My brother and I grew up in the same bedroom.

Our dad took the door off the hinges when we were little. It was because we were fighting, I think. Probably. I don’t remember. We lived in the same house forever and all I remember was never having a door. It didn’t seem like a big deal, since we never had one.

He was two years younger (still is) and slept on the top bunk (not anymore) during the age of Freddy Kruger and Exorcist. Older kids would scare the shit out of us with urban legends. Bloody Mary was the worst. All you had to do was say her name three times in the bathroom and she’d come scratch your face up.

That’s all it took.

A time or two my brother woke up screaming. He had that faraway look like Mary was standing right in front of him. I’d get the old man who couldn’t talk him down. He’d go into the bathroom and say Bloody Mary like 200 times. It was hilarious and terrifying. And he was unscathed.

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Some folks seem to have a pretty good grip on what they want to think and feel. Their focus is unshakable. How do you hit a golf ball with a million people watching or throw a baseball from third base in the World Series for the final out?

I can’t.

My mind is sometimes out of control. The absurd nature of dreams makes it obvious. How many times can my penis fall off? I’ve had the dream so many times that eventually I  think, “I used to dream this would happen, BUT THIS TIME IT REALLY DID.”

My fascination with consciousness and the nature of reality started with dreams. I think it began with a 1984 scifi movie Dreamscape. Member that? It’s Dennis Quaid looking seventeen along with the bottle psycho from the Warriors (come out and plaaaay).

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It’s a dream, Alex. You can do anything you want in here.

Dreamscape was long before Inception, but at the time it was cool and corny and planted the seed of doubt. What is reality?

It was college when I read Stephen Laberge’s Lucid Dreaming. Lucid dreaming, the ability to wake up in your dream. Like Dreamscape, only real. I began recording my dreams as soon as I woke up, no matter how surreal or illogical. I had gotten into the habit of looking at my hands (I don’t know why that was some sort of reality litmus test) during the day and asking myself if I was dreaming. When I’m awaken, there’s no doubt. I know 100% I’m not dreaming. It was almost a year into the practice when it happened.

One day, I was 99% sure I wasn’t dreaming.

A sliver of a doubt, and that was it. I still remember 30 years later passing through the veil of lucidity and becoming fully awake inside the dream. I don’t mean like I knew I was dreaming in that sort of passive observer way. I mean like being there, like in another dimension. I was standing on the porch of the house I grew up in. A car went down the road. I heard the tires on the bricks. I talked to a girl I went to high school with. I went into a house across the street. A nun was sitting in a chair. Her face was black. I shouted and leaped, my voice echoing.

You can do anything you want in here.

There would be many  more lucid experiences the following couple of a years. Some were more vivid than others, but they all required the tightrope between waking and unconscious sleeping. If I was too conscious, I would wake up. If I was too relaxed, I would fall back into the hypnotic dream state.

I jumped off buildings, had conversations, explored the strange and vivid detail of my environment. And had tons of sex. Even that got boring. I couldn’t make myself fly because I was too bound by the concept of earthly rules even though they didn’t exist (Is that air you’re breathing now?).

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The impression lucid dreaming left behind was indelible. I had experienced another dimension. I was in a body, even though it wasn’t real. This was all in my  mind, but I truly experienced going somewhere. Real or not.

The seeming relativity of reality is what formed the basis of some of my stories, Halfskin in particular. The Maze, though, is fleshing it out.

The rough draft of book 2, Maze: The Essence of Sunny Grimm, is about 25% done. The roadmap is roughly charted. It is the stuff of dreams that is the basis of reality, our minds giving rise to entire universes unbound by time. If we can imagine it, it is somewhere. Maybe that’s how this universe was born. Maybe we’re just players in someone’s dream. That would make them God. I’m pretty sure we’re not.

At least 99% sure.

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