January 23, 2003

So, my dream. I had just gotten a part-time job in one of our fine Manhattan skyscrapers. I was to be (drumroll please) Martha Stewart's executive assistant. What I didn't realize until showing up there my first day was that the building was monstrous and labyrinthine. It had hundreds of floors -- and no elevator, just a bank of slow-moving escalators. Some coworkers offered to show me around. The lobbies on each floor were plush-carpeted and wood-paneled, a fire hazard to be sure. But most businesses were long gone. This was clearly an egregious piece of 1970s planned obsolescence that persevered past its life span like a decaying zombie. I'd seen dead malls before, but in the financial capital of the world, a dead office building was rare. Several stories had their own concession stand/food court, movie-theater style, but they'd all gone out of business and left their equipment and signage behind. The lighting was dim and many bulbs were burned out; I pitied the superintendents who had to keep the house in order. I was told that there had been security problems in the past -- rapes, murders, unwanted visits from the criminal element.

On the bottom floor was a musty old fabric store run by a haggard Korean woman; the sun streamed in through her ground-level windows and the view of the street was a merciful antidote to the death-vortex interior.

My coworkers had vanished by the time I hit the street. It was lunchtime and I went off to meet a friend. But I strayed too far, and ended up in a blue-collar beach town on the Jersey shore. I saw someone I knew -- an old college acquaintance (played in this dream by Justin Timberlake) that I'd spent the past few years trying to avoid. Just like old times, he started harassing me, following me around even though I made it known that I didn't want to talk to him. I had to get back to work, but oops, I didn't bring the address with me. No matter; I'd find it. Justin followed me the whole way.

I found the building, finally, two hours later. But I couldn't remember which floor, which suite number, and I had to ride the maddeningly slow escalators up and down, prowling each hallway looking for a sign on the door that would bring me back to Martha Stewart's office. Someone else saw Justin and pointed him out to me as the serial rapist who'd haunted the building many times before; they'd catch him and like a ghost he'd come right back. An eavesdropper yelled "RAPIST" and soon the entire building (entire = maybe seventeen people) was up in arms, screaming, running, panicking, alarms going off. This must have distracted him, because I was able to make my way back to my office pretty quickly after that. Everything there was calm, placid, and white; no one had any idea that I'd been missing for hours and the staff seemed oblivious to the chaos outside.

End of dream.