"Why can't you see things my way?"
I can't even remember what we were arguing about. I just remember that, at this point, I was sick of it. I stood up and walked off. "I've got a headache."
I don't think Scott said anything at this point. It wouldn't have mattered; I wasn't lying about the headache. That's how it always starts.
I got back to my dorm room and lay down on the bed. I remember being slightly alarmed, as it is (or had been) quite rare that I get headaches. But I quickly slipped into slumber; more quickly than is usual for me.
As I slept, I dreamed. I dreamed that I was walking out of the dorm and along the paths of the campus. I enjoyed the spring sunshine and cool breezes, although there was a weight on my mind, a depressed tinge to the surroundings.
I entered the student center and headed for the 24-hour convenience store. And that's when I got the first real shock.
To the right of the store is a space that was, years ago, a comic book and music store. Eventually it was turned into a video arcade, with video games and everything. However, apparently students around here just don't like video games that much, as the space was divided up; it became a small bank branch and an area for students to just sit and hang out, with some public storage lockers along one wall.
Usually I passed by this area without a second thought. I don't even use that bank, I have a different one. But today I felt a surge of feeling; there was nostalgia and deep, if helpless, frustration.
I was feeling upset that the comic book store and the video arcade had left. Until that day I hadn't thought much of it. In fact, I hadn't even known there was once a comic book store at all!
I walked into the store and looked around. Because the store served such a broad clientele, it had a number of different areas. There was a sandwich and bagel area where you could get your own sandwiches made. There was a selection of candy by the pound; there was a hot food bar and a refrigerator case for sushi. And there were all sorts of household items, trash bags, silverware, laundry detergent and so forth.
All these items evoked new feelings in me. I was tempted by the candy, much more so than usual; but of course I knew that wasn't really healthy. There was some roast chicken at the hot food area, which was also tempting, but for the first time I really thought about the fat involved. I walked along and perused the sushi, even though I had never considered it before. I realized that foods will provoke quite visceral responses, but they were all unfamiliar today. Like, the hot dogs actually made me feel revulsion, but were strangely alluring in their own right.
It was like I was seeing it all through new eyes.
I picked out some pretzels and soy milk (soy milk? seriously?), then I went to stand on line. Then I realized that just ahead of me was a girl I recognized.
I can't recall her name, but all the names in this account have been changed anyway. She was dressed in bike shorts and a T-shirt, and she held a bike helmet under her left arm. It was a little more revealing than one might expect to see in class, but not on campus in general; the only reason it might invite comment was that it wasn't quite summer yet. The ensemble was blue, making a pretty contrast to her dirty blonde hair. She was tall, about five-ten I believe, and that just made her more memorable.
I looked at her and felt my eyes wanting to look at her. Yet I held them back. It was a strange feeling; who doesn't like examining and comparing clothes? But now I wanted to examine further, but at the same time I didn't.
She was in my computer science class. The same lecture class, but a different recitation section. Therefore, unlike myself, she wasn't being taught every week by a grad student named Scott.
A grad student who had been on the campus for years, developing his love of video games and vegetarian eating habits. It was a surprise, yet at that moment it seemed completely sensible; I was looking at the world through Scott's eyes. The male gaze, indeed.
The girl glanced back and smiled at "me". And then I got another shock; I felt an intense sense of fear. The kind of fear that makes you want to run home and hide under the bed. Part of me was beginning to realize I wasn't the one feeling these feelings; part of me wanted to say "Hey, talk to her, she's nice!".
But the fear overrode all that. It was all I could do to smile back and wait silently until I got to the cashier.
And the fear didn't end there. I had an intense sense of the cashier judging me, scrutinizing my purchases. But through the fear was a sense of determination and perseverance; none of the fear showed on "my" face.
I couldn't imagine facing that fear so often. I panicked, or something, and I willed myself away.
Suddenly I was looking at Scott. My hands were counting out change. I felt worry, about my children, coming home from school soon. I felt a yearning for a hot drag of a cigarette. And I felt satisfaction at flicking bills from the cash register.
I started drifting. There was a trucker who had just come for a sandwich, and he was feeling impatient more than anything else; he wanted to feel the soothing meditation of driving down the highway. The server making his sandwich was trying to deny an intense attraction to his male coworker; that was a stew of hormones I wanted to get away from quickly. The girl from the computer science class was wondering what was wrong with her that guys never wanted to talk to her.
And suddenly I saw Scott again. I was confident, poised, magnanimously bestowing favor on this subordinate. But there was something deeper.
I nudged at the thoughts and they turned to another direction, going over familiar plans. A server in the basement took in stock data and fed it out again in encrypted channels. A network of operatives stole secrets and constructed a database of manipulation.
Then I woke up.
At that moment I knew everything. I went to my computer and started typing up programs to intercept the data streams. I started working on anonymous channels to notify the authorities. I had the knowledge to pull programs right out of the air and coax them into choreography; I made those processors dance.
A few hours later I had forgotten it all. My notes were gibberish to me. (It wasn't the advanced computer science class I was taking...) But it was a start.
Have you ever tried lucid dreaming? Have you tried to dream about something in particular...or someone?
It's possible. It's difficult, but it's definitely possible to direct your dreams. They can lead to great enlightenment. I know this better than anyone.
I won't tell you who I am, or the name of the company that I brought down. Because the network extends further, my work is not finished.
And I enjoy it. I don't let the opportunity to enjoy it pass me by; I know what it's like to be a concert pianist, a professional wrestler, a master programmer. Exercising skill, being at the top of my craft...
I wouldn't give that feeling up for anything.
John Evans 2010