Monday, July 20, 2009

The Early Shift at the Ice Cream Lab


Yesterday I read a very cool dream report by a gifted dreamer named Janet. In her dream, she is working in an ice cream lab, mixing up new flavors. Though she doesn't normally eat a lot of ice cream, in the dream she is delighted by how each batch she produces gets better and better, Finally, she is sampling a scrummy batch of pink ice cream. A friendly supervisor now appears and tells her that if she is willing to show up for the early shift for four days running, she'll get a free trip to "Brasil". Janet is excited by the prospect of an adventure in a country she's never visited, but hesitates when she realizes that the early shift is from 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM. She's not much of a morning person - and who will look after the kids?


I was really juiced by this dream report. For starters, "Brasil" (which the dreamer knew was spelled the Brazilian way) is a magic kingdom for me. I had big adventures in Brazil many years ago; the fantasy movie "Brazil" is a longtime favorite; and I recall that "Hy Brazil" is a magical island in the mists in the mythic geography of the old Celtic voyage tales, or immrama.


Then again, I've noticed that when I start to dream about food preparation, that's a sign that a creative project is cooking up. I was especially excited by the rules laid down by the friendly supervisor" in Janet's dream. Work the morning shift from 6 to 12 for just four days, and you're off.


I informed Janet right away that I intended to borrow her "friendly supervisor" and follow her rules. Starting today, I would make the commitment work the early shift, starting at 6:00 AM, to see what I could mix up of a novel I've been playing with - off and on - over several years. While on shift, I would stay OFF-line, letting office stuff, online courses I am leading, and other things wait until I had clocked out.


I stayed up rather late on Sunday night, reading a curious and engrossing novel called The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. Nonetheless, I did not set the alarm, since I prefer to wake up naturally, and have succeeded in so doing for almost all of my adult life no matter what hour I need to get to an airport or - as in this case - to my desk. When I opened my eyes, this morning, I saw it was 5:45 AM. Perfect. Time to shower and dress, walk the dog, and journal my overnight dreams before getting on with the early shift. In my principal dream, I am staying at a hospital because my wife is having a baby. Delivery will take precisely four days. This would be a wickedly long period for a literal baby but it was abundantly clear that this was not the kind of baby that was coming through. It was a very happy and energizing dream, that introduced some wonderful characters and plot elements, and I woke with the sense of big things coming through.


I completed my first shift today. There was a fair amount of perspiration, as well as inspiration, involved. I expanded and mixed drafts and sketches from over quite a period of time, including journal notes I wrote during my recent creative writing retreat ("Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming") when I had the high pleasure of watching a group of marvelously creative people play-act an unfinished scene from the novel in question, following my partial script and casting selections. We'll see whether I am anywhere closer to "Brasil" after four days on the early shift.

12 comments:

Justin Patrick Moore said...

I found "The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters" to be an excellent read; the perfect blend of action, mystery, and the fantastick that I find so appealing. The book itself was inspired by a dream the author had. And this blog post has gotten me juiced up to do work on some fiction of my own, reminding me that it is important to be a Dream Eater: not only in the sense that food is life giving, but that the kind of images and stories I feed on have a direct impact on my creative health. Reading "Invisible Cities" recently inspired me to write a poem called "The City is a Dream". Calvino's fabulous inventions were easy on my digestive system, and were like a drink of pure water, refilling my well. When in the kitchen, it is nice to have good ingredients to start cooking with.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Justin - Thanks for confirming that the right reading is an essential part of the writer's diet. When people ask me how to get going with a writing project, I often find myself recommending a reading binge. People remember Coleridge's opium, but not that he had a book on Kubla Khan - part of a vast orgy of reading on which he had embarked - open when he stirred and started writing of Xanadu. Interesting how life rhymes. Calvino's "Invisibe Cities" accompanied me on my most recent travels, though I have not yet made space to re-read it.

Grace said...

Interesting! About three times now,(last night was the newest one) I have dreamed of my departed father in law and my intention with other family members, to meet him for a 5 pm drink. He passed last January, but every time I dream of him he looks younger and happier. We haven't had that dream drink yet, but maybe I should honor this dream by partaking in a martini?

Robert Moss said...

Hi Grace - If that was your father-in-law's pleasure, I think that would be a perfectly civilized idea! Funnily enough, in my "ice cream shift" assignments this week, I've been working on the story of a man on the Other Side who looks progressively younger and better as time (on this side) goes on.

Naomi said...

Who is the author of "The Glass Books of the Dream eaters"?

Robert Moss said...

Gordon Dahlquist, a playwright from the Pacific Northwest who has lived in NYC for two decades. Just from the novel, it's hard to belive he's not a Brit, because his ear for Victorian-era dialogue and his eye for English settings are quite convincing.

diane said...

When my departed ones visit in night time dreams (all adults, a number of whom died in very old age), they always appear younger.
To date, the older ones have reached middle age by our time - in the case of my grandparents, looking younger than I ever knew them. I find that there is no set age, but always younger than the death age.

Interestingly, people alive in this world also always appear younger in my night dreams - even if I have only known them in the world as older people. I wonder if this is others' experience?

Robert Moss said...

Hi Diane - I've found that it's common for the departed to revise their apparent age downwards after death. Sometimes they discover they can put on a "designer body" to interact with us. On the other hand, sometimes they are frozen in the shapes of old age and infirmity either by their own lack of imagination or by OUR lack of it - i.e. our inability to see or believe in them except as how we last remember them.

I'm curious know whether in those dreams in which the living seem younger you find that you are in a younger form too? There is actually no reason more reason why the dreambody of the living can't assume greater youth and beauty (like that of the "dead") since it is made of quite malleable psychotropic (ie mind-influenced) stuff - except, again, our possible lack of imagination.

diane said...

Hi Robert, Yes, I'm always in a younger form in my night dreams, most often I would guess 20's or 30's.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Diane - "Always in a younger form" in your night dreams? What fun! I sometimes notice, when I'm aware of being distinctly younger in my dreams - among people who are younger too - that I am visiting a possible earlier passage in our lives, in this world or a parallel reality. I am often also aware of a "dream double" who is like an idealized version of my younger self who never forgets that he can fly and is quite unblemished by life here on the ground :-)

Grace said...

gI feel as if i am in my 20's in my dream body, I don't know why, but it always feels that way, now that you mention it.
Speaking of it, I recently had a dream where so casually I looked up and saw the wicked witch of the West flying in the sky, "Look! I said to a companion nearby, it's the witch!". she got closer and eventually landed, next thing I saw the munchkins appeared and began singing. Not quite like the movie, just about 10 of them, they sang a quick song, took a bow and the witch smiled.
It's so much fun that dreams are so much more imaginative than any fiction I could write.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Grace - What fun! Yes, dreams can be such grand and creative entertainment. In the way of synchronicity, just before I read your note with the Wicked Witch flying through the air, I was recounting a story from American history in a recording session for my radio show involving an African-American woman visionary from Philadelphia (Rebecca Cox Jackson) who dreamed at age ten that she had to fly through the air very fast to escape a wicked white witch who was trying to get her. She flew up to heaven, met her departed grandmother (who was mentoring white Munchkin-like children) and told by God (who was color-less or invisible) she had to get back to Earth because she had BIG work ahead. In her time (early 19th century) of course, there was a very sharp edge to a black person's dream of a white witch, though Rebecca was born free and was able to teach and inspire people of different racial communities when she became a Shaker leader...