Tag Archive | sleep

Doggy Psychology

Max, you're expression perfectly sum up my feelings about what happened the other night.

I like to think that I understand dogs, Max and Lulu especially. I want to believe that the hours spent watching Animal Planet, and reading dog training advice (not to mention talking to the Trainers)  during my breaks when I was working at PetSmart weren’t for nothing. I’m quietly smug when I see other people struggling with doggy issues that I know all about. I want to think of myself as a competent dog owner.

The past three years with Max and Lulu, though, have showed me that for all that I though I knew, there’s a million things that I didn’t know.  And just when I think that I’m getting the hang of things, they throw me for a loop, and I’m left struggling in the dark.

For instance, a couple of nights ago I was going to bed at about 2 am. This isn’t as bad as it sounds–I had fallen asleep while reading earlier, and this just happened to be when I woke up,  and had time to brush my teeth and put on pajamas and do all of those other little annoying things that a decent person does before going to bed.

As I was settling down, Max started looking for a toy. This isn’t unusual, because you never know, but I might just wake up in the middle of the night and decide to play with him. Plus, it gives Max a distraction if he’s awake and I’m not. The problem was where he was looking for the toy. He kept pawing at the wall next to the bed, like the toy he wanted had fallen between the bed and the wall.

I thought this was a little strange, but gamely moved the bed away from the wall to try and find the toy he wanted–shih tzu‘s are stubborn, and it’s hard to distract Max from a toy he wants. The problem was, there was nothing there. Max crawled under the bed and looked around, all the while growling and chuffing at me like he wanted to play, and I was hiding a toy from him.  He got back up on the bed, and started digging at the bedding–that was really odd, because when I made the bed in the morning I make sure that any toys that spent the night with the dogs end up on the floor.  Still, I pulled back the blankets and sheets, examining each layer to see if I’d somehow missed a thin toy or something.

I hadn’t, so I put the bed back together, and pushed it back up against the wall, and tried to settle down again, but Max was having none of that–he still kept digging at the wall. I wondered if a walk would distract him from whatever it was he was looking for. Upon putting on shoes–the universally recognized symbol that Cori is about to go outside at our house–Lulu perked up and  followed me to the front door. Max kept digging at the mattress and wall.  I was able to call him to go on the walk, and we were able to get things taken care of, and we headed back upstairs.  Upon re-entering the house, Max, my velcro dog, the one who doesn’t like to be more than 10 feet away from me at any given time, made a beeline for the bed, and started digging and growling and huffing again–still playfully, though with a tinge of irritation.

It had been about forty-five minutes since this whole thing started, and I wanted to go to sleep–and it obviously wasn’t going to happen until Max had figured out that there was nothing there, so I grabbed a blanket and pillow, and went to sleep on the couch–cussing all the time. Here I’m supposed to be at least a quasi dog expert, and I just let my dog chase me out of my bed. As I lay on the couch, I pondered what could have caused Max to behave in such a manner–did we have mice? Possible, but we live on a third floor, and the wall he was digging at is an inside wall–it didn’t face the exterior and isn’t connected to a neighbor’s wall at all. Besides, it would be a weird place for mice to show up, I’d expect them in the kitchen or the bathroom, not the bedroom where the dogs spend most of their day.  Something from the utilities, perhaps? We-e-e-l-l…that wall has electricity, and I THINK it’s where the dryer vent exits, but there isn’t gas or water running through that wall. And as for the dryer vent–we have had starlings nesting in it, but there nest had been cleared out, and a cage put over the exterior hole so they couldn’t build a new one there. And besides, even where there were birds living inside that wall, Max never showed them any interest.

Finally, I convinced myself that it was something from downstairs that Max was smelling, that it just happened to come up along that wall. I wasn’t terribly satisfied with that explanation, but it was an explanation. Explanations are important. Especially when it’s nearing 3am and I want to sleep.

I heard Max in the bedroom for perhaps another 15 minutes, then he decided that whatever it was he wasn’t finding wasn’t worth spending the night away from his person, so he came out to join me on the couch. I took that as a sign that it was okay to move back into the bedroom, and did so with the resolve that if Max’s adventure were to continue, he’d spend the rest of the night locked in the crate.

Fortunately, he had calmed down to the point where his half-hearted growls could be quieted with a heavy hand on the shoulders, and I was able to get some sleep, and even make it to class on time the next day, throughly puzzled about what had happened, and why it had happened.

The next night, I went to bed at a much more decent time, and Max settled down quickly, the way he normally does. While I was going to sleep, I was thinking about the dream I had had the night before, trying to figure out if I could frame it into a story (the answer is no, at least not at this time) and I wondered if what Max was did the night before was the result of being woken up from a dream.

The way I figure it, Max sees me opening up parts of the wall all day long, in the form of doors, windows, cupboards and drawers. If he had been dreaming that I (or someone else) opened up the wall by the bed and hid something there, then I woke him up by coming to bed, would he know the difference between dreams and reality? And, if in his dream,  it was a really good toy or treat or whatever, than of course he’d keep going after it.

I don’t know if the dream explanation makes any sense, after all, I can’t exactly ask Max what he dreams about (well, I can,  I just don’t get an answer). As long as it means that I don’t have mice.

Anatomy of a bad night

12 am:  Decide it’s time for bed, and begin preparing for it.  Walk the dogs, brush the teeth, take a shower, wash face, etc.

12:30 am: go to bed.  Remember you have to make a phone call in the morning to set up an appointment with your academic advisor.  Get out of bed.  Find the card with your academic advisor’s name, phone number, and office location on it.  Realize that you don’t know what the two-letter abbreviation for the building where your advisor’s office is stands for.  Spend the next 5 minutes looking for a map of campus,  then the next 15 unsuccessfully looking for the building abbreviation.   Decide that you can’t find it because you’re too tired, and put it off until the morning.

12:50 am: Go back to bed.  Stress about school.  Toss and turn for an hour.

2 am: Get up, and try to write.  Realize that everything you’re writing is either too melodramatic, or junk.  Get distracted while on the computer, and play Facebook games.

3 am: Get startled a) by the time, and b) that your father has gotten up and is checking Facebook before he goes to work.  Be embarrassed by the fact that you haven’t gone to sleep yet.  Close Facebook, and try to go to bed. Toss and turn.

3:30 am: Unable to sleep, realize  how bad the dogs smell, and that you’ve been threatening to bathe them for a week.  Get up, and give the dogs a bath.

4 am: Be grateful that your downstairs neighbor is out-of-town, and that the roommate is spending the night at a friend’s house while Max and Lulu try to out run their wet fur.

4:30 am: spread a towel over the blankets where the dogs usually sleep to avoid getting the wet dog smell on your bed, now that they’ve burned off all that energy.  Read for a bit. Listen to the dogs snore.

4:45 am: decide that  you’re now tired enough for sleep, and shut off the light.  Just as you are falling asleep, hear Lulu yelp in her sleep, get up, and want to cuddle with you.  You are now, once again, fully awake.

5 am: having calmed Lulu down, pull the computer back out.  Start a new town on the Sims, and spend then next hour and a half setting up said town, while doing some more bad/overly melodramatic writing.

6:30 am: realize it’s getting light outside, and check the clock.  Debate the pros and cons of getting dressed to take the dogs out again.  Stall.

6:45 am: get up, get dressed, take the dogs out.  Recoil like a vampire from the early morning light. (12:30 pm realize while writing the post that this is potentially a bad simile, and spend a ridiculous amount of time researching vampires for a throw-away joke, only to realize, that you don’t really care.)

7 am: Go back to bed.  Hear the roommate come home, have the dogs go and investigate.

7:15 am: The dogs, having been satisfied that they know the person who just entered our home, now come back to you.  Give in to Lulu’s begging to be picked up and placed on the bed.   Expect Max to steal the comfortable spot you’ve just made for yourself while picking Lulu up, then get annoyed when you tell/force him to move.

7:20 am: hear the roommate leave for work.

7:45 am: finally fall asleep.

11 am: wake up when someone sends you a text message.  Decide that it’s too late to go back to sleep, drift back to sleep for a few minutes anyway.

11:45 am: wake up again, decide you absolutely need to get up.  Expect mocking stares from the dogs as you stumble into the bathroom to “begin” your day.

12 pm: start blogging about the horrible night you had.

Conflict and Resolution

I’ve been struggling the past few days.  I haven’t been sleeping well, so during the day I’m tired, slightly dizzy and headachy, and above all, apathetic.

I’ve been trying to write, in fact, today that’s about all I did, but everything I turned out was rubbish.  I just can’t get the amazing characters in my head onto paper–although I’ve discovered that I do better if I write in a notebook first, then leave it alone for a few days, then input it into the computer.  This has the added benefit of when I get frustrated, I can tear out the paper, wad it up, and throw it across the room (Max only brings it back half the time).  That’s much more satisfying than just hitting the ‘delete’ key.

I think maybe my problem is that I spend too much time developing characters, and not enough time on plot.  I get a basic scenario figured out, but not a climax or an ending, so I have a hard time figuring out where to go.  I don’t really go for big, complicated outlines, but at the same time, I’m far from a discovery writer.

So, my goal for the next little while is to work on plots.  When I think about it, it’s not really surprising that conflict climax are what I struggle with–I don’t like drama in real life, and even when I’m watching TV, and things get too…I’m going to use the word embarrassing, for the characters, I’ll change the channel.

I know I have a few other writers who read this blog (I’m not sure how comfortable I feel about calling myself a writer, but that’s the ultimate goal) so I’m asking for some advice–how do you get over your own personal dislikes and hang-ups to make your story better? And please don’t say embrace them to give your characters personality.  Drama is what moves the plot along, and drama is what I tend to avoid.  Basically, if I were to have written the  Wheel of Time saga in the state I am now, it would be less Dumai’s Wells, and more washing silk.

And nobody wants that.

Ghost Stories

It’s February, and, if you work in Hollywood, anyway, that means two things.  First, an overabundance of cheesy romantic movies for Valentines Day, and second, it’s time for the theatrical release of the scary movies so they’ll be come out on DVD in time for Halloween.

I thought I get into the spirit (ahem) of things, and, since I don’t have any plans for Valentines Day (besides going to church) I thought I’d share my experiences with ghosts.  Or something.

The first one happened when I was about 14.  I was spending time with my grandparents on the ranch they owned at the time, in Steptoe Valley, in Eastern Nevada.

Google wouldn't let me embed this map, but if you click on it, it will take you to the Google Maps version of this image.

I can’t remember why I was there when my sister or none of my cousins were–I spent a lot of time on my Grandparent’s ranch, but usually as part of a family gathering–holidays or helping to vaccinate, brand or AI the cattle (if you don’t know what AI is, don’t ask.  And yes, I have helped with all three activities, although, there is a shortage of wimmenfolk on that side of my family, so I usually spent my time in the kitchen helping prepare meals for the big strong working men.)

One night, I was asleep with my arms above my head.  I felt a tickle on the inside of my arm and armpit–like someone was dragging a feather across my arm.  I had a pet bird at the time, (though not with me in Nevada) and I woke up enough to think it was my sister (who was perhaps one hundred miles away) tickling me with one of Sidney’s feathers.  I mumbled “Knock it off, [Sister’s Name]”, and opened my eyes.

I saw, standing at the foot of my bed, a boy about the same age I was at the time.  He had red hair and freckles, and was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and overalls.  I could see that he was laughing, but not maliciously–it was more like he’d just pulled a joke and was happy to see that it worked, but I didn’t hear anything. Oh, and I could see through him.  I thought “Oh, it’s just a ghost”, and closed my eyes to go back to sleep.  By that time, what I had just seen had time to sink in, and my brain started shouting at me, so I sat straight up in bed, with my eyes wide open, but whatever I had just seen disappeared.

This ranch is very secluded, and I was the only kid my age for perhaps 20 miles.  One of the hired men who lived on site at that time had a wife and children, but the kids were little–4 and 2, not to mention Hispanic.

It was years before I told anyone that story, I still haven’t told my Grandparents–they are very down to earth and Grandma would probably just laugh at me.

I fully acknowledge that the tickle that I felt could have been something like a fly or a random breeze, and the ghost could have been part of a dream, but I haven’t experienced anything like that before or since–and it change my life, at least in the fact that when I sleep with my arms above my head now, I make sure they’re covered.

The second experience is much more difficult to put into words.

I was living in Logan, Utah, going to school at Utah State University.  I moved into an off-campus apartment, and, during the course of the year that I lived there, several strange, if subtle, things happened–it wasn’t until after I moved out did I think that they might be connected, and perhaps there was a paranormal explanation to them.  I am aware that it could have all been a series of strange, random coincidences that just happened to take place while I was living in that apartment–and only when I was living in that apartment.

First, I would have episodes sleep paralysis, averaging out to be about once every six weeks or so.  I would feel like there was someone sitting on the foot of my bed, then wake up enough to know that there wasn’t, start to fall back asleep, feel like there was someone sitting on the foot of my bed, wake up enough to know that there wasn’t…this would happen four or five times in a row until I either managed to completely fall asleep or completely wake up.

I was taking a psychology class at the time, and knew about sleep paralysis and hypnogogic trances, so they I found these episodes more annoying than freaky.  And they completely stopped when I moved out of that apartment–even though my sleep, work or school schedules hadn’t changed, and my stress load hadn’t lightened any.

That apartment had three bedrooms, so I had two roommates.  We were all issued keys that would lock and unlock the front door, and the door to our individual bedrooms–but not the other two bedrooms in the house.  Somehow, I managed to constantly lock my keys inside my bedroom–to the point where I had an extra made that I kept hidden in one of the house plants.  On one occasion, I locked myself out of my bedroom, but the property manager couldn’t come to open the door for me until morning.  I spent the night on a cramped, uncomfortable love seat.  While I was trying to fall asleep, I felt a kindly presence, and had the distinct impression that it was amused that I had locked myself out of my bedroom.

In retrospect, that kindly presence was pretty much a constant companion in that apartment, to the point where it felt like I was never alone.  I remember on more than one occasion, coming home and feeling like the apartment was occupied, then being surprised when a while later both of my roommates walked through the door.

The word “Townhome” might better describe this property–it was two stories, with the kitchen, living room and a half-bath on the main level, and the bedrooms and a full bath on the second level.  One day, I was coming out of my bedroom and tripped on the stairs.  I slid down on my knees–I remember watching in horror as the wall at the bottom of the stairs came closer and closer, but my arms were pinned to my side, so I couldn’t raise my hands to stop myself from hitting the wall.  I did manage to turn my head so I didn’t break my nose or split my lip–though I did end up with a wicked rug burn on my knees and a large bruise on my cheek.

I fully admit that I’m a klutz, and I could have tripped on my own, but I don’t know why my arms didn’t work when I tried to pull them up to protect my head from hitting the wall.

Like I said, I’m not even sure that these experiences were connected in any way, or that there is a paranormal explanation to them.  I certainly didn’t think so at the time–I loved that apartment and would have stayed, but the property management company raised the rent to the point where I could no longer afford to.  It wasn’t until much later did I realize that some people might consider that apartment to be haunted.

I don’t know if my experiences with the paranormal mean anything–or even if they were paranormal experiences.  I do believe in an afterlife, and I think there’s a lot in this world that we don’t understand–and it’s phenomenally stupid to try and seek out ghosts and demons and the like.

That being said, even if I was provided a scientific explanation for what happened to me both in Nevada or in Logan (like sleep paralysis) I don’t know if that would be the beat-all, end-all answer.  Just because we know how something happens, doesn’t mean we know why it happens.

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep. Might as well update the blog.

The anxiety that I posted about yesterday is still going strong, and is the primary reason I can’t sleep.  This is new–I honestly can’t remember the last time I was too worried to go to sleep.  It’d be so much better if I could figure out what I’m worried about.  I guess this is how E feels all the time.

When I separate the soul-crushing anxiety out of things, 2 am on a weeknight is incredibly peaceful.  All is quiet and still.  There is no traffic or outside noise (except the sound of my downstairs neighbor snoring).   I’d be stargazing, except for a) it’s overcast, b) light pollution and c) LASIK ruined my night vision to the point where I can’t really see the stars anymore.  It’s a time to sit back, mediate, and take in the world.

Or, you know, sleep.

I’ve had far too many 2ams recently, especially when I’m trying to keep my body on a sleep/wake schedule that won’t cause problems once I start working.  It’s getting better, but still–2am, and my body thinks it’s a great time to be wide awake.

Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way.  Perhaps I should try to find a job in, say, an observatory.  Because astronomers love being around night blind people who stink at math, and therefore physics, right?

And so, this is Christmas. And what have you done?

My dogs, Max and Lulu don’t like it when we visit my parents house.  They aren’t allowed on the furniture, and at least half the time, my 3-year-old nephew G is there to pull tails and ears and steal toys, and to take all of his Aunt Cori’s attention.  But worst of all, they aren’t allowed to sleep with me in the super-comfy bed that’s one size bigger than the bed we sleep on at home.  Nights with the dogs at my parents house usually consist of me trying to convince them that their crate really is the best place for them to sleep (they don’t have a problem with the crate at my house) for at least an hour.

Last night, it was especially bad.  It seemed like they wouldn’t go down for more than a half hour at a time.  Every time I started to congratulate myself on finding how to get them down, they would start barking at me again.  Maybe they were excited about Christmas.

I guess the only way I tell that story is to offer an excuse in case for when I ramble.  I didn’t get more than four hours of sleep last night, and, if I’m going to stay awake all day to reset my body, I want to do it without chemical stimulation.  Now, if only I could come up with an excuse for the rest of my posts…

Not a good tag for Lulu to receive on Christmas Eve.

G called Mom & Dad’s house about an hour ago to tell all about Christmas morning at his house.  This kid’s been talking about Santa Claus since, well, last Christmas.  It didn’t help that one of my uncles, G’s great-uncle, told him that Santa wouldn’t come unless he learned to go poop in the potty.  G’s little three-year-old brain turned that into “Santa will only go to places where I’ve successfully pooped in the potty.”  So, random gas station in Minersville, Utah? Yep, Santa went there.  Aunt Cori’s house?  Not so much.  When G had diarrhea a week or two ago, and couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom on time, he was so distraught, not only because he made a mess in his pants, but because he thought it meant Santa wouldn’t come.

So, how did this post about Christmas turn into a discussion of my nephew’s poop?  Oh.  Right.  Back on track now.

G called about an hour ago, and was so excited to tell all about the toys and presents he got.  This is the first year he’s really been old enough to understand Christmas, or, at least understand getting presents.  However, when Mom did ask him what happens on Christmas, the first thing he said was “It’s Jesus’s birthday”, before he started to talk about his presents.

I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  I’m really feeling being single and unemployed. And while I think there is no greater joy than searching out the perfect gift, and seen excitement on the recipients face when they open it, my unemployment checks are half of not enough, and I wasn’t able to get the things I wanted to give this year.  When I get depressed, my thoughts get scattered, and I get frustrated easily, so making gifts was also out of the question–not to mention that it’s often times more expensive to make a gift than to buy one.

It was therefore, refreshing to talk to G this morning.  To hear his child-like joy, his excitement over the gifts he got, and, more importantly, how hard it was to keep him on topic of his presents reminded me of what I posted a few days ago.  Christmas is about children, family and sharing love with others.

And spoiling my nephews rotten.

Sleep and other dreams

Okay, this two posts a day probably won’t last very long, but I couldn’t make the other thing I wanted to talk about on my blog this morning fit in with the ‘name’ theme of the other post.

First of all, I think that it’s important to embrace every part of yourself, and that you can’t change until you’ve accepted the part of you that you WANT to change.  For me, this is two big things, my weight, and my depression.  I don’t have a problem talking openly, or even joking about ether one.  But this leads me to a dilemma, when I’m having a down day, what combined with my writing hobby and all, I tend to get all introspective and emotional, and want to put my feelings down on paper.  The problem is, while this may be deep and meaningful to me, it comes across as sounding emo-y and whiny to the rest of the world, and people who fill their blogs with emo-y and whiny posts should be mocked mercilessly.  And so I promise both of you, dear readers, that I’ll never post about how “my heart is a black hole, which nothing can fill up” or anything similar.   I give you permission to kick me if I ever do.

Okay, now that that is out of the way.  I had a good talk with my psychiatrist yesterday.  She’s happy with how I’m doing on the Lexapro, with her only major concern being that it makes it difficult for me to sleep.  Not so coincidentally, that is also my big concern about the Lexapro.  She suggested that I stay up all day and all night and all the next day, then go to bed to try and reset my body so, you know, I’ll SLEEP at night.  I was planning on starting that today, but, I only got 4 hours of sleep last night, so we’ll see how that goes.  Maybe by the time 10pm rolls around, I’ll be so exhausted that I’ll just want to fall into bed (and stare at the celling until 2).  This should be fun…

Sleep is a big deal in my life.  I love sleep.  I love dreaming.  One of my favorite books–definitely one of the top three in the non-fiction category is called “Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasure of Sleep and Dreams” by Dr. Paul Martin.  One of the biggest struggles I had on my mission (considering what a difficult time I had on the mish, it’s strange to think that this was one of the big ones) is that as a missionary, you go to bed at 10:30, and wake up at 6:30.  Period. Which is fine, if you only take five minutes to go to sleep, and only need about eight hours of sleep a night.  I do not.(or did not, the Lexapro seems to have changed this for me) It has always taken me a long time–45 minutes or more to fall asleep.  And I need closer to 9 or 10 hours a night to be happy and headache free.  I really hope this reset thing works, because right now, it’s 9:30 am, I’ve been up for 2 hours, and I’m ready to go back to bed.  I don’t know if I can handle another 46 sleep-free.

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