Having just had a panic nightmare of being ill-prepared in class (see below), I've had a second dream involving work. What's interesting is that I think I can identify and interpret the elements in this one, slightly more complex as they are. The dream revolves around a pair of boots.
I own a pair of Blundstones, see? ...Those Australian slip-ons. My friend Dan suggested them - he's a devotee, and they're a great boot, but he must waterproof his or such, because mine, after a few years' heavy use in conditions of shitty BC weather and total neglect, have kinda started to rot, according to the boot repair dude I took them to. They've split along one side, where the boot meets the sole. They're still wearable, but not so useful if walking on a very rainy day, because the split will take in water; they can be patched - but, unless boot repair dude was just trying to convince me to buy some new boots, there's not much point; these boots are bound for glory.
Now, it just so happens that Dan and his gal came to my apartment in the suburbs the other week, and we ended up watching a film - Larry Fessenden's Wendigo. (That link is to a Wiki page; see here for Fessenden's website and some of his writings, or here for his page on Wendigo). To digress briefly - there's an article by Adam Nayman in the "Decade In Review" section of Cinema Scope that praises Fessenden as one of the most interesting new cinematic voices of the 2000's, and at least as far as genre cinema goes, I agree; Fessenden makes artful, intelligent horror films that are idea-driven without being didactic, and his four movies are the freshest horror films I've seen, no shit, since the last time I looked at a Val Lewton. No Telling is a horror film for the vegan-and-animal rights crowd, combining "mad scientist" tropes with the very real issues of animal research and genetic engineering. Habit - his masterpiece - is a vampire film about loss, grief, compulsive relationships, fathers and sons, and addiction, either to substances or sex. Global warming informs his most recent movie, The Last Winter - a copy of which I passed on to Dan And of Bison BC (a different Dan) after a gig, since I didn't have a Wendigo to spare, discovering in the process that, though he loves horror films set in frozen wastelands, and has written a series of songs about the Wendigo, reflecting his part-Algonquin heritage, he hadn't seen either film yet (which hopefully he has since remedied). The story involves an oil company team investigating the melting permafrost in Alaska, for the purposes of building a pipeline, not realizing that the thaw has released ancient spirits that are hostile to their presence. Wendigo, however - his previous thriller - looks at loss, fear, anger and violence through the eyes of a young boy, who witnesses his father getting shot during a stay at a snowy cabin in, I guess, upstate New York or such. The film, in its most interesting aspect, deals with how heroes, Gods and monsters help us organize childhood perceptions of life on an archetypal level, though it bends the figure of the Wendigo a bit so it plays on the side of the good guys - an agreeable bit of poetic license, because if you've got a Wendigo on your team, the other side better look out. A very significant image in the film is of the traumatized boy contemplating his father's boots, in the hospital after he is shot.
Back to boots. In the dream, I'm at a work-related union meeting. In reality, with the economic downturn, things haven't been so stable at my workplace, and I've been wondering if there's any way in hell I can give up my dayjob and make a living at writing. The meeting is a very relevant discussion of the situation at work, true to a few such meetings lately; but the location, as usual, has been scrambled. My sleeping brain either has a hard time connecting places with what happens in them, or else relocates things to make a point; in this case, it's quite curious, because the union meeting appears to be taking place in the building where Dan's apartment used to be (Dan my friend, not Dan And). For some reason, prior to going into the room where we're discussing things, we've all taken off our shoes, leaving them in an outer room. I've been wearing my rotting Blundtstones, as I sometimes do to my job; it happens that - again, in the dream, though I've been contemplating doing the same in reality - I have bought a new pair of Blundstones, which are in my bag.
The union meeting in the dream is as unexciting as union meetings tend to be, but where it gets interesting is afterwards, because, as we go to put on our boots, it transpires that someone has apparently mistaken one of my old, worn Blundstones for their nearly-new pair of the same, and - though how they didn't notice is beyond me - put on one of my boots and one of his, and left the meeting. I search everywhere, but after everyone has filed away, there are two boots left, and they very obviously don't match. I try them on briefly, and they look and feel ridiculous; the "wrong" boot - the unsplit, right-foot one, I should note - is perhaps a size smaller than the old one, and pinches my foot a bit. What to do? I run out of the meeting in mismatched boots, searching my coworkers as they walk up Davie Street (one of the clues to the relocation, since my school is not near Davie, but Dan's apartment used to be). None of them seem to have my boot. I go back to the room and search again, then try to see if I can match the "new," wrong boot with the new boots I've bought - but again, they don't look at all the same, and the dream becomes a sort of stress-and-searching dream, as I try to resolve my problem. Nowhere does it occur to me to just put on my new boots and be done with it; all I try to do is match either my old boot or the "wrong" boot with one of the new ones, as if it is somehow a rule that I must wear one of each.
(Note: people who intend to seek out Fessenden's Wendigo should be alerted: spoilers follow). With pregnant film imagery swirling in my mind around boots, relating to the loss of a father, from Fessenden's recently re-watched film; with my attempts to adjust to life since the loss of my own father - to "fill his boots" in taking care of Mom; with the division that has led to between my old life in Vancouver, and my new life back in Maple Ridge (my old hometown); and the burgeoning division between my old life as an ESL teacher and what may or may not be a new life as a writer - one I'm not sure will be workable, mind you, which is why, I suspect, I don't just put on my new boots and be done with it - it is very, very obvious where my dream got the boots from, even if they're a bit overdetermined as a symbol.
I think I'm going to buy some new boots today.