When historical energy lingers. (Story-time!)

I don’t usually come at you with far-out stories, but I read something interesting the other day, and I had to share it. It’s kind of a weird story:

The first night Callaghan and I spent in this house, we both dreamed about Nazis.

We were both in each other’s dream, and our dreams were similarly, unusually detailed and eventful, marked by a sense of vivid awareness. “It was so real” – that kind of dream awareness.

Within minutes of waking up, we told each other what we’d dreamed. We woke up and said, “I dreamed about Nazis,” and then found out that the other one did, too, and not only that, but we were in each other’s dream, and the story-lines of our dreams overlapped.

Of course, we were kind of creeped-out to learn that we’d basically had the same dream. About Nazis.

In Callaghan’s dream, he and I were with a hundred other people engaged in some sort of battle at a Bavarian castle, and only 10 of us made it out alive. The Nazis, he said, were turning into actual demons.

My dream picked up where his left off, but it branched into another direction: the two of us were running through a horror camp outside of the castle, trying to find a way out, except we were already on the outside, and we were trying to find a way in.

Totally over-the-top, right? As in, the brain takes something random yet specific and drops it into LSD before releasing it into your dreams… that kind of over-the-top.

Totally over-the-top, totally out-of-the-blue. It wasn’t like we’d recently seen a movie or anything on T.V. about WWII, either.

So what could have caused us to both dream about Nazis? And why on our first night in this house – and only then?

Maybe, we speculated, a Nazi lived in this house at some point. The house was built in 1958; it was possible, though unlikely, we thought, that a German war criminal lived here in Tempe, Arizona.

This brings me to the weird part: The other day, I stumbled upon this bit of trivia on the “interesting facts” page of “things to do in Arizona” (last bullet point):

The largest escape from a U.S. Prisoner of War camp during WWII occurred in the Phoenix area at Papago Park POW camp. 25 German prisoners escaped.

Papago Park is a five-minute drive from our house.

Our house was built in 1958, 13 years after the war, but being in the vicinity of the POW camp, we’re thinking it is possible that a Nazi or two (or 25) made their way across this land. We’re thinking that it’s maybe more than likely, because we did both dream about Nazis the first night we spent in this house.

It’s just too uncanny. It seems to me that we picked up on some sort of residual historical energy that first night here.

[/storytime]

Anyway, apropos of nothing, here’s a gratuitous selfie I took for no reason at all except that I was outside (yesterday) and felt like taking pics:

 

(07 Feb selfie for no reason at all)

 

If you will, please admire that gorgeous fence behind me (on the left side of the pic), as Callaghan has worked hard building it! He just finished it. This weekend is going to be all about building a kick-ass tortoise burrow. I ordered two tons of dirt to be delivered tomorrow. Exciting times!

Confession: My Extreme First-World Problem

I woke up this morning and spent a good ten minutes processing the dream I’d had. It involved the revelation that Callaghan and I are geniuses via the supernatural elderly woman who transformed herself into a giant, fiery flower waving to and fro in our direction on a cold, cindery street corner, city unknown. Later, in the back room of a small shop, it was revealed that she was eastern European, but she’d resided in Quebec the last half of her life, so she was technically a Québécoise with a Slavic accent. Once we found out that she’d lived in Quebec, the dream language switched to Quebec French embellished with the beautiful, curly linguistic mood of Hungary or Romania or wherever it was she’d originally called home. But the shop – their family business – projected such a powerful Old World vibe, I felt like we were back in Europe as we sat drinking tea with the woman and her grown son.

It was her son who explained that when his mother transformed into a giant flower made of flames (we could just see her face in the center of it, her mouth opening and closing rhythmically in a mysterious mantra-like communication we couldn’t hear nor fathom in any other way) and waved herself in our direction from the street corner, we were able to see her because we were geniuses. “Only geniuses can see her when she transforms,” was how he put it. It wasn’t the first time we’d seen her, either. Earlier in the dream, she’d appeared on another street in the same city, also transformed, but differently, intoning the same unintelligible sounds at us, trying to tell us something, the same thing, words that were never deciphered. We just understood that they comprised a warning of some kind.

We were not pleased to learn that we were geniuses, because the price of that “gift” was this wraith-like figure in the shape of a flower on fire chanting ominously about what we assumed would be our ultimate demise… something horrific, for sure. Better to be dumb and happy, we thought. Ignorance is bliss.

There was a lot more to the dream, but I’ll leave it at that because the dream was not what I wanted to talk about today.

Ahem.

Today, I wanted to make a confession. A humorous little piece about “extreme first-world problems” recently surfaced on my Facebook feed, which got me thinking… what would be my own most extreme first-world problem? The answer came easily, as it’s something I’ve been lamenting for a while now.

Let me preface this by saying that I tend to think we should be allowed to kvetch a little when life’s inconveniences snag the flowing fabric of our day without feeling guilty because OH MY GOD THAT’S A FIRST-WORLD PROBLEM, but there is a line, as with everything. There’s always a line. It’s the extreme first-world problems that should warrant our guilt, and I certainly feel guilty about mine.

Are you ready?

My most extreme first-world problem is this: I’ve been to Paris five times, but somehow, inexplicably, I’ve never visited Jim Morrison’s grave.

 

Stock photo of Jim Morrison's grave. Not mine. WOE IS ME.

Stock photo of Jim Morrison’s grave. Not mine. WOE IS ME.

 

This is a ridiculous complaint by anyone’s standards, so I think it qualifies as extreme. I mean, try to tell me it does not put some of the extreme first-world problems cited in that article to shame. I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is. What kind of an American am I to have been to Paris five times and failed to EVER visit Jim Morrison’s grave?

To balance things out here, I must say that I’m grateful for every one of my many visits to my beloved Eiffel Tower, and I never take her for granted.

I’m sure as hell going straight to Jim Morrison’s grave the next time I land in Paris, though.

This Post Contains Sleep-Laughing, Stevie the 4-Runner, Movies and the End of an Era

I often experience insomnia and nightmares pending a big move. It happened when I was getting ready to move out to the Superstition Mountains. It happened when I was getting ready to move to France. It even happened when we were getting ready to move here!

Now, another big move is pending, but instead of having sleep issues, I’ve been sleeping very well… and last night, something totally bizarre happened. I had a dream in which Callaghan and I were laughing boisterously at something (I wish I could remember what). Suddenly, I found myself awake, and Callaghan was laughing and saying, “You were laughing! Really loudly!”

Can you believe it? I actually woke Callaghan up because I was laughing in my sleep. Unheard-of! I opened my eyes laughing and he was laughing, too, just as he was in the dream, because my sleep-laughter was infectious, he said. We snuggled close, laughing and kissing each other back to sleep. It was sweet and weird and different and awesome.

I think I can take this as a sign that moving back to Arizona is the right thing to do.

We had a busy, fun and emotional weekend.

Busy because: We got some boxes, did some packing, and reserved a trailer. We knew we’d eventually see the end of our blissfully unfettered non-vehicle-owing days… they came to a screeching halt when we bought an old (1999) Toyota 4-Runner last week in preparation for our move to Arizona. We got a truck because a) we prefer them, b) cargo space, and c) trailer hitch. We named her Stevie, after Arizona native Stevie Nicks. She rocks! She’s not the worst gas-guzzler we’ve ever seen, so that’s good. We can strap Ronnie James and Nounours safely in the back seat in their respective carriers, load up the rear cargo area and hook the trailer to the back so we can drag the material contents of our lives across the expanse of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona we need to cover to reach our destination. No airplanes, movers or shippers for us this time!

 

Stevie, dressed in black, just like her rock star namesake! Callaghan got creative with the blurring out of her plate.

Stevie, dressed in black, just like her rock star namesake! Callaghan got creative with the blurring out of her plate.

 

Fun because: We spent all Saturday afternoon right up into the evening ensconced in movie theaters. We do this thing where we wait until there are several films out that we want to see, and then we spend a whole day watching them back to back. The last time, we went for Pacific Rim, The Conjuring and The Heat. This time, it was Prisoners, Rush and Gravity… and again, it was well worth it. The films ranged from very good (Prisoners) to great (Rush) to OUT-OF-THS-WORLD stunning (Gravity), with plenty of thrills all around.

Emotional because: After we emerged from the theater, we headed to a nearby McDonald’s to get online (their free internet is the best thing on the menu!) and check our phone messages. This led to finding out that my Grandma had died earlier in the day, in Hawaii, where she’d lived all 99 years of her life. She was ready to go. She went to sleep and dreamed herself a peaceful, painless end to a life that had been rich and fulfilling. Devout Buddhists in the Japanese Jodo Shinshu tradition, she and Grandpa had derived a lot of joy from the work they did for decades at their hongwanji (Buddhist temple) in Kahului, so our family will get together there next summer to memorialize them both.

She was my last Grandparent. It’s an odd new circumstance, not having Grandparents.

It’s All in the Details. Too Many Details.

This week, I started having dreams of disconcerting detail. I jotted them down each morning, though I didn’t need to, because I still remember them all… these were not normal dreams, especially not for me, being someone who rarely has dreams she remembers. This week’s dreams have been sharp, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, layered with thought processes, inner voices and memories.

Monday night: Details such as my dream-self thinking of the specific reason why I’d gone to bed when I did, in my dream, and the chipped paint on the corner of the distressed piece of furniture (a small chest of drawers), and how there were four pieces of white furniture, but two of them were different shades of white than the others, the image of the different shades etched deep on the surface of my memory when I woke up… and also knowing and remembering exactly how it was that I’d come across these pieces, and my thought process regarding the differing shades, looking at all four of them together and comparing the colors, and then the crisp detail of the style of the first piece, and of the others, going clockwise around the room and back, etc…. This kind of detail in a dream can drive you crazy, can’t it?

Tuesday night: The detail of the side of the bed in which I – my dream-self – had slept, and why I’d chosen that side. Dream rationale. The layout of the house, its floor-plan, how the water – the shoreline – wrapped around it; on the left side of the house, the fence closing off the private backyard, and noting how, from that side, you could only access the water from the inside of the house (a private little stretch of the beach), but how on the other side, to the right of the house, the water could be accessed by the public, though it was still a part of the private property. This kind of detail, and also the detail of the reasons why the new homeowner bought that particular house. The detail of the interior scents, as each room had its own, unique fragrance. The detail of the planning and the strategizing that went into the moving (into the house). The weather on the day of the move, and what the person explained to me (regarding my motivations the previous night) when my dream-self woke up in the morning.

Exciting stuff, right?

Wednesday night: How the angles of the clouds looked in the reflection of the rising sun. Yes, the clouds in the sky were angular. Fluffy sharp mirrors, blinding. Remnants of the hours spent dwelling on this. This is insanity. Also, the clouds were conversing with each other, and they were speaking French, each side of the dialogue absorbed into the ether.

Thursday (last night): The dog, a cute mutt, sitting and waiting in glorious detail on the front steps of a particular house in California, the key under the doormat, the doubled food and water bowls in the garage (hot pink bowls nested inside larger electric blue ones), and the heavy smell of rain in the air, a scent of rain so powerful that it wasn’t just intense, it was actually invasive, the dream-scent lingering in my nostrils when I woke up.

What is all of this? I wondered when I opened my eyes this morning, feeling tired after four nights of dreamscape insanity. Where are these dreams coming from?

Then it occurred to me.

On Monday, my doctor at the V.A. gave me Ropinirole for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Ropinirole is a dopamine agonist, which is a compound that works to activate the brain’s dopamine receptors. It’s prescribed to patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as those with RLS. Following my hunch that it must be related to my bizarre dream activity, I looked it up online and read that the drug can cause hallucinations.

 

What a bottle of crazy dreams looks like. Not as nice as the mug Callaghan got me while were waiting to pick it up (at the V.A.).

What a bottle of crazy dreams looks like. Not as nice as the mug Callaghan got me while we were waiting for the pharmacy pick-up (at the V.A.).

 

So that explains it, right? Whew! I’m tired. How can anyone feel rested after nights on end dreaming to this ridiculous degree?

Since the drug isn’t really helping, and since I’m not enjoying the level of dream activity it’s provoking, I’m going to stop taking it. There are other options.

There’s a reason why I’ve never been attracted to the notion of experimentation with hallucinogenic recreational drugs – I don’t want to hallucinate. The idea has never appealed to me. I like reality. I like reality in all of its mundane and often depressing, dubious splendor, and I will navigate it with my sanity intact, thank you very much. Give me reality and the dreamless sleep of the dead any day.

Ropinirole. Not for me!

The Elisabeth Shue Stage of Sleep

A few days ago, Callaghan listened to a documentary and then informed me that sleep scientists have made a discovery: dreams we have during the R.E.M. stage of sleep tend to be negative or unhappy, and when we frequently dream during this stage, we are more likely to be depressed.

It was like setting my mind down where the path branches off every which way. I immediately barraged Callaghan with questions. (Being married to me, he gets to put up with my questions. He’s doing a pretty good job so far. Meaning, he’s still here.)

“I thought we only dream during R.E.M. – ?”

“Well, I don’t know, the scientists said that we dream at different stages.”

“What stages?”

“I’m not sure, but that was a part of the discovery… that there are different dream stages.”

“What if the dream isn’t good or bad, but just weird? Did the scientists say if there’s a weird-dream stage?”

“I don’t remember. I was working as I was listening, so my attention wasn’t all there during some of it.”

“…what about those dreams where they’re good, but when you wake up and realize it was just a dream, you get depressed? How do those fit into the theory? Are all ‘good’ dreams really good if they make you feel terrible afterward? How can we know what’s really a good dream? Did they say?”

Poor Callaghan.

I had this suspicion that the scientists purposefully side-stepped the weird-dream issue because they didn’t want to end up with an awkward obligation to admit that some dreams are just neutral, dreams that can’t be quantified by absolutes like “good” and “bad.” “Weird” opens up a whole new sub-category of the theory that wouldn’t fit into the 90-minute time restraint of the documentary.

Two nights later, I dreamed about Elisabeth Shue, an actress I hadn’t recently seen, heard of, or thought about. She’s not a celebrity who turns up in Who Wore It Best or photographed going to Starbucks or rumored to be hiding a baby bump or anything like that. She’s not a chased-by-the-Paparazzi celebrity. I’ve never held a particular admiration of her. I have no opinion of her as being especially beautiful or talented. I just fell asleep, and there she was:

Elisabeth Shue

Elisabeth Shue

Elisabeth Shue was presenting at a major awards ceremony, wearing a sleek, dark gown. Her hair was lifted into an upsweep. She looked elegant, and she exuded delight… not in presenting awards, but in anticipation of something that was about to happen. Next thing, she was hang-gliding over a vast canyon. The night was inky black, and she was lit up like a comet on her hang-glider, leaving a trail of light as she went smoothly back and forth, high and low, occasionally looping upside down. The form of Elisabeth Shue was lost; I could only see that sleek, bright light. But I knew it was her, and I knew that hang-gliding had been the main part of her agenda all along.

“What do you think the scientists would say about that?” I asked Callaghan as we drank our coffee in bed. The dream had been neither good nor bad. The only thing I felt was Elisabeth Shue’s emotion, not mine. “Would this land in the weird-dream stage of sleep that the scientists didn’t address, if such a stage even exists? Maybe there’s a black hole stage of sleep where we dream in-between dreams.”

Since then, Callaghan hasn’t told me about any documentaries he’s listened to. I can’t imagine why not….