When Black Friday Comes….

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A friend of mine had a dream about falling. I don’t profess to be a psychologist and I’m not sure how much stock I put in dream analysis, but it set me thinking about the subject in general.

I tell people I never remember my dreams, but that’s not quite true. The earliest dream I recall — actually, I had it several times during my childhood — takes place at Ridge Hill School in Hamden, Conn., which I attended from kindergarten through sixth grade. I’m in the playground with my classmates when, booming over the shouting and laughter, I hear the ominous fanfare from Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” I am the only one who senses something wrong: a hungry and terrible presence just around the other side of the building. I know I must save my classmates. With growing trepidation, I separate myself from my peers and creep around the corner. As panic swells inside me, I catch a glimpse of something Lovecraftian — pitiless and sharp-toothed and insane — and I know I have met my end. I wake up in a cold sweat with a sense that I have failed.

Guess that makes it Yog-Sothoth 1-Crowder 0. It was around this time that I was coming to understand my own mortality. I believe I picked up the Strauss thing watching “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

I had another memorable childhood dream when I was visiting my cousin‘s family at their summer home in Katonah, N.Y. Interestingly, it too takes place at my old elementary school. For some reason, I accompany my mother there; she’s on some kind of business — maybe it’s Election Day and she’s there to vote. In any case, she leaves me at the entrance while she goes inside (no doubt reflecting separation anxiety). A substantial span of time passes, and I begin to worry. Here comes the freaky Oedipal part: There’s this knight guarding the door and he won’t let me pass. So I draw a knife from somewhere and start peeling off his armor — the blade cuts right through it and it comes off sort of like his arm’s solid plastic. There’s no blood. But I strike bone underneath.

I don’t remember whether my mother returns in the end.

Later in life, I had certain dream-related sleep problems that have since disappeared. In my teens and early 20s I was occasionally plagued by insomnia and night terrors. Around that time I began experiencing sleep paralysis, sometimes accompanied by lucid dreaming. Sleep paralysis is terrifying the first time it happens — imagine waking up and finding you have no control over your movements. You can’t even scream — and trust me, you try. But I learned to work around it by wiggling a toe, then foot, etc. — or simply going back to sleep.

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Falling dreams are said to be common — I know I’ve had them before. Traditional dream interpretation suggests they reflect anxiety by the dreamer, but by this standard, almost everone should dream about falling every night. Not surprisingly, Freudians put a characteristic twist on the subject. But everybody knows Freud was full of bunk.

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3 responses to “When Black Friday Comes….

  1. ok, your dreams are totally f’d up. no, seriously, they are terribly intriguing! i usually dream about work, and i often dream that i can’t seem to dial the phone or call up an article that i need to fix. and i frequently dream that i have to take a final for a class that i never attended — like i enrolled but forgot. i have to figure out what that one means. probably something about powerlessness?

  2. Heya Carrie:

    That’s interesting: I never dream about work — at least, not that I can recall. But I used to always get the other one you mention — forgetting that Spanish class I took halfway through the semester. It stopped when I started teaching and haven’t had it once since I went back to school. So I always assumed the dream was my subconscious’ way of telling me I had unfinished academic business.

  3. I had sleep paralysis several times in that dreamland otherwise known as Katonah. It was terrifying. But I forgot all about it about it until I read this post. And now I’m afraid to go to bed.

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