Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Skull in the Bathroom

Long dream in three parts:

1) I was visiting my parents home. The whole family had gathered... flown in from all over the country. I had spent a lot of time working on the garden, making sure everything was well-watered and pretty. I remember thinking that all the work I’d done wouldn’t matter if the garden was left to bake in the sun after I went home.

I was in the family room and the curtains were drawn - heavy, dark red velvet curtains that blocked out most of the light. As I drew them back to let in light from the garden, I noticed an electrical outlet on the wall next to the French doors leading outside. The outlet was crammed full of extension chords and those adapters that let you plug more than one chord into an outlet. It was a tangle of chords - way too many for the outlet to safely service. My Dad was usually careful about this sort of fire hazard and I remember thinking it was unlike him to do something so unsafe.

There was a phone call about some mess-up with my return ticket home... but I sorted it out through a different travel agent or ticket service from the one I normally use. My original plane ticket was going to cost $500, but the new ticket was only going to cost $175. The only problem was that it wouldn’t be a direct flight... I’d have a long layover in Portland, Oregon, before I could make it back to Sacramento. It was completely out of the way, but cheaper. My Dad thought I was wasting a lot of time just to save a little money. This baffled me because Dad wouldn’t normally say something like that. He was usually very thrifty - and would put up with a little inconvenience to save a little money. I said, “Eight hours or six hours... what’s the difference, Dad? You’re never more than eight hours away from anyplace.”


The scene changed - I think I woke up a little, then slept again.

2) I was getting ready to move into a big, run-down old house a bunch of people shared. I decided to clean an upstairs bathroom. It was a good room, with one of those big antique claw-foot bathtubs I like. The room was dusty and dirty... not filthy, mostly just unkempt. I wanted to clean it so I could use it comfortably.

There was a long shelf to the left of the sink, running down a wall to a little alcove with a window. The shelf and window sill were full of little collectibles that various tenants had placed there over the years. Mostly candles, but also little statues and junky knickknacks. They were all jumbled together, covered in cobwebs. One candle I remember was shaped like the Empire State Building with a wick on top. I overheard someone in another room saying, “We get all this stuff real cheap from the boutique downstairs.” The voice was RC (a waking life friend from a long time ago).

The window sill knickknacks were different from the ones on the shelf. Better quality and placed in an almost reverent manner, as though on an alter. There were brass ornaments, mostly, surrounded by candles. The centerpiece was one of those brass Shiva goddess figurines. It was made out of brass bones and the Shiva’s head was a large skull - all out of proportion to the rest of her body.

I suddenly had to use the toilet. As I sat down, MM barged into the room (an acquaintance who, in my waking life, sold me a classic 1960s English touring bicycle I love to ride). I quickly yelled, “Occupied! This bathroom is occupied!” He was embarrassed. Suddenly, we heard this commotion outside the window... down in the street below. I stood up, pulled up my pants, and we looked outside. There was a demonstration or rally moving down the street. I went downstairs to see what the hubbub was all about.


I think I woke up a little again, but the dream picked right back up as soon as I was soundly sleeping.

3) The demonstration led from our old neighborhood to a sort of campus. The campus had been founded by Elvis Presley as a sanctuary for people who had drug and alcohol problems... a place where they could learn about and overcome addiction. The campus buildings were fairly nice in a polite, milk toast way... sort of fake suburban tutor. The roofs were cheap brown tarpaper, which surprised me... they seemed to bring the stature of the whole campus down a few notches, in my opinion. I said to someone, “Did he really pay for this whole place out of his recording fortune?” “Sure did,” was the reply.

The demonstrators were all earnest college-age kids, holding signs and chanting slogans about freedom and justice. The kids were sort of glassy-eyed and blissful, like born-again Christians... like members of any cult that thinks it has an exclusive on the meaning of life.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I suddenly realized that I was the Dean of this campus... and I was a Victorian woman, dressed in a long tan skirt, high-button shoes, a white blouse tightly buttoned to its high, lace collar. I had my hair piled on top of my head, the way women of that era wore their hair.

The campus was being shut down by the police for some reason. There was something about this campus being an illegal cult with subversive intent. I was holding a baby in my arms as I approached two officers who were sitting on a porch swing in the white, ornate front entrance to the main administration building. One officer was in charge of the police action and the other was his deputy. I said to the officer in charge, “I’ve been thinking about this a great deal and I’ve made a decision. Go ahead. Shut it all down. Take all of these people into custody.”

The crowd gasped and fell silent. One student near me said, “You’d do that? You’d sacrifice us all?” His name was Perry O’Dontis (an obvious word play).

“Yes, Perry, I would,” I replied in a soft, even voice. “It’s for the greater good. I am a victim of third-degree clarity.”


The phone rang and I woke up, troubled and exhausted. I need a good night’s sleep, with no pesky dreams.


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