dreams: September 04, 1998

struggling with the "violator woman"

I'm walking through a huge museum. The rooms are giant and open, with hardwood floors and high ceilings. I'm jotting down the name of an artist and their works that I like. One artwork is especially meaningful to me; it's the sculpture of a face (an Asian man's?) that is smooth and pale pastel colors. The usual center strip of the face (nose, lips, etc.) is missing, as if it's just a mirror reflection of one side -- pressed up against each other. I'm touching it, really impressed with the artist's unique idea. The center rises up almost to the nose, but really it's just a ridge with a crease in the center.

Someone says that it's made out of vinyl. I look up at the guy who told me: a young man who is apparently an artist himself. He tells me that he's worked with vinyl before and that he really likes it, especially since it's so cheap (and flexible), only $4.95 per chunk/block.

It's time to go. My group is leaving. I realize that I should throw away the paper bag that I have in my hand; I used that bag to write down the artist's name and works, but I know I probably won't ever look at it again. I think about how I always jot things like that down on random surfaces but then never use them, and I no longer want to be bogged down with those scraps. I'd have to fill my own garbage can at home if I don't toss it into a museum wastebasket now.

I pass through several sculpture projects on my way out. One is a bunch of wires attached from the floor to ceiling, all different colors. I squeeze through a space in between two of the wires; at first I think that I might get stuck, but then the space turns out to be larger than the other spaces, making it easy for me.

The museum trip was with an art group from Swat that spent the day in NYC. Now we're heading back to campus. I get on the bus and turn left. I walk into a seat and embarrassingly laugh with everyone around me. Then I hit the side of the next seat (I'm embarrassed again). I see that I should've gone right, where the bus is, not left, where there are only a few seats. Lots of people are already seated, many elderly folks. I now feel like I have to wait for the others in line to sit (out of politeness); then I go down the aisle and finally find a seat.

A man asks if he may have my seat. I ask him why. He says "to view the sweets." I look up and see that my seat is facing a pretty young woman. I tell the man okay and give up my seat to him, moving to the next seat down.

The woman in charge of this trip announces that not only did we miss lunch today, but now we'll also miss dinner back at school if we try to make it back in time. Thus we're going to stop at a favorite diner restaurant (where we've apparently gone as a group in the past) before we drive back. So now we all have to get off the bus to go eat. I'm standing at my seat, digging through my bag to try to find my money purse. I can't find it. Yet I don't want to miss getting a good seat in the diner with my friends. I'm scared of getting left to sit at a table by myself. I simply decide to come back for my money in a moment, leaving my bag on the bus seat. I get off the bus. I'm keeping my eye on the people I know (like Carew). The restaurant is small and cramped.

Then my perspective changes back to my seat. (I'm seeing things through the eyes of another woman mixed with an omniscent narrator.) An older woman has sat down in my seat and is rooting through my bag -- a black, leather briefcase-- dumping the stuff out and messing it up. (Now I'm Maya again, standing in the aisle of the bus next to my seat.) Apparently this kind of thing has happened to me before, many times actually. It's a pattern in my life. "Why do I always bring manic depressive women into my life who use and abuse me and take advantage of me?!?" I yell. The narrator agrees with my statement, though I don't get an answer.

Now I'm getting off the bus at Swarthmore. I'm about to see my dorm room for the first time this semester, to move in. I'm talking to a woman I know. (She looks really familiar -- a cross between Carew, Erin, and Leslie from italia).) She has pale skin and light blonde/reddish hair, and she's wearing a young girl school uniform: a cleated kilt skirt and dark socks pulled up to her knees. We're talking about the rooming situation. She says she used to live in my room (last semester when I wasn't here?). "Wharton?" I ask. She says yes, "Wharton EF 2nd" but then changes it to Wharton AB. She then walks into a room, saying something about her friends from last year -- giving me the scoop on some event that I had missed when I was gone. She thinks I should know it. She says something about Mark that catches my attention. "Mark who?" I ask. Then I realize she's talking about the tall Swattie Mark (Laureen's boyfriend).

I go into my room. I feel violated. The "woman" who was in it before totally disrespected my space. I hear the narrator's voice describe how I'm going to have to go get my beds back, as well as go find the rest of my stuff. It's a big square room with walls, ceiling and floor painted a brilliant deep yellow color that is now dull because of time and dust. (The yellow looks like the color that used to be the walls of the downstairs bedroom at the house, like the dark yolk of an egg.) Dust is everywhere. There is no furniture. I am angry.

I go into the bathroom that's attached to my room. It's also all yellow. The mirrors are dusty. I now have the perspective of the violating woman from earlier; it's back in time, when she was here. I know that I want to mark up the mirrors. I want to paint "TWO LOVERS" on the mirror, and it will be in the form of two fingers in brilliant red and a red heart + "ers." It's for me (Maya) to see when she/I gets back. Now I'm Maya, forward in time when I'm first seeing the room. I look at the mirror and see the number "2" next to red breasts ("titties," I think in my head), representative of the same concept I had as the "woman." I'm mad and hurt.

[Interp: Two parts of myself are struggling against each other in this dream. The sculpture in the very beginning is perhaps symbolic of this conflict. It shows a face that is merely a mirror reflection of the same side, which makes it then lose the core substance of their image (nose, lips, center, etc.); the sculpture is a contrast to a real person who is not always completely symmetrical, often with different identities within themselves. In the dream I like the sculpture because its face shows two identical parts, which is an escape from the the frustration I later feel when two oppositional personalities seem to battle each other (the two are actually both pieces of myself). The concept of duality is also expressed in both forms of graffiti in the last scene of the dream, since "two" is a part of both, one as two fingers and the other as a number, 2.

Those two struggling identities are 1) myself, Maya, who goes from the museum to the bus to the dorm room, and 2) the "violator woman" who rummages through the briefcase and then leaves marks on the bathroom mirror. While the first has is seen through my own eyes, in my perspective, the second is seen as a separate person until the end, when I slip into her viewpoint for a short period (in the bathroom). The "me" that I can easily relate to is the one who is very aware of what's going on around me, especially of others' opinions and desires. When I first get on the bus, I'm embarrassed to go the wrong way, and then I politely let the other people take their seats before me; I then submit to a man who wants to "see the sweets" (a comment that would offend me in waking life). In fear of being left to sit alone at the diner, I leave my bag on the seat, which the other woman then digs through. That makes me feel violated, bringing up emotions of anger and frustration (a feeling of being a victim to other "women"). Those same emotions are provoked when I enter my dorm room, for I feel like my space wasn't respected when another woman crossed the boundaries into my room, leaving her mark in it.

The other second perspective -- the "violator woman" -- is strong and expressive, not afraid of what others think and willing to leave her mark wherever she goes. She's the one who digs through "Maya's" bag, and then later she leaves a graffiti mark on the mirror of the bathroom. I think this identity is simply another part of me, although I'm only willing to see from her perspective at one point in the dream: when I am leaving the graffiti mark of "two lovers" on the bathroom mirror. Here I am able to acknowledge and carry out my wish of self-expression, not afraid to leave a piece of myself (as "art") on the walls, almost like I'm staking my claim on the place.

This dream shows the conflict between two parts of myself that have opposite characteristics. Perhaps it can be interpreted as my struggle to find balance in these polar desires, emotions, behaviors, and personality types, to harmonize the yin and yang of who I am. While in the dream I am more comfortable with the first perspective, it also causes conflict to stay in that manifestation of myself, causing fear, frustration and anger. I then explore a different way to be myself, for in the other woman I am able to express myself and not care what others think of me.

What is the meaning of the two forms of graffiti left on the bathroom mirror? Both are expressing the same concept: "two lovers," although "Maya" sees it in a different form than the mark that the woman left it. The symbols are not the same, although both utilize parts of the body (a hand/fingers in the first and breasts in the second). Perhaps the perspective of Maya interprets a woman's breasts as somehow equivalent to the idea of lovers, or to a heart + "ers." Maybe she sees the "titties" as a form of patriarchal pornography, an objectification of the female anatomy -- thus it makes her feel violated and "hurt." Could this be showing the confusion regarding relationships (an entanglement of love, lovers, the heart, the body, two people in relation to each other)?]

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