A few days ago, I had the following dream…
I was producing an episode for a show featuring Karl Pilkington. For those of you who don’t know, Karl Pilkington is a somewhat dimwitted British personality who was once a producer at XFM Radio in the U.K. for Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant, the original creators of the comedy The Office.
Thanks to Ricky and Steve, he became famous and starred in a program called An Idiot Abroad, a hilarious travelogue, where Karl goes to different parts of the globe and comments on his experiences. I’m a huge fan of Ricky, Steve and Karl. If you’re not familiar with Karl (or Ricky and Steve for that matter), and you like hilarious drivel, I highly recommend you search for Ricky Gervais on iTunes and download his audiobooks or check out The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO. But I digress.
I was producing an episode of An Idiot Abroad. My crew and I, along with Karl, were visiting sick kids in a hospital in either India or an African country, but the area was in the midst of a civil war. We were in a hospital room when all of a sudden, we hear gunfire out in the hallway. The dream/scene shifts to the hallway where there are dead bodies all over the place. Men with machine guns are standing around and they have one guy cornered, who’s crying like a baby. One of the men says calmly, “Run away. Try to escape.” The crying man pleads, but the hostile repeats himself. The crying man turns and starts walking away slowly. He gets to the doors leading out of the wing, pushes them open, whereupon the hostile shoots him dead.
The scene cuts back into the hospital room with Karl, my crew and I, but now, Karl is on the ground and he looks like he’s in agony and there are bodies piled on him, with bullet holes. The hostile that was outside in the hallway is now inside the room with his men but now there are women with machine guns. These women look like distinctly African and they look like everyday housewives, with print and patterned dresses on. And they seem extremely nervous. The original hostile is forcing everyone in the room to lay down on the pile, then he and his men shoot them. My crew and I are watching with a detachment; at this point, my subconscious (?) has transformed my mentality into that of a journalist, meaning that I don’t yet feel like I am at risk of being shot because I’m merely reporting a story.
Then, while the hostile and his men are firing on others, one of the women turns to me, grabs me with one hand and gestures to a corner of the room with her gun and says, “You. In corner. You go. You escape. ” The visual is low angle, so even though she is a middle-aged somewhat out of shape woman who looks nervous about what she’s preparing to do, she looks threatening. And at that point, I know I’m in trouble. I calmly say, “Oh, no, I’m with them,” and I point in the direction of the crew, who now look horrified. She repeats herself but she doesn’t raise her voice at all, which makes it even more chilling. She grabs me and pushes me into the corner. Then I wake up.
A few months ago, I had the following dream…
I was driving on the New Jersey turnpike returning from a video shoot in either New Jersey or New York, heading back to my home in Philly. Some of you may know that I live in the Philly area, but all my clients are up in Jersey and NY. Oddly enough, the time of day kept changing: one minute it was late at night, another minute, it was broad daylight. At one point, when it was night, there was construction on the turnpike and I didn’t notice the sign saying “Do Not Enter” so I crashed through it. Suddenly, it’s daytime and my mind’s camera changes the shot and I’m driving along a highway that’s built on water. If you remember the movie True Lies, at the end where Jamie Lee Curtis is being held hostage in the limo which is driving on the highway that links the Florida Keys, I’m guessing?
Out of nowhere, a brick wall appears right in my path and I’m doing 75 miles an hour. I plow through the wall to discover that there’s no more highway. Not only that, the highway is now hundreds of feet in the air and underneath is water as far as the eye can see. So I begin to plummet towards the water. I wake up.
Just last night, I had the following dream…
I had been hired by Tony Soprano to edit some video project. I was sitting in a room with Tony and two female assistants in what I believe was either my home or an office which I was leasing, or it could’ve been Tony’s place. The environment was not anywhere I’ve been before, so even though my subconscious invented it, it was someplace I’ve never actually seen. I was sitting at a traditional editing setup while Tony and his people were seated behind me, as though in a typical edit suite. I remember for whatever reason, my seven year old and my two year old were playing in the next room, making a lot of noise, and one of the women closed the door to the suite. I got up and opened it, saying, “I need to be able to keep an eye on my kids.” Because my kids were there, I believe it must have been my house, although as I said, it looked nothing like my real home. Knowing that Tony Soprano was a mob guy, I looked at him to see if there was any hint at anger for my defiance in re-opening the door. He just had that Tony Soprano “Whaddaya want from me?” look, so I was okay.
Although there was no dialogue to indicate this in the dream, I knew (my subconscious knew?) that I had been working on this project for Tony for some period of time, maybe a couple weeks. And he was paying me a nice fee, more than I would actually charge for the project. I also knew that Tony was extremely happy with my work. Again, from a narrative standpoint, there was nothing to indicate that, but my mind just knew that Tony really loved what I was doing. Even though I knew he was a mobster, I didn’t feel uncomfortable or threatened by him because he liked me and my work.
At one point, Tony and the women start talking amongst themselves; I wasn’t really paying attention, but the general gist of the conversation involved Tony trying to skim some money off a construction project for a new public school called Whitehall. Although I was facing my edit monitors, back turned to Tony and the women, my mind’s camera cut to Tony’s face as he looked at me with “that look” after realizing I could have possibly heard everything they were talking about.
A few minutes later, Tony gets up, grabs a broom handle and says, “Time for a break!” He then points the handle at me and says, “Let’s take a walk.” Now I’ve seen a ton of gangster movies and even my subconscious in a dream state knows that when a mobster says, “Let’s take a walk,” you’re about to have a bad day. But I still don’t have any reason to think anything’s wrong because, although my mind knew what Tony’s conversation was about, my dream self hadn’t really heard what they were saying and I didn’t suspect anything was wrong. However, Tony grabbed me by the shoulder with one hand, pressed the broom handle hard into my back and forced me to walk forward.
That’s when I started to get nervous and said, “Heh, you know, Tony, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were taking me to get fitted for a pair of concrete shoes, heh heh.” He smiled then his face went back to “that look.” We went downstairs to a screened-in back porch. It was nighttime and the porch was illuminated only by a single bulb in the center of the ceiling, giving it that deathly pall of an interrogation room. I glanced around, looking through the porch screens into the neighborhood to see if anyone else was around. Tony then grabbed my shirt at the chest and lifted me off the gourd with one hand. He said, “If you say one fucking thing about Whitehall–” and I said, somewhat calmly, “What? Whitehall? What are you talking about? I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Tony replied, “Keep it that way or you’re fucking dead, you hear me?” I was like, “Yeah, yeah, Tony, no problem, you got it.” Then he put me down and we went back upstairs.
Now I didn’t wake up at that point, but I guess the conscious side of my brain must have kicked in because I started accessing all the movies, TV shows, anything I knew about mobsters. And I pictured multiple scenarios wherein I was going to end up dead anyway. My mind imagined Tony having a sit-down with his capos and they would say, “Oh, he’s gotta go, Tony,” and Tony would give that hangdog look, thinking they were right, no chances could be taken. I thought of the scenes in Goodfellas, the one where Henry and Jimmy meet at the diner and Jimmy tells Henry to take care of a hit down in Florida; Henry knew at that point he was a dead man, and the scene where bodies started turning up all over after the Lufthansa heist. As Henry states in that film, once the thought pops up in their head, you’re a dead man. Then I remember clearly an image of me slumped over at the edit station, eyes and mouth open, blood pouring out and a bullet hole in the back of my head, while the flashing lights, police tape, and detectives swirled around me, all the hallmarks of a crime scene.
Now, the first dream I attribute to the fact that I’ve been following the news and all the terror reports such as Boko Haram and the unrest in Iraq with ISIS. Also, back in 2002, I was hired by my church to travel to the Middle East with a religious fact-finding group. One of the places we visited was a hospital in Bethlehem, which I believe was in a Palestinian territory that had been converted to an orphanage populated by children whose parents had been killed in all the fighting over there. Prior to our arrival in Bethlehem, we had been detained by soldiers of the Israeli army, all of whom carried machine guns. Our tour bus had been ordered to the side of the road while they checked our legitimacy as a religious group and I suppose to confirm we weren’t delivering weapons or some such into Palestine.
The second dream was the scariest for me, believe it or not, perhaps because driving throughout New Jersey and New York, construction is extremely haphazard and hard to navigate and road signs are sometimes difficult to see or decipher. The New Jersey turnpike has a car lane and a car/truck lane from exit 8A all the way up to exit 18, but sometimes either lane is closed off and, at night, it’s hard to notice the sign that informs you of that until you’ve almost gone through it (hence the switching from day to night in the dream?). I do have a phobia about really high elevated roadways at these massive interchanges (there’s one on I-95 right outside of Baltimore, MD that’s terrifying) So that one is not too hard to understand.
The third one, I have no idea. What’s interesting is that I only woke up because either one of the kids woke me up or I had to pee. I suppose I didn’t wake up from the dream immediately because there was no threat of imminent death (as they say your subconscious won’t allow you to die in a dream). There was an image of me laying dead at my workstation, but the shooting itself was not part of the dream. I was a big fan of the Sopranos, but that show went off the air almost six years ago.
What’s fascinating is that I’ve read more than once that dreams, no matter how long they may seem to the dreamer, happen over the course of a few minutes or seconds. But I guess the larger issue is that all three dreams involved my profession of video production, a profession that’s on its way to potentially becoming extinct as a professional career, what with how inexpensive the equipment has become and the rapidly changing technology. All this to say: am I subconsciously telling myself to go find work at the post office?