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Bleeding Heart

Dreamed 2002/5/29 by Chris Wayan, with echoes up to two years later

THAT DAY Bas-relief sculpture-painting of Mars, seen through a spaceship porthole, with the porthole as the frame.

All morning, I work on a sculpture of a dream called MISFITS ON MARS. My dream-Mars, a rusty potato with spaceships and creatures glued on and the dream-plot meandering in red, is nearly done. Now I have to cut a spaceship porthole for Mars to hang in. Slow going, crude. On the other hand, I looked all over town for a circular frame I could adapt. Nope. Have to do it myself. So what if it's rough? Rough beats nonexistent any day!

Take a break, midday. Bike to therapy. Shelley pushes me to go out more--to meet women, but also to find places to market my dream-art. In theory it sounds exciting. In practice... scary. Easier to build Mars.

Home again. Cut a plywood disk that'll become starry space in the porthole. Prime the disk and porthole, paint the disk black... How much simpler art's become without the old critical voices inside! Such a lovely silence.

Notice, then do; then notice, then do. Like a pulse. Creativity's heartbeat. Wish I could do that in love or business! But other people drown out the silence... so far! Maybe I'll learn how to extend this inner peace.

Take a break in the evening and watch TV. "Greg The Bunny", a comedy set in an alternate Hollywood where Muppets are a racial minority. A reporter interviewing the cast pries secrets from all the guys, who lust after her. But she likes girls: chases a blonde who they all blew off as an idiot. Then she kisses the production assistant, who's straight, but grabs a bottle of wine and goes off with her... because she'll do ANYTHING for favorable publicity! And it works--the reporter gives them a nice write-up. Ooh, do I detect a touch of cynicism about Hollywood?


see also complete comics version (source of these illustrations)

We are the Women of the Green Silence. Green-skinned, grass-haired, clad in tunics of great soft aheart-shaped leaves, we may look like dryads to you mortals... but we're not. For we're tied to no tree--free to wander, and we often do.

We're all women, and so we love each other. How odd you bisexuals are, with your men and women!

Now and then among us, a baby's born. Parthenogenesis? Oh, well, maybe it's the unicorns. We ARE good friends. A green dryad rides a unicorn over a desert. A green woman on a unicorn views the Hollywood Sign

Among us, one, Dahaun, is odd. Ambitious. She persuades a unicorn to carry her away from Heart Wood! Gossip spreads in her wake:

"She rides him now, but I bet he rode her last night!"

"Will Dahaun's daughter bear a spiral horn?"

"Ah, well, were that so, would not we all?"

Whatever private bargain he may have with Dahaun, her friend or pet or lover bears her a long, dusty way across a Deadly Desert--from Heart Wood to another grove, a busy grove called Holy Wood.

For Dahaun, you see, wants to make movies.
Party of Xena extras, in archaic costumes

You think this unlikely, perhaps? What are movies but magic? A glamour as we say (and said, long before your film-folk borrowed our word).

A studio snaps her up. Again, be not surprised. Our folk are respected for their powers, and mortals love a pretty face (and a short skirt).

Dahaun rises like sap in spring. Soon she's flowered into a mid-level executive, and begins her great task: movie-making.

She's a hit at parties, though she's disappointed to find that most human girls prefer "guys"--human men. Still, one in ten will lie with her, and she's content--all innocent of what's to come, this uprooted girl in a desert town!

But life and her career go sweetly for her all that summer, until, at a party full of visiting actors from the cast of "Xena", she hits on the wrong girl. A girl with a guy, a guy with armor and a Greek helmet and a great bronze sword. Man in Greek armor sword-stabs a green-skinned dryad through the heart.

When he sees Dahaun moving in on his girl, he flares in rage, and strikes. His sword pierces her heart. She gasps, her cocktail falls...

But Dahaun does not. We of the Green Silence are not as mortals. Trees rarely die of a mere core-sample; why should we? The guests persuade her to lie on the couch, and let the ambulance team remove the sword, though she'd rather pull the blade herself. She's up and about the next day.

She seems in no pain; she chooses not to press charges. And yet... Dahaun's heartwound fails to heal. Blood wells steadily, endlessly, shockingly red, a horribly vivid contrast to her skin and clothes, several times her own volume, pooling on the floor, soaking her bed each night.

And still she goes to parties! Dahaun bleeds on the guests, stains the rug, taints the wine, and still she says, "Oh, it's nothing, I'll be fine."

She even comes back to us, to a party she feels she can't afford to miss. After all, a lot of important green women will be there, who she wants to flirt with (you have by now observed that love and business are twin cherries for Dahaun). She changes her tunic, and rides her unicorn back to the Wood. He starts out pure white but rose-dappled, and her fresh green tunic is stained near-black. Again the whispers flow... Two leaf-clad green-skinned dryads  gossip

"She'll stain our spring gowns!"

"How can she ignore it?"

"I dread to see her so."

"One hates to shun her, but..."

Dahaun lives no more in our Heart Wood, nor in Holy Wood, but alone in her sea of blood--a maroon Heart Sea. Two dryads and a unicorn petting each other

"Now you know why they call it 'marooned'," laughs my green cousin, who I am starting to dislike. There is gossip as news, and gossip as cruelty. I feel for Dahaun; we are not made to be alone.

Meanwhile, in another chamber of Heart Wood, a couple is on their way to the party. They too ride a unicorn through the wood, under great twisted trees worthy of Rackham or Vess. Together they ride, on a saddle of broad, soft cloth, and not one behind the other, but facing. One leans back on the unicorn's neck as if he's a living divan, and wraps her long bare legs like vines around her lover's trunk. She giggles as their love-roots slide together in unicorn-rhythm, drinking sweet dew. Her love leans down to kiss her breasts, slipping her hand down to her leaf-bud. The unicorn's sap is rising too, he's visibly growing--is he a partner in their love play, does he but wait his turn in the game? We are a people frank with our desire, but even for us, to be so public is risqué!

And yet I can only envy them, for they seem so happy. In love. Poor Dahaun, with a wounded heart... she may long for this, she may flirt, she may beg, but no one, mortal or green, will touch her... until she admits her wound and heals it!

And there I woke... heart-troubled. What heart-wound do I ignore, so obvious and gross it appalls others? And... Red heart with bloody phrases scrawled on it: bleeding-heart liberal; heart on my sleeve; beware the ides of March; beware the guys of Mars; your sins will seek you out; a mere core-sample; broken-hearted; she's so sensitive; shamanic wound; our wounded heartland; dyed in the wool; the autumn of my life; stabbed to the heart; there's no people like show people, they smile when they are low; sic semper lesbiannis; have I lived in vein?  the wine-dark sea; caught red-handed; blood will tell; Xenaphobia; the tell-tale heart; marooned!

Who'd I enrage so much he'd hurt me so?



My housemate Alder points out the dream didn't say I bleed NONSTOP, just that I shouldn't force myself out in the world WHEN I'm feeling wounded--because it shows. Only... do I feel it, do I know? Dahaun seemed numb. "Oh, I'm fine." As stoic as my mom. Is she the source of this pattern?

My friend Dawn calls, and I tell her the dream too. She finds it mystical and sexy, and says "Paint it!" The red red blood, the green green girls, the mix of sex and comedy and horror... such possibilities! Dawn's such an artist's artist...

I still can't see what the dream wants me to DO, though, other than never, never, never hit on Xena starlets.

THAT NIGHT (2002/5/30)


Our media firm just moved into a beautiful tower, the former headquarters of a big firm that just went bankrupt. We'd planned to build our own tower, but our CEO said it'd be wasteful, and designated me their scout, to find an existing, beautiful, innovative building for our headquarters. And I found this! Ideal, except...

On the glass roof covering the entranceway, a broad pedestrian bridge over a sunken garden, a corpse was just found. It's been stripped of skin and most of the muscles and organs. Dried up, not bloody at all--it looks like a man-sized, half-eaten roast turkey...and even more like a mummified Komodo dragon!

Then it moves. Not much--just twitches, as the flesh-edges advance slowly over bare bone, like a time-lapse film of tree bark slowly covering a lost limb. The body's slowly rebuilding itself! It's hard to see what the final form will be. Man-sized, but with reptilian or avian features? The CEO seems to know, but stays close-mouthed, and looks ambivalent. He asks us, "Just leave it alone, okay?"

Now a singing chorus of cleaning ladies with brooms comes to sweep up the mess around it, but they're wearing showgirl costumes and start tap-dancing. They sing a classic Broadway number and I realize we're in a famous musical--I know the song, just never saw the show. So this is its context! I watch the show next to my sister Althea. We're in the front row, but I still can't hear all the words, just snatches--witty aphorisms mixing romantic and business metaphors. It warns about commercializing your feelings...


NEARLY A YEAR LATER (2003/10/13)

The corpse-dream returns amplified, as THE MUMMY IN THE LOBBY. (I wrote this one up separately.) Man, this issue just won't die!

Oops. I meant....

A YEAR LATER STILL (2004/5/11)

I reread "The Bleeding Heart." Still seems relevant. My art, my moods, my mind and health and spirit have all been pretty good--but I still have trouble with dating and business. STILL unsure quite what the wound is, though.

My sister Miriel says it's guilt over not visiting my dad more when he was dying, or just of not being that close to him. The mummy dream definitely had that, and some other dream figures fit her theory, like the Patriarch in Thief Of Dreams... sort of.

But the green girl feels different. She tries so hard to get on with business, to succeed, while bleeding all over. Green = my politics? A "bleeding heart liberal"? Or... "Heart on your sleeve" means showing your feelings too openly. Do I? She's a lesbian who hangs with unicorns--symbol of both sex and purity. Political purity? If that's the unhealed wound... how to fix it?

Wow. Two years and I still feel stuck in this dream's riddle.



The quest begins slowly: I grow up in a small town in the American West. Usually when I do this, I remember the animals, plants and land from previous lives here, but this time, it all looks unfamiliar. No wonder! This is Earth's far future--so far ahead the seas may have dried up. No trees even in the mountains. We may not even be human, but other animals that have evolved intelligence long after man. We're so bundled against the dust, I don't even know what's undeer our robes. Skin, scales, feathers or fur?

Our knowledge of other villages is limited too--travel's so hard. Rocky fins and sand basins! No surface water at all. Finally, I discover a map. The map on the frontispiece. Of course, we're trapped in a book! A fantasy/sf paperback! A small, motley band will set out from our little village in search of some arbitrary McGuffin, and discover the wider world. The map doesn't mark our quest's path, but I can deduce--names around our village and along a winding path are much denser and mention scenes from our future adventures--"where they meet the Quox" etc. So our route can be deduced. I can cheat with this--look for our goal before we've even begun! And examine other directions outside our story.

A few surviving woods are marked in mountain valleys far away--where though? Tilt the map, trying to match the land to my lost West. I thought we lived in California, but now I'm unsure. Colorado, maybe? And the skimpy forest strips are near... Montana? Yes. The Bay Area, no the whole West Coast, is just a superimposed line--the sea's retreated. Or dried up entirely? I don't like the look of this world!

Long strip-cities, north-south if I'm right, cover the former Sierra and some of Nevada's ranges--at least, encrustations of huge prisms that must be buildings. Bridgelike things arch over the San Francisco Peninsula from ex-bay to ex-ocean, as if the land, not the salt flats, is something to avoid. The built-up Sierra strip may get in our way if we head for the Bay from our village. Will its inhabitants (if any) let us through? The strip narrows in spots. I decide to have a look at the southern tip, see what this culture is. Friend or foe?

Foe... maybe. The strip's a huge military complex, or a city that's fortified at the perimeter. Busy, too--as I approach from the desert to the south, I spot jetlike craft being wheeled out of hangars, trucks carrying weapons here and there... in fact it's as busy as a civilian airport in my time. And the creatures running it all aren't a single species but at least a dozen. Robots and odd hybrids all over. In such a Babel of species, I may not stand out. So I create a tall vehicle (so I get a good view) built from a bed upended like a headstone, that rolls along slowly on little wheels. I lie on my stomach near the top, in a rectangular window cut through the bed, my arms bracing me in front, my legs dangling awkwardly in midair behind.

Dream image: an upended mattress wheels through a desert valley. I'm stuck in a hole through the mattress. Around me, strange creatures, part human, part not. Background: a white complex of hangars--a city? A military base?
Sound strange? No weirder than many of the vehicles and creatures passing. And no one glances twice! They just swerve around me. Maybe our quest can cross one of the narrow points of this "city", as long as we look like we belong. Though all that military gear still worries me...

And one more doubt. What's the point of heading for the Bay Area if it's all gone? Even the sea seems evaporated. Is there ANY goal worth heading for? It all seems so barren.

I ask a girl I like from our group to join me, and try to enter their city. Alone we can't pass their gates, but when we hold hands, we can teleport right across the barren landscape into their busy city, for short stretches at least. The nodes we hop between are always, strangely enough, courtrooms! They can be civil or criminal--even some marriage bureaus. As long as there's a judge. The last jump is into a long narrow hall of polished old wood, where an old woman presides over an empty docket.

City people keep mistaking us for twins, for brother and sister, not friends or lovers. I don't know why, but twins are much more respectable here than couples, so people are slower to call the cops about spotting an unfamiliar species--desert primitives in their high-tech city. Even savage twins couldn't be vandals!

A few jumps in, their defense system does recognize us as outsiders--the wrong species. But I think we may be able to cross like this anyway--by the time the cops come, we're oriented and just hop further across the city.



My fellow dreamworker Xanthe calls. Impulsively, I tell her both dreams. The desert dream puzzles her too, but she resonates with the Bleeding Heart. She says "What striking images! Yes, make a dream-comic of her story, but also... she sounds so beautiful. Paint her portrait! And not critically. You sound mad at her, for her minimizing. Try portraying her with empathy and love, not this critical voice."


Portrait of Dahaun, the Green Girl of Hollywood.
Though without the blood and satire, don't your cynical 21st Century eyes just see kitsch? I don't, you know. My heart just sees Dahaun. An amateurish portrait, certainly, but of someone I love as she is. Xanthe was right.


I'd never gone to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, and didn't plan to go--too busy, short on money, and unprepared to camp a week on an alkali flat. But at the last minute, I was invited to Burning Man for free, to lead dream workshops! At the first planning session, the workshop organizer tells me he wants to drive a Bedmobile around the playa picking up dreamers and taking them to the Dream Castle (though he probably won't get all that together till next year!) The stuff about sisters in the dream still puzzled me, until I told my sister Miriel I'd been drafted and felt excited but worried about the logistics, and she said "Oh, my friends and I are going too! Camp with us, we'll show you around and host some dream groups!" Just hold your sister's hand, and suddenly it's all easy...

Ironic, isn't it? The magic of Dahaun's wood bled to death in the city, and while in the desert-dream I had psychic powers--telekinesis--again I woke disappointed that it was "just a dream."

Yet two months later, the Future Desert looks like an example of real-world ESP!

Dahaun isn't looking so mythical, this week.


THE BLEEDING HEART: I'm Just Not Myself Today! - cross-gender dreams - sexy dreams - weird dream creatures - nature spirits - trees - elves & fairies - unicorns - lesbians - films - parties - violence - dream health advice, career advice, romantic advice, social advice - healing from abuse - political dreams - growing up radical - workaholism - Andre Norton - dream-comics - comics version of Bleeding Heart (source of these illustrations) -

SELF-HEALING CORPSE: the dead - skeletons - reptilian dreams - music in dreams - health advice in dreams - A follow-up nightmare: The Mummy

IN THE FUTURE DESERT: portraits and self-portraits - time-slipped dreams - dreams about dreaming - menageries - psychic dreams - dreams predicting the future - a dream anticipating this one 30 years earlier, when I was just a kid: Ocarina, or, the Million-Year Sentence - what happened at Burning Man: Trail of Pogs

PEOPLE: Alder - Dawn - Miriel - Xanthe - my mom - my dad

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