Is There a Dream Doctor in the House?

I think it’s widely acknowledged there’s a difference between sleeping dreams and napping dreams. I rarely remember sleeping dreams; when I do I suspect they came to me in a napping state before waking up. It’s the napping dreams I remember, like the one I had yesterday. Vivid though it was, as soon as I got up I went straight to the office iMac and made notes, lest it fade away. This one was a combination of recurring dreams; I think the first time two have merged into one. Both take place on a vast, spread-out air base, the size of a city though mostly parkland.

The northern section of the base is a military university campus with dorms, lecture halls, and administrative buildings, separated by greenways and stands of trees, set on rolling hills. It’s spectacularly beautiful.

The south side is the airfield, laid out on flat land fronting an ocean. A taxiway and perimeter road on the back side run parallel to a row of hangars behind a tall cyclone fence. The hangars are open, and inside you can see various types of foreign and experimental aircraft, prop, jet, and rocket powered, many of them Russian. There are large aprons with squadrons of parked US Navy and Air Force fighters, some long-retired (I particularly remember rows of old Navy F7U Cutlasses from the 1950s, well maintained and still in use). A tall control tower is located at the west end of the runway, which abuts the ocean. From the tower, you can watch the contrails of returning aircraft far away over the water, looking for all the world like incoming missiles.

In previous versions of the dream I’m a student on the university side of the base, attending a college for mid-level officers, majors and lieutenant colonels. I’ve graduated and it’s time to move on, but there’s no checklist and students are on their own to figure out all the offices that must be visited in order to clear out of the dorms, turn in textbooks and keys, get diplomas and receive orders to new postings. My mates and I find ourselves going back and forth, always one more thing to do. Eventually my fellow graduates check the right boxes and disappear, and I’m the only one remaining, stymied, unable to leave.

In other versions I’m in an F-15, taxiing past the hangars full of foreign aircraft, wondering why I never see them flying. Sometimes I’m holding short of the runway as fleets of fighters take off or land. Sometimes I’m not in a jet but instead in the tower, issuing landing instructions to returning aircraft.

Yesterday was the first time both dreams came together, perhaps the first time I realized the campus and airfield were parts of the same base. Not only that, my father was in it, the first time he’s made an appearance since he passed in 2007. He’d be 96 now, but in the dream he was much younger, as was I. He seemed to be in his late 50s; I was in my 30s, the ages we were when I was a major.

We were in a car, my father driving. Driving like a maniac, no less, speeding on a multi-lane road in the rain, passing slower cars on the right and left, flooring it as he darted into narrow gaps between them, the radio blasting, me hanging on for dear life. Dad, passing a long line of cars, missed our turn, which was when I realized the air base was part of the dream: the turn would have taken us to the airfield on the south side of the base. But it was okay, because I remembered there’d be another turn a few miles ahead, this one to the north end of the base. As we approached it, going well in excess of 100 mph, I yelled to Dad to get in the right lane and slow down or we’d miss it. By locking the brakes and swerving at the last minute, we just made the turn, and there was the familiar wooded campus in the windshield. I realized the purpose of our drive was for me to show Dad around the base. I had wanted to show him the airfield side to the south, but having missed our turn, I’d now be showing him around the campus side first.

Nothing is lamer that saying that’s where the dream ended, but don’t they all? End with no resolution, that is? Nearly every part of the dream, the older recurring ones and yesterday’s new blending of them, is grounded in reality and personal experience. The airfield is a combination of Edwards, Langley, Nellis, Elmendorf, and Kadena. The military university campus incorporates bits of Langley and Kadena, as well as the military colleges I attended in Montgomery, Alabama and Norfolk, Virginia. The oddball aircraft no doubt come from my years as an air museum docent. The frustration of always having one more thing to do before I can leave the university and go on to my next posting is a variation on the standard anxiety dream everyone experiences. Dad? Well, I don’t know why he should appear in a dream so many years after his death, but in spite of his scary driving I was glad to see him again, and wish I could have shown him around all the bases I was stationed at during my career … he only got to visit a couple of them.

In the annals of men talking down to women, it’s going to be hard to top Joseph Epstein lecturing Dr. Jill Biden in the Wall Street Journal, particularly this bit toward the end:

“Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill, and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.”

This smacks of the racist attacks directed at Michelle Obama during her time in the White House. More than “smacks of” — it is Exactly. The. Same. In the minds of such people (can we just start calling them all “Republicans”?), being second lady under a black first lady makes you fair game for welfare queen insinuations like this.

Or maybe Mr. Epstein and his ilk are experiencing economic anxiety. Right, Wall Street Journal? Sure, that’s the ticket.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign manager and incoming White House deputy chief of staff, has it right. Republicans truly are a bunch of fuckers.

© 2020, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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