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2003-02-21 9:52 a.m.

I had a dream last night that I parked my car in a strange place in LA. When I returned to that spot, my car had been moved—as part of a courtesy of some sort. I didn't quite understand what that meant. As long as I didn't have to pay money I was going to be fine, I figured.

I walked to the cement parking structure where I knew my car would be waiting. My car was not in a normal parking space like the many others. Instead it was in the middle of an aisle, blocking passage. The front wheels had been removed, as had the entire front suspension. I checked the trunk, and it appeared that someone had used my box of tools to gut my car—like a car in a wrecking yard is picked clean.

The rear wheels were intact. But they were completely covered in meringue. The crispy, golden brown spots led me to believe that they had been baked. What sort of person would strip my car, cover my rear wheels with meringue, bake them, and then put them back on the car?

Dreams are such strange landscapes. Dissimilar elements collide, themes built, melt, and confuse into one another. Meaning seems so out in the open, yet at the same time obscured as if viewed through a fog. Implications abound; subtexts flourish.

A few weeks ago at Julian's, I got the opportunity to meet some Japanese friends of his. They had been living in the US for fifteen years—enough time to figure out many of the subtleties of our culture and language. I was interested in their minds—the hidden thought processes of those who must resculpt their processes and habits to accommodate such a radically different culture. I asked them if they dreamed in Japanese or English.

Julian shot me a dirty look—as if to say stop with the questions already. He later explained that I was being inconsiderate. Probing questions can be traumatizing or embarrassing for Japanese living in America. They often remain insecure about their English skills even after many years of living in the US. Questions put them on the spot—they feel obligated to answer out of respect in spite of their embarrassment or insecurity.

But the answer his friend gave me made my inconsiderate questioning seem worth it.

Sometimes in my dreams my Japanese friends speak to me in English. But we have never spoken English together in real life. And my American friends speak Japanese with me. And then they will switch.

It was an answer that I can only understand in the abstract, since I have never had his vantage point for the world. I was captivated and struck silent. My mind was a bit humbled, and I didn't ask any more questions that night.