Strange dreams

I don’t believe dreams have any meaning – they’re just noise, I think, generated by a brain that’s busy doing whatever a brain does in downtime… moving the day’s data into long term memory and that sort of thing. They can be entertaining though… At least this one entertained my son.

Three nights ago I had two quite unusual dreams. One of which, a recurring dream that repeated four times that night, was immediately forgotten. The other was more interesting…

I found myself living back in Cape Town, not far from where I spent the last few years there. I seemed to be in some kind of parallel reality, in that it was this year, but my life was some messed up combination of what it was around twenty years ago as well as now.

I found myself walking to my mother’s office (United Building Society or maybe ABSA Bank) in Lakeside. (Except she never had an office in Lakeside.) She was off that day and was spending the day with my father, doing something that I knew at the time but have since forgotten. So I would be working in her place, as the bank teller in the little one person bank. (Something I might have done twenty years ago when I was a student without a job, but which doesn’t make sense now.)

I was walking there for some reason, with my son, Josh, who is twelve, and his cousin. But in the dream, he has a male cousin around his age. It was a boy I knew well and had known for years, even though he has no such cousin in real life. (He has real cousins but none like the one in the dream.) I even knew the boy’s name, but this is one of the many details forgotten by now. Also my entire history of drug addiction didn’t happen in this reality.

As we walked, there were two annoying young men walking in front of us. They ate KFC, and one of them littered, throwing a chicken bone into a massive bush with a hollow inside it as he walked. I could see what looked like a large stray dog in the hollow, but as we got closer, I realized it was not a dog. “Isn’t that a mountain lion?” I asked nervously, and someone confirmed that it was. There are no mountain lions in Lakeside/Muizenberg – not that I know what one looks like. If I saw a lion in real life, I’d probably call it a ‘lion’ as I shat myself. I became afraid that the lion would attack, and it did begin to stalk us.

As it happens in dreams, we then found ourselves outside the office, along with another woman and her child, who I seemed to know from somewhere but have also since forgotten. She ran the other way, while I took out the keys and got myself and the two children into the office, locking the door behind me. But, again as it happens in dreams, we found ourselves in this office where the front section had no roof. It was a single room, the whole front section, but the top was completely open, so the lion jumped up onto the top of the door. With one of the two large poles that had appeared in my hands, I took a swipe at it, and it jumped down.

A strange man and his worker subordinate banged on the door, so I told them to go fuck themselves. It turned out he was the owner, but I suggested he should not be sticking around while a mountain lion roamed loose. He suggested I take the day off. I thought for a moment that this might be irresponsible, but then decided to call my mother and let her know.

With my mobile phone in my hand, I tried to think what her number was. Knowing her number, I recalled that she died on 7 December 2018, and my father had died way back on February 13th 2000. Remembering these things snapped me out of the dream reality. Once lucid, I did what I always do in lucid dreams… I took to the skies. I flew away.

As usual, I couldn’t hold onto the lucid dream. As soon as I began to fly, I woke up. Bummer. I have crazy dreams every night, always detailed. This was probably one of the less crazy ones, but at least this one I remember.

Are we all stuck, tied to a particular year or decade?

I used to love listening to new music. There were years when I knew the dates of all the releases of the upcoming albums of the music I was into. First it was Depeche Mode in my teens, then I moved on to mostly alternative/rock/goth or I’m not sure what to call it exactly… But I knew when every new Depeche Mode or Cure or Mission album was coming out.

One album was ruined for me, and that was The Cure’s Bloodflowers, released on February 14th, Valentine’s Day 2000, because after I looked forward to its release for months, my father died on the 13th. I still bought the album, but it really wasn’t the same. I never really listened to that one apart from the title track.

But I digress…

After I got used to my feelings of loss, and didn’t get over but became accustomed to my father’s death, I carried on. I listened to new music, and moved on to Placebo as my favourite band at some point. (I must confess, the artists I’ve loved have been almost exclusively male, with the one exception being Shirley Manson of Garbage. I fucking love her.) I collected all their albums just as I’d done with the bands I obsessed over in my teens, and I loved their music. It became the anthem to my life, some a little too literal in my drug addicted years.

But it stopped. I don’t know when. I don’t remember losing interest in the new, but at some point I did.

The last time I remember being excited about a new album was Battle for the Sun, and it was as much as MEDS had been before it. Then nothing. I don’t feel it any more. I don’t get excited about music any more. I’ll have the odd day or weekend or hours when I listen to the same old songs and feel it all again, but it doesn’t happen with new stuff. Not any more.

Is this normal? Do we all stop? Stagnate? Or is it just me?

Good news and bad news

Well, not so much good news.

I got robbed at an ATM this morning. Robbed/conned. I don’t know what to call it but I feel pretty stupid. So I drew cash, having been paid early, but a lot less than normal. I wanted to get some cash out before my debit orders swallow everything.

I drew my normal amount, then put my card back in to draw again, and it inexplicably failed. No reason why it should have, but maybe there wasn’t enough cash in the machine. So I was a little surprised, and let the guy behind me in the queue go, just to see if the ATM would work, and it did. Then after I put my card back in the ATM, he came to “help” me, taking my card out before I could stop him, he said I should cancel it. He appeared to put my card back in, went to another menu and said I should enter my pin. I don’t know why I did it, but I did enter my pin, only to see it appear on the display, because it was on a screen actually asking for my cellphone number.

Then I tried to take my card out of the ATM. But it wasn’t in. It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened. I checked the ATM, my hand, my wallet… before realizing that it must have been the guy and sleight of hand. I turned but he was long gone. With both my bank card and my pin number.

Like, how can I be so fucking stupid?!? Then I panicked. I could have cancelled my card there and then at the ATM, but instead I drove to the bank branch, which is about two minutes away. But the bank wasn’t open yet! So then I cancelled my card at another ATM. Of course that gave him about five minutes… two minutes that it took me to drive to the shopping centre, and the time it took to walk to the bank, realize it wasn’t open yet, try to call the toll-free number on the ATM, which didn’t go through… twice, and only then think to cancel my card using the ATM. That gave him enough time to draw some money.

This sucks because I’m already on a reduced salary, I have to pay for medication for my son from one doctor, and a psychologist for him, and other bills I don’t normally have. Not getting into details – let’s just say my son has some serious issues. So I’m so fucked now.

And the good news? Well, it’s not that special. A Facebook friend who shared a bunch of nonsense involving COVID-19 conspiracies has posted a lengthy apology after being fact-checked and realizing that he had been taken in by misinformation. He’s embarrassed and is asking that nobody else post humiliating fact-checks (because he’s presumably feeling pretty dumb right now). But not as dumb as me. My faith in humanity would be restored by his post, except it isn’t, because of the guy who robbed me, and tricked me. Fuck humanity. Fuck it in its collective arse.

I’ve been mugged before. Once in my twenties and once when I was older, but the second time, in my thirties, I fought off the two muggers, and believe me, I hurt them pretty badly. Knocked the one down and then got the better of the other and smashed his face into the ground before running away. But I’d never been conned. Defeated mentally and with no one to fight off because he got away so quickly. I can deal with a physical threat. But a mental one… fuck.

Who else gets to continue dreams after waking up and then going back to sleep?

I just saw this meme on Facebook and it made me wonder…

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I do that though. Not every time, but I do it much of the time.

Sometimes it happens with good dreams, where a dream is like watching a TV show. It’s so good, I don’t want it to end, but I really need to piss. So I wake myself up, go to the toilet, and then return to bed. If I fall back to sleep quickly enough, and I generally do go straight back to sleep, then I can continue the dream. I always figured this was normal.

Unfortunately though, it almost always happens with nightmares. Bad dreams are the worst, and they can go on for quite some time. I can wake up several times when my sense of reality creeps in and I can throw myself up and out of dreamland, hoping to shake the dream. But the nightmare continues when I go back to sleep, and I lose the sense that it’s a dream, so I’m thrust right back into the thick of whatever the subject of the bad dream may be.

Oddly though, I have hardly ever lucid dreamed. If my sense of reality slips in and I become aware I’m dreaming, I wake up within seconds, every time. I’ve tried to control my dreams, but only ever got it right once, but lost it almost right away. I either wake up all the way, or lose my sense of reality again.

The other funny thing for me and sleep is, I can be aware while sleeping. Not aware of being in a dream, but aware of sounds going on around me. It’s happened several times with my son, and also many times in the past with his mother, where they talk to me, and I reply immediately, and then carry on sleeping. And when they ask me about it the next day, I do remember the conversation. Typically, I don’t even realize that I’m sleeping. As in, I don’t hear myself snoring, although I’ve been told my snoring is pretty bad. The only mystery to me is… Why the fuck talk to me when I’m sleeping?

So I’m curious… Is this unusual? Or is it fairly common? Who else can interrupt and then continue dreams? And can you also reply to people who ask you questions in your sleep, and then remember it later?

DO give money to beggars

I can’t believe it now, but twice on this blog I wrote posts advising not to give money to beggars. Well, fuck it… I just deleted those posts.

We often hear advice from (privileged) others how if you “give them money, they will just buy alcohol or drugs”. Advice given by people who have nice warm and cosy homes, people who have, relative to the homeless, lived lives of luxury. And it is relative. I’ve never been rich. I’m up to my ears in debt, and I was homeless for a few months about eleven years ago, but for most of my life, I’ve lived a life of luxury compared to some people. Meanwhile people born stinking rich live a life that I can’t even begin to imagine.

So what?

It’s all relative but the degrees that separate me from the elite rich are very different to what separates us middle class or even poor people from the homeless. We don’t worry where we will sleep, or where the next meal is coming from. And for those who do, the small comfort of drugs or alcohol are maybe not such bad things. Once you’re in that situation, unless you’re really lucky or still have some people willing to help you (as was the case for me), it’s really difficult to come back.

So fuck it. If you can afford to give, then give. I do when I can. And I can’t always, or can’t give much, but every little helps. And if they do spend the money on drugs, good for them. I hope they get a good high and escape the hell of their lives for a few minutes. Who am I to judge?

Landlords are trash?

Male landlords, mind you. I considered titling this “Men are trash”, but I know that’s going to get me yet another Facebook ban for sharing it down the line.

I’m having a bad year, after two other bad years. It’s Saturday of the long Easter weekend, during lockdown while I can’t see my son, and I ended up working yesterday, and now again this morning, looking at production issues. I think I have it under control though, but it still sucks. So, while I, who am privileged enough to be working from home and still earning money, am having a hard time, I just read two articles that put this into perspective…

This one from the BBC, and this one from a US channel, both describe how men are preying on women tenants who can’t afford rent and either demanding sexual favours, or putting out ads looking for vulnerable tenants who will exchange sex for cheaper/free rent and free WIFI. That’s two articles about two different sides of the world, where the common denominator is men being predators.

Wow. I have nothing to add here. Just. Fucking. Wow.

This COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the worst in people

I’ve seen a lot of articles trending about UK  Prime Minister Boris Johnson being moved to intensive care. A lot. But more so, I’m seeing people celebrate that he might die.

What the actual fuck is wrong with us? We do not celebrate the death of people we dislike! No matter what you think of the man, he does not deserve to die from this disease. Likewise, people who put themselves at risk because of ignorance should be educated. One way of educating is mockery (because it gets to people – it strikes a nerve). I mock them too but I do not celebrate their suffering.

Friendly reminder: We’re all victims here. We are all at risk. Karma is not real and nothing will come back to you if you wish ill on others, but that doesn’t make it right. That doesn’t make it OK or decent. To be decent is to give a fuck about your fellow human beings.

Stay safe, and remember that a little empathy goes a long way.

I open my laptop to write and the words flow effortlessly; I open my mouth to speak and garbage comes out

Today I sent an email to a colleague, explaining a small project I’d started but had to hand over to him because I’ve been moved on to other things. And the layout of the code, the relationships between the abstract type and the work that must be done, was as clear in writing as in my head. Like… zero effort to write that shit down. Then he asked for a call too, and verbally, I’m about as graceful as a newborn cow. Why? I don’t get it. Anyway, not much of a point here, just an observation. Same brain, same concepts, but the delivery mechanism doesn’t seem to work properly when I have to speak.

Working from home is quite different to working at work. I’m getting plenty done, but following all the Slack messages, WhatsApp messages, and Skype calls flying about is difficult, and it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what I need to do.

Also my damn cats… You’d swear I’m here just to feed them. I can’t even walk to the bathroom without both cats following me around, unless they are occupied with their important daily tasks like sleeping. Even though normally I’d feed them once in the morning before going to work, and once in the evening after coming home, they will meow as if their very lives depend on more food at every hour of the day. “Feed me, hoooman. I require sustenance! Feeeeed meee”. And on those rare occasions where they don’t follow me, I’ll return to my office chair to find one of them has claimed it as her own. For the morning Skype meeting, Misty, the older cat, will sit in a chair beside me and stare me straight in the eyes for an hour and a half. Cats are weird.

When winning is losing

I’m on a 30 day Facebook ban again, and this time I’m not too sure why.

Anyway, I would normally reply to this jackass but now I can’t…

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This is not how I view winning:

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Judging by the last few days, the US is going to be winning alright, winning in terms of the number of cases of CIVID-19, maybe the number of deaths too. But those who support Trump continue to do so, as if their reality involves some other universe rather than this one, some universe where they aren’t being led by an idiot, some universe where the man is competent at something other than making lurid remarks about women and spitting out insults that aren’t half as good as those of my almost 12 year old son.

Incidentally, that Facebook group was created by an atheist with an alternate profile, a couple of years ago, to see just how gullible believers can be. It is now filled with thousands of believers, but the worst kind… Trump supporting, racists, misogynists, homophobic, anti-atheist, anti-science, anti-intellectual people, as well as the usual low intelligence folks who bleat out their “Amen” comments like sheep. Not that sheep can comment, but if they could it would surely be along the lines of “baaa Aaaaaamen”.

Before my ban, I spent some time mocking these people, who like to thank god for creating everything, but get peeved when anyone posts ironic prayers thanking their god for disease, suffering, and death. So apparently he didn’t create everything after all. Just the convenient stuff. They also don’t like when you post prayers thanking their god for addiction and drug overdoses, or drugs. And they really don’t like it when someone reminds them that celebrating being spared during some sort of catastrophe is as shallow as celebrating the deaths of those who were not spared.

Update: Just a couple of hours later and the US has taken the lead. I don’t mean to be smug… I’m really worried about my own country too. We are in lockdown and I’m working remotely for the next 21 days… I just hope we aren’t too late. Our hospitals are already at full capacity.

Banned from Facebook again

Oh noes… I committed some kind of Facebook crime by posting an animated GIF of a woman flashing her boobs. I’d post it here too to show you how fine those boobs are, but I didn’t save the GIF and the post has been removed, which is odd because I found it on Facebook to begin with, so I’ve been banned from Facebook for something that originated on Facebook.

Seriously, female nipples, which are identical to male nipples, violate community standards, but good Christians fighting for their right to beat children are perfectly within their rights to post their hateful shit. Also calling for feminists to be raped and beaten is always acceptable there, but don’t you dare call anyone white trash or complain about powerful men. The messed up standards always get me. Anyway, I can’t post to Facebook again until next week this time, so anybody following me both here and there… this is why I can no longer post or respond to comments for a bit.