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Monday, February 09, 2004
The thing about cold medication is that you sleep a lot. And the thing about sleeping a lot is that you end up dreaming a lot.
I was in Tienhsiang for a fourth visit. I woke up in my dream to find myself on a familiar spot. In 1998, I picked that spot to hitch-hike my way out of Taroko Gorge. The previous year I had just arrived in Taiwan and assailed the mountain with the temple. I hiked up alone because my Taiwanese guide refused to strain herself. "I might become muscular," she protested. Taiwanese women think the muscles developed in a half hour walk could mar their beauty.
In a tree by the temple was an old man monkey. He frowned. He defecated. I watched the poops fall down. No one was under the tree.
Now in my dream, I walked up from the hitch-hiking spot to the temple. There were no monkeys. There was a little house just farther off from the temple. The door was open so I went in. (I subscribe to the Joxter code of ethics.)
The man in the house did not notice me coming in. Across from the door were bird cages piled up the ceiling. I feel sorry for animals in cages. (To make up for my hypocrisy, even my hamster gets a healthy dose of freedom each night.) I went to look at the birds. There were little finches and canaries and two toucans.
The man still did not realize I was in his house. The cage doors faced the wall. Between the wall and the doors was a little space. My hand went over the cages and unhooked the doors. For a moment the finches did not move. I thought I would have to reach into the cage and remove them. But they understood; they flew out and through the open door. One bird remained. I rattled the cage a bit and it, too, finally flew out. Then I moved on to the canaries. I worried that the toucans might not escape unnoticed, being such big, colourful birds.
When all the birds were gone, I turned to leave. The man suddenly noticed me.
"Hello, where are you from?"
I had no time for chitchat: "Canada. Goodbye."
The grateful birds perched in the trees surrounding their former prison. The toucans smiled at me. Then all the birds flew off.
We can trace the background to this dream to two recent events. Last Tuesday, sitting at my desk at work, I had a cockroach hallucination. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cockroach darting towards my keyboard. In Asia, I had many such hallucinations. They are the product of a well-founded roach phobia. Since leaving Asia a year ago, my hallucinations lessened. There is no explanation for my most recent phantom cockroach encounter. On Saturday I was at a stoplight. Beside my car was a homeless person's shopping cart and a giant rusted-metal cockroach.
In my dream, I was in the Budapest Formule 1 or in Chiba's Route One Hotel. Many people were staying with me in a giant hotel room.
I had a bad feeling. "Don't open your backpack!"
It was too late. My sister opened her backpack and a cockroach jumped out. A big Taiwanese roach. That can swim and fly and withstand whatever Armageddon throws at it.
The roach darted into a closet.
I cannot be in a room knowing there is a cockroach sharing my space. The cockroach must die!
For a hotel room, the closet was full of junk. Just what cockroaches love. A mess.
I began pulling out boxes. At the back of my mind a storm of worry - I had no weapon. And, as always, when you expect a cockroach, it will show up. But instead of the one cockroach jumping out, four popped up!
Giant Asian cockroaches have a number of magical powers. Like the fer-de-lance in Central America, cockroaches have the ability to multiply in the twinkling of an eye. Unlike the fer-de-lance, where there was one roach there will be not two, but a multitude.
They ran in opposite directions. Typical cockroach strategy.
I hunted them down. I killed three of them. With newspapers and a drinking glass. The fourth cockroach escaped because the phone rang and I woke up. Until my next dream, Blattella asahinai!
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