Monday, April 26, 2010

More gifts from the Sandman

Setting: St. Louis, Missouri, early 19th century. The Daylight Pharmacy and Clinic is run by a man who doesn't believe in using lanterns or candles to light his clinic. He says they're unhealthy for the patients, and uses only natural light. Consequently the whole place is dark and dank, and no one wants to go there. But St. Louis is the last stop with a clinic on the road to California.

I visit this clinic. I'm young (20?) and engaged to a rich merchant. When I walk in there are two men, and it doesn't look like a clinic at all, but more like a gun emporium or pawn shop. One man is tall and dark, calls himself Curly. The other is bald and mouse-like, missing all of his teeth but the top and bottom two. He doesn't speak. Maybe he's missing a tongue, too. I don't know his name. Curly grabs me in a huge bear hug and says "Hey Darlin' I was wonderin' when you'd stop by!" Mouse guy just grins. It's all very confusing to my fiance, who apparently has come with me. He doesn't like the look of mouse man and says we should leave, but I've come for medicine for our trip west, and I ask Curly if we might pick that up. He blushes and confesses he isn't a doctor but would be happy to give me a "check up." Fiance gets angry and pulls a gun on Curly and asks him what's going on. Curly holds hands up and says "now don't get all worked up, I was only joking! Besides, wouldn't want to upset the pretty lady." Meanwhile Mouse has managed to sneak behind fiance, and now holds a knife to his throat. Fiance bashes Mouse's nose with the back of his head. This is followed by a cat and mouse chase around the entire building - glass shattering, furniture splintering . . . Curly and Mouse seem not to care at all for their establishment. This is the most excitement they've had all week. The three men run in circles, and every time Curly runs by me he winks and grins devilishly. "This ain't no clinic, sweetheart," he yells. "It's a god damned circus! Yoooohoooo!"

While the three men wreak havoc on the clinic, I decide to look in the unoccupied rooms. Some look like normal hospital rooms, just old and musty. Some are completely packed wall to wall with guns. Some are full of used syringes. There's one room at the end of the hall whose door is slightly ajar. There's a strange light coming from the crack in the door jam. I walk toward this door, wondering what that light might be. When I open it a gust of hot, dusty wind hits my face, and I'm staring at what looks like a doorway to some other world. I understand now why the owner made the clinic so dark and unappealing - so people would be discouraged from using it, and so those who knew what it really was could have some privacy when traveling to this world - Ancient Egypt. That's right. Daylight Clinic is a Stargate. Awesome.

In a lonely mansion with a little girl who is friends with Hannah. She's part of a royal family and her room is decked in frilly pink canopies, life-size rocking horses and hundreds and hundreds of colorful dresses. She wears one of these dresses with a pair of chiffon and lace socks we gave her as a birthday gift. We're helping her get ready for a day in town, and she takes off the socks and puts her shoes back on, saying it's not appropriate for royalty to wear socks in public.
. . .
I'm at a beach with a friend. We go to the shower room to change into our bathing suits. The shower stalls each have a cute set-up with tables, chairs and umbrellas. There's an array of colorful products on each table, and I decide to take advantage of the free stuff, choosing a particularly sweet smelling shampoo and applying it liberally to my hair. It's sticky and difficult the rinse out. Worse, I think my hair turns out dirtier than before. I ask my friend if hers is doing the same thing, and picking up the bottle she says, "I think you just put jelly in your hair." Confused, I ask her how she knows, and she says "because there's a box of crackers right next to it."
. . .
I'm driving with my mom through a landscape of rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and deep green grasslands. It's a rural area where houses are spread apart by miles and miles, and I wonder how people survive so isolated from society and each other. Mom and I are looking for a particular peak to climb - one that boasts a beautiful Buddhist temple on its summit. We can't seem to find it, though we do find one breathtaking mountain that is made entirely of waterfalls.
. . .
I'm in New York City in the 1920's. I only have a day to experience all the sights, which is a challenge given I have to push Hannah in her stroller everywhere. Mom suggests we try Zonkos candy shop, so we do. There's a little train that chugs around the room, delivering homemade hot chocolate to all the browsing customers. We go to the counter to order our hot chocolate, and there are 10 different flavors. Marshmallow and chocolate, caramel and chocolate, cinnamon and chocolate . . . I can't decide what I want. Mom has already tried half of them, and tells me which ones are tasty and which aren't. I go for the cinnamon.

I leave the candy store and realize it's turned cold outside, so I pull out Hannah's coat and put it on her, then put mine on as well. When I button up the coat it feels extremely tight, and makes me look busty and sultry. I'm worried about walking the streets of New York looking like this, but it's so cold I don't dare not wear it. I'm waiting in line to get on the subway, and a lady next to me eyes me up and down and asks for a sip of water from my Nalgene bottle. I'm afraid she's going to mug me, but all she wants is water. Just a drink.

In a Catholic Easter mass. Altar servers are serving everyone coffee during communion so we can stay awake for the remainder of the service. A woman next to me who looks like Charlize Theron says she would like a saucer with her cup. The altar servers are annoyed and offended that she would ask such a thing. She just blinks, prettily, and says "chop chop!"

After mass we discuss how long the service was. A nun overhears our conversation and says this was a short Easter mass - when she was a little girl it would last all day and all night. I try to add my two cents to the conversation and say that the Litany of the Saints alone can take 2 hours. She looks at me like I'm an idiot.
. . .
I'm climbing a mountain that's been so commercialized with cement trails and obnoxious gift shops that you can climb the entire mountain indoors and forget you're even on a mountain. The insides of the buildings are cement and cold. There's a skate park in one of them, and as I'm hiking I'm afraid of having my fingers run over by some careless skateboarder. When I leave the last building and finally get to see the mountain before the summit, there's a track team just finishing a race. A group of girls are crossing the finish line in a dead sprint, hardly looking winded. They've just run up the entire trail (apparently there's another, prettier, outdoor trail I wasn't aware of) - a distance more than a marathon. One girl says to her coach that she finished in 240 minutes, and he says that's a new record. I look at these athletes and consider how tired I am just from hiking - indoors, no less - and I decide I don't deserve to summit today after all. Resigned, I turn around and return to the cement building.
. . .
It's my 9th birthday. Instead of going through the hassle of buying everyone party favors, my mom takes us to a fancy chocolate shop (what's with all the chocolate dreams??) and says we can pick out a couple things for ourselves. There are dozens of booths and counters with different delicacies - chocolate covered fruits and nuts, chocolate covered popcorn, chocolate covered chili peppers, chocolate covered pretzels - not the little ones but the the big soft kind . . .  It seems like a pricey place, and being the thoughtful 9-year-old that I am, I ask my mom how much she spent for this little outing, and she tells me, "Oh, about $250." I do some rough calculating and decide this doesn't sound like such a hefty price, until she adds "per booth."


courtney*adele said...

i can't believe you actually dream this stuff... i very rarely remember my dreams... and when i do they are so vague it's not even worth remembering! crazy!

Suzie said...

I definitely suggest keeping a dream journal next to your bed, and writing your dreams (no matter how vague) as SOON as you wake up. I'm talking before your morning pee or cup of coffee. Don't even let your feet touch the ground before you write. It'll be pretty incoherent at first, but I really think the waking mind is in an altered state of consciousness that takes some navigating and getting used to, but you do get used to it. Eventually you'll be able to articulate what you've seen, and you'll read that stuff later and think, "I can't believe I wrote this!" That's how I feel.