Rise Up Screaming

Ever since I took a job with a heavy lean towards bureaucracy, my dreams have been utter crap. Because a big component of the dream world is “cerebral housekeeping” – essentially, our minds kicking out anything from the previous day that is deemed unworthy of brain space – my dreams consist of subject matter like populating spreadsheets, navigating government databases, crafting cumbersome contracts, and trying to coerce people in leadership positions to respond to repeated, urgent inquiries. In short, it sucks. None of that shit is acceptable fodder for dreams. Or real life.

The other night was different, though. For starters, I wasn’t even in my own dream. Instead, the protagonist was a retired professor in a virtual meeting with a group of former students. Their interactions seemed sinister somehow, then became innocuous and conversational before the scene shifted entirely, now featuring two people closed in a room, watching two other people through a window in the door. When it became clear to the folks in the room that they were imprisoned and their captors were getting ready to abandon them, one of the prisoners put his mouth up to the window to scream for help. The scream wouldn’t come out, though. It was just a muted, slow moan. He tried again. It was a little louder, but no scream. He took a deep breath and tried with all his might. Finally, the scream came forth, low at first, then rising in pitch and intensity: “ooooooOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

And that’s how I woke myself up. As I lay in the darkness, I came to the embarrassing conclusion that I had most definitely been vocalizing the crazed cries of the guy in my dream. This was confirmed as my dog Daisy ran into the room to nuzzle me with clear concern, and my husband tapped my shoulder, then shook it gently.

“I’m awake,” I muttered. “I’m sorry.”

“That sounded scary,” JR replied.

“I’m okay.”

I lay there in silence, imagining JR and the dogs’ sudden shock into consciousness by my strangled moans-turned-screams. As the scene rolled over in my head, including Daisy’s valiant rush to my aid, a burst of laughter exploded out my nose, and that was that. I could not stop laughing. Of course, that woke everybody again.

“What’s up?” JR mumbled.

“It’s just so funny. The sounds I must have been making…”

“Oh, yeah. It was like ooooooowwwwww aaaaahhhhgggg…..”

And then we were both laughing. Titus, the 130-pound dog who sleeps in our bed, decided these nighttime shenanigans were pretty awesome and started to wriggle all over and lick our faces. Daisy stayed put wherever she was, probably shaking her head and wishing everyone would shut up and go back to sleep already.

To me, there is something so incredibly hilarious about losing physical control of oneself. I’ve written about this before, recounting another time I rocketed myself and the rest of the household out of sleep by wrenching dream behaviors into the waking world. At least this time, I didn’t kick JR full-force in the shin. 🤣

Welcome to My Unconscious

Alarm goes off this morning. I press snooze.

The next thing I know, I’m standing in the large, industrial kitchen of a luxurious domicile where I’m housesitting. For some reason, the kitchen is full of visitors. The people are unfamiliar, but I know they’re connected to the homeowners somehow. On the counter is an answering machine (apparently I’ve traveled back in time), and I press the play button, then listen to a message from a young man who’s looking after my place while I’m away. His tone is morose as he explains that Jasper, my dog, has died. The folks in the kitchen give me sad, compassionate looks while the message plays. I assume they heard him leave it, so they already know the news.

I don’t have time to linger over Jasper’s passing, however, because I have to get to a show. An acquaintance of mine has embarked on a comedy career and asked me to attend her opening performance. I walk through a door (conveniently located right off the kitchen) to enter an auditorium full of people. The lights have been dimmed, and I work my way through the dark to find a seat. It turns out we’re not there for stand-up comedy. Instead, we watch a sitcom’s pilot episode, and the budding comic I’m there to see plays one of the characters. Sadly, as the show runs, the laugh track provides the only laughter in the room. I wonder what I’m going to tell the woman afterwards, though I imagine the crowd’s silence is feedback enough.

Then I’m in another house that I know is mine, though it’s nothing like anywhere I’ve ever lived. There are no signs of Jasper – no food bowl, leash, etc. I walk around the house, trying to piece together what might have happened to him, when my alarm goes off again.

In the real world, ten minutes have passed. I wake with a deep feeling of melancholy, but it dissolves as I hear Jasper’s claws tick across the floor in the other room. My sweet dog is alive, I have no housesitting responsibilities, and I don’t have to tell whoever that woman was that her show was awful.

Whew.