Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dreams are a Wildworld

I am usually quite tired after a hard day at work, but tonight I am even more tired than I usually am.
That's because I was awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a weird dream, and I couldn't get back to sleep very easily. No sooner had I finally conked out again when my alarm went off anyway, and I had to begin the "snooze button" ritual.
All in all I could have used a lot more sleep.

In the dream I was at my older brother's place and we were all playing with their new puppy, this cute little milk-breathed thing. Cuter than a little sack of hamburgers it was!
Thing is, their existing dog, which was this big Irish Setter sort of beast (Like Clifford from the kid's books) was not equally impressed with the puppy. (In reality, they do have a dog, but it's just a little Shi Tzu, so where this big red dog came from I have no idea).
Anyhoo, Big Red was severely jealous of all the attention being given to this new puppy (understandable) and so my brother's wife Laura was constantly scolding the larger dog.... are you getting the picture?
Big Red would capitalize on every opportunity to harass the puppy.
This intense monitoring of the larger dog's desire to eat or maim the puppy was a full-time affair and (horrors)... somehow in the dream all of a sudden I became in charge of the scenario.
I was left alone with these two dogs. Everyone had gone out and the maintenance of Big Red was my responsibility.

In real life I abhor the needs of dogs. Like they always have to be taken for walks and stuff like that. I much prefer cats. They just sleep, and occasionally vomit.
So, eschewing my duties and seeking verisimilitude even in my dreams, I promptly fell asleep on the couch.
In a sort of semi-wakeful state I could see that Big Red was watching me intently, to see if I had really fallen asleep. He was literally salivating at the possibility of pestering the poor helpless puppy with impunity.
It's hard to describe, but I could see him eyeing me, and yet I myself was sleeping.
Just to be sure I was down for the count before he started in on his shenanigans, Big Red sauntered over to me and commenced bonking me on the nose with his paw.... BONK BONK BONK!
And the weirdest thing is that in my dream the big dog was actually saying "DING DING DING!" as he did this.
The words were coming out of his dog-mouth and I could hear them and the bonking grew so intense that I actually woke up in real life, in my bed, at about 5 a.m. this morning!
The dream was over, but so was my sleep!
I got out of bed and walked around a bit, and then finally settled back in.

About 20 minutes later, still fully awake but in the darkness, I heard a scratching and pecking sound on the ledge of my bedroom window. I'm on the 14th floor and the urban pigeons roost there. I don't know what they do in those wee hours but they do tend to make quite a racket. They hop around and stuff or have pigeon-sex or something. They were just beyond, behind the curtain. My eyes were closed.
Next thing I know I hear a TAP TAP TAP....... TAP TAP TAP.
It's my cat Jack, who has jumped up there and is tapping away at the birds from an open area where the curtains are not quite closed. His claws are clicking away at the glass.
The sound was so similar to what I had been hearing in my dream, this "DING DING DING" and always in triplets like that, that I immediately realized Jack had probably been up there previously [like say, just before 5 a.m.?] and been tapping away exactly as he was now doing.

Dreary-eyed at work today I thought of something interesting though.
The dream I had dreamed ENDED with the tapping, the bonking, the dinging!
It did not BEGIN with it.
Hence, I began to randomly extrapolate and theorize on the significance of that.

If, in fact, Jack's tapping away at the birds on the ledge "inspired" my dream [which I think is quite likely] it follows then that the processes in my sleeping brain actually created a story to FIT that impetus.
Remarkably, a plausible story involving antecedents was invented [perhaps even in a split second, in other words, while the real-world tapping was in progress] when the only thing that had any valid basis for existence was the CONCLUSION of the story.

What I am theorizing here is that if the tapping on the glass was the motive force through which my dream evolved, then it formed itself in retrospect.
Faced with an ending, it sought a beginning.
And I find that, quite frankly, amazing.
I would love to speak with someone like Steven Pinker about this.

Now, having said all of this, the weirdness of my dream may not involve my cat and the sex-pigeons at all.
It may have more to do with the fact that just before I went to bed last night I ate an entire Octomom-Style Family-Size can of Trader Joe's Lentil Soup.
That's gotta do some brain damage, no?



Beth said...

I think this happens with the writing process, too. You create a beginning from an end.

kingmonkey said...

It's funny that our brains accept the bizarre logic of some dreams without question, leading me to believe that we are all capable of being insane or delusional.

I remember back in high school I once woke up and began getting ready for school. Partway through eating breakfast I realized I couldn't taste my cereal. I thought it was weird and decided I must have still been asleep.

So, I promptly woke up. I started getting read for the day, but soon realized I was moving much too slowly. Something was wrong. Was I still dreaming?

At this point I woke up and thought, huh, that's weird. I got up and took a shower and went directly outside in my pajamas. It was summer, and it was nice out, so I was just getting some fresh air. This is not something I would normally do. The out-of-place decision to go outside jarred me into the realization I was still sleeping.

So, I woke up, this time (presumably) for real. I decided this time had better be worth it, or I wasn't going to get up again. I still haven't awoken from this dream, yet.

If you hate waking up in the morning, try doing it four times in a row!

Jeane said...

This is fascinating. I've had lots of dreams where a sound was something I actually heard while sleeping- but I never noticed at what stage in my dream the sound came in. I've also had the dream of waking up and getting ready, only to be startled awake out of the dream and realize I had to go through my morning routine all over again!

I've also noticed that in my dreams, horrible things can happen and my dream-self is not fazed at all, but when I wake up and remember it's disturbing. Conversely, very ordinary and harmless things happen but in my dream I'm terrified of them and then when I wake up and think: why was I so scared in the dream? it was a silly thing.


Anonymous said...

I find it oddly comforting to know that others have that sensation of KNOWING they are dreaming. It happens to me all the time and yes, something which should be disturbing to me ends up, like Jeane, not bothering me at all. I even have had dreams repeat themselves several times in the space of a month.
The strangest thing is that I can actually wake during a dream, fall asleep again and continue the dream. This generally happens when there's some fairly strong winds outside and I fall asleep to that sound. Explain that!
We could discuss dreams, and the outside influences to or of dreams, for quite some time. The truth is, I think anyways, that they are intrinsically mysterious and will likely remain so.

Stefanie said...

Aren't dreams weird and fascinating? but then the things we do in our sleep can be weird too. When I was a kid I discovered on several occasions that I had had entire conversations while I was asleep! but even more strange was that they were completely coherent and the other person, usually my Mom, had know idea I was asleep. I read somewhere once that dreams are not narrative like we think they are but our minds have such a need to make sense out of them that we make them into a story however bizarre that story ends up being.