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I think I was having someone else's dreams last night.

First I was in my mother's house, starting prep for a big meal. But there was laundry all over the kitchen counters. I called out, "Are these clean or dirty?" Someone called back, but what he was saying didn't respond to my question. So I went toward the laundry room, asking again, "Do you know whether these are clean or dirty? Should I fold them and put them away, or put them in the laundry room?" He answered again in the same way, still sounding as if he thought we were in conversation with each other, but not actually responding to what I said. I got to the door of the laundry room and saw him in there with his feet up on the table, leaning back in his chair, reading the newspaper. He had enormous feet, in shoes that were much wider at the ball than at the heel. He looked around his newspaper, said, "Come on in, let's do this," and smiled at me with all his teeth. I realized that he was a wolf. The Little Red Riding Hood kind, who walks and talks like a man, but I knew that if I stepped into the room he would tear my living flesh from my bones.

I screamed "Mommy!" and ran, screaming, to my mother. She was also reading a newspaper. I got into her lap and told her about the wolf. It was odd: I knew that he was real, really there, really dangerous; but I also knew that he could not enter the harmonious, rational, civilizing presence of my mother.

"It talked like a person but it was a wolf," I said.
"I hate it when they do that," she said kindly.

Then I woke up. It was the middle of the night, but I was too flooded with adrenaline to fall back asleep again easily. When I did, I dreamed that I was backstage at a busy, crowded TV studio. I was supposed to appear on a talk show, but I had found out about it late and arrived at the last minute. I found the producer, who handed me a sheet of paper. "This is the question you'll be addressing," she said. "Don't be tempted to ramble on about drug policy. Keep to the topic." I could read the paper, which I never can in dreams. The question was about Area A Enterprise Zones. I didn't know anything about Area A Enterprise Zones! I was a drug policy expert![*] I tried to find the producer again, to ask whether I should drop out even though it was the last minute, or appear even though I knew nothing about the topic. I overheard someone saying that I was going to be on with Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Oh, I love that woman," said Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary took me by the arm and said we had to get ready. We found a bathroom. Someone powdered my face. I was alternating between dread of making a fool of myself on national television, and a giddy feeling that I could do it -- I could do anything -- I was with Hillary Rodham Clinton! I asked her what she knew about Area A Enterprise Zones. "They're the ones in Pennsylvania, that they named after superheroes," she said. I was going to die on national television. Hillary got me some pretzels. "She's afraid she won't know what to say," she explained to the kids at the pretzel stand.

"This is your first time?" asked one of the kids. "You're going to be toast, newbie."
"Crash and burn," agreed the other.

[*]I am not in fact a drug policy expert.


Both dreams were terrifying enough to be memorable, which makes them feel like they have a message. But I don't think the message was for me. Do any of you recognize either of them?

smug

May. 13th, 2012 10:40 pm
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Last night I dreamed I had acquired a small, snot-nosed, not very bright child, as I do every year or so. In the dream I resign myself to my responsibility. "Raising a small child is hard work, especially at my age," I think. "It wouldn't seem like such hard work if you were... more rewarding. More like the two I gave birth to. But I will raise you, and I will love you, because you are mine now."

Waking from that dream I finally realized who that unappealing child is: it's the one Joanna Russ called "The Little Dirty Girl" in the story of that name, which you can read in The Hidden Side of the Moon.

Waking a little further I realized how lucky I am never to have felt that way in waking life. Sure, I've been angry, irritated, frustrated with my kids, but they've never been a disappointment to me.

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