When I was twelve years old, I remember wanting a computer so badly, I sometimes dreamed that I got one. It was one of those rare, completely realistic, and completely delightful dreams. It was frustrating, too, because while I got a computer in my dream, there was always something that prevented me from using it, always some task I had to take care of first, so that I could never really use it in my dream. What I remember most, however, was waking up and feeling for a few fleeting seconds, that I had actually gotten the computer. That was followed by the sudden disappointment at the realization that I had been dreaming. I’d have to wait a little longer before I got my computer. (Eventually, I did get one.)
I haven’t had a dream like that in years. Indeed, for the last several months, it seems that my dreams are a jumble of exhausting images that mostly make no sense and even when I sleep well, cause me to wake feeling exhausted. I have grown desperate enough to begin reading about the science of dreaming and sleeping to see if there is anything I can to so lower the volume of my dreams–or mute them completely for a while.
Well, last night, seeing that they were being threatened, my dreams fought back. It was a bad night in terms of sleep. I went to bed at ten thirty and didn’t actually fall asleep until sometime after 3 am. I know slept between 3 am and 4 am because that is when this dream took place. In the dream, I was at a science fiction convention. I was at a table surrounded by people I knew, but no one I could identify. Everyone was laughing and cheering. I had just learned that I had won not one, but two Nebula awards: one for best short story, and the other for best novelette.
I have no idea what the stories were for which I won these awards. What I remember most was the I couldn’t believe that I had won them. Me, just the kid who liked reading science fiction when he was growing up and wanted to try his hand writing it, the kid who tried for 14 years to sell a story before making his first sale, and who went on to sell about a dozen stories to many of the major s.f. magazines before running dry. I had won two Nebula awards in the same night. How was that even possible? I was elated. I remember tears welling in my eyes each time I thought about it, or each time someone at the table congratulated me. From here on forward, I could always think of myself as two-time Nebula award winner Jamie Todd Rubin.
Sometime around 4 am I woke up and it took a little while for me to realize that it had been a dream, that I had not, in fact, won two Nebula awards. And I have to admit, I felt the same sense of disappointment I felt when I awoke from that dream about getting a Commodore Vic-20 when I was twelve. I wished it were true, but knew that it wasn’t.
As I said, I eventually got my Vic-20, but I suspect a Nebula award (or two) is not in the cards for me. Even when I was selling stories to the magazines, I was never an awards candidate, and I knew it. Indeed, I’ve won very few awards in my life. I do good, consistent work, but I’m not sure anything I do is award-worthy. This is not self-deprecation, or false modesty, but what I think is a fair assessment of my abilities. I’m a hard worker, and do my work–whatever it is–well. That is enough for me.
Still, it felt so good in my dream to think, at least for a little while, that I had won those Nebulas.
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