Stupid weird dreams

My head is jumping from topic to topic. Having a hard time settling in on just one.

I had this awful nightmare last night, a dream in which I was setting up for a performance in a big empty space that was like an airplane hangar, but was part of a school. Neither gymnasium nor auditorium, but perhaps a long cafeteria. There were musical instruments at one end, as though the space was also used part-time as a music room, and beyond those, a wall with sliding garage doors that house the costume and props warehouse.

While my group was rehearsing, I saw a ghost.

It terrified me.

The ghost appeared behind the stage area, above and maybe a bit behind the instruments. Looked like the girl from The Ring. And it changed appearances, fading out and reappearing as a horrible beast or monster, but by then I wasn’t looking close enough to get a really good understanding of its form. All I knew was that it made me want to scream.

I remembered that I’d dreamed about a haunted costume and props warehouse before, and that maybe the best course of action was simply to leave. But I had to go into the storage space to turn off the lights. Again, terrifying. I could feel its presence all around me, so I asked someone to come along. The fellow — can’t remember who he looked like, although he was black and had a thick moustache and a bald head, the face of an actor I’ve seen before (it’ll come to me, I’m sure. Too bad he wasn’t Denzel Washington! More of a young Louis Gossett Jr vibe?) — told me that the warehouse ghost was friendly, just lonely, but it didn’t seem like that to me.

I found myself wondering whether a lonely storage room ghost would want to trap a living being within those walls, so she wouldn’t be lonely anymore . . .

Sometimes I can get myself out of a scary or stressful dream. This one, I couldn’t. But I knew I was for sure dreaming when I tried to scream and I couldn’t. I tried harder, to scream myself awake and get comfort from my husband, who I knew was sleeping beside me, but I felt as though my mouth was wrapped in spider silk or cotton webbing, and I couldn’t jolt myself awake. Is it worse when you know you’re in a nightmare? Being caught up in the throes of frightening imagery is bad enough, but knowing where you are and that you can’t do anything about it — well, that nightmare happens often enough in tangible reality.

Just once, I would like to have a dream of something uncomplicated and peaceful, instead of endless roads and view-obscuring hills with steep cliffs and narrow passes. I’d like to dream myself lying on a beach instead of trying to reach the gas pedals of the vehicle I’m driving, travelling highways that are combinations of the streets in the various places I’ve lived. My mind gets filled with mazes of doorways, houses opening into or onto each other, so I’m endlessly apologizing to the occupants for invading their space while trying to get back to the path (or trying to avoid them so I don’t get charged with trespassing, break-and-enter — IN MY OWN HEAD) . . . Why can’t I find myself in a spa, enjoying foot rubs and facials and manicures? Why does my subconscious insist on making me contend with tornadoes, erupting volcanoes, oozing lava, giant puppets, hollow-eyed Lego muppets (yeah, that last one, shudder — came at the tail end of a dream about me as a young girl finding a magic crown that saved the world from the giant puppets but everyone wanted the crown, and as soon as she rendered the world safe and had a Cinderella-moment, the Lego muppets started being abused, chained and dragged across fields . . . she realized that the Lego muppets were really people — oh, that one was complicated).

I know the answer, of course. I bet you do, too. The symbolism is rampantly clear. All of the stressors of my daily life, spilling over and symbolically spelling themselves out. My whole body is telling me I need to cut myself a break, but that’s just not going to happen. Sorry, Brain. Although Spring Break starts at the end of this week, that doesn’t mean much. Just means I get a week where I don’t have to stand up in a classroom. The marking, the extracurriculars, the prep, the bills, none of it goes away.

But it’s a shift in the pattern. Maybe that will be enough to give me a peaceful night, for once.

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Shadows in the darkness…

It seems rather unnecessary, doesn’t it? The title of this blog. How can shadows — which are themselves, dark — exist where there is no light?

They simply do.

My life is filled with them. They haunt me when I am trying to fall asleep. I see them on these grey and dreary days of fall, as the yearly cycle comes to a close. I feel them in my heart, as the dwindling light begins to sap the energy reserves I built all summer.

This is a dangerous time of year for me. I love Hallowe’en and Samhain, but as an adult, I haven’t expressed that feeling as I did when I was younger. My husband is also an eager devotee to Hallowe’en, and given a free rein, would turn our home into the creepiest on the block. So what stops me from fulfilling my every spooky desire at this time of year?

The shadows, in the form of depression. I feel them gathering in the corners and moving slowly toward me, as inexorable as the winter dark. I’m better armed against them this year, and I’m not spiralling as I have done in the past. But nevertheless, I feel them. It is the lack of motivation to get off the couch…the increasing desire to sleep…the lack of motivation to do anything, really, but those low-energy activities that help me feel less lonely. Like going on Facebook, looking at lolsnaps, fails, etc. The more I indulge in these time-suckers, the more connected I do feel but the less I get done in the things that matter in a physical sense. The shadows are gaining ground.

I attended a series of workshops in the spring, learning methods for dealing with my anxiety and chronic depression. To some extent, those techniques are working. I’ve been treated for anemia since May, also, which is helping. The techniques are going to become even more vital, now.

Part of that is learning to accept my own limitations and not comparing myself to others. I need to stop saying “I should” and be satisfied with what I do accomplish. For example, this weekend I aimed to finish my Hallowe’en decorating. Didn’t even start. I constantly visualize one of the best moms I know and berate myself for not being more like her, but at the same time, the logical part of my brain is fighting back to tell me what I am doing well and why I should not be ashamed or feel inferior. That particular mom doesn’t have a mental illness. That particular mom hasn’t gone through the money troubles we have experienced. That particular mom has gone through her own battles, faced her own demons, and for her own personal reasons, has gained victory. Maybe I’m just jealous of that and I want my own battles to be over. Could be a form of battle fatigue — maybe I could call it “life fatigue”.

I remember my mother giving me full control over decorating for Hallowe’en, and not understanding why she didn’t want to do it. Now I know…it’s just not on my to-do list of things that must be done. What I am supposed to be doing — housework, marking, shopping — those things aren’t be done either. And the whole avoidance makes me feel ashamed all over again, so I shrink further into my shell and keep avoiding until every dish is dirty, the clean laundry threatens to topple over in its mountain, and/or people are coming to the house so clean is a must.

I miss decorating for Hallowe’en.

I miss setting up for Samhain.

I miss my enthusiasm. It’s there, just dampened.

I once had a conversation with two of my colleagues and friends (one of whom was the above super-mom), about the point of Hallowe’en. The points of view were a) it’s all about spending money on candy and costumes, which is a waste, and b) it’s the Devil’s holiday, so if anything, the candy and costumes are the main focal point to take power away from the skulls and gore. My perspective is Pagan, Wiccan, witchy, and anthropological: we need a day in the fall to blow off some steam. It was once the Devil’s night, yes — after months of hard work, harvesting, preparing for winter, young people would perform acts of mischief like tipping outhouses and soaping windows. Kids needed that release, and some adults did as well. It still happens in places, when eggs are thrown or trees toilet papered.

Pagans and Wiccans of all stripes recognize Samhain as the night when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, and it’s important to remember those who have passed on. The traditions in this sense cross many cultural boundaries, and the food that is shared represents honouring the dead, feeding hungry spirits that come to the door, appeasing evil spirits wishing to do mischief, and I think, sharing the bounty of one’s harvest.

Today, the costumes and decorations and candy are mainly symbolic of cultures long dead. How many of us really believe that children in masks will frighten away spirits on the streets, or that the jack’o’lantern will protect the home? Why do we buy sugary junk to fill their sacks? I think it’s a remnant of the community spirit of making sure that all have enough before winter. We have our Thanksgivings, an official harvest festival of light and warmth and nourishing food — Hallowe’en / Samhain is another, celebrating the coming darkness with noise, colour, sweets, and candlelight. As the trees bare their skeletal arms to the sky, the rain and snow chill the air, the plants wither and die, those of us with depression (and even those who are not) are brought to thoughts of death, loss, and loneliness. Death is a solitary thing, after all. So at Hallowe’en, we push back our fears of death by poking fun at it, admonishing it by taking control of it with decorative skulls, gravestones, ghost stories, and gifts to those who represent the dead. If we laugh at what we fear, it has less control over us (or so we would like to believe). Hallowe’en is a powerful psychological device in helping us to deal with our fears. It’s a necessary device, I think.

Which brings me back to my shadows.

One of them is always money, because there is never enough. We live constantly in debt, which is a long story; my wish to indulge in Hallowe’en is necessarily curtailed by budget. I am perfectly capable of whipping up papier-mâché bats and spiders, sewing costumes from clothing remnants, etc., but I find it difficult as an adult with two children to raise. Much easier when I was single and a dependent. When I was a teenager and a young married wife, I envisioned my house changing with the seasons — throw pillows, blankets, tableware, towels, even the pictures on the walls changed to reflect each turn of the wheel of the year. We’re not even close to that goal. But I take out that dream, every October, and December with the approach of Yule, and I polish it. Maybe I should print it and post it on my fridge.

My dreams keep the shadows away.

Screenplay Dreams

Next to writing books, I would dearly love to write a screenplay and cast my favourite actors from Lost Girl in it. Rick Howland, you would have a huge role, ’cause you’re just awesome. I would love to adapt Robin McKinley’s “The Blue Sword” and film it all in Canada, because it absolutely could be done here. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

I’m such a movie buff, not as hardcore as some but enough that I entertain my colleagues mightily with my ability to retain enormous amounts of trivia. When I’m working on my books, or play scripts, I see it in my mind as a film playing out just for me.

Internet, why do people insist on remaking films that were perfectly fine the first time around? Or messing with a product that fans like perfectly well? (George, I’m looking at you!) I cannot believe that Hollywood is that hard up for ideas…sometimes, the B-titles are better, simply for their originality and willingness to take risks. Last night my hubby and I watched a fun satire called “But I’m a Cheerleader!”, which looked at those places that try to “turn” homosexuals into straight people. I want to write about things like that, push my boundaries, and maybe make a movie that will push others’ boundaries. Make people think.