Saturday, January 31, 2015

Parked in the Wrong Spot


The Dream:
I am driving my convertible in Livermore, a nearby town. Its downtown is deserted, covered with a foot or so of snow. The car skids out of control and I almost hit a parked white truck, but it drives away right before I would have run into it. I leave downtown and find myself on a stretch of road that that resembles what you might see driving along the ocean. There's a sidewalk on one side with nothing beyond it. No sea in sight. My car slowly flips over.

I'm unhurt, mostly embarrassed, feeling as if I've done the wrong thing. Some fellows come over to help. We right the car and then easily push it to the side of the road.

I don't want to leave it there, unattended, and—having seen how easy it is to push—think that I'll push the car through the snowed-under downtown and then back to where the streets are clear. My first challenge is to maneuver the car out of the “parking spot” the guys have left it in. I think it would have been easier if they hadn't put the car here.

Interpretation: Everything seems to be wrong in this dream. I am driving a convertible that I'm unable to control in snowy weather. I have the wrong vehicle at the wrong time and in the wrong place. My well-meaning helpers make my goal, that of protecting my vehicle, more difficult. Yet once I give up “driving” I discover that “pushing” is not difficult. The implication is that I need a different way to approach my difficulty. And the dream is pointing out that others won't solve the problem for me; they are willing to help, but then it's up to me. If I want to avoid being stuck in a place that others have chosen for me, I'd better get out and push.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Shaken World


The Dream:
Four girls, two of them my daughters, are in a one-story Victorian building when an earthquake breaks it in two. I am very worried about the girls, but it turns out they are fine, unharmed. After a while I think I should survey the damage, thinking most of my crystal will be broken. When I look, all seems intact, surprisingly. I do find evidence, however, that a piece has broken, there are some pieces of glass on a shelf that hold the goblets. I can't figure out, however, what broke.

Interpretation: Dreams have a way of taking what is going on in our interior world and merging it with images from waking life. One of my daughters had been abroad visiting her primary school (a Victorian building). A recent television show had featured buildings with destroyed interiors. The dream tells me that I've been shaken up (the earthquake), so my question to myself is: “What threatens me?” Both my daughters had been traveling, and I had been worried, perhaps subliminally, about their safety. The dream shows me my parental concern and asks me to decide whether or not it's realistic. While their being away may have shaken up my interior world (my serenity), the dream points out that no damage has been done, even though I'm expecting it and go so far as to look for it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Can I Live with Mother?


The Dream: I am with my aunt and my mother. They tell me that Mother is coming to live with me. I realize they've mentioned this once before, and that I had failed to respond, hoping the request would go away. This time there's no ducking it. I am annoyed that they've told me rather than asked me, and I envision myself as the old maid daughter living with her mother. I feel that her close proximity is a threat to my autonomy. In the dream my mother is youngish and attractive, and I'm a young single woman.

I can't see how to say no, or get out of it, and I wonder what sort of sex life I'll have. Will she accept my adult sexuality or will I never be able to spend the night with anyone? I say to her, “You can stay with me, but you can't be too bossy.” She looks surprised that anyone would think she's bossy.

She says, “We can move into Grandma's neighborhood. It will be nice and inexpensive.” My heart lifts at this idea. Grandma's neighborhood has become arty and trendy. I think I'll enjoy the area and meet interesting people. Suddenly I'm excited about the thought of a move.

Interpretation: The dream was inspired by a piece that Helen Hwang wrote about her relationships with her mother and grandmother. She had been closer to her paternal grandmother than to her mother, and at a point in her life she realized she needed to connect with her mother. In the dream I become happier and stronger when I connect with my maternal ancestor, my mother's mother. The dream is a step in my working out my own autonomy. In the dream I confront who I am as an adult with my now internalized “mother.” Can I live with what I've inherited from my ancestors and still be myself? The dream tells me that I can: I learn that I can be in the place I want to be even with Mother in my life. She has been integrated into my psyche to the point that we both want the same things; I unconsciously realize that at this point in my life she does live with me, even if not physically, and I'm getting the two of us in sync.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Family History


The Dream: We are visiting acquaintances, a little older than we are. They are very nice, salt of the earth, mid-Western. As we converse it becomes apparent that the man, slightly heavy, quiet, almost dour, is a keen genealogist. Clark doesn't immediately let on that he is as well, but I say, enthusiastically, “Oh! So is Clark!”
I go on to say how either you're interested in this sort of thing or you're not, and I'm not. And I tell him it's because I know everything there is to know about my family, and I proceed to tell him.

“My grandparents are Russian, my father's family from Belo-Russe; my mother's were Russian speakers who lived in what was Austria Hungary at the time, now Poland. There was all sorts of ethnic, political complexity at the time, I explain. “My mother's father died when she was 2, and my grandmother worked cleaning office buildings to keep the family together.” I find I am getting choked up as I say this, fighting back tears. My listener is impassive. “She was a hero!” I say.

Meanwhile, the wife's large family of sisters have arrived. They remind me of the women in my exercise class: pleasant, but I feel I have nothing in common with them.

Interpretation: The mid-Western people I have nothing in common with represent the larger American society and culture that, as a child, I felt too ethnic to be a part of. My estrangement is echoed in the present by my feelings about the women in my exercise class. The impassive mid-Western man understands nothing of the immigrant experience and really isn't interested; he's very comfortable in his own deep experience of endless American ancestors.

What the dream brings up about my feelings for my poor, overworked and very kind grandmother is new to me. I hadn't been aware of this sadness lurking inside over the difficulty of her life. I'm not sure why I'm telling the man about it: it's as though I'd like him to understand, but he isn't interested. With the appearance of the wife's large family at the end of the dream I'm thrown back to a women's group (like the members of my exercise class) that I can never be part of: they are sisters and I'm not. This dream points to one of the reasons I have often felt somewhat alienated.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What's Going on Here?


The Dream: I hear a very young child, 2 to 3 years old, screaming in a bathroom. I fear she is being molested. I bang on the door, saying I will call the cops. I push the door open. She is standing next to the bathtub, fully clothed. There is a man with her. I leave them, and make no report. Then I wonder if I've been remiss: I should have checked her for evidence of whether or not she had been molested.

Interpretation: This dream was very disturbing; the child was screaming in terror. It seemed she was not being harmed, but I didn't take any action to make sure this was the case. The dream was triggered by a snippet of a television show I'd watched the night before on PBS about a Chinese woman who had been raped and then abandoned by her family. I remember thinking how typical it is to blame the woman for her own misfortune. In a book I'm reading, Trollope's Vicar of Bullhampton, a young woman is ostracized for “prostitution.” It seems to me, the reader, that she was either seduced and abandoned or raped.

The child's scream is the scream of womankind at the injustice of centuries of abuse. Her youth emphasizes her innocence. The water of the bathtub represents the water of the Unconscious, where these terrors lie submerged. I turn away, just as society turns away, from what is clearly wrong, but inconvenient to acknowledge and difficult to deal with.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I Don't Like What I See Inside


The Dream: Melissa, the real estate agent who sold us our house, has a new home of her own with bay views in a very expensive part of San Francisco. It takes up most of a city block and looks like a hotel or an apartment building. Modernist in style, there are large windows here and there and some balconies, but overall it's dull and industrial looking with an unappealing blocky shape.

She and her husband were able to get this building site because they had influence with local politicians, and we discuss the sad fact that all the politicians are in somebody's pocket. In their own case, however, they are pleased to have so much influence and happy to let me know.

When Melissa sees me outside gaping at this enormous house she invites me in. The inside is as baroque as the outside is simple: complicated artifacts abound. They look very expensive but, for my taste, there are far too many. The first floor she takes me through is on the second story. It features a divan covered in a leopard print and elaborate ornaments, such as a large gold sun. I come to understand that this large, overstuffed room is dedicated to “treatment.” Her husband is some sort of a healer.

I'm disappointed in the interior of the house; it's disorganized and over-furnished. We go to other floors and they seem just as confusing, not what I would have wanted. At one point we go through a messy laundry room. I am surprised that so much of the housed is dedicated to work (the man's profession) and wonder if he has set things up this way as a tax write-off.

Interpretation: I've dedicated too much of my self (my house) to work. It has cost me. (It's expensive.) The things I've come up with (the furnishings) are overly elaborate and overstuffed. When I try for simplicity, on the other hand, I create sterility (the industrial quality of the house). The dream is dealing with something I've blocked (the city block; the blocky shape of the building). There is a disconnect of styles, and no overarching vision. All seems mired in the practical, and nothing is on any sort of elevated level: politicians are bought off. Yet—some sort of healing is taking place here nevertheless, and it is grounded in work (the man's profession: he is a healer) even if I'm afraid that it's too difficult (that is, over-taxing).  The dream is telling me to let the healing take place. Unlikely as it seems, the sun ornament will illuminate something for me when I'm ready to see it, and the leopard divan will allow me to rest in the instinctual.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

3 Murdered in the Next Room


The Dream:
Three people have been murdered in the next room. Hiro is one of them. I don't know whether or not the murderers want to kill us—us being me, another adult, and two young children. I am trying to dress the 4-year old in order to get them both out to safety. She is defiant and won't listen to me. I don't know how to make her behave; she doesn't grasp the situation and refuses to put a shirt on. I am planning to call the police, but don't want to until I've gotten us all away from the house.

I can't find my net book computer. I've gathered together all my electronic devices, but that one must be in the room with the murdered people. I can't go in there, especially once I hear that Hiro is among the murdered.

Interpretation: There are two things that tip me off as to the meaning of this dream. First, there is the fact that Hiro is among the murdered. Hiro is a close friend of my husband who has behaved like a brother. Then there are the numbers: 3 murdered people and a 4 year old. I was four when my younger brother was born, and I have lost 3 close family members: my father, my mother, and this same younger brother. The defiant child who refuses to grasp the situation is the part of me that doesn't want to accept these deaths. When people lose emotional control, especially if they get angry, we say, "Keep your shirt on!" This part of me refuses to do it. I'd like to get some help from an authority (the police), but I don't think they can help yet.

The family I want to save from danger, the danger of mortality, reflects my current family: two adults and two children. The net book computer that I can't find is the thinking part of me that's missing here. I must accept the reality of these losses, and the inevitability of death, before I'll be able to think clearly.