Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life is but a Dream

I've always had intense dreams.  Intense, sometimes scary, almost always interesting and fun to have.  I think it's because I have screwed up sleep cycles--my pineal gland has been toast since I was a child, and I've long (since I was seven or so) suffered from night paralysis.  In a nutshell, I wake up while I'm still dreaming and still under the effect of the whole "don't act out your dreams" paralysis.  Because I'm "awake," I hear sounds from around the house or voices on the radio.  Because I'm also in REM (it is an overlapping of REM and waking), those sounds and voices take on new (and sometimes scary) meanings, usually involving an intruder.  When I was younger, this "intruder" was often a demonic-type presence.  It seems my atheism has slain that dragon, and no imps or devils have visited me in years.  Only burglars and murderers.  Sleep paralysis of my variety (recurrent, with back-to-back episodes) isn't very common.  No one I personally know in my world suffers it as a recurring thing, though my husband did, as a child, have one amazing episode of the "old woman on the chest, strangling" variety--a very common theme.  Below is a painting that caught my eye years ago--it's a pretty accurate depiction of what many who suffer night paralysis feel they're experiencing when they struggle against the paralysis and its accompanying suppression of voluntary breathing. 

John Henry Fuseli--The Nightmare

Speaking of atheism and demons and sleep paralysis, below is a perfect example of people taking a completely, rationally explainable phenomenon and turning it into something supernatural.  Sleep paralysis isn't  a  mystery, this isn't the 13th Century.  We know what causes it, and even what causes the sensation of being threatened.  We know what parts of the brain are active and stimulated, and we know that, in such a highly susceptible state, our brains will assign subjective meaning and characteristics to what's happening.  Which is why, when I was a believer, I interpreted these feelings as "demonic" or "evil."  As an atheist?  I interpret them as an intruder, someone who has broken into the house.   

The last couple of nights, my dreams have been pretty over-the-top.  Night before last, I dreamed I was in my old '73 Mustang, with my nearly 80 year old Mom driving.  If you'd ever been in a car driven by my Mom, you'd know this is a variation on the "I'm trying to drive from the back seat or the passenger seat" dream.  It's a completely helpless, out-of-control feeling.  It's not an age thing, though her age isn't making matters any better.  It's just a "my Mom" thing.  She's an awful driver.  She always has been. 

Anyway, so we're driving along near Willard/Perry, Utah (though the scenery is totally wrong), and she fails to stop in time at a red light, bumping the 69 Camaro in front of us.  We touch bumpers--not too hard, but hard enough.  The driver of the Camaro leaps out, and, while he seems quite jovial and cheery, there's a hardness there, an authoritative, overbearing tone that let me know that jovial ends and asshole begins the moment we cross him.  He tells us to pull a u-turn and find a place to pull over, and we do so. 

Or we try.  My Mom misses safe pull-out after safe pull-out, racing along this road with only a thin strip of shoulder and a steep, sandy embankment.  She finally pulls over, nearly putting us over the embankment and into an impossibly clear, deep sinkhole/crater/lake far below.  We pile out of the car, and suddenly my sister and her daughter are with us.  My Mom steps into the sandy bit beyond the shoulder and starts slipping.  I yell at her to get back up onto the shoulder, get out of the sand, and she tries, but--well, she's almost 80.  My sister grabs for her, but that turns disastrous--you see, my whole family seems to have this "once someone lends you a hand, go limp" thing going on, and when my sister catches hold of Ma's hand, Ma goes limp and down she goes.  I start screaming for help, but, of course, it's a dream and my screams are hoarse and ineffectual.  I make it to the edge and look over, and I can see, though a hundred feet of crystal clear water, my Mom.  She's lying on the bottom of the lake, wearing the most gaudy jogging jacket--it's got one large star in a blue square on one side, with red and white stripes on the other.  Yeah, that's the sort of detail that sticks in my head.

So, next thing you know, I'm in a cavern below the lake, and rescuers are scurrying about.  A pair of cops walk by, and one says, "This one's a gomer--we're not ever getting her out, and I'm not about to risk more men trying."  I gasp, and the other one looks at me, then says, "Oh, smooth, Mike.  Good job."  I sit down, looking at (not sure how) my Mom's body at the bottom of the lake, and, for the first time in years, I get the "Mommy!" sensation. You know the one--your body curls, your chest aches, and all you want is your Mommy to hold you?  Yeah.  Not a good dream.

Last night's dream was better--I was using Charlie, our Cairn Terrier, as a bludgeon to fight off rabid raccoons while hubby was busy losing our cigarettes one at a time.  No, we don't smoke anymore.  No, I would never use Charlie as a cudgel.  But it was a strangely amusing dream. 

Hoping to hit the Farmer's Market today, get some more of Becky's Pastries' amazing breads.  The spinach and feta is good, though a little heavy on the spinach for me, but the cinnamon rolls and the apple cinnamon bread (just butter it and stick it in the oven for a few minutes to wake up that cinnamon!) are incredible.  And even the spinach is very good, with a rich, sweet-ish taste and a texture that allows for retoasting multiple times, and if you like spinach, it's perfect!  Becky's is at various Farmer's Markets, including Leesburg and Manassas.  If you're in the area, get yourself some!  You won't be sorry.

There wasn't a lot to this entry.  Not a lot substantial, anyway.  I was going to talk about a post I spotted online from a Romney fan who proposed splitting the country in half, with the good, hard-working, moral Romney fans in one half, and the rest of us sick, lazy deviants in the other.  But then I thought, "Why?  Why even bother?"  So I'm not going to bother.  Have a happy Saturday!

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