Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Brief Sojourn Into My Subconscious

Given all the hubbub surrounding the film "Inception" and the subsequent articles (like
this one by my friend Alexis), I thought that I would post about my dreams of late. But first, a word about my sleeping habits. Essentially, if sleeping were a sport, I would be an Olympic athlete. I sleep more than most people I know. An astrology book I flipped through once told me that people born on my birthday (March 1) need more sleep than others because we have especially active dream lives. This is what I remind myself when I guiltily wake up after 11 am.

Those of you who know me know that I sometimes have some, um, anxieties. And thus, I have a lot of stress dreams. Now that I think about it, I have at least one a night. Some are more garden-variety/common, while others (I think) are more specific to me and my bizarre little brain. The basic categories of my stress dreams are:

1. The Travel Stress Dream

I only started having these about two years ago, when I was preparing to leave NYC and move to Boston for grad school. So obviously, the dreams are manifestations of my anxiety about transitions and changes. In the dream, I'm about the take a trip, BUT

a) I don't have time to pack/can't find my suitcase and/or

b) can't get a cab to the airport and/or
c) I'm at the airport, but I can't find the gate and/or

d) I'm at the gate, but I can't find my ticket/passport/luggage

I'm always in the same, horrible imaginary airport and it's huge and there are no informational monitors or signs. It's also strangely deserted, so no one can help me find my gate, etc.

2. The Academic Stress Dream

This one's pretty classic. Sometimes I'm back in high school, sometimes I'm in college. Sometimes I'm in "college" but the campus is my high school campus. Usually, the problem is that I suddenly remember that I signed up to take a class and meant to drop it, but forgot and now it's too late. The semester is almost over, I haven't been attending the class and I'm going to fail because there is no way I have time to learn/read everything before the imminent final exam.

3. The Health/Appearance Stress Dream

This one's a little weird. I occasionally dream that I'm blind or that my teeth are falling out. But sometimes, I have a more vain variation where I look in the mirror and I just don't look like me. Sometimes I've gained a lot of weight and sometimes I just look like a different person. Once I looked in the mirror and had become Monica Lewinsky and I was really upset about it. Because who wants to look like Monica Lewinsky?

4. The Performance Stress Dream

Again, fairly common among theatrical types -- I'm in a play and just haven't bothered to learn my lines. So I'm frantically trying to get my hands on a script backstage. The show is about to start. The twist is that the play is always something classical, like Shakespeare or Sophocles, so I know I can't just adlib my way through it because my lines are in iambic pentameter or rhymed verse or something.

5. The Restaurant Stress Dream

Since getting hired at Lineage, I have had one of these about once a week, usually following a busy shift. In the dream, I have a bunch of tables and am totally in the weeds. And to make matters worse, the computer system has been redesigned so I can't enter my orders. Also, the menu has completely changed and customers ask me questions I don't know the answers to (in one version, Lineage had mysteriously transformed into a Brazilian steakhouse).

6. The Wedding Stress Dream

I'd be curious to know if other single women nearing thirty ever have this one. It's my wedding day and everything looks beautiful. I'm in my dress, my bridesmaids are helping me with the final touches. I'm about to get married. My mom is literally weeping tears of joy. But here's the bad part: I know I'm marrying the wrong person. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it's a huge mistake. I know it will end in divorce. But it's too late to call it off so I know I'm going to go through with it. I'm about to make the biggest mistake of my life and there's nothing I can do about it. Pretty fucked up, no?

It's not uncommon that I will become aware that I'm dreaming at some point in these dreams and then will try to alter the course of events. Even though I know it's not real, if I can just get on the plane/drop the class/keep my teeth/ring in the order/memorize my lines/call off the wedding, I will wake up feeling less anxious. Sometimes I achieve this, sometimes I wake up before it happens.


Jordan said...

I have the travel dream all the time! I HATE it. Mine usually revolves around packing and it's only when I've arrived at my destination that I realize: I have completely forgotten to pack!
Or sometimes I dream that I've packed completely inappropriately---no clothes, just random household objects and other stuff in my suitcase.

I think all these stress dreams boil down to anxiety. I think? I'm sure Freud would have a different take.

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Anonymous said...

Hi sweetie, Mom here. I have the the travel, academic and performance dreams on a regular basis. My travel dream almost always involves me taking a trip without Dan, and I can't understand why I did this, and I can't stand being away from him for an extended period of time. Co- dependent but happy to be! Since he won't be joining us for Thanksgiving, this dream should really start to manifest in a monstrous way!