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The Arteria

Dreamed 1994/5/24 by Chris Wayan

This dream-story is rawer than most of mine. I've left some very personal daytime stuff in, because it illuminates the three dreams, or is it four? They're so interwoven it was hard to tell, at the end.


I'm in a hypnotherapist's office, about to go into trance.

But first, Shelley the therapist wants to talk about something I wrote last week: "Therapy has an insidious drawback: Shelley respects my dreams, but focuses on their emotional and diagnostic sides. That erodes my confidence in their social, political, esthetic and spiritual dimensions--and my creative talent. Well, that's American mainstream therapy, and I knew that. Oh, I need the focus on my health, yet... when Shelley reads a dream-story clinically, it weakens the writer and the visionary."

She scents anger and latches onto it as important because I so rarely get mad with her. She fishes for more. I just can't come up with much. Is it that SHE'S angry? Tired out by the sheer burden of dreams I dump on her? And now I want her to appreciate it in about six new ways... a bit unreasonable!

Shelley starts inducing a hypnotic trance. It goes strangely. No steps appear for me to descend, no dream-pool. Breathing's different. Everything's different.

Suddenly Silky appears, my familiar: a black mare, but this time she has a long sharp narwhal horn on her head, and instead of sealing the space by galloping round it, she stays by me, head lowered, wary.

A pack of wolves appear in the room and settle in a ring facing outward, guarding me too.

Silky talks through my mouth, a while. Shelley asks her to talk to the parts making me sick. I don't black out, but get blurry here. An intermediary says "they won't talk to you", but they suddenly come out with a painful cramping rush...

To my surprise, the parts (seem to be a husband and wife) are quite honest with Shelley. "It's not safe to let Wayan do anything; he's made no progress."

Shelley says "that's not true, he's more assertive: he refused to loan money to a friend, he got the phone number of a woman he liked in dance class, he's been more protective of himself..."

They answer "You didn't understand. You got it wrong. He did loan it--he couldn't say no! He told you. And he's gotten women's phone numbers a hundred times. Then he runs away or gets sick--or is stood up. NO change in his core problem: he hurts himself to avoid hurting others, he gives too much and punishes himself for taking."

Shelley coaxes them into coming out each day and telling me hard truths and unpleasant acts I have to master. They mutter "20 minutes a day, no more!" and vanish, leave me dizzy, with hands and feet tingling.

Shelley talks me down for some minutes, I'm shaky, spacy... weird.

Shelley asks "Do you mistrust me because I'm female?"

"Wow, you haven't seen me with male therapists! Talk about mistrust. No, I just mistrust psychiatry in general. I mistrust that neutral screen you're taught to maintain. It provokes flashbacks to the worst part of my childhood, when I faced the judgments of school psychologists and my Freudian father. I was getting bashed at school, and their response was to put ME in therapy, not stop the bullying!

"So I was the problem. My skirt was too short. I should have known better than to walked there. I provoked them. No wonder I feel female! When they break your ribs but you're to blame... what gender are you?

"Therapy, education, and adulthood AS INSTITUTIONS burned me. I mistrust them because they taught me I was to blame for the little monsters who beat me, for the teachers and administrators who didn't know what to do with a child prodigy and so did nothing, or feared and disliked me, even lied to me and (in several cases) joined in the abuse.

"I still feel I'd better hide my mind, be a NONTHREATENING genius--as if there is such a thing! Nongeniuses see a threat no matter how I behave. And I buy into it! I'm responsible for others' fears. Never offend. If they hit me I'm to blame. I showed my slip.

"I find the soothing neutrality of therapy as calming as a deathcamp survivor finds swastikas. Tension grips me when I walk into a flat of shared offices, or a school, or open a book filled with psychological platitudes... I have to fight through flashbacks to do therapy at all."

I have to walk in the park a long time, calming down, returning all the way from trance.

I do want Shelley to open up, it'd stop those flashbacks and let me get on with it. Or could I take Shelley's uncensored reactions? "This week was boring. That dream was fun. None of your sex dreams are sexy enough. And some of your women are just props, except for her and her. All your talking animals, I don't see them clearly, but I hear their voices, that's odd. Maybe you are better with sound than pictures. I think YOU think I think you're crazy for claiming your dreams are clairvoyant and I don't; I hear that stuff from half my clients so quit putting skepticism in my mouth. You want to go right into trance today, but I don't know... something here.."

I don't know. Imaginary examples. From my portable shrink.

Stop by Planetree Health Resource Center, and read studies on people with super-low cholesterol like me (130-160): typically we're dangerously depressed, anxious, and accident-prone. It's usually not from diet but a weak liver. There isn't any real recommended treatment yet. Besides, most doctors don't believe in it. Too low? How can cholesterol be too low?

I bike home through the Mission, seeing it with new eyes as a slum, as bad as anything I've seen... leathery sick old whores, shattered glass, winos and the smell of piss, homeless lying in the lots and jobless sitting in doorways, gangboys eyeing me. And homicidal drivers too. A driver cuts me off without looking and though I stop just in time I bruise my left knee a bit.

My mood has opened my eyes to one unpleasant truth already. I live on the edge of a slum filled with violent people.

At home, I eat and read Theodore Sturgeon's last novel, "Godbody." Surprisingly moving--this hobo Christ wandering around getting killed and resurrecting and moving on, over and over... And the small-town people who at first glance seem so dated, start looking emotionally very real, when I compare their inhibitions and fears to my own.


I'm leaving a party in a strange way: I'm simultaneously biking AND riding in a car, with people from the house. I'm disappointed that the French girl I like didn't come along. They're all men in the car--all football players. Sigh! Oh, well, it's kind of fun, swooping down little curvy streets into valleys of pretty little Mediterranean houses and gardens. I'm guiding, but a quarterback is driving. I get him onto the main road heading down toward a college--part City College approached from Mt Davidson, part UC Santa Cruz approached down the San Lorenzo Valley. Past Felton, through redwoods... past a high school above the college. I stare at the students getting on a bus--a football excursion. One cheerleader leans on a fence and smiles at us; I gawk at her guiltily, wishing I was out of this crowd and talking to her. Want a girlfriend so much. Know a cheerleader probably isn't a good choice, but I don't see anyone else...

Somehow the football driver gets on the wrong road as we reach the edge of the college. The road ends in a tiny shopping center a couple miles off, still in San Lorenzo bottom land, a redwood grove around the shops. Stop and get out. I say we need to go back. "What part of campus were you trying to reach?"

The driver and the others laugh strangely. I feel uneasy. The driver moves the bus to the far side of the center without explaining why. Others start to look and act sinister. They melt away from me and I'm alone in the center. They watch me like prey. My fear grows. I notice one of the shops is called The Arteria. Their sign says "We specialize in blood vessels, but offer a full selection of organs and body parts." My fear grows. Noise behind me, cruel laughter. I'm being stalked. I run into the woods, try to hide in the shadows... Will they cut me up for parts?

Now I'm listening as my college friend Patty Dow tells how she fled them. The redwoods disappeared, and the land became a desert! The San Lorenzo River shrank to a sandy sheltered wash with occasional pools. Should she flee across the waterless plateau, or follow the canyon? Patty chooses the canyon--slower, but she knows its course from when it was a redwood stream, and these guys won't. It's two days hike or more to the far side... They're stronger than her... or are they? Football doesn't necessarily build endurance like dance and hiking... maybe she can outdistance them.

Scrambling over the slick oval river rocks, she tumbles, turning an ankle. In that instant she knew she was doomed. "I made the wrong choice" she concludes. "And I paid for it." I'm not sure how, but I know it was grisly.

I suddenly think it must be her murdered ghost telling me this, and I wake.

I wake to find it's 6 AM, I'm sweating, my kidneys ache and I'm feverish. Know instantly this isn't stress from the nightmare--I'm sick. Hints of this early morning fever for days, but much stronger now.

Write down the feverdream, add notes and guesses:

As I write notes, I drift back to sleep...


I'm in my grandfather's house near Seattle. It's also... a starship! We're on a long voyage, we three: Will Ryker from "Star Trek," and me, and another woman.

Dinnertime! Supplies are limited so we get few vegs--just two carrots for three people. Weeks to travel yet, so we must ration carefully.

Suddenly Ryker starts wolfing down some meat! I'm vegetarian, he suddenly seems like an alien species... He eats an apple too, one of the few we have. The other woman looks at me; our eyes meet. We've heard of such transformations in deep space--men away from all social constraints turning psychopathic, funnels of greed. We're in danger if it's true.

It's true. The other woman disappears entirely. Hiding, or did he.. do something?

I'm alone in deep space with an increasingly bizarre man. He preens before the downstairs bathroom mirror. When I try to speak to him, he snarls "I'm not ready for you... YET!" and slams the door.

He doesn't even try to hide his madness now.

I flee upstairs to the kitchen, looking for a big knife and something to use as a shield, a pot or a tray... Somehow, no matter what I do, I end up downstairs again, weaponless. Waiting for his attack, building like a thundercloud. When he enters at last, I have no resources left. In space, all I can do is scream.

To my astonishment he pauses and looks at me strangely.

Then he bugs his eyes out, and tilts his head up, and SHRIEKS, with ten times my strength, shrill as a steam-engine whistle...

And I wake AGAIN, ears ringing, to dead silence. Predawn. I'm hot, fevery, sweating, and sick. Get up and drink as much water as I can stand, and go back to bed feeling helpless. No control over this illness.

In both nightmares I'm not directly attacked--just terrifying vibes! Am I over-reacting?

I go back to sleep for a third time...


I live in a cooperative farm-town founded by one visionary man, a generation ago. I'm a housewife, respected in the community, sometimes an activist, but basically unambitious.

Suddenly, the town founder won't answer my calls. I learn through others that he plans to move--the whole town? Just his place? It'll devastate the town--crops nearly ripe. I learn from his daughter or his young wife that they "received all of your messages yesterday, no need to repeat yourself!" But I only sent one message!

That proves it. Someone's calling around pretending to be me, saying things in my name. Who is betraying me? I try to keep calm about it this third time... vaguely recall the other two dreams, at least how I drowned in my own dread. So this time, I coolly collect information, waiting for a message that'll give me a clue--

WAKE as hear the phone ring, know "That's the message!" and fear it. Somehow, I know the call is for me, and that the machine won't take a message...

Correct: though it's early, and my housemate Lily knows better than to expect me to answer calls in dreamland, she picks it up, listens, and hollers "CHRIS? YOU AWAKE?"

I'm going nowhere--sick in bed, fevered sweating shaking. I don't get up--don't even answer. Let the message go.

Later when I ask, Lily can't remember who the caller was, or what they wanted. I'll never know.

This dream was long, quiet, blurry... could it be non-REM sleep? My hearing and vision stayed tuned to the dream, but my sense of touch shuttled between the dream and bed: once I felt both! A strange sensation: I was walking around in my (female) dreambody, while faintly sensing a (male) body in bed... with an erection, which is typical for REM sleep.

Stranger yet: when I jolted awake from the earlier dreams, I should have had an erection, for REM induces sexual arousal in both genders. Yet I didn't! Yet the dreams were far too vivid, coherent, and bizarre to be nonREM. Maybe it was due to the fever... or the neurotransitters that the dreams hint are overactive. Whatever the cause, it's so strong it can tweak something as basic as sleep/REM physiology!

LISTS AND LINKS: I'm Just Not Myself Today - cross-gender dreams - death - ghosts - sex - out-of-body dreams - diagnostic dreams (ultralow cholesterol) - nightmares - Theodore Sturgeon - Smith, Cordwainer - Star Trek dreams - Santa Cruz

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