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No "I"
dreamed 2003/10/22 by Chris Wayan

THAT DAY

A nightmare's haunting me: The Mummy. In it, a man I murdered mummifies in a hotel lobby and no one notices but me. Is it real, or a guilty hallucination? Shelley, my therapist, points out that the dream suspended the mummy between the 7th and 8th floors; my dad died at 76, so she suspects the corpse is guilt about not visiting him in the hospital more. "That one failure seems to have convinced you you're unloving, unfit for love. But fear of hospitals isn't coldness!" It's true I get sick from visiting hospitals--people with environmental illness often do. Chemical assault plus emotional stress... it's no wonder I avoided visiting.

At session's end, I stil feel guilty but I'm more skeptical of my feelings. Shelley suggests "Just before you sleep, ask for a follow-up dream on the Mummy. Is it guilt?"

That evening a fellow dreamworker drops by--Cory. We gossip. Cory has a dim view of Psychic Horizons, a local meditation school. They're obsessed with snipping all threads of influence and connection, enforcing boundaries, exorcising spirits... creating cleanly isolated souls. Very American! Cory figures it's normal to be mixed up, with permeable boundaries. "Relations between our spirits are gonna just as tangled as any other ecology."

Cory lives in a basement room. I'm amazed she can stand it--the place feels soaked in old violence; seeps from the walls like blood. I knew an old man died in the house, but not the gory details. Cory says "He shot himself in my bedroom." He was a hunter, and she's had dreams of him butchering animals there as well as killing himself. She tries to cleanse it--me, I'd just leave.

Funny. Cory and I shared a flat for a year, and her room had a ghost. Previous tenants had complained about it, but Cory moved right in. Maybe she just likes spooky bedrooms?

Bedtime: I forget to ask for a dream about the Mummy. But my dreams don't forget!

THAT NIGHT

I'm a skinny white girl, about 25, waiting on the steps out in front of a hotel in Serramonte, a mall up on the ridge west of San Francisco International Airport. I'm waiting for my mom to show up and give me a ride. Other junk-filled beat-up station wagons appear, spewing smoke, but not my mom's white one. A bunch of us plan to drive in a convoy north into San Francisco... which is Mordor. You know, where Sauron, the Lord of the Rings, rules from his Dark Tower: the Bank of America.

My task is to destroy the golden ring in my pocket. A ring I dare not wear. The One Ring.

It won't be easy. Sauron's followers aren't common here in the shopping malls of Serramonte, but as we head north, they will be.

In front of the hotel is a shabby wooden shed painted in lurid colors. What a weird place for it! Looks a lot like Cory's bedroom in that flat we shared in the City years ago--the haunted bedroom. But no ghosts bother me here; just a loud, out-of-place paint job.

At long last we head north into the City. I want to stay on the freeway and slip past as many of Sauron's forces as possible before he even notices we are there. Wheels mean speed!

Other factors are in our favor, too. All nine of us have Rings of Power! And not the ones Sauron made for mortal men.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Among our nine wearable rings (the One stays in my pocket, and not just to keep it secret; it's as seductive as a drug, and I dare not wear it) are elven-rings, one dwarf-ring, and... the Five Rings missing from the old rhyme! One, three, seven, nine... it seems obvious once you look. Were they made for the hobbits, or the Ents perhaps? Folklore always missed those two peoples. For the Three and Seven we have long histories, and we know all we need to about the One and Nine (namely, don't touch them) but not the Five. I worry these ring-lore-less Five are as addictive and deadly as the One or Nine. But they seem cleaner than the Seven, perhaps even as healthy as the Three that Sauron never touched. And our tests proved they pack serious firepower. In Mordor, we may need it. I wear a silver band; one of the Three, or of the Five? Known or unknown?

Frankly, I'm not telling you which. Just in case word got around to the wrong Tower.

But Rings aren't Sauron's only seductive magic... He's planned another kind of sorcery for me.

The freeway ends at last. We proceed on surface streets as far as we can. But in the end, I must walk to the Cracks of San Andreas and cast the Ring in. And on the path, I meet my first follower of Sauron face to face. He's a sorcerer, but he doesn't try to fight me--he uses sex appeal instead. And I'm sorry to say it works! I'm single, lonely and frustrated... that makes me vulnerable. A few smiles and compliments and his gentle touch on my skin, and... I'm in a strange trance, as if I'm both living and reading my story at once. Passively following the text--which he can edit!

But if that's the purpose of his seductive spell, it backfires a bit. For I may be a naive and hungry lover, but I'm an experienced reader. And I notice as a reader that I'm losing my sense of I. That is, "I" starts getting edited off the page! But if it's meant to disappear entirely, he's failing. It's replaced by typographical substitutes: , T, 1, the Chinese characters shàng or xià (which look a bit like I), and a few archaic characters that mean "I" but are little used now. Roundabout ways of retaining "I" while complying with his editorial ban! My sex-starved soul wants to lose myself in his sweet talk, his sweet touch... but not totally.

Even with no sense of J, just a sense of , 1 retain my purpose. Xià don't stagger up the path past him, but... RINGBEARER do. Shàng pull out the Ring and know, somehow, not to slip it on HER finger in some wedding-bliss. Not with this boy! SINGLE GIRL throws it desperately down into the San Andreas Cracks, the Fault dividing the world... and the world is healed.

NOTES IN THE MORNING?

My first thought: "Hey! Buddha was right! Guess I don't need an I... it's useful, but I got the job done without. Or do I have the other ring to thank for that?"

And then: "Damn! I forgot to incubate a follow-up dream on that nightmare I worked on with Shelley. Wait, it's early; I can go back to sleep and have one more short dream on the subject." Scribble the Sauron dream on the pad by my bed, by dim dawn-light, and go back to sleep.

Or so I thought! In fact, it was the middle of the night and I was still dreaming, for when I woke again, it was still predawn and all my dreamnotes were gone. Yet... because I'd written it out once, while asleep, I remembered the dream hours later--whole REM cycles later! False waking and dissolving dream-notes aren't always sleep disturbances or practical jokes on you. Like , they can be tactical. Sly solutions.

Anyway, I wake at 5 AM to find an empty notepad. There's still time for one more dream, but first I must write the Sauron one. At least I'm practiced at that by now!

By the time I'm done scrawling, I'm not sleepy, can't slip back into dreaming. Oh well! A dream on the pad is better than a hypothetical one...

NOTES, SECOND TRY!

ACTION!

1: Throw out guilt. Looks precious, but it's unwearable. Throw it down the Fault! My guilt's based on romantic ideals--what true lovers do, what kids who love their dying parents do... It splits my world into tectonic plates--good over here, wicked over there. And between? Earthquakes!

2: Start dating again--and don't be too fussy, don't let romantic perfectionism take over! Anyone likable and sexy. Well, don't fuck an agent of Sauron. Never a good idea.



LISTS AND LINKS: two related dreams: Self-Healing Corpse! and The Mummy - Shelley - dreamwork - allergies and EI - Cory - ghosts - I'm Just Not Myself Today! - cross-gender dreams - sexy dreams - elves and fairies - Tolkien dreams - magic and mages - spells and curses - trances - linguistic dreams - memory in dreams - literacy - heirlooms - rings - shamanic dreams - false waking and dreams within dreams - dreams about dreaming - Kurt Vonnegut - Surf the San Andreas Fault

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