It was my intention to address the requested subjects in order, but I've decided to write about Katherine's idea due to my experiences this morning.
The suggested subject was to recall my latest dreams and discuss their meanings.
This morning, right before I awoke, I had a dream I was with a bunch of my high school peers. We were standing around some tables, examining these little blue and white boxes which contained various nutritional supplements, vitamins, essential oils, and more esoteric stuff. I picked up one tiny box which contained a small vial. The box stated that the contents were "Real Estate Agent Pheromone." A testimonial on the box said, "My husband likes it applied to my wrists or the trunk of his Lexus." I read the contents out loud to the group, and they marveled at how odd a substance it was. I then said out loud, "I wonder if they have Engineer's Pheromone? It probably smells like 3-in-1 oil." Everyone got a big laugh out of that. Then someone mentioned they had found a memory recovery balm. "You know, some people were sent to Louisiana at an early age for experiments." I replied, "Well, I do have this memory gap from my childhood. That would explain why my barber had to use a wire cutter on one of my hairs. It was the antenna of my tracking implant." More laughs from the crowd. Then the alarm went off I woke up laughing.
What does it mean? I don't know. For a few months now I have been having dreams in which fellow students from high school play a role. A few close friends appear most often, but there are also kids who I haven't thought about since graduation. The little boxes of stuff come from my recent searches for supplements that are supposed to prevent migraines (riboflavin, co-enzyme Q10, and peppermint oil for aromatherapy for when I have a headache). Also, lately my subconscious mind has been far more witty than my waking mind.
A recurring theme in my dreams since around the middle of November is taking tests. I generally walk into a classroom to discover I have a major exam for which I have not studied. Often the tests cover some scientific or mathematical subject. Now, my procedure when I was in college was to first read all of the questions, to get an idea of how hard the exam was going to be. It also enabled me to know which questions to answer first and which order to take them all. Then, I would answer as many of the questions for which I knew the solution as quickly as possible (thereby gain the most points in the shortest amount of time). For the harder questions, I would come back and do the best I could on the rest with the time I had left.
Recently I read where the way to know you are dreaming is that you read something, look away, and then read it again. The text will change if you are having a dream. This happens in my dream exams; when I go back to answer the easy questions, they have changed into harder questions! And, what is more, a four question test may turn into a seven page exam! What generally happens is I wake up scared out of my wits.
The teachers who give the exams are always teachers from my past or currently in my life. One time I was given an exam by my pain doctor. It was a most unusual exam. On the walls of the room hung different auto parts, clustered in columns. The exam required me to diagnose a problem with a car, and then determine what I needed next. Based on my diagnostic, I had to choose the right part or tool from the first column. What I chose in the first column would determine what I needed to pick from the next column, and so on down the line. If my initial diagnostic was wrong, I would pick all the wrong parts and tools and get no points at all on the exam.
A few nights ago I was given back an exam I had taken on an earlier night. A continuation! The teacher in this case was my sophomore English teacher, a very attractive woman whose name I can't recall (still). One of the test questions required me to modify an electric circuit given in a drawing to increase a certain resistor's value from 1 ohm to 11.1 ohms. I was able to do this by adding a 10 ohm resistor and a coil in series with the 1 ohm resistor. The teacher had taken off most of the points because the question was too easy and I had not provided a way to bypass the original resistor. I argued with her that there is no such thing as a standard 11.1 ohm resister, and my solution technically met the requirement and had the added benefit of using off-the-shelf components. In my dream, I pointed out to this English teacher that I had a degree in electrical engineering and that, goddammit! that's how you make the modification. Then I woke up.
I have these exam dreams three or four times a week, and it has been going on for several months. During my college years I hated taking tests (still do) and I wasn't as good a student grade-wise in college as I was in my high school years. I think the dream is about facing crucial moments without a feeling of being prepared for the moment. More specifically, I think the dreams are about dealing with chronic pain without the benefit of pain medications. When I took pain meds, I knew I would get relief and how long it would take to get it. I had a huge fear of losing the "safety net" of pain meds. Now I have to use pain management techniques, and have to do something active to cope with the pain (and there is no guarantee the techniques will work). Before I could be passive and just wait for a pill to work. I think this is the meaning because the dreams became a common theme around the same time I stopped using pain meds.
OK, one more quick dream. This, too, happened last night. In my dream, I felt like my pulse was racing and that something was terribly wrong. I tried to take my pulse on one of the arteries on my neck. I couldn't find a pulse. I thought, "Wouldn't I feel something if my heart had just stopped?" I was finally able to find a pulse on my wrists. Next, I looked at my watch in order to count the number of pulses I felt in a ten second period (multiply the number of pulses you feel by six to get the beats per minute). But, my watch would tick off one second, two seconds, then would jump to seven and then thirteen and then twenty-three! (I just realized these are all prime numbers, though some are skipped...hmmm...) Then I woke up and my pulse really was racing; my watch was acting strange! It took me a few seconds to realize I had been dreaming, and I quickly calmed down.
What do I think it means? It's time for a new watch.
Music in my head: Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5