Tag Archives: dreams

barfy stomach virus + delirious fever + vicodin = dreams starring Kate Beckinsale in a leather corset over a torn poet shirt

The way the world works is, every once in a while, a Good Angel and a Bad Angel fall to Earth from on high.  They are sent down to rule the planet.  One of them is male and one of them is female (it doesn’t matter which is which), so what usually happens is that they fuck and make Medium Angel, and that Angel rules the world as a compromise.  Except this time there’s a glitch at the angel factory so that Good Angel and Bad Angel are both female.  I am Good Angel, and Bad Angel is much stronger and more attractive than I am.  She says, “Since we can’t make Medium Angel, we should just go ahead and fight to the death and whoever wins gets to rule the world.”  I’m like, I got a bad feeling about this.

So, we fight for a while, Japanese-animé style, hurling balls of lightning at each other and leveling cities and such.  Bad Angel is clearly kicking my ass.  I am lying there in a pool of my own blood trying to gather the last shreds of my energy for a desperate suicidal onslaught when Bad Angel pities me and says, “Don’t bother, it’s useless.  You think that even if somehow you win, human beings will stop hating and killing each other just because they have a Good Angel to watch over them?  Just give up.  They’re all mine.  The world was made for me.”

I look up at the Bad Angel, absorb what she said, realize that she is right, and pass out.

When I wake up, I am covered in brambles and crap.  It’s fifty years later and the whole planet is a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Nobody remembers the battle I lost; nobody even remembers there was ever a Good Angel.  I am weak and miserable and I don’t know why I bother being alive, alive forever to wander the Earth and watch the human race degrade itself while the Bad Angel laughs, laughs, laughs.

Other suggestions welcome for the lead actress…  Who else does badass pathos?


Confessions of an American Vicodin-Eater

What?  It’s already most of the way through November and it’s Thanksgiving next week?  How did this happen!?  CRAZYPANTS.  Amazing how time flies when you’re on palliative narcotics.  Which I’m currently withdrawing from.  Laaaaaaaame.  But at least the broken rib is healed enough that I don’t pass out from pain when I sneeze.  And breathing hurts only a little.  At some point I tried to do a take off on Thomas de Quincey called “Confessions of an American Vicodin-Eater” in which I chronicled all my fevered drug dreams in a posh late eighteenth century voice.  I only got two paragraphs in before the enterprise was abandoned because, you know, one’s motivation is not at its peak when on pain-relieving depressants.  Bummer because my unconscious was like Exploding Jungian Theater every night.  (The nightmares: I am trapped between the living and the dead.  I am trespassing on lost places I used to love and getting in trouble with the authorities.  I am always losing my teeth, or bleeding from somewhere.  I wake up to find that I am still asleep and wake up again to find that I am still asleep, thus in an infinite loop so that when I finally do wake up, I am not entirely certain that I am not still asleep.  I dream of babies and wounded birds and tiny fetal animals that fit in the palm of my hand, small vulnerable things that are easily destroyed.  The water is so icy and the shock of it when it penetrates my lungs makes me gasp and draw more of it in I am the wreck Titanic the wreck Titanic the wreck Titanic)–yeah, it was like that.  I might have also written a couple of ill-advised missives displaying atrocious vulnerability to certain individuals while in the more maudlin throes of chasing the dragon.  Seriously, kids, drugs are bad.  Don’t do drugs.

Somewhere in there, I wrote a short story about perfume noses that my agent liked, so it will probably be submitted after another round of revision.  Must get back to the novel though.  Good God, the nights are long all of a sudden.

a tiny nibble from the loving teeth of history

I went to San Francisco today, and wrote the following sitting at an outdoor table at a Market Street café.

It’s been a while, 20th century.  Have you forgotten me?  I guess the question should be–have I forgotten you?  It’s a plausible question, given how uncomfortable my hand feels holding a pen, how I stumble over myself without the aid of spell check or the glow of a screen which suggests a luminous sentience watching over me as I boil away in the crucible of my own head.  I know it’s been a while, 20th century, that I had to clumsily ask a lad at the coffee shop where one gets a pen and paper, these days.  How inexorably we move from the artifact to the aether.  The library at Alexandria has burned; now we have Akashic records, knowledge that only exists if we believe in it.  If we have the proper equipment to receive it.  Otherwise, there’s only air.

Barely a page and I am already getting painful twinges in my palm.  But you should not feel as obsolete as all that, 20th century.  Here you still are: a pen with a soft nib whose ink calls itself “amethyst” and a notebook with a red cover that asks, “Name?  Date?  Subject/title?”  I thought it would be clever to title you “Artifact.”  I’m sorry, darling.  I can’t help myself.  You know how I am.  It is a beautiful Fall day in San Francisco and I just had lunch with a lovely young Frenchman who, like me, learned to write with a fountain pen–and now he seldom writes by hand at all.  Talk about a direct leap from 19 to 21!  And yet you are far from a negligible century.  Your body count alone is impressive.

I had a vivid dream last night.  In the dream I purchased a small white stuffed dog, a poodle I think, about life-sized.  Of course life-sized, as it started to come to life.  In the eyes first: a glimmering awareness that flickered on and off.  Then in the whole head, movement in the face and neck, a hardness and definition within suggesting the formation of a skull.  Then slowly, from front to back: limbs, ribcage, ass, tail–all were fleshed and boned.  All the cotton batting inside the animal was turning into live, pulsing organic matter.  I knew the dog was finished, that he was finally a real dog, when he began to take real shits as opposed to stuffed shits–squelchy, warm, stinky feces instead of small, scentless, fuzzy logs.

“Here you are, you little fucker!” I said to my new dog with great joy.  He had teeth that he used to bite.  He barked viciously at other dogs.  He took an evil delight at tangling his leash on everything, binding my legs to trip me up whenever possible.  In short, he was a total asshole, but I loved him anyway because he was alive.

Where have I wandered to, 20th century?  Am I still talking about you?  I have lunched with your remnants occasionally, 20th century.  Gray-haired men in suits who keep themselves fit and never take a young woman to a fine restaurant without knowing the exact location of the nearest hotel.  They call me “doll” and ask me what is in my “pretty little head.”  I smile pleasantly and seldom answer.  It is so charming.  Like dating antiques.  One day soon they’ll be gone, and I will be gone soon after.  One day soon I’ll be gone, and this paper will have rotted away in some landfill somewhere.  But if I transcribe this on my computer and post it on the internet, I can make these words not really exist forever.

After writing this, I walked to the Embarcadero to check out Tom Morello’s appearance at Occupy San Francisco.  Given that he is the lead singer of Rage Against the Machine, his presence was extremely apt.  He gave us a few rousing words and then handed out a hundred free concert tickets for his performance tonight.  I did not get a ticket because the ticket guy was immediately swallowed by the maw of the throng.  Whether I abstained from the tussle because of my belief in civic order, or simply because I felt protective of my broken rib (yes, folks, it’s broken), the world may never know.  I did a bit iphone photojournalism from the event, but wordpress is being an ass about letting me put together a slide show.  So, I created a public facebook album of my little adventure.  Check it out.

Allegory Explosion

You guys!  There is.  A lot of stuff.  Going on.

I was on live radio Monday of last week.  It was a bit intimidating but pretty fun.  The best part was when I flustered the hell out of my husband, who came with me because it was President’s Day so he had off work.  The host, Denny Smithson, asked me something about who I was writing the book to and I said my husband.  Denny observed that he was in the studio with me, and I pointed the mike at him and said, “wanna say hi?”  My poor baby just about died. Turned a high shade of crimson and shook his head no.  Who knew he was this shy?

Then I had a couple of readings, one on home turf at Davis and a luncheon thingy in Pleasanton.  Both were thoroughly awesome and made me miss teaching terribly.  (When I mentioned how much I missed teaching, a friend who is currently eyeball-deep in a pile of grading asked me what the hell is wrong with you? It’s true, I don’t miss the grading part.  I just miss goofing around with a bunch of curious young sparks chatting about books and how irredeemably fucked up human nature is.)  I have another reading tomorrow night!  It’s at 7 at Diesel Bookstore in Oakland.  Come say hi if you’re around.

I’ve also been busy collating the collective unconscious for In the Red.  It’s just been me blasting my neurons with Romanian history and folk tales.  So, in the past week, I have pumped a few rounds into Nicolae Ceaucescu’s chest as he sang L’Internationale and I whacked a wood nymph who dared give a prince “a flower from her girdle” (wink wink nudge nudge) and I galloped across a snowy wasteland with an exiled Phanariot voivode and I had Dracula drink blood from one of his impaled victims in what was basically the Holy Grail and it’s all been very busy in my braincase lately.  It’s just been Allegory Explosion around here.  Last night I had this incredibly vivid dream about a dark pond filled with alligators over which fluttered a big cluster of panicked parakeets.  I remember so well the flapping sounds of their tiny wings and all the pretty jewel tones of their varied plumage.  The ridges of hard, wet, gleaming scales on the long sinewy backs of the alligators.  How fast they were when they lunged out of the water for the parakeets and snap–one swift bite and a bird was gone.  The birds being swallowed one by one out of the air before even having a chance to squeak–I woke up totally traumatized.  Poor little birdies!

Then I got up and wrote about trees haunted by the restless spirits of murdered babies.  Really.

Also, somebody reached my blog today by googling “what does a cheez doodle look like.”  Here, let me help you out:

now it is my turn to say Squee

The headline above was the subject line of an e-mail I got from my editor this morning (I type “Squee” often when excited).  Her e-mail read:

Because we just got galleys!!  And they look GORGEOUS.  There are a few images that printed a bit dark, so we’ll make notes and see what can be done to fix them for the final (may have to reshoot some of the coins, in particular).

There is also an unusual mistake – the spin printed with RA/LB logo, but no title or author.  This is not great, obviously, but not the worst thing ever – we’ll sticker them before we send out any copies to reviewers, bloggers, etc.

I only got one early copy but the rest will be here in a day or so and we’ll send some your way.

My reply:

So this morning I had a writer’s wet dream.  I wrote this truly inspired paragraph (I really wish I could remember what it was about, all I remember is that it featured apples in some way) and when I hit the final period I felt this gentle tap on my shoulder.  I turned and there was JM Coetzee, who scooted me out of the chair and proceeded to write an extensive and very loving critique of said paragraph, which he signed “John Maxwell C.”  Then I woke up and there were GALLEYS AT MY DOOR.

Seriously, if I smoked, I think I’d have to light one up.


See, he wrote “John Maxwell C” instead of “JM Coetzee” because he loves me and only me.  My editor wrote back:

Ha!  But wait – do you mean galleys really WERE at your door, or is that part of the dream thing?

At which point I completely lost in the ability to format or punctuate properly:

They’re really heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere

And my editor exploded into capital letters and question marks:

OH!!!  So – don’t they look AMAZING???  I mean, aside from the stuff you hate that we’re fixing??  I can’t stop admiring mine.

Then I passed out:

indeed forsooth yea and verily

bigger than a kitty cat

Remember when you were a student and you had dreams of showing up to class with no pants or being unable to answer any of the questions on the final exam?  Let me reassure you that teachers experience exactly the same thing from the other side.  Several times I had dreams of showing up to class without a lesson plan, or being unable to find the room where I was supposed to teach on the first day, or some such.  These are the standard frets of your unconscious when something is expected of you in daily life.

Last night I had the first such dream in a writerly framework: I dreamed that I kept receiving e-mails from various editors asking me to rewrite and change stuff in my forthcoming novel that wasn’t good enough.  It was in a much different tone than the dreams I used to have about writing, which were usually about heartrending failure, and sometimes spectacular success–that is when they weren’t some kind of hallucinatory peyote-type experience.  This dream was normal, low-level performance anxiety.  I woke up slightly irritated and vaguely amused: this must mean I am officially a professional novelist now.

Still, even when fiction writing becomes one of those daily things that is expected of you, it can never be quite tame.  At least not for me.  I would say teaching is kind of like having a kitty cat in your apartment: it is sweet, and you love it, and you have to maintain it and feed it.  Sometimes if you really piss it off it might scratch you or leave a turd inside your shoe.  But, barring some spectacular freak accident, it will remain unable to kill you.  Writing, on the other hand, is like having a much, much larger animal in your apartment.  You don’t know quite what that animal is because you can only see it in flashes out of the corner of your eye.  You think it sleeps in the closet under the stairs because you’ve found matted hair and the gutted carcasses of whatever it eats in there, but you’ve never been able to surprise the beast itself in its lair.  Sometimes you will glimpse a pair of yellow eyes beholding you with millennial patience, the graceful slither of a tail disappearing around a corner.  You will hear a hiss under your bed, a low rumble behind a wall.  A moist jungle smell, sweet and perhaps decaying.  You live with the knowledge that this animal can festoon the carpet with your innards whenever it feels like, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t feel like.  Maybe it likes the scent of you; maybe it likes to listen to your heartbeat while you sleep.  All things considered you rather like it too: when it’s gone you rather miss the thrill of its presence.