Category Archives: Dreams

San Francisco house dream, time travel and possible ghosts

My waking dream this morning (rather, dream after I woke and fell asleep again) was my favorite kind of dream — a house dream. Only the other day I lamented, either to someone or to myself (is it worrying that I don’t remember if I was talking to myself or someone else?) that I’d not had a house dream in a while.

This was different from other house dreams because the house we’d bought was clear across the country in San Francisco. We’d visited it before — maybe to look at it to consider purchasing it or as tourists. In the dream, it was moving day. We’d just gotten off the plane and were on our way to the house wondering when Clare and Andrew would arrive to help us move in. Dean and I arrived at the house, which was somehow connected to a church that we also now owned, but rented out to a congregation, and let ourselves in.

old photograph of a Victorian mansion
Not our house, but it looked something like this except it was in the middle of a city block, not on its own.

The door was open and when we walked in the front door someone asked us if we belonged there. We showed them that we had the key and said it was our house. The person, a workman, said we should look around. We started in the kitchen and moved to the living room where we were glad to see a golden-yellow mid-century modern leather sofa until we noticed that the front of the middle cushion was in shreds. As we walked around the house more we noticed a lot of sofas and other furniture including an old crank telephone.

Clare arrived and was sad that we’d bought this house after she moved out because it was a Victorian mansion and she’d wanted to grow up in one. At this point, I was carrying her around like she was a child. I told her that now we’d be only a short airplane trip away instead of a 5-hour airplane trip away.

We walked into the master bedroom and noticed an ornate door that we’d missed on our first visit. The door led to a walk-in closet with views of a river running through downtown (yes, I know there is no river in San Francisco, but my dream self saw it). The closet also had a staircase that led downstairs.

As we continued our tour of the house we encountered more and more people who looked like they were either tourists or were shopping. I went back to the master bedroom and noticed a hospital bed behind a curtain and saw a man in the corner, crying and looking at some papers. I wondered if someone he loved had just died in the house.

I followed a woman dressed as a waitress into the walk-in closet and down the stairs. We went out a door and I tried to talk to her, to ask her if people in San Francisco were friendly because by this time I was not sure we’d made the right decision, moving across the country into a huge, possibly haunted, Victorian mansion. She would not answer me and disappeared into a doorway. I turned around and realized that I was in 1800’s San Francisco.

That’s when I woke up and my first thought was “how the heck could we afford a Victorian mansion in San Francisco?” My second was that I was relieved that we were still in Bethesda. My third was how weird it was that I was carrying Clare.

My interpretation:

The house in San Francisco: I bought Ruth Franklin’s biography of Shirley Jackson a few weeks ago and read a bit of it which mentioned the house that Jackson likely based “Hill House” on. I must have had that at the back of my mind, although I have not yet read “The Haunting of Hill House“, I have seen both movie adaptations of it.

The people in the house: After thinking about the dream for a short while I thought that aspects of it were like the House on the Rock in Wisconsin, so perhaps the people were visiting a similarly strange house in San Francisco.

Carrying Clare: A few days ago I had the pleasure of holding a family friend’s  2-month old grandson. I remember thinking back to when I held my own children like that.

Time Travel: I don’t know — I like time travel. I like the staircase being the portal.

Shredded couch cushion: We have a leather sofa I hate in our basement and Dean just bought something to fix it. I was hoping we were going to replace it instead.

Or maybe I have been watching Twin Peaks too close to bedtime!

When I opened my eyes I couldn’t believe what I saw!

I was sitting in a moderately crowded church and realized I could not easily open my eyes. I was finally able to slightly open one eye and looked around at the rest of the attendees. Everyone appeared to be sleeping, some with their heads rolled to the side or resting on the back of the pew. Suddenly everyone opened their eyes and sat up straight as the pastor walked up the aisle to the pulpit.

During the service I deduced what happened. Each Sunday the pastor wanted quiet in the church before ascending the pulpit. The only way he could accomplish that was to drug the congregation with a quick-acting quick-recovery sleep-inducing vapor. What the vapor was, how it was introduced to the congregation and if it were dangerous were the questions still on my mind when I confronted the pastor after the service.

“I refused to be drugged in a church,” I announced to the pastor.

“You are welcome to not be drugged in a church,” replied the pastor, “but not in my church.”

I knew I needed to let others know about this, but I didn’t know how do do so without causing a riot. The first thing I needed to find out was what the drug was and how it was introduced into the air. I also knew I needed an ally.

I assumed that since the pastor was a good man, he would not want to harm anyone, but perhaps he’d not thought about unborn children and the effects of the drug on them. I approached a woman I knew was pregnant and whispered to her what I knew. She became outraged and said she’d meet me in the fellowship hall after talking to the pastor.

I then noticed my son, who was responsible for ringing the tower bell before the service, and asked him what he knew about the vapor. He admitted that he was instructed to push a button just before the bell began to toll. He also told me the name of the drug that was released into the sanctuary when the button was pushed. I wrote it down, planning on Googling it later.

I then began talking to other people in the fellowship hall — many of whom were not in the sanctuary. It seemed many people knew about the drugging and opted, since the pastor was otherwise a good man, just to stay out of the sanctuary on Sunday mornings.

I still needed to know where the vapor entered the sanctuary, so went back into the sanctuary just before a second service was about to begin. That is when I noticed the brass decorations on either end of the pews — what I’d always thought to be speakers. I got close to one and heard a hissing sound. Holding my breath I ran up the aisle to escape being drugged for a second time that morning, of course I couldn’t run very fast and my lungs were bursting. I escaped just in time.

I never saw the pregnant woman again, but talked more to some of the women in the fellowship hall.

Then I woke up.

The Pope, Whoopi Goldberg and Stephen Fry all walk into a dream…

This morning around 5 I was awakened by a slight headache. The headache may have been caused by dehydration or perhaps it was caused by the famous visitors to my dream.

I won’t attempt to explain it — but they were all there. The Pope had a new popemobile — a kind of land raft that he pushed himself around with a long pole while standing upright and was forbidden to speak to young women. Stephen Fry was handing out kisses — he would put bright red lipstick on and kiss people on the forehead for good luck, sort of like the good witch from the Wizard of Oz did to Dorothy in the book. Whoopi Goldberg showed up in a room full of women — she sat in a chair and was animatedly talking to people on a couch. I remarked that she was one of my favorite women ever.

While this dream was weird — at least there were people in it. My dreams lately have all involved repeated coding of something or another.

Dreams of Violence

Last night I dreamed I committed act of violence against a loved one in the past and this loved one kept goading me on until I wanted to be violent again. I awoke in the middle of the dream to use the bathroom and willed myself to not remember the dream, knowing it was going to bother me. I did remember the dream, and I immediately understood where it came from.

I’ve been simmering lately. I’ve been angry below the surface — not ready to explode, but angry-calm in a creepy sort of way. I’m not positive why I’ve been feeling this way — but I think it has to do with procrastination. I’d hoped that I was going to kick the habit of procrastinating after being back in Elgin where I couldn’t procrastinate or I’d never get out of there.

One of the things I’d been avoiding was calling my mom about putting me on the list of people the insurance company was allowed to talk to. I got a form from them, and assumed my mom got one too. We’d talked about it — that she would get one and would need to fill it out and send it back to the insurance company. I kidded myself thinking that my mom was going to follow through. I didn’t have the energy to call her and try to explain why she needed to fill it out, walk her through the form and have her send it into the insurance company.

Another thing I was avoiding also involved a call to Mom — to make sure she paid the nursing home bill and sent the invoice to the insurance company so they could finalize their decision whether or not to pay. If not, we’d be back at the beginning — scrambling to find a place for Dad.

So last night I got a call from my mom telling me she’d paid for a month of the nursing home bill but not all of it because she didn’t have the funds yet — some screw-up with an account her financial advisor was supposed to get to her by last week.  She’d had to use most of her liquid savings for the bill and needed a little in reserve for other bills. She didn’t know what to do next — what to send to the insurance company so they could send her a reimbursement.

I got angry. The slow simmer I’d been feeling boiled over and I was furious. Mom knew it — I know.  I told her that I’d have to call the insurance company to find out what she was supposed to send, knowing that my delay in getting permission to talk to them about this was going to be an issue with whomever I spoke to. Knowing that I should have called her last week to make sure she’d paid the nursing home and sent the invoice to the insurance company. So, I wasn’t mad at her — I was mad at me.

I did call the insurance company, then called mom back to tell her what to do and to ask if she’d gotten the form she needed to fill out authorizing me to be put on the list of people the company could talk to. She finally understood what she needed to do about the bill, but didn’t know what I was talking about regarding the authorization — even though we talked about this when she was here. She thought I should fill out the form I got and then send it to her to sign. I’m reluctant to do that because she needs to begin doing these things herself. The more I do, the less she’ll do and be dependent on others doing things for her. I don’t think it is too late for her to start learning these things.

I went to bed late, and since Dean wasn’t there (he was up late watching TV in the family room) read my current book group book. What a mistake that was. I’d been enjoying Little Bee for the laugh-out-loud parts where Little Bee discusses the language and cultural differences between Nigeria and England. Last night I got to the part where she told about what happened after the men took her and her sister to the overturned boat on the beach.  You know the phrase going cold with horror? I felt that last night as I read Little Bee’s account of the event. I went cold.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed I beat someone to a bloody pulp.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t procrastinate
  2. Don’t read about horrible things before bed
  3. Find ways to deal with the simmering kind of anger before it becomes a rolling boil.

Ghost Stories

I don’t really know if I believe in ghosts or not. I suppose that sometimes I do — especially if I’ve seen a scary movie or read a scary book and am home alone. Also if someone I trust tells me about seeing a ghost herself or maybe her close relative saw one — then I get goosebumps and believe again. For a while.

I was a real skeptic until some friends of ours told us their story. They rented a home in the country and a number of strange things happened while they lived there with their children. Let’s call them Richard and Laura.

  • A large fan that was usually in one room was moved to the top of the stairs — no one in the family admitted to moving it. In fact the house was empty and Richard came home for lunch — that’s when he noticed the fan had been moved from where it was when he left in the morning.
  • They often heard footsteps on the stairs as if there were children playing on them. One day Laura’s sister, Rosie, was having coffee in the kitchen with Laura. She heard the footsteps and asked what it was — since she thought Richard and Laura’s were in school. Laura remarked that it was “just the ghosts”.
  • One night when Richard and Laura were asleep in bed they felt the bed move as if someone sat down on it.
  • Richard and Laura’s daughter also had stories of someone sitting on her bed.

Even my husband, who has never believed in ghosts, said that the story made him wonder. I was no longer skeptical and believed in ghosts after that, but didn’t really give it a lot of thought.

The other night my son and I checked in to a college owned hotel in Ohio so we could be close to the campus where he had a 9:00 am interview with an admissions counselor. We got to the hotel late, but were able to get a quick dinner in their “pub” at around 9 pm. I had two glasses of red wine — taking the second glass to our room when we left the restaurant. Andrew spent the some of the evening researching the college to prepare for his interview, then he watched some television. I read email and logged onto Facebook. I decided to call it a night and fell asleep around 11. I don’t know when Andrew finally went to sleep.

I woke up somewhere around 3 in the morning — something I often do if I drink wine late in the evening. I got a drink of water and turned on the air conditioning, which I had turned off earlier because we were cold. Then I got back into bed and tried to sleep. I know I slept because I dreamed that I was at my mom’s house and it had snowed. I saw a cat outside and ran to help it, but it was somehow killed — maybe a dog was involved. Anyway in the dream I brought the cat back in the house and for some reason put it in bed with Clare who woke up and, understandably, freaked out.

Clare’s freaking out in my dream woke me up, I remembered where I was and could feel the foot of the bed on the bottom of my feet (I scrunch down in bed and usually hang my feet over the bottom). I heard the air conditioner fan and felt the cool air. I pulled the blanket up to my chin. I felt, what felt like a cat, jump up on the bed near my feet, pad around my feet and come up near my face. I thought it was Annabelle, but remembered that I was not at home. Then I felt the mattress push down behind my back (I was lying on my left side, facing towards the middle of the bed) as if someone were sitting behind me. I knew it wasn’t Andrew because I could hear him breathing in his bed. I turned my head and saw a large white mass over my hip — I thought it was the blanket bunched up. Finally I felt myself being pulled off the bed as if someone had hold of the waistband of my pajama bottoms and the collar of my t-shirt.

Then I woke up. It was 5:30 am. All that was a dream — but a very vivid one.

I’ve had dreams like that before — where I feel like I am awake and know where I am (they mostly happen when I am not at home). The other times I’ve had these kind of dreams I see someone standing at the foot of the bed. This time it tried to pull me off the bed.

This dream, has pushed me back into being skeptical about ghosts. While it doesn’t explain the footsteps on the stairs at Richard and Laura’s rental house, it might explain the nighttime occurrences.

Of course, when we checked out of the hotel I did notice that our door opened right next to the stairway to the attic…

Dreams are Mashups

I’ve figured it out. I’ve discovered what dreams are. They are mashups. Mashups of things that have happened to you during the day, things you’ve thought about, worried about, rejoiced about recently. Dreams are mashups of all of that and of things you read and see and taste and touch and hear.

What do you think about that Herr Freud? No sex involved.

My Dinner with Amalah

Have you read Amalah? I have, and do; regularly. This blog is in my feed and I tremble (ok, not really — but it does make me smile) whenever I see it’s been updated. The author of the blog (let’s call her Amy) is a gifted writer who makes me laugh at least 3 times a week. Sometimes she writes about the land of Sodor or deodorant wars but mostly she writes about her life as the  mom of two adorable boys.

My feed is divided into categories. Anyone whose blog I read regularly and who comments on mine (or I know them personally) are listed under “Friends”. Amalah is listed under “Funny” and not “Friends” because the blog is usually funny and because Amy doesn’t know I  exist (even though I did win a Unicorn from her once) and I’m 99.9% certain she’s never read my blog.

Anyway, shortly after I awoke this morning I realized I’d dreamed my family (including my mom) and I had dinner with Amy and her family. I don’t know how I was lucky enough to have dinner with the Amalah family (perhaps it was in lieu of the Unicorn prize), but I remember saying to Amy that I always was happy when I saw she’d posted — that it was a highlight of my week.

Before we sat down for dinner Amy mentioned that she and her husband had plans for later that evening (another dinner), so our visit would be cut short. As we sat down to a hearty meal of grilled cheese sandwiches on paper plates (although most people forgot to use their plates) I told my mom all about Amy’s blog and how much she’d love reading it.

I remember peeking into the different rooms of her house, thinking how familiar they looked and being impressed at how well Amy described her home (but forgetting that she posts photographs, so of course the house looked familiar).

I don’t remember how the dream ended so you’ll have to make up an ending yourself.  Now go off and read Amalah. Her life is a lot more interesting than mine!

My Mother, My Self — Part 1

My mother and me 1965
My mother and me 1965

Last night I dreamed I was going to be the 103 lb wrestler for my son’s wrestling team in a tournament. For some reason (the snows perhaps) the rules of who could wrestle for the team were relaxed so that the parent of a wrestler could fill in for another wrestler. Even in the dream I must have realized how wrong this was — and not only because it’s been 10 years since I was 103 lbs — because I reasoned with myself that I was just a filler. There was no way I’d win the match.

Anyway as I was getting ready to leave with Dean and Andrew, my mom walked into the room and said she was going to go too — that she’d missed so many wrestling meets this year.

It is not unusual for my mom to pop up in a dream. When I dream of being at home (meaning my current home) the house is often the house in which I grew up and my mom is always there. She’s often in dreams in which I dream of my husband and children.

I think I’ve known this for a long time, but never wanted to admit it, but when my mom is in those dreams she is me. Even if I am in the dream, I think my mother represents me. She’s usually doing the right thing, while the other me is goofing around or as in last night’s dream, trying to get the scale to work while everyone is waiting in the car to go to the tournament. In the dream from last night she made the decision to not make dinner, but to pick it up on the way — and if I need to cut weight could eat the sandwich after weighing in.

I think she is the authority figure in the dreams (I’ll write more about how I perceive authority figures in my life in a later post) but I don’t seem to have a problem with that — in dreams.

Today is my mom’s birthday. I’m glad she was going to be there to watch me wrestle, but luckily for the team and me, I woke up before I even got to the tournament.

[And just so you know — Mom’s alive and well and even on Facebook]

Analyze This

Another house dream. This time I awoke in a strange bedroom — the four of us were sleeping in our bed, like the old days when we semi-practiced “the family bed”. I remember getting up and saying to the kids — “you’re too big for the family bed. You need to move into your own rooms” and walking them down the hall to their new bedrooms.

Andrew’s was right next to our bedroom and I pointed at the closed door and “said that’s your room”. Clare’s was harder to find, but then I remembered it was at the end of the hall. We walked in and noted it was small, but she’d be able to fit her furniture in it.

I walked back to Andrew’s room and saw that the previous owners left all the furniture, including a bed with sheets and blankets and a large console TV. Andrew was pleased with the TV and didn’t mind sleeping on someone else’s bed.

When we walked downstairs a house party was being thrown for us. My mom was in the kitchen cooking and supervising while friends and neighbors either helped out or enjoyed each others’ company. I can’t say I recognized anyone but my mom, but in the dream I seemed to know them.

Suddenly I realized we’d moved and I ran outside to take a photo of the new house to send to my mom (forgetting she was at the party). When I looked at the house I was disappointed. It was not as nice as our old house, and seemed smaller from the outside. It actually looked like a two story beach house — weathered shingles and all. Walking on the small lot, I noticed the grass was stiff and sparse and the soil was mostly sand. It could have been a house at the beach, except there was no real water anywhere — except for a run-off pond in a neighbor’s back yard. We had bought an ugly beach house in the middle of an ugly subdivision.

Walking back into the house I noted that the kitchen was bigger than ours and exclaimed, “Yay! Counter space.”

There were nooks and crannies in the house but not fun ones. One was a room that could have been on a Navy ship that held nothing but a painted metal staircase leading to the fuse box. It also was damp, with water dripping from the ceiling. We found some old science experiments near the fuse box. The floor was moist sand.

At one point I realized we’d bought the house from a woman who used to be married to a friend of Dean’s and I remembered having been in the house when she owned it and lived in it with her two children. I remembered having been in the kids’ rooms. I wondered why she’d left so much furniture in the house, but after knowing she’d owned it, I felt better about living there.

September already?

The nightmares have started early this year. I knew they’d come. They always do. In fact, as an incredulous young (and soon-to-be-a-father) Englishman overheard on New Year’s Eve, I discussed this reoccurring nightmare with a the hostess of the party.

Me: I’m so glad Christmas is over.
Alison (something like): Me too, it is so stressful
Me: I wonder when the nightmares will start — the ones where it is near the end of the year and I start panicking about Christmas
James (young and soon-to-be-a-father Englishman): Slow turn of his head and puzzled look.
Me to James: Yes, really. They usually start near the end of January.
James: Shakes head

Last night I dreamed that I remarked to someone that I couldn’t believe it was September already. Where did the year go, we wondered. Then I thought in the dream, only a few months until Christmas. The panic began to set in. I also recall thinking that maybe this year I should start shopping in September.

I wonder if these dreams might not really be about Christmas, but about life zooming by at an alarming rate. Either way, I’m relieved that it is only January 4th and not September 1st.