A Dream Transcription

A few nights ago I woke up in the middle of the night, needing to use the bathroom. I was right in the middle of a somewhat bizarre and highly detailed dream. When I got back to my bed, the dream was very much on my mind. It was so bright, so vivid, so colorful. It was also very normal in a dream sense, in that people appeared and disappeared, my surroundings changed as I moved through them, and I accepted everything that was going on during the dream as very matter of fact.

So I did something I'd always wanted to do; transcribe the dream. I picked up my iPhone, and using the extremely handy Recorder application, spoke into it for the next fifteen minutes and described my dream in full, while all the details were still fresh in my mind. Over the next few days, I transcribed my recorded notes, correcting my sleepy grammar and filling in gaps as I remembered more details.

I thought it would be fun, then, to present it here. This dream, as near as I can tell, means nothing at all. But feel free to psychoanalyze it (and thus me) at will. I will say that I like eating at diners, watching movies from the 1940s, and the original Star Wars.

The Dream

I’m walking up the stairway to an elevated train platform. My friend Paul Trandahl is walking up the stairs with me, and we’re in the middle of a conversation about a movie. Just as we go through the turnstile, I say “Have you seen the latest redo of Star Wars?”

And Paul says, with kind of a snotty attitude, “Don’t you mean ‘Autumn March’?” Because we both know, apparently, that was the code name for this latest Star Wars redo so that the public wouldn’t know about it. And I say “Oh, are you gonna start calling Return of the Jedi ‘Blue Harvest’ now?” And Paul looks around and clears his throat.

The stairs have changed into an escalator while we’re talking, and I notice that two women are in front of us, who are very obviously eavesdropping on our conversation. But I keep talking anyway, and I say to Paul, “It’s supposed to be the most fantastic thing ever” .

One of the girls interrupts our conversation. Sounding exactly like Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday, she says, “You tell me what’s the most fantastic thing ever and I’ll tell you if I agree”. Grinning, I tell her we’re talking about the latest George Lucas redo of Star Wars. “He’s added even more effects this time, and it’s a whole new soundtrack with new effects and additional music”, I say enthusiastically. She rolls her eyes and shakes her head, and gives me a look like I’ve just crawled out from under a rock.

As the escalator gets to the top, Paul is gone and instead I’m with the other girl – not the one who just spoke, but her friend. And it’s sometime in the 1940’s. Internally, I just know this, and now everyone – including the woman I’m with and her friend – have ‘40s hairdos, outfits, the whole nine yards. Even though when Paul and I started up the stairs a few seconds ago, it was very definitely present day.

I’m thinking the woman I’m with looks an awful lot like Audrey Hepburn. She opens a door leading off of the train platform, and holds it open. All three of us are staring at each other, but no one’s speaking. My female friend keeps holding the door open, giving this look like I’m supposed to know what’s going on.

Finally, I say “Well, see ya”, to the other woman, then turn to my companion and speak in a hushed voice. “Why do you keep holding the door open?” I say. For some reason, I’m very annoyed with her, and my annoyance shows in my tone of voice. “Because”, she says, in an equally annoyed tone, “this is the way that it has to be done”.

She sticks her hand out, palm up, expecting me to hand her something. And I look down, and I’m holding this really ratty, cheap looking purse. Sheepishly, I hand it to her. She takes it, opens it up, and pulls out a receipt. Then she hands the purse to her friend, and says in a very loud voice, so that everyone else on the train platform can hear, “I don’t’ want you leaving me with empty hands. This cost exactly eight dollars and sixty cents”. And she gives the other woman the receipt as well. “So, you’ll always be my friend?” she adds. The other woman nods, and leans over and gives her a little kiss.

She pulls back from the kiss, and then says brightly, “Well, let’s all go to my apartment then”. And we all walk through the door. And I’m thinking, “Why am I going along with this? I thought I was talking to Paul”, but I don’t say anything and I walk through the doorway, off the train platform. Which, by the way, is now at street level, even though it was an elevated train at the beginning.

Instantly my point of view changes, and now I’m inside a parked car, watching myself walk down the street with the two ‘40s women. All of the cars on the streets are ‘40s type cars. I’m sitting next to a hit man, and I know that he’s planning to kill the people that are walking into the apartment. I don’t know the reason, and I feel uncomfortable sitting next to him. Does he know that I’m one of the people he’s planning to kill?

A dog is in the car with us. I say, “Can we wait a bit to kill them? I really need to use the bathroom”. The hit man nods, and says “Get some litter for him while you’re out”, jabbing his thumb at the dog. I think it’s very odd to have a litter-trained dog, but I nod and get out of the car.

I walk into the apartment building. The front of it looks like a church, complete with giant arched stained-glass windows – even though the doors are normal apartment building doors. I enter the lobby, which is made out of marble. Rows and rows of apartment mailboxes are on either side of the lobby.

The mailboxes look like card catalogs in a library. Above each mailbox is a door buzzer. The names under each buzzer are printed in large, faux-Hebrew letters. They’re English, and readable, but they look like Hebrew nevertheless. There’s also a photo collage above each mailbox, showing the people who live inside. But not portraits; they’re all collections of black-and-white snapshots.

Now I’m the one who’s after the people, and there is no more car, dog that needs litter, or hit man. I’m searching the pictures, and then I find the collage of the two woman and me – so apparently I live there, even though I’m also in the lobby looking for myself. I see the apartment number – 353 – and suddenly all the buzzers that were on each mailbox are gone. I look around, and there’s a modern-style numeric keypad with an LCD screen.

I try to type in “353” on the keypad, but I make a mistake and type “3533” instead. I’m about to try it again, but the lobby has morphed into a diner – a ‘50s style diner with stools and a counter. The mailboxes are on the walls of the diner, but now they look like artwork, not functional mailboxes. So I decide I might as well get something to eat.

I take a seat at one end of the curved diner counter, and a waitress serves me a bowl of dry cereal. Across the counter, a little around the curve, I see the hit man from the car. Only now I don’t know him, just a vague feeling that I should know his name, but I don’t. He gives me a look, like “don’t you know me”?

The diner fills up very quickly. Except for me and my hit man friend, it’s all gigantic fat women. Their arm fat waddles as they keep harassing the waitress. “More sausages! More sausages!” the one next to me keeps screaming. There are now so many fat women at the counter that there is not enough room for me to eat my bowl of cereal, since I’m eating the dry cereal out of the bowl with my fingers, and I need elbow room.

The waitress motions behind me. “Honey, a table just opened up. Why don’t you and your friend eat there, and I’ll clean up after the piglets,” she says. None of the fat women hear her speaking, or if they do, they don't seem to feel insulted. They are all gossiping with one another and eating platefuls of sausages.

My “friend” and I leave the counter to sit down at the table indicated by the waitress. It is covered with dirty dishes, and food and trash are all over the floor and the seats. We push all the dishes off the table, but instead of breaking, they simply vanish when they reach the edge of the table. And as we sit down, all the trash and food on the floor vanishes as well.

Now this guy is a good friend of mine, even though I’ve never seen him before. I have forgotten all about him being in the car earlier, with his dog and wanting to kill me and the girls. I understand now that the reason he’s here at this apartment building – which I clearly understand now has a diner as its lobby – is to break up with his girlfriend. Who I now understand is the woman from the train platform who wanted to know what was so interesting.

“Why do you want to break up with her?” I ask as I eat my cereal, which now has milk in it and I’m eating it with a spoon like normal. “It’s because of the lens in her head”, he says. “It freaks me out”. He hands me the head of a baby doll. “Her head is just like this”.

I look at the doll’s head. The back of the head has a big peephole lens, like you’d find in a front door. I look through the peephole, but all I see is black. “Oh, I forgot, I glued the eyes shut”, my friend says, and he leans over and picks at the plastic eyelids until they both swing open, in that odd way that old dolls used to do. The eyes blink out of sync with each other, but then finally stay open.

I look through the back of the doll’s head again, and now it’s like a camera viewfinder, with a crosshair and everything. I look at my friend through the doll’s head. There is an area of distortion in the middle of the lens that magnifies just one area enormously. It’s like a computer special effect or something. I center the distortion area over my friend’s right eye, so it looks like he has one giant eye and one normal size eye.

I take the doll’s head away from my eye for a moment, and my friend is nodding. “Now you understand. You see the effect.” Suddenly he looks very wistful. “I always wanted to get a picture of myself looking like that, they way the doll sees me, which is the same way, I guess, that my girlfriend sees me”. I understand instantly that his girlfriend has a lens tube running through her head, through which he can look into and see out of her right eye. And that is what freaks him out about her, and that’s why he has to break up with her.

I think how convenient it is that he has a doll’s head that is just like his girlfriend’s head. And then I notice there’s a camera button on the doll’s head as well, right on top, under its nylon blond hair. “You can have your picture, it’s a camera too!” I exclaim. I put the doll’s back up to my eye, and start snapping pictures with it.

But I can’t get it right. The head keeps moving just as I snap the button, so my friend’s eye is never centered in the right way to cause the distortion effect. Instead, it gives him big lips, a big nose, a big lock of hair, but never the big eye effect again.

He looks exasperated. “I’ll get it right in a second”, I say, and I peer into the doll’s head to see if maybe there’s another adjustment I needed to make.

And that was when I woke up, and the dream ended.


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