the twenty-ninth

A Brief Examination of Dreams

I’ve always had intense dreams. Dreams that feel like the scene in Alice In Wonderland where she falls down the rabbit hole. Cliche analogy, I know. I wake up with a sense of shock and disorientation that quickly transforms into relief once I realize that I’m back in the “real world.” Morning looks that much brighter once I know that none of the events I just witnessed in my brain’s underbelly actually happened. Some of my dreams relate directly to current events. As an almost lifelong New Yorker, who began 6th grade the week of 9/11, my dream on September 12th was that a plane crashed through the window of my grandparent’s apartment. That one scared me enough to stay with me for the last fifteen years. I blame that for my fear of flying. Dreams are hard to remember. But sometimes, in that fog of half wakefulness, I reach for my phone and type what I can remember into the Notes app. Other times, I’ll text the people I know who appear in my dream world, and tell them what they did. That makes for some hilarious replies, I’m sure I’ve raised a few eyebrows with my nonsense. It’s interesting to think about how stress, confinement, and the current political climate can influence us in ways beyond our waking life.


DREAM # 1 

I’m nannying some French kids. Their father doesn’t want to pay attention to them because they’re from his “old marriage.” The kids go use their school bathroom. As I wait for them, I decide to run away because I’m scared of COVID19 and I’m in a school building. The bathroom pipes are making an unusual amount of noise. I realize that the father of the children is stuck in the pipes. I let him out and run away. I try to play it cool when I get outside but he chases me down.


First of all, at the time I had this dream, I was living in Paris during the pandemic. When I first arrived, I thought I broke the toilet in the apartment I was living in. Something to know about French toilets, they are quite temperamental compared to our water-guzzling American ones. I took a strong flush for granted, I quickly realized. I became convinced I broke the toilet because it would not flush. My French is embarrassingly minimal for someone who travels to France to work at least once a year. I am nowhere near capable of speaking to a plumber. On Yelp, I find a listing for an American Handyman In Paris. This sounds like the title of a children’s book about a repairman. I call them and explain my embarrassing situation in English. I try to get a price quote, and the man tells me that plumbing and electrical work are much too sophisticated to produce an easy monetary estimate. After I hang up, I realize I didn’t break anything, the tank just takes much longer to fill up than I am used to. I am forced to call the handyman and explain to him that everything’s fine. He texts me and asks me to leave him a good Yelp review. I compose a sterling review and store his contact info in case I do break something in the future.



I am about to make empanadas when I see that I am missing the dough and the cheese. At the supermarket, I remember that I made a therapy appointment. I go to the therapist’s office and meet his twin and another sibling. After they leave, a bunch of women in bikinis enter the office and situate themselves in its hot tub. His office is basically an entire studio apartment, there is a hot tub, a bed a television, and an office area with a desk and chair. Donald Trump sits on the edge of the bed and watches the news on TV. The therapist is very good looking. While he asks me about myself, I keep interrupting him and asking him what the hell is going on. Who are these women? Why is Donald Trump watching TV on his bed? The therapist acts like everything is normal. He asks me about my day and how I wound up coming to his practice. He tells me that nothing is out of the ordinary and that I should just focus on our session. He’s attractive so I want to trust him. When the therapist gets up to go to the bathroom, Donald Trump makes a creepy kissing noise at me. I am disgusted and horrified. I wake up before my therapist returns from the restroom.


Not much to say about this one except I had it right before the 2020 election. I will probably never know why there was a hot tub. 



I am watching my friend’s dog. He runs away from me and I go searching for him before my friend finds out. I find the dog in Tompkins Square Park hanging out with some shady buskers. They don’t want to give me the dog, but I bribe them and get him back. The dog runs away again and I run through some dark woods, looking. I find him for the second time and hug him tightly. I carry him through the woods so he doesn’t disappear. I wonder why my friend trusted me to watch their dog, as clearly I am terrible at it. End of dream.


I had this dream after hanging out at a dinner party where everyone had a dog but me. Google tells me that dreaming about this means that I have lost confidence in myself and my ability to protect myself emotionally. Google also says that losing a dog in dreams means that you are overwhelmed by your responsibilities and scared to lose the love you have. As someone who lost their job due to the pandemic, and has never been unemployed this long, it all makes sense.    


Asya Stepnova is a Russian writer and photographer based in NYC. She holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. Her work has been previously published in 433 and Lovers & Other Strangers. Her photography has been shown in galleries in New York, Bristol, and Paris. Asya uses writing and visual art as a means to connect with and make sense of the insanity and absurdity of the world.

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