Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crazy Dreams

So I started my new medication Monday night, and while it doesn't necessarily make me feel anything that it says it might (like dizzyness, drowsiness, or nausea), I think it may be the culprit behind a very active dream life.

My primary care physician (I have two - this one I haven't seen in like 2 months) asked me about my dreaming habits the last time I saw him, and I told him that lately I haven't been dreaming. His response was that everyone dreams every night, but if those dreams occur in REM sleep, you won't have any remembrance of them upon waking, almost as if they never happened. I don't know anything about the psychology of sleep, so I don't know if this is 100% true, but I'm more inclined to believe him than I am any other random person off the street.

I continued with this cycle of dreamlessness until Monday night. My dreams Monday were fairly average - just boring event dreams. I have a lot of these. They are usually about conversations with people or just time spent with people. When I wake, I have very vivid memories of the looks on their faces, the emotions they expressed, and the exact words they spoke.

When I'm not having these boring dreams, I'm usually digging into my small collection of recurring nightmares. I've had many in the past about being at the beach or at a beach house, weird things happening, and suddenly, waves start coming in. I retreat towards some sort of shelter, but they get bigger and bigger until we're dealing with an inescapable tsunami ordeal. Obviously, I wake before I meet my demise.

The rest of my recurring nightmares are all sort of common. The settings are different (although always luxurious), but they all have the same problem and the same feeling.

The one I had last night was one where I'm living in a mansion with my mother. Some of the rooms in the mansion (usually just the kitchen and the dining room) are the same as in our actual house. But the rest of this mansion is larger than any I've ever seen. It has ornate blue, red and gold carpets, grand staircases, beautiful victorian furniture, old lamps and chandeliers with old lightbulbs, a crappy old TV from the 70s (no idea), balconies, etc. On one wing of the house (if you were standing in front of it looking at it, it'd be on your right), is my bedroom - small, in girly colors with a more modern feel, and with only one tiny lamp so it's quite dark. The right wing of the house extends quite far (in symmetry with the left wing), but I never see anything else in it, only my bedroom.

I always leave my bedroom in these dreams to find my mother standing in the hallway across the big rotunda type room in between the two wings, where her huge bedroom and a library, among other rooms, are. She's always wearing clothes like she'd wear to go to work and telling me she has to leave in ten minutes or so. I acknowledge her and she tells me to behave, be careful, dinner's in the fridge, etc., as moms do. Off of this "rotunda" space, towards the front of the house is a large wall of glass looking out over the property in front (a huge garden) and a set of 20 or so stairs about 15 feet wide-ish leading down to a living area where the 70s TV and a pretty red velvet couch are hiding around the corner. When my mother leaves, I always settle into the room on this little couch. There's usually a black and white movie on TV, and occasionally I'm happily chatting away on the laptop.

And then it starts. There's this feeling. It feels like there's something there that I can't possibly escape from, that it's getting closer, and that it can see me but I can't see it. It's not so much a person or a ghost but some sort of force (I visualize it as a big, black, cloudy blob). I always stand up from where I'm sitting and look around as if I'll see it peeking out from my mother's room or the dark hallway near my bedroom, but I never see this thing. I usually rush around and try to gather some important things, like my cell phone or a coat or my keys. While doing this, I always try to contact someone. It's always one of two people, people that I trust and feel very safe with in real life, and I usually reach them on the phone long enough for them to tell me to just be calm and that it's probably nothing, but that if I feel that I need to, I should leave. At this point the feeling of this thing exponentially increases - it's much closer and I can almost see it or feel it near me. And then I wake up.

Every single time it happens like this with only minor changes. Sometimes I don't have the whole dream, only part of it. Sometimes it's in a swanky hotel or a museum. But in the end, I always feel like there's no way I can escape, like I'm trapped there with this thing.

This dream always leaves me a little rattled, even though it's not particular terrifying. It just gives me a very strange feeling. I'm sure I could psychologically relate it back to my feelings about the house I grew up in, of which I am now the sole inhabitant. I've always had strange feelings in that house as well that make me very uneasy. When my brother passed away, that feeling was intensified, and I often find myself looking over my shoulder when I'm moving about the house.

I never know what to think about all of this. Am I one of those "crazy people" who believes in ghosts and spirits and all of that stuff? Yes. I am. Do I believe that all ghosts/spirits are out to harm people or have the capacity to harm people? No. But I do think that there are surely some "entities" out there that possess the manifestation of energy to do so.

So there you have it. I believe in crazy things. And have crazy dreams. Maybe they mean nothing, or maybe they mean something kind of important. I really have no idea, but I find it all very interesting and want to get in the habit of journaling and analyzing my dreams to maybe learn a little bit about them or myself or something. I'm sure if something really interesting comes up in the future, I'll share it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hi again. I'm back in Charleston as of yesterday, so it seems sort of an appropriate time to give a little update.

I left PA feeling just as weird as when I arrived. It was just an unsettling trip - things are a little (ok a lot) hectic at home, and it was just overwhelming. I didn't absolutely hate it or anything, but it left me wishing I was back in Charleston.

I really didn't get a whole lot further with the doctor situation than I was before either. I have to return home for an MRI in July and am on some new meds, but other than that, nothing much has taken place in that field. I know things don't happen overnight, but it's very frustrating to be constantly playing a waiting and guessing game.

My trip back to Charleston was a good one. It was again split between two days, with a stop in Lynchburg, VA for the night. A friend of mine made a map for me, so I followed his directions the entire way home. It was a fun drive with lots of fun surprises popping up along the way. I had my first ferry experience, got to see a few nerdy Civil War things and took in some nice scenery along the way. I just wish I'd had more time to stop and poke around at places, but I'm sure I'll get the chance again in the future.
Ferry! You just can't see it because I suck at taking pictures. But fun, nonetheless.

The first day was definitely my favorite. While the second was nice, it brought me back into South Carolina, which is pretty much a really boring state, and which I'm not fond of in any respect at this point. Although I left PA excited to return to my apartment, as soon as I crossed the state line into SC, that feeling showed up again - the one that tells me I'm in the wrong place and that I'm making a big mistake. I still tried to enjoy the drive, and did have a little fun.

In North Carolina I saw more turtles than I've ever seen in my life before. Turtles walking into and sleeping in the road because it was warm with the sun beating down. The road is actually a really bad place for turtles. So I moved three of them that were at places where I could easily stop. Unfortunately, I am not a turtle superhero or anything, so many little shelly creatures were left basking in the road. It was kind of sad.

My first little turtle buddy. We bonded. Ignore camera strap (again, awesome picture).

My apartment feels really foreign to me since I've gotten here. It feels like a new place - I'm uncomfortable and don't know what to do with myself so I've been milling around and just cleaning up little things to pass the time. I feel awkward sitting in the living room, awkward sleeping in my bedroom, and even more awkward outside among my neighbors.

When I left for PA, I'd hoped that while I was there I could settle some things, that I would come up with some answers and figure out what I should be doing and where my life is going. I'm in some weird state of limbo and I'm not digging it. But unfortunately, nothing really resolved itself. The first thing that has to snap into place is the medical situation - I need to know what's wrong and what I have to do to fix it before I can make any big decisions, and there are a lot of big decisions to be made.

If anything, more things fell onto my pile of "what the hell is going on" type things while I was home. My mother told me maybe a week before I arrived that she was moving. After she and my father split, she and I stayed in the house I grew up in, which is owned by my father's parents. Due to family drama, she has decided she can no longer be there. I understand this, after all I'm trying to get away too. But walking into the house and seeing all the boxes really cemented the idea that she was moving. It's not like the house will be gone; my grandparents still own it and I think my father will be helping to take care of the little problems it has (old house). But I'm the only resident there now. When I go home, I will be there by myself in a house with 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a "playroom", kitchen, laundry room, dining room, and enclosed porch. I guess under different circumstances, I'd be happy to have a big house to myself, but the house itself and its energy (I'm not a new age hippie freak, but things have energies and "feelings", ok) leave me feeling very unsettled. It's too quiet, hidden back in the woods, and I always feel like I'm being watched. I'm just not sure how it'll be when I'm there alone, but at the same time, I don't want to sacrifice the last connection I have to the home I grew up in.

So that's it for personal news. It's a little boring, but really nothing else is going on in my life at the moment. I hope to get out of town a few times in the next couple of weeks and I've got two concerts coming up in July. But until then, nothing to share!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I like Vetiver. The plant and the band. But here, the band.

When I'm in the car, I listen to a lot of music that I don't really listen to otherwise. For the most part, this is because I have a lot of CDs (500+) and don't have a stereo set up right now or the patience to import all of them to iTunes. So when I go on trips, it's a chance to revisit things I haven't heard in awhile for whatever reason. I keep adding CDs to my car until it's a total mess and then I have to reevaluate my choices.

One CD (which is digitally available to me, but I just haven't listened to recently) had been floating around my car for awhile without me ever listening to it. It's by this band called Vetiver. I saw Vetiver live opening for The Shins in what I think was 2007. I never actually saw The Shins on stage - it could've been a tape recorder playing back for all I knew - because I am so short and once the place filled up, I couldn't see anything. So Vetiver was all I got visually that evening. Everybody in the room seemed disinterested, including the boyfriend I went with to the show. But I had heard of the band, yet never heard their work, so I was kind of curious. My attentiveness paid off. The other people in the room that heard this band live seemed to be a bit less than thrilled. I liked them though. And it led to me checking out their albums, and I'm glad I did - they're not quite as fantastic live as recorded, but such is life.

Their first album (2004) is self-titled. And really good. For me, it's a very wintery album - dead trees and falling snow. That could just be because most of my memories of listening to it are from winter of 2007. Anyway, it's really good. Mostly acoustic and heavyish strings.

There was an EP released in 2005 which I have never heard, and then the second album. The second album is what I listened to on my trip through Pennsylvania a few days ago. It's rare that I'll listen to the same album over and over again, but it just had been a long time and I was surprised to find how much I like this one. It's called To Find Me Gone (2006) and it's a little more musically dense than the first album. While a lot of the acoustic sound is still there, it's just layered out a bit more with some electrics and some more production. This album is one of few that have not only an emotional effect on me but also a clear physical one. It's just very soothing to me - my breathing slows and becomes far more steady and controlled and I just am calm and such. I blame it on the repetition - the progressions are purely repetitive, but pretty much in a good way.

The first two albums were by far my favorite. I own the third one, Thing Of The Past (2008), which is an album of covers, but I've only listened to it once. To be fair, it could grow on me if I give it another chance, but it just didn't grab onto me from the first listen. They released another EP in 2008 of more covers, called More Of The Past, which I've also never heard. Their latest release is another album, which I just haven't gotten around to yet, called Tight Knit. I probably will check that out in the near future.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I really like this band and you should check them out. They supposedly belong to the "freak folk" genre, which I'd never heard of until I just looked up some info about their discography. I'm not good with genres, and I don't like them. I'm also not good with descriptions of what bands sound like, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that *to me*, Vetiver sound like Sam Beam (Iron&Wine) + Nick Drake + Devendra Banhart (who is featured on Vetiver's albums). But mostly, they sound like Vetiver to me. So check them out.

I have a hard time choosing "favorite" songs from the two albums I know, because I like them all. But I tried to, and there aren't any YouTube videos or anything for them anyway. So I'll leave you with links to a handful of those videos where it's just pictures or the album cover. That way, you at least get the recorded versions and get them clearly, and you can click them at your own discretion.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Google Maps Experiment: Part 2

I woke up on the second day of my trip feeling unrested and wanting to pull the covers back over my face and just forget about the rest of the drive. Being in a hotel room for the night freaked my dog out a little. This doesn't usually happen - I think it had something to do with the fact that the room was so huge and open and that the air conditioning unit sounded like a helicopter. She wouldn't sleep on the floor, so I let her up onto the bed with me. Most of the night she did alright, but from about 4 a.m. on, she repeatedly crossed from one side of the bed to the other, paying no mind to my legs in the middle. While I showered, she curled up on the floor and finally slept just like she normally does.

We left Ashland, VA at about 10 a.m. and supposedly had a drive of 6 hours and 15 minutes ahead of us. I had very tiny stretches of interstate to go through, and then another slightly longer one on I-81 (it was still relatively short), but once I crossed into Pennsylvania, it was all country driving. I have to say it was the most enjoyable drive I've ever had through Pennsylvania. I loved it, and will probably do it in the opposite direction when I go home.

I don't think I had been to any of the places I passed through in PA (until the small towns close to my home). My favorite part of this entire trip was passing through Tuscarora State Forest and the surrounding area. It's just so beautiful there - living in Charleston, and really the South in general, has got me missing good views. I miss vast, sweeping landscapes. And I got a lot of them as I drove through the mountains. I had some nice ones in northern VA too - there were rolling hills and vineyards all around. But they were no competition for what PA had to offer.

It was a great experience with a few really terrifying moments. Driving on those curvy, winding mountain roads was a really fun time. Until you realize you have to go down what you came up. These roads are on such steep inclines, which isn't such a horrible problem, but with the curves and the signs warning you that 20 mph is probably the speed you should be going, it was just a bit trying. A distance of less than a tenth of a mile was increasing my speed by up to 15 mph just coasting. Multiple times I hit 65 mph while trying to maintain 45 and thought to myself 'Oh yeah, I'm gonna die. Just like in the movies. With the car and the cliff and oh god.' But it all turned out well.

I didn't stop anywhere along the way, not that there would've been many places to stop. What I was seeing while I was moving was good enough for me. I didn't get lost but once, and the mistake was easy enough to fix. I made it home about right on time according the the time estimate Google gave me.

So it was a fun trip. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Meaning I'd do the same route again (minus Franklin) or I'd do the random Google Maps thing again. I'd just split my distances better between days next time.

Now that I'm home in PA, things are very weird. There's a lot going on and it just feels strange to me. I always get a really awful feeling when I arrive at a place I call home (meaning I've lived there for probably a year or more). It's a feeling of disappointment in the place and also in myself. It's not that I've done anything particularly to create this disappointment, it just happens. It's almost like a feeling that I'm doing everything wrong in my life combined with a feeling that I shouldn't have come here. Irrational and without explanation, it usually comes and goes within my first day or two of being here. So we'll see how it goes. I've got that feeling combined with feelings surrounding the changes in my family and all the events happening. I don't like being moody/mopey/less than elated, so I'm really hoping things will straighten out in the near future. I need some kind of definite indication of where my life is going next. I have a good idea, but a guarantee would be good.

Tomorrow morning is my first doctor's appointment to get the ball rolling on finding a solution for all the stupid issues I've been having. I'm kind of nervous - also a familiar feeling. I always feel nervous when I go to a doctor's office. When I was a kid, it wasn't uncommon for my parents to assume I was making up whatever was wrong with me. I will say, just like every kid, I faked sick to play hookie a few times in my younger years. But generally, I don't say anything about being sick or experiencing discomfort unless it's really, really bothering me. I guess my nervousness surrounding doctor's visits is that they'll take the same attitude my parents did when I was younger - that I'm making it up. I've only had it happen once, when all tests came back negative, and a change in doctors quickly changed the diagnosis. So anyway, I hope it goes alright. We shall see.

Nothing much is going on otherwise. Surely something will come up before the week is over though.

Friday, May 07, 2010

My Google Maps Experiment: Part 1

So, as I mentioned in my last entry, I was playing around with Google Maps a bit and debating taking a different route from Charleston to central PA than my usual I-95 drive.

When I got this idea, it was because I was bored with seeing the same thing all the time and didn't think I could handle 13 hours straight in the car this time around. There was no great formula behind creating an awesome map and I didn't work around any experience - I had never traveled most of what I selected so I had no idea what I would encounter along the way, and I didn't particularly have a list of cool things that I wanted to see that influenced my map choices. Basically I dragged the little blue line around to roads I hadn't been on that maybe went through some towns I wanted to see and that weren't interstates, but that at the same time didn't double my total trip time or anything drastic like that. Maybe once I get home, I'll share the map if I remembered to save it.

I was very nervous about taking some random route. It's not that I'm not a good driver, or that I can't read maps or anything. I wasn't able to upload the map I ended up with to my GPS unit, and while the world has long functioned without GPS, it really is a great advantage over trying to read directions AND drive at the same time. Had I had a navigator, I would've had no qualms about this at all. But I was looking at the final directions and seeing turns and merges and such that occurred back to back every couple hundred feet for a small stretch and I was just thinking of the impending disaster. This stretch did, in fact, kick my ass, but not because I didn't read the directions.

Anyway, today was the first day of my drive. I think I traveled like 500ish miles - not the best budgeting on my part, but I was convinced I needed to get past Richmond, VA on day one. Don't know why, just felt it necessary. I headed up US 17 for most of the trip. As I passed through Myrtle Beach, I had a really weird experience.

A few years ago, while I was living with the at-the-time-boyfriend, I had this dream. It happened twice, and then never again. But in this dream we (he, I, and a bunch of my friends from school) were in Baltimore, MD. Inner Harbor, to be specific. And we entered this nightclub. The club itself was two floors and mostly glass, so you could look out over the harbor area from all directions in the club. This club was called Club Kryptonite. I was a little shocked today when I was sitting at a red light and gazed past the stupid Planet Hollywood on the corner to see this large coliseum-looking thing with a 'K' inside of the shape that is on Superman's costume/uniform/whateverthehell. This was the logo from the dream. In fact, the door/entrance of the building looked the same. Large pillars, sort of dramatic. The club itself wasn't at all right...but it just took me aback a bit. I had never been to this section of Myrtle Beach before, so it wasn't some vague memory hanging out or anything. Nor do I think "oooo I'm super psychic!" I just think it was a weird coincidence.

Right. So I carried on with the US 17 thing through North Carolina. Very pretty, NC. I think I could live in various parts of the state for maybe 3 months at a time in each place. (This is an estimate.) There are lots of big, beautiful rivers and lots of trees - mixed forest type trees, not just the same boring trees over and over. Don't get me wrong, I like trees from the palm family, but it's getting a little monotonous. North Carolina has lots of evergreen type things. And they also have some cypress trees growing around the edges of certain bodies of water. I like cypresses A LOT.

North Carolina seemed to go on forever, and then I got to Virginia. My directions in VA (which were generated by Google Maps, not written by me, so prob sort of my fault but wtf Google?) ended up being sort of confusing at best. It also didn't help that my only indication that I'd actually entered Virginia were the "Speed checked by radar" signs. The long stretches of road that wound through some random forests were nice. Loved them. It was shady, there were hardly any cars on the road, and it gave me the chance to (reasonably safely) have a little car commercial fantasy and see how my new(ish) car handles on slightly curvy/banky roads. I haven't had a lot of chance to figure that out before today, but now I know and it's all good. With shitty alignment and tires that desperately need replaced, she still drives like a dream. *sigh*

Okay so the major problem occurred surrounding the following directions.

In theory, these are great. I looked over everything while I stopped to let the puppy walk around, and I had it down. I was ready to go. NCarolina 11 went fine - very fun. There were no signs ANYWHERE I could find indicating that I was ever on Beachwood Blvd. until I was far past where I supposedly should've been seeing these signs. I hadn't seen a single US-258 N sign. Until I saw at the same time a US-258 S sign. I got temporarily distracted by this, but quickly righted myself and was back on this 19 mile stretch to the actual US-258 S I should've been turning onto. Except...when I got there, that sign was not there. It was somewhere else. And it wouldn't lead me to the weird branches of 58 I was supposed to be hitting. Believe me. I tried. And tried. And tried some more. I retraced myself for a good 25 minutes before I said fuck it and tried it my own way. I ignored the "Business" part of the directions and figured eventually I'd get where I needed to go. Not so. I ended up somewhere residential with no signs for anything that I could find in any direction. And I was so confused that I couldn't get my directions straight. So, throwing in the towel, realizing that there was very little driving left until I arrived at I-95 to get me to my hotel, I turned on the GPS unit. I figured it could at least get me the hell out of that shitty little town (Franklin, VA btw) and get me back onto some sort of track. That would've been great except I was getting ZERO satellite contact. I spent another 20 or so minutes just driving around trying to get some sort of connection. I got nothing until I accidentally ended up in the middle of an industrial park for some steel mill or something. Luckily, the GPS chose the same route as my Google Maps one. Except that little section of directions I showed you was about halved. Half of those steps did not exist. Maybe I'm just blind, or selectively perceptive, but it only took me three of these steps via GPS to get where I needed to go. It was not a big huge super awful ordeal - but frustrating nonetheless. Patience can be, but sometimes is not, my greatest quality. My first 9 hour day ended up being an 11.5 hour day. I did get to stop and check out a few more things than usual, which was nice. But 11.5 hours was a bit much for me at this point.

Tomorrow will be shorter. Despite the slight temptation to just get home, I'm going to finish this out the way I planned tomorrow. And it'll be fine. I refuse to get ridiculously "bad" lost!

Anyway. I'm babbling. This is really of no consequence, but I can't sleep so I figured why the hell not. :) That's how it goes around here, get used to it.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Maybe bye bye for now?

Apologies for my absence, but it once again coincides with my lack of anything to say. I'm really fighting with my head lately, and even more so with my sleep schedule. Between 5 and 6 a.m. is usually when I finally drift off to sleep. So because I'm sleeping at dumb hours of the day, it rules out some of my time. And because of headaches and other things, I've just been slowed down. Getting things done around the house is enough for me at the moment.

I know last month I had a lot of different issues and theories for solving them. And I know I had a lot of vague plans. But I think things are being pushed into motion. I don't know if it's good or not. I'm scared, to make a vague understatement. So we'll see. I don't want to discuss too much until I get the health issues a little sorted and until I have more definite plans in place. Once that all pans out, I'll blab about everything.

I'm having a long, hard contemplative session about stepping away from this blog for awhile. And away from Facebook and a bunch of other stuff. So, we'll see what happens. It wouldn't be a permanent goodbye, more just a little auf wiedersehen until further notice. But, just a head's may or may not come.

I'm going home at the end of this week, and have the first in a series of many doctor's appointments on Monday. I'm really, really scared by this whole thing (even though I know it's not in my control so it's stupid to be scared about it). I'm just very worried, so any good thoughts you could put out there would really mean a lot.

Since I've been awake all through the recent nights, I've been reading a lot. Trying to trim down my To-Be-Read Pile and trade them out for new books. I've finished 3 book in two days and my brain is having a hard time with words on a page and making sense out of them. So I spent the last several minutes dicking around on Google Maps. I think I want to change up my route for going home to Pennsylvania. So of course, I didn't research this ahead of time. I'm just dragging and dropping the little blue line on the map until I come up with something mildly satisfactory. I can't decide if I should take this new, sort of random route or not. Or save it for on the way back to Charleston. I'd have no idea what sorts of things I'd encounter, as I said I haven't done any research. But it'd be a change of scenery, even if it means I'd just be seeing different highways and different trees. I'm going to ponder it a little. I would make my drive home a two-day one if I decide to take the new weird route.

This is all that's really new. I haven't sewn, I haven't cooked anything fantastic, I haven't painted. Just haven't had the energy or the focus. I've got a lot of stuff weighing on my mind lately and it's throwing me off, very much. So...hopefully things will change sometime soon. Hopefully for the better.