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You Really Aren't Lunch!

Dreamed 2012/6/11 by Maia Spencer


Hi Chris--

I'm a big fan of Planetocopia. In fact, this summer I've decided to finally try and build my own model planet--Veribane, setting of an unwritten story of mine. Tackling geology and climate despite my lack of expertise: definitely daunting!

Possibly as a result of the planet project, this morning I had a dream in which I was you. Not very specifically, of course: I don't actually know you. But you in idea:


I was hiking up in the Santa Cruz mountains, unusually far from home. More oaks than redwoods. Drier and sunnier than my dreams normally are. I heard from the local spirits and animals that there were some strange, scary creatures in these woods, so I lay on the ground and started burying myself in tan oak leaves to try and observe one secretly. I think at this point I was still myself.

Some kind of spirit boy came and talked to me before I was fully covered in leaves. Later a playful black cat wearing lipstick came and stood on my chest and talked to me. She was excited about the spookiness of the creatures around here too, and was teasing me and egging me on to spy on one. I didn't say much in response. I was a little unnerved that my leaf-covering wasn't that effective as a cover.

I dug deeper into the leaves, so I was completely covered, just as heavy footsteps announced the giant coming home from work. The forest was also his apartment. He lumbered around talking to himself and getting himself a beer. I must have rustled, because he realized someone was in the house and started looking for me. But I crawled behind an extra futon under the bed and turned my face to the wall. He didn't find me, even when he looked under the bed. At that point, I was definitely you.

The giant clattered around talking to himself some more. Turns out he had a lot of insecurities and problems. He had a steady job and was working himself through med school, but he still didn't live up to his parents' expectations. Maybe he should be doing something different with his life, he thought. He was somewhat overweight and shy, and his apartment was a complete mess. When he got home he was always too tired to fix any of it. He wasn't talking to himself in a crazy way, it was more that by intruding into his home I got to automatically hear his inner monologue. Or maybe, like the Cyclops talking to his sheep, he talked to himself out of loneliness.

After a while I took my courage in my hands and stood up from my hiding place behind the bed, holding out my hand to shake his. I didn't know if he would eat me or tear my arm off, but I was going to be honest and extend sympathy. He shook my hand and suddenly he wasn't a giant. He was shorter than I was. We hung out and talked about his life for a while.

Anyway, I think I was you as a reference to your much darker Cyclops dream.

Mine emphasized elements opposite from the original story. In the Odyssey, the Cyclops was simultaneously a horrendous man-eating monster and a simple man whose home had been snuck into and hospitality violated. In exacting merciless vengeance for it, he in some ways foreshadows homecoming Odysseus.

In your dream, the giant was only a monster. In mine, he was only a person, with two eyes and everything. But while I was you, I believed him to be a monster. Even when I offered my hand, I still thought he was huge and dangerous.

--Maia Spencer


I think you're right that your dream's more like the Odyssean Cyclops than my dream was. In mine I didn't care I was invading; I just didn't want to get eaten. Here, you're aware the homeowner has a right to be annoyed with you. Understanding and terror side by side, that intrigues me; and strikes me as just what Odysseus himself lacked. Tactical cunning, yes, but empathy? He always struck me as nearly as cruel as Loki or the tricksters in Grimm.

I find your dream quite funny--I've lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and spirit boys, lipstick cats and beer-drinking Cyclopes seem about par for the course.

What's it mean, any clue? Surprising that you still felt scared even after he dwindled into a human.

--Chris Wayan


I agree that Odysseus is fairly cruel. Ancient Greek culture in general seems a bit lacking in the empathy and forgiveness department. Makes you realize how far we've come, that those are even things we value as a culture.

I guess it's a dream about misplaced fear.

The only thing I wonder is if my unconscious is just using you as a symbol or if there's a message in there for you, too. Anything you might not need to hide from? Or are all your cyclopes truly one-eyed and hostile?

Whew! Didn't know I had that much to say about it. I'm not sure that's all that's there, but certainly some of it. Who knows about the cat wearing lipstick!

As for Veribane, it's a very new project for me. Usually I build cultures and just sketch in settings, but Planetocopia (especially the Biosphere Variations) inspired me to give the setting some time in the spotlight, and gave me a model for doing so. Have I mentioned how beautiful those planets are? So Veribane's heavily Planetocopia-influenced.

The planet's personality absorbed some softness from Planetocopia, too--- it started sprouting fragile ecologies and native sentient cultures. This collided unpleasantly with the 'macho humans blow things up with their hi-tech toys' vibe of the story background it started as. I had to do a lot of thinking to integrate them. The result was... mixed tragedy and hope? A broken world beginning to learn and heal.

--Maia Spencer


I think you're right about the meaning of the monster who isn't. Adult life? ACK! And then you try it and find its challenges dwindle with familiarity to human scale.

Does the dream bear a message for me as well? Oh, yes.

  1. I fear wage work. I stood it for ten years, but I found it so onerous I saved up my money and quit. I prefer independent poverty to middle-class comfort with a boss.
  2. I fear beer-drinking guys. My childhood was full of beatings from normal, red-blooded American boys. I mistrust the men they've grown into. My worst bias--still struggle to give them a fair chance.
  3. Most of all, I fear fear itself. I've had a lifelong illness, never successfully diagnosed. Stress can trigger shivers and sweating, flu-like aches and tachycardia from random adrenaline surges--like panic attacks minus the panic! This year I've finally found a set of herbs and antibiotics that work. Sudden proof that those adrenaline surges aren't fear but purely physical. Now I just have to unlearn a lifelong habit of fear-mislabeling! But I've been hiding socially, living quietly, waiting to see if I'm cured--if my treatment really works long-term.

So your dream of being me had a sharp message for me: "Don't hide in the fear-ditch, waiting for a cure. Live NOW!"

I'd call your dream shamanic, in that it bears a strong message for you, but also brings back a prescription from the spirit world for another. But shamanic with a twist: usually a shaman dreams of a known client after being asked. Here you dream a message for me, a stranger, spontaneously. There's a name for such dreams, though only recently coined: a cledonic dream (cledon is Greek for 'key'): a dream bearing a message, clue or key for another person who the dreamer may not even know.

So: a message for you, a message for me... but note the third message! The dream's also an impressive calling card to an editor you've never met, proving you're a dreamer worthy of respect. You definitely get invited to MY next party... if I ever get out of the ditch and have one.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: the woods - spirits - cats - I'm Just Not Myself Today! - gender-bent dreams - identity-bent dreams - giants and dwarfs - You Are Lunch - work - fear and courage - chronic illness - shamanic and cledonic dreams - Wayan dreams of a Cyclops - Planetocopia - Santa Cruz

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