Pizza Dreams

Marc Chagall

Pizza Dreams

….Mr Fenton Allentuck describes the following precognitive dream, “ I went to sleep at midnight and I saw my grandfather about to be run over by a truck in the middle of the street, where he was waltzing with a clothing dummy…. I had an uneasy feeling that some men were trying to break into my room and shampoo me.  But why ? I kept imagining shadowy forms and at 3A.M. the underwear I had draped over the chair began to resemble the Kaiser on roller skates.  When I fell back asleep I dreamed again, a hideous nightmare in which a woodchuck was trying to claim my prize at a raffle…  Woody Allen, Without Feathers

I am wandering the hallways of my high school dressed only in my underwear.  My best friend walks by asking me telepathically, “Where have you been all semester?  We have the calculus final today!”

I dodge in and out of shallow doorways and across cold pavement to find my locker.  I have forgotten the combination.  I am a dead man.  No graduation.  No college.  No job.  My life is ruined…

I wake up in a cold sweat with the moon streaming through the bedroom bay window.  I shuffle towards the kitchen while the cat trails affectionately underfoot mistakenly thinking it is time for breakfast.  I open the refrigerator and sigh, a pathetic figure cast in pale light.  It was only a dream.

Each night between the witching hours of 2am and 6am, average people are transported through a subconscious rabbit hole and across a bizarre kaleidoscope of disconnected faces, symbols and places.  The results range from the comical to the terrifying.  Some dreamers journey back in time to face old demons or attempt to amend unresolved conflicts. Others boast of encounters with random celebrities.  Some profess X-Men super powers – – flying at breakneck speeds or deploying telekinesis to move objects with their thoughts.

There is the classic “Groundhog Day” dream where one wakes up, relieved to be free from their early morning incubus, only to fall asleep and have the dream pick up where they left off.  The most terrifying dreams are “chase dreams” where someone is pursuing you – –  perhaps an insurance salesman or someone from the Tea Party.  I recall a nightmare featuring a buck-toothed girl who had stalked me in elementary school informing me that we had just been married.  As I fled the church, she started chasing me on a big wheel.  I could not seem to outrun her but was finally able to will myself awake.  If my wife had sat up in bed at that precise moment with false buckteeth saying , What’s up doc? “, she would be collecting now on my life insurance.

Lately, I have been having some wild dreams.  Perhaps, it is anxiety associated with my eldest going off to college or the post traumatic stress associated with Irene.  I keep dreaming the Levco guy is filling my house with chocolate milk – which is annoying because I am lactose intolerant.  Another dream has me dressed up like Dorothy from the wizard of Oz and someone keeps shouting, ” it’s a micro-burst, it’s a micro-burst!”  When I correct him and say, no, you mean tornado.” He turns to me and angrily chastises me.  ” It’s bad for business to say, ” tornado”.  We use the term “micro-burst.  It’s better for property values.”

I am uncertain if my nightly visits to the Twilight Zone are caused by unresolved conflict, odd midnight eating habits or an overactive imagination.  My mother used to have an expression for the kind of dream where you woke up saying, ” What the hell was that!”. She simply called it a “pizza dream”.

Pizza dreams are not all bad.  Some people have made a fortune off their dreams and hallucinations.  Jack Nicklaus, struggling with his golf game, had a vivid midnight vision where he was striking the ball with an unconventionally short, modified swing.  He awoke and tried the swing successfully on the golf range which resulting in a marked improvement in his game.

Samuel Coleridge wrote his famous Kubla Kahn after waking up from a drug induced dream.  Mary Shelley, along with husband Percy and Lord Byron, was housebound in a Swiss castle during a violent storm  and agreed to a competition with the famous writers over who could tell the most frightening ghost story.  After retiring to nap (and consuming a hallucinogenic), she awoke with a vision of  a creature so terrifying that it literally induced her to question the essence of Man and God.  No, it was not Sarah Palin.  It was a creature grafted out of cadaver body parts – purloined by grave robbers in the dead of night — nope, it wasn’t Ron Paul or Barney Frank either.  It was Frankenstein. ( P.S. she won the bet !).

As a child who had more nightmares than Stephen King, my new age mother tried to explain to me that dreams were subconscious fields and mental alleyways where humans tried to work through our anxieties or mental struggles.  My mother was always curious about the strange films playing in the midnight theaters of our minds.  She expressed great interest in our nocturnal adventures, considering our forays into the unknown as potential “out-of-body” experiences known as “astral flight” to deep struggles of conscience known as “guilt”.

Our Age of Aquarius mother read countless books on dream interpretation – – from Freud, Jung, and Cayce to the interpretations of Native American shamans.  Each Sunday, we were forced at gunpoint to church by our father, only to come home and struggle to reconcile the sacred and the profane of Western Christianity and new age spiritualism.  Our mother explained that the bible was filled with examples where God would choose to appear to individuals in dreams and through these encounters convey a divine message. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians considered dreams as omens and harbingers of great importance.  Each society and religion maintained a social order where those who could decipher the hieroglyphics of dreams – – elders, medicine men, oracles and sages were raised to positions of prestige and power.

Freud asserted that each of us possesses a subconscious, Id, and the conscious, Super Ego. These irresistible forces of hidden desire (teenagers) regularly clash each night with the immovable objects of temporal restraint (parents).  As the mind works through these physical and emotional challenges, it paints mental canvases more complex and bizarre than any created by Picasso or Chagall.

Unlike Freud, Jung did not seek to interpret dreams as tangled sexual symbols requiring therapeutic intervention.  Jung considered dreams a collateral universe where the subconscious mind worked furiously over problems, unresolved issues, philosophical conundrums and latent desires.

There are many who consider dreams a highway to the paranormal, a lonely road to another dimension of our existence – – one that happens just outside of our mind’s eye.  Rod Serling called it the “ Twilight Zone”.  Ray Bradbury called it “October Country”.  Alien abductions, spiritual guidance, premonitions, past lives and psychopompic events (encounters with deceased loved ones ) have all been documented through dreams.  Lincoln was said to have a clear premonition ten days before his own assassination where he dreamed of mourners and a corpse in the East wing of the White House.  A soldier informed him that the shrouded figure was “ the body of the President, killed by an assassin”

In 1961, a dream researcher’s case study quickly turned into perhaps the most credible case of alien abduction ever documented.  A Canadian couple, Betty and Barney Hill, returning from holiday in New Hampshire began to experience health problems and terrifying nightmares.  When hypnosis revealed identical stories of an alien abduction and medical experiments, while driving along lonely US Highway 3, dream specialists were dispatched to investigate.

Betty Hill’s nightmares never ceased and graphically included minute details of a medical procedure conducted by her abductors that included the unheard of description of a needle that was inserted into her belly button.  The fantastical medical procedure that she so accurately shared under hypnosis is now commonly recognized as a routine process to withdraw eggs for purposes of in-vitro fertilization. (Ok, this is usually where Twilight Zone music plays…..)

Whether you see dreams as a disjointed, meaningless theatre of the absurd or a clash between the temporal and unknown, the subconscious mind is the last wilderness of our generation.  Dreams can portend events like Nostradamus or haunt us for past sins like a relentless Javert.   Like so many other invisible psychic sinews that bind us, we are linked by our fascination with these odd subconscious episodes and bonded by the common phenomena of waking up back in high school in our underwear.

We have also concluded that we must, at all costs, avoid eating pizza after 11 at night.

The Nocturnal Misadventures of Mr T.

The Nocturnal Misadventures of Mr T.

 

“So what can I do for you?”

 

“Well doctor, I have been having these really weird nightmares.  The images are pretty disturbing.  It’s gone way past the ‘waking up in high school math class just before my final exams in my underwear’ stuff.

 

“Well lie down and let’s discuss your most recent incubus.”

 

I plopped down on a leather chaise and began to describe my prior evening’s phantasms.  “I dreamed I was lost in a rundown part of New York City. It was cold – really cold – and I could see down by the East River some fires burning in trash cans in a makeshift camp. It looked like a Depression era Hooverville. I saw men shuffling and stomping their feet to keep warm while one man stoked the fire with small scraps of papers. As I got closer, I saw the bum was feeding the fire with hundred dollar bills and when he turned around, I saw it was my financial advisor.  He looked terrible. When he saw me, he shrugged saying, “I know I should have taken you out of equities and into cash but I figured we’d just ride this out.  Here, help me burn the rest of your money, will you?”  Well at this point, I got mad and tried to grab a handful of my retirement dollars but everyone became hostile saying they needed to burn my money to stay warm.  One guy that looked like Hank Greenberg threatened me with an AIG paper weight.  Can you imagine?  So, I ran toward the river and a guy yells, “Hey buddy, get in!” So I jumped into what looked like one of those New York Harbor sightseeing boats. That’s when things started to get really weird.

 

I plopped into an open seat and the three guys in front of me turned around. They were the CEOs of the Big 3 automakers – Mulally, Nardeau and Wagoner and for some reason, they were giving me a dirty look.  “You drive an Audi, don’t you?” hissed Wagoner.  I could not resist.  “You run a crappy company, don’t you?”  He reached out to grab me but his buddy restrained him.  “Come on, Rick, we don’t need any more negative press.”  Waggoner held two fingers up to his eyes and then pointed at me and mouthed,

“I’m watching you.”

 

To my left was Barney Frank wearing water wings and reading Pravda. The boat’s tour guide got on the PA system, “Welcome to post-apocalypse Wall Street, folks.  The water may get rough up ahead so please put on your life jackets.” Someone threw me a life jacket.  It would only fit a small child.  “That’s all you get,” someone snickered.  Barney Frank thought that was very funny and giggled his Elmer Fudd laugh.  “We’re all screwed,” mumbled the guy behind me.  It was Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe The Plumber.  He perked up when our eyes met, “Hey, you want to buy my new book?” 

 

The announcer spoke up, “If you look over there you will see High Yield Towers. As you can see, there is a fire on the top three floors.  Normally there is no more than a 3 percent default rate of junk bonds.  We expect that as many as 10 percent or over $150 billion of junk to default.”   I watched the fire burn.  No one was trying to extinguish it.  “Now this area coming up is dangerous.  Keep your hands and feet in the boat.” The water had started to swirl and pitch.  The boat was picking up momentum.  There were empty homes everywhere.  It was as if suburban America had been picked clean by aliens or some form of the Andromeda Strain. “We have 12 million homes with an average negative equity of $ 40,000.  Unless we find a way to buy out this negative equity, these homeowners will default, sending the market into a free fall.  

 

I looked at Joe and said, “I think I am going to be sick.”  Joe was gone.  I was sitting next to Hank Paulson, lame duck Treasury Secretary.  He just stared ahead like a combat veteran and said, “You don’t know what sick is.”  The boat drifted under the soft light of an illuminated waterside boardwalk. We pulled up to a dock and Ben Bernanke jumped out to run to the bathroom.  “Alan Greenspan had a much bigger bladder than this guy,” Paulson said sardonically. I took the opportunity to also disembark.  I just wanted to wake up.  This was the worst nightmare I had experienced in years.  In the distance, I could still see my financial advisor and his derelict friends, illuminated by the scabrous dancing shadows of the burning money.  My phone rang.  I fumbled for it and dropped it on the ground.  A man wearing a white cowboy hat walked over ,picked it up and handed it to me.  “You dropped this, partner.” I looked up and I was staring into the serene face of Warren Buffett.  “ Thank you, Mr. …” 

 

“Just call me Stranger.”

 

“So Stranger, do you think we will ever recover?”

 

He though for a long time and sighed.  “Oh, we will come back, but not until we as a society learn to live within our means.  Americans want something for nothing.  We have gotten fat, lazy and insulated. We have produced a whole generation of kids who have never experienced hardship, workers who believe a job is an entitlement and mediocre CEOs who are incented to create the very bubbles that always burst. We were harvesting money out of a gold mine propped up by the rotting timbers of easy credit, toxic financial instruments, inept rating agencies and pathetic regulators. When the forces of the free market caused a cave in, we braced the affected area instead of correcting the engineering flaws or allowing nature to run its course. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. My guess is the Dow will drop to 7,000. Businesses will go under while unemployment rates, high-yield bonds and mortgage defaults will soar.  We will go through a deep recession which will shape us into a leaner, tougher nation capable of competing in the century ahead. But it won’t be fun and there will be casualties.  Ultimately, we will prevail as we are a great nation of innovators and creators.” He looked out toward the bum’s camp and started to hum.  “You hear that music, son?  It’s the lonely anthem of a country waking up to its worst financial hangover since 1931.  You seem like a nice guy.  There is a stock you can buy that should allow you to recover your lost savings.  It’s a great company that will surely rise like the Phoenix out of these ashes of failure.  Their stock exchange symbol is…’

 

I looked at the doctor and said, “And that is where I wake up every time. I am going nuts.”  He thought for a moment and left the room.  “Hold that thought,” he quipped as he raised a finger and stuck his head out the door to speak with his assistant. He turned back to me.

 

“Well, it’s clear you have a lot of anxiety. This is all symbolism – a manifestation of unrealized guilt over your failure to take action during the recent economic meltdown as well as your ambivalence toward the public figures who you feel are culpable for the mess and its remediation.  I would recommend the following: Do not pick up the business section, watch any stock market indices or listen to Jim Cramer for six months.  Consider firing your investment advisor as he should have protected your downside risk and failed. If anyone attempts to engage you or ask your opinion on the economy, just respond, ‘You could be right.’  Then go home and watch old Three Stooges reruns. Get plenty of exercise and do not eat pizza after 5 p.m.”  I thanked him and turned to leave.

 

“Oh and just one other thing, you must try to remember the name of the stock that Warren Buffet told you.  It will help your recovery.  Think…HARD!”

 

A secretary appeared.  “Doctor, your stockbroker is on line two!”

 

“Tell him to wait a moment, Anne.  Now think, Mr Turpin. What was the name of that stock?”