I had a weird nightmare last night –
I say last night, based entirely on when I’m writing this. You know I load this blog ahead of time so it’s no secret that I’m not writing this literally right now. I actually really like the distance it gives me when I write about something emotionally entangling. With the knowledge I’ve written about it, I can talk about it dispassionately, but nobody I know is going to react to this text now when I’m raw about it, and nobody’s going to read my blog like tea-leaves trying to work out my mood or whether or not I’m okay.
Anyway, it was a really weird nightmare because all I can really remember is the end. I was at a revival church meeting with my parents. Big white tents, sunny day, and like, there were tubs of soda drinks, and bags of chips and lots of things that normally make me happy – indulgent things, the kind of free food nobody checks up on you about or tut-tuts about you having too much.
Then the organ started to play and everyone filed to sit down… and I realised I didn’t have any paper or pen.
And that was… strange. It was deeply strange to wake up, with the lurching feeling of horror from that. Every time I went to church I took notepaper along, ostensibly to ‘take notes’ but realistically speaking it was to draw things, write things, or just play in paper space while I listened. Really, the main discipline of church was being taught how to sit quietly and not cause a fuss – you don’t actually learn much. Sermons are often really basic, really bad demonstrations of ideas or points, they’re much more about setting a tone and a style, and part of that means they have to be boring because if they were fun or exciting or interesting or easy it’s not ‘serious’ enough.
To be caught without paper and pen means staring down this boring demonstration of information by someone who is interpreting a book and if you’ve read the book as well you know what they’re leaving out. It means you’re going to be bored and angry and you will be so for eleven billion hours.
Drudge. Cubicle. Filling in data points. Filling in forms. Type, format, re-sent. Type, format, resent. Resent. Resent everything. Blink and the supervisor is there, saying, “Hey, you know about the product,”
“Yeah? I do?”
“Yeah, it’s one of your things.”
“…do you know me?”
Walking down the hall, file of data to enter under my arm. Ache in my hand. Room full of storyboards. Massive medical machine in the corner trailing pipes and wires onto the body of the guy over by the storyboard. Images on the boards, of Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, Asuka Sorhyu-Langley. The red marker pen across all of them. Lines, circles. Words swimming into focus with the bright white light behind them.
“The ending’s a downer too, we’ll have to stretch it to make it worth watching.”
“Is that the point?” Another voice.
“It’s okay. We’ve got something to look over.” Saw me. “Ahah, you. You, yeah, you, we need you to come in and write us out of corners. You can’t make any new footage or demand any new scenes, but you gotta restructure the script for the new names.”
“New names?” I murmured in a daze.
“Evan,” he pointed at Shinji, “Angela,” at Asuka, “and Lian,” at Rei.
I woke up.
Unpleasant dream. Break.Continue Reading →
The reality crew were in my office and I was dreadfully embarassed at them, while they walked around photographing things and saying oh it’ll be fine, I mean you signed the contract. It wasn’t a very impressive or nice little office, either, some hole in the wall in a second storey of a mall while outside the sun was too hot and shone on the window I couldn’t black out because of the terms of the lease.
“Well I’m actually a descriptivist-” I kept trying to say. “My personal feelings about words are that they have no inherent meanings but usages of common acceptance-”
“Nice, nice, real nice,” they shot back, the scrawny little man with a mop of black hair who looked like he’d make an excellent background extra who was later revealed at the end of the movie to be a terrible serial killer. Just didn’t seem like he was listening to me at all. “So you just wait here until the contracts happen?”
“Yeah. I mean eventually, someone steps out of line or someone who can pay me hires me and I just uh, do my thing.”
“Ooo, that’s when it gets rough?”
“Sometimes? I mean most of the time I just stop using the word and that makes it slowly dissolve and disappear-”
“… is that it?”
“No, no, I mean sometimes the word needs to be argued about and-”
“Yeah, that’s… that’s when things get messy.”
The phone rang. A blur of spaces and times. Remembering moments where things got rough. Kneeling across a word’s ‘chest’ as I beat it down, because it refused to stop. Chasing a word through tbe back streets, leaping off chain link fences to get over barking dogs as I pursued a word at the behest of a client.
Dragging a word up a glorious red carpet, to the front of a throne, battered, my hair loose, a smudge on my cheek, as I stood before the Empress, the Witch Of Words – “Here’s the word you demanded be apprehended.”
Slowly, she extended her scepter to me, even as she peered down at the intangible mass of communicative pronunciations next to me, glaring resentfully back at her.
I woke up.
I don’t like it when my dreams tell me something about myself that seem silly.
In this case, we were in Canada. We were in Canada, near Jeb, to visit, for a convention about videogames, where we were speaking. It was strange, too, because we arrived well before the sun rose and it was cold. There was snow on the ground, but of course, this being me – when I hunkered down and ran my hand through the snow, to ‘play’ with it – it was shaving cream. Or slightly congealed cream. The point is, it didn’t do what I’m sure ‘snow’ does – it just moved like goo.
Then later in the same dream, we discussed driving to Alaska in the afternoon.
I felt like I just had a really ignorant person’s dream.
I try not to Dream Journal about the dreams that feature actual people, especially if there’s anything in those dreams that’s more about my subconscious wants and fears than anything to do with the actual people’s espoused views and opinions.
Two nights ago, I had a fucked up dream about a sort of hybrid of a Tycoon style game, a costumed MMO, and a fighter. Specifically, I was in a virtualised space with friends as we rebuilt the entire WWE as if we were creating an MMO. We had to go full spreadsheet manager and construct wrestlers as personalities, looking at introduction spaces and slots for when new characters could be added. And then, most odd of all, which I didn’t realise at first, was that it was a PVP game.
So I was constructing events trying to make major, important, cool looking events… but I didn’t realise other players – AHEM DOC – were capable of setting up conflicts, or refusing to sell my events. Oh sure, people not selling events were bad, nobody got points out of that, but the person who set up the event lost more. And then, I swear, as a turkey in a suit refused to fight to build feuds with a weird HHH knockoff I had who was a buff lady, Robo-Ghandi runs onto the set and chairs the turkey in the back of the head.
Messed up fuckin’ dreams, man.
Broad, rolling snowdrifts. Deep black and grey rocks jutting from beneath. Miles and miles of flurrying snow. Horses that didn’t care for us, footsteps beneath us that trudged wearily against the ground.
Me, and at least two others. The Empress and the Fox, a barbarian. We sought out the language of dragons. I spoke it, in a moment of desperation, to destroy a wall and save us from an onslaught.
And then –
“That’s not how you conjugate that.” Said the barbarian.
“It’s not pronounced in that tense.”
“I – ”
“Look, I’m glad we’re okay now, but if an actual dragon was here, you would be so embarassed.”
The Empress liked to nit pick in how the Dragons wrote their words on the runes and in the old scripts. The Dragons were sloppy and informal, and she liked pointing out when they used the wrong word. ‘That’s not what that means,’ she said.
An hour of questing, we realised we had no idea what we were questing for. So we told Mispy to put on a princess dress while he coded, and we would rescue him.
Can’t remember much of it. A divan. A curtain. Walking up dozens and dozens of stairs, listening to her.
She was maybe… nine. Ten. Not sure. But she was young, and thoughtful, and she spoke constantly, constantly about topics I didn’t quite understand. About ideas I was close to understand, things that reminded me of the way I looked at things when I was a kid. I think? I don’t remember what I was like as a child all that clearly. Maybe I’m just remembering what I’m told it’s like to be a child.
She was bringing me to meet her mum. Her mum and I know each other. She was excited, excited she’d found me because I shouldn’t be around in these parts, because finding me was… impossible? And so, this little girl held my hand and dragged ahead of me despite the snow and the cold, talking to me about physics and art and books, oh, her mum’s books.
She was brown, but Polynesian brown. Not a type of person I see every day, but who I do see from week to week.
I remember her name was Hope.
… Unpleasant content ahead. Continue Reading →
I dreamt of two videogames distributed online, with no seeming connection but each with online play to ‘manage leader boards.’
One was a very pretty but simplistic game that looked a bit like Ocarina of Time 3DS made with a sort of feltness to the world texture. You played a little semirandomly generated kid who had to wander around a big wide world and solve puzzles to advance to things. You could pull pulleys and lift weights and there were timing puzzles and platforming sections.
The other game had an aesthetic where everything was drawn out of crayon. In this game, you played a fox, using fox senses and abilities to go to places nobody else could. You could go through burrows and sniff things out and hear things from far away, all drawn in this super charming, cute style. And I played, of course, this fox game.
It took a few hours of play for me to realise that as the game opened up and I hit puzzles I couldn’t solve on my own, that the little boy in a hoodie, with blonde hair and clumsy shoes, was in fact, another player.
Can’t remember anything else.
It was a store where I worked, in a sharp little apron. Not a restuarant, but a chocolate store. You could come in, and I would write you a sentence, in chocolate, which was designed to be an indulgent, sweet thing to say. People consuming the chocolate’s words would understand and internalise the meaning of the words in a way reading them wouldn’t.
One of the Titans from Attack on Titan entered the business, and asked for an Indulgent Sentence about them. I had to politely tell them I couldn’t think of a single nice thing to say about them.
I dreamt someone made me a book of One Stone. I’d pushed through to the end, I’d finished the manuscript, and they’d taken it away and made it into a book, a proper book, printed and bound with one of those cloth covers that all the serious books had as a kid, and given it back to me.
I’d leafed through it with a bookmark in hand, showing myself when important events happened. The first half of the book was just introduction, just awful dreary details of a city and major characters weren’t introduced. The second half of the book had upside down pages, missing text. From time to the time the text was broken up away from the style of narration I thought I’d been using and replaced with first-person narration that was in some cases my writing about my thoughts.
Simply put, I dreamt that I held something I worked hard on in my hands and it was fucking awful.
I dreamt that I was at an office like I used to use when I was in insurance. Same casual dress code. Sandals, MP3 player. I was also a little skinnier which I think is a sign I’m still not happy with my body. It was the same grinding drudge as ever but instead of punching in time sheets and insurance reports, I was sifting through an enormous lotus-notes style database of my friends’ dreams, which were like, handed to me as gigantic clouds of things. Then I put on my headphones and plugged them into the dream, which sat on the desk and shrank while I typed up the dream as it happened.
It was a very odd little experience, made odder by the fact that Elli was there. Periodically he’d leap in and sit on my computer tower, or jump on the footpedal I used to control the speed of the dream.
I signed a release form for each dream, indicating I wouldn’t hold it against my friends, what I saw in their dreams, and how the subject matter of their dreams was all private, but I still saw all my coworkers gossipping about what they saw in the dreams they were processing. They didn’t like that I tried to keep my mouth shut about it.
One of my friends’ dreams needed a special loader so I had to walk across the office with it. It looked like a little cloud made of handcuffs, and it clinked when I walked.
The last thing I remembered before waking was signing a release form saying that I would consider this dream I was currently experiencing entirely fanciful and my paycheque would arrive in a week.
Only snippets this time, only shards of memory of a space I can’t quite pull into realness in my memory now.
I’d been saving money to go visit Mispy, something that financially isn’t really viable any more, when it was a Growing Concern. Then I started working on people’s birthday and Christmas presents, and that got very strange and silly – writing a dirty book for two of my friends. Growing a purple fruit in the backyard that had little arms so you could hug it. Crafting a QR code replica in Minecraft pocket edition.
But by far the oddest was that I used a big glass jar of small change to go buy a plane ticket to the USA, where I was on a mission to find Terri Brosius and comission her to read some subtle bullying dialogue, which I was going to record and put on an mp3 player, which I was going to give to another friend for Christmas.
I wound up having to do a real silly fetch-quest chain of events, including grabbing a chicken and jumping off a cliff, to try and get Ms Brosius her lunch, which was the prerequisite for her to do this very silly thing. I never got far enough to hear her saying the things I had apparently written down, because she was arguing with me on the cards as to how to pronounce the name of my friend.
Then I woke up.
Always feel vaguely guilty about those dreams where a person I know is involved, but reinterpreted somehow.
It was a prison facility. There were some classic superheroes there, and we spoke. Something had happened outside, and some classic villains were involved too. I was there, along with some friends as reinterpreted superheroic characters. Tony Stark was there, alongside two other Tony-Stark like characters who, I kid you not, were picking on Tony for being such a blatant liberterian fantasy whose powers were only written as narrative extensions of wealth, and rarely dealt with the problems of his medical disability. One of those two characters was a prettyboy who couldn’t walk outside of his power suit. Another was the Iron Angel.
Someone I know was the prison administrator. A sort of strange hybrid of a Vocaloid and Amanda Waller, real hard-ass in authority who saw it as her job to crack down on superpowered individuals. I remember as we escaped, she was in the giant walking mech we used to escape. I remember talking to her about the foundational ideas of superheroics, and how they relate to mythic structures.
I can’t remember much but that I really liked the alternate interpretations of superheroes.
Dirty bits have been excised.
I have a lot of dreams about malls, I think. I don’t really know why, but they’re always these weird pastiches of other malls I’ve been to, like the ones in Texas, the way Miranda Westfield Shoppingtown was back in the 1980s and Darling Harbour.
This time there was an air of closing time about the place. Any minute now, the mall was going to close. A chat with a security guard, advice on how to leave. There weren’t any doors out, though. There was a movie theatre – showing some blockbuster that was spiralling out towards the end of the day, with three boys with white-blonde hair sitting in a row giggling and tittering at me when I asked their help. They agreed to offer some directions after ah, a conversation.
I then had to lead out a tiny pink-haired girl wearing an enormous raincoat – like, it trailed in the ground like a labcoat – who had to run to catch up with me as we walked. This was just to leave the movie theatre – which eventually showed us up at the drinks and concession stand where there were roulette wheels and one-armed bandits.
I had the girl on my shoulders when we made our way to the food court, where people were closing up, trying to get done for the day, so the prices were coming down. Members of one of the churches I attended were serving food, and people I recognised from online were in the food court. As long as we had food, nobody would chase us out, so I kept going to stores that wanted to close, and buying like, a single cup of water and ice. A packet of salt, while I kept chatting with these friends. Any minute now they’d go. A minute more than that. A minute more than that.
At some point the pink-haired little girl was gone, playing somewhere on the kid’s maze-like playground, which probably worked out for the best. Then I noticed a deacon of the church selling things at a donut king like place,where all the stock had to go. One of my friends, a woman, was with me, warning me against going too early, because I could get a lot of jam donuts for very little money, which I was watching very carefully. I remembered watching him slowly pile more and more jam donuts on the tray labelled ‘All this for 99 cents’ while trying to keep up a steady stream of flirting with people at my table. Eventually, he looked about ready to go, and I stood up to go, change in my pocket, to pick up a towering pile of sweet things.
Then the pink haired girl called out, and I realised she was stuck inside the maze. She got more distressed and unhappy as I tried to find an entrance to the maze. So I picked up a chair, and started smashing at the kid’s playset. Bit by bit, I tore it open, moving towards her voice, until she could squirm free again, with various twitter friends standing around behind me, muttering about how gross and violent a solution it was.
I woke up.
It was a pastiche of old houses. One single storey, of a sort, narrow, but long. There was an attic-like structure atop it, in which there was a bed. I had I think a roommate, but not necessarily a partner.
Walking out the back door, I found a familiar area, marked off with mesh fences and high posts, in some disrepair. At the very edge, looking down, I saw the side of the building, this massively tall apartment complex, dingy and rundown over the course of years. The building across from me was clean and shiny, with potplants on the verandahs, and a modern, elegant design.
I walked the end of this little yard, and found another door, which I opened, and found it was just a courtyard of the top floor; that what I’d thought was a closet in the main house connected to a hallway. Then I moved further and found another segment that opened wider.
I found… people living in my house. They weren’t roommates, they were… lodgers? People I’d invited in, people who were there because they didn’t have elsewhere to go. They shared my food, I cooked for them, I reminded them of problems.
And I kept moving through this sprawling place, solving peoples’ problems – for a little while – then found the back of it, the playground, was a car park? It attached to a road, that was even level with it. So you looked over the edge of the road, and there, another sheer drop.
I woke up while I was hauling concrete blocks, bound with tattered old metal and reinforcement, across the rooftop, to try and solve someone‘s problem, while the sun and moon rose at the same time, the sky cut halfway between night and day.
Can’t remember much of this one. What I do remember is that I was talking to a very lovely witch who offered to train me in a sort of knock-off magic. I didn’t have the skill or the gift for ‘proper’ magic, she said, but I could wave a wand around and trigger some stuff. Then she handed me a wand and my right hand – the hand I use to write with – twitched and shook like a mess. I remember at the time being very uncomfortable and fretful about it, as if I could feel it happening for real, wondering if maybe my hand was worse than I knew it was.
When I woke up, that hand was being slept on by the dog, who was on his back, with his feet up in the air, running and twitching.
Memory’s… fuzzy most of the time. I know things because I write them down. I keep track of schedules by putting them on the wall before me. I have books and dates and anniversaries squirrelled away on pieces of paper or digital scrip because without them I have nothing to anchor me. Thank god I can remember the year I was born because I still have to do math to work out what my age is. In the end, I hang onto single events that stick in my memory, and connect those events to later events, like beads on a string. I know that the dog I know as Chewie was alive before Monty died, so I know we lived in that house in Canberra before we lived in that house in Canberra. I know that that event had to be in my first two years of school, because this event referenced it and I know this happened –
and so on.
About fifteen months ago I joined Twitter. I didn’t like the idea of it, but I knew someway midway through the year that if I was going to help out my friend Pendix with his business venture as an online presence, twitter was the absolute bare minimum I needed to know. I joined it and I made it part of my life in a very serious way. My initial engagement with twitter was, absolutely, for that purpose.
About twelve months ago, I think, a voice piped out to me from the darkness.
You need to understand, if you can, that I am not used to this. I am not used to reminders that I exist to other people when I am not around them. It is why, I think, I am such an energetic Twitter presence. I want to be heard. I want attention. I want my words and my thoughts to do some good and have some impact to other people. I am some sort of twisted untroll, someone who craves attention and will commit acts of kindness to get it.
So it was someone, and suddenly I had… a handful of followers on twiter I had done nothing to earn and did not recognise at all, at first. There was some teasing – in hindsight, I think I might have almost called it flirting from one – before I worked out who it was.
I don’t want to misuse the word prodigal, but have you ever lost someone, have you ever consigned someone to the mystery of disappearance, with the knowledge that where they’ve gone, you can’t chase? That, for their own sake, you must not chase? That your friendship and your love maybe… just maybe… needs to be sacrificedfor their sake?
I don’t know how to explain this in a way that’s meaningful.
He had, in my mind, died a sort of death. A disappearance that I felt keenly and could mention nowhere. Nowhere to cry or to bleed.
And he found me again.
I know this was about a year ago, because Glory in The Thunder was published almost a year ago, and that came out a few short weeks after we reconnected. I had to learn a lot, fast.
I think at that point in my life, I had met two trans folk – a transboy and a transgirl, both of whom were struggling with ideas I didn’t even really know existed. Literally everything I’ve learned about gender, I’ve pretty much learned in one year. In on year I have fought uphill against my rage and my basest instincts and the hate inside me to try and be a better person, in part because of that little ray of sunshine that happens when he smiles.
There are friends I have now, who matter to me enormously, who I care about a great deal, who I did not know more than a year ago. Twelve months, a year, isn’t a particularly significant milestone. You probably have known your best friend longer. But chances are if we know each other, it’s probably thanks to him, and something he mentioned or someone he spoke to. I know at least one woman who probably would never have spoken to me once if he hadn’t vouched for me, and I think she’s fantastic.
He’s quiet right now and I have to respect and accept that and hope that he’s feeling better. I have to accept that all I can do is wait, and be silent, and hope he comes back.
As for the rest of you, if you’ve read this… well, hi. I’m still making it up as I go along, and hope I manage to make a positive impact as I go.
Hi, g’morning. I don’t normally do stuff like this. Not sure why I’m doing this today. I woke up sharply today out of a dream. Real sharp jerk, you know the sort. The edges of a not-quite-nightmare. Since it was so sharp, I remember more than I would expect, normally.
As most dreams do, it started midway through something. I was playing a videogame, a game about slavery – quite a bad one that I was playing, where you were basically the head of a little girl – probably black? – escaping from slavers in rush-filled swamps. I played it for a little bit, and remembered feeling it was floaty, while still consciously feeling jealous about the developer. The graphics were a bit bad, and I somehow felt that my friends who were women of colour or scholars of American history were going to shred it.
Don’t know why, at the time I felt angry about the developer. I quit the game and
was paying attention to a press release about the game, which went into an inexplicable amount of detail about the developer. About how they were a genius sixteen year old. About how they’d raised over a million dollars on their kickstarter, and they were so cool and so loved and they’d been so smart. It then listed information on how to pay for their game, which was strange, but what was even stranger was the address they gave was nearby
it was nearer than that
it was our spare room
we don’t have a spare room.
So I went out into our backroom and climbed the ladder up out of the water (there was water there, don’t ask), and found a little log cabin up on stilts in our backyard with a big wide screen door and a little kitchen. In that space I found … well, it was a mess. It was a really awful mess, with a big Rottweiler dog that had been malnourished, and a nobody there. With my hand over my nose, I looked around and figured, well, hell, I should feed the dog, it looks awful.
So I took the dog down stairs –
– And I fed the dog some of Elli’s biscuits. But as I went to go back to clean up this space that was my responsibility, angry at this shitty developer for letting a room we… rented him?… get so rotten, I thought, on a whim, to ask the dog, who was filling up on biscuits, if he knew what happened.
Then the dog apologised, because it was <the name of the developer>.
They apologised for their bad games, for their shitty online behaviour, and professed it was all a slow spiral downhill after the failure of their first game, the game they’d kickstarted. And then they told me about this game they’d made, about the game that led to their downfall.
It was called Tiny Squid where you had to catch a tiny squid and raise it into adulthood before letting it go back to the wild. But it was somehow a videogame that required, as part of its play, to actually raise a tiny purple squid into adulthood.
“It inspired emotion, but some reviewers..” the dog wearing shorts and a t-shirt said, “… didn’t appreciate it.” And even as he said it, in the background I heard a voice, I felt the weight of a squid against me, saw flailing tentacles and heard someone shouting It ate my dog! It ate my fucking dog!
That’s when I jerked awake – after four hours of sleep – because I had to check the squid that was leaning against me wasn’t going to eat the dog that I knew was sleeping on the bed.
That’s how I woke up and I wasn’t very happy about it.
A surface and brief mention or discussion of nightmares follows.