Saturday, July 2, 2011

Working the Second Shift

I know people who spend their nights in a rich and varied dreamland.   They vacation in exotic spots, they have long conversations with dead friends and relatives, they fly without benefit of airplane or parachute.  Not me.  I go to bed, go to sleep, and wake up seven hours later after a night of apparent oblivion.  Unless...

...I have an anxiety dream.

In an anxiety dream, I am supposed to complete some fairly simple but important task, and if I don't do it correctly, Bad Things will happen.  I am supposed to turn off all the lights in the house in a very specific pattern, and when I can't complete the pattern, the house burns down.  I am supposed to close an important valve, and when I fail to do so, I cause an enormous flood.  I've had dreams where I was responsible for the end of life as we know it (the planet exploded and it was All My Fault).  I call them anxiety dreams because I feel anxious throughout - first mildly anxious, then very anxious, then frantic, and finally (when disaster is inevitable) overwhelmingly guilty but resigned.  When I finally wake up I'm as exhausted as if I had actually spent the whole night racing from light switch to light switch, making and burning cookies, or trying to match endless pair of socks.

I'm not certain just what triggers these dreams.  Sometimes I'm pretty sure they are my subconscious prodding me to do something I've been putting off.  Others may be caused by anxiety from my waking life leaking over into my dreams.  Many of them, though, have no apparent source.  I can go for years without an anxiety dream and then be visited by them every night for weeks on end.  Perhaps the most annoying part about them is that at the beginning of the dream I often recognize the task I must do is nonsense, but then about halfway through I'm sucked in and convinced that, oh yes, this is REAL.

Lately I've been working on websites in my dreams, and when I screw up the program code I bring the entire Internet to its knees.  I assume this is related to the job-hunting I've been doing.  Too bad I don't have this power in my waking life - I might be able to make a living as a blackmailing hacker.

"While many hackers have the knowledge, skills, and tools to attack computer systems, they generally lack the motivation to cause violence or severe economic or social harm. " ~Dorothy Denning

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