"Sleep. That’s Where I’m An Architect"

2009
Jun
19

The following may be the strangest and most self-indulgent 900 words that I have ever strung together. It’s about dreams and weird places and BBC TV. Do not click the “more” link unless you are very open-minded (or if you came to this page via a direct link, DON’T LOOK DOWN).

I don’t have what you call “vivid” dreams, just tiring ones. Because I am almost constantly moving around, usually by foot, in these dreams. And, unfortunately for my desires to become a writer of fabulous stories, my dreams usually have little in the way of plot or characters, but the scenery is incredible. And many of the invented locations in my dreams have reappeared many times.

Years before “Being John Malkovich’s” weird claustrophobic office, I dreamed up a 20-story office building in which each consecutive floor going up had a lower ceiling. The top floor only contained file storage, since there was only room for single-drawer filing cabinets there. (And yes, I went up there to get some files.) Another notable structure in my dreams was a tube-shaped tower that, instead of elevators, had escalator-like sloped floors around the outside of the building (but within the glass walls) that moved both up and down. I awoke from that dream going “wow”, but thinking about how it worked made me dizzy.

Now, before you start applying phallic interpretations to the tall buildings in my dreams, let me point out that I had other kinds of unique structures, like a big brick fortress that replaced my old high school and in its center was a maze of stairways that made it a real challenge to get to the library on the fourth floor (and even harder to get back down). There were other campuses, college and high school, all with odd architecture and the one place I’d always go to (or try to) was the library. And there were enclosed shopping malls, one which got narrower and darker as you went farther into it (but there was always one store I wanted to go to at the far dark end); another with one side (where the parking lot was) in the San Fernando Valley (which is known for its enclosed malls) and the other end (where the food court was) looking out a glass wall into a desolate lunar landscape. That was one of the few dreams where I was able to tell myself while it was happening “okay, this ain’t real”.

I have dreamed up some nature-made locations, like a mountain somewhere in Orange County that looked like a larger-scale version of Disneyland’s Matterhorn, but with a road you could drive to the top. And a long sandy beach with a railroad station and a funky little souvenir store at one end and a very fancy resort at the other, and, in the several times I visited it in my dreams, all kinds of things inbetween. I explored a lot of backroads and forests, as well as alternate versions of L.A. streets I knew well (including one with a colorful friendly ethnic enclave of an ethnicity I never quite figured out – it was Euro-something).

And then there was the massive secret underground industrial complex with a small aboveground entrance beside the highway and the opposite side with windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean. More than once I separated myself from a group of people I entered the complex with, in order to find out its true secrets… I never did (like I said, my dreams lack plotlines), but it sure seemed like a cool place to work. Geographically, I imagine most of my dream places in specific areas in California, and this one I placed up the coast from my then-home in L.A., just south of San Luis Obispo off Highway 101. So imagine the weird feeling I got when I was able to move into an apartment in a small complex in the same area I had depicted in my dreams. Obviously, there is no secret underground anything here… I’ve dug a big enough hole behind the building to know that for sure. (I’M JUST KIDDING, MR. LANDLORD!)

I have few memories of events or people in my dreams, it’s all location, location, location. But a few nights ago I dreamed something completely different. Not in California, this time I was arriving in London, England, where I had been hired by the BBC (IN MY DREAMS) to co-host a show about the weirdest places in Great Britain. I was cast as the token American alongside British TV personalities who resembled (but might not have been) Jennifer Saunders of “Absolutely Fabulous”, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen of “Changing Rooms” and Bill Oddie of “The Goodies” (about whom I have previously blogged). Now, I rarely have interesting characters in my dreams, let alone quasi-celebrities, let alone British quasi-celebrities. And my usual dreaming pattern of wandering around looking at the geography and the architecture was totally disrupted by the fact that each day, as we set out to film a show, one of my co-hosts got injured. First the quasi-Jennifer Saunders had a heavy box dropped on her foot, breaking it, then the quasi-Laurence Llewelen-Bowen hit his head on a low overhang, knocking himself out, and finally the quasi-Bill Oddie fell down a flight of stairs. Each time a co-host was injured, filming would stop and we’d start over the next day with a replacement co-host who was a young intern with not much personality. The day after the last of my co-hosts went on the Disabled List, his replacement had a striking resemblance to the young actor who’s going to be the next Doctor on “Doctor Who”. And that was when I awoke with a jolt.

Now, another odd thing about my dreams is that sometimes, when they are interrupted, as that one was, they continue when I go to sleep the next night. And that’s the reason I’ve been afraid to go to sleep for the last 88 hours. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of getting hurt in some accident. I JUST CAN’T CARRY THE WHOLE SHOW!

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