I almost never dream, or remember what I dream, anyway... When I do dream, it most often consists of school-related stress fantasies, for example I discover I am in a class that I didn't realize I was in, and now I am weeks behind. Following that in frequency, my dreams often involve just browsing the internet, which makes sense considering that is most of what I do in waking. Least often, I have dreams that are such shameful wish fulfillment that I treat their fading from memory like recovering from illness. This night's dream, though, felt both rich with subtext and entertainingly surreal, so I thought I'd copy it here.
On the night of the 26th, I was unable to sleep at all. I ended up getting a few hours in the late morning, but was exhausted all day and finally collapsed in bed from 5 - 11 pm. Waking up around 11 pm, I felt awake and naively figured I would just stay awake until my class next afternoon. I shaved and took a shower, and got completely dressed, trousers and a button up shirt with an undershirt. This would be the outfit that I would fall asleep in, around 3 am, which is when this dream happened. I woke up at 6:42 am, and I convinced myself to get up and copy it down. I got back into bed at 7:11 am to try (and fail) to return to sleep. I note all this because the bizarre sleep patterns of these few days may have influenced the clarity of the dream in some way. A clarified and annotated transcript of what I wrote follows here, with personal information noted with brackets.
me, A [internet friend 1], B [internet friend 2], C [friend from high school], and someone I don't remember were part of something like an rpg party1, and we all lived in a house and slept in one big bed. We also went camping out in the wilderness2, and one day I split from the group to go scouting. I came across the empty site of another party / group, one which God had granted geese as a resource. I understood them as geese, but they looked like little white ducks with yellow bills3. I saw several groups of these geese tied to each other around their necks, with each group tied to a tree. I looked over a small hill and saw an ocean of geese, stretching as far as I could see, moving silently like waves. I understood that there were other groups who had been blessed with animals as resource, but we were not one of them4.
I realized I had spent a whole day away from camp, and I figured that the group must be worried about me5. I went back to the house, but everyone was gone. I looked under the comforter of the bed that we all slept in, and found a big fat cat sleeping underneath. Then C came home suddenly, and he told me A and B were at "dunkey's6 house." I felt worried and weird about this, but I was reassured when he said he was going there too. He was wearing a white v-neck shirt with green stripes and a green collar similar to mine, and I was convinced I gave it to him. He said that I hadn't, and I realized he was right7.
Walking C out of the house, there were a bunch of torn open amazon packages lying around the living room and stairway. It started to take the form of [my childhood house]8. Some of the packages were for me and held new shirts, and there were some big ones that had happy birthday wrapping. I understood it must have been for A's birthday9.
I sent him off, and when I was outside on the yard it became clear to me that the house was [my childhood home]. On the yard, there were two office ladies speaking to each other in what I thought was French, or something foreign. One had a lanyard ID card around her neck. I thought they were reporters somehow. I didn't think anything of them as I was walking C out, but when I was heading back in alone, one of them glanced at me, and I realized their presence was wrong.
I went back into the house, and when I turned around on the stairs there was a big crowd forming around the door, with new reporters in front barking questions10. I think I yelled at them to go home, and they did, and a bunch of people clapped and cheered. Then, all the people who were clapping came flooding into the house, eating hors d'oeuvres like it was a wedding party. At some point [high school classmate]11 asked me about my new shirt, and I said "oh, I have several new shirts," and felt very proud about how clever that was12.
I was very distressed, and I screamed at the top of my lungs for everyone to get out, shredding my voice, and they all looked at me uncomfortably before going back to their conversations. The room seemed way bigger, and there were people sitting at little booth tables like it was a diner. I was on the stairs with my mom13, and there were some other people also sitting on the stairs around us and eating.
My mom told me it was OK that everyone was here, because it had been 10 months14 of a no-fun pandemic, and she now "understands" how people feel about being cooped in. I refuted by saying that I was quarantined too, and I wasn't having any "fun" like this. We then started listing my transgressions - I noted I took a train, and she mentioned that I had seen a movie, to which I said "once!"15 There was a third transgression I didn't remember, and we noted that it was one transgression every few months.
Before she finished her sentence, I became emotional again and stood up and screamed - "GET OUT! WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE!" over and over, burning my throat. I got up close, impossibly close, to the face of the lady next up on the stairs from us. She had a tired look set with an uncomfortable fear, and I immediately felt ashamed when I half-recognized her as some figure from my childhood. Her face looked like [an aunt of mine], but I understood her as maybe being one of my preschool teachers16. I turned away from her and yelled, "IF YOU ALL LOOK AT ME THEN JUST GO RIGHT BACK TO EATING, THEN I'LL," and I don't remember what the consequence was.
It began to seem more and more like a diner, so the third time I screamed, I said something like, "if you're waiting for the waiter to bring you the little pickle, the only pickle you'll get here is going up your asshole," and I understood how lame that was.
At this point I became fixated on the idea of a "nipple ring pickle" business where the gimmick was hot dogs and pickles with a nipple ring. I wondered how to make the ring edible. The mascot was a serious old guy like the investing guy on TV17. The website, which was advertised on the product packaging, was old-school and took up about 25% of the screen18. It had bright red text on a yellow background, and it was a series of sports humor and "if you know you know" type jokes about baseball and stuff19. There were big red triangle arrows you could click to go to the next joke. I clicked through two of them, but they were totally incomprehensible to me. I think one mentioned "baba-baba." I sat there at the computer feeling confused, trying to figure it out, when I woke up to someone running the faucet in the kitchen.
1 - none of these people are people I'm particularly close with, nor those of whom I had consciously thought about in recent memory. The "rpg party" structure likely stemmed from final fantasy for PSP, which I had been playing shortly before I went to bed.
2 - likely influenced by yuru camp vol 1, a manga about camping, which I read right before I fell asleep.
3 - like this, @hyxpk's ducks from the little nuns artwork.
4 - this was added later - after I finished writing the rest, I went back to bed, then got up again to add this sentence.
5 - at the time, I was taking a break from social media and chat rooms, so I had gone from speaking to some of my friends daily to not at all.
6 - the popular youtuber, videogamedunkey. The uncomfortable feeling I felt may have been resonances from recent "cancellations" of online celebrities preying on fans. Worth noting A and B are both minors. Also maybe worth noting that dunkey has an online store called "dunkey's castle."
7 - reading this back now, this part strikes me. This is something that happens to me frequently in waking - I convince myself of some strange detail, then immediately drop it once confronted. More on this at the end. Also, here's the shirt I was thinking of (it's one of my favorites):
8 - the only house I've ever lived in for a meaningful amount of time. Maybe my default image of what a "house" looks like on the inside.
9 - I don't even know whrn A's birthday is.
10 - like this scene from FLCL, which I had watched a day or two before. In this scene, reporters come to report on the mayor's divorce, whose daughter is a major character. Maybe worth noting that my parents got divorced in this house.
11 - barely ever knew this person, but I see them on instagram often. Incidentally, my written spelling was "hors d'evurs."
12 - another reflection of something that happens often in reality - feeling egotistical pride over the ingenuity of jokes that fail to land.
13 - the only time I can remember really screaming at someone in anger was at my mom, on these stairs. That was the angriest I've ever been in my whole life. I don't even really remember what it was over. More on this later.
14 - 10 month figure came from a professor who mentioned it to the class. It stuck with me, maybe because I hadn't really been counting.
15 - as in seeing a movie in a theater, which I never did. I did take a train unnecessarily, though. More on confronting my "transgressions" later.
16 - one of my preschool teachers lived near us at this house, and I used to see her at the bus stop sometimes as a kid. I never saw her once I stopped taking the bus, and I can't picture her face now. My aunt (and mom) showing up may be related to an assignment I did where I had to explain my family ancestry.
17 - I can vividly picture this man's face in my head, but I don't know what to google. He's not on the investing show that I thought he was when I wrote that.
18 - likely influenced by the development of this site, which was ongoing.
19 - likely influenced by slugzuki's amazing amazing write-up on the magic and mythology of baseball that you can and should read here. I had read it a few days before this, but it had a big effect on me and really stuck with me.
This should be obvious from the annotations - being on the internet and social media 24/7 has pervaded the way I think and the things I think about to a high degree. E-celebrities and their drama, twitter artists, blogs and thinkpieces, anime, manga, and video games, they all make up a huge portion of my brain, and as such are represented in this dream. I'm not particularly surprised by anything I noticed here - maybe if there was something surprising, I didn't notice it. But as I mentioned, this is an atypical dream for me, as most of mine are pretty dull and don't even have the internet poison to fill the holes in my imagination. Often when I'm half-half-awake in bed, I dream of hazy twitter timelines and discord chat rooms. It's telling to me that that's where even this exceptional dream ends, sitting at the computer confused.
Reading back over this to type it out, the things that stood out to me were not so much the events that I could read into (e.g. crowds of people invading my childhood home and refusing to leave, leaving my friends and coming home to discover they're all gone, etc). Rather, I'm more interested in seeing how me or my dream self acted at certain times. To study the self is to learn to forget the self, I think that is a Dogen quote. Well, I guess the events in a dream are as much self as dream self...
It's difficult for me to get angry or raise my voice. I first noticed this working at a nature camp when I was a teenager - someone had seen a car in the parking lot backing into my car, and I went to check it out. The car was a total beater (this would be its last season), and if they left a dent then I didn't notice it among all the others, so I wasn't really bugged at all. I got back and explained as much to my coworker, and they told me, "aw, I wanted to see you get angry." I thought, what a strange thing to say to someone. But it got me thinking that, it's true, things that I suppose would make other people "angry" typically just make me sad or an undirected upset.
This is all to say I was interested by the shouting moments in this dream. To be so "distressed" that I scream hard enough to "shred my voice" and "burn my throat" is not something I ever feel. Of course distress doesn't necessarily mean anger, but it's ok. As noted in the annotations, the only time I can remember ever "screaming" at someone in anger was right there on those steps, at my mom. Perhaps being in that scene returned those feelings to me. Alternatively, maybe this screaming frenzy is how I really feel, what I want to do when I see people not taking the pandemic seriously and doing things like crowding inside a house for a party. Maybe "getting angry" isn't the difficult part for me, it's "showing anger."
The way everything I read and consume from other people is just a filter of everything they've ever read and how things like a movie have so much burden of history and humanity collapsing in on a single work which will then be sent out for everyone else to add it to their collections overwhelms and terrifies me so much that I have to force myself to stop thinking about it.
Speaking of acting out during pandemic times, hashing out my "transgressions" with my mom stood out to me. It's not like I was being shamed, I was participating in the shaming.