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Dinah's Advice

Dreamed 2007/4/14 by Wayan


In the morning, a storm comes through. I stay in and do the taxes for our co-op all day, then walk over the hill to the post office and mail them in. Nope, still not sending electronically.

During one lull, I take a break--climb over the ridge to the Farmers Market and lug back big bags of vegs, fruit and eggs. notes of a dream in gold ink scrawled on a used tan note card, between big black words

Read American Born Chinese, by Gene Wong. A graphic novella with storylines that alternate at first--a school in suburban California, and Monkey's journey across Tibet. Of course in the end they collide...

Get an email warning me to bring in two paintings Monday for the senior art show at San Francisco State (I'm in their fine arts program). Damn, that's soon! Better go over them tomorrow, fix any details...

In the evening, I watch The Philadelphia Story. Such sharp writing! Kat Hepburn's character cuts deep, at least for me: like her, I don't forgive people their flaws, much. Or do I mean can't? Feel like I have to shun those who distress me, or I'll get sick. Curse of a crappy immune system.

Before bed, I skim my dream journal for late 2006 and early 2007. My dreams sure see health, love and career differently than my conscious! They don't mind me being isolated, for one thing. Or poor. And they say fragile health keeps me focused... and alert.


I wake suddenly. Try to write my dreams--something about finding detached penises just lying loose on my stomach, like sleepy cats... But my usual pad and paper aren't by my bed. I only find a scratchy old antique fountain pen with gold ink. And the only paper is one sheet of stiff cardstock already scrawled with heavy, looped, black script. At least it doesn't smear. So I try writing my dream in the spaces between! Limits what I can say... have to make each word count. notes of a dream scrawled in Chinese, in gold ink, on red patterned paper.

Wait, there's some flimsy red patterned wrapping paper under the card. I try writing a few words on it. Hard to read on the busy pattern, but it's more better than the card with black. I write in Chinese, it seems to fit the red pattern. Better than no record of my dreams, but I'll need to type these notes up as soon as possible! Before I forget what I meant by these squiggles. They already look....

Oh! They look familiar. The red and gold calligraphy looks like the cover of American Born Chinese. Quite pretty, really. But it's meant to encode meaning, too. Not so good at that...

So I'm preparing to type up the dream from my notes, when our next-door neighbors come over. A mom and her kid, who's about 12--Dinah from The Philadelphia Story, I think, though she's in modern clothes and looks very boyish. The mom talks with my housemate, so Dinah and I start talking. I don't know her very well.

She knows me, though! Brings up dreams right away. "I've been writing my dreams as stories, like you, but in my own style. I tried a hard one last night..." It's hard to talk since her mom keeps glaring at us. Apparently Mom thinks I'm out to molest her. No guy could be interested in Dinah for herself...

She sees the scratchy gold characters on red paper and looks curious, but with her mom there she's unwilling to ask, and I'm unwilling to tell. Not a dream about detachable penises. So we sit and play don't-ask-don't-tell...
notes of a dream scrawled in pencil on plain paper.

Now it's not Dinah's mom but her dad, who's a bit more open. So Dinah and I can talk more freely. We start arguing about how to write your dreams so they're intelligible and interesting to others, not just yourself. Dinah tells a vivid one to her dad, but says "I'm not sure how to write it up--it seems to want a nonlinear treatment, maybe opening with the middle, then a flashback, then the end."

To me she adds, "You're so careful to keep the chronology straight in your dreamtales, but you wouldn't always do that in a waking-world story--modern readers are used to narrative tricks, they don't always need a simple 'Next, this happened.' I want to move and teach my readers, not just be clear. So I tell my dreams the way the story wants to be told, not in the order of events."

Perceptive. And ambitious. A kid to be reckoned with...

And I wake.

So I start over. Write that dream down. Not on fancy paper this time, no Chinese calligraphy, no color, just the plain monochromatic ink of day.

Wow, what a pointed dream about dreams that was! So my dreams care how they're presented, and what they want isn't linearity but maximum effect on the reader. Clarity matters, or you can't have an effect at all, but my dreams seem to have twin goals: teaching and moving the reader. Head and heart, both. Simplicity's a virtue only to my conscious mind. Though of course, this is my conscious interpretation--that my dreams are critiquing my conscious agenda!

And I wake. Again. All that was dream-advice too.

LISTS AND LINKS: dreams about dreaming - dreamwork - books and writing - advisory dreams - creative process - kids - prodigies and geniuses - dreaming personified - false waking and nested dreams - calligraphy and brushwork - pure digital dream-art - the earlier dream that night I was trying to write: Have Your Cock and Eat it Too - who Dinah the dream-prodigy probably was: Emily Joy

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