause me to rewrite the movie Jacob's Ladder for myself, casting Tom Cruise as a violent psychopath who tortures his family (Nicole Kidman and two little girls) before moving on to recruit the inmates of an insane asylum and pull the head off a nurse? I mean, this was a nightmare with a framing device for god's sake. In my dream I was happily watching TV and came upon this movie. I thought to myself, "God I can't stand Tom Cruise but I heard he was amazing in this," and then I watched the movie and couldn't turn it off.

Wrecks me the next day, because I can't get back to sleep. Plus it just leaves a bad taste in my brain. Tom Cruise, yeesh.

They're not all ghastly. The other morning I told Bob at breakfast, "I had another bad dream last night. My camera was broken! And you were cheating on me."

He says, "I was cheating on you? And that comes up after the broken camera?"

Yeah you'd think that would bother me. I'm guessing that since in my dream his new girlfriend was a good-looking Asian woman, not a three-headed mermaid with teeth where her tits should be (for example), I just figured the whole thing to be more or less benign.

My camera, though, that would be a nightmare.