Letters From the Dream World

May 21, 2009
By , Pickerington, OH
She lives in a dream world.

'It's not you, it's me,' she says to the world outside. She knows a little of everything, but never enough, reading to prepare herself to graduate from observing the world, to participating in it. This isn't where she wants to be.

In her dream world she sees the future, where she is centered but ungrounded; her office
is the outdoors and the only papers she pushes are pamphlets or letters from the dream world. Every night she comes home to a pig named Maxwell who thinks he's a dog and a cat named Theo who thinks he's the King.

She has an apartment in a city that isn't too big or too small, not too near or too far from something to do. For all she knows the walls started out white, but years of cigarette smoke stained them to the color of cream. She lives on the thirteenth floor, high above the world. The elevator creaked and jangled when she was moving in, and she hasn't set foot in it since. She never has to go to the gym.

But it's a nice place, really, with big windows and open space, which makes the room seem bigger than it actually is. She has creative furniture placement to thank for this. There's only one bedroom and one bathroom, and a walk-in closet where she puts everything from broken televisions to old manuscripts to house-guests.

Her neighbors in the old brick building dislike Theo the cat on different levels. He meows at odd hours of the night and can be heard several floors down through the paper thin floorboards and walls, serenading the moon with his rendition of 'Blue Christmas' or 'Jailhouse Rock.' Following the instinctual imperative, he catches mice and rats and cockroaches, but instead of leaving his prizes on the doormat of his favorite neighbor of the week, he takes them alive and plays with them until they run afoul one of the other building cats.

Maxwell is claustrophobic, making terrified pig-noises when pulled towards the elevator
on his daily walks. The subject is forced to carry him down all thirteen flights of stairs, and she is endlessly thankful that she does not have to walk down that extra fourteenth stairway.

She does not like cities, but she needs them. This one is small, and she does not have to leave Maxwell at home to go to the corner market, where the woman who works the counter on Wednesday always keeps a bag of treats for the pig. She feeds him when she thinks the subject isn't looking.

She's up to her neck in debt because she just had to follow her dreams, but hey, it's only money. She'll publish that best seller eventually. Until then she lives off of the sales at the corner market and the pay of a government worker. She wants to be a professional revolutionary.

But this is just a dream.

She believes that if you have to explain a joke, it has lost its meaning, and that everything in the universe is connected to everything else. She believes in 'Twa Corbies' and 'Saintly Passions' and an Ancient Mariner, and even a shaggy white God with whom she's had a falling out. She wants to be a part of the world, but she sees what the world is and knows better.

She is in limbo. This cannot be the real world she is in, and yet it is. She has arms and legs and a brain but she makes no money and has no independence. She resents it. She is not the child who plays dress-up with dolls and has imaginary tea-parties, who trusts her parents implicitly and acknowledges their hollow answers to important questions.

She has never been that girl. She and her cousin sabotaged Ferris wheels and arranged
terrible accidents for Barbie. She made her tea out of honey, sugar-candies, and old mints. She never asked her parents those awkward child-questions because they lied and books didn't.

The future was never that hard to divine. If you do your homework, you get good grades.
If you get good grades, you get toys. If your parents fight all the time, they get divorced.

So the little seer looked upon the real world and saw that it was bad. She learned to be mad and get in fights and throw temper tantrums and hate, but in Sunday school they said that these things were bad. We should be good all the time, the teacher would say. We should respect our parents and follow God's laws.

Everyone said the girl was smart. She knew that that meant if you were not happy, you
had better not feel anything at all. She learned to stop caring, and it was a long time before she learned that that was bad, too.

She doesn't have any good memories about her parents. Even as a child, she could sense
how false they were. They didn't feel anything, either. That, or they just really didn't know what they were doing. Her mother was an only child in a small town, and her father was a boy and had three brothers and was the youngest of all of them. They had nothing in common except that they were never going to be old enough to properly raise children.

The memories she should have had would have been Christmas dinners, lots of dinners, but they never had any as a family. They always went somewhere else and accepted their
separate ties to these other people but never to each other. She has to really work hard to remember folk sing-alongs and feeding Hashbrown tuna salad. But even those weren't family moments. It was just two or three but never four.

Those memories were usurped by winning hide and seek with her cousins at Christmas,
driving a tractor with her Papa in the summer, and dancing a polka with second and third and forth cousins she had never met. But as her family drifts apart, they drift away from the family they do acknowledge. Her cousins are married and in college, the tractor was sold and doesn't work, and she hasn't danced for a long time.

She shouldn't feel bad about it. This is happening to the universe, too. Everything is
drifting apart, and no one can stop it. It's called entropy. Eventually everything will be so far apart that everything will become cold and the stars will go out. The galaxies will fade and die and not even black holes will find light to eat. Then there will be a spark and it will start all over again. Her dysfunctional family is just following the natural order of the universe.

But families don't live on universal time. Things like love and blood are supposed to be forever, which is only long enough to people to make it seem like forever, but that doesn't matter. Reality and perception are not separate; they intermingle in the mind like black and white mixing to gray. They are part of each other, because without perception we would have no measure of reality.



Night and day. Winter and Spring. Summer and Autumn. Tundra or desert, forest or
field. She does not differentiate. She does not pick favorites. A child of Gemini, she feels at home in opposites, living a metaphor.

She loves the dry heat and endlessness of a desert, skeletal plants rushing away in the
opposite direction as the car runs towards a horizon that is so much faster. Lean little birds run across the dusty earth, eating their fill before the sun gets too high and the light becomes a harbinger of death. Snakes leave little trails in a white, sandy blizzard and kids go sledding in their shorts. The sky is clear and the most brilliant blue in midday and all afternoon. She climbs smooth, red rock to the top of the dry tanks, walking through seasonal creek-beds and sitting where other travelers sat hundreds of years before.

She takes a short sip of her water, which has to last the rest of the afternoon, dipping
her feet into an imaginary stream that won’t be so imaginary in the rainy season. The caked-on algae will be resurrected by the winter rains and the Tanks will fill with life. This is the only one that tourists are allowed near without a guide.

She seeks this solitude of the outdoors, and can almost pretend she’s alone. The
universe speaks the same language throughout the world, and she listens to the song for a while. There is a cave nearby, her mother says. She wants to go in and look for the painted masks, but the subject hears the sudden intensity of the song. The masks are there, she thinks to herself. It is a holy place. It shouldn’t be disturbed by people who don’t belong.

Later her mother scolds her for keeping her out. Yes, the masks were there. Yes, they
were allowed to go in and see them.

But the subject is unperturbed.


She loves the feel of snow and sand, of bark and stone and water. She loves the colors
of the sky at morning, noon, and night.

She loves the world when it is painted glossy white and navy blue, the quiet, elegant
silver of the night. She can’t watch it too long --- the cold beauty (but mostly the cold) steals her breath away. She huddles up in her coat in the clear, bright night. She can feel her skin contracting in the cold, the calluses on her hands shrinking, and feeling very small under that big, bright moon.

It is good to feel small, without troubles. To know the universe does not reside on you, but in you. A splash of fresh water, the taste of fresh air. An awakening in the bitter cold, more comfortable than waking up with the sheets kicked down around her ankles, the fan on, and morning air seeping through the windowpanes.


She happens to believe that the opposite sex, love, and insanity spring from the same
source and somehow breed each other. These are only three examples in a list of hundreds of thousands of things that must be learned about through more than observation.

From her observations she has learned several things. People of both genders are
approachable but not endearing to her. She prefers deep conversation, beyond shoes and fashion etc. She has learned that high school is not conducive to these activities on a regular basis.

She has come to realize that she does, in fact, have guy friends. This realization came as a surprise to her, and that the realization was a surprise disturbed her greatly. She does not like gender bias in either direction.

This realization also brought her to the realization that she does not know how to treat
her guy friends. She tries to treat them the same as anyone else, and when she does, she gets weird looks.

In the crash course of ’Get a Life: 101,’ weird looks = bad.

But in Logic-World, the opposite sex leads to a very desirable form of insanity called ’love.’ In Logic-World, the subject does not know why anyone would want to contract it, having all the symptoms of fatal disease --- shortness of breath, erratic heartbeat, dramatic loss or increase of appetite, stress (which is deadly).

In La-La-Land, they sing ’La, la, la,’ all day, and Celine Dion music plays as a constant background. In some people, this would put them out of the mood. The subject, however, is willing to hold hands and dance like a hippy around a fire pit.

The two worlds bicker. They argue. They sabotage each other. The subject complains of headaches, pushes both of them away, and sleeps the odd insanity off.

For now, she must conserve her strength to discover more about herself. She cannot
worry about other types of insanity with the one called ’writing’ looming so heavily in the air.


If, however, the subject were to solve the mysteries of the self (unlikely) or somehow
manage to come to a place in that journey where she might find time to look into other unsolvable mysteries, she has a method of determining who she would like to explore them with.

He has to be able to talk. They don’t even have to like the same things, or be able to talk about the same things. They must only understand the same ideas or be able to show each other the many paths. She will not be a homemaker, so he will have to take part in the duties of whatever that entails.

He has to find know that she wants to get married in eighteenth century dress in a state
park in Lake Erie, without her ever telling him. He’ll know she loves history. He’ll know she loves the state park. If it comes to that, he’ll know she loves him.

But he had better believe that love more than good times all around. So maybe he can talk. He had better be able to hike, run, walk, swim, write five paragraph essays, use big words, keep his commitments, finish what he starts, know when he’s beaten, know when to keep pushing buttons, and always, always know when there’s more to learn. That accounts for the more than fifty percent pain associated with love.

And why shouldn’t love be painful? A person give up his or her solitary existence to be
with a person of the opposite gender who snores, leave the toilet seat in the wrong position, burns food, leaves books out, won’t clean up messes in the kitchen, won’t line the trash cans, won’t leave well enough alone, always has to win arguments, and will, under no circumstances, relinquish the remote control.

That is the not-love part of love, the part that is just interpersonal relationships. It deals with being able to deal with another person more than any other person in the world. The person must become an expert in that person in order to have an expert in himself or herself, ready to be consulted at any time.

The love part of love is the somehow desirable symptoms of the fatal disease that were
previously mentioned, along with elevated dopamine levels and some sort of spiritual something that logic world is censoring out.

He must somehow manage to understand what was being censured. Maybe not put it into words, but understand it.


Starting immediately after the solving or partial knowledge of the mystery of true love, the subject will allow herself to ponder the mysteries of death for more than a few moments. Because after life and love, that is the next great mystery.

But death is such a final thing, and there is no way to explore every facet of it. She does know that she would like it to be ironic. Her family might curse her to all eternity for it, but someone will read about her strange death and put it in a day by day calendar or a book of trivia and be inspired to not fear death because there is some morbid humor in it somewhere.

At the top of her list is this scenario: she will have made a trip to mars as the first
civilian passenger aboard a shuttle, there to feel and see and help out if she can, but mostly there to be underfoot in times of crisis, namely an alien attack or martian disease.

She will have decided that she wants to be the first person to make a snow angel on mars, only it will be a red dust angel because they will be settled too far from the poles to see any sort of ice. In the completion of this task, she will have knocked loose some important breathing apparatus, and will expire of asphyxiation en route to the base camp.

Other acceptable martian deaths include being run over by the Opportunity rover while
cleaning the solar panels to see if it still works, or drowning in a liquid carbon dioxide flash-flood. Falling into the deepest known canyon in the solar system is not acceptable.

She will make the news headlines for one day, as the first civilian to have died on Mars. Her body will be used to study the rate of decomposition in alien habitats, and will spawn a form of bacteria which will, in three billion years, evolve into a new form of psuedo-intelligent life, dedicated to the science of irony.





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