I've been on a mostly successful multi-alarm system for a few years now. I set first alarm for thirty minutes before I want to get up. If I get up at first alarm time, I can do things like eat a normal breakfast or spend time on the internet without making myself late, but I never actually get up at first alarm time unless I'm really worried about something. Second alarm sounds at the time that I really should get up and start getting ready if I want to look semi-decent. Third alarm is my last chance to show up at work remotely on time with ironed clothes but possibly wet hair. Sometimes I cut out either first or third alarm and rely on only two. And though the whole system defies logic, it works for me. Nearly every morning, my sleep-hazed brain is still capable of hearing each alarm, turning it off and recognizing what it means for my morning. Very occasionally I turn off first alarm in my sleep which throws off the count, but the subsequent alarms still function to get me out of bed eventually. And typically I love knowing that I'm getting my last 30 minutes of sleep. I'm great at going back to sleep after the alarm and treasuring that last bit of sleep. It used to be the best part of my morning.
But lately--since the time that we moved--that blissful last half-hour of sleep has been plagued by dreams. I usually don't even remember if I have dreamed, much less any pertinent details, so it's really thrown off my morning routine to wake up with the memory of these uniformly unpleasant dreams. There have probably only been a couple that were truly nightmarish, but most or all tend to leave me feeling tired or unsettled or disgruntled in some way. Sometimes it's just that I wake up for what has to be the final time without resolving whatever is going on. When I wake up in the middle of a dream, I always still feel what I've been feeling there, and that can be awful. I have a sorta-recurring dream where I need to talk to my moma or need her help for something, but she avoids me and is mean to me. It's not always the exact same scenario, but it follows that theme and is always really intense. I wake up from that one either really mad at her for how she's treated me or just broken-hearted that she won't help me. It takes hours to shake off that feeling, and I've spent many a grouchy morning at work snapping and growling at everyone because my dream moma was ugly to me. (For the record, my moma hates that I have these dreams and will sometimes even apologize to me for them because she's just that sweet and precious in real life--not at all like my dream moma.)
Sometimes if I'm dreaming at first or second alarm, I can rouse up enough to turn it off and fall back asleep fast enough to get back into the same dream, or at least it feels that way. It's all fairly weird, new territory for me, so I've spent lots of my best thinking time [Do you know, imaginary readers, that I do my best thinking in the shower? It's true.] recalling details and marveling at how nothing in my dreams is ever normal. Often the more I try to grasp what happened the more the details slip away from me, so that by the end of my shower, I let go of trying to remember the what, but the feelings that the dream evokes are much harder to shake and therefore catch the blame for most of my morning moods.
The actual details of this morning's dream just wouldn't go away though. I spent my entire hair-washing process time (which is considerable) remembering random snippets and trying to decipher why my subconscious had pieced together such an odd series of events. Even many hours later, I can still remember most of the weirdness. Let me give you an unvarnished glimpse into my dream life:
*******Rambling blogger's note: I began to confuse myself with the details of the dream versus the background info I was throwing in on the real people, so I color-coded. Factual background info is now in green, and all the normal blue text is the random dream stuff. Almost none of it has any basis in fact.*******
So the first part of the dream that I remember is being at a wedding, which was in a big basketball-type arena. There are chairs down on the floor but folks are also sitting in the stands--a set-up remarkably similar to Harding graduation. I don't know if we were actually in the GAC. There's no place attached to the first part of the dream, though I am at Harding later. I think I was there with Robyn, maybe some other Peeps. It is the wedding of a girl named Natalie, whose time at Harding overlapped with mine. Her older sister Shannon was a good friend of mine and her cousin Amy is a Peep. Natalie did get married within the last couple of years, but I haven't seen her since Amy's wedding back in 2003. Anyway in the dream it's Natalie's second wedding and, for reasons that donn't make sense even within the dream, they reenact her first wedding, which was a double-wedding with her sister Shannon. I can't remember if Dream Ellen had been at the first double wedding, but I knew what was going on and certainly thought it odd to bring up the first wedding. Fairly early on in the ceremony, the raised platform where the wedding part is standing rises up higher, and wedding guests are encouraged to move closer if they want a better view. I think this is where I lost Robyn and the other folks who had been with me because they're not in the rest of the dream.
I wonder if I woke up a little somewhere in here and then went back to sleep and into the dream. That usually has the effect of changing up people and places without making it seem weird to Dream Ellen. The next thing I remember clearly is that it's still a double wedding, but instead of it being Shannon and Natalie's wedding now, it's for this girl Becky, not Peep Becky of Beckypalooza fame, but a girl with whom I attended elementary school and junior high and her younger sister Stephanie. I haven't seen or thought of either of them in almost fifteen years so I have no idea if they're already married or not, but there they were in my dream, getting married. I haven't mentioned them at all, but there are grooms, of course. I know in the first double wedding bit, Shannon was remarrying her real-life husband, but I can't remember any of the other grooms, and I think even in the dream I don't know any of them.
At some point in the ceremony, there's a performance by the 6th grade band that is under the direction of the younger sister, though at that point in the dream, it's not actually Stephanie, but it has turned into another girl from old school days named Linda (who I also haven't talked to in years, but her sister Christy is my fb friend and currently engaged, so maybe that's how she showed up). They play one song called "Sweet As," which apparently is one of Dream Ellen's favorite songs, and it is quite a talented sixth grade band, as it turns out. Incidentally the band is seated on some of the bleachers that have moved up closer to the platform where the wedding is happening. I think that they're going to play another song, and for some reason Linda starts talking to me about the T-shaped seating arrangement of the band and how great it is for their sound, and I argue with her about it because the French horns aren't part of the T, and as it turns out the band doesn't play another song because they're changing out of their uniforms there on the bleachers.
And at that point the wedding part of the dream is just gone though I don't remember the ceremony ending, and when I walk out of the gym--or whatever that original wedding venue room has morphed into, I'm in Becky's house, and we're talking about how she didn't want to get married in the first place, but she did it to make her mother happy. Her other sister Katie is running around and is still the same age that she was when Becky and I were in junior high though Katie would be in her mid-twenties by now, and Becky's mom is washing dishes and nagging Becky to be more excited about the wedding. Also in this part of the dream Becky is wearing a vinyl Catwoman-ish type suit--though without the ears. I don't want to mixed up in the their drama, so I make my excuses and leave, though when I walk out of the house, it's onto this tree-house deck, and at first I think I'm going to have to climb down, but there's a spiral staircase I use instead.
And when I get to the bottom of the stairs, I'm on the Harding campus of my college days. I'm leaving the student center and heading in the direction of the front lawn when I notice lots of faculty members dressed up, and I realize that it's the day of some formal dinner that I know about because my cousin Mac (cousin, scholar, theologian, and #1 blog fan to you, imaginary readers) is attending. As I'm thinking this, I see Mac and his wife Jenni walking towards the building. I want to tell them how nice they look, but they're still very far away, and I'm not dressed appropriately to go mingling among the faculty in the their finery, so I get out my phone to text Mac, and about that time someone yells something super-loud about looking sexy. In the dream, I know immediately that the person is yelling at Mac, and I see that it is Ashley, who was a friend of mine (and Becky's) all through elementary, junior high, and high school. She looks exactly like she did in high school although almost everyone else in the dream is their current age. She's also wearing her prom dress from our junior year, and if you expect me to know how I remember what her prom dress looked like fourteen years ago, you're so, so wrong. Anyway when I see her, Dream Ellen remembers that her husband is now on faculty at Harding and that she and Mac have this complicated history, wherein she's always liked him and flirted with him and tried to get something going there, and he's always hated her but has been forced to be polite to her for my sake. Let me reiterate, lest it be insulting to either Ashley or Mac, that this imagined history is completely false, and I'm fairly certain Mac and Ashley have never met. But after she yells that, everyone is shocked and horrified, but no one else seems to realize who did the yelling, and about that time Mac and I make eye contact. I'm terrified that he's going to think it was me, so I immediately start texting him about what really happened, but before I can finish it, I wake up to realize that I've slept past second alarm and didn't set third.
At least this one didn't leave me any lingering, terrible feelings--though I did sort of feel like I needed to apologize to all the players for putting them into such ridiculous scenarios, but I was late to work with truly heinous-looking hair. All this dreaming is about to make me give up on the multi-alarm system, and that's a tragedy I may not be able to endure.