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.

Friday feeling…

If you spend any time on social media you can’t help by notice the inundation of posts celebrating the arrival of Friday – as if Friday was actually part of the weekend and not just another fifth of the regular work week. As for me, my #FridayFeeling is largely one of profound disinterest – apathy mixed with a deep desire to be almost anywhere else (war zones and 3rd world countries excluded). Mostly, though, it’s a desire to be at home, with a good book and a stiff drink, surround by fuzzy animals. At this stage of life my desires are modest and reasonable.

It’s increasingly hard to remember there was a time when I was actually ambitious – when I wanted to go places and do things. It’s even harder to remember there was a time when I had the mental energy left over to make those things happen. That’s especially true when the here and now is so often taken up with just trying not to fall asleep during a staff meeting and smashing my face into the table or drooling all over myself.

Looking tired…

It’s always a positive and self-affirming moment when someone comes by your desk, takes a long look at you, and announces, “Damn, Jeff. You look tired.”

The fact is, I am tired. It has nothing to do with how much sleep I got the night before (which was plenty) and everything in the world to do with the volume of information I’m trying to exert some semblance of control or influence over for the next 25 days. There are plenty of people who have a more demanding plate of responsibilities, of course. If my project slips off the rails no one is going to die a terrible flesh wasting death due to toxic chemical exposure. That, at least, I have going for me. Still, between project meetings, sub-team meetings, a never-empty inbox, and a phone that won’t stop ringing, I’m not so much processing information as I am sifting it from one pile to another while hoping I don’t miss something important. Unfortunately I’ve been doing this long enough to know I’m missing stuff.

It’s a piss poor way to operate. It means everything else that’s supposed to be important and on my plate is getting crowded out just because of the volume of material this one particular effort is kicking up. I’ve got some expected leadership beatings lined up later this week, so at least I have that to look forward to. Plus, if I’m this tired now, just imagine how chipper and rested I’ll be in another three and a half weeks. That should be good times for everyone.

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.

What does the trick…

This is the first night in a long time I’ve sat down at the blinking cursor and really didn’t feel like writing. Not here. Not any any of the other ongoing projects. Not in a comments section. Not anywhere. Whatever spark drives that compulsion of mine to cover a blank space with small black symbols is well out this evening… so if anything you read hear feels at all forced, it absolutely is, so you’ve got a good sense of things.

There are no particularly tragic circumstances behind the scenes. The office is settling in to its newest flavor of ridiculous. The air conditioner isn’t broken and the summer routine is in full swing. It seems possible that good things are happening on one or two other fronts as well, so it’s far from the worst of times.

Despite that, I’m just a certain kind of deep down bone tired tonight. If the beginning half of the week is any indication it’s not the kind of tired I can solve by allowing for more than my usual five or six solid hours of sleep. It’s the type I feel when I need to just turn my brain off for a while. Even though the sure fire cure is a few days laid up somewhere with palm trees and a rum economy, summer is slipping away without a vacation plan in sight, so I’ll just have to do my best to treat the ailment as best I can with small doses.

I know from experience that in a few days this too shall pass and in the meantime the only thing for it is to slug through to the other side. It’s not the elegant solution I usually like to find, but it does the trick.

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.

The wee small hours of the morning, or Fueling the beast…

Something strange happened in the wee small hours of the morning today. Just after 2AM I found myself inexplicably awake, in the company of the whirr of the overhead fan and two snoring dogs. It was as peaceful a nighttime scene as one could hope to find, but my subconscious was clearly in an uproar, awake, and was rather insistent that we were going to be awake for a while.

I’m used to having ideas for the blog come at me before drifting off to sleep or maybe as I’m waking up. I make a habit of catching those ideas on my phone’s note pad. It’s jammed full of half formed ideas and concepts I may or may not ever get around to dealing with. Mostly those come in the form of a sentence or phrase I can use later, but last night came at me in a torrent of words. Judging by a daylight look, the grammar, punctuation, stray words, and general tone I can say that my subconscious isn’t much for exerting editorial control on the fly. In a few places things are so jumbled that awake me can’t even deciphered what asleep me might have been going after. Most of the rest, though, is clear enough in its intent.

It seems my subconscious wanted to wait until the dead of night to walk me through the outline of what I’ll only call the most dark, disturbingly introspective assessments of self I’ve ever experienced. I don’t suppose it should be surprising that such a thing would find outlet as one of my old fashioned blog outlines. It’s the method I use most often to give complex ideas form and structure before going on to put them down in the more narrative long form.

What I was left with early this morning was a laundry list of a sort. A list of the accumulated slights, grudges, broken hearts, and disappointments. A list of the battles lost, and lost causes yet to come, and standing stubborn against the running tide. A list of the moments of vanity, and pride, and ego stretching out further than grasp. A list of the times I’ve retreated behind my own battlements, inside myself, and what that’s cost me.

It was an all access pass to the oddities of mind that drive the fusion reactor deep at my core, that piles action upon action, cycle upon cycle, loss upon loss, victory upon victory and the hundred different dreams and fears that make me and that make me question who “me” really is at the heart of things. Is there more? Is this enough?

I’m left today finding the whole thing exhilarating, unsettling, fascinating, and horrifying in turn. Maybe that’s what it’s supposed to feel like when we get an unexpected look at what fuels the beast within… or maybe it’s just a sign of my impending mid-life crisis. If that’s the case, leaving off the heavy handedness and filling my dreams with visions of a new Corvette would have been message enough.