Sunday, December 16, 2012

There are no steps to retrace....

The other night, I dreamt that I had lockjaw after opening my mouth too wide; haven't had that dream in a while. I dreamt that I forced my jaw shut, rather than trying to fix it. I cracked my jaw and it hurt like hell until I woke up.

Last night I dreamt something else entirely. This morning, I opened my eyes as if I just blinked. And blinked. And blinked. And ---

Climbing -- I thought.
Walked through a house.... met someone along the way... something about disappointment. And having to choose.. And..climbing.. climbing what? Climbing onto a huge platform high off the ground. . ... Climbing. That was my key word. When I dream, most of the time I am lucid enough by the end to give myself at least one hint. The best way for me to recall.

....Damn it, I was dreaming for hours and it felt like days. Why couldn't I remember anything specific? 
I am slowly losing the ability to remember them fully. 

It sucks.
It is infuriating. 
It makes me hate my schedule. If only I could hold on to those scenes, I wouldn't mind as much having to wake up at 6am every weekday.
Instead, I wake up feeling lost, unfinished, turned around, misplaced. That part is normal. But then I can usually lay in bed for a long while and focus on the dream (it's like watching a movie for the first time and forming memories and associations from it - forcefully placing myself in the situation....which is strange, because it's all up there in my head to begin with).

Now that I have to get up at a certain time, I pull myself up and out of bed and leave any remnant of a dream on my pillow. It just disintegrates as the day drags on and is usually gone by the time I come back.
So now I'm taking a shower, brushing my teeth, getting dressed, putting on makeup, and driving to work feeling lost, unfinished, turned around, misplaced. And I spend most of my day sitting at a desk, trying to retrace my steps.
It's hard to do that when you can't remember the last step.

That's what the key word is for. The last step.
And then the one before that, and the one before that, and so on.

I begin dream recall before I wake up, if I can tell what's going on. I will continue doing whatever I'm doing, so I'm passive lucid dreaming. But I will be totally aware of my dream memories and start memorizing it backwards. Sounds complicated, but it's not too difficult; it'd be like typing away at emails at work while thinking about some delicious lunch you just had because you can still remember the taste so well. Or playing that memory game, Simon.
Key word: _____ (something like "climbing")
What led to that key word: another key word (something like "choosing")
And what led to that key word: another key word (something like "meeting")

-- and I do this really quickly in whatever dream I'm in so that I can go as far back to the beginning as possible before I wake up so that when I do wake up,

I can do it again. And that reassures me that I was dreaming.

But because of my getting up so immediately so early, I feel like I am in the wrong state of mind all the time. I feel like I'm half there, I'm just so aware of the fact that I can't remember.
Perhaps I should just let it go and remind myself that "it's just a dream; it's not real life." But if I'm not busy or distracted by something entertaining or important, I am incomplete.

By the way, yes this is directly related to how I can lucid dream. Not as often anymore, but it still helps immensely: retracing my steps.
Because I constantly ask myself throughout the day how I got to where I am and what I'm doing, I am continuously aware of myself and my surroundings. I can tell you I am laying in this stupid bed right now and that I was downstairs before I came up to the bedroom. I can tell you that I had dinner with my family around 9 o'clock after I moved a heavy-ass table into my new apartment with my fiance. I can describe how cold it felt outside at night and the difference it makes to have a little bit of sunlight in the late afternoon. I spent most of today wrapping presents and entertaining myself with little notes to be found. I didn't have to go to the post office like I begrudgingly planned. 
I had an omelette for breakfast.
And before that, I got dressed and brushed my teeth and got ready to go to the post office for, hopefully, no more than five minutes, even though I didn't want to go at all.

And not long before that, I woke up in bed.

And a few blinks of an eye before that, I was climbing....
And before that, I--

-- what was I doing, again?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What ____ Minutes Gets You

One night - over a year ago at this point, though I haven't forgotten it - I had a terrible experience with sleep paralysis. It wasn't your "normal" experience in which you feel an unwelcome or strange presence in the room while immobilized. ....It came aout because I read into "out of body experiences" and how to manipulate sleep paralysis. Out of curiosity. Someone said it could work, and proceeded to explain the steps.
Skeptical, I tested it.
It worked. I was able to walk around my house without feeling the weight of a body.

The next night, however...
I was dragged out of my body and out of my bed.

Up until a couple of nights ago, this was the most frightening experience I'd ever had to date. Imagine not being able to stop something dragging you out of your body. Your vessel. And if you don't believe that something like that could happen, then fine - but what would something like that feel like, to be separated from your self? How do you get back..? I still don't know how I did it. But I hoped that it would never happen again. I stopped fooling around with it.

Not only did something very similar happen more recently, but it seemed even longer. And each instance (yes, there were several) overlapped with another in a way that's difficult to comprehend.

But as I began to try telling Matt:

this one was terrifying.
it was right up there with the one where I literally got dragged out of bed...and this one was way longer, too. :(
it was one of those weird experiences that overlap with one another.
you know how I tried to explain how I dream of two different things at once..?
it was sort of like that, but instead of them completely happening at the same time, they would overlap in beginning and end of each sequence.
there were so many....

I fell asleep on my back without my even realizing it. For a while, I thought the door was open and I was listening to a conversation, but then I realized it was just in my head...and so I tried to stop making things up and shift positions to start over, in a sense.
But I couldn't move.

So I gathered my thoughts and said to myself, All right. I'll just lay here and fall asleep before the panic part sets in...

But then - of course - I was too nervous that my mind couldn't fall asleep. And instead of moving in to a lucid dream, I was just completely caught inbetween sleep and awake. This is what my light research told me was the beginning of an "out of body experience." You can just... tell that it's not a dream, yet it's not quite sleep paralysis either. I was much more aware.
I tried to move again and wake myself up, or at least sit up in bed in whatever state I was, but I ended up pushing myself back into sleep paralysis. The pins and needles set in. It feels like the sound of electricity. It feels like panic.
And then, very very slowly... I felt my fingers move on my right hand:
my third and fourth finer stayed next to each other, but my pinky kind of moved outward a little bit, and my index finger began to straighten itself out, as if it was pointing at something. As if that wasn't terrifying enough, to feel an invisible hand lifting your entire hand moved up in the air. It was now hovering in front of my face, limp as could be.

I was trying. SO. HARD. to move it back and take control.
But it was just like someone was holding it there...playing with my hand.

After a few minutes, I gained enough control to form a fist and put my hand back to where it was on my stomach.

[that's when it would overlap again with another sequence]

-in which my hand was lifted again,
fingers moving.
This time my whole arm was shifting. From elbow to fingers, my arm moved. My hand was limp and I wasn't moving a muscle, yet there it was, my hand slowly moving up toward my face, trying to gesture at something. I could feel my fingers struggling to take control. I couldn't help but feel like I was wrestling with something.
And then, I felt the backs of my fingers lightly stroke my lips and cheek as my hand moved to the right side of my face. Until I was pointing at myself. My closed eyes, actually. It remained there for a few long seconds -- long enough that I thought it would stay there and I could move it back -- until my hand formed a claw.

STOP. IT. I was panicking. That was my hand, inches away from my face. But I wasn't in control. What I imagined was my self not quite lining up with my body. That I was half in and half out and would keep moving out of my body if I didn't hang on to my consciousness. But I took it back for a while; enough time to place my hand back to where it's supposed to be. And I put my left hand on top of it to keep it from

[overlapping with another sequence]

-in which my feet were moving towards the end of the bed. I was being dragged. The blanket was lifted a little bit, so that my ankles were exposed.
I took control and desperately moved myself back up to my pillow

[overlap again]
- and was about to shift positions entirely

- when I realized I was already being dragged farther to the end of the bed, and I could open my eyes enough to see my feet in midair. I couldn't put them down. Something held my ankles. I couldn't feel anything touching me, but I knew it.
So I tried to scream, and I reached
Layer -2: it came out clear, but then I realized it was just in my head that I heard it. So I tried again.
Layer -1: it came out as a loud whisper. I could almost feel myself back in bed the same way I initially fell asleep, so once more...
Layer 0: my scream came out only as a whimper. I was so exhausted from all of that mental strain, trying to climb my way back up to Awake, that I just couldn't do it. I couldn't scream. But I felt myself back in bed as if I never moved. Except for my right hand, which was still pointing. And I felt my heart pounding.

[overlap again]

My hand was beginning to point, my arm was raising itself up... and it began to motion something. I don't know if it was trying to write or point, but those were controlled motions. It tugged on my shoulder, it reached out so far.
And my feet were in the air again.
And my left arm was moving outward, sliding until it hung off the edge of the bed.

It took all of my strength to focus to get myself out of that, but I did it. I used all my strength to curl up into a ball. And I found myself back in bed once more. I felt everything around me.
Nothing changed. I never moved. I was totally awake this time.
I was still on my back. My blankets were still tucked nicely at the end of the bed, so my feet were never moved. My left arm was back to where it originally was. But my right hand was still pointing.

I very deliberately formed a fist and tucked it away.

I opened my eyes. There was nothing in the room, of course. And the door was never opened. No one was awake.
I shook myself. Literally. I shook myself, as if that would release anything left on me. Get out. Get off. Get out, get out, out out out.......out, leave me alone...What is wrong with me..?
I felt so violated.
I rolled over to my side, hiding my right hand, and reached for my phone with my left.
Funny, how that's one of the first things I do after sleep paralysis....
That whole series felt like two hours.
I was asleep for ten minutes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


While everyone else is still awake, I'll write this.

It must have been three weeks ago by now, but it's been in my mind ever since: one of the most convincing, odd, false awakenings I've ever experienced.

My alarm is set for 5:45am. I woke up (or "woke up" -- I'm still not sure) around 5:30, checked the time, sighed at how I wouldn't be able to get more sleep, and closed my eyes again.
Then my alarm went off. It seemed to be too soon, but I thought, Whatever. I guess I dozed off.
So I turned it off. Lay in bed for a while.

Just before I picked myself up, I felt a presence beside me. And then behind me. But because I was lying on my stomach and my face was in my pillow, I couldn't see anything.
No, I wasn't paralyzed. At least, I don't think I was at first.
What was so strange about this one was that I just..... didn't care to move. I felt very relaxed even though I knew that I wasn't alone in the room. I didn't care that my blankets began to feel heavier, as if they'd been soaked in water. There was a weight all around me, but I told myself, It's okay. This is normal.

Another distant voice in my head urgently whispered to me to head for the door. Here's how you do it: don't look up. But don't look directly at the floor, either. Please don't. Please, please don't. Roll out of bed and go straight for the doorknob. Please. Do it. NOW.
I didn't do it.

That voice came and went, but the tone of urgency got confused, and suddenly a hissed --It's okay. This is normal. made me stay perfectly still as I began to slide along my bed.
And very calmly, Go straight for the doorknob.... just faded away. I could feel my head touching the edge of my bookcase at the head of my mattress before I began to slowly float in the opposite direction. 
This happened a few times. I counted four.

But four was enough, apparently, because I picked myself up after a while, thought nothing of it, and headed straight for the bathroom.

Now, I wear makeup and don't always wash it off before going to bed, so that by the time I get up in the morning, my eyeshadow is kind of messed up. When I went into the bathroom this time, I looked at myself in the mirror without my glasses and thought, Ugh, my eyes look so dark. I need to take this off....
I leaned in close to get a better look. Again, it didn't really occur to me that I should be afraid of seeing myself with different eyes. It just looked like me. Not a menacing face. Just... me. With sunken, scratchy eyes.
So I looked down at the faucet and thought about turning on the water to rinse off my makeup. No, that's cold water....
When I looked back up at myself, my face about an inch away from this girl, I saw that she'd been watching me that whole time. Do your job and move with me, reflection.


And then every single excited expression clicked on. I couldn't tell if she was angry or not. Every muscle in her face was strained. Her eyes were fierce, eyebrows furrowed and arched at the same time. Nostrils flared, and she opened her mouth wide enough that I thought her lips were going to split.
And then she made a sound.
A whisper.
It was so quiet, but it deafened me. It sounded like screams...if they were pixels that created a whisper as an image. It also sounded like it was... backwards. A sharp intake of breath. A million voices in one.

And then it was gone. Done. And I was back in bed. I opened my eyes one minute before my 5:45am alarm sounded. It never happened. But it did.

Two things happened, actually.
1. I watched my reflection go crazy, and I finally reacted and became terrified, covering my ears and shutting my eyes to undo it.
2. My reflection didn't do anything. I just stared at myself with sunken eyes and slowly realized that I wasn't awake.

They both happened at the same time. There is no way for me to illustrate this for you. But this is what it's not like:
It's not like seeing one scene with one eye and the other scene with the other.
It's not like seeing one scene play out completely and then rewinding to see the "alternative."
It's not like overlaying one image with another to create some sort of collage.

There was another mirror dream...
But I'll have to share that one later. I need to sleep so that I can wake up at 5:45am and take a shower when everyone else is still asleep.

Friday, July 20, 2012

True or False Nostalgia

I never write about what happens in my head when I'm trying to fall asleep.
Well, lots of stuff happen.

And I never really write when I'm suffering from a small bout of insomnia.
But that's because, even though my mind is at its most poetic, my diction and eloquence suffer. It just took me a good minute to think of the word "insomnia."

So here goes, at my worst in writing:

I'm the only one awake in the house right now. I know I'll be scared when I turn off the lights and go up to my room, because truthfully, my room kind of scares me. And I never really know why; if it's because there's something to be wary of, or if it's just what happens when you have an imagination like mine.
Right now, though, I feel fine. I'm comfortable.

Actually, it's the right temperature at the moment. Not too hot, not too humid. Just the right amount of breeze reaching me, even if it is just from a fan and not the wind coming in.
There's something about this night that has me trying to remember something.

Part of me wants to say it was a night at the beach. But when has that happened? Not often enough. And it was colder; I needed a sweater.
Maybe I was in a car on my way somewhere, with the windows down.
Or on my way home with my family after a long day at Dorney Park...?

But no matter what I try to link this to, all I can envision is me sitting on a curb somewhere. A neighborhood like mine, but not mine. And I'm with someone. But I don't know who it is other than a guy.

So let's make up a story based on this false nostalgia.

I'm wearing shorts and a T-shirt, no sweater with me. The warmth rising from the street feels friendly (the only way I can think to describe it) as it reaches my legs every now and then when the breeze dies down. It's the end of summer, and I welcome it because it's been summer for what seemed like half the year.
He's sitting beside me, about a foot away.... a little less. And when he puts his hands beside him on the curb, he's about 3 inches away from my own hand. Too close or too far, I can't tell. So I sit up straight after a while of indulging myself in his nearness and begin fiddling with a mostly empty chocolate wrapper. But I look stupid, folding and unfolding it.
"You want the last piece?" I ask him.
Now it's empty.
He's talking to me about nothing. He called me at 2am and asked if I wanted to go for a walk; he couldn't sleep. So we wandered, not really paying attention to how many blocks we traveled. I think it's been about 10, since we're coming up to the edge of our neighborhood.
And while we wandered, we shared meaningless facts about each other. They don't mean anything, but now I know how much he does care about his family, I know why he likes to walk around when he can't sleep at night (restless leg syndrome, which in turn makes him nervous in his room), and I know that his favorite color is dark red; the same as mine. I know he likes to people-watch; I know where he sits on the bus every morning; I know that when he does sleep, he sometimes dreams of his mom, and when he wakes up he can't remember the details but he feels empty.
"It's late," I say after a while.
And he jokes that it was late when he called me up, all apologies. I just smile and shake my head a little; I really don't mind. It's fun to sneak out of the apartment, even if I do just live with my cat. I feel like I'm not supposed to be here; this is the empty movie set that I'm not supposed to have ever seen.
He gets up first, reaches down to help me to my feet, and we walk over to the fence. I run my fingers along one of the giant teacups, and he jumps over the arms of another carnival ride. Less than 5 hours ago, this place was packed with teenagers and young families. They're all asleep now.
"It's so quiet here," I begin to think aloud - just as he knocks over a bottle in the shadows. "Nevermind."
We scale the fence the same way we did when we climbed in. But it acts as a one-way filter: all that we talked about in the empty parking lot must remain there. It'll still be there when we come back another night...because we will, even though I know he'll tell me that he'll stop pestering me.
So I leave a part of myself there, too, whether or not I choose to (and I don't choose to). It gets caught on the fence, snagged off of me like a piece of clothing.
It can wait.
I'll be back.

So let's make up a dream based on this story based on a false nostalgia.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In Essence

I've fallen back into the habit of dozing off on the couch in the living room, taking naps late at night before even considering going up to my room. I would wake up after half an hour or so, stay up for a while, and then turn in for the night. And I didn't have any trouble with sleep at first. In fact, I started dreaming regularly again, which was great. But then (as these things tend to play out), it changed. Drastically (i.e., in one mentally exhausting night).

[side note]
My sisters and I are working on building up a shop. We're planning on selling our items at events and on Etsy. More news on that later, I guess. Since we decided to do this, we've been working in the evenings, nights, and weekends (or otherwise on our own time) to make things from stationery to jewelry to stuffed animals. This was one of those nights, although I don't think I was being very productive....

I had a long work day (after three or four other long work days), and just got a break. No crafting for me. Just TV and 3/4 of the couch.
And then even TV was too much for me to focus on. So I closed my eyes (mistake 1) with my arm draped over them, and rolled onto my back (mistake 2)...and my body froze like that (if you were beside me, you'd see how poorly I can snap my fingers, but let's pretend that was a satisfying sound).

I could clearly hear my sisters talking, commenting on whatever show they were watching, or going over design details. So I tried as hard as I could to move my arms and sit up so that I could tell them about how hard I tried to move my arms and sit up.
No luck; this paralysis was strong (yes, you can measure the degree to which you feel trapped and helpless). It didn't help that I felt like I was sinking into the couch. It gave me the impression that I was about to suffocate, which somehow translated to I am suffocating.... So I started trying to gasp for air.
Apparently, Shiel could hear my breathing was a little off (and that I was twitching a little bit), so she asked me if I was awake.
No answer.
Then she wondered if I was experiencing sleep paralysis.
It'd be great if I could answer that, but I can't, I thought.
She decided to leave me alone, and everything got quiet again...which kind of made me more nervous. It was late, and I don't like being the last one to go upstairs at night.
Eventually, I managed to wrench myself out of paralysis (without punching the air or screaming, like I desperately needed to do) and relate the experience to my sisters.

According to me, this is how it went:
1. closed my eyes and lay there for what felt like two minutes at most
3. sleep paralysis for what felt like an hour

And in real time, according to Shiel:
1. I fell asleep and stayed unmoving for a long while.
2. Sharp breathing and twitching happened maybe....five minutes before I woke up.

After I told that to my sisters, I let myself fall asleep again. Stupid, I know. But I was just too tired to care. And I felt like I was long overdue for a sleep paralysis episode.
Of course it happened again.

It actually happened a couple of times, but I didn't make such a big deal out of it. I just wanted to wake myself up enough so that I could open my eyes fully (one of the most uncomfortable aspects of s.p. is focusing so much energy on just opening your eyelids....which you later realize weren't even your real eyelids -- they were still only dream figments).

After the third one, I told Shiel to try and wake me up if I manage to give a signal that I'm stuck -- something like before: irregular breathing would be pretty easy to relay. I figure it would be okay to try to shake/nudge me awake, since I'm already mentally aware and it's just my body that's switched to sleep mode. I just need a little push.
But I could feel that it wouldn't happen again.
Instead, this is what happened after I woke up:

Shiel and Evie: *talking about color coordination or something*
Me: .............. . .. ..hhh ....ha...hahaha... ha ha ha ha ha...
Evie: What? Why are you laughing, Steph? Did you just wake up?
Me: Yeah. I'm laughing because I had a really random dream.... You know how you can close your eyes sometimes and then there's just this image that you see? Like you don't even remember thinking it up, it just appears in your mind?
Shiel: Yeah...?
Me: Well, I had that. I had this picture in my mind of the jewelry on the counter in Express. And I didn't feel like I fell asleep. I was just thinking about this picture. The store was empty, like they already closed and I was the only one there. The lights were still on and everything. So I reached into the picture, forgetting it was just an image, and started trying on different bracelets. And every bracelet I wanted, I would.... toss it onto the floor. "I want that. Oh, I want that. And this." Just... throw them on the floor like it was normal. And ... I heard you, Shiel, asking me if I was asleep..! And I was standing in the store going, "No, I'm not asleep, I am clearly in Express right now, trying on jewelry. Duh." And THEN, this random dude showed up in the store, from my right. He was eating a burger and talking about how good it was. And I heard you, Evie, telling him about different varieties..? And that's when I realized I was hearing what you were actually saying, and that you obviously weren't talking about burgers...but paper.... so that's why I woke up laughing.
Shiel: You were asleep for like one minute..!

Upon waking up again, I found Evie and Anjel standing by the window, listening to cats fighting outside.
Me: Is that what's going on?!?
Evie: Oh, hi..!
Me: Oh my god, that felt so real!
Evie: What?
Me: I had sleep paralysis again..!! And it felt so long, like all the others. I kept trying..... thought I got out of it--
Evie: When, really, you didn't?
Me: Yeah..! I thought I woke up. I was here on the couch, same position. You weren't standing there, you were sitting on the chair in the corner. Shiel wasn't in the kitchen washing dishes, she was still sitting beside me. Anjel was on the other couch. Mom came down with a caterpillar in her hand, saying she found it in the room. She put it on the floor by your feet and let it wriggle off under that radiator... The wall on that side of the room wasn't the same; instead, it was the wall between the dining room and the deck in the backyard. So we figured the caterpillar went under the door to get outside. And a couple of cats started fighting each other over it....

I think that is a perfect example of almost-simultaneously creating while perceiving.

So I went up to my actual bedroom not too long after that, thinking that the worst was over.
I guess the worst was over, but the most intense was yet to come.
That's right. It keeps going.

This post has gotten quite long, though, not to mention it's almost 2am and I've had a long day. Sounds like a repeat of all I just shared with you. I'm a smart one.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I dreamt of eagles in a gigantic tree.

Originally to be posted 3/12/2012

The entire spectacle was majestic: the birds were graceful and close together, going in all sorts of directions, and there were feathers everywhere... I could tell they were massive, at least twice my height. 

The tree itself was naked, clothed only by the birds flying around or perched on its branches. And its dark branches were old, but strong and full of character. Its roots were too large for the shallow body of water that pooled around it and extended for the rest of the scenery. I had no idea where I was because of the lack of context. .... Then the Rome group appeared, climbing the tree (which proved to be even larger than I'd thought, once I saw how they all looked like ants), sitting with the eagles, jumping from the highest points into the thin, perfect water without breaking a bone. 

And I wanted to join them. But I couldn't.

this will be just like all the other times.

Originally to be posted 7/30/2011

Another zombie apocalypse dream; how many have I had?
This one was different, however (that's what I always tell myself) -- this time, it was what happened before the end that inspired my dream.

I was back in DC, getting used to the way things are. I stood in the middle of a Metro train, gripping onto a pole and struggling to hold a conversation with my friend and roommate, Claire. It was bright and sunny outside, hinting at a late summer or early autumn afternoon, but the atmosphere seemed dead and silent. We were just rounding a corner when the train began to slow and jolted to a stop.

Nobody minded it. This happens sometimes, such as when trains of opposing traffic have to share the tracks....

Claire stopped mid-sentence to pull out her phone and read a text. As she did, the train began to move again. The lights flickered a bit.
She put her phone back in her purse and I asked, "What is it?"
After thinking carefully of how to phrase it, she replied, "They just took another one off of the train."

There was some sickness going around, some kind of fever or flu. And all the hype of its contagious nature went along with it. So, naturally, I tried to act like this kind of stuff happens all the time. It was just like the H1N1 virus going around. Everyone got it. I did. But we all got better eventually, and so this would be just like it.

But people were vomiting on trains and their skin seemed to melt off in the streets as they tiredly rubbed at irritations. And we all felt paranoid of breathing in dead skin cells or being too close to a sneeze in the more congested areas of the city.
Although there were still droves of tourists going around downtown, there were significantly less of them.
And you could feel the tension everywhere.

There was one more taken off the train. And now the train stalled. Everyone in that singular car, somewhere on the Metro, swore to themselves that they could feel themselves contracting the illness.

Someone gagged in the car in which I stood.
Another woman looked at me with bloodshot eyes.

A couple of dream-days later, I felt like I was on fire. I didn't want to be near anyone, but I didn't want to tell them, either...that while I looked fine on the outside, I could feel myself burning up on the inside with a strange fever; that the symptoms began before you could even show it; that half the "healthy" people they interacted with were probably not that healthy; and that they would feel it in a few hours.

two accounts of sleep paralysis

Originally to be posted 7/9/2011

1. Wednesday morning.
I couldn't fall asleep until after 6, and I had a doctor's appointment at 9, so I only slept for about 2 hours. When I arrived back home, I fell asleep on the couch after a while of Internet surfing. And I stayed there, unmoving, for about 4 hours.
I'm not sure how long this played out, but I semi-woke up in the middle of my nap and realized my body was tingling. My legs were hanging off of the couch as if I was half-sitting, and my back felt very uncomfortable, like I was bent the wrong way. I closed my eyes again even though they were barely open. When I squinted again, I saw Anjel walking around me to pick up her guitar and leave again.
When I actually woke up, I'd never moved from my spot, and the guitar was still there. I don't think Anjel was home. My back felt fine, but I distinctly remembered the feeling I had before, as if it was real.

2. Last night.
I heard a secret. I don't remember what it was, anymore, but I was in that almost-dead state when I heard a full-on conversation in my head. It wasn't me making it up (but of course it was) -- it just flowed, and I could tell there was some other part of me that was merely eavesdropping.
Can you imagine that, trying to figure out what you're simultaneously making up?
There were two people in the conversation, a man and... maybe another man, or a woman. I can't remember.
The first line of the conversation was the secret itself. Something I wasn't supposed to hear. The second speaker noticed I was there and said, "Don't talk about it."
1: What, you mean the _____ --
2: I said, Shh. She's listening. H.
1: B.
They went on to say a series of words and letters I didn't know or wasn't sure of.

after it's over.

Originally to be posted on 4/3/2011

A few nights ago I dreamt of "after the end of the world" -- after it froze over, that is.
The sky was perpetually dark. The only thing that still looked beautiful to us were the stars above. There was nothing warm left in the world except for that light. Somewhere, the moon was in the sky, illuminating the snow around me.

I was in a camp with a small group of other people, maybe about 20 or so. We were all spread out in little clusters, families huddled together in their tents. I didn't understand why we were all spread out, we should've been closer.
Some of them tried to build igloos but they didn't understand how to do it properly, so I decided to try to teach them myself.


I lose track of time when I doze off on the couch.
And the noises in my head aren't necessarily loud. They're just many.
They drown out sounds like the AC window unit.

Just imagine me reading this aloud to you. A normal, conversational level of sound.
Now multiply that by 30..... 30 people in a living room.

Those are so many voices.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Into a Memory

I'm finished school. For now, anyway.
Grad school will happen in a year or so, but until then... well. We'll see. :)

With all this spare time I have now (it's actually not that much, but I'm no more busier than I was before), I've been having such long dreams again. They never really went anywhere, because I'd been dreaming more frequently nearer to the end of the school year....but I missed them. I'm not sure if you know what I mean.
I think I just missed the feelings that come with dreams so strongly, sometimes.

There was one dream in particular, a couple of weeks ago, in which I found myself in my old house. It was as if it was present day - I was back from school for the weekend, so I didn't bring any clothes with me. I would just use whatever clothes I left at home.

I went up to my bedroom and opened the closet. There were all my clothes from when I was younger. 11 or 12 years old. A shirt I'd never thought about since it was either given to cousins or donated to some charity hung on a plastic hanger. I touched it, and it still felt as smooth as the last time I wore it. It was one of my favorite shirts; I liked the way it made my arms look. I'd forgotten about that.
There was a faint scent of moth balls coming from somewhere on the shelf above, now closer to my head than when I was child. A Halloween costume of a magician's assistant was in the same place I always kept it. I forgot about it at one point, growing up. But by the time I remembered it again, I was too big for it. I never wore that costume. Yet there it was in the back.
Even my old shoes.
Waiting for me.

Now that I think about it, I again can't remember what some of those clothes looked like. But when I opened that closet and saw all of that, there was no inkling of a doubt that I was looking at my old wardrobe. I became so aware of myself that I knew I was dreaming.
And so I explored that memory. It's as if I was sucked into a picture. Where would the boundary end? How far could I go into the closet before everything got blurry?
Sure enough, the closer I moved to my sister's side of the closet, the less often I found items that meant something to me. I could feel myself falling back into the dream as a passive dreamer. But if I stayed in my area, I could change that closet as much as I wanted to and I felt no weight of the dream. Nothing was in danger of being completely changed when I moved things around. Every item of mine was so thoroughly defined in color, texture, fabric, wear and tear...simply from memory. In fact, the longer I stayed there and moved my clothes around, the more surely I felt the carpet beneath my feet and smelled food cooking downstairs and even felt the warmth of the window sunlight falling on my leg.
I felt like I was in my house.
And I felt so out of I was invading someone else's mind. Breathing someone else's air.
In dreams, as I'm sure many of you have experienced, words might not actually be spoken or thought. Language doesn't work the same when you don't have to physically speak to communicate.
So I didn't actually think any of this word-for-word. But I suppose it went through my mind in a blink of an eye somewhat like this:
This isn't me. This is who I was. I don't know if I've changed or by how much, but I would rather not find out so bluntly from my own younger self. Please don't walk into the room. If I'm different, let it come as news from someone else who's also grown up and changed. Not you. Not me. 
Luckily, I woke up in bed right as I felt her presence growing stronger in the hall, accidentally summoned by my own thoughts. Scared awake.

One of my good friends from when I was that age (and who did grow up and change, as we all do) gave me a present the other day: a book about the psychology involved in architecture.

So attentive are our eyes and our brains that the tiniest detail can unleash memories. The swollen-bellied 'B' or open-jawed 'G' of an Art Deco font is enough to inspire reveries of short-haired women with melon hats and posters advertising holidays in Palm Beach and Le Touquet.
Just as childhood can be released from the odour of a washing powder or cup of tea, an entire culture can spring from the angles of a few lines  
- Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness 
 (yes, it is the book from "500 Days of Summer" if you've seen it) 
I'm not sure if I like dreaming of memories. Even still-frames like how that dream felt. That makes me feel even more trapped, because there's really nowhere to go.

And I know there's nothing to be afraid of in being told that I've changed. Of course I've changed; I like to tell myself they're for the better. I guess I just don't want to meet my younger self and find out that I'm a disappointing adult. If I forgot that I remembered those clothes and shoes, imagine what I could remember of my own self that I'd forgotten. Where did I think I would be in 10 years, and have I reached it? We like to think of the past as if it was awesome -- and it was. But then there are things that happened. We didn't just play around as kids until the sun set, scuffing our knees and yelling. We observed things. We learned. And we thought - a lot. We had our own opinions of things, whether or not we shared them with others.
If I spoke with her and she seemed to have a mind of her own (a thorough definition such as my shirts), she could speak for herself without a problem. I could move her around and she wouldn't change her mind. I could ask her questions and she would answer. But I didn't know what she would say. I might get stumped. Then what?
The memory of a person, even if it's subdued, makes that person......real, in a dream. And possibly unpredictable. That's what I realized as I went through my memory closet.

That's what terrified me.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

On Van Eeden, LaBerge, and Hobson

Currently, I am writing a paper for my psychology class. What else shall I talk about other than architecture in dreams?

It didn't occur to me to research on my own, before this paper was assigned. Almost everything I've ever written about or thought of came from my own mind. I never know about Frederik van Eeden, who gave lucid dreaming its name, or Stephen LaBerge until a few weeks ago. So I really don't know much about what I've been exploring in myself for the past.... 10 years (I began in 2002).

However, even though I haven't read up on all these philosophers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and studies beforehand, I've come to the same conclusions myself on many topics. So I suppose I should say I know what I'm talking about, based on personal experience and observations, not from textbooks.
Something I've been struggling with is finding texts about architecture, specifically, in dreams. But I came across this chapter on the cognitive unconscious, written by influential dream researcher Allan Hobson, which explains well the influence of the waking world (read: built world) on the dream world:
Are the brain's perceptual structures unconscious? Certainly. How else could I see, with surrealistic clarity, my dream bird hat with no external stimulus? In waking consciousness, every perceptual encounter is a match between an internal structure and an external stimulus. Without visual experience, the blind do not see -- either in their dreams or when their sight is magically restored. In this view the brain is an image file, but remember, it is much more than that, because it can fabricate new images as well as call up old ones. My bird hat is a good example of this novel image-making capability. It is this creative aspect that is at the center of the recent debate between psychoanalysts and cognitivists regarding the nature of the unconscious mind.
As soon as a percept suggests a scene -- be it my internally generated bird hat in a dream or the aquamarine Mediterranean Sea shimmering now beyond my vine-covered balcony -- my cognitive unconscious seeks to situate the stimulus in a context. The time: What day is today? The place: Where am I? And the personnel: Who is with me? If I attend to any of a myriad details, the answer -- in waking -- is unequivocally clear, because the context is given by the world. This is Stromboli. The volcano smokes above me. The Miramar Hotel porch with its characteristic Aeolian architecture frames my view. The cast of characters, the blend of my first and second families, has a reassuring unity. My son Ian has brought me the Gazetta del Sud, July 23, with its lurid tales of Mafia mischief. The chambermaid strolls by, singing, "La prima amore no si scordo mai," and even though I am busily writing, I know her song means sthat one's first love is never forgotten.
Without this external structure -- and without full access to attention or recent memory -- my cognitive unconscious does the best it can in my wedding dream. It creates the context, George Vaillant's house and garden, with a nodding obeisance to certain rules: the house is old, stylish, rambling, and full of antiques. The garden is intricate, full of terraces, walls, perennials, fountains, and hidden places. So far so good. These are the formal features of the Vaillant manse in Dedham, Massachusetts, all right. But they are organized in a completely novel way. So novel, in fact, that when I awake, I will be puzzled, if not downright consternated, by their imperfect fit with reality.
The incongruence between the dream house and the real house is surprising because now, awake, I can visualize the actual house quite easily. I could even draw a floor plan and a map of the garden that I believe would be quite accurate. To account for such a glaring discrepancy, I need to consider factors other than the absence of waking context signals. My cognitive unconscious has clearly different operating properties in dreaming. It is not only inattentive to perceptual detail, but also inattentive to its inattentiveness! I have lost the ability to image accurately. And I have lost the ability to monitor my inaccuracy. What is missing? The superego? I doubt it. A brain chemical? I am sure of it.
But a fair exchange is no robbery, as the saying goes. My cognitive losses are compensated. For my loss of perceptual and orientational accuracy, I have gained autocreative freedom. I could never in waking create so convincing a false scenario as I effortlessly dream.
My confabulatory powers are enhanced. So are my artistic talents: I paint a more colorful picture of myself than any photograph could possibly record. In my dream, I am a Fellini character costumed in grotesque, comical garb. This is why the surrealists working with Andrew Breton were so interested in dreaming. And it is why even more traditional writers, like Robert Louis Stevenson, for example, so frequently turn to dreams when stuck for a plot solution. Stevenson said he could reliably consult with his dream brownies (or fairies) when he needed a fabulous fiction. His Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation was born of one such dream dialogue.

Hobson, Allan J. (1999). Consciousness. New York, NY: Scientific American Library (48-50).

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Writing a dream--

--is actually kind of complicated.

A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I made a video for a competition. Sadly, we didn't win anything, but we got a lot of recognition and compliments from everyone. And we had a blast filming. With that project over and done with, I decided I'm not ready to call it quits yet. I'm still in the short-film-making mood.
There's another film festival that I'm considering entering with my sisters, although if we miss the deadline (Monday), that's okay -- we're just doing this for fun.

This time, the focus of the movie is on dreams. Surprised? I hope not.

For many people, dreams don't have any structure to them at all; they're completely random in how they play out, how one thing ties in with another, and the dreamer's logic is all out of sync, too. That's all well and good, but when making a film about dreams, it would be kind of a waste to just film whatever,
put it together,
and call it a dream.

I would like for there to be some structure to it.
It's the architect/engineer in me, I guess.

How else could you convey a sense of cohesion, otherwise?

My sister and I spent a couple of hours tonight mapping out the movie, from scenes to transitions. Transitions and details are of the utmost importance in this movie, I think. They serve as reminders, explanations, or enigmas. While the dream sequence in and of itself is nonsensical, it kind of does make sense as a whole -- but that's only possible with all of these transitions. Otherwise, not only would it be choppy and poorly-edited, but also completely random and hard to understand.
Me, I like organized chaos.

So while it's difficult to think on a more detailed level during the sketching phase, it's all necessary. If it doesn't make sense now, I think the finished product will clarify that for you.

In coming up with this movie, we essentially wrote out a dream from beginning to end, with all of the phenomena I've experienced. That means that I get to show you what I've been through! To a degree. I can only do so much to make the viewer feel involved.

I don't want to say too much without giving anything away, so for now...

just know that a short movie is in the works.
And you bet I'm gonna post it here when it's done.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rewind, Again

I've given myself an assignment.
Over spring break, while I'm recovering from the stress of schoolwork... I'll delve into my memory for true architectural dreams. That's the point of this blog after all, isn't it?

Sketches. Diagrams. I'm excited to start.

I know that nothing I draw will ever come close to what I've seen in my imagination. The mind is a wondrous thing that I'll never understand. But I like to think that if I can figure out these floor plans, sections, and elevations, and begin to stitch these dream worlds together -- because I've seen borders of dreams intertwine with new and old ones -- I like to think that if I can do that... then that is the equivalent of me figuring myself out.

What scares me is what kind of conclusion I would come to. What if things DO make sense after I try to reconstruct them? It seems logical to me that they should be ridiculous.
They should be nonsensical. Why should I adhere to the laws of physics of this world when I dream? I don't need to.

So I think I want things to make sense.
But how true is that? If you could analyze yourself and come to a conclusion about what kind of a person you are -- that there was absolutely no doubt about it -- would you want to know?
Suppose you don't agree with what you discover, but you can't change.

These better not make sense at all.

Another concern of mine is that since I didn't draw these in detail right after dreaming accurate will they be? To you, they're as accurate as anything else because they'd be the first time you see them. But for me, I.... I don't know if I could tell.
It's like "fixing" memories over the years.

But I knew this was going to happen. That's why I began writing them down so many years ago.

So, anyway.
One week! Then it begins.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Drafts that I'd typed up in my phone upon remembering dreams....
From oldest to most recent:

  • Got on a bus, missed something, went back, music in a sort of open mall. Think shopping village in Milan. Music by Hanson (not a real song). Almost got stuck on the bus. Man talks to me.
  • Eagles atop tree. Rome group. Eric leaves. Steph pins up maps and they look like dancers. Sleep paralysis -- mom by the bed.
  • Field trip, small class. Bright, crisp day, early spring. Old neighborhood, young people. Old, scary church closed. Surrounded by old, marble walls. Enter, find entrance -- church is now a home. Doorknob is a knocker. Inside, just as dirty, leaves everywhere, paint chipping, see someone, run out, landscape has changed but I figure it out, hop the wall, run through bushes, bleeding, grab friends and go.
  • Complete AR Lab. Solid masses (stone) with dramatic inset windows. And vice versa (glass around stone cubes) -- interaction on all levels, even street. Gorgeous. Sketch it.
  • At a party, random placement of chairs. Dark lighting, Telepopmusik, sipping beer. Steph sits down in a chair across from me. "I thought you went home for the weekend?" "I did, dumbass." Leans in closer, music stops. "I'm not really here." Don't know how to respond.
  • Back at old house, looking for clothes in the closet. Haven't seen these in years, and nothing fits. Fix the bed. Fight with Matt. Lots of screaming, furious crying. But I can't get through to him.
  • Riding bikes around near home, lift bike onto blue porch, trespass, tell Matt I do this all the time... he goes around to the front of the house, I continue to the back. Wait for him there. Wake up.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tap Tap Tap

::edit, February 12, 2012, 00:06::

I began this entry with nothing in the body. Just the title.
I wish I remembered what the point of this was. It gives me shivers of a memory, but I can't pinpoint it...

It's like trying to trace back your train of thought.....but you don't even know where your starting point is, or how far back you're trying to remember....
Ever get that feeling?

Or, speaking of feelings,
have you ever tried to recall a memory or a conversation solely based on a feeling? because that feeling is really the only thing you can remember? It takes me days, sometimes....

Tap, tap, tapping on memories, trying to shake something loose.

nope. it's not coming to me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I couldn't sleep.... but I was tired.
Thoughts that went through my head:

Lay down with the lights off. Stare into the darkness until you can see the room around you. Then close your eyes and imagine you still see everything. Now close your "eyes." Can't do it? Isn't that annoying?

Place your hand on something and stare at it, unmoving. Think about everything that your skin is coming into contact with......and what it would feel like to slide your fingers across it. Reach for your mouse/touchpad without moving your hand. Don't actually do it, just imagine it.

Or, imagine for a minute that we're not really moving our bodies. Ever. And that the world as we know it is actually just a plane of "reality" conforming to our bodies. So that every part of us is always completely surrounded by this material of folded reality.

And suppose that if we discover a way to manipulate reality in a different way than we already do (or is it reality that manipulates us?), we come up with a way to traverse oceans and lands in moments instead of hours?

Listen to the air coming out of the vent. What note is that? An A? G? D? It could be any of them, couldn't it? It's like listening to a song with some other noise distorting your sense of hearing, and you end up thinking that song is on a different key. Or a different octave.

There's the brain and all its complexities...
And then there's the mind, which can control the brain.
What do we know about it?