Thursday, April 29, 2010

perchance to dream

I confess....I'm not sure if I think this is interesting, cool, or really freaky.

As a teen, I'd occasionally take a brief nap on the couch before dinner. That was the only time I'd have one particular "nightmare." In it, I'd hear voices or "feel" people over my sleeping body but I'd be entirely unable to wake up. I thought of it as a dream-within-a-dream where I was trying to "wake up" to the first-layer of dream. Once I did fully wake-up (and sometimes even during them), I'd know the voices weren't real. These ONLY happened during naps on the couch.

And then they came back. I'd had them a few times in recent years, always in very odd circumstances, like when I slept on the floor in the living room because I felt a bit ill and somehow that was more comfortable. They were rare so I didn't think much of them. But in the past three or four months, I've gotten them a least once or twice a week, often a couple times in the same night (I'd wake up in between and they'd come back). They are simply terrifying...I'd be scared to go back to sleep. They were apparently short (judging by the clock when I had multiple in a row) but felt like an eternity.

I grew curious about what it "meant." I'm not sure I really believe in dream analysis, but I was curious so, like any good modern American, I googled. Lots of clicking led to a semi-informed conclusion that it is actually a sleep disorder called sleep paralysis. This apparently happens when your brain and body fail to wake up at the same time (like they normally would) so that your body is still frozen (as it normally is in during healthy REM sleep, so you don't act out your dreams) but your mind is waking are semi-awake but unable to move. Some people experience vague auditory "hallucinations" with this or a feeling that someone else is present. Interesting side note -- some think that this condition accounts for claims of alien-abduction-type experiences.

I'm always a bit hesitant to self-diagnose online but the things I read really described me spot on (well, not the alien part!). It also apparently happens most often when people sleep on their back. I tend to be a side sleeper but slept on my back for my teenage couch naps and have been sleeping on my back lately because of the pain. I also have other sleep issues (insomnia and I kick in my does my dad, as did his dad, and I have a vague memory of my half-sister kicking me while sleeping on a car trip) and it is apparently commonly linked with other problems.

It is kind of nice to have an explanation. The "nightmares" are scary as hell and always felt very lonely. Other people who've had them had some tips on waking yourself up that I'll try to remember for the next time. But it is also kind of mind and body aren't playing well together (not that this is new).

Yeah, this is probably not interesting to anyone but me. Oh well. The knife in my back was particularly bad this morning and I took the very last of my pain medicine (with no real plan for how I'll deal with running out)...they make me ramble on more than usual...and make me not necessarily worry if no one else finds it nearly as interesting as I do.

Friday, April 23, 2010

an ode to the five paragraph essay

I confess...I LOVED the five paragraph essay.

When we first started writing the traditional five paragraph essay, we'd have to fill out a little outline first. Paragraph one was the intro and it had three points. You carried these three down to be topic sentences of paragraphs 2-4 and supported each with three subpoints. The conclusion wrapped it all up. We only had to fill out these outline forms for the first year or so we wrote essays. I kept doing it much longer, either formally with full lines or informally with just short words as placeholders. I'd often start a computer document with the bullets and then expand that same piece into my paper.

When we moved to term papers, we were taught to put research tidbits on note cards that we'd sort for sections. At first, these were turned in. I held on to this one long enough that I had a box of cards for my college senior thesis. They had symbols and sub-symbols in the corner to organize them.

Yes, I'm a dork. Or nerd. Or both. I like order and structure. I was never the best in my classes. I was an English major even though I bet I'd have had a higher GPA in another subject (it was still good, just not outstanding...and my major classes were lower than my overall) because I loved studying literature even if I didn't have the same flair for it some of my classmates did. I was intimidated by my classmates, especially those in my thesis writing group. But, even if they weren't ground breaking additions to literary theory, at least my papers were organized.

(Editing to add: I was pondering further and realized the same mental tendencies that made me love the five paragraph essay probably led to my freshman year math prof suggesting I major in his field. I worked myself crazy for his class and wasn't interested, but I do wonder what my math gpa would have been.)

(Adding more: I also loved logic puzzle games as a kid. The LSAT knocked away that love...even though I kicked its butt).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

a nice little bulleted list

I confess....I have found a few new indulgences in my few weeks at home. So, time for a nice little "Things I Like Right Now" list":

  • Watching Ellen in bed to start the day
  • The lie-down-on-ice part of my PT routine
  • Wine and chocolate (yeah, I always say that...but it's always true)
  • Wearing comfy "home pants"
  • Reading more
  • The smell after I vacuum with carpet salts...I was always jealous that my neighbor's mom used them as a kid
  • Cereal...meal, snack, dessert...if you are what you eat, I may be cereal
  • Having time to let my hair air dry much of the way
  • On Demand viewing of Parenthood and Medium (a bit embarrassed by the latter)
  • Spicy mustard (also not new)
  • Nice people...I was nervous about going to file for unemployment but the guy was really really nice and made it better

Thursday, April 15, 2010

owning it

I confess...I don't make all the right choices, but I try to own them all.

The trainer who works with some folks in my building was talking to me and commenting that the ladies in his group were frustrated they weren't losing weight. He suggested the time he was with them each week wasn't nearly enough to be a sole solution and that they needed to stop their eating habits. This got me thinking about weight loss in general and my mind went off on a "choices" tangent.

I think that the most crucial part of a weight-loss journey (and maybe of any journey) is owning one's choices. You need to decide what you want and recognize that many things we want are in opposition. I wanted a big hamburger and fries last night. I also want to fit into my jeans that are getting a bit snug. I passed on the burger because I wanted the latter more. It isn't "wrong" to pick the burger, but we need to own those choices. In picking the burger, you put one want above another. That isn't "bad" but it is a choice. And the choice has clear and predictable results.

I hate the phrase "nothing tastes as good as thin feels." I believe indulgence is essential to a happy and balanced life. Balance is healthier than unvarying strictness. I'll have my burger, maybe tomorrow. But I'll own that as a choice. It is a knowing choice...I believe that we need to have knowledge and make truly informed decisions. If my jeans are tight the next day, then it's a result of my choice, no one else's.

Own it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

books, take one....

I confess....this post is brought to you by Harper Collins. As I mentioned in a prior post, a friend introduced me to a contact who will send me books if I review them. These two were previews but I did read them so figured I'd post quick notes.

Husband and Wife is a novel by Leah Stewart. The story begins with the main character, Sarah, learning that her husband's recent novel was partly based on personal experience...experience cheating on her. The story follows how this revelation effects Sarah as it leads her to contemplate the adult she has become and other paths her younger self could have taken. The plot itself didn't wow me, but I really loved Stewart's prose. The writing carried me through the book and fleshed out well-developed characters so I enjoyed the journey even though I wasn't overly drawn by the basic plot.

Love in a Time of Homeschooling: A Mother and Daughter's Uncommon Year by Laura Brodie
is a mother's memoir of one year she spent homeschooling her eldest daughter, whom she felt needed a break from traditional schools that didn't seem to fit her style. I am not a big memoir person and wouldn't have picked this on my own but found it to be a quick read and one that I enjoyed. I appreciated the realistic assessment of the attempt which noted both successes and failures. I also like the quotes from the daughter that opened each chapter. I think it would be best for a parent either considering home-schooling or thinking about other ways to supplement a child's learning.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

from the couch

I confess...I'm feeling a bit motionless.

It is my first week home after ending my job (well, sorta...I'm still an employee for this week and next). I have some visions for using this time but I think I'm not ready for them yet. I'd like to write a bit. Not here...more focused than I do here and with more than 15 minutes dedicated to whatever topic I'm rambling about. But I think I might just need to breathe first. Sit. Be.

I have applied haphazardly to jobs. Some I'd like, some I don't think I would. I have ideas as to what skills I have and a few ideas on ideal jobs, but I'm still not quite sure where I'll end up next (unless you are a potential employer who somehow found this even though it doesn't have my which case I am clearly going to end up in your open job). I need to network a bit more and follow-up on some initial contacts but I think, here too, I am sitting a bit before I'm ready.

I have been in a lot of pain. I had a second round of epidural steroids yesterday and they've knocked me even further on my ass...standing is not fun and the husband says I walk like Igor (and he's right). Other than right after the shots, I'm not taking my pain medicine. I can survive that only because I can loll on the couch and be a bit wallow-y. That's not fun (for me or the husband), but I am hoping that this round of shots will help once I recover from the immediate aftermath. I have a PT consult on Friday.

I'm reading which is nice. A lovely former co-worker helped me meet someone who will send me advance copies of books in exchange for some short reviews here and on Goodreads. He sent two "preview" books to read until the next cycle of books comes out. It is good since I have more time to read but feel guilty spending much on books (and I'm a snob and like to own my books rather than use the library like I should).

Other thoughts:
  • I like the show Ellen...even if it is corny...maybe because it is corny.
  • I tried to walk on the building treadmill (pre-shots) and I am such a dork that I felt self-conscious being slow and wanted to yell out that I'm rehabbing an injury.
  • Criminal Minds is on at 1...expect when it isn't which seems to be often. They also seem to only show about ten episodes. They should put it on On Demand for me.
  • I still dry my hair b/c I like it feeling straighter but I am letting it air dry a bit first (umm, right now) which is very good for it.
  • I continue to be anxious about food issues but I'm surviving it. We went out on Tuesday but I'm calling that "Friday observed" since we can't go out Friday.
  • I am ready to lie down again. I hate needing to lie down but am glad I can indulge the need.