Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dream Theater: A Visit From Anthony Bourdain

Photo from Daily Express

Note: I like to believe that when we dream about the dead, their souls are paying us a visit.

I was working in the kitchen of a restaurant with Anthony Bourdain.

Though I was new to this kind of work I was already good, and getting better at anticipating his needs. As a result, Anthony had developed a respect, and even a fondness, for me. We began speaking a kind of shorthand, and sometimes Anthony even let me prepare things on my own. He trusted me that much.

But then one night, something threw me off. It caused a lot of problems in the kitchen. I forgot to bring him diced onion and lemon juice, chopped garlic and tuna fillets. I ruined two desserts. 

Despite this, Anthony never yelled, even though I expected him to. He just looked at me in that skeptical way of his, unsure of why things were suddenly going so wrong.

The reason was that R_____ had come into the restaurant for dinner. 

We'd been friends in high school, but had recently fallen out over his support of Donald Trump. In the days and weeks after the 2016 election we'd argued and exchanged bitter words and finally blocked each other on Facebook.

R_____ knew that I worked there. He knew what I was doing with my life, despite all the promise I'd shown in school. And he knew that he was right. I was a whiny liberal snowflake, who couldn't stand losing, who was out of touch with the rest of America wouldn't support our president.

I knew there was only one thing to do. Go out there, say hello to R_____ and make some kind of amends. 

I left my station at the kitchen and went out into what we called the "front of the house." 

And that's where I saw R_____, seated at his table, talking and laughing with Anthony Bourdain.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Dream Theater: The Forest, and the Mountains Beyond

Photo by Pxhere.com

I was on vacation, at a large resort, with several other people. Some were friends, and some were people from high school I remembered not liking very well. But we were all vacation together now, and we were going to have a great time. 

The resort had everything—restaurants and bars, shops, a spa and casino, plus lots of outdoor spaces for swimming, golf, tennis and hiking.

It was an improbable paradise, tucked away somewhere far from everything else. There was a vast forest off in the distance, and mountains even further beyond. 

We split up, each of us heading off to do whatever we wanted. But first we traded phone numbers and put ourselves on message groups so we could stay in touch and meet up later.

A few minutes later, after everyone had gone, the problems started.

First, it turned out I had more than one phone with me, and I couldn’t figure out which one had everyone’s numbers on it. Some of the phones had just a few, others only had one, several had none at all.

Second, some of the phones were old. There was a Palm Pilot and a Motorola Razr mixed in with them, and some others that were more like children’s toys, made of cheap, light plastic that was cracked. A lot of the batteries were dead.

Third, even when I found a phone that was working, with at least a few numbers that I needed, I discovered there was other information mixed up with them. MP3s, old ringtones files, photos from trips and vacations I’d taken long ago, haphazardly stored where they shouldn’t have been.

Fourth, the resort turned out to be a lot bigger than it looked at first, and soon I was hopelessly lost. I wandered around, looking for something I recognized and could return to. But all I could see was that vast forest in the distance, and those mountains even further beyond.

I finally found a little building, not much more than a gazebo, and sat down in it. I was tired and hungry and not sure what to do. That’s when a kind-looking older woman appeared, and sat next to me.

She had a phone with her, too, and showed it to me. She said it was giving her problems and she was having trouble using it. By any chance, could I help her?

She handed it to me, and I saw that she had the same problem as me. There were photos where they shouldn’t be, web pages mixed up with emails, random phrases and icons where there should have been phone numbers. 

I returned the phone to her and apologized for not being able to help. She thanked me for trying and walked away. Toward the vast forest, and the mountains even further beyond.

Maybe, I thought, everyone in my group was having the same problems as me. Maybe we were all separated, lost somewhere in this enormous resort, unable to contact each other or find our way back.

That’s when a few people from my group appeared. The people from high school. The bullies and burnouts who I’d never been friends with and didn't really want to see again.

“There you are,” one of them said. The others laughed maliciously. “We finally found you.”

I got up, and ran. Into that vast forest, and the mountains further beyond.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Dream Theater: My Selfie Facebook Fail

I was in a house that didn't belong to me, standing naked in front of a full-length mirror, taking selfies with my phone. 

When I'd finished I was pleasantly surprised at how good I looked. In the photos I was trimmer and more muscular than I am in real life. 

Before I even realized what I'd done, the photos had been shared to Facebook. 

A few moments later I was trying to remove them, and couldn't. My connection to the internet wasn't stable. Facebook was freezing and unable to delete my post. It was too late to do anything about it.

The "likes" were already starting to come in. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Dream Theater: The Second-Hand Store

Photo by ThorNews.com
I was driving to a large party, at a house somewhere in the suburbs of a big city. But a few minutes after arriving I decide to leave and buy a pack of cigarettes. 

I ask for directions to the nearest store, but no one seems to know where one is, so I strike out on my own. I walk a few blocks and find myself in a commercial district, near an advertising agency where I have some kind of job. But instead of the high-rise where its offices should be, the agency is now located above a second-hand store. 

Inside the store it's a mad jumble of old furniture, decorative items, housewares and clothing, books and dolls and toys. Looking around, I realize that it could be better organized and more successful than it is. 

My job at the agency doesn't keep me very busy. I'm not one of the more popular or well-regarded employees. So I have some time on my hands. I wander through the store's many rooms until I find the manager, tucked away in a small office in the back. 

She's a timid, older woman, and I've interrupted her lunch. But I tell her I want to volunteer at the store, and rearrange all its merchandise. By color. I tell her there will be a blue room, a green room, and so on. She's not convinced that my plan is a good one.

In the meantime, A_____ and several of my coworkers at the agency have returned from their own lunches. They come into the store, laughing and talking, and sit down at a kitchen table in the front. They show me a new trivia game they've all downloaded to their phones. 

I play it with them, and it turns out I'm good at it. Really good.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dream Theater: Zombies in San Francisco

Photo by LaughingSquid.com
J______ and I were living in San Francisco when the city was suddenly hit with a case of zombies. They weren't so thick we couldn't go places, but we had to be careful whenever we left the apartment, even if it was just to go across the street. 

We escaped a couple of close calls, and then we finally got cornered. J_____ fought back and started swearing at the zombies and taunting them as they closed in… 

That's when we discovered zombies could be reasoned with, and they could control their behavior. We discussed it later, and J_____ said, "It must be a lot like quitting smoking or dieting."

And so we learned to live in a world with zombies. 

They looked pretty normal, even though they were obviously undead. They could speak, and hold a job, and live a more or less ordinary life. Most of the time they behaved themselves, but every once in a while one would lose its willpower and go on a rampage. You always heard about that in the news.

They had to put up with a lot of prejudice. There were special bars and restaurants where zombies could congregate. And whenever they did, they would screech and howl, speaking a secret zombie language that could be heard from a long way away, but that no one else could understand.

J_____ and I took a ski lift tour of San Francisco. We looked at the city from high above. All the buildings, even the houses, were outlined with white lights. It was a beautiful sight, even though I knew it masked a terrible reality.

Original dream date: May 20, 2004.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Dream Theater: The White House

Photo CharlotteDack.com
I was living in an all-white house. Not just the walls and ceiling and floors, but all the furniture, too, and everything in it. 

It was all so new and spotless. I was almost afraid of it. What if I dirtied it somehow or put a mark on something? What would I do then? How would I ever keep it up?

Surely there were housekeepers, I thought, who knew how to take care of things like this. Professionals that specialized in this sort of thing. I'd have to find them, somehow, and make friends with them, and have them over on a regular basis.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Dream Theater: The Environmental Illness Activist

Photo by Reshelter.org

My good friend B_____ contacted me about a woman he knew named N_____. He told me she suffered from environmental disease—chemicals were making her sick—and was interested in buying a typewriter.  He also mentioned that she was interested in writing her autobiography and in search of a ghost writer. 

I was capable of helping N_____ with both of these things. 

A meeting was arranged and I met N_____ at her condo. It was unusually sparse inside due to her condition, decorated with only a few items made of natural fibers and materials. There was a safe room somewhere in the back, but I wasn't invited to see it.

N_____ herself appeared to be quite healthy, even vigorous, and she soon took charge of the conversation. She told me all about the typewriter she was hoping to find, the book she planned to write with someone’s help, the activism she was involved in on behalf of environmental illness and all the travel it required. 

We seemed to hit it off and I left the meeting feeling as though I’d just lucked into something big. 

Several days later I saw N_____ again completely by chance. But she didn’t seem to recognize me, even when I reintroduced myself and reminded her of our meeting. 

Fortunately my friend B_____ was there. He suggested we go for a walk. While we did he explained that the deal was off—the typewriter as well as the autobiography. 

Marcia’s health had taken a turn for the worse. Soon she’d be leaving for a clinic in Malaysia, and treatments of an indefinite length. Everything else had to be put on hold indefinitely.

I had to wonder if her flare-up had anything to do with meeting me.