Sunday, July 22, 2012

not dreaming at the rubin museum

i started to cry at about 1:28.

i know because i had emailed a friend:
not dreaming
not sleeping. 
snoring guard nearby 
drone of machinery. 
not at all zen 
so far. 
it's 1:23 
and after that the music blasted up the spiral stairway
of the rubin museum. computer glitch. apologies.
i lay in my sleeping bag under padmasambhava
thinking two things:
i will not fall asleep. i want to get out.
in order to participate in this 'dreamover'
i had agreed to stay until 9 am. sigh.
i think about the title of a david foster wallace essay:
'a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again'
we'd arrived at the rubin museum of himalayan art
on seventeenth street at 8 p.m. attired in
nightwear and schlepping our bedding.

on the second floor in a cozy alcove i meet the art that has been selected for me to dream under:
padmasambhava and his consort, a large tanka painted in exquisite detail, in bright primary colors.
to make their acquaintance i do a sketch.

 at 9:15 we make our way down to the theater
for a presentation by dream expert deidre barrett and
khenpo lama pema wangdak - science and faith paired.
we learn that we sleep in 90 minute cycles ending in
REM sleep. we learn that in buddhist practice
dreaming and reality are one. that's obviously oversimplified
but it's the most lucid line in my notes.

lama pema gives us blessing 'pills' - an unnamed herb that i hope will help me sleep.
there is a 'midnight snack' at 10:30.
delicious plums. crisp raw almonds.
herbal tea and so to bed.
well, sleeping bag.
my storyteller recounts a tale of padmasambhava
the lights do not dim, nor does the music cease
until midnight. i can hear it despite the
earplugs. around me it seems that everyone
is drifting into the arms of morpheus
(to mix mythologies). i toss. i shift.
the drone of a machine is making me crazy.
presently a guard in a nearby corner commences to snore.
i trade my earplugs for earbuds and play a white noise app.
i play plane noise.
i play train noise.
i play frogs chirping that i recorded at
snow farm in the spring. under all of this
i still hear the cyclic drone of the machine.
i get up and walk down to the cafe
to see if there are any other insomniacs.
there are not. i am a sleep/dream failure.
i send another email:
 it doesnt matter where the fuck you are
if you can't sleep.
if i have to be up at 2:11
i'd rather be watching
The Clock. 
i think about the movie 'inception'
hours, inevitably, pass.
i must have dozed off after four. before 6:00 i am aware of the
'dream gatherers' walking about enabling us to tell our dreams.
i have nothing to tell. i think of  a short story by
truman capote about a man who steals dreams.
in the hour til breakfast i try to doze
with no luck. i pack up my campsite, get dressed
and go downstairs. there are crayons and paper
to draw your dreams. sigh
blessedly there is good, strong coffee.

the dream pages are strung as prayer flags
in the lobby as we leave.
of some dreams i'm envious.
of others not so much.


  1. Judy. At first I was envious of what seemed like a great opportunity but then you made the experience so CLEAR in all it's discomforts, etc that I could picture myself tossing and turning and wishing there was a movie or two stored in my iPad. Great post.

  2. Well, that's a supposedly fun thing that I'll never do. You have the most fascinating life of anyone I know. And I'm here on the Oklahoma prairie sleeping like a baby, occasionally awakened by a coyote or an owl. I think sleep (and almost everything else) is genetic. You get what you get and can take no credit for it. But sleeping is one of my good things and I know I'm lucky. We have a guest house and you're welcome to try sleeping here. But it might be even noisier than NYC. Miss you. Please keep sharing. Charla

  3. a great experience....not to be repeated?
    i've participated in similar events, more of the meditative genre,
    where i was expected to illustrate visually or verbally my
    experience.....i apparently had nothing of importance happen.
    oh well....another adventure.

  4. one of the best moments/lines of poetry here:

    i am sleep/dream failure.

    if you hadn't shared this post i would never have known about anything like this ever- supposedly or otherwise.

  5. Oh wow. I LOVE the painting you got to not sleep beneath! I love this whole post.

    If it's any consolation I never sleep while I'm away at the ashram and last week was no exception...


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