Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The night mares

As a little girl I was, as many girls are, preoccupied with horses. I suppose Freud would attribute the tendency to- surprise! - penis envy, but to me it’s quite normal that a girl who is just coming to understand the many ways in which she is not considered equal to little boys would fall in love with a beautiful and powerful animal.

I suppose it’s small wonder then, that as a little girl I came to associate the concept of nightmares with a thundering herd of coal-black mares with flashing white teeth and foaming mouths and wild black eyes that rolled over white. The night mares would come and gallop across my consciousness as I lay in my bed, keeping me from sleep and the release that it would bring from those myriad childhood anxieties, like passing the math test, or getting through gym class without Rosa Garland using the dodge ball as a means to send my glasses flying across the room, which I believe is what she lived for.

Of course, creatures with that much power never really entirely go away. The night mares have remained a fixture in my life.

And they came again last night. I fidgeted in bed for hours as they roared past me over and over and over again. They brought with them fears about job security, and my paltry savings, and my sub-prime mortgage, and my health, and my declining looks, and even irrational thoughts such as at that very moment, my house might be on fire. Have I planned a way to escape? And what about the animals? Where are the cat carriers, anyway? And I never finished that earthquake kit, either. The big one is coming. The big one is coming. Holy shit, do I know how to TURN OFF THE GAS?

When I was a child, I would chase the night mares with Christmas. “Think about Christmas,” I would whisper to myself. “Think about the tree.”

Oh, if it were only that simple now. There is no more magic that can chase the night mares. Christmas these days is an event entirely of my own making, like Dog Washing Day. It’s become a list of things to be accomplished, and so is more likely to be fodder for the night mares than a touchstone to keep them at bay.

Beer is a good chaser for the night mares, but too much beer brings on the mare named “What If You’re an Alcoholic?” and let me tell you, that nag is a bitch. I also sometimes chase away the mares with good old fashioned exhaustion, but exhaustion has an unfortunate tendency to bring on various heretofore unknown aches and pains, which of course is just daring that old mare called “You Haven’t Got Many Years Left,” and her sister “It Might Be Cancer,” to make an unwelcome appearance.

For a while I chased the mares pretty successfully with a little miracle called Tylenol PM. Ah, the blissfully deep and uninterrupted sleep of TPM! TPM, you’re an angel sent down from heaven! You’re a demigod in bottle! If Athena really did split Zeus’s skull and spring fully formed from out of his forehead, then TPM is what Zeus would’ve kept on his nightstand on Mt. Olympus to make it all better.

Ah, but every drug has its curse, and the curse of TPM is dreams so endlessly and vividly strange and elaborate that I wondered if I hadn’t been possessed by Tim Burton. You know, a younger, still creepy, still talented Tim Burton. Pre-Planet of the Apes Tim Burton. For instance, the other night, I dreamt that I was forced to become a doctor, and the emergency room in which I worked seemed to be peopled entirely by patients whose innards had been forcibly removed from their bodies, but were still attached. They would walk up to me and shove their shockingly colorful and still-moving entrails in my face and demand that I see them next. Of course, I had no idea how to help them, but in the dream I labored most of the night on an endless line of patients, each one more fucked-up and demanding than the last. And that’s just the last dream I remember. They were all, as I only vaguely recall, marathon weirdfests of gore and expectation. Eventually, each morning after a solid eight hours of TPM-induced slumber, I ended up more exhausted than I was when I went to bed.

I say this all, sweet readers, not to invite your pity, or even your suggestions of hot milk or snuggly kittens or watching CNN. I guess I just wanted to say to you that it’s all been getting to me recently, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I feel like this country is about to get laid off, but we haven’t figured it out yet, and we’re still going out every night and spending our paycheck on hookers and blow. But last night, in the midst of the mares, and just when I had turned over for the 400th time, and let out my millionth sigh, Spooney, deep in sleep, let his arm fall across my hip and gently, just briefly, tugged me toward him. Just like that. Just one small flinch of wanting. Even through the fog of dreams. Just there. And that’s all it was.

And it so hit me, readers, that I think it is good to be with someone who is not so like yourself. Spooney is by no measure any kind of cock-eyed optimist, but having rolled with so much over the years, he seems to have mastered it a bit, and I want to learn how to do that. I really must learn how to do that.


kiki said...

this guy once convinced me (he had a book to prove it, i can't find any reference to it though) in high school that if you dream about horses than you are gay...

i've dreamt of horses. i've also dreamt dreams of similar ilk to your TPM dreams.

scary shit.

as for all (possibly only some) of the issues you're worried about; you're not the only one. the economy is fucked the world over. the whole world is ageing.
just sit back and enjoy the ride (much, i assume, like spooney will)

GETkristiLOVE said...

Nicely written post sis, and you know I have a thing for horses too.

I had a nightmare the other night - I dreamt there was another room in my house that I hadn't even started to decorate. The feeling of dread was very prevalent as I awoke from it.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Great writing.

I know exactly what you mean about your dodgeball tormentor, me I lived with my tormentor,he was my cousin.

You're right about the other thing too, this country is heading for some serious shit storms, Great Depression style shit storms and who ever is President is going to get blamed for it even though it's being caused by the neglect and awful governing style of the right wingers.

SkylersDad said...

Great post Vikki. My dreams are always disjointed pieces that make no damn sense at all, what few I remember that is. I agree we are heading for trouble, and I mean trouble that everyone is going to feel except for those top 10% rich bastards that have brought it all on us.

Part of my anxiety is from the nonstop news feed we are all subjected to now. It is hard to get away from it, sometimes I turn it off and listen to the quiet, or sit and relish in Skyler playing a simple game.

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

Is there any ill Spooney CAN'T cure? Maybe it comes from knowing a lot about amps.

Larry Jones said...

I like this post a lot. Confessional without being self-involved, intimate but universal. One day you'll be googling yourself, and you'll find this, and you'll shake your head and think I didn't realize I was this good.

As long as you can get up in the morning and do what needs to be done, I don't think you should try to stop your night fears. They can be useful to survival. But if you MUST sleep, put on C-SPAN.

Anonymous said...

Reading this, knowing someone else is in the little, leaky boat with me, gives me great comfort. Lately I find myself obsessively going over my emergency ten essentials kit, the one I take hiking, wondering if I'm going off the deep end. It's as if in the back of all our heads we know the black horses are coming and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

Lisa said...

Oh, honey, how I related to this post. I've been mired in all kinds of fear lately. When I was still drinking, I'd put myself out with whiskey or brandy, only to jerk awake at 3AM with the howling horrors. So it's maddening, for me, to experience that same night terror...sober. I spent years trying to avoid discomfort of any kind. But when I'm brave enough to stay right in the middle of it and feel the icky feelings, it softens. It's counterintuitive, but that's what works for me. Love you, baby.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Kiki: There's always one "sit back and enjoy the ride" in every bunch, I suppose. And I knew it would be you.

GKL: (shudder) You're right, your dream is worse.

Monkey: That's exactly what I'm afraid of, that Obama will become Jimmy Carter - blamed for everything that Nixon and Ford did.

SkyDad: Dude, I don't deal with 1/100 of what you do. How you manage to get any sleep at all is a wonder to me.

Randy: You're just using your bromance with Spooney as an excuse to talk about amps.

Larry: Do you really think I'll look back on anything I've done and think it was good? That would be nice, but it hasn't happened yet.

Kirby: Exactly! Like if I always have a backup can of every soup and 40 extra pounds of kitty litter on hand, then I can never lose my home or my job, right? Because I am prepared!

Lisa: I know you're right. It's just that I'm so much from the school of not naming your fears in order that they not be given power, that I always forget that something as simple as telling someone that something scares me can be the exact thing that dissipates the fear. I mean, in theory, of course. I've never actually done it.

dguzman said...

Ditto to what everyone said about this post--so compelling and universal. Beautiful!

Those mares are rolling over all of us who live in reality--but at least we'll be halfway prepared for it when the shit hits the fan. Those BushCo-supporting rich idiots will be fucked, their money will be useless, and they'll wear their ridiculously overpriced and unaffordable possessions around their necks like an albatross.

At least that's what I tell myself to make the mares go away.

Cap'n Ergo Jinglebollocks said...

veeeery tasty blogcake, and I say thankee-Sai, for writing it.

It's good to know I'm not the only one who lies in bed wondering, "is everything going to hell, or is it just me?" In the past I've always assumed that *I* was the odd-man out, and I'm coming to the conclusion that ain't always th' case.

I had some HORRIBLE dreams the other day that, if they could just be plucked from my head and placed on a movie screen, would be a horror best-seller. I decided to forget about them almost immediately.

sv said...

Don't forget the stampeding mares that comprise feverish delirium! For me they seem to go round and round in an endless loop like they are circling a giant corral. Nice post.

Dad E said...

Having been in analysis for a few years a good while back, I will spare my interpretations. But I will say, "don't be afraid of your dreams, they are an output of efforts to resolve conflicts, however deguised they may be."
Vikki, your sharing is very intimate and courageous. This adddition to your body of work is right up there.

Grant Miller said...

Fascinating read, honestly.

Might I suggest reading anything by Theordore Dreiser before bed. I've occassionally tried those TYlenol PMs before. They work well, but I feel half-asleep for the next few days then.

And that Tim Burton "Planet of the Apes" was a real nightmare.

'Bubbles' said...

First, Vikki, I've missed you! Sorry I haven't been around.

The post was great. Thanks. I really enjoyed it. (Not your sleeplessness and worry, but your candor and wonderful writing.)

I'm cursed with ever rapidly firing neurons, myself. Oy. I'm so happy there are other people out there that are firing some neurons, too! Shit, what if no one did?

The alcoholic thing? Nah. Fogetabowtit!! It is legal and it helps. (That's my story, anyway!)

I'm happy for you that Spooney is there to compliment and balance your worry. It sound just right. Ahh. (caring smile)