Friday, September 21, 2007

Must write this down before I forget

I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing at 7 am this morning, just 3 hours after I had gone to bed. A judge had left a message on my parents' phone, which I've been using as my contact number in my do-I-want-to-or-don't-I clerkship hunt, and they were calling to pass on the message. The judge's clerk said to call back before the end of the Hawaii work day, so after doing some research on the judge (and on sunny Honolulu) and talking to his clerk, I finally got back to sleep around 9 am.

At which point, in a series of start-and-stop sleeping sessions that were interrupted by my preset alarm, my moving roommate, and the ever-present sound of ringing in my ears from my last night out, I proceeded to have one of the weirdest dreams in recent history, which proceeded unbroken even though I woke up so many times. My dream logging has fallen off a bit in the last few months, but this bears writing down.

< insanity >

I'm in Los Angeles on a week-long respite from Hong Kong, and I'm hanging out with family, friends from LA, and friends from Boston all at once. We decide to go some strange, unknown play in a theater that's only about 2/3 full, which is based on an unusual audience-participatory game show concept (in the neighborhood of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). The show is being held in a theater that's in a hotel, and after the show, my parents go home, and my friends and I stay to meet the cast and gallivant around the hotel. The cast is fun, but bizarrely quirky, and the "host" of the game show that made up the play - also the writer and director - is a strange mother figure to the late-teens/early-20s cast.

All of my friends and I are partying with the cast, bounding from hotel room to hotel bar to hotel room to hotel bar, and flirting shamelessly. As we go around, my mouth starts hurting, and I find that I'm mumbling my words somewhat. I ignore this. As we're standing in a group that includes a Boston friend who recently came out of the closet, I'm about to make a comment that references his sexual orientation when he looks at me with a "not another word" stare and shakes his hands "no." I pull him aside and say I'm confused, that I figured it was fine to talk about it since he had updated his Facebook profile about it and everything. He tells me I'm a bad friend and walks away. I walk back to the group to resume the conversation, but I feel bad, and my mouth is hurting more.

I get a phone call on my Hong Kong cell phone, which is prone to terrible static, and answer it to discover it's from a legal headhunter who has discovered me via his "comprehensive facebook." Without letting me know any specifics of the job he's offering, and totally unfazed by the fact that I'm a third-year law student with no work experience beyond my summers, he demands to interviews me on the spot, and I struggle through, finding myself increasingly inarticulate and unable to enunciate clearly because of my aching mouth. When the interview is over, he reveals that a representative of the firm that he was recruiting me for was listening on the line the whole time. The static gets too bad and I hang up, and instantaneously, there is a long text message on my phone from the recruiter, informing me that I scored low in most categories, and that the hiring partner felt that I was regarding the job opportunity, which I had no details about, as "just another job" that I wasn't sufficiently excited or honored to be offered, and I should be grateful that a firm like Shearman (and Sterling, the first I hear about the employer) would even want to talk to me.

I put away my cell phone and return to the festivities, where one of the female cast members, a short, attractive black girl, has taken quite a shine to me. I talk to her and her less-attractive Latina friend, and discover that she is 17 years old, grew up in one of the ghettoest parts of L.A., and was rescued from that life by the writer-director of the show, who recruited her and pulled her out of that environment to come perform. I start pondering how the relationship of the writer-director with her casts seems stranger and stranger, when the girl suggests that we leave immediately and that I join her and her (equally underage) friend at their apartment in the ghetto for a threesome. I politely decline.

I return to my L.A. friends, and tell them about my botched interview for god only know what job, my mouth hurting even more and my speech so slurred now that I'm barely comprehensible. I look in a mirror on a wall in the room and see that my top row of teeth is severely yellowed and is jutting out visibly past the bottom row. Startled, I bring my hand to my mouth, and when I feel my teeth move, I take hold and remove the entire top set of teeth, gums, palate, and all, and hold it outward as a unit toward my image in the mirror. The sight is a striking parallel of the creepiest thing I've ever seen in a movie, an image in Event Horizon where someone with cuts all over his body is holding his own eyes out toward the camera and intoning in Latin, "liberate tutemet ex inferis" ("save yourself from hell"). You can see what that looks like here, but I warn you, even in a poor-resolution still frame, it's really freaking unnerving. Anyhow, I see my reflection in the mirror, and the world goes black.

When I wake up an indeterminate amount of time later, I'm in a bed in a hotel room at the same hotel, fully dressed, with my palate and teeth apparently surgically restored. I trace my tongue along the top of my mouth and can feel two small bolts, but no pain, and everything else looks and feels right. I head back down to the party, exchange pleasantries with some of the male cast members from the show (we are still hanging with them), and get a call on my cell phone again. It's the legal recruiter. He has called to say that the interview went poorly, but he thinks he can convince the hiring partner at Shearman to give me another chance. It turns out the job involves traveling from city to city in Europe with a band, doing their legal work and hanging out with them (i.e., my dream job on several levels). When he hears me speaking normally, clearly, eloquently, he gets very excited that he'll be able to make it work, and promises to call me back. I turn my attention back to hanging out with the cast members.

I wake up.

< /insanity >

I suppose in some ways, it's an easy enough dream to analyze. I'm a bit anxious about the clerkship hunting thing for any number of reasons. I don't know if I want to do it, I don't know what I'm supposed to get out of it, I don't know if I'd regret doing it or not doing it. I'm afraid of losing a certain opportunity that's available to me at one of my potential firms if I clerk, afraid of losing long-term opportunities if I don't. I'm mixed about the geographical issues. Even though I'm lately thinking I don't want to clerk, I resent not having gotten more calls from judges, even though that also makes sense because my resume does say I'm going to be in Hong Kong for the Fall 2007 semester (in hindsight, should have left that off). I resent the judges who have called me not being more flexible about doing phone interviews (the one whose clerk I talked to today was the only one so far who agreed to it, but the judge wants videoconferencing, which worries me as well because I've never gotten videoconferencing to work with less than an hour of troubleshooting). And studying abroad, of course, comes with the usual set of social concerns and relationship-building. All in all, I can only assume that the dream was triggered by the morning's events, combined with general delirium-by-sleep-deprivation.

But hell, seeing yourself holding out the entire top half of your mouth toward yourself, with a pleading look in your eyes, is haunting.

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