Welcome Back!

Only one post last month!  I feel like such a slacker.  Actually, I don’t, because all the time I was away, I was working on a Caregiver Conference for the area.  That little project (which ended up with awful attendance) ate up most of my time.  I really don’t think, for all the work my company put into it, that we got any kind of helpful publicity.  There were maybe 5 people attending the thing that were not connected to the vendors, and two of those people were my family and already knew about us.  It was a rainy day, so I’ll just hope that’s what kept people away.

StressAnyway, it looks like we’re lined up to help again next year.  That was another terrible thing last month.  My work laptop got the FBI virus from some news site I was on, and I thought I was going to lose ALL the conference files (because of course I didn’t back them up).  It was after the conference, so I wouldn’t need to recreate them on a deadline, but the upside to doing it next year was that I’d have all the things ready.  I cried.  It had been such a source of stress in my life.  Communications with the head coordinator never went well.  I would need something to go further with my part, and I would contact her.  This may or may not end up with me getting the thing I was asking for, but almost certainly ended up with me getting a new request for some other thing.  We sort of got roped into it this year, because last year we weren’t even invited.  We’d attended the year before and were completely overlooked last year when they were inviting people to set up booths.  My boss wanted to be sure we went this year, but ended up on the planning committee, and they needed someone who could make flyers.  My boss returned from the meeting saying that she’d volunteered me for it, and that I could do this while I’m at work so I at least get paid for it.  The flyer would not be enough.  Before it was all over, I had done the flyer, the registration form, the pharmacy bag fillers, the conference schedule, the speaker bio page, and the powerpoint presentation, and was in charge of running the projector at the conference (after which, many of the fonts from my laptop were mysteriously missing).

I was extra cranky on the weekends if I didn’t get a day for myself.  Since the doctor put me on the mission to lose weight, my mom had been coming by once a week to walk with me in the park.  I understand that it’s important and having a schedule with another person keeps me accountable, so it wasn’t really a problem until this conference planning.  I’ve been increasingly unpleasant as the date drew near, to the point where one morning I practically made my mom cry because I needed quiet, alone time really badly.  Could have been PMS, because it was about that time, but I just could not handle people.  I’m so glad I’ve got at least 8 months before I have to think about the conference again.  And, yes, I backed up the files.

So last night I got to bed early.  Yeah 11:30pm is pretty early for me.  I normally nod off at 2am.  When I woke up, I saw that a friend had been unable to stay asleep, and according to my mother, another of her friends was also having sleep difficulties last night.  I was totally unprepared for the alarm this morning.  It caught me in the middle of a dream and I couldn’t understand why I was hearing music.  When I turned it off, I still had no idea why this little machine was making noise, or what 5:50 meant.  As usual, it meant that I had to get up and pick up my boyfriend from work, which I figured out after a few minutes of feeling completely out of place.  Sleep continues to be fascinating and strange, and I hope to pick this blog up where I left off.  Sorry to keep you waiting so long!

ZOMBIE DREAMS!

Happy August! I almost let the day get away from me, because I am very much feeling like the subject of today’s entry: ZOMBIES!

I had no idea these were so popular, but zombie dreams ranked right up there with lucid dreaming and insomnia. When I think of zombie dreams, I don’t necessarily think of the “hordes of hungry undead” type zombies. In my dreams, they are certainly in varying states of decay, but I usually only see one, and it’s not inherently threatening. The sight of an animated corpse is just incredibly unnerving, whether it would eat you or just bring you another cup of coffee.

So what came first, zombies or animated corpse nightmares? I’m certain people have been having zombie nightmares for as long as people have been dying and dreaming. It was probably a lot more common when your daily life might involve seeing a corpse. (Those poor cops and morticians! I think it’s bad enough when I have repetitive dreams about filing paperwork. Geez!) How often do you dream that you’re talking to someone you know is dead? One of the major facets of any culture is treatment of the dead, and it’s not surprising to want to bring the dead back to life. We just don’t want them to return to life as their body continues to decay.

As you may or may not be aware, “zombie” comes to us from the West African Vodun tradition. These were revived by a bokor and are essentially mindless servants. It’s a fantastic idea, and one that Harvard ethnobotanist Wade Davis suggested is inaccurate. Davis proposed that the zombies had never been dead to begin with, they had simply been given a substance that put them into a state of suspended animation, after which they would be revived in a state of psychosis.

So real zombies aren’t much like the movie zombies that have been spreading through pop culture. They went from terrifying speculation to excellent comedy and now they’re just a part of fictional nature, being cartooned onto children’s school supplies, like unicorns and dragons. They begin to lose their scare factor when so many people are prepared for a zombie apocalypse.

…then you have a dream about zombies and remember just how scary they are!

I’m not big on interpreting dream symbols, because symbols seem to vary in meaning from person to person. If a zombie chases you and you are scared, it probably means the same thing as if a clown chases you and you are scared. That said, here is the most commonly copy+pasted snippet I’ve found.

“To see or dream that you are a zombie suggests that you are physically and/or emotionally detached from people and situations that are currently surrounding you. You are feeling out of touch. Alternatively, a zombie means that you are feeling dead inside. You are just going through the motions of daily living.

To dream that you are attacked by zombies indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed by forces beyond your control. You are under tremendous stress in your waking life. Alternatively, the dream represents your fears of being helpless and overpowered.” – dreammoods.com

This gets paraphrased all over the internet. If you’re the zombie, you’re feeling detached. If you’re chased by zombies, you’re feeling overwhelmed. No wonder zombie dreams are so common, that describes the workforce at large.

But what about a dream of a single animated corpse, all sinewy and disgusting? What if it’s not chasing you or in any other way threatening you, but the sight of it still makes your skin crawl? That’s the kind of zombie dreams I have most often. Realistically, something that decayed would barely be able to stand, and maybe it’s that unnatural element that creeps me out.

Have you had a zombie dream/nightmare? Please comment!

Thursday Rambling: Sleepless Nights

So I asked around yesterday: What fascinates you most about sleep/dreams?

The big answer was lucid dreaming, which I’ve already got on the schedule for next week. After hearing this, I may spend some extra time on the subject. The next popular answer was “it’s a miracle if I get any sleep” which is absolutely relevant. Some people have lives so busy they can’t set a decent sleep schedule, and some people can, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get any sleep during the time they’ve put aside.

I’ll be 31 next month. I’ve never had kids, and I don’t plan to have any either. I’ve had friends as young as 14 who got to experience parenthood and the effects it has on sleep. I’ve always been seriously impressed by anyone who could have a child, a job and go to school at the same time. There are changes to my own life that I didn’t think I could handle, but when you have to do it, your body will eventually adjust to the new schedule. It just seems impossible when you’re standing on the outside trying to figure out how to make it work.

My sleep schedule right now is from 1 or 2 in the morning to 5:50am, then I get up to pick up my boyfriend from his night job. When I get home, I go back to bed for just a little while until 8 or 8:15 when I have to get ready for work. Many days, this is enough sleep. Other times I come home from work and take a nap until my boyfriend wakes up. Regardless of whether I nap or not, I can’t make myself go to sleep any earlier that 1 in the morning. I could take him to work and come straight home, lay down in bed at 10 and toss and turn for hours.

When this all started, when his truck was no longer drivable and I thought it would be safer for me to drive him to and from work, 5:50am was painful. I hate being up that early in the morning, especially when I value how productive my brain seems to be late at night. Lately, it’s just a thing that I do, and I’m happy that I get to consciously settle back down for a little more sleep. Be honest, you love it when you wake up in the middle of the night and realize you still have an hour or two to sleep before the alarm goes off. It beats the hell out of waking up five minutes before it goes off.

But on to the topic of sleepless nights. I love and hate them. I love having an active mind and the ability to get so many things accomplished in a time that seems “extra” outside my schedule. My body doesn’t seem to realize that I’m not going to be able to sleep when it is finally ready. My plans for the next day, and how many hours it will be before I’m able to go to bed again, just don’t even matter. And of course an hour before I’m supposed to wake up, I finally start to feel really peaceful and sleepy. Blame the blue light of dawn for that. Did you know that exposure to the blue light that precedes sunrise is important to chemical processes that promote sleep? Combine that with the lowest temperature of the day, and it will give you a pretty good idea why I, or you, can’t seem to get sleepy until an hour or two before we were supposed to wake up.

Some people can’t get to sleep without white noise. My boyfriend has to have a fan running while he sleeps, even in winter. I struggle to get to sleep without the sound of voices. Music won’t do, they have to be talking normally. I keep my laptop by the bed and put on old TV shows like Golden Girls. Something I’ve seen enough times that I won’t stay up watching to see what happens. The original Addams Family is also good for this. It’s a good thing we sleep at different times of day.

I suppose that’s plenty of rambling for today. I want to save insomnia and restless legs syndrome for a Tuesday entry. Next week I’ll be covering Chemicals of Sleep and Lucid Dreaming. There’s also something special planned for August 1st.