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Dream Cinema Reviews: The Mysterious Case of … What Even Is The Case, Here?

CW: brief mention of suicide, albeit in a completely absurd context. Oh, and also body horror, oddly enough?

This dream is rated [ WTF ]: inappropriate for all audiences due to making no sense whatsoever and leaving EVERYONE hanging.

***

I give up on trying to understand my dreams.

I just had one that segued from wish-fulfillment-but-also-stress to SPOOKY AF. I started messaging a friend about it, as you do, but the message slowly turned into a really-quite-long review of the dream in question.

So, of course, I decided to post it here. As one does.

Gentle readers, I give you … Erm. Well.

Whatever you want to call this mess.

Dream Cinema: It Gets Weird

So, in this dream, I’m on my way to participate in a Muay Thai competition—never mind that I haven’t set foot in a MT gym in AGES—but on the morning of the same I have to film something with Louisville Ballet—never mind that I dance with Lexington Ballet.

At least the LouBallet bit makes some measure of sense, since I take class at LouBallet School on breaks, just finished a masterclass there, and have been offered the occasional character part that I can never take bc it invariably coincides with something LexBallet is doing *le sigh*.

For some reason, I’m staying with a huge swath of my family (Mom, Step-Dad, Sis, Denis, Momma Fluffy (my MIL), both Bros-in-Law and the wife and kids of Younger Bro-In-Law) at a … hotel? Campground? Both?

I’m still not sure, bc dreams be like “Why not randomly shift gears from hotel to campground in midstream, but also make it the weirdest campground ever and only vaguely imply that it even *is* a campground? #YOLO”

It’s also unclear whether they’ve all come along to specifically to watch me probably get my butt kicked or whether we’re just all taking some kind of giant and very strange family road-trip 🤷‍♂️

Anyway, I’m supposed to be doing a kind of subsidiary road trip to the Muay Thai thing with BR and ATK from LouBallet and my friend EMM from LouBallet school after we get done filming ballet stuff, but while I’m packing up I A] can’t find my dance belt and B] can’t remember the phrase “dance belt,” so I can’t really ask for help either?

The fam heads out so they can get good seats, etc, for the MT thing, and the rest of us stay behind to sort out the dance belt situation.

So we’re shooting the breeze and hunting for the mysterious Essential Thing, which I finally find. While I’m changing, the hotel-cum-campground transforms into BR’s house (specifically, his kitchen), which I have definitely never seen IRL, bc I barely know the guy. This, of course, doesn’t phase me in the least, because dreams 🤷‍♂️

I notice it’s starting to get dark, recheck my schedule, and realize that I’ve basically missed the entire competition. EMM has to go home but BR and ATK decide to accompany me to wherever the MT thing is anyway (I have this vague post-dream sense that it was in, like, Paducah?) so we can all … hang out with my family, I guess?

We’re walking out to the cars and deciding whether we should all ride with ATK (whose argument was the she has the best music, which is probably true bc she’s awesome) when my Mom calls to ask if we were okay and (I think?) we decide to wait for my family at BR’s place.

(Sidebar: this conversation includes my Mom being like, “Wow, I didn’t know you were into anything that violent! But it looks like fun!” Which I can 100% see her saying irl, no joke 🤣)

So we head back into the kitchen and we’re making snacks in the form of a charcuterie board and talking about BW (blast from the past!) when bit by bit the dream shifts gears.

Like: I kid you not, the charcuterie board turns into a dead guy being prepared for a funeral ON THE KITCHEN ISLAND (WTF, DREAM 😶).

The dream has somehow yeeted ATK right out, but for a minute BR plays the role of the sensitive and thoughtful mortician preparing the body. I’m there for a sec, and then I’m not there and have never been there (dreams 🤷‍♂️).

Then BR, aka The Mortician, is and has always been played by a tall, thin white guy, bc apparently my brain thinks morticians be pale, or something? #TvTropes

And then the dead guy’s distraught but also overweening Mom (played by Kelly’s Mom, Diane, who IRL is only about as crazy as everyone, and not as out there as Dream Mom) is somehow there (in the logic of the dream, she’s been there all along? Bc dreams be like, “I’m a dream; I don’t HAFTA make sense! #YOLO”).

Dream Mom is weepily trying to ensure that her baby boy will look as pure as the driven snow, which apparently means coating his entire person in literally clown-white foundation?

(I mean: C’mon, Dream Cinema, even in my sleep I can spot a blunt and clunky visual metaphor: like, okay, according to his mom, duder was a saint, or at least a harmless innocent, or we’re painting over the sins she fears he may have committed, or whatever, and this is how she’s trying to express it. Which seems vaguely racist. MOVING ON.)

By this point, btw, my dream-consciousness is alternating between camera/audience and being inside the head of the mortician. Occasionally both at once, bc dreams, amirite?

Anyway! At one point, the mortician turns away to look for a brush of some kind, thinking to himself that although Dream Mom is deeply distraught, he should maybe give her a bit more guidance, bvshe’s making decisions that she might later regret (qv: Literally. Clown-white. Foundation. 🤡☠️👻).

Dream Camera zooms in to show Mortician’s hand gently patting the hand of the dead guy and possibly? smudging some kind of charcoal powder into the creases of Dead Guy’s knuckles (by mistake, obvs).

The dream audience perspective goes, “Mom’s gonna be pissed if she sees that” and then “That’s not good” and then “Oh, shizzle, this is some kind of foreshadowing, isn’t it?” and then “WHAT IF THE GRIME IS RISING UP FROM THE DEAD GUY’S SKIN?! 😬”

Cut to Dream Mom and the Mortician still not noticing.

Cut back to the hand, which definitely looks grimier than before, doesn’t it? Or does it? Dream Audience can’t be sure.

And then:

The fingers twitch.

Like…

THE

FINGERS

T w I T cH 😮

Dream Audience A] wonders if the Mom saw it and B] announces that it could just be leftover nerve impulses (WHICH: um, no).

Dream camera zooms back out to show that neither Mom or the Mortician saw the fingers twitch.

Mom is weepily thanking the Mortician for taking such good care of her baby boy (who was, btw, probably in his 20s or 30s? Just for clarity. And probably also a dancer, unless I’ve just been thoroughly enough immersed in a mileu comprised entirely of dancers to default to all semi-naked men in dreams being built like dancers). Mortician glances back, notices the black smudges, and turns back to wash his hands and find even more white foundation.

Cue growing sense of dread, though it’s not clear yet whether we should be afraid OF the dead guy or FOR the dead guy.

Dream Camera literally flashes back to the bit where they removed the organs to weigh them during the autopsy; likewise, as we return to the dream-present, my brain retcons in a gigantic autopsy incision (I literally remember being like, “That wasn’t there before … Was it?”), closed but very clearly evident. (Implied: what if he was somehow AWAKE during the autopsy???!!!111)

Dream Audience wonders whether they simply didn’t notice it before, or??? Dream Audience be gullible. (I literally remember being like, “Wait, that wasn’t there before … Or was it?

Mortician slathers more clown-white on Dead Guy’s hand, then does the other one for good measure. Dream Camera cuts to a wider shot of Dead Guy, clown-white and terribly still. Mortician is just in the edge of the shot, turning away.

Dream Camera pulls back a little further as Mortician busies himself at the counter behind him, seeking another brush or something again.

Mom-of-Dead Guy continues to talk to Mortician about how she knows her baby boy would never commit suicide but doesn’t understand why someone would want to hurt him (not sure how that came up, bc I don’t remember there being any sense of either having been a Probable Cause before? Pretty sure Dead Guy had originally drowned, and entirely by accident. DREAMS. UGH. 🤷‍♂️).

Cut to a wider shot of the room, which is still clearly a kitchen, but for some reason the Mortician is doing this job privately as he sometimes does (you just know things like that in dreams … bc D R E A M S 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️). Both Mom and Mortician are still facing away from Dead Guy, talking.

Dead Guy kind of shudders and gives a kind of strangled moan 😰

Mom looks up anxiously; Mortician is also spooked but explains rather gallantly that sometimes trapped air can escape from the lungs and cause a moaning sound.

Dream Camera, and thus Dream Audience, knows the Mortician doesn’t quite believe what he’s saying, at least not in this case, because the lungs aren’t even connected anymore. Heck, they might not even be IN THERE anymore.

Conversation between Mom and Mortician stumbles back up to tempo.

A moment passes.

Dead

Guy

SITS

UP 😱😱😱 with a pained wail and vomits blood and … embalming fluid[1]??? 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱

(Pedantic Dream Audience wonders how this is possible, given that there shouldn’t be any blood or possibly even organs left in there.Note that Pedantic Dream Audience is unconcerned with the plausibility of a DAD GUY SITTING UP UNDER HIS OWN POWER IN THE FIRST PLACE. Ffs.

Another part of Dream Audience is like, “Yoooooooo, Mortician is never cooking in that kitchen again.” SHUT UP, DREAM AUDIENCE.)

Also, for some reason, DEAD GUY IS NOW WEARING GLASSES.

WHY?

DEAD GUY DOES NOT NEED GLASSES ANYMORE.

Besides, he wasn’t wearing them a minute ago.

(Pedantic Dream Audience notes that they’re a plot device intended to make Dead Guy more sympathetic—which, to be fair, they somehow do. He’s like a taller, hot, and [admittedly] very dead Rick Moranis, somehow? But Awake Me is also pretty sure they’re a direct callback to Dead Glasses Guy in Bly Manor.)

Mom and Mortician turn to look just as Hot, Dead Rick Moranis collapses into an effortless forward fold (obviously, my brain believes that all hamstrings, even dead ones, are dancer hamstrings).

Feeling of dread solidifies in the direction of fear FOR Dead Guy (OMG! CAN HE FEEL WHAT’S HAPPENING TO HIM? IF HE’S STILL ALIVE IS IT TOO LATE TO SAVE HIM??!! I mean it doesn’t make any physiological sense but CLEARLY PHYSIOLOGY NO LONGER MATTERS, HERE 😱) … but with the knowledge that Mom and Mortician are simultaneously afraid FOR and OF Dead Guy.

They both reach out to him; Mortician is trying to think of a way to explain this to Mom that will sound plausibly non-supernatural even though he now realizes beyond the shadow of a doubt that S**T JUST GOT REAL, YO.

They both grab hold of Dead Guy ANNNND

I EFFING WAKE UP[1].

WTF, dreams?!!!!! DEAD GUY CLEARLY HAS UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Or at any rate SOMEBODY does.

This is SO NOT FAIR to ANY OF US.

TL;DR: 3/10, compelling story but utterly absurd plot development and questionable continuity with a TERRIBLE CLIFFHANGER ENDING.

WHAT HAPPENS TO DEAD GUY?! WHAT INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT THING DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?

Or has he just, somehow, really been Only Mostly Dead the whole time?

The world may never know.

And I WANT MY MONEY BACK, Dream Cinema.

  1. It’s entirely possible that this was the fault of D’s phone ringing and not of Dream Cinema. But you know what? When the broadcast gets interrupted during a Live In HD performance, we’re always given the option of a refund or a comp ticket for another Live in HD show. Just saying.

These Dreams

Dreams I had last night:

  • The hyperextension in my left knee had basically lost the plot and become so extreme that I was wary of doing anything with it
  • I was hanging out at my family’s Old Lyme “cottage” (now long since sold for no discernable reason, but that’s another story) in a dream that had no real plot or central conflict, but which was equal parts vivid* and perplexing, though can’t really recall why I felt perplexed
  • My left foot had been horribly broken and I was transported (in the back of a pickup truck, no less!) to a hospital for what a surgeon referred to as “orthopedic neurosurgery” as I attempted to explain to her that I am a dancer and needed to know how long I’d be off training, since I wasn’t even back from my previous surgery (the one I had in real life) yet

You guys. WTAF?

Also, in terms of emotional content, that last dream qualified as a full-on nightmare—it included the full-on emotional experience of being terrified that I would never dance again, but still keeping a brave face and holding it all together. STRESSSSSSS.

Addendum: that being said, in retrospect, it was also kind of funny, because the nature and extent of the injury got worse every time I looked at my foot, but during the dream I didn’t actually make note of that. In a way, it was very Monty Python.

I did notice that the toes in my foot looked weirdly long, but associated that with the injury.

*In fact, my dreams are always pretty vivid.

Danseur Ignoble: Practical Considerations

Yesterday, I signed up for the GRE, which doesn’t sound like it will be too bad.

It’s also possible that none of the programs for which I’m applying actually require it, but I might as well get it out of the way.

I’m not worried in the least about the writing and language bits; my only concern was that I’d have to do a whooooole lot of math review, but it looks like it should be very doable, provided that I don’t leave it all ’til the last minute because SQUIRREL!

As a matter of perspective, I’m much less worried about the GRE than I was about my audition piece.

Curiously, having done the audition has somehow made me feel much more confident and capable, even though the audition itself was kind of a mess due to the fact that there was absolutely no way I could be really adequately prepared under the circumstances. I don’t know, just getting up and winging it, doing it anyway, was a huge confidence-builder.

There’s something about actually doing creative work that is deeply edifying. I may not have had much of the work done in time for the audition, but the part that was done looked like … well, it looked like real dancing, if that makes any sense? And, since then, I’ve been rocking along creating and revising, which feels really exciting.

I’m learning to think of myself as an artist (not just in terms of dance, but also in terms of the visual arts), which is something I’ve always been hesitant to do. It seems somehow hubric to do so — and yet, at the same time, I’ve realized that you have to take your own work seriously, or you don’t give it the time it needs to get done.

…Or, well, that’s how it works for me.

I’ve also started organizing information about application deadlines and stuff for graduate school. Eventually, the most pressing details (application deadlines and materials needed) will go into a table or spreadsheet or something so I can just check them off as I go.

I’m not organizing cost-of-attendance data yet, because every time I look at cost-of-attendance I really rather feel like my eyes are going to explode. I know I’ll figure it out somehow, just like I figure everything else out somehow, so for now, except for looking into scholarship opportunities, I’m more or less ignoring that whole zone.

So now I’m contacting graduate schools, signing up for open-house days for their DMT programs (in this sort of devil-may-care, I’ll-figure-out-how-to-get-there-later kind of way), and so forth.

It’s a weird place to be, somehow. A couple weeks ago, I was all, I don’t know if I’m going to be ready for this; I don’t actually even know if I want to do this. A lot of that stemmed from being persistently sick for a rather longish period, though: eventually, I’ll write about what that does to me emotionally, but I can’t figure out yet how to put it into words.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, I woke up, remembered what I want to do and why, and felt ready to get started … so yesterday, I did.

I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this happened within a week after getting back to class.

The structure that ballet provides is so essential to my life. While I actually do very much like being a homemaker, I seem to do best when I have a schedule imposed upon me from the outside. It forces me to organize my time in a way that’s really quite difficult for me to do otherwise.

Moreover, going to class is, for me, a signal that things are normal; that life is moving along in its usual rhythm. Not going to class is a signal that Something Is Very Wrong (usually, that either my physical or emotional health has imploded).

That said, I didn’t take Wednesday class yesterday because I don’t quite yet feel like my respiratory system is up to the demands of Brienne’s class. Lingering cough is lingering.

That said, I forgot that Margie now teaches a Wednesday morning class which I could have taken instead. Derp.

I’m hoping to be back up to speed next week, but if I’m not, I’ll do Margie’s class on Wednesday morning (I’m trying to avoid doing evening classes except on rare occasions, since this time of year it means getting home at 10 PM, which is problematic for a number of reasons).

I wrote in yesterday’s post about the relative costs of therapy and ballet as part of my defense of the cost of dancing — not to say that ballet should replace therapy, but it augments therapy rather beautifully. For me, the sense of structure and, I suppose, of belonging are an enormous part of that.

Dancing is part of what makes my life whole. For practical reasons as well as purely impractical ones, it’s terribly nice to be dancing again at last.

Quickie: A Hundred Pounds of Rocks in the Tour (Not So Literally); Ballet Dreams (Literally)

I’m taking a more conservative approach than I have in the past to managing my bipolar disorder.

This means that I haven’t returned to a three-classes-per-week schedule yet, or even a two-classes-per-week schedule. I wanted to go to class last night and did not feel ready, end of story. I need to learn to listen to that voice or reason, even though sometimes it feels like it’s standing between me and my dreams and goals.

I try to tell myself, instead, that it’s like not pushing yourself too hard on the bike when you’re recovering from a serious physical illness (like the last time I had pneumonia, or the time I broke my leg). You have to build back into it with a modicum of caution. Sometimes that means it takes longer to reach your goals than you had hoped.

Dottie (my therapist) and I talked about a similar thing yesterday. I found myself telling her about how frustrating and sometimes disheartening it is when this whole bipolar thing throws me off the rails, and how I sometimes really resent my difficulties instead of really appreciating what I can do; what I am doing. We also talked about how I tend to forget that I am living with a serious mental illness; one that can be really debilitating.

We wound up with this crazy Tour de France analogy: living with this is like riding the Tour de France with a hundred pounds of rocks in your chamois. The Tour isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s really freaking hard when you’re carrying a hundred pounds of rocks (or maybe when you’re the domestique and you have to carry … all … the water bottles?!)…

Terrible drawing of domestique hauling all the bottles.

Here is a high-quality graphical rendering, replete with cheering fan, to help you visualize this concept. (An oldie, but a goodie! You might remember this from last TourMonth July, in fact.)

Riding the Tour with a hundred pounds of rocks doesn’t mean you don’t get there. It does mean maybe you don’t ride all of every stage, or maybe sometimes you don’t ride a given stage at all. It certainly means that you’re probably going to finish each stage long after the crowds have gone home.

It means that, if you’re smart, you might be willing to accept some help — maybe a motor to get you up Mount Ventoux, maybe a partner to carry some of your rocks when you’re really struggling. Maybe an extra book of matches or two.

Maybe, sometimes, you even stop halfway through a stage and climb into the team car.

Maybe you try medication. That’s why they make medication.

In short, carrying a hundred pounds of rocks on the Tour takes a hard job and makes it harder. It makes you reassess your goals. When you’re carrying that load, there’s no way on Earth you’re going to win — not even if you ride the best eBike in the world and hop yourself up on so much EPO and caffeine that your veins stick out like the Alps on a topographical map. Instead, making it to the finish becomes a goal worth achieving — in fact, sometimes, just making it to the end of the day is a victory.

Anyway. I didn’t mean to wax on about that for quite so long. I meant to write about literal ballet dreams.

Lately I dream about ballet all the time — that is, about dancing. Literally, it’s like I’m practicing in my dreams on the days I don’t do class (and, in fact, these dreams often take place on the nights following would-be class days; I should say will-be class days, because I will work back into it). Last night I had a long, long dream entirely devoted to perfecting the very simple combination (demi-petite allegro? ;)) from Margie’s class on Saturday — tombé – pas de bourrée – glissade – assemblé.

It was kind of a dream about mastery, I guess, and about confidence. And also about the fact that my arms are a heck of a lot less awkward than they used to be.

It was, in fact, a pretty cool dream. I love dancing, and my dreams are extremely vivid, so it was like having the opportunity to dance for a long, long time on a day that I didn’t get to dance in my waking life.

It will be interesting to see if the dream in question has, in fact, acted as practice. There’s good evidence supporting the hypothesis that athletes (including, presumably, dancers) are not just exercising their egos (a nebulous concept at best) when they use concentrated visualization, but actually firing the neural circuits they would fire when performing the athletic task in question*.

Anyway, today I’m feeling fairly okay, I think. The challenge is not to tip myself back over into mania. People who do not suffer from bipolar disorder often imagine mania to be a pleasant state, and it can be — but for me, mania is often “black,” characterized by immense irritability, agitation, expolosive rage, near-psychotic paranoia (though I suppose I don’t really talk about this: because it’s only near-psychotic, I know it’s irrational, so I simply try not to give in to it), and a restlessness that prevents the completion of even the simplest tasks.

I know I’m not “better” yet, not quite back on an even keel, because I’m not feeling much need to sleep and I keep forgetting to eat (among other things). But I’m at least close enough to earth orbit to be getting stuff done, and the agitation and anger have passed for the moment. I’m into the kind of hypomania that can be very pleasant (Lots of energy! Reasonably positive mood! The ability to talk about things! Fast but not totally out-of-control streams of thought! Accomplishing lots of tasks! Wild productivity! Not so much total inability to feel the presence of G-d!) as long as I don’t let it get out of hand.

Okay, well. This is now much, much longer than I intended for it to be — but I guess it’s illustrative, nonetheless.

So far, I’m feeling kind of okay about being more open in this blog. Recently I had a long and awesome conversation with another person with bipolar disorder who seems to experience her disorder in much the same ways that I experience mine, and that was very heartening in a totally unexpected kind of way.

If even one other reader stumbles across my ramblings and goes, “Hey, this sounds really familiar. Maybe it’s not just me,” and it helps … well, that would be really awesome, and make it all very worthwhile.

Notes
*Non-athletes do this as well, as far as I know. I believe there have been some studies of this process in musicians. I’ll have to see if I can dig them up.

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