Sunday, December 1, 2013

When the subconscious is simple

The Dream -- Pablo Picasso, 1932

This probably won't make much of a blog post, but I feel compelled to tell you about a dream I had last night. Those of you who believe dreams to be incredibly boring need not read any further than this, although I might include a poem at the end (hint: Billy Collins).  Also, if you're not a blogger or blog-reading addict, the dream entails a famous one. For the rest of you, settle in. I'll give you a moment.

So, last night I dreamed -- or is it dreamt? -- that I lived next door to Stephanie Nielson of Nie Nie fame. She's that beautiful woman and mother, burned in a terrible airplane crash years ago whose blog caught my attention along with the rest of the planet. She's what's called a Mormon Mom blogger, and while I have absolutely nothing in common with her (other than, perhaps, an unsurpassing love for my children), I have a nearly insatiable curiosity about her seeming ability to live a perfect life despite incredible physical hardship. She's basically a sainted Martha Stewart on steroids given to her by Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith Himself.

Anywho. Back to the dream.

I lived next door to the Neilson's and learned this when I paid a visit to their house to borrow something. I wandered right into the house, not knowing its occupants despite a party going on, and I caught sight of one of Nie Nie's daughters standing in a doorway. She was the one with the brown hair who looks exactly like her mother before her mother was disfigured in the plane crash (although the mother is still spectacularly beautiful in an ineffable way that comes out of her eyes). OK, I admit it. I know the girl's name because I've read about their family religiously for the last five or more years. It's Claire. The next thing I knew, I was running out of the house like some kind of Mrs. Cravits, eager to tell my friends that Nie Nie had moved into the neighborhood. I don't remember if I was successful in getting whatever it was that I had gone into the house to borrow, but on my way out, I had to make my way past a gigantic boat, the NieNie boat, that was as high as a skyscraper, parked in the front yard at the edge of a clump of sky-high bamboo. Now that I think about it, it might have been an ark, and it was difficult to run by, but I did and kept running.

That was it. That was my dream. When I woke up and recalled it, I felt embarrassed. Why the hell am I dreaming about these people? Is my subconscious a shallow creek when I thought it to be a deep and dark reservoir? Have Nie's recent postings of her childrens' ardent Mormon faith embedded themselves, like tentacles, in my agnostic brain? What would Jung say? What say you, dear Reader?

Here's a poem:

The First Dream

The Wind is ghosting around the house tonight
and as I lean against the door of sleep
I begin to think about the first person to dream,
how quiet he must have seemed the next morning

as the others stood around the fire
draped in the skins of animals
talking to each other only in vowels,
for this was long before the invention of consonants.

He might have gone off by himself to sit
on a rock and look into the mist of a lake
as he tried to tell himself what had happened,
how he had gone somewhere without going,

how he had put his arms around the neck
of a beast that the others could touch
only after they had killed it with stones,
how he felt its breath on his bare neck.

Then again, the first dream could have come
to a woman, though she would behave,
I suppose, much the same way,
moving off by herself to be alone near water,

except that the curve of her young shoulders
and the tilt of her downcast head
would make her appear to be terribly alone,
and if you were there to notice this,

you might have gone down as the first person
to ever fall in love with the sadness of another. 

Billy Collins


  1. Okay- here's my interpretation- you would really like to be friends with Nie Nie and her family but that religion thing (represented by the ark, of course) is just too big to get around.

  2. Nie represents the self that part of you wants to be. A portrait of perfection that is enviable. You were excited to encounter your imagined 'best self' but instead, ran into the child. Claire is Nie before the fiery accident, and she might also be you--younger, innocent, unruined by the difficulties of life. I think what you encountered in Claire is your younger or truer self (while others reveled in the back ground--a sort of primal childhood scene of slipping away from the adults and searching or engaging with mysteries). I think this true self reminded you of something that is good, and perhaps also a bit difficult to face, and sent you running past a difficult obstacle. You kept going, though, and you overcame the obstacle, empowered by encountering the true you and not the idealistic, perfect, false you. I could do much better with this if I knew you in real life, but basically what I see are: thresholds, hopefulness, a goal or desire, the innocent-primal-mysterious-essential self, a realization or awakening, excitement (that you might be a little embarrassed of), an obstacle (although this is a bit complicated, it being a boat. Was it more important that it could sail, or that it hindered your movement?), and an obstacle overcome. There's my parlor-trick dream interpretation.

  3. Any time I dream about boats or water it is a hopeful dream and important. I am an ocean watcher and I believe you are as well. I'd say pay attention.

    And just because I'm sitting here waiting for my bisquits to bake I'm giving you a Bibliomancy reading:

    Eventually the wells began to hurl fresh water rather tan fire into the sky, and in this manner extinguished themselves, converting the surrounding landscape to a horrific sodden paste of ash and mud, though two years later there grew across that mile's expanse the most vibrant field of emerald-colored grass, calm and level and serene, obscuring completely all traces of the year before, save for the slightest hint of sulphur.

    From Rick Bass, Where The Sea Used To Be p 175

  4. You're normal. I dream about blog people too. I think we all do. We KNOW these people who we read.

  5. Well, my first instinct is to acquiesce to Vesuvius cause that woman obviously knows some shit about dreams. (Excuse the swearing. I have been watching back-to-back episodes of Orange is the New Black.) Nie Nie's life is such a fascinating jumble of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, it's no wonder she has filtered into your dreams. Maybe your dream is just the universe taking note of the oddness of it all - and the reality that such a strange balancing act could land right next-door to you, in your very house even, at any time. Nameste.

  6. houses can be representatives of our entire psyches. try to remember what you were going to borrow.....

  7. I say if there is anything you don't know about Nie Nie, just ask me. Just don't ask me why I know so much!


  8. "How he had gone somewhere without going." What a wonderful, spare way to put it. And I love the picture of you in the apron with Santa!

  9. Hello from a silent reader…I am so glad you had your Nie Nie dream because I too have had dreams about folks I don't know whose blogs I read. Maybe blogs are like song lines-all the stories traveling into our dreams. I think of Rebecca's salmon swimming upstream and how she visits them yearly and how I know this story now. Oh and Ezra who is dying. And Ms. Moon's grandkids! I don't know that I have anything revelatory to say about what your dream means-just wanted to say you're not the only one. (I read her blog all the time too BTW.) And thanks for your blog!

  10. This:

    you might have gone down as the first person
    to ever fall in love with the sadness of another.

    Is this the human condition? I wonder.

  11. WHO thinks dreams are boring? What is more fascinating?? Now you have to apply the part-of-me practice to each and every single solitary aspect of the dream. You'll have epiphany after epiphany.

  12. I like the hope idea. Or that you went to borrow hope. A cup of hope or faith perhaps, whatever that may be. But my more mundane response is 'at least you weren't dreaming about Nene from the real housewives, and for that we are all thankful"

  13. i like all these dream interpretations above. but i'm more like you, and would wonder what it meant if i dreamt of blog people!

  14. I don't see anything particularly embarrassing or shallow about your dream! Reading about their lives each day, it seems natural that you would step into their home and recognize them. It's interesting they were having a party -- maybe this indicates that you know you're not really part of their lives, because they would have invited you? And yeah, I like Ms. Moon's interpretation of the boat. That's religion, right there, a big barrier.

  15. I know of her. She has this sweetness and this heart that pulls people in. I think the dream means something like this. Whatever it is that she represents to you (optimism despite immense suffering, happy homemaker, loving mama, deep faith) you want to become more familiar with within yourself. The large boat, an ark, perhaps like Noah's, is maybe the elephant in the neighborhood (vs. living room)? -- or the religious questions you are asking about your faith. Her faith is huge and solid and deeply Christian, an ark parked in the yard. You have to walk past it as you ponder all of this -- and the differences between a Mormon mama and a disappointed Catholic, it's all part of the intrigue. You want to borrow something from her. The question is what? Faith? Hope? Joy? Isn't that why we read each other's blogs in the first place? To borrow something from one another?
    I think it's a fantastic dream.

  16. My dear, you're not dreaming about walking into the Duck Dynasty dudes' house, so all is well. So sez my shrink hubbie.
    sending love,

  17. Oh, it could be such fun to muse about this! Let's discuss it over a big glass of red wine when you come North...

  18. Embarking on the unknowns-of-sacrifice for a homeschooling mother...



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