Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, October 29, 2007

What Dreams May Come

Jeff is out of town most of this week, but I, his faithful and lovely wife, am posting this for him. If any of it is messed up though, it is still his fault. J

Stephanie’s most recent blog made me think about a scene from Shadowlands, one of my favorite books. In this scene, a teacher at a private boys’ school talks to the students about a bad dream he had recently. Soon the boys begin to put their own nightmares up on the bulletin board. “I dreamed I was being eaten by a giant black snake with no eyes.” “I dreamed I was falling into a black pit filled with knives.” That kind of thing.

The narrator who is recounting the story, suggests that a darkness that was pervading the school was showing itself through these dreams. I believe that often our nightmares give a clearer glimpse into our personal lives than our normal dreams. (At least I believe that during Halloween week.) So I thought it might be fun to share our bad dreams and see what we learn about each other.

I know I had a lot of nightmares as a kid. I think it’s that everything seemed so amazing and yet so overwhelming at the same time. The most consistent one I can remember is where I would go into a big empty church. I would walk up the darkened aisle to the front of the chapel and see a marble on the podium. For some reason this single marble filled me with all kinds of dread. All at once scary organ music began playing and the marble began rolling across the top of the podium. This was the signal for a really bad witch to appear and send me screaming into the night. That witch scared the crap out of me.

I had this dream dozens of times and always woke up shaking. Finally one day in first grade we saw a movie about dreams at school. The movie said that sometimes you can be aware that you are dreaming and take control of your dreams. Desperate to try anything that might keep the witch away, I tried saying “It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream,” to myself over and over in a kind of mantra as a fell asleep.

Sure enough I had the nightmare again. Just like always the witch made her appearance. Only this time, just as she came for me, I heard a voice say, “It’s just a dream.” All at once that I had a club in my hand. The witch took one look at my club and tried to fly away. Unfortunately for her, her broom went on the fritz and I beat her with my club until she was covered in casts from head to foot. That was pretty cool and she never returned. Ironically, several years later I dreamed I was flying on a broom while I soared above my older sister and her friend and kicked them in the head. Unfortunately I suddenly became aware I was dreaming and my broom too went on the fritz until I dropped within reach of my angry sister who beat me mercilessly.

School brought the usual can’t find my locker and didn’t study for my test dreams. Unfortunately that was often the case in real life as well. Once I skipped two entire weeks of Spanish and the teacher never noticed. Unfortunately the test I returned just in time for was total gobbledygook to me. Being in lots of plays I often dreamed I was onstage and didn’t have a clue what to say. Actually I still have that dream when I am stressed out. I have a major part in the play and I’m madly trying to read the script backstage, but it’s my turn to go on.

After I got married I had a long spate of dreams where I was back on my mission. It was never the end of my mission either. I always realized that I’d inadvertently signed up for another two years, conveniently forgetting I was married. But no one would let me go home. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be on a mission again. In fact it was cool being the most experienced guy. But I knew I couldn’t leave my marriage for two years. I had another version of this where I was back in the army, but it wasn’t even cool to be there again. I also had dreams where I suddenly remembered I had been unfaithful to my wife. It was like, “Oh my gosh! How could I have forgotten that? Is my temple marriage valid? How will I tell my wife?” (Note from Jennifer: he didn’t dare tell me about those dreams)

Another dream that still freaks me out is where I am in a car and the road is going straight uphill—so steep I know I’m going to flip over and crash or loose control any minute. A funny thing about that dream is that once my wife and I were with friends in San Francisco. We were going up a very steep hill in a taxi with the bay right behind us. Suddenly the taxi’s transmission started to go out. It went slower and slower as my heart beat faster and faster. Finally the driver stopped and told us we better get out. I’d like to say I checked on my wife first, but the truth is I flew out the door like a cannon ball.

I also have elevator dreams. I think this may be due to all of the creaky old elevators I take in my travels. In my dream the elevator not only drops suddenly and opens at the wrong floors, but it swings left and right, goes sideways and diagonally. I try to hang on, but there is nothing to hold. Not sure what that says about me.

I never have the standing in front of everyone naked dream. But I do have a variation where I am at a big church event—like general conference. With top church officials and people I know. Only I suddenly realize I am not wearing a shirt. I check closets and storage rooms where invariably I can only find clothes that are too small or inappropriate. Halloween costumes, women’s clothes etc. Let me tell you, there are few things worse than walking through general conference in a women’s blouse. (At least when you are a guy.)

I seldom dream of monsters or bad people these days. (Although I did recently dream I was kicking a bad guy, only to wake up to my wife saying, “Stop that. Stop that.”) But Jen often has dreams about bad guys. When she does, she makes this kind of squeaking noise which always wakes me up. I shake her and say, “It’s okay. It’s just a dream.” until she comes out of it. I used to ask her what she dreamed about, but all too often she would give me this angry look and tell me the bad thing I was doing in her dream. I don’t ask anymore. Now I just wake her up and go back to sleep.

So what does this say about me? That I’m worried about being unfaithful and or underdressed. I really don’t like heights. I like to be the star but I’m scared of screwing it up. And that I really would prefer not to go back into the army. Either that or I’m just a head case.

So what do you dream about that makes you shake? And what does that say about you?


At 10/30/2007 11:03 AM, Blogger Karlene said...

During my first marriage, I'd dream I was lost at school, didn't know my schedule, lost my locker combo, etc. Also that it was two weeks to graduation and I hadn't done any of the homework. I was trying to convince my teachers that I could do it all in two weeks and get back on track.

I'd have this dream almost weekly. I always woke up in a panic. Funny thing, since I got a divorce, I've never dreamed that dream again.

Now my worst nightmares are of something terrible happening to my children.

Also I frequently dream that I'm Buffy fighting monsters. I'm scared but not paralyzed with fear. It's kind of cool, actually.

At 10/30/2007 12:38 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Usually my dreams are based on real life stuff. Like being in labor. Or cleaning frantically. Or trying to find something. But this past week, I've dreamed 2 strange dreams that I have been the screenwriter and I'm watching the movie I wrote play out. Except it becomes real life and the plot I developed suddenly takes an ugly turn. On top of that I become an integral part in the story. The first dream had to do with a terrorist situation--and suddenly I was running for my life. The second was really awful. A serial killer. And suddenly it was up to me as the writer to stop him.

I rarely read scary stuff or watch t.v. So it's strange that I'd dream about it.

At 10/30/2007 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just remembered the best dream\nightmare.
Ok so I'm walking by the side of my house in the dark one night with my dad and brother and all of a sudden I hear this noise and I run over to the fence so I can be hidden by the shadow. and then this black shadow of a person comes and my brother and dad didn't get away fast enough and the person\thing got them and then I see teeth glimering in the moon light and I run over to them and push the person\thing and my brother and dad get away then the person grabs me before I can get away. I see the things face. and it was a woman vampire(and I'm not much of a screamer so I didn't scream) and as her head came toward me neck I fought to think of something to get away then I said "Mom! I have been looking all over for you!"
now I have no idea why I said that but she believed it and so she hugged me and took my back to her house\hole and then offered me blood from this refridgerator (of course I said no. don't worry) and then she offered me a spider that was crawling around and when I declined she ate it (it wasn't a pretty site). so two days after living with her I found out that her daughter ran away two hundred years ago and she has been waiting for her. so one day I said "Mom, if you don't change your ways I'm going to run away again." and so I taught her to like red kool-aid and gummy worms and then took her to the dentist. (now I don't know what I said to the dentist).
so everything was going okay until one day after about a week of living there someone walking through the door (yes they have a door) and it was her daughter and then they both started coming over to me and then I woke up.
Well that is my very long nightmare and that really did happen.

At 10/30/2007 1:21 PM, Blogger Jon said...

My wife claims that she never has good dreams - only nightmares. I'm not sure whether that means she just doesn't remember the good ones, or that the nightmares really imprint themselves, or whether there's something seriously wrong with her. (Or maybe it's just me. Probably, in fact.)

I often have dreams in which I'm being chased through my grandparents' house, because in real life, you could make a complete continuous circuit around. So, you could potentially elude a single invader for a while, if you were lucky. In the dreamworld, there's a room with a staircase that leads up to an attic with a spooky menace.

My current nightmare du noir is that I'll have to work at my day job for the rest of my life. *shiver*

BTW, Jeff, I didn't realize you were the author of this post until the mission dream - I thought your wife was writing your blog for you, rather than just posting it. Particularly the part where the dreamer was flying on a broom. =) (Pre- or post-harry-potter?)

At 10/30/2007 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have dreams about snakes but first they're scary and then it ends up me killing the snake or beating it up and or ripping it in two (that one wasn't to cool). but the one that still gives me the creeps is ware I'm running out of my room to go into the family room when I see this huge rattle snake curled up in a ball. I start running up the stairs and burst into my parents room and I look back and the snake turned into a man except for the head. the head was still a snakes head. then my dad saw the snake\man and grabbed him\it and pulled his teeth out with tweesers and then let him\it go and said "he won't hurt you now"
then I woke up

At 10/30/2007 2:42 PM, Blogger LDS Publisher said...

My nightmare is that I am being chased down a narrow cobblestone street on a dark and stormy night, with hundreds of angry rejected authors chasing me with clubs and pitchforks.

At 10/30/2007 3:06 PM, Blogger James Dashner said...

Mine is the old standard. I show up naked somewhere. This would scare others much more if they dreamed the same thing.

I also dream I'm back in college and realize I've totally been missing one of my classes and there's no way I can get caught up.

At 10/30/2007 3:47 PM, Blogger Don said...

OK, James. You're freaking me out here - those are MY two dreams, almost verbatim.

The naked one is pretty common, I guess. Strangely enough, it bothers me less and less the more I dream it. That can't be good.

As for the college dream, I've been out of school for 15 years now, and this one hasn't let up a bit. Sometimes I dream I've been missing TWO classes!

At 10/30/2007 4:40 PM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

I just listened to a radio program about dreams while out and about this morning. They said 99% of dreams are bad, and the very bad are called nightmares. They talked about how different brains areas react during sleep, and this accounts for some things that happen, like when you're trying to run away and you can't move a limb. Happens to me all the time. The brain area that controls movements gets paralyzed when we sleep, so we really can't run anywhere. Good thing, really.


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