Bad Good Dreams

What do you do when your best dreams are worse than your worst nightmares?

Friday night I had a nightmare. That was two nights ago, though, so I don't remember so well. It had a demon in it, though. It was one of those dreams that goes from place to place without making a lot of sense. Part of it was on an island. Not a tropical island or a volcanic island anything like that. It was just a place, but it happened to be an island. That was irrelevant. On the island was a road, through sort of an industrial area, and in the industrial area were the sort of architecturally non-distinguished buildings, function over form taken to the highest degree, that you would expect to see in an industrual district. Large aluminum sided boxes with few windows and low-pitched roofs. The dream was one of those long chase-scene type dreams.

When I have nightmares, that's usually the kind I have. Sometimes I have nightmares where I can't get out of the way of a speeding vehicle or some other gross bodily threat to my well being because when I try to run it's like I'm in really low gravity or something and I just can't get any traction. Like trying to run through deep water. But most of the time (even when I have dreams where I can't run) my nightmares involve being chased by horrible people who want to beat the shit out of me or demons of one sort or another who want to cause me lots of unpleasantness in their own special way. Consequently, my nightmares usually unvolve running away. I'm a coward; staying my ground and fighting is just not in me, not even in my dreams. Occasionally in my nightmares, I can run to get away, and I end up flying to get away. I run fast, taking larger and larger leaping steps until I fly away. They don't catch me, but they're still nightmares because landing is scary. It's not exactly Superman-like controlled flight for me.

So part of the chase scene was along this dirt and gravel road behind these aluminum industrial eyesores. That part wasn't very scary because I only had a vague sense of being chased. Later on in the dream I was helping build a house. It was a house with a basement, and so the hole in the ground was dug, and we were in the hole carrying lumber and moving bricks around and doing stuff like that. Thinking back on it, it doesn't seem like we were doing any useful work whatsoever. Sort of like that demon in "the phantom tollbooth" who tricks milo, tock, and the humbug into wasting time performing useless tasks; transferring a mountain of sand from one place to another using tweezers, emptying one well and filling another using an eyedropper, and digging a tunnel through granite using a sewing needle. At least that demon was a snappy dresser, in his nice suit and bowler hat. He was polite, anyway. Maybe there's some deep psychological significance to that; I don't know. I could ask my psych major friend Lisa, but maybe she wouldn't know either. Someone was with me who is (or was in the dream, anyway) important to me. I don't know who. Maybe it was a girl.

At some point, the demon showed up. He looked a lot like the head bad guy from the tv movie for Stephen King's "The Stand," named Flagg. A guy with too much muscle, and not enough brains; the sort of guy whose pecs probably outweigh his brain. The sort of guy who you just can't respect, not even a little bit. you know he drinks too much, probably smokes, treats women badly, drives a truck and wears an excess of denim and snakeskin. Just an all around lowlife. at least flagg didn't have any real luck with women; they had a tendancy to commit suicide around him. That's gotta do bad things for one's self-image. I don't know what kind of luck my demon had with women, but it couldn't have been any better.

He started bossing everyone around on the construction site, like he was the foreman or something. And a real bastard he was about it, too. Clearly someone who takes too much pleasure in telling others what to do. I remember carrying boards around and him looking at me. With a dumb grin on his face like he was promising to beat me up if I didn't work hard enough, or maybe just on general principles. I was afraid that he would hurt me, and I was afraid that he'd hurt the person who was with me. I don't know which I was more afraid of. He was going to really hurt one or both of us. I knew this with a certainty that only comes in dreaming, where the whole world is a creation of your mind, and like god you are omniscient. I was filled with dread about this. You know the kind of dread I mean, the kind of dread from childhood when you had done something bad and you knew for sure you were going to get in trouble real bad as soon as your parents found out about it and there wansn't anything you could do to fix it and all you could do was dread what was going to happen. Like that, except that I hadn't done anything wrong, and my friend hadn't either, we were just going to get hurt by this demon for no just reason.

So I did something that's really pretty unconventional for me. I took a knife (I have no idea where I got the knife) and threw it at the demon. It was a perfect shot, too. Directly at his chest, centered on his overly large left pectoral muscle, right into his black evil heart. A single swift killing shot like you see in the martial arts movies, where the poor hapless target can't do anything about it because it's all over in the blink of an eye and the assassin never misses. Before I had time even to feel relieved or feel good about winning or feel revulsed for having killed, he cheated. The demon clasped his hand around the hilt of the knife and he changed it into a red plastic thing with floppy frayed tendrils where the blade should have been and a sort of a handle. He smiled one of those "was I supposed to be hurt by _that_, you puny weak thing?" smiles, and opened his hand to show me the red plastic used to be a knife where I should have seen a growing red spot on his white cotton t-shirt. It wasn't fair. I did the only thing I could do, and he cheated. knowing that that was it for me, I woke up. At least when I have a nightmare, I always wake up before the really bad part. My nightmares would probably be suitable for prime-time tv viewing as is, because they're already edited for PG-13 ratings.

Yesterday was Saturday, and on Saturday is "Star Trek, the Next Generation," available for our viewing pleasure on our local FOX network affiliate. I like star trek, and so do my housemates and some of my friends. And since yesterday was the last regular episode (the series finale is tomorrow; after seven seasons ST:tNG will be over. Sort of hard to imagine. I remember being very excited about the series when it was new. And now I'm amazed at how cheezy the first season eposides seem now), I invited my housemate Wim's girlfriend Brenda and my ex girlfriend Jina over. With me, housemates Jared and Wim, and the two girls, it would be an entertaining night.

So we watched the show, which was entertaining enough, and afterwards the subject of conversation turned to pudding. I am not sure how it did this; sometimes it seems like conversations have a mind of their own. But, we were out of milk, so we couldn't make any pudding. So we decided to take a trip to the store. I was not really in the mood for pudding, however, because I'd had the misfortune to spend a couple of hours yesterday in the company of several cats, to which I am significantly allergic, without the protection of histamine blockers of any kind. So I was feeling rather more in the mood for healthy food. I got a honeydew melon, broccoli, some sourdough rolls, and other interesting healthy food.

Walking through the produce section of the store, I spied a display of peaches. now I must tell you that for a couple of months now I've had a hankering to make a dish that requires peaches. But there haven't been any in the stores, and so I was denied. I need fresh peaches for this dish, not canned. The dish is "peaches mole'." It just sort of occured to me in a culinary flash of insight one day when I was talking to some friends about maybe having a party at some unspecified date and I said "ok, I'll bring something bizarre but interesting to eat" and that's what I came up with. So I found eleven mostly-ripe looking peaches in the display; it can now only be just barely called "peach season." I have mole' sauce at home, but I needed sour cream as well. So I got some, and picked up an ekko baking dish that was about the right size. I didn't tell my compatriots what I had in mind.

So we got back home, and the pudding oriented people made their pudding. It was instant pudding (just add milk and stirr), so it didn't take them very long. They went out into the living room to eat their pudding and play a game of "hacker" (a fun little game for us computer nerd types from steve jackson games) and I stayed into the kitchen to make my mystery dessert for them. So in case you're wondering, here's how to make peaches mole':




  1. Cut the peaches into halves and remove the pits (I discovered the neatest thing about unripe peaches; on one or two of them the peach pit split down the middle and I ended up cutting through the seed. The seeds really look like almonds, I guess because peaches and almonds and all those fleshy sort of pitted fruits are in the same plant family. Anyway, these seeds were not almond colored in the middle. They were totally clear! It was the weirdest thing; I'm guessing that since they were so far from ripe, the seeds were just beginning to form and hadn't matured past being blobs of goo yet. It was really neat. If you ever have occasion to cut open a not-quite-ripe peach, I encourage you to check out the seed inside. It's really bizarre).
  2. Melt some butter in the bottom of your baking dish. Sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon into the butter, and spread it all around so you have a nice even layer of butter/sugar mix. This stuff will form a sauce after cooking, so gauge the amount of butter accordingly.
  3. Put some sour cream into a bowl, and mix in sugar to taste. You want the sour cream to be a little bit sweet but not very. Add just enough sugar to take the sour edge off the cream.
  4. Place your peach halves in the baking dish, with cut-side up, round side down.
  5. Spread a heaping teaspoon of sour cream mixture onto each peach to cover the whole surface of the peach.
  6. Drizzle mole' sauce over the peaches so that they are mostly covered. Don't lay it on too thick, of course. The total volume of mole' should be about one third that of the sour cream.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the peaches are soft.
Serve on plates with some of the juice from the baking dish poured around the peaches.

When it was done, I served dessert, and made everyone guess what it was. Jared guess right that it was mole'. They were surprised, and asked me where I'd gotten such an idea. I told them. Overall, the dish was a success, especially for a very-first-time creation. If I had to do it all over again, I'd use riper peaches, and bake it according the the instructions given above. I started with the oven at 275 because peaches seem to me to be kind of fragile and I didn't want to turn them to mush. After about 20 minutes I turned the oven up to 350. It wasn't quite enough, though, the peaches ended up being kind of firm since they were very solid to begin with. They should have been softer, and the whole dish could have used them to be a bit sweeter. They still had a but much tangyness for my taste. Anyway, they were tasty and I think I'll make this dish again sometime when the peach season more closely approaches its zenith.

After dessert, I sat and watched everyone play hacker. I didn't play since i had been cooking when they started and since I don't tend to do well at that sort of game anyway. I sat behind Jina and ended up giving her a backrub, because she likes those and because since we broke up, it's about the only way I have to be close to her anymore. I am often amazed at how little I actually touch other human beings. I suspect that in the course of an average week I maybe touch another person once, maybe twice. That seems kind of sad, because when Jina and I were dating, we used to touch a lot, and it was nice. I think that touching is some sort of basic need that humans have, and that i've been malnourished that way lately. I ended up rubbing her back, playing with her hair, etc, for about three hours while they finished the game of hacker, and we watched "Duckman" (on the "USA" network, Saturdays at 10:30. It's a great show, check it out) and the last episode of the 10th season of "Almost Live" with former _U.W. Daily_ editor John Keister. It was kind of hard, though, giving Jina a backrub like that. For one thing, it turned me on, which made me a little uncomfortable. I mean, Jina and I aren't in a relationship anymore, and so that isn't really appropriate. But tell my heart that. For another thing, it was hard not to be reminded of how intimate we used to be. I kept wanting to reach down and hug her, or kiss her neck or tell her that I love her, etc. Old habits die hard, I guess. But somehow I managed to maintain my decorum and didn't do anything inappropriate.

Somewhere after midnight, everyone was tired and so Wim walked Brenda home. Jared went downstairs to brush his teeth, and I said goodnight to Jina. I thanked her for coming over, she thanked me for inviting her. She thanked me for the backrub, and I said "anytime." She gave me a hug and left. Yesterday was considerably more touch-filled than my days usually are. I logged on to check my email (I didn't have any) and went to bed. Maybe someday she'll decide she wants me back. I suppose it could happen, but it seems less and less likely as time goes on.

Last night I had a good dream. More properly, this morning I had a good dream. one of those dreams that you tend to have on weekend mornings because there's no alarm clock to prevent you from drifting in and out of sleep. That's when I have my most vivid dreams; the ones I remember best. This time I dreamed that I was walking down the street with Jina. One of the streets in my neighborhood. The streets around here are fairly steep, since I live on a hill, but there are a lot of nice houses around here. One can walk around and just look at the houses. We were walking downhill on the sidewalk, and I was really missing the closeness we used to have. It used to be that we would walk down streets arm in arm, or with my arm around her shoulder and her hand in my back pocket or just holding hands. When we used to walk together, our strides matched exactly. We used to have a tradition about bridges. Whenever we'd walk over a bridge, no matter what kind of bridge, we'd stop in the middle for a kiss. It was a nice tradition. I used to walk her home a lot, since we never lived together, and there was a bridge on the way to her house.

At some point in the dream, we stopped for a hug. I don't know why, but i'm not going to complain. Jina hugs very well. I was holding her in my arms, feeling her hair on my face and missing what we used to have. Unlike in real life, I couldn't help but turn my face towards her and kiss her hair, whispering "I love you" to her. I said "I hope it doesn't make you uncomfortable that I still love you." And she said "No, it doesn't" and I said "I'm glad" and then she reached up and kissed me. I was surprised. It was so real, just like the kisses I remember. She kissed me softly and sweetly, but with a passion so that I knew with the certainty that only comes in dreaming that she loved me too and we were back together and everything was allright again. I was so happy.

But then I woke up.