I was asking for it Wednesday night when, while getting into bed, I said I wanted to listen to a goth Spotify playlist because I “hadn’t had a nightmare in a while.”
HOO BOY did that playlist ever deliver.
I don’t make a habit of dream journaling or whatever because who cares, but this one was so relevant, and also one of the most rattling nightmares I’ve had in years and it played on so many of my current fears, stressors, and insecurities.
And both involved WENDY, so I of course was spitting mad at her for approximately a day and a half. I had four days to cool down before finally telling her about the dreams today, so she should consider herself lucky that I spared the rod!
(I started doing Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution again last week and she says something at one point in Workout 2 about never sparing the rod so I guess that’s been on my mind OK?!)
(What rod, though?!)
OK, Nightmare #1 is as follows:
I was in a meeting with one of the teams I belong to here, except that it looked like we were in a VFW hall instead of a conference room. There were long, folding tables set up in vertical rows so no one was facing the front of the room. At one point, Wendy, who is in charge of this particular team, called me out. Not like in a bad way, like she was pointing out a mistake I did or something, but rather, she was asking me to tell the room about something I had told her in a private sit-down we recently had, I guess it was an idea or suggestion. Except that I couldn’t remember, so I said, “Sorry, I’m drawing a blank” but she kept pushing me and at this point, there were dozens of eyes boring into my skin, which is now flaming hot from the boiling blood underneath, and I now notice that all of the managers and directors are in this meeting too, and they’re all looking at me with these disappointed frowns, some even look disgusted, and I am, at this point, like a scared mouse ready to gnaw off my own foot in order to escape this trap. And Wendy is STILL saying things like, “Come on, you remember…” while I’m beginning to ugly cry. It just kept dragging on and on, me stuttering and sounding like a fucking derelict, someone snapping in the background about how people need to come to meetings prepared, and then afterward, when Wendy tells me what the idea was (which she knew the whole time but just wanted me to say it!), someone overhears and sneers, “That’s a fucking stupid idea.”
I woke up because it felt like there was a woman leaning over top of my face, whispering.
And when I say I woke up, I mean that I shot upright in bed, hands clutching the comforter, freaking the FUCK out. My cat Penelope, who always sleeps in our bed, was like, “the fuck?!”
Then I couldn’t go back to sleep because I was so stressed out so I looked at my phone and of course the first thing I saw was the only bad feedback I have ever received on Etsy in the 13 years I’ve been using it, all because Henry made a careless printing mistake, and it was something that could have been easily resolved if the customer had just sent me a message instead of putting me on blast, so that was what I like to call to 4am Fun Times.
And then it was time for Nightmare #2.
I’m still at work. This time, I’m back in our department, and I need to talk to my co-worker Maggie, but when I get to her office, I see that Amber is in there. Rather than retreating and coming back later, I just…walk right in. No “knock knock!” or nothin’, I just barrel right the hell in there like I own the place and then I’m ACUTELY aware of the annoyance on Amber and Maggie’s faces but now it’s too late – I’m there, so I pretend to know what they’re talking about in order to contribute, and Amber has now morphed into Sandy who is about to show Maggie some new program or something and I inch closer to the monitor and say, “Oh, I should see this too because it’s relevant to my job” and they don’t even try to hide their eye rolls and sighs, and then Sandy is Amber again and has to leave so now it’s just Maggie and me and Maggie is PISSED because she can hear music and needs to know where it’s coming from, so I turn and realize that it’s my phone, cactus case and all, sitting on her credenza playing 80s music outright because in real life, back in the safety of my actual bedroom, my Spotify playlist has gone from goth to 80s pop and Debbie Gibson, fucking DEBORAH GIBSON, has filtered into my gooey dream-brain and Dream Erin is now panicking because she apparently walked all the way through the department to Maggie’s office, with Spotify blasting out of her phone which is something Awake Erin would never do because Awake Erin is always trying to be quiet and go unnoticed while at work.
Wendy’s back. She comes into Maggie’s office and fetches me and we’re walking together now to the elevator bank. We’re talking about non-work stuff now so I’m distracted and I don’t realize until it’s too late that she’s brought me with her all the way to the top floor, which is where Dream Law Firm holds of its Really Important Meetings. We had to walk through some winding hallways before finally getting to the main part of the room, which was dimly lit and filled with round tables covered with white tablecloths to really ghost up the haunted ballroom aesthetic. Wendy wades farther into the cluster of tables, but I stop at the perimeter because now self-awareness is beginning to ooze down my body in warm, clotted pigs blood clumps a la THE PROM SCENE OF CARRIE.
In this meeting are all of the directors, managers, supervisors. Lauren is there also for some reason, probably because she is smart. There is a woman there who is not part of our department but as soon as I hear her Australian accent, I recognize her as the woman who led a recent meeting about a new program that we will soon be using in our department. She is a real person, my sleep state didn’t construct her out of obligatory mommy issues or a subliminal fear of the Great Barrier Reef or whatever.
Although the GBR does seem like something Conscious Erin would be afraid of.
Anyway, I’m standing there, all scared-rabbit, and I’m saying, softly at first, “I’m not supposed to be here” and one by one, everyone turns to ogle me as my voice gets more racked with hysterics, and I’m looking both ways, willing my legs to move so I can run away, but I’m glued there, and now this lady, the Australian one for whom everyone is on their best behavior and dressed all nice while I’m wearing jeans, natch, she’s asking me who I am.
Not even in a snotty tone or anything, but she’s like legitimately curious who this Dumbo is who clearly has nothing to contribute to the day’s agenda.
And without hesitating, I blurt out, “Nobody. I’m nobody.”
A literal No One.
I can move now, and of course no one gets up to stop me or comfort me, let the loser go, thank god she’s not trying to sit with us, but of course I can’t find the way out. Every corridor is a DEAD ASS DEAD END. There are champagne-colored curtains in front of all the hallways, like we’re at the world’s most boring wedding reception and I’m getting tangled up in them and I AM SCREAMING but no one is listening anymore because the Australian is saying very captivating things. Evidently.
But then I find a row of shiny maroon curtains and when I step behind them, there’s a row of windows, I’m at the edge of the building now, and there are small tables to sit. So I figure I’ll just stay there and hide and now I’m eating a salad which I guess I was carrying the whole time. I’m starting to calm down a little because I’m hidden, no one can see me, I’ll just stay here forever if I have to, no one will miss me, when all of a sudden I hear people screaming and I can hear heavy footsteps thundering toward me. People from the meeting start to burst through the curtains, and someone is screaming, “LOOK HOW AWFUL!!” as they slam into me, pushing me against the window so that they can get closer. And when I realize it’s not me who is horrifying them, I turn to look out the window and see that the entire North Shore is on fire. There are flames and thick black smoke that covers half of the bridges so you can’t even really see past the river to the other side.
We are all screaming now, because the fire seems so close even though it’s on the other side of the river, and for some reason, the most vivid part of my dream is watching as a yellow dumptruck emerges from the smoke on the bridge closest to our building and just straight up careens across it, totally out of control, taking out every car that gets in its way, and we are traumatized when it ends in this apocalyptic, Jerry Bruckheimer-be-damned explosion.
I don’t know what that fucker represents, my out of control emotions maybe, but while we’re all gaping at that, I feel a jolt in my stomach, like I’m dropping on a roller coaster, and that’s when I lock eyes with Regina, who wasn’t in the meeting but is up in this weird ballroom now, and I can hear Margie saying something behind me, right as I realize I’m falling backward.
Because our building is tipping. The whole motherfucking building is going, we’re about to crash harder and more dramatically than that dumptruck fucker, give the Golden Globe to whoever write OUR demolition scene. and right when I realize I’m living my last seconds on earth, I wake up in real life in the throes of one of those silent, strangulated screams that only the cast of your nightmare can hear and now my cat Penelope is REALLY FUCKING WORRIED ABOUT ME which I know by the way she’s pushing my laptop over to me with the google search “How to update your resume” already pawed-in.
This was early Thursday morning and I have not been able to stop thinking about it, the palpable fear, the feeling in my gut as the law firm was literally pulling us all down to our certain deaths. I am shuddering all over again right now.
Usually my dreams are Dario Argento Does HR Pufnstuf and the setting is either my mom’s house, my pappap’s house, an abandoned amusement park, or some sick ass disgusting body of water. But this one, it is so textbook. So armchair. Hello INFERIORITY COMPLEX. Hello FEELINGS OF BEING LEFT OUT. Hello CAREER PANIC. Hello INADEQUACIES. 안영 I DONT BELONG.
I’m not going to quit my job or anything but I think this is a huge neon sign telling me that I need to chill the fuck out and reset myself. I really do feel like nobody sometimes, sorry to be emo, and like no one is hearing me. Maybe I should start walking around with Spotify blasting outright on my phone.
Anyway, that’s all. I have to go look up “yellow dumptrucks in dreams” now. Maybe it means I have some latent desire to fuck a construction guy on a bridge and then one of us is going to get a fiery STD.