What Chicken-Fueled Dreams May Come…

I’m going to have to stop eating chicken. Every time I’ve had chicken for dinner in the last six months I’ve had these bizarrely realistic dreams. Realistic in that they feature almost entirely people that I know in the real world and bizarre in that the situations range from mildly entertaining to something just shy of horrifying.

Last night’s edition of What Chicken-Fueled Dreams May Come featured a long time friend of mine standing high on a rock outcropping overlooking a ten story building that disappeared into the darkness on either end of the dream frame. Flicking her wrist, snarling “fuck them,” the building collapsed in on itself, bursting into flame from the center out. The wind swirled in, feeding the growing conflagration. Her face danced, colored alternately in darkness in bright flicking oranges and yellows, while I stood gape jawed staring at the destruction.

I turn, my own fury rising, shouting over the now howling wind, “What did you do? What the fuck did you…”

Then she kissed me. Not the soft peck of a years long friend, but more a full body porn star quality kiss. Sure, I just dream-watched one of my oldest friends lay waste to everything in my field of view, but that part at least didn’t suck so much.

Then I woke up, safe in my own bed, and not watching the world around me collapse into flame and chaos.

Living in my head is awfully strange sometimes… but obviously chicken turns it into a raging dumpster fire. Good times.

Dream theater of the absurd…

I know I dream at night, but I very rarely remember them in any kind of detail past the moment my eyes flicker open. Last night was indeed a rarity, because not only do I remember that I dreamed, but there seem to have been two of them back to back. It’s practically unprecedented.

In the first dream I found myself at the alter. That would be nightmare enough in my waking moments. I don’t remember features, but I can tell you that my mind conjured up a tiny brunette for the scenario. The pipe organ thundered through some hymn or another, the padre said a few words, and all the while the slight brunette to my left seemed to develop a magical growing stomach. Within minutes she was very, very pregnant. Dream Jeff gulped hard and I woke up in a cold sweat having scattered the bed sheets and pillows in every direction. It was 12:34 AM.

I reordered the bed and found a cool drink before settling myself back under the covers. Sleep came quickly. I immediately recognized the place where my subconscious carried me. It was on Main Street of the small town in the west of Maryland where I went to college. What in the real world had been one of the most dive-y of bars was transformed in my dream landscape into a banqueting hall in the original sense of the term. Family and friends past and current were assembled, the table gleamed with silver, and polished wood everywhere glowed by candlelight. This was formal dining, white tie and tails.

The doors to this gothic revival gem of a dining hall slammed open with a thud. Conversation halted as another group pours into the room – they too were dressed for the occasion. In the lead was a tall redhead, someone who looked vaguely familiar but far too tall to be anyone I know from the real world. She was striking – in that tall Jessica Rabbit kind of way. She was also, like her predecessor from earlier in the evening, very pregnant.

She pulls me aside and just before the alarm drug me into the waking world, in my dream theater I mumble what proved to me my only spoken line of the night: Just give me a minute, I’ll figure this out.

Byron it’s not, but I’m at least a little impressed that even in a dream state the old brain box was trying to logic its way through the situation. That’s something I guess.

A little bit of insight into what terrorizes us in the deepest reaches of our subconscious is a healthy thing, I think. That my deepest fears stem from something so commonplace isn’t a particular surprise. People fear spiders, swimming pools, and germs and those are all perfectly normal parts of everyday life too. All things considered, though, if I could go ahead and get back to not remembering any of my nightmares in the morning that would be great.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. What dreams may come. I don’t know what I spent the night dreaming about. I very rarely remember dreams. What I can tell you is whatever it was it left me well and truly annoyed. I can only surmise from the result that it somehow involved people being stupid. That hardly seems insightful but I can’t think of anything else that leaves me with such a general feeling of annoyance and disappointment in the universe.

2. Christmas. Go ahead and call me Grinch, Scrooge, Krampus, whatever, but it’s three days before Christmas and I’m just not feeling it this year. Maybe it’s because I’ve usually already started my Christmas vacation by this point in the week. Maybe it’s because it was 50 degrees today. Maybe it’s because I want to bludgeon the next person who whistles past my cubicle wearing an ugly Christmas sweater to death with my keyboard. I might not be ready for Christmas this year, but I’m damn good and ready for this eight-day weekend… and that’s not nothing.

3. Backup. I’ve been saying for months now that I needed someone to at least get familiar with some of the things I’m working on. I don’t need someone to do the work, just someone who can speak intelligently about it if I happen to get hit by a bus, win the lottery, or, you know, take a few days off. Now that the latter scenario is upon is, let’s not act like anyone is surprised it’s happening. The decision that every project was going to have a single point of failure was made at echelons far above mine and despite all evidence to the contrary, decisions have consequences. The consequence here is that while I’m gone, no one is going to be around to answer whatever questions happen to come up. Yes, it means there will be an unmitigated shitshow when I get back. I may not be able to avoid those problems, but I can sure as hell defer them and for the time being that’s good enough.

Getting Bloomberged…

I went for years without being able to remember a single nighttime dream sequence. They’re happening often enough now that I barely take note of them, unless, of course, I feel like it was a blogworthy experience. This morning was one of those times.

It was at the office, which could qualify the experience as a nightmare rather than a more run of the mill dream. Upon returning to my cube from a meeting, I found four people in it, busily putting traders-at-terminals.jpgtogether what appeared to be a monstrously over sized Bloomberg terminal – a dozen monitors, cabling snaked everywhere, multiple keyboards – and cramming it all into my 10 foot by 10 foot cube.

I ask what they’re doing. The only one of the group I can identify, the dream version of the guy who sits in the cube next to me, just looked up and laughed before going back to work with the impact wrench. Don’t ask me why putting together a computer system sounds like the service bay at the local tire shop, but in my dreams it apparently does.

Dream Jeff stood there for what felt like a very long time demanding to know what they were doing and why all this crap was in my area, finally screaming at them for an answer while they calmly worked on – and just before the alarm clock startled me back into the real world.

I never did get a satisfactory answer about what they were doing, but I can certainly speculate on the meaning behind the dream. If that’s not my subconscious screaming “Fuck Monday!” at the top of its voice, I don’t know what is.

Dreams and wishes…

With all respect to Dr. Freud who argued that dreams are and exercise in wish fulfillment, I’m afraid I have to go out on a limb and beg to differ. I woke up in a cold sweat this morning near enough to 3AM in the aftermath of a dream in which I (for some unknown reason) was sitting on the back porch watching the back yard wash out all the way down to the bottom of the foundation. I can assure the good doctor that I in no way have any wish to do that kind of excavation work. Ever.

Maybe the most entertaining part is that Dream Jeff was completely uninterested by the every growing chasm that was appearing where his dream yard was supposed to be. I can only assume that the entire thing was just a bad reaction to too-late-in-the-evening meatloaf sandwiches and spending too much time obsessing about a dry basement.

I’d like to think the couple of hours I allocate to sleep are supposed to be a restful time. Fortunately last night is largely an exception to that rule. Even so, it’s yet another of the many reminders that sometimes inside my own head is a very strange place to pass the time.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

If you thought movin’ on up was going to in any way interfere with regular installments of WAJTW you clearly don’t know me at all. In my head there’s always something worth bitching about. Like these:

1. Going bump in the night. Two nights in a row I was brought out of a dead sleep by something going bump in the night. It’s a fine little rush, but doesn’t make for a restful time. The third time it happened it wasn’t so much a bump as it was a persistent scratching… and that’s when reality sank in. My headboard and George’s tank align almost perfectly and are separated by two thicknesses of drywall and about three inches of air. Every time he did a little excavating or nudged the side of the tank I was hearing my tortoise loud and clear from half a foot away. That made it a lot less unnerving at 3AM, but didn’t do much at all to eliminate it’s the week’s most annoying “discover” here at Casa de Jeff v2.

2. High efficiency. I inherited a high efficiency front load washing machine. It’s an impressive piece of equipment, no doubt. However, with the old top load $300 Sears outlet model, when I set it to a normal wash cycle it would finish like clockwork in about 40 minutes. This new, improved, high efficiency model on the other hand just takes as much time as it decides it wants to take no matter what it’s set on. Could be 30 minutes. Could be 2 hours. Just depends. While my clothes, I’m sure, are cleaner than ever it sure would be nice to have a little predictability in how long getting them to that state might take.

3. Stupid dreams. So far this week I’ve had dreams about home networking, dreams about washing machines, and dreams about work. Whatever happened to dreams about Sports Illustrated cover models, I have no idea. All I know is going to bed is way less fun when it involves home improvement projects rather than scantily clad supermodels.

Living the dream…

Picture it. Appalachia. 1984. If you asked the average five or six year old in that time and place what he or she wanted to be when grown, the answers you’d hear would probably be something like fireman, cop, nurse, baseball player, a teacher, or vet. My answer was pretty much always that I wanted to be a senator when I grew up. Even from a young age I had a sense that high office was pretty damned good work if you could get it.

Today, by contrast, I wouldn’t want to be a senator for 10 times the salary. I’m not sure I could spend the day dealing with sycophants and lobbyists, the right wing crackpots like Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, or left wing ideologues like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I don’t know that any amount of senatorial decorum could stop me from carrying out my deep desire to heave the whole lot of them into the Potomac. At least now I know what I don’t want to do.

What I do want to do – what I’d consider my dream job today – is a little harder to pin down. I know I’d want to write, but not all day every day. I’d like to have an unlimited amount of time to sit on a sunny porch in the morning and drink good coffee. I’d like to walk through the woods, ride 4-wheelers, and shoot guns. I’d like to really take the time to learn how to brew beer and distill whiskey.

As far as I can tell, my dream job is essentially being a PowerBall jackpot winner and having the financial freedom to pursue whatever happens to interest me in the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m compensated well for the time I spend in the office, but it doesn’t take too many days of playing “Who Has the Key to the Mysterious Locked Equipment Room” or “1001 Ways to Make Your PowerPoint Better” to make a guy wonder if there’s something more out there.

I’m not Thoreau and this place certainly isn’t Walden, but it keeps me off the streets. That’s probably as much as a reasonable person could want… but I’ve never claimed to be the model of reasonableness. So the answer to the “dream job” question really is, “it depends.” It depends on the day and hour you ask. For me it’s always been something of a moving target.

This is the second of three answers “By Request.” Thanks, Chrissie!