My Nightmares

I am in a house and someone is trying to get into the house. I am in a house and someone is also in the house and I must sneak out of the house. I am in a house and someone is outside so I need to hide under window frames.

What is with this house business? My dream dictionary, which I opened, says that the house is me. New nightmares:

I am in me and someone is trying to get into me too. I am in me and someone is also in me and I must sneak out of me. I am in me and someone is outside of me and I need to hide under window frames?

I don’t know. The other day someone gave me an apple in a dream and I just thought: That is a thing. Dreams are a thing and I can’t wait to go to sleep at night because I love their entertainment value. But sometimes I wonder about their intentions.


(photo…does not appear in my dreams because I am always inside my house)

Are dreams meant to get me thinking about unresolved issues? Or (as I would like to think) are they maybe meant to resolve them? Because I’m spending lots of my own time in my own consciously-controlled life thinking through issues, so I’d like a little chance to rest every once in a while, and sleep used to be the way I did that. Now I do nightmares. What is their purpose? Why are they happening now?

Yes, it’s quieter here than where I used to be. Yes, my cat is getting older and meowing for no reason in the middle of the night. Yes, so many things are new and scary but I’m not scared of them, I’m not scared of people getting into my house! So I’m thinking, what if instead, my dreams are inventing? What if my dreams are me playing? And what if I can play back?

I once woke up from a vivid, well-crafted, epic dream and decided to write it down. People said you couldn’t do this. I know you cannot do this. I know that the most unsatisfying ending of a story is “It was all a dream”. But why? What makes that so insanely annoying? What is it about dreams, though, that aren’t? They are completely nonsensical, peopled with metamorphosing hybrid characters, places you’ve never seen and situations that make absolutely no sense, but when you’re in them, you’re sold. Like any good story, dreams suspend disbelief. But when you wake from one, why does that semblance of reality stay? Why do we all think we need to tell our dreams to others, as though they will be impressed? They are never! The dreams are bad! Why don’t we see that?

I don’t have an answer, because dreams fascinate me and I can’t stop thinking about them but I also can’t figure them out. What I know is I am night-maring often and this has definitely caught my attention and whether I’m going to Freud it up or not, I need to deal with this people in my house business.

Next time I’m in my house dream, I vow to confront the demons. Maybe I will set fire to the house. Maybe I will break the windows. Maybe I will open the door to the wind.

My Nose is Growing

Some people plant gardens and watch them grow. I need only look at my face. My nose is growing!


(photo from

It’s a known thing that the parts of you that keep growing after sadly your breasts have stopped are your ears and your nose. I just didn’t think it was a thing that happened overnight (like DJ’s friend in Full House). But I swear over the past two days my nose has looked wider in the mirror. I attribute it to a few factors.

– Summer is approaching and I have perhaps drank more beer as of late. I am developing that bulbous nose that Santa Clause and other drunks are known for.

– I have springtime allergies. But these last all year long, and include dust from poorly vacuumed floors and cats, who I surround myself with.

– My lies have been catching up with me. Someone (Geppetto) noticed that I have been claiming to be a writer but haven’t touched my novel in a week and the last post on this blog is from March.

– Like the grey in my hair, this year has aged me. I have been so busy learning to teach that I didn’t notice time, and suddenly a sullen, nose-filled face looked back at me in the place of my reflection.

Or maybe I am wiser. Maybe my body is telling me I need to give precedent to my senses. Maybe my body is literally saying: “Wake up and smell the flowers!” and is giving me more ability to do so. What next, my mouth? No, this one will probably get smaller.

As summer arrives, so do so many changes in my life. I have to pay my car insurance because this time two years ago I decided to buy a car. I am moving because this time last year I also moved. I am finishing the school year (not only because of the teacher job action but because this is when school actually finishes) and I am embarking on two months of WRITING. Writing with all capital letters!

My dreams are preparing me too: last night I dreamt up a dream schedule. I will wake at 8:00, my dream told me. I will read and drink coffee till 9:00. Then I will write! I will leave the house to take a walk or a bike ride. And then I will write!

My dreams are scheduling for me, and my body is equipping me with the nose I need to smell the world and write about it. All I need now are bigger ears and more sensitive fingers, then I’ll be ready to go.

A Life-Dream

I realized tonight what my narrator was missing. She was always conflicted, always in trouble, I was just never sure her problem was enough of a thing I could describe to you if you asked me. But then it hit me how to make it tangible, somehow, even through all the vagueness that exists from being in your twenties, in the beginning of a life and not sure how to spend it. The concrete problem is that Jillian once had a very real life-dream, and then over the years she stopped dreaming. Even if she doesn’t quite realize it now (which she’ll have to, because she’s in a novel), her very real problem is that she is now in a big way giving  up on her life-dream.

The appearance of the opposite of the dream, the “life” part, makes her realize the gravity of what she is giving up on. It propels her to look into the mystery that so obsessed her ten years ago. From that comes a reawakening of all the old issues that accompanied her first escape. This time, however, she is set on carrying it though.

From over the past hour, I’ve recognized a more true form and spirit to my novel than I’ve seen yet. Maybe it’s me that’s changed, or maybe my narrator rolled over while I let her lie dormant and did some work for once. With a loose paint stroke, she set an idea in my mind that has since led me on a roll toward reformulating my own life-dream that has as a large part of it writing this novel.

088-walden-pond-2(image from

Dreams to write

I wrote a short story out of one of my dreams. Is that allowed? It seemed like cheating, like the story came out of somewhere magical instead of me. It’s about a blind woman who listens to birds, and a husband who has learned to imitate her favourite bird call. I can’t dream that stuff up. I don’t even know the name of any birds!

Dreams are great because they come pre-packed with thematic content. I have a sixth sense when I exist in dream world: I know why everything is happening. I know what everything means.


There was a while in which I didn’t dream. I was too busy with school and I guess I just forgot. I made a sign (“Dream!!”) and put it on the ceiling of my bed. I started writing down my dreams and they came back. Isn’t it funny that it’s that easy to get in touch with our subconscious?



I’m experimenting at writing at different times of the day. Right now it is the morning and it is awful. Evenings I am sometimes tired. Afternoons I am SO boring. So we’re trying things out. I wonder whether I age throughout the day? I start the morning off stumbling around, speaking in a soft, childish voice, eating cereal. I end the day an old man, drinking a glass of wine alone, falling asleep in front of the TV, wise, maybe.

So I’ve been wondering if we need dreams to write, if they are our most primordial writing coach. They have awful plot structure. Characters are not distinct (in fact they often morph into other characters). Setting is often interesting but impossible. But the feelings!!! Dreams exist on theme and emotion and that’s what I want out of a story.

Full Moon Dreams

I created worlds in my dreams this week, alternate universes. I did little yet so much writing this week.

For our final writing project of my practicum, I asked my grade three students to do something called “writing projects”. The idea was they could create an idea for a project – any type of writing they could think of – and then they had to write it. I read their first drafts this Saturday night and was blown to pieces. Imagine if everyone did a writing project.


What a neat thing, to ask your brain to create alternate universes every night, universes where you dance on a party bus as if that is just something you do in your personality. Imagine creating an alternate universe where you get to visit with someone you don’t get to see anymore every night. What a writing project I have under my belt, these dreams of mine.



I’ve started writing them down, as if to tell them I am taking them more seriously. I wake up and I write the last thing that happened to me – my reality before I opened my eyes – and from there I go back in non-sequential time to all the other pieces of myself I had made up in the hours of unconsciousness. More than you would think comes back to me. I fill up a page or two at least. I write everything because it is all so insignificant that I can’t let the grocery store dream go if I’m keeping the elevator on the beach. It’s all nonsense; it’s all gold.

The final step my students will take in their writing projects will be deciding on a mode of publication and publishing it. I scribble my dreams down every morning. Months and years later I reread them and I remember my dreams like memories. They inform my writing and my life. They inspire me and make my life feel bigger than it is. They provide a recursive element that isn’t present in my linear life but has no reason not to be. They allow me to reflect and absorb and change. I am shifted every night because of something and I think it is good I have found importance in what it was that happened that made me shift.

Dreams I Control


When I was little I often had dreams I could control. The one I remember best is being chased by a monster. I taunted him, telling him I didn’t care if he caught me because I would just wake myself up. I remember yelling at him, “Hey! This is just a dream!” I have since learned these are lucid dreams. I don’t think I have had one since I was six. I had one last night.

I lived with my imaginary family in South Africa. My father was in trouble for embezzlement. It was a hot night and I was listening to music when I heard the glass door break downstairs. I immediately knew what was going to happen. I either lived the dream twice in a row or I created it as I went. It was so real but at the same time it was nothing like real life: I knew the ending. My father ran up the stairs with a handful of knives he had taken from a drawer in the kitchen. He handed them to my mother, younger brother and I. We followed him upstairs. He closed the curtains and we snuck out of the balcony on to the roof of our RV. My dad helped us down through the skylight. My mom was trying to keep things light; my brother was crying. I kept low in the RV as my father backed out of the driveway. I clutched the knives in my hands. Things started to get darker though the day was bright as we approached a toll booth. Under her breath, as though confused but enlightened, my mother asked to no one in particular: “I wonder if they’re going to make a phone call.” There were a few expensive cars parked off to the side. There was a crowd at the toll booth but we were summoned ahead. Young workers eyed each other as my father pulled the RV in to a stop. Though my mother and I both seemed to know what was about to happen, neither of us made a move to stop it. I decided to open my eyes to wake up from the nightmare because I didn’t want to have to experience being murdered.

Where dreams come from

(photo from

I read a Wikipedia entry about lucid dreaming and fell in love with this phrase: “Once this area (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) is activated and the recognition of dreaming occurs, the dreamer must be cautious to let the dream continue but be conscious enough to remember that it is a dream.” It invokes such danger, like lucid dreaming is a predicament one got oneself into. The other scary thing this article says about lucid dreaming is that it may work the opposite way. Instead of realizing that a dream is a dream, one might be led to believe that a dream is real life. It was my first thought this morning when I woke myself up out of my South African nightmare: what if I am still there? What if I am in a double dream?

I love being able to control a dream, because dreams then become like an easier real life. I can wake up when needed, but before that I can experience anything imaginable, without the danger of making wrong decisions. It’s a freedom, but one that can’t be appreciated without the consciousness that comes from lucid dreaming. If we aren’t aware we’re dreaming, we usually forget our dreams. And we can’t wake up before the going gets tough.

It’s a parallel, really, to consciousness. What are we doing here if we’re not aware we’re here? At every moment of the day where you’re not aware of your own consciousness you are in what might as well be a dream state. You are not in control. It is only when we make the choice to stay or to leave that we become lucid – that we stop dreaming and start living. I wonder if there is a correlation between meditation (or self-awareness of other sorts) and lucid dreaming. This Wikipedia site about lucid dreaming also says that “it has been suggested that sufferers of nightmares could benefit from the ability to be aware they are indeed dreaming.” I don’t know if lucidity is something we can cultivate in dreams, but it is certainly something we can work to improve on in our daily lives. If were think we’re living in a nightmare, we have the ability to take control and yell at monsters: “Hey! This is only life!”





Where are you if you’re not writing?

I asked the question to my mind, a separate piece of myself that writes everything I’ve written: where are you if you’re not writing? It shrugged, whispered excuses. It told me it had just been coming up with things.

Is writing a writing-thing, or is it a thinking-thing? Is writing what you do when you put words down or when you come up with them? I know when I think about myself writing I don’t just see myself producing – that would be heartbreaking, that I am a machine – but I see myself creating a world. I actually picture dreaming a lot more like writing than I do writing an email, than I do writing an essay.

I dream up worlds every night. In this world there is this house and there is this person I’ve never seen before. I’m me but I know this house and I know this person and I’m existing within these bounds. Are these alternate realities? Did I just make up a house? A person?

I pride myself in my dreams; I see them as my unconscious brain practicing. But don’t you dream, you who aren’t necessarily a writer? Are we all writing, every night, and only some of us taking the time to put it down?


(image from

Words are such a sorry excuse for text. It’s why our love for them is a rarity, why the people who love words are a minority. How can you love a thing like that, something we all had to learn in primary school?

But I think people are falling in love with ideas again, and with text to describe them. I haven’t been alive for more decades than two but I noticed that Twitter is a thing and that it wasn’t one before. People are so excited to share their ideas through these words, words that are broken up into smaller bits called characters. People are expressing themselves through characters, making up worlds in 180 of them. And we love it! We eat it up! Are we all literary?

I die when I’m not writing, I die because every piece of me that is writing at every moment isn’t getting any satisfaction. It says something, that to be thinking but not writing isn’t writing. It says that the hand and the pen, or the fingers and the keyboard, have something, some very small thing to do with it.

Dreaming Up Houses

When I was a kid I had recurring dreams of Beauty and the Beast though I had never seen most Disney movies, including Beauty and the Beast. I was the Beauty and I was sitting on the Beast’s lap. This correlates with my childhood crushes on long-haired celebrities like WWF’s The Undertaker. This correlates with the fact that I had really young childhood crushes.



I’ve started having recurring dreams again. I call them this to make my dreams feel validated, because everyone has dreams but have you ever had a recurring dream?

The dreams take place in houses in which I’ve never been (which comes from the fact that I am a chronic housesitter).

Sometimes helicopters are flying around and I have to hide immediately below window sills so they can’t see me.

Sometimes I discover new parts of the house, like never-ending rooms in the basement or a whole other wing.

Once I had to crawl through a series of connected, low-ceiling rooms – empty with white walls – and close doors behind me because I could hear someone on the floor upstairs who shouldn’t have been there.

Last week I dreamt that I went into the basement of a house and found a man walking down a hallway. I thought I had been alone in the house. We spoke and then I went upstairs and the alarms were going off. The front door was open and a recorded voice told me that someone was in my house.

This time I found reason for looking up what my dreams meant. Like the tarot death card never means death, houses never mean house. The house is me. The rooms are my compartments. The people coming in or looking in are pressure; finding new rooms is me discovering new parts of myself.

Okay. That’s fine. But also, what are the helicopters? Why am I always alone? Why am I making up houses in my sleep and running around in them like there’s no way out?

I didn’t have house dreams last year. I’m not any closer to buying a house this year – in fact, I’m further away, which might be just cause for my house dreams. Last year I wasn’t stuck in anything, like a 12-month intensive school program, like the path to a career. Last year I wasn’t in a house, I was spilling my house on to pieces of paper that were really my computer screen.

I am a writer and when I’m not writing it’s like I’m not in my own house. It’s like I’m searching for rooms and someone’s following me through them, reminding me to get outside. There’s a world out there and I need to write about it, not sit in other people’s houses all the time.

First Excerpt from Novel

I dreamt of the lake, like the lake was stuck in my chest, like the lake had moved into that percent of water that my body is already composed of and was making me cold from the inside. I asked Mea, haven’t you dreamt of the lake? and her face tore up into pieces. So that was still a part of the dream.

You can’t go outside of the hotel at night here, because there are bears and glaciers, and both can kill you. Tourists, too, can kill you. It was Mea’s idea to work at a fancy hotel. We started yesterday.

People visit Lake Louise just to take that picture, that one where you pose on the dock and the crevice of the two glaciers is right over your head, and the green of the lake is around you, and you’re wearing a tee-shirt and sunglasses, and you’re smiling and thinking those things are so far behind me in the background that they couldn’t really envelop me, even though doesn’t it look like it?

I’m working at a place where rich people come to get away. They don’t realize this place is run by teenagers. They don’t see the things we put in our bodies to put up with them. They don’t notice this place is run by people trying to escape becoming them. When it becomes evident our end is inevitable, we end up jumping in the lake, hiding in the trunks of cars, climbing into avalanches. At least, that’s what I imagine.

I had my first lake dream. I know it was a dream because I don’t sleep walk. I know it was a dream because Mea wakes up if I sniff my nose to get the cold out of it. I couldn’t have gone down to the lake last night. But I remember standing there on a rock, looking into the lake, and seeing not my face but my sister’s. I looked up and the mountains were gone. The lake had become people, millions of people, standing so close together that light couldn’t get through, it could only reflect. All my other dreams are still the dreams I had when I was at home. I dream in the past. Anything that happens now, then, couldn’t really be a dream.

(photo from

I Lost My Dreams

Tonight I plan to post over my bed a sign to remind myself, in my dreams, to remember my dreams. Or to wake up and remember to write my dreams down. For the last five nights I have kept my journal under my pillow with a pen at a page titled Dreams. Though I have not written a word, I write this post with the clear and focused intention of trying to find the dreams I’ve lost.

I spent a year daydreaming and writing a novel, two inseparable activities. My dreams were a continuity of my life: nighttime variations with even less control. Now I am back at school and I go to bed tired and thinking of textbooks and I wake up to the sound of the morning news in French on my alarm clock. Sunday morning announced the impending threat of “La Troisième Guerre Mondiale.”

For three weeks now I have not remembered dreams. I actually ate more Brie than I should have eaten Saturday night with the intention of dreaming. Cheese is said to make you have crazy dreams. I remember one dream that night: I was running around naked in the back kitchen of my old workplace because I had a shower in the middle of my shift. I didn’t realize I was still in the middle of my shift and there were customers waiting for me. I’m not saying I have great dreams: common threads are I am late for something or I missed it entirely.

(I also dream about World War Three: caves and tragic partings with one fellow male guerrilla fighter).

One thing that dreams give me is a centre. I wake up and I know where I’ve been for the last 6-8 hours.

Another thing that dreams give me is an explanation for my mood. I wake up inevitably affected by my dreams. If I can’t remember them then I don’t know why I’m shaken. Dreams often make me wake up feeling nostalgic. But what is the feeling of nostalgia if I can’t remember the past I was dreaming about? A sinking feeling. A terrible pit.

I woke up this morning with that. I have no idea where it comes from. I’ve spent the past two hours thinking of my dream. I remember a person, but I’ve lost the mood. My dreams are just that, moods, and if I’ve lost my moods then what does that say about me in my daytime life?