23 Jan

Sweet Dreams are Made of Monstrous Alien Creatures

I think that I normally have shitty dreams. I don’t know this for certain. I cycle through phases of dream-remembering and dream-forgetting. Perhaps it is connected to the waxing and waning moon, for arcane reasons beyond my understanding. I think I have shitty dreams for two reasons. One: I wake up with no memory of my dream self’s actions, but a distinct feeling of emotional shittiness. Two: Kirk tells me that I cry out in the middle of the night. He reported that several nights ago he heard me—while he was in a different room and wearing headphones—shout “I don’t want it!” I can’t imagine that was the function of a dream in which I was suddenly granted my most sincere wishes (unless the genie added ironic consequences, which genies like to do).

This morning I woke up with an unusual sensation: I recalled having a good dream. It was interesting. I was enjoying the dream and I knew that it was a dream at the same time. My brain was telling my sleepy self a story as it ventured out into the dreaming. I felt like I was making friends maybe, but also like I wanted to know the rest of the story.

I am going to describe this dream, but know that I partially don’t want to. You know how dreams are. The image renders beautifully in the mind, but comes out of the mouth like pictures shoved through a speaker.

The other thing you have to know about this dream is that I dreamed I was in the world of a book I recently finished reading. Last week, I read A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. It’s the second work in the Zones of Thought trilogy. I was engrossed with it last week, probably more so than the first one. It’s a space opera that focuses on two groups of people. There are the Qeng Ho—traders who go spacefaring for the sake of commerce and maintaining relationships with customer civilizations. There are also the aliens of Arachna. Vinge is an amazing sci-fi author because he humanizes his aliens so effectively. He manages to give a slow burn introduction on them, gradually throwing in details that would not make sense were humans being discussed (like referring to a character’s ‘eating hands’). When the true nature of what otherwise might be a monstrosity is revealed, you already love the characters and you don’t care that they are giant spider people. Yes, a race of giant spiders (duh, their planet is Arachna).

Okay, right now you are probably thinking something like get a grip, Lindsey, how did you have a good dream about giant spider people? That’s a valid question. The goodness or badness of dreams seems to be bound to the emotional feel much more than to what actually happens. This had pleasant emotional feel, and I don’t think I can explain it more than that.

Now that you’ve had sufficient preamble, I will relate the tale of my not-shitty dream.

I was hanging out with a spider/person. I knew it was one of the spider aliens and I was in the world of this novel (these spidery aliens are described as being about waist-high and having 10 legs in A Deepness in the Sky). I wasn’t freaked out, as one might expect to be in a world of spidery folk. We were chilling outside and there was a cool view of a mountain. I think my friend (I guess my friend?) was telling me about how to not be an idiot in a realm of spider folk. I imagine I would need a lot of schooling on this issue. This spider friend was wearing a dashing cloak with a fancy cloak pin. Do giant spiders wear cloaks? This one did. Even though I knew I was among spider folk, I was seeing everyone as human people. Why? Who knows. It is a thing of dreams. So, I was going somewhere with my spider buddy and he introduced me to someone he knew. I tried to shake hands, but it was awkward (duh, spiders don’t have hands). Then I realized I was seeing the spider folk as people, not as spiders, so I asked why that was. It turned out my spider buddy was using a device (of science or magic, it is not clear) to make me see human-y people and him see me as a spidery person. He turned it off and we both recoiled. I decided that I was going to need to ease into seeing spider folk as spiders.

Thus did I dream.

Why was this a good dream? I guess everything is relative. I was interested in the story I was apparently living. How did I end up there? Was I a a refugee or a prisoner of war? Was I stranded? Did I go insane? What was going to happen? How will I learn to live with the spider folk?

Maybe the promise of living some crazy, impossible story made this a good dream.

When I woke up, I spent the next few hours in a dreamy haze, pondering the dream that was. Hey, giant spider folk are more interesting than work.

01 Jan

2014: The Year Ahead

I genuinely love New Year’s Day. I find that it is a good time to think about the upcoming year and decide what I want to do with it. I’m not talking about resolutions, as you might suppose. I think the concept of New Year’s resolutions is silly because everyone understands that resolutions are just a thing that you do until you get tired of it in the beginning of February. I like to set goals and make plans at the beginning of the year because it gives me something to focus on. Last year some of my goals changed—I had a goal of riding my bike 1,000 miles, for example, but got into running once spring came around. So, my plan changed. That kind of thing may happen this year, too, but it’s good to at least have a plan. Without further ado, here are my 2014 goals.

  • Books: Read at least 52 books. I only got to 46 last year, but since I’m done with grad school, I should be able to get in a book every week.
  • Writing: Write one book review every month and start working on researching/writing a book.
  • Career: Get a library job (I’m actually feeling somewhat optimistic about this at the moment), go to the ALA conference, and build more relevant skills. I’m already signed up for a MOOC (massive open online course) called “Introduction to Databases,” offered by Stanford; it starts next week.
  • Activities: Do things. Go outside and do all manner of things. This includes general stuff like exercising, but is broad enough to include basically anything outside of my apartment. I plan to work out (gym, run, etc.) twice a week at minimum, but I also want to get into more hiking and camping and I am thinking about doing swing dance (I was considering roller derby, but since I don’t have health insurance … ) and I found Midtown Stomp, which does a Friday swing lesson followed by dancing. I think that sounds dandy.
  • Food: It seems like everyone has a food-based New Year’s plan, so it seems cliché to say anything about it, but consuming food is a major component of being alive, so I might as well deal with it. I want to cook and eat a lot more vegetables and proteins. I’m planning to start going to the Midtown Farmers Market on Saturdays because I think that will be fun and be a good way to get local, tasty food.

There you have it. What are you planning to do this year?