(The book, by the way, is Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. The words on the back that made me pick it up were "establishing a scientifically researched framework for using lucid dreaming. Based on Dr. Stephen LaBerge's extensive laboratory work at Stanford University..." Hell yeah. It is another way of saying "this is not a bunch of hippie crap people this guy is a FRIKKIN PEE AITCH DEE". I mean, I do enjoy hippie crap but it usually starts more problems than it solves.)
First, I was well rested. It was in my 9th hour of sleep. I forgot how important that was, because the longer you sleep, the quicker you drop into deep REM. From Page 50: "According to our research, the probability of your having a lucid dream during these last two hours of sleep is more than twice as great as the probability of your having a lucid dream in the previous six hours."
I was so exhausted last night that I dreamt I was exhausted. (I went to bed at 3 AM, which is like if you went to bed at 8 PM.) I was back at my parents' house in New Hampshire, and we were around the dinner table. I just closed my eyes for a minute, and when I opened them, dinner was over and everyone else was on the couches in the other room.
Then my sister and I got into an argument about Buffy (I know this always comes up with me at the most inappropriate times; I apologize, guys) where I wanted her to watch the DVDs and she thought she didn't need to because she was reading the comics and they were good enough. (In real life, I have tried to get her to watch the show, because she enjoys Alias and Veronica Mars, which to me are clear rip-offs, but I wouldn't ever, you know, yell at her about it.) (Anyway.)
So eventually I woke up for real, and I was like, man that was weird. I've had quite a few false wakings (where you realize you're in a dream, so you wake up, but you're in a second dream, and you don't realize that) but this was something else. I went to sleep in a dream - have I ever done that? - and woke up still in the same dream. It would have to be an exceptionally strong dream around me. (Which I guess means that I was getting better at concentrating?)
So second, I was thinking about my dreams while I went back and had more dreams. This made it a lot easier to pay attention to dreamsigns - the things that would never happen in real life. Everybody has their own list of common themes that they have to compile. So mine is like:
If you're wandering around a high school...
If anything is floating, for any reason...
If you're experiencing a grotesque yet painless deformity of the hand or penis...
...etc., etc., you're probably dreaming.
So then - bear with me here - there was a second, unrelated dream about the military. I think for some of it I was actually in the army and for some of it I was just watching a movie with Barry Pepper... not really crucial. Anyway, at the end of that dream, I was looking out the window of a train and I saw, high up on a cliff, the military encampment. And they had used rocks to spell out words about ten feet tall. And the words were:
And I thought, that's weird, it should say HQ instead of HI. This is their headquarters. But I kept staring at them and the letters didn't change. So that must have meant it wasn't a dream. But then, the words weren't standing up, and they weren't lying down; they were hanging out over the edge of the cliff, so you could only see what was spelled out if you went to the very base of the cliff and looked straight up. Where, of course, the rocks should fall on you.
And I woke up again, and I knew I should write all these dreams down. But I didn't. I went back to sleep, and in the next dream, I kept thinking, ATARI HI. You need to write that down. It's a dream you had. You're supposed to write all these things down. And I was like, why the hell is it so hard to find something to write with here, especially since I'm wandering around a high school.
So then when I did find some paper, I was like, wait this isn't where I'm supposed to be writing this down. I'm supposed to be writing this down in the book... on the table... next to my bed... and where is that? Where am I?
See, there was no "a-ha!" moment. In all the accounts in the book, people always had an "a-ha!" moment where they suddenly knew they were dreaming and that changed everything. Instead, this was a series of nagging doubts that collated gradually, with a tipping point:
So I'm still wandering, because I have to find someone, to convince them to be somewhere or something, you know that terribly important motivation type stuff which now I can't even remember (at least I wasn't late for class, I can't believe I actually have that one all the time, it is such a fucking cliche) and I see some Buffy comics piled by the stairs. And I'm like, wait, those were from the dream. The other dream.
And then here she comes up the stairs, big as life (which is to say, still shorter than me, even). Buffy. And she's flirting with me heavily, leaning on me, stroking my hand, trying to get me to ask her to the prom. And I'm like, Really, subconscious? This? This is who we are? And now it's obviously a dream, not even so much because she's fictional, but because she keeps alluding to these dates we went on which I definitely would have remembered.
But of course I can't tell her she's not real, because I don't exactly want this moment to end. I was essentially speaking into her neck, and I tried to say "You're so sexy and beautiful," but it came out "seky and nexical". She thought that was cute. And I thought, that's a good Xander line, like a Dan Vebber line. I should write that down.
Then again, I couldn't go to the prom with her because I still had the Terribly Important thing to do. And if you're wondering, why, if I know it's a dream, do I not realize that I don't actually have to do anything I don't want to, it's because at this point I still do not have full lucidity. I don't have my entire waking brain with me.
So, me being me, in turning her down I'm insensitive, and she's good at hiding her feelings but she walks away (and I'm like SERIOUSLY, subconscious? With the cheerleader outfit and everything? It's just hilarious to me how shallow I apparently am) and not long after that the dream starts to fade out. So here is the third thing I did.
Thing #3 was pretty much the reason why I bought the book. Because I've never, my entire life, had trouble realizing I'm in a dream when I see something bizarre or incongruous. My problem is, as soon as I realize that, the dream just crumbles and I'm awake. The whole first third of the book was all about the "a-ha!" and I was like yeah yeah, blah blah, WHAT THEN.
So here's what then. You spin.
No one knows why it works, but it does. (And it did!) I didn't have time for a full-body spin, but I thought NO as clearly and loudly as I could and I shook my head furiously. And the room came back into sharp focus for a second, then faded out again to black.
Then I opened my eyes, and just like the previous dream, I was back in it. The room was the same, but I knew it was a fictional room. I was trying hard not to think too much about the fact that it was fictional because that might make it evaporate. I was finally at the point I've been trying to get to for months, and that made me incredibly nervous.
I needed something to focus on doing. Then I remembered I still had to write down that phrase.
But I don't have a pen!
Well, if this is a lucid dream, as soon as you want something, you should be able to get it.
So then I walked by a table and there was a bunch of junk on it, including a pen and a pencil. Nice.
But if I write this down here, I still won't have it when I wake up...
It doesn't matter! Just do something!
So I scrawled SEKY AND NEXICAL up in the corner of the wall. My handwriting was worse than usual but it didn't fade, and it didn't change.
I thought my heart was beating faster, but I checked my pulse and it wasn't. It was just louder.
Then I remembered, this isn't even my real body, this is my dream body. But I wasn't about to deal with that because modifying your dream body is very advanced stuff from the way end of the book. So I just tried to put that out of my mind.
I was very impressed with the texture of the wall. Not just the way it looked but the way it felt. I knew it wasn't real. And yet there it was. I was in a fictional world.
So, getting back to the book, when you first start lucid dreaming, you're not supposed to do anything strenuous. Just basically bask in the wish-fulfillment. Fly, have lots of sex, punch dudes out, whatever. Get comfortable in the lucid state (which is a very tricky place for the brain to be, especially a brain like mine that won't shut up) and just have fun.
Then, much later on, when it's no big deal to achieve lucidity, you can start using it to actually solve what's bothering you. And the way to confront your problems - this gets pretty Jungian (like Luke Skywalker in the cave) - is to literally go down into a dark basement. That's where they will be.
But I was already in a dimly lit basement hallway - that's just where my previous wandering had taken me. I wasn't thinking about any of the above theory, I just wanted to see what would happen if I went around the corner. I did remind myself of a piece of wisdom from the nightmare chapter which was: If you know it's a dream, then you know nothing in it can hurt you.
So I went around the corner.
And there was a laundry room, and a girl from high school I haven't even thought about since the reunion (who was also a cheerleader) and she said, "I just want to know why you think I'm a Muppet."
She was really pissed at me. And I was like "Uh... what? What do you mean." It's another thing from the book that you have to be really friendly with your antagonists. I don't think I was as friendly as possible because I was too confused.
Then she changed into someone else (a stranger, or as I abbreviate it in my journal, an NPC) and she pulled a big blue furry thing out of the dryer and held it up against herself and said, "Look. This is like... Grover." Then she changed into a third person.
And there were so many things about that that didn't make sense I woke up. I mean, I guess the second remark did explain the first, but as to my own alleged involvement... I don't know, man. TOO WEIRD.
Maybe it just means I'm supposed to call and get the washing machine fixed? I do keep forgetting to do that. Sorry, guys.
But anyway, it's a fun thing to do and I recommend getting into it. It's basically a safe, legal and free way to trip.