I woke up from a dream a few days ago where I was riding a train and typing away on a manual typewriter before being thrown off the train and the typewriter being drop kicked behind me. That’s a weird dream. Dreams that I want to remember tend to slip away like ether into the nothingness. Dreams that I don’t want to remember tend to linger about like Chinese food left in the kitchen wastebasket over a hot weekend. The train dream decided to stay.
Naturally, I posted that summary to Twitter to start off my day. I was then invited to post my dream on Freud-It by a friendly Twitter bot, a Twitter-related dream analysis website where people can offer their own opinions about your dreams. The nice thing about the Twitter community is that the niche websites—TweetPsych and Twittascope—can tell you something about yourself. I didn’t post my dream on Freud-It because I used my own blog for dissecting my dreams and rants.
This dream was inspired by the Christmas Day terrorism incident where a wannabe terrorist tried to set off his explosives in his underwear on a plane arriving at Detroit. (First the shoe bomber, now the underwear bomber, and, since I’ve seen too many Tokyo splatter movies, the bra bomber will be next.) The initial reports said firecrackers were lit on the plane. I can imagine a string of Lady Fingers firecrackers being lit by some prankster. When I was a little boy, my brother threw firecrackers at my bare feet to see me dance, and was soon in a world of hurt with our mother coming out the front door and a sheriff patrol car pulling up behind him. (This was in the early 1970’s when the sheriff deputies would take people behind the local convenience store to beat out a confession and were regarded as more dangerous than the Hell’s Angels living down the street.) When I told my family about the plane incident, they immediately expressed the desire to toss the guy off the plane without a parachute.
I have never flown in a plane. I have taken the Caltrain commuter train between San Jose and Mountain View, and the Amtrak train between San Jose and Sacramento. When I took Amtrak to Sacramento, I would take my laptop with me for the 3.5 hour trip to either write or watch movies. These days I travel light with a notepad and pen to write and my iPod Touch to watch movies. When I had my dream, I had a manual typewriter.
Typewriters weren’t unusual for me.
I fell in love with an IBM Selectric typewriter when I was in the principal’s office at kindergarten, watching the little gray ball spin to put black letters on the paper. (This was the meeting where my parents were informed that I was mentally retarded and I would spend many years confounding my Special Ed teachers by blowing out the evaluation tests at the college or genius level.) Long before computers started showing up in the local stores, I was checking out the various models of typewriters. I had half-dozen typewriters when I was growing up and later gave them up when word processing became practical in college.
After my mother died of breast cancer in 2004, I went through a period of reclaiming my childhood by possessing objects that would trigger positive childhood memories, like Lava Soap and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. When I decided to get serious about being a writer, I ordered a manual typewriter from Amazon. My Dad thought I went off into the deep end when he asked what was in the box that we stopped by the post office. But being the writer of my childhood meant having a typewriter. I later got an electric typewriter that I still use to compose the rough drafts of my short stories and novels.
If you’re on a train with a manual typewriter, the repeated click-clack sound of the keys striking the ribbon to put ink on the paper could be mistaken for firecrackers and perhaps more annoying than a crying baby. Today’s train conductors will not physically throw people off a train—moving or not—for fear of a liability lawsuit. I was coming back from on Caltrain one Friday afternoon when a young couple were drunk like a stunk and wanted to get naked to have sex on the train. They didn’t get that far but they were crawling all over the seats and each other. The train conductor called ahead at the San Jose downtown station to have the police waiting to arrest them and physically remove them from the train. The train conductors of yesteryear wouldn’t hesitate to manhandle someone off a moving train into the wilderness or murder outright if that was necessary.
What does my dream mean? Who knows? Or, more precisely, as the second rabbi explains in the Coen brother’s movie, A Serious Man, “Who cares?”
On a related note, “The Red Book” by Carl Jung is becoming a surprise bestseller this holiday season. Handmade and printed in Italy, the 416-page book weighs in at nine pounds and has a $195 sticker price. This book of dream interpretations has been never been published until now. What’s the difference between a Freudian and Jungian dream analysis? I have no idea. When I took psychology in college, I got an “A” for the course because I was interested in applying psychological principles to the user interface design of software. I was never interested in what made people tick or why they lose their marbles. Although as a fiction writer, I’m not above poaching a Freudian/Jungian metaphor for my own purposes.
NOTE: This blog post was first published on Once Upon An Albatross… blog.