Superhero Training Kits
Dreamed 2006/12/17 by Chris Wayan
Busy mishmash of a day.
First I email physicist Vadim Kaplunovsky, one of two astronomers to email me this week about my Planetocopia project. He found an obvious error in my orbits for Pegasia and Tharn, two life-bearing moons of a gas giant. I haven't yet figured out how to fix them--one way alters the day-length, the other, the apparent size of all the moons in the sky... Either choice means messy rewrites...
My old friend Stephen calls. Wow, haven't heard from him in years. He sounds the same--talkative, easygoing, unemployed, poor. But that's not so bad when you're living in Toulon in southern France. A great place to be a beach bum...
In the afternoon I visit my friend Catshall. She just bought a big blue exercise ball to sit on. It's almost exactly the right size for my huge new planet Lyr; I just need to underinflate such a ball, flatten it with an atlas or two, then shred a lot of paper, make papier-mache... and keep the whole mess stable for three days while it dries. Simple!
Then it's time for a Solstice dinner at Mike & Nic's, my fellow bandmates from The Krelkins. We sing a few English Christmas carols. I was hoping to try out some harmonies, but no one knows the songs well on piano or guitar, and one singer's loud and tone-deaf, so I have to stick to melody. Oh well!
Their friend Beth is teaching art a new way: she warms up students as if it's dance, to body-center you and silence your inner critic. That has to be better than the art classes in my degree program, full of theory and ideology--that stuff just feeds worry, guilt, and creative paralysis.
Busy mishmash of a day. And it provokes a busy mishmash of a dream...
A shaman and his apprentice rent an old warehouse full of industrial-scale tools--a whole metal shop and more--where they can safely conduct experiments. The latest is elaborate--first they run computer simulations, then make blueprints and spend days fabricating giant wearable animal effigies. Fabric scraps become silvery fish scales and feathers...
CRASH! The door breaks down and Federal agents tumble in. "So much for religious freedom under the Bush regime" I think bitterly.
But I'm wrong. The feds broke in not to arrest these two but to consult! Kicking in the door was just eagerness and boredom with the job and a hunger for a little drama to boast about later.
They're here to ask: "How can we draw maps to help superheroes navigate?"
The shaman says "Sure, I'll tell you... but fix the door first, boys." Grumbling, they do. Can't whine that they don't have the tools. It's a workshop, after all.
The shaman closes his eyes, picturing himself as flying... "Okay. Visual cues are different from the air and at different heights; flying superheroes will mostly stay low where it's warm and out of the way of planes; so they'll want a lot of small, local landmarks highlighted, and you have to see what stands out on detailed aerial photos. And you need landmarks for night too--quite different."
In desperation, the girl I like either destroys the rings (where that world's spaceport was) or a gate to the planet... or the planet itself! No more of THAT particular cluster of super-powers will be cropping up... but it seems a mighty extreme way to go about it.
I interview the nervous girl about it, in orbit. She lies on her side, on a chunk of ring (jagged, flat, like a big broken CD), wrapped in a dark raincoat with an umbrella beside her, sobbing but defiant--she believes her classmate is dangerous, a super-villain, and more would be fatal for Earth. Seems clear but exhausted, as if she finally followed her inner promptings after holding back a long time.
Now I sit in on a group of shamanic students reminiscing about when they met. A big, gray-haired shaman from a Redwood Coast tribe--Hoopa or Yurok I think--has been teaching everyone. Just a peer group before, but it's made a big difference having an experienced mentor. My friend Mike's, in the group, says "I guess he's been here over two years now." Can't be much longer, since he wasn't here when I got sick after Burning Man in fall 2004.
I help tie the shaman's hair into a long gray ponytail, as we listen to a student talk. Odd: he's a pathologically honest guy. Rude, really. Blurts out anything. There must be SOME way to turn his social deficit into an asset! At last, as a joke, a friend suggests he run for city office. But in his literal way he took her seriously! And people love his ads, as he blurts out exactly what he thinks... Don't know if he'll win, but, incredibly, he's... credible.
The two superheroines overreact, fight til a devastating break: this looks different in hindsight. In 2007-8 I was involved with two brilliant bisexual women. We were all attracted to each other at first, but eventually one started lashing compulsively out at the other two of us until we both dropped her completely.
The dream's picture of this ring-breaker (engagement rings, wedding rings?) as not malicious but genuinely frightened makes me feel, on rereading it today, that my dreams saw the whole shattering arc of the conflict before it began; and the motive wasn't malice but fear, deeply believed-in fear. Mine? Hers? Who knows? But either way, sincere--something not to condemn, but to mourn.
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