DREAMS OF HEALTH & WELL-BEING
Here at my “professional blog,” I’ve been concentrating on all the good buzz-words: creating quality content, and organizing a schedule of evergreen / pillar posts, and thinking about SEO. I’m fine with all that, and it’s been paying off in terms of total hits, but sometimes I feel like I get a little lost amongst those things.
Lately I’ve been doing an awful lot of personal blogging at a secret location — daily blogging, in fact. It’s felt good to just babble, and the denizens of the secret location seem to like it when I do. I think, maybe, this blog needs a little babbling too.
Remember the definition of “paranormal”?
Para- / par-ə / Prefix. ”Alongside, near, beyond, altered, contrary to.”
normal / nawr-muhl / Adjective. “Conforming to the standard; usual; regular; natural.”
Truth is, no matter how much I love all that is traditionally paranormal, I spend an awful lot of my life just the tiniest scootch to the left of plain-old-normal. And that means that I deal with all sorts of mundane issues and problems. It means I have the same kind of personal dreams as about 99% of the population. It means I’ve got to use this time of year — when ghosts and monsters and Jacks are far from the minds of most folks, including me — to pursue my non-paranormal dreams.
In the next few days, I’ll share a couple of tools I found to help me with my own classic (if mundane) resolutions: creating a healthier body and improving my financial situation. I’ve been using them since before January, and I think they have had amazing results. (I’m down 10 pounds & eat vegetables occasionally now, AND I have more than $500 in an actual savings account For me, these developments are nothing short of miraculous.)
Now is the time to deal with snow and cold and ice. It’s the time to get through each day in such a way that will lay a good foundation for future, more-paranormal-activity-friendly months. It’s the time to do the WORK of keeping one’s New Year’s Resolutions, and that’s what I’ve been mostly doing in these last couple of months.
DREAMS OF SPRING
Still, the light changes a little each day. In 37 days, it will be equinox, and I can feel it coming. I covered a shift at the #ParanormalHotel last week, just to help out in an emergency. As I drove over at 5:57p it was not yet dark.
QUICK, TENUOUSLY RELATED, UPDATE ON LANGSTON:
By the way, a couple of weeks into the job, Langston had an especially bad night, in an especially bad weekend, and ended up being let go. He made a questionable judgement call and the consequences were really expensive for the hotel owners. The decision came down that he’s not mature enough to handle the night shift. Since then, he’s found a new job working at the deli counter of a local grocery, so it’s all good.
Sometimes, when the wind stops blowing and the sun shines, I can sense the promise of spring in the air. The other day, when The Boy and I driving to school with the windows rolled partially down, we heard this:
It was only one refrain, and we couldn’t see the little guy, but we both instantly smiled. Sadly, the invisible bird was a bit premature, as the weather is not actually spring like at all. I remember having winters like this as a child, but The Boy doesn’t … it’s been that long since we had this much snow and cold here.
Even in this state of hardy snowmobile-loving, ice-fishing souls, the zeitgeist is that we’re DONE with this crap:
DREAMS OF GHOSTS AND DEMONS?
I’ve been sleeping often, long and deep for a couple of months now, but I think that’s coming to an end … thank God. I hate feeling tired all the time, and I especially hate descending so deep into unconsciousness that I don’t dream. Or at least don’t remember my dreams.
Apparently, two nights ago, I talked in my sleep. The Ogre tells me that I rolled over to tell him, “I didn’t think your horns would be so big.” He attempted to get me to expound, but that’s all I’d say.
I’m going to assume that I encountered a satyr or a talking beast of some sort in my dreams, because I don’t want to be consorting with demons, conscious or not.
Of that, I have no memory, but I had a dream within a dream just last night. Creepy as hell. The dog and I had fallen asleep on the sofa. At some point, he decided to move to the floor, which woke me slightly. I re-positioned myself and drifted back toward sleep. Then I “realized” someone was standing across the room, in front of the TV, (which was off) just watching me. The presence was male and not benevolent, but not terribly threatening. At least he didn’t make any move to approach — which was creepy in its own way, because it made me understand that it wasn’t just one of my menfolk. He was large, and had a sort of dark energy about him. I couldn’t make out any details. I actually tried to see him more clearly, so I could determine if he had anything that could be termed “horns.” As far as I could tell, he didn’t.
Then I “realized” I was dreaming. I got up and went to the bedroom, to cuddle in with Ogre. When I got there, I tried to wake him up a little, just so he could soothe me. But he wouldn’t wake. I grew increasingly insistent and scared. I was shaking him and shouting his name when I woke up … on the sofa.
(Yes, I had seen the latest Walking Dead episode earlier in the night.)
Once I’d actually gotten up, gone to the bedroom, and easily awakened my husband, I felt much better. The moment I knew I had just been dreaming, the events of the dream became story fodder. And that’s why I love dreaming, even when it’s frightening. It means I’m going to be able to write fiction more easily soon. In fact, it means I’m going to have to.
And that brings me full circle back to the first kind of dream in this post, doesn’t it?
I wrote about my great-grandmother and my grandmother, Marie, in the post The Paranormalist’s Family Album: Jack, Marie & Edward, with guns – 1910s. Marie’s story – unlike her mother’s – is well known to our family. She was sent from Norway to American, with her brother Jack, because her mother was dying, to live with siblings from her mother’s previous marriage.
The first half-sister who took in the children was not kind. There are stories of Marie being stripped of the nice things she had with her when she arrived in Minnesota, and of being forced to sell a certain number of apples before she could return home for the evening.
Time passed. Stories of the children’s mistreatment made their way to northern Minnesota, where Edward and another adult half-sister lived. This half-sister went to fetch Jack and Marie while they were still young teens. A few good years followed. Marie learned the womanly arts, like sewing and cooking. She went to the local barn dances. She fell in love with a German boy, John, who had a wild reputation (for his time.) She married him and moved to his homestead. Then things went horribly wrong.
By most accounts, the abuse was harsh and frequent. The marriage yielded three children. Marie’s only son took the brunt of John’s legendary temper, but the girls did not escape unscathed. (One afternoon John speared my mother through the thigh with a pitchfork, because she wasn’t packing the hay wagon tightly enough. She wasn’t yet twelve years old at the time.) Though Marie adored her children, she was not able to protect them. Sometimes she was able to deflect John’s rage from them to herself.
One by one, the children ran away. Eventually, the couple sold the farm and moved to a small house in town. Marie became a licensed practical nurse. She worked with The Sisters, as she liked to say. She settled into a rough peace with an aging John.
Very late in her life, Marie divorced John and came to live with my mother and me. She was in her eighties, I was in my late teens. She didn’t take up much room. She just needed a place to keep a few few delicate things – her nursing pin, her sewing basket, her china cup – she had brought with her, from the little house she had shared with John. It was easy to make her happy. She enjoyed a very small scoop of vanilla ice cream, in a pretty dish, at the end of each day. She died of heart failure before I was graduated from high school.
Just a year later, I became pregnant. When my daughter was born I became a single mother. My family remodeled the basement of my mother’s home into a nice little apartment. My daughter and I lived there for four years.
By the time my girl was a year and a half old, she was frequently talking about her friend, “Tee-tee”. Tee-tee liked to have tea parties. Tee-tee liked soft, pretty things. Tee-tee was very quiet. Before long, the imaginary friend faded from my daughter’s life, but every once in a while she would reminisce about spending time with the little woman, whom she now referred to as Grandma Teacup.
It wasn’t until years later that my daughter first saw a photograph of Marie as an elderly woman.
You already know the end of this story, don’t you?
I’m sorry I don’t have a way to upload a picture of Marie tonight, but I will when my scanner is working again.
Last night, as the midnight NaBloPoMo deadline approached, I was completely caught up in a rollicking game of Catch Phrase. Unwilling to step away from the game, I begged my great-niece to write a blog post in for me. She is the only person in my family who shares my fascination with creepy things. (This fact amuses me because she is also my namesake – her middle name is Renae.)
She had no idea that I was going to ask her to do it, nor any familiarity with my blog. Of course she knows I’m a horror writer, and that her mother and I are preparing to do paranormal investigations together – so she wasn’t too startled by the request. She did have to think on her feet though, because I gave her almost nothing to go on. I merely pointed her at my blog, told her to read a few entries to get a feel for the theme, showed her how to add a new post, and let her go.
I was surprised by what she wrote … but not shocked.
I suppose I was about Chammi’s age when I experienced my own nocturnal visitation.
(Forgive the picture quality. This a snapshot, taken with my cell phone, of a snapshot taken when I was 14.)
I remember coming awake slowly in my twin bed, turning from my habitual fetal position onto my back. As usual, my nightgown wrapped uncomfortably around my legs. (I still hate to feel constricted or constrained when I’m sleeping.) I decided to get out of bed – I suppose intending to stand up and straighten out my bedclothes – but when I opened my eyes, I froze.
A figure was leaning over my bed. Its featureless “face” hovered inches above mine. I did not get the sense it was a solid thing. I did not feel any malevolence from it. When I think of it now, I conjure a mental image of a tall, willowy, feminine … presence. And I think of the color blue.
Like Chammi, I didn’t scream or freak out. I think I just went back to sleep. Of course it could have been a dream. I dreamed a lot when I was a child and teenager. Most of my dream images were recurring. (There was one in which I saw the shadow of a wolfman on my bedroom wall, another in which I bounded through an endless meadow.) The Blue Lady, though, I saw only once. Like Chammi, I can’t exactly articulate how or why I became convinced that this single event was not a dream – if it wasn’t, however, I don’t know how to explain it. It doesn’t seem to fit neatly into any of the most common paranormal categories. (Ghosts, apparitions, poltergeist, grays, etc.)
The phenomena which seems most similar is called sleep paralysis – which occurs when a person retains a type of consciousness even though the brain/body is in a REM sleep state. It can occur either at the beginning or end of the REM cycle (when falling asleep or waking up.) Sufferers of sleep paralysis report sensing an evil presence or feeling watched; feeling pressure on the chest / suffocated; being unable to move (which is accurate – the body does enter into a paralyzed state during REM, so that the sleeper doesn’t injure themselves or others during dreams;) feeling panicked or threatened; and seeing hallucinations.