Cretan dreams

In Crete, they eat a lot of cheese. Rich food in general, in fact, heartily doused in olive oil.  And after every meal in a restaurant, we were given raki and usually a small dessert from the house.

Now I’m back, I’m abstaining from cheese from at least a week, before I embark on research that Wallace and Gromit would be proud of, to test the hypothesised correlation between dreams had, and quantities of cheese eaten.

But first, here’s what my subconscious had to say while I was out of the country.

24th May

A fragment of a song by Nick Cave’s former band, The Birthday Party.  It was called Doreen and could have been either about a lost lover or missing child.  “Doreen where are you / I miss you,” Cave intoned. “Please come home / I’ll love you.”

The previous morning, I’d found out from a group whatsapp conversation about the terrorist attack in Manchester, in which most of the victims were female, and most very young.  Using hotel wi-fi, I’d seen reports totting up the death toll, and family members using social media to try and locate missing people.

26th May

A newish friend (someone I’ve known a few months, and not very well), asked me to help her transfer out of bed and into her wheelchair.  To do this, I had to lean my weight into one of side of her body, mostly the thigh, in order to sort of roll her.  Once she was moved, I noticed a big wet patch on the sheet she’d been lying on; not urine, maybe saliva.

In reality, this person is physically very active and able, a keen dancer like me, so to see her chairbound was unsettling.  Also uncomfortable was being the person who was asked to help.  My squeamishness here recalls the first dream I posted on this blog, Not Today.

I’m sure that the dream reflects my fears about losing my own physical capacity, particularly my dancing ability as I know it.  In dreams, seeing a thing happen to someone else – one degree of detachment – can be less psychically* overwhelming than seeing it happen to yourself.  (Two degrees of detachment might be, watching a film in which something happens to someone else, which is a device my subconscious also uses now and then.  See Murder, She Watched.

For what it’s worth, I often drool quite a bit if I fall asleep on my front.

* Do tell me what you think of my using the word ‘psychic’ as in ‘pertaining to the psyche.’  I shuddered a little as I typed it; mostly I chose that rather than ‘psychological’ because I felt the shorter word lent a more pleasing rhythm to the sentence. But I do find phrases like ‘psychic death’ or ‘psychic pain’ – as opposed to psychological – so fucking pretentious at times.  Same difference as far as actual meaning is concerned, I know.

27th May

An awful dream, this one.  An old Caribbean man with a brown hat, smoking a pipe or cigar, while verbally decrying the local prostitute (who was very well known) to anyone in the neighbourhood who would listen.  He did that a lot; indeed some of his favourite pastimes were smoking, staying indoors, and proselytising about the evils of prostitution.  The building he lived in was struck by accidental fire (I don’t think it was anything to do with the guy’s smoking), and all the other residents, adults and children, were evacuated.  Still he refused to leave his front room.  As the flames rumbled around him, he just kept on, talking about the local harlot.  The last thing to go was his face, still with pipe / cigar in his hate-driven mouth.  Skin and facial features melted and charred until they became covered in a thick layer of silent ash.

Two police officers – a man and a woman – glanced knowingly at one another when they came to retrieve his remains.  Their eye contact conveyed mutual support, steeling themselves for a sight they knew would be more appalling than anything they’d seen on the job so far.

Before that, I think there’d been a dream about snakes.

A Grand Week Out

I’ve been asked more than once, what cheese does to my dreams, and it is an excellent question.  I don’t often notice a correlation, except sometimes when I visit my parents, especially around Christmas, when there is usually a lot of cheese but also alcohol.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Crete for just over a week; I’ll try to blog any dreams I have while I’m away, especially ones that may have been feta- or halloumi-induced.

Once I’m back in the UK, I look forward to launching a meticulous study into the effects of different cheeses, their quantities, and whether or not they’re accompanied by wine, on the frequency or contents of my dreams.  Please stay tuned for what I hope will be a significant and influential piece of research.

thanks for the earworm

Another bird-of-prey dream.  Rumbling along on a train, I noticed something huge and red-brown in a tree.  It was enormous – bigger surely than any English bird of prey, and more vibrantly coloured.  As my angle of looking at it changed, one creature separated into two – a mother and chick, perhaps, but getting a last look at their furry, orange backs, I wasn’t at all sure that they were birds and not orangutans.

(When I told them this dream, one of my housemates helpfully played a bit of Jim Morrison’s Bird of Prey on his phone, so I’ve intermittently had that stuck in my head for the rest of the day.)

And, a hypothetical lover (no-one I actually know) asking me whether, aside from the annoyance of folks frequently patronising me, there were also some advantages for me in people thinking I’m much younger than I am.  I shall mull that over.

wtf subconscious, three months in

It’s just over three months since I started keeping this blog; high time I made some visual aids to show some of the themes I’ve been noticing in my dreams.

WordItOut-word-cloud-2185522

A word cloud, created using the full text from all my blog posts. The Word It Out software removes ‘stop words’ such as it, the, and, or, but.  And, I’ve removed the words dream(s), and subconscious because I don’t think their inclusion would illustrate anything outside of the obvious!

wtf emotion cloud

This second word cloud consists of all of the feelings and emotions that I’ve identified in my dreams over the last three months.  These include the emotions that my dream-self has felt, and also any that have been directed at me by other people in dreams.  (Some of the emotions I’ve included here were not named directly in the original blog posts that they’re taken from.  I re-read each post and as I did so, thought about what emotional reactions I was indirectly – if not directly – describing.)

You’ll notice that most of these emotions or feelings are negative ones. I wanted to create a graph showing the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ dreams that I’ve had, but since many of my dreams contained mixed or ambigious feelings, it was hard to categorise them as either/or.

So, using the same word list as the cloud above, and the frequency with which each feeling occurred, the ratio of my ‘positive’ to ‘negative’ dream-emotions looks like this:

chart

That’s more than 82% negative, which does not entirely tally with Freud’s idea that all dreams are a kind of wish-fulfilment.

How about you, folks? I’d love to hear what your most common dream-emotions are, so do comment and let me know!

I’ll make new, stylish graphs and clouds every three months (or monthly if I have enough data for it to be interesting).  And, of course you can let me know if you think there are any other themes or patterns that you think I should be representing in chart-form…

 

dehydration dreams

Woke up at eight this morning, slightly hungover from half a bottle of rioja and some salty, homemade Spanish food.

I’d been dreaming of drinking glass after glass of iced water.  Also that it was raining, which gave me an excuse not to go to the allotment.  (In fact, it’s a beautiful day and I have no such get-out.)

 

Two cats

1. I had a little kitten, mostly black with some white.  It was playing in the garden when I noticed there was a huge, fierce-faced buzzard perching just feet away. * “Shit,” I thought, “do buzzards eat cats? Or is it cats that eat buzzards?” I brought the kitten in, just to be safe.

*  I did see some buzzards the other day, whilst driving (or being driven, rather) down a country road.  They were perching in low trees, close enough that I could see their faces and know they meant business.  Come to think of it, K and I were talking about dreams at the time, and I interjected to say that buzzards in the trees represented not giving a fuck.

There was also a tiny muntjac deer, grazing by the side of the road. When I told one of my housemates, she claimed sincerely that she’d dreamt of a muntjac deer the night before!

2. My therapist was seriously – maybe terminally – ill, and I was looking after his cat.

ok, computer.

Back living at my parents’ house, it would seem.  I realised they were on to me about my secret, sexual shenanigans and were furious; I had about half an hour to frantically delete files and online accounts before they ransacked my computer for evidence.

I think we’re harking back over ten years with this one.  The chances of either of my parents demanding access to my computer to see what I get up to in the hay are, thankfully, nil.

Not that I’m saying there’d be a huge amount for them to find.  It’s just, you know.

But I did have a boyfriend who used to check up on me online and log in to my email account to see if I was setting up dates with other dudes.  The thing I really find staggering is how long he’d been doing it before I realised. The intimidation tactics that my dream-parents used, and their fury, are what I knew from him.

When I finally split up with that boyfriend (for good), the Wimbledon finals were on. So the next day I watched the entire gentlemen’s match (Federer being put through his paces by Nadal) from the sofa with a bottle of champagne.  For a good several years later, I felt a little moment of triumph whenever I realised it was Wimbledon-time again.  I think last year was the first time it almost passed me by; we don’t watch live TV in my household and I just happened to swing by a pub that was showing the BBC coverage.  Come June, it will have been a decade.

In my studies of the subconscious, I’ve noticed how surprisingly it creates links between one thing and another. When I told my friend A about the third episode in beds, boots and bad debts – when I recieved a threatening demand for loan repayment, postmarked 2007 – I said I couldn’t think why that year, in particular, came up.  She pointed out that a full ten years had passed since then and suggested that my subconscious was carrying out a review of what had changed.

bad debts and ok computer feel similar to me; they both show my privacy being invaded, and the threat of (some form of) harm being done to me by others, which I have supposedly incurred on myself.  In my dreamscape, images of going back to university, settling debts, ending and beginning relationships, and trying for self-fulfillment without incurring criticism or punishment, are clinging to one another as climbing plants reach out tendrils to bind themselves together.  With all these interlinking tendrils, how do we bring a story full-circle?

generally inadequate

I was writing the screenplay for my first short film, which would feature two to four original songs, played by the protagonist’s band.  I’d written some lyrics and was sketching out a tune when I realised that my songwriting is basically deeply embarrassing and that given how many actual musicans I know, there wasn’t really an excuse.  I asked my ex, two of my housemates and (I think) a friend of a friend whose band we might see support My Vitriol in a couple of weeks, if they had any songs I could use, or could write me one. The riff from a song that my ex wrote years ago stayed in my head as the dream ended.

Same night.  My art teacher hauled me up to talk about my paintings – she was annoyed that I wasn’t applying myself seriously enough, producing consistent work or looking after the pieces I had produced.  She pointed out that one drawing, on a large sheet of cartridge paper, was torn.  (There is some reality behind this.  In sixth form, I’d roll up large pieces of paper on which I had my pastel drawings, and tuck them under my arm to carry them round the school grounds.  My teacher was scandalised.)

She brought my attention to a number of box canvases, stacked up against one another, which had been painted over the last couple of years. “You see, these are beautiful,” she said.  “But then you’ve got these, which just aren’t the same standard, are they?”

I was pretty impressed myself by the first few.  Did I do those? I’m better than I remembered.  I looked closer.  There was another student’s signature on them. When I looked at the gauche watercolours I’d really produced, I could see that I hadn’t improved since I was sixteen.

Same night, small consolation. I was watching old recordings of our bollywood shows in years gone by, to see that much better dancers than me make mistakes, too.

Snakes and vampires

Running a bath, but first I had to encourage the snakes to go down the plug hole.  There were around four to six of them, all orange or red and a little narrower than my thumb.  After my bath, I gave my hair an extra rinse in the sink, and noticed the water running a mossy brown colour. While I was rinsing, the doorbell rang and I felt mildly guilty for letting my housemates get it, when I knew it was likely to be a delivery for me.

Then, realising that I was up, bathed and dressed all ready for work at such an early hour, I felt pretty damn impressed at myself.  Unfortunately, this is a ruse my subconscious often plays, to horrify me all the more when I wake up and find I’m still in bed.

Later, I was going through a large book that Sibling had had since childhood, to try and identify the snakes.  We also looked at illustrations of birds; he asked me to estimate, from the drawings, whether the wing span of one was bigger than my hand and I said no without really looking, then regretted my answer.  Sibling turned his attention to his favourite section of the book, on vampires, and asked, “what did you say the vampire you dreamt about was called?”

“Damn, I can’t remember,” I said, “I’ll have to look back through my blog,” but although I could remember the vampire dream, there was no record, on the blog or any of the bits of paper I have lying around, of his name. *

 

* I haven’t had a vampire dream.