So what does this mean, Sigmund?


I was so tired last night that I lay down on my bed “for a few minutes” around 11:30 p.m. I don’t know why I always think it will be for just “a few minutes” because what always happens is that I wake up hours later, with the lights blaring in every room, fully clothed and still wearing my contact lenses. Last night was no exception, of course.

I woke up around 4:30 a.m., and then couldn’t really get back to sleep again because I started thinking about Wednesdays, which are, from now on, going to be one of my “days off”. 2009 was a disastrous year for me because I was so stressed out about money that I never really allowed myself to have “down time”. Of course, I did end up having “down time” but it was mainly because I got so frustrated and depressed by working myself too hard that I ended up being forced to stop working instead of actually choosing to have fun and relax. The main result of this was that I never really could have fun and relax because I always had this nagging feeling that I was slacking off and should be doing something else. This a pattern I’ve followed since I was eighteen, and I don’t know why it’s so fucking hard to break it. I don’t understand why I have a lot of self-knowledge, which I then proceed to ignore to fall back into my bad habits.

Anyway, I digress….so back to the main story. So, here I am at 4:30 a.m., thinking about Wednesdays, wondering how to spend them. I’d like to make Wednesday a “creativity day”, a time when I attempt to write a short story, or just do anything creative and fun. It terrifies me to think that I might “only” be a teacher. I know teaching is a noble profession, and it’s definitely something I enjoy and want to make part of my life forever, but I just don’t want it to be the only thing I do. I’d like to start writing fiction and perhaps also creative non-fiction but I don’t know if I have it in me. I mean, if I want to write, why the fuck haven’t I written anything before now?! I’m fucking thirty-two years old, for Christ’s sake! Surely I’d have started years ago if I truly had something to write about. Maybe I also want to write for all the wrong reasons…you know, just so I can say “Oh, I’m a writer” and think of myself as a creative person. Maybe I don’t have a creative bone in my body, and I should just accept the fact that I’m going to be a teacher, have kids, retire and then die, just like everybody fucking else in the world.

By 5:30 a.m., I was still wide awake, trying to come up with a short story idea (I thought about writing one which incorporates a Scottish myth) but still listening to the little voice deep inside me whispering “You can’t do it! You can’t do it! Who do you think you are?!” Eventually I remembered a woman in my book group who is a published novelist…but, well, her book is awful. I don’t want to be mean (ultimately I admire her for having the determination, will-power and work ethic to get the damn thing written…and she did also pace it well) but, oh my God, I just know I can write something better than a completely unrealistic, “feel good”, happy ending type novel. This calmed me down a wee bit and I was eventually able to fall asleep. Now, I know it isn’t very nice to use somebody else’s literary deficiences as a sleep aid or as a boost to my own creativity, but, hell, give me a damn break. I needed to get to sleep somehow.

Unfortunately, I was then re-awakened at 6:30 a.m. by a text from a friend of mine in Berlin, a painter. It was strange that she should text me just after I’d been agonizing about being creative. I have always really envied her life and creativity because she’s devoted herself to her art since a very young age, and moves in bohemian, artistic circles. I wouldn’t say that I want to be her, but I have always wanted to live my life more like her. Her text said that a friend of hers (an annoying, pretentious, rich English girl whom I’ve never liked) accused her of stealing her painting ideas. I’ve never really understood why my friend likes this girl so much (I suppose they must just have some sort of connection through painting), but their frienship has always been so fraught with stress and drama, so it seems like far too much effort to me. God, there is enough pain in the world without having friends who add to it! My friend also told me that a famous gallery owner had come to see her show, had wined, dined and bedded her, all while promising her the world…and, then…neglected to get back in touch again.

I don’t know if there’s any significance in receiving a text from my “creative friend” just after I’d been agonizing about my own creativity. Probably not. Probably it means nothing. Or maybe the text was to remind me that writing, and being creative, isn’t going to be a panacea for all that it is wrong with my life. Who knows.

I finally fell asleep again and had the weirdest dream. I won’t go into too much detail (reading about other people’s dreams is kinda boring, huh?) but suffice it to say that I was a trainee teacher in a school that was being taken over by strange, evil orange tabby cats (in the vein of Garfield). They kept appearing, then vanishing, and turning up somewhere else in the classroom. I was drawing a picture of a leaf-less tree in winter on the blackboard when one turned up and knocked over all my belongings. Next, all the teachers were out in the car park, discussing, quite nonchalantly where they were going to be transferred (as if it were normal for evil Garfield-like cats to destroy your previous school!). “MM” was there, too (he was a trainee teacher also, apparently) and a very young teacher came up and whispered something to him, so it was obvious that they’d had sex at some point. I asked “MM” if they’d had sex before he met me, but he never answered, so I took that to mean he had had an affair with the teacher. She was still around, gloating, so I kicked the crap out of her, and then started to beat up “MM”, too in the hope that he would finally admit the truth. He never did, and the dream ended with us standing in my living room with “MM” looking away from me.

The strange thing is that I then sent “MM” a text about this dream (it felt so real!) and I got the following message back:

“Oh baby. I also dreamt you were having an affair. I was breaking everything around me and woke up very sad”.

What does it all mean, Sigmund?!

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22 thoughts on “So what does this mean, Sigmund?

  1. WilliamX January 6, 2010 at 4:31 pm Reply

    Orange Cats rule the world! Ha, my cat Hank is sitting in my lap purring and being his cute orange long haired self. Odd how he chose just this moment to infiltrate my space.
    Happy New year sister! It will be a fine and glorious year of triumph and success. Old friendships solidified and new friendships conjured. Perhaps there might even be romance . . .
    Dreams. I go back and forth. Are they are deep messages or meaningless misfirings of our synapses.

    • petrichoric January 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm Reply

      Yes, orange cats are rather special, aren’t they?! I have two myself, which is probably why they featured in my dream. I don’t know if this is just my experience or if it applies to all orange cats, but I have found that my orange tabbies are much naughtier than my other cats. They’ve got very strong personalities. Give Hank a big kiss for me. (By the way, I am very impressed that you have a cat! I like it when men own cats…so many men are too macho to have a cat, thinking that they’re a “woman’s pet”.)

  2. Terry January 6, 2010 at 7:45 pm Reply

    I don’t know what Freud would say. But I would ask…do you think MM had an affair ? What do orange cats make you think of ?

    • petrichoric January 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm Reply

      No, I don’t think that MM had an affair at all. I would never be so naive to say that he would never have an affair because, well, human beings are far from being perfect, and who knows what the future could hold. However, I do think that he’s very loyal, and is not really the affair “type”. I trust him way more than I’ve ever trusted anybody else I’ve ever been with.

      As for the orange cats, well, I have two of them myself, so that’s probably why they ended up in my dream. In general, I’d say they make me think warm, cosy thoughts but in this dream they were pretty sinister.

  3. Xul January 6, 2010 at 7:56 pm Reply

    It means that you are a crazy cat lady! Just kidding. Seriously, I think cats are supposed to represent creativity. It seems appropriate in the context that you described since you are feeling a little distressed about not having time to be creative and also trying to get your teaching career started. Think about it. It’s the subconscious’ way of saying what you just expressed in this post.

    • petrichoric January 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm Reply

      Actually, you are probably right about it meaning that I’m a crazy cat lady! I do seem to have quite a lot of dreams about cats! However, I do like what you say about cats standing for creativity. I just googled to see what else I could find out about cats and dreams, and apparently dreaming of a ginger cat means that I’ll be lucky in money and business! Ha ha! If only that were true.

  4. Arekino January 7, 2010 at 8:13 am Reply

    You’re not a writer unless you write. If you can’t write what you want to write then write what you don’t want to write, but write. Maybe you’re a late bloomer but you can’t not write and be or become a writer.

    Maybe you’re just trying too hard right now. Relax, give yourself some room, use the banal, the clichéd or whatever you have to, but write.

    I for one would like to read your work.

    • petrichoric January 7, 2010 at 12:45 pm Reply

      I’m definitely going to try to write a short story but, ooh, I’d rather die than let you, or anyone else, read it. I’d be far too self-conscious and worried that it would be crap.

      • Arekino January 8, 2010 at 7:56 am Reply

        If you don’t let anyone read your work then what is the point of writing it? And I don’t think it will be crap. It will be somewhere in between crap and brillant. Would you settle for mediocre for now?

        If you ever let anyone read your work, maybe you should ask them to tell you only what they liked about it and leave the rest to your own internal little voice of criticism.

        • petrichoric January 9, 2010 at 4:58 pm Reply

          Eventually I’d like to show people my work but I don’t think people necessarily have to write for an audience. It probably helps you write if you have an audience in mind but it’s not a must. There are probably millions of “secret writers” out there.

          As for settling for mediocre, sigh, yes, I think I will have to settle for that, as I probably won’t have much choice in the matter – at least in the beginning.

  5. SilverTiger January 7, 2010 at 8:29 am Reply

    Orange cats appearing and disappearing? That sounds rather like the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, though he was an altogether more pleasant character.

    Tigger has long and involved dreams but I never do or, rather, never remember them if I have them. I only ever remember snippets.

    I think dreams are the effluvia of the unconscious sorting out all the experiences we absorb and organizing them in its one peculiar way. I don’t think there is any mileage in “interpreting” dreams if by that is understood injecting a real-world rational meaning into them. They certainly have no predictive power and anyone who says they do is either deluded or a charlatan.

    I know you don’t like surrealist art (I agree it’s an acquired taste if one can bother to acquire it) but I think dreams are couched in surrealist forms of expression. They have the same sort of meaningless meaningfulness (sorry for the paradox) as a Dali painting. Or perhaps they are like a distorted reflection seen in a shop window: the best is to glance at it, amused, and walk on.

    • petrichoric January 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm Reply

      Thank you for mentioning “Alice in Wonderland”. I just knew that those orange cats has something to do with literature, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what. Now I’m embarrassed because it was pretty obvious.

      You probably do have dreams but just don’t remember them. I think most people fall into that category. I generally only seem to remember the dreams I have after I’ve woken up and then fallen back asleep in the early hours of the morning.

      I don’t think dreams can predict the future either but I do think that they possibly reflect small changes in the unconscious which we are completely unaware of. I just looked up ginger cats and dreams, and I read that they predict success in financial and business endeavours. This is quite amusing because there is nothing about my life right now that points at this, but who knows?! Maybe there has been some sort of tiny shift in my brain that will make me more successful. I bloody well hope so!

  6. Reluctant Blogger January 9, 2010 at 5:47 am Reply

    I’ve always wanted an orange cat and never had one. When we were children and we got our first cat, my sister wanted to call him Ginger – but my mother wouldn’t let her because he was black with white paws.

    I rarely remember whole dreams – occasionally I’ll remember snippets, but mostly I am just left with a good, bad or shaky feeling. I suffered terribly with that the whole time I was in Australia and it left me quite tired. I suspect it was because everything was new and I was kind of on heightened alert during the day and never truly relaxed. Well, maybe.

    Best not to read anything into dreams really. There’s enough to think about in life without worrying about those.

    • petrichoric January 9, 2010 at 4:59 pm Reply

      So, why don’t you have an orange cat now? I know that your new kitten is most decidely un-orange. How is she getting on by the way? She’s very cute! Have you started to have any dreams about cats?

  7. yogurty January 10, 2010 at 12:49 am Reply

    I don’t put a lot of stock in dreams, either, certainly not of predictive value, but I will use them to decipher my underlying fears and worries. As I was reading your dream, I had an immediate association between the cats and creativity, the dervishes that show up when they’re good and ready and can create havoc in one’s life (was pleasantly surprised to read someone say they thought cats equal creativty), and your desire to be creative as opposed to your fear that a “normal” teaching job will stifle your ability to be creative.

    So to me, it seemed like a representation of your ambivalence to resign yourself to teaching, your assumption (maybe?) that a teaching job and being creative cannot coexist?

    I like to use my frustrating/scary dreams as a jumping off point – what do I need to do next in order to confront this fear, or solve the problem from which the fear stems.

    sure, at this late hour, that any of this makes sense.

    Oh and I also agree with one of the commenters that it helps to explore what orange cats mean to you. You amplify the content of the dream, amplify the feelings you experienced during the dream.

  8. yogurty January 10, 2010 at 12:50 am Reply

    ooops, make that “Not sure, at this late hour”

  9. Fantastic Forrest January 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm Reply

    I read your post with great interest and some degree of amusement at one of your statements. Trust me, creativity and teaching are not mutually exclusive. 🙂

    Have you encountered any red-haired woman lately at the school where you volunteer who has seemed evil to you? Anyone like that showing interest in MM?

    As always, your posts are thought provoking. You’re a good writer.

  10. Reluctant Blogger January 13, 2010 at 12:48 pm Reply

    Teuvo is fine – very mischievous of course but a lot of fun. I will get an orange cat one day. But I shan’t call him Ginger.

    I haven’t dreamt about cats but I haven’t been sleeping that easily since Sandra went and I gave up alcohol. Not sure which of those is disrupting my sleep but one of them is. It is very tiresome and tiring.

    I don’t remember any of the dreams but I don’t think any of them involved cats.

    Hope you’re oK?

  11. Arekino January 15, 2010 at 10:21 am Reply

    So was the car a disappointment or what? Aren’t you going to show it to us? I’m really curious.

  12. Arekino February 3, 2010 at 11:13 am Reply

    Okay, I just reread your post and it says you’ll post a pic when you get back. I should learn how to read.

  13. phd in yogurtry February 10, 2010 at 8:51 am Reply

    Where have you been? I am hoping you are off in your new car, frolicking along the countryside, checking out the hill country, something of the traveling nature?

  14. williamx March 3, 2010 at 9:06 pm Reply

    Hey sunshine superwoman, you still out there? WilliamX checks in.

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