Drifting Off while reading To Kill A Mockingbird…

Okay, this post admittedly has very little to do with reading or To Kill a Mockingbird, so skip it if you like…

I knew something would have to give this week. For a variety of reasons, I had several nights in a row with minimal sleep and then Friday night, when I should’ve been able to catch up, I instead foolishly agreed to go out after work for a few beers. This led to yet another night of inadequate sleep so I pinned all my hopes on last night (Saturday). I also had about sixty pages yet to read of To Kill a Mockingbird, so about 9:45pm I lay down in bed determining to finish the book or at least read myself to sleep.

Naturally, I only got through about five pages before finding myself starting to drift off. I happily gave in to this and lay the book on my bed stand, looking forward to sleeping the sleep of the dead. As so often happens when I’m sleep deprived, I must’ve entered into REM sleep very quickly, and I had some vivid dreams. Things started to turn south when I dreamt that someone had entered my residence while I was in the bedroom sleeping. In my dream, I went out to the living room, and clearly someone had come in or out through the sliding patio doors, leaving them unlocked and my vertical blinds in disarray. Still in my dream I sat on the couch and a female friend who was suddenly present was going to sit up with me and “keep watch” (I guess for additional intruders). I remember at one point jolting alert and saying to her, “There it is again! Did you hear that?” Both of us were continually drifting off to sleep though (still within the dream) and I don’t remember what we did about whatever it was I’d heard.

The last thing from the dream that I consciously remember as part of the “known dream” was realizing that I and my friend had kind of snuggled up together in sleep, and not really caring too much about it, as it was a comfortable feeling. 🙂 Then I “woke up” from this dream within a dream and I was back in bed – where I really was sleeping, as opposed to the couch in my dream – and I could still feel entangled with another “person.” I remember thinking, “this is weird, ’cause THAT was in a dream.” I realized quickly, however, that this entangling was not comfortable. In fact, it was decidedly uncomfortable and on the verge of suffocating. I felt like I was in someone’s powerful bear hug. I remember trying to extricate myself but barely being able to move my arms. This other presence was clutching me tightly, and I could feel “her” body pressing into mine, but something was very wrong. I could feel hair, but it was coarse like twine, and “in the wrong places.” Panic was setting in as I had begun to realize that there was some kind of “creature” embracing me.

Mercifully, my rational mind began to regain control at this point (I even had the thought, “this sounds just like a classic case of sleep paralysis.”), and I started to wake up “for real.” I still couldn’t quite move, though, but somehow this other presence was dissipating and I could palpably sense less and less weight until finally I was able to open my eyes and I was laying on my right side with my arms across my chest more or less hugging myself. I looked at the clock and it was only 10:30pm. I was too scared to go back to sleep for quite awhile. I turned the radio on, and even tried reading some more to try to regain my footing in the real world. It was a terrifying experience.

(below: John Henry Fuseli’s “The Nightmare”)

In looking up sleep paralysis on line this morning, I discovered a lot of superstitious and supernatural “explanations” of the phenomenon.  One web site said it usually occurs because the sufferer has been exposing himself to, or even just researching into, the occult (I guess this opens a door so these ‘demons’ can come and bother you when you’re asleep?).  Of course, I don’t believe that crap – nor have I been dabbling in the occult…  I prefer a physiological explanation.  I know others will disagree.

Anyway… I WAS able to finish To Kill A Mockingbird this morning, however. Just in time to see a performance of the stage version this afternoon at the Epilogue theater in downtown Indianapolis. 🙂

I’m sure many other readers fall asleep while reading. Do you ever find your subconscious mind incorporating plot elements or characters from what you’re reading into your dreams? (I rarely do) Has anyone else out there experienced “sleep paralysis?” I normally find dreams fascinating, but I have no interest in repeating last night’s experience…

March Reading – The Month Ahead…

Good riddance to February and all the brutal and unpleasant weather that came with it. Now it’s March. The first month of Spring! (I know, the first three weeks are still Winter, but I don’t care) The only “problem” with Spring that I can think of is that, with the weather being nicer outdoors, its harder to curl up and read a lot and stay indoors.

I nearly finished my tenth book of the year last night (To Kill a Mockingbird, which I’m reading in “preparation” for attending a stage version with my Mom on Sunday), and with February being a short month, I feel I’ve kept up a good pace so far this year. But what lies ahead in March…?

Well, I have two book club obligatory reads. One is The Help, the wildly popular bestseller by Kathryn Stocket. I had thought about buying this as an audio book (I’ve never listened to an entire audio book before. I bought one once before, thinking I’d listen during my daily commute, but traffic’s command of my attention seems to easily trump audio book-listening) since I still have a gift card leftover from the holidays, but then I listened to an excerpt on iTunes and it didn’t really grab me. One of the members of my book club “reads” almost exclusively via audio books and some day I want to try it, but I don’t think this will be the book. The second book club read is Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut for the KVMLBC. This will be a re-read for me, but now that I’m more familiar with this author I hope to get a new perspective. I also started reading a strange novel, Under the Skin, by Michel Faber – a book that I learned of via the blogosphere.

Let’s see… What else? Well, of course I’ll be continuing my short story reading project, which I have enjoyed immensely thus far (like you couldn’t tell), but I think I may also wrap up the William Trevor collection of stories (only three to go!) and get that book under my belt as well. I also downloaded the Anthony Trollope book, The Small House at Allington after hearing about it in the story, After Rain. It’s dauntingly long, though, and I confess I’m afraid to start it. I’ve NEVER read any Trollope, though, and I’ve long thought that this is a serious gap in my cultural literacy that should be addressed (sooner rather than later).

What about you? “What’s in your wallet?” Er, I mean, what’s in your reading future for March? As always, I’d love to hear about it…


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