First Dream: I’m checking into a Las Vegas hotel, only to learn from the man at the desk that the conference I’m in town to attend has been canceled due to the pandemic. He arranges to have a cab take me to the train station, so I can return home.
On the way, the cabbie—a plump, jovial middle-aged man in a snap-brim cap—informs me that ironically the train station is located in the same casino where the canceled convention was going to be held. Meanwhile, the streets appear quite empty, conforming to news reports that Vegas has become “a ghost town.”
I enter the casino’s daytime restaurant and bar, an expansive room empty except for staff and several large-screen TVs, and sit with my carryon rolly. For whatever reason, I’m under the impression that someone will come and tell me where to catch the train. A considerable amount of time passes before I realize this isn’t going to happen, and I have to rush through the casino to find the train.
I ultimately see the platform on the far side of a giant glass wall, but can’t figure out how to get to it. The ramps leading to the platform are all on the far side of the glass.
As this is taking place, more and more people begin to filter into the casino, despite the pandemic. I have to work my way through the growing crowds to find, at last, the stairway to the train platform. But I get there just as the train is pulling away.
I head back into the casino, wondering what to do next, dragging my carryon behind me. The place is now conspicuously busy, if not exactly jam-packed, and there are hundreds of people out on the streets, smiling, laughing, enjoying themselves. Yes, some of the gamblers are Asian, but by no means all. In fact, they seem to be a distinct minority of those at the slots and tables.
The poet Robert Bly, during his readings in the 1980s, often remarked that the poet is like the Biblical character of Joseph, who “left the house of his father and learned to interpret dreams.” More prosaically, but no less insightfully, the crime-horror-fantasy writer Alexandra Sokoloff once noted that, as a writer, “If you’re not keeping a dream journal, you’re working too hard.”
The fact that the coronavirus has prompted increased levels of dread has not gone unnoticed—with the paradoxical result that some individuals already suffering from anxiety and/or depression have actually found their symptoms improve, as the outer world has begun to conform more reliably to their darker internal worlds. (For more on this, see Laura Bradley’s April 6th piece in The Daily Beast.)
“If you’re not keeping a dream journal, you’re working too hard.” –Alexandra Sokoloff
The effect on our dreams has not gone unreported, either. Take this piece from the blog IFLScience, Having Weird Dreams Since The Pandemic Began? You’re Not Alone, which notes that in stressful times we tend to have interrupted sleep, which not only amplifies the stress but increases the likelihood of negative dream content.
(Note: Our dogs have been getting us up in the middle of the night as well—maybe they’re also feeling the stress, or sensing our stress. Then again, maybe they’re just miserable little devils who refuse to take full advantage of our sending them outside one last time before bed—they who get to sleep all damn day! But I digress.)
Ironically, it’s precisely interruptions that tend to make us remember our dreams, so it’s no surprise I’ve not only been having curious dreams, but I’ve been remembering them more than usual.
But my point here is not just to share the weirdness. There’s a writing issue to be pondered (he says ponderously). [Read more…]