Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Strange dreams lately. I could call them Charlie Kaufman dreams; as he said on Fresh Air recently he is amazed at how is dreams can have surprise endings. If the teller of the dream is also the listener, then why/how does the mind surprise itself?

I'm vacuuming cobwebs, and the spiders right along with them. The spiders and some beetles gang up and form a living chain at the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner, then escape. One of the spiders turns into a woman. The woman demands that I kiss her. I feel only slightly scared kissing a spider woman, and where I anticipate venomous fangs there is only her sharply darting tongue. I'm being loved by a being I carelessly, almost robotically was trying to snuff out...

Second dream was completely different. I was trying out for a job as a waiter. The manager of the small restaurant was a tall, handsome bum with a bald spot and a hawaiian shirt. I left the restaurant and then returned because I realized I needed to ask when was the next day to report for work. The manager said not to bother, implying that I couldn't keep working there. I turned to leave again, and then had to double back again because I estimated that I had worked seven hours and deserved compensation. Suddenly the diners and drinkers in the place became an attentive, informal jury, and I made my case that I deserved compensation. The people in the restaurant were all on friendly terms with the manager, so I had a hard time. A few women were not easily persuaded that I, being an educated, grown man, actually needed a service job. The time came to vote and about 8/10 gave thumbs down; by the code of the streets I didn't deserve to be paid anything because I hadn't made it as a waiter. I said that the law protected me, that I was entitled to some compensation by law. I barked this, raising my voice above theirs. They weren't moved. The manager said, not ineffectively, that I could find better things to do than to work for him. I woke up with an intense, gut-level appreciation of gender bias in the workplace. In this dream, a brash, pretty woman was exactly what that manager wanted; I was selling myself as a mild-mannered computer programmer who needed a break from the monotony. Nobody sympathized with my needs.

Lately I've been telling myself that enough is enough, and that whatever I want from life I will need to work hard to get, and I'll need to be tougher if I can't get it, and that's about all I can count on. Man up, I told myself. Then I go to sleep and my dreams rebel. I'm making out with a spider woman who seems to bridge a divide between my current experience and a far superior alternative one. I dream I am at the wrong end of a losing fight with working-class patrons of a restaurant, the "small business" that is the charged and divisive concept being batted around in the election.

I watched the first 3/4 of The Savages on DVD this evening, and just couldn't finish watching it. It is such a sad film, so tightly controlled; and the contrasts between young and old are turned up so high you begin to feel brutalized in the act of sympathizing.

I googled "spider woman" at work this morning and learned that in some native american cultures she is seen as a bridge between worlds, a liaison to the dream world.

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