With very bizarre dreams.
Something about working nights gives rise to what The Erstwhile Husband and I used to call "defrag dreams"--the sort of nonsensical, emotionally-laden-yet-distant-feeling, bizarre dreams that are your brain trying to sort things out and toss the trash. My general rule is that if it makes enough sense for me to not categorize it as bizarre, it's a dream that I need to pay attention to. If it's one that makes me say, "How fucking weird" four times in fifteen minutes, it's a defrag dream.
I was a cop, I was a nurse, I was standing outside the house I lived in when we got married, holding a gun on a guy who was trying to shoot down a police helicopter with what looked like a water pistol. I was a cop, I was a nurse, I was running back and forth silencing pumps and giving meds in my cop uniform, knowing that I had to change clothes soon before the manager arrived and balked at the handcuffs at my belt, and wondering if there was an empty room where I could do so.
I woke up and fell back to sleep with cats purring on my belly. There was a patient dying, and we were unable to do anything about it. The crash cart wouldn't come open, the pump wouldn't work, the pressure bags wouldn't hold pressure. The patient was dying, and the doctors were sorting out something in another room, and there was a lot, a lot of noise.
I woke up and fell back to sleep. This time I was getting married again, with my late ex-mother-in-law running the show (a nightmare for sure). Back to the old house, looking through alternatives to the hideous wedding dress she'd picked out for me, finally deciding on something Mom pulled out of a box that looked like a feltboard covered with child-drawn flowers. Holes in the roof, squirrels running everywhere, and in the middle of it, the summons to come to work. All my colleagues were at the wedding, and nobody was there to work, so I got asked to come in. I didn't go. For some reason, the wedding program had a picture of a baby wearing heavy, black-wire-rimmed round glasses and a top hat. I was walking down the street as guests passed in large farm carts, picking up the spent shell casings from the first dream.
When I finally woke up from that one, I decided to frost and decorate the cake for tonight's baby shower and damn the torpedos. Now that that's done, I think I'll feed Max and unload the dishwasher and then look for something else grounded in reality to do.
Working nights feels unreal. Even driving to work--it's an opposite commute--knowing that I'll be up when All These Other People are asleep feels unreal. Once I get there, the feeling of unreality subsides, but doesn't disappear completely. After a few days of steady night shifts, I find myself living in a world almost as weird as a defrag dream.
There are two spent shell casings in my desk drawer. Maybe I'll make them into earrings.