HOT POT CAT LOT
Dreamed 1992/8/6 by Chris Wayan
This dream started slow and anxious. I was in a creative writing class, a serious, fierce one. Feverish and challenging session. I'm nervous. Soon I'll have to read one of my tales aloud to them.
Take a break at last. Walk outside with Jack, our teacher. He says "I'm going on a trip to the Sierra foothills." I gush about "what a great season it is there right now", when I haven't been there in decades. Who am I to be giving advice on travel when I stay home?
I lounge on the lawn with two classmates. They're both dropping out. It's not just the cutbacks. California's resuming capital punishment, and they don't want to be associated with the state any more, so in protest, they're boycotting college! I'm dismayed. "Now all the most intelligent and ethical students will be getting on this boycott bandwagon, dropping out... I take classes at City partly just to meet people. If it turns into a vocational school for the desperate and the apathetic... guess my days here are numbered too."
Go back in, seek our class... but it's all shifted round. 35a, 35b... The room number's unclear now. Hear Jack's voice, peer in. Wrong! No, a black woman teaching poetry. Try several times, finally find the class in Jack's tiny office. They're all picking up chairs and carrying them into the hall. Must find another classroom--ours has been pre-empted. I carry a stack of chairs and a box of books out... put them in a pile, nest them so they're compact enough to carry easily, but... the books are a heavy burden.
I go out the wrong way, get separated from the rest. I must zigzag back along chainlink fences. Someone on a radio in one of the dorms or classrooms says an organization protesting high crime in their neighborhood was just busted by the police for smuggling or dealing! Is it true, was their protest just a cover? Or were they framed for rocking the boat?
I cross a vacant lot; ahead see two cops or security guards--but their auras say "cop"--squatting on a curb, talking idly to a beautiful young woman also squatting or kneeling by a steaming, almost red-hot pot. She just finished firing it, and it's cooling now? Or is she cooking in it? Yet there's no fire. The pot itself is hot, steaming fiercely. No one dares touch it.
She looks a bit odd, this pot-maker. I look again. Medium height, short-waisted, long-legged, smallish breasts, wearing a plush or fur jumpsuit, charcoal gray, long tail, long tail? Oh. That's not a jumpsuit. It's her. She's a cat. A big cat. A big big cat. A big big SMART cat.
I stop twenty feet away and listen quietly. They all sound like they know a lot and care a lot about... pots.
Cops and cat and hot pot in a lot.
When she looks up and notices me, she jumps up and skitters back half a block. I'm not offended, as cat people are known to be shy with strangers. She'll return as soon as I've passed. As she leaps up, I see her belly has a beautiful tortoise-shell pattern of lighter fur. I want to pet her.
And if I'm patient, maybe I can. She's skittish with strangers, but she acts comfortable with these cops she knows. It just takes time to befriend her...
I hop off the curb, across the street... Hop? I jumped lightly, casually, where a human would have cautiously stepped, because I'm bounding around on three points not two: hindpaws and my long tail. A tail I hadn't noticed!
I never realized... I'm a cat person too.
And I wake.
NOTES ON WAKING UP
LATER THAT DAY
I'm early for allergy shots at the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, so I go into the comix store across the street and stumble on a compilation of "Omaha", by Reed Waller and Kate Worley. It's a funny animal comic with complex, realistic characters. The heroine's drawn as catlike, not identical to the cat in the dream, but similar. She's a nude dancer in a Midwestern bar; her friends are all lowlife artists and musicians. So my dream-cat may mean sexual and artistic freedom.
That afternoon, I go to a free lecture on pastlife therapy in the UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) med complex, in Parnassus Heights.
The only parking space I can find is on the edge of a small empty, grassy lot with a curb, much as in the dream. And the maze around the lecture room rather disturbingly resembles the dream-maze of classrooms.
No cops or giant cats in sight, but when I return to my car, the cops have been there all right: left me a parking ticket! I misread the sign--in plain sight, right above my car. Deliberate self-sabotage.
The free lecture wasn't so free.
TEN DAYS LATER
I go to the first meeting of my creative writing course to find the classroom is in a complex much like the dream, with scrambled chairs as in the dream... and no one's there, no teacher, no note, nothing. I hunt around for the class, but...
TWO MONTHS LATER
That carelessness on our writing teacher's part not to leave even a message was typical: she did show up for subsequent classes but gave useless, indeed harmful feedback, and forgot her own assignments; I'm thinking of dropping the course in another week if it goes on like this.
On the other hand, the long dull part of HOT POT CAT LOT, before meeting the catgirl and noticing I'm a cat myself... that long dull buildup looks steadily more psychic as weeks roll by and the small coincidences between dream-class and real class mount--chairs, students, even bits of dialogue...
What a strange sort of precognition! Like a timed-release vitamin pill: unspectacular little classroom scenes fizz with deja vu, on and on for weeks. One advantage of a digital diary over paper: at least you CAN keep squeezing in notes when you hit a time-release dream like this.
Well, the dream did say I'd have to be patient to get to know that cat...
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