My Sleep is Full of Drama


Two weeks’ worth of dreams, and the moon won’t hold still

I dreamed I lived in a great, rambling building, which had been abandoned, of course. I didn’t live there so much as stay there, and I slept in the coldest, darkest, moldiest roo
m, which was the worst for sleeping. The building was run by a collective of friends who tolerated me, but resisted becoming too invested in me, because I was leaving, because I didn’t really live there, because I lived nowhere. Many of the rooms of the building had rotted wooden floors and bed-sheets made of tattered sack-cloth, and many of the rooms were very nice, and they led one into the other, like a sort of maze.

One of my friends was stomping around on the wooden floors upstairs and I went to see what was going on. She was in a great ballroom I hadn’t previously known existed, arranging vases of flowers by lamplight.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“We’re having a ball, a Christmas ball.” She said, frustrated, as if I should have known, as if I’ve been told already, as if I forgot. That was when I remembered that I didn’t live there, that I had a flight home on the twenty-third, that the twenty-third was today. I woke up then, to a world blanketed in snow that is normally blanketed in rain, and realized that there was no flight. I was home. I was home. My bed pointed east-west, it did not spin. My room did not lift in the air, like Dorothy in Kansas, in the night while I slept. I was home, I could hear, I could think, I could remember. And unfortunately, I was awake.

I had dreams about sockmonkeys last night, and the woods. Almost a nostalgia for the woods. Riding in the back of a pickup truck, naked. I was a girl. Like, really a girl. With long hair. I took my clothes off in the woods and before I had a chance to put them back on, I was headed out in the bed of a pickup truck, in front of traffic and everything. All I could do was hold still and make myself invisible that way.

I had two sockmonkeys, one very old, woolen and nappy, and one newer, clumsily made, fresh. The newer one was beige, the older one was grey with striped clothing. They were muppets, too, or puppets, with wires in them. They could be posed. Or they were a sort of oracle, a vague, murky oracle, whose purpose is yet to be known.

I woke up like a light fading, and couldn’t remember my dreams. The cat meowed in the hallway, assaulting my barricade of throw-pillows. I felt awash in a memory of movement, or travel, of haste. As if I was late for something. And then I remembered the job I needed to apply to, and suddenly I was all the way awake. Regretfully. I would have liked to sleep longer- I would have liked to sleep for ten hours, with dreams packed in like a suitcase full of clothing that’s too small to wear. And in the morning my fantasies would spill out like a mason jar full of glass beads, tipped over on its side as I rose from the bed.

I didn’t dream last night, because I didn’t sleep. I drank whiskey, and when I drink I can’t sleep. Which is why I don’t usually drink. But it was Thursday, and I thought- what the heck! And drank at a friend’s potluck at five in the afternoon. By eight I was sober. At midnight I couldn’t sleep. At six a.m. I let the dog out to pee and he ran away. At six thirty I found him. At eight I gave up on sleeping and rose to make slaw from grated veggies, clean my room, and watch twenty minutes of Napolean Dynamite, before a friend showed up for breakfast. My friend arrived and showed me how to make “egg pie”, beaten egg and leftover rice in the little castiron. We both took pictures.

I slept for a hundred hours. I remember only one dream. I worked at a sprawling, decaying, excessive, country estate, which began in floors and floors of hardwoods and gold, and ended in a tall-grass meadow planted in pines. It was summertime. I was camping in one of the meadows, and I saw Michael Jackson there. I saw Michael Jackson, and I thought, “Hey- you don’t look so bad in person!” in fact, he was beautiful. In fact, he looked like me. Wait a minute- were we related? Looking at him in my dream, I was convinced, suddenly, that we were related. He told me that I’d been camping behind his sister Janet’s house. Or maybe it was Latoya.


I had a dream that I was dancing at the club to britney spears’ song “gimme more”. Then I woke up and realized that I HAD been dancing at the club to that song. And now it was nearly noon. And the heat had kicked on. And pearl needed walking. And I was still tired. After returning home from dancing I’d gone on a bender of late-night photo-uploading, instead of going straight to bed as I should have. So now, I’m tired. And the snow is all melted and we’re back to regular rainy winter. And I’ve just eaten a banana. And some toasted hazelnuts. And now I’ll make some eggs, and a salad of massaged kale…

I didn’t dream, I suppose. I wasn’t even here. Nothing happened at all. The world waited, it made new cells, my liver cleaned my blood. Muscles slept. It rained, hard, then nothing, then hard again, the sun swept over for a minute, and then rain like fog traveling at high speeds. Good strong portland winter. It’s good for the constitution, builds character and mold allergies. The mold is blossoming like tulips in the springtime. Earlier, walking the dog, I coughed a bit, wheezed, felt tired and hot behind my forehead. The mold has returned from christmas visiting its family, has returned to fling open the french doors of my lungs, let the dog out, throw its sweaters on the chairs. Inside my chest, the mold drinks a glass of water and checks its voicemail.

I had so many dreams, and I tried so hard to remember them, but they’re gone, gone, gone. Just emotions are left, the bare skins of emotions, like clothes on the dressing room floor. I look into the mirror and it’s just me, empty me, awake. With a bit of a sore throat, from the heater. This morning I’ll put on rice for breakfast and chop some carrots and onions for the lentils. I’ll listen to Creedance Clearwater and take the dog out for a walk that could never be long enough- he is so bored and just wants another dog to play with, but there are none of them, anywhere, in this rain-drenched wintertime world.

Oh, I try so, SO hard to remember my dreams, but my body seems intent on deleting the files. I woke up hot, when the heat kicked on at seven a.m., and fell back asleep tense, in fits, with allergies stuffing up my head. My bed was too soft, too big, my blankets too many, my pillow to stuffed. The room was too large, too hot. My stomach grumbled like an approaching thunderstorm. I wondered, in my sleep, what was wrong with it. What was wrong with me? WAS there anything wrong with me? If not now, would there be soon? It seems to be my general sentiment upon waking.

It’s a new year. I dreamed there was a sort of crisis- terrible weather, wet, clumping snow and rain all at once, freezing and piling up and seeping into the good dry places- and the homeless people had nowhere to go, nowhere to go. And so there were emergency shelters set up, stretches of concrete that fell below overhangs, a cold breeze blowing from outside, and you could sleep there- but once you were in for the night, you were in- and a loose fence fell to the ground and humorless cops paced the facilities and harassed, harassed everyone, and looked into your eyes as if you’d committed a crime, and you could not help but feel that you had. And I- when faced with the cop I pulled out my wallet and showed him my picture ID- “I am not really homeless,” I said. “I mean, I have nothing against these wonderful homeless people” (and here his mood lightened) “but I was only trapped here, looking for refuge from the rain when the fences went down.”

And then a friend and I cooked curried lentils for all the people, bewildered in the enclosure, nowhere to sleep and only cold, drafty concrete. We cooked the biggest pot of lentils and we sang the recipe for curry, naming the strange and numerous spices as if they were words we’d made up, turning it into a sort of poetry, and everybody loved that.

So many dreams. So many, so many dreams. The coldest room, the deepest covers, the warmest cocoon of sleeping. The world outside, fading in and out. Getting up to pee- once, twice, three times. Hearing, vaguely, the dog’s reunion downstairs. Paula squeaking with joy, the stamping of the dog’s tail. Dreams so peopled, so full of costumes, colors, morals and plots, that I cannot possibly remember them. Any of them. What has been learned, in the night? Who knows. It’s all gone now, only the clear empty day, nothing to fill it. Waking up late, grateful. The more sleep I get, the more I want to write. I know this. Eight hours- alright. Nine, I’ve got inspiration to spare. Ten- Look out world! Somebody stop me! Then- a long breakfast and a stuffed-up nose, a small space heater that makes a sound like fish tank. Sometimes I hate my own writing.

Two-stepping invaded my dreams. Quick quick slow, slow. Quick quick slow, slow. Couples two-stepping, loud top-forty country blaring from the speakers, my face hot and sweaty and I’m tired, so tired. I woke up too early, my heart still pounding. Damn late nights and what they do to my sleep! My dreams were like a parade of everyone I’ve ever known and have forgotten. I woke up coughing in the night, twice, and thought- what the fuck is wrong with me? What the fuck is wrong with me? I lay in bed for an hour after waking, savoring my warm cocoon and wishing I could fall back asleep. Also, wondering if I should move to the SW hills and be an indentured dog trainer. Would that make it ok? Would that make it possible for me to live in Portland, and still write?

I dreamed that my father looked like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, and was driving me somewhere in his car. My grandma was in the passenger seat. My father was a terrible driver, speeding around sharp corners and accelerating when he should be slowing down, sort of devil-may-care about all of it, which my grandma thought was hilarious. I kept yelling at him to slow down, but he wouldn’t. At one point he went off the road entirely, careening over the rough dirt shoulder and flying over a ditch, just barely making the other side. I’d had enough. I asked him to pull over as soon as he could, I was getting out. “I’ll hitch-hike,” I said, furious. “Where will you sleep?” asked my grandma. “There are trees,” I said. “I can sleep anywhere!” We pulled into a small town and I unloaded my things from the trunk of his car. I had two cardboard boxes, a comforter, a pillow. This shit would be hard to lug around, I thought, but whatever. “I’ve hitch-hiked with more!” was all I said to my father. They left me there, where packs of teenagers loitered outside the gas station. I woke up.

I had a dream that a friend of a friend of a friend, like a distant cousin, had killed herself. I don’t know why, I guess she was sad. It made me feel sad that she had died, it made me cry and scream, in my sleep, in my dream. Sometimes I have these sorts of dreams, where friends die, and friends of friends, people I have not seen in years, months, ever. Although twice I have had prophetic weather dreams about large natural disasters, none of my friend-death dreams have ever come true. I know they are not prophetic, just a sort of exercise for my brain, a way of cleaning house while asleep. I dreamed this woman had died, sad, alone, and woke congested and thought, the mold is killing me. I have to get out of here. It’s killing me. Now I’m thinking of going to San Francisco, for no reason at all, no reason but that I have no place to live until February, no obligations here until the 22nd, so why not leave for a few weeks? I tried to think, again, if I could ride a freight train with my computer, and the answer, as usual, was No.

No dreams. A black and empty sleep, and when I woke, a warm and rainy morning. A dry and painful chest, that yielded stiffly with my breath. I’m not going to San Francisco, I have a job interview this morning. That is what I’m doing instead. I’ve rented a room at a friend’s house, way out east past the farthest east I ever go. Life is good. Life is fine. I’m going to pack all my things up today, here in this lived-in friend’s room, where invisible mold hangs in the air. It’s so much easier, I think, to fight something you can actually see. But when does that happen? Hardly ever.

So many dreams, and not one of them I was able to bring back through the portal into the land of waking. Tonight I’ll try harder, and the next night- I’ll put a book next to my head, a tape recorder, an etch-a-sketch. They just weren’t meant to meet, the two worlds- One is made of shifting clouds and flocks of birds, the other of good solid morning and minutes that pass with immovable regularity. My eyes are open, my brain is churning, and all I can think of is breakfast- eggs, salsa, brown rice tortillas. Forward, forward, my conscious mind is urging me forward, into the morning, into the day.

4 thoughts on “My Sleep is Full of Drama

  1. Moar dreams plz.

    I’ve noticed that I have more vivid dreams, and remember them more frequently, if I go to bed totally exhausted. But some people say the opposite happens. Who knows.

    You pretty accurately described the frustrating act of trying to remember dreams. It’s so hard to recapture all the scenes when your brain is starting up with those annoying thoughts again, trying to distract you long enough to cover up the tracks. I lay in bed for a few minutes every morning trying to recall what, if any, dreams I had (“Wait… did I dream that? Or was that noise just a leafblower and not, in fact, a giant vacuum cleaner trying to suck up my entire body?”)

    Unfortunately, most of my dreams involve someone trying to kill or torture me. I just had another one a few days ago that I wrote about. But I’ve gotten used to it. It doesn’t bother me anymore because I know I never die.

    – Eric

  2. hope your new place is dryer. and that some of your sleep is calm, peaceful. I know your sleep and dreams inspire you, but everyone deserves a vacation from their brain…

  3. Putting a moonstone in a bowl of water next to your bed can give you more clarity on your beautiful dreams.

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