Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sleep Deprivation

I slammed into somebody Friday while I was walking through the tunnels beneath downtown Houston.

I think I slammed into somebody, anyway.

I believe I did.

Okay, I might have slammed into somebody, or else I might have dreamed I slammed into somebody, or else I might have hallucinated I slammed into somebody, or maybe (and this seemed least likely of all) I might have just worried about slamming into somebody, only to immediately get confused and think that I had.

At any rate, I stood there, gripping my shoulder where the possible contact had occurred and looking around to try and identify the other party. My victim, for lack of a better term. The slam-ee.

“Oops, sorry!”  I said (belatedly) to no one in particular, or rather to a very particular though still unidentified individual, if in fact I had slammed into somebody after all.

And the more I thought about it, and the more I rubbed the impacted shoulder, the harder the hypothetical slam became, and the more real it became, until finally there came a point where I could no longer imagine that the slam had not occurred.

I got worried about the condition of the other person, the person whom I have previously identified as my victim or as the slam-ee. You see, I am not a large individual. You know this. Unless you are younger than eight or older than eighty – or perhaps if you are physically handicapped in some extreme way – then chances are, you do not the rank the prospect my slamming into you up among your worst fears.

But what if I had  injured somebody? Injured somebody and then, you know, hadn’t even bothered to stop? What if I’d committed an ambulatory hit and run?

I scanned the ground around me for toddlers, for the elderly, for prosthetic limbs or maybe for a cane.


Lots of people walked by me, but they all seemed okay. As for me… Well, each thought that I thought seemed random. Dream-like. Convoluted and-

-and… Wait! Dream-like! “Maybe this is a dream!”  I said, and I might have even said it out loud, for all I know. I walked up to a mirrored column and I tried to press my hand through as a sort of test.

No go.

It was no dream.

It was, instead, simply another moment in the surreal haze that my life has become over these past two weeks since Doctor Belloq set off my sleep paralysis.

She set it off on purpose. Well, she set it off on purpose the first night.

The next two nights, those are sort of on both of us.

Each time it happens, what happens is pretty much the same: I go to sleep sober, I go to sleep on my back, and then I find myself unable to move. I am awake but I am paralyzed, and I am being suffocated by something that stands in the corner of my room. The something in the corner orders me to “Recite!” (night #1) or “Write!”  (night #2) or “Read!”  (night #3).

And you want to know the crazy part? I want to hear what it has to say. The something in the corner. I want to know. I will recite, I will write, I will read, just like Muhammad did when this happened to him in that cave. After all, reciting, writing, and reading: These are the things I do.

But each night, the blank face, the black cloak, the suffocation thing, and the sense of terrifying doom turn out to be too much for me. Much too much. I freak out and I thrash around until I break the paralysis.

Now I am afraid to go to sleep.

It’s been two weeks and my life is a surreal haze and I might or might not be slamming into random strangers in the shopping tunnels beneath downtown Houston. I can’t be sure anymore.

On Friday, after I confirmed that I was not dreaming, I chased down a little Asian business-dude in the tunnels. At least I think I chased down a little Asian business-dude. There is a possibility that I just imagined it.

I think I stopped him and I said, “Excuse me, sir? Did I by any chance just slam into you back there?”

The little Asian business-dude, I think he looked a little scared. I think he shook his head and waved his hands and said, “Yes, but it is okay. No problem, no problem!”

I think I sighed and clasped my hands together. I think I said, “I DID slam into you?! Whew! Good! I was afraid I was going crazy…”

Then I wandered off, lost in the tunnels, trying to remember where it was I’d been going when all of this began.

I kept walking…


  1. So that's what they mean by a Grand Slam? You'll end up in the slammer at this rate.

    1. Unable to come up with another "slam" pun, I am just going to agree that I am indeed a menace to society.

      Especially when I don't get my afternoon nap.

      By the way, glad to see that you are here and able to comment!

  2. If it was ambulatory, wouldn't it be a hit-and-stroll? Perhaps a hit-and-saunter? What if the little guy said "no"? Would you then move on to the next person and the next and the next? Maybe just get more New York about it and yell "hey, I'm walking here!" Then it doesn't matter if you're hallucinating due to lack of sleep or not.

    1. It gets really weird really quickly when you miss sleep!

      It's no fun driving down the freeway and thinking, "Maybe I'll just close my eyes for a few seconds..."

  3. Kathy has involuntarily lost merit on this Asanha Bucha Day (Also known as Dhamma Day)

    You see Buddhist Monks are not allowed to touch women. Therefore, they have developed a cunning plan known as "The slam-ee plan"

    After near flawless execution of the the slam-ee plan; they are know to declare "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am!"

    However, neophytes respond with "Yes, but it is okay. No problem, no problem!”

    1. I figured it was one of those Zen koan things or something.

      I'm just a Texas girl, I do not know your enlightened Eastern ways.

    2. make no bones about it! Kathy, you are a bad to the bone blogger!

      My last blog is going viral - Maybe you would like to post a link to yourself

      A twisted issue with some surprises


    3. Your stuff is always twisted with surprises.

      One of these days, I'm going to get the blogging thing down.

      Not sure hen that's going to be, though. Every time I think I might have it figured out, I hit a dry spell. No clue when my next post might be...

    4. One thing is as true today as it was three-quarters of a century ago: whether one wants to make a buck publishing magazines, staging burlesque shows or fostering adult education, sex sells.

    5. Looking at the Google searches that lead people to my page, it certainly seems like it. Race gets a lot of page views, too, but that's a dead horse I don't feel like kicking.

      According to my stats page, these are my all-time Google search draws:

      pierced nipples
      perfect face
      dna double helix
      miss tits
      lesbians in my soup
      sex histories
      anne ramsey

    6. oops busy week

      I am on a roll, another blog has gone viral. Lots of main line bloggers are linking to my stuff

      would you like to play this week (before Friday morning)

      remembering your words of truth blogs. that will be my general theme

    7. Trying to decide between which of two posts to write this weekend.

      One is about Doctor Belloq calling me her girlfriend.

      The other is about having a revenant Teddy Roosevelt coming to live at my house.

      One or the other of these will appear tomorrow, I think.

  4. Last time someone slammed into me, it was a six year old kid that told me, "Fuck you, grandpa." God bless this generation. I'd never wanted to beat the shit out of a six year old more in my life.

    Also, you SAY we should know you're not a large individual, but pictures can be deceiving. How do I know you aren't just a slender, 7 foot tall giantess? You're always in pictures alone...

  5. ABftS: Blogger is not letting me reply directly to your comment. This must be a reminder that, even though I went off Dynamic Views, the comment gremlins are still in control...

    Little kids can be jerks. That's why I'm glad I have a couple of my own (the exact # escapes me at the moment). If kids screw with me, it's like I have my own little posse to go after them.

  6. Sleep paralysis: I used to have it regularly as a kid. Typically it involved odd noises, bizarre sights, and a feeling of events building towards an imminent doom (though the details were always different) and I always woke up terrified. One time in the warm light of day I decided I'd tough it out and see what happened when the impending doom arrived. Then it happened, and despite my decision and a dose of fortitude just prior to drifting into it, I struggled desperately to wake up all of the way and laid there just as terrified afterwards. Those things basically sucked, and I'm glad I don't experience them anymore.

    Anyway your experience thus far very interesting, and I apologize for not being around to comment more (but I do still make it a point to stop by and lurk when I can.)

    1. Another one! This really happens to people, apparently.

      Thanks for sharing that.

      Sleep is way weirder than I realized... mostly because I've been knocking myself out for the past decade.

    2. You may have drawn a disproportionate number of people afflicted/blessed with this particular ailment to your blog. Though I do know several people as well, so maybe it's more common than we're led to believe.

      Sleep is strange and fascinating. It's purpose, what our brains do while engaged in it, how our biology is affected by nature, and how our selves and cultures are affected by this particular biology...endlessly fascinating, and that's not even getting into lucid dreaming, how dreams are viewed in cultures throughout history and, if you believe in this sort of thing, dreams as the uncovering of "secrets" about ourselves or our futures. Really, you could do a blog just about all of this.

    3. Sometimes, I wish I had the focus and patience and discipline to write a blog that is about just one topic. It would be cool to see where it went, and I think it would find a specific audience who knew what they were looking for.

      As it stands, my next post will probably be something completely different.

      The one after that might be sleep again, though, because I am reading a lot about it!

  7. I try to avoid large crowds in stations and places where people have no choice but to gather because I worry about inadvertently getting caught in one of those spontaneous, whole damned crowd breaks into dance things. Sort of a, flash mob phobia. Because I do not dance well (unless I've been drinking) and slamming into people is going to be a given.

    You didn't get caught in one of those, did you?

    1. Flash mob phobia!

      You have to always be on your guard against those, keeping an eye out, making sure you're aware of your environment. people who are dressed similarly in close proximity might be a warning sign...

      For me, I guess it depends on what song they are dancing to. Some dance songs - particularly those from the late Seventies or early Eighties - are pretty scary.

  8. If I had been a Republican I would have invoked by stand-my-ground laws. but the slammer is a white petite woman and slam-mee a Asian man, how does the law work in this case?
    Ok, a not-so-large petite woman slammed on me and I chose to ignore and run away then she followed me and asked me whether she slammed on me or not.hmmm..
    And they posted the rockstar Pretty picture of that lesby woman on rolling stones cover.
    Everyone knows that bad guys can't look good and only ugly gals and guys can be bad. good looking people can't do bad things. What do you expect not to teach my kids? "she looks hot she wouldn't slam anyone?"
    I know this is a poor poor attempt of a joke and an insensitive comment but i had been reading too much news and my IQ had been droping ever since....

    1. I've been making the same kind of jokes in light of the news - news which would otherwise just make me cry.

      I noted that when i rob houses, I always dress up in business attire, since local law enforcement will pass me right by so they shoot a black kid in a hoodie down the block.

      Nobody blames young skinny white women for ANYTHING! Woohoo!

    2. Hahaha, and some self-righteous people would justify that by saying "he should have not gone out after 6 pm" "ordered skittles on peapod" and "shuld have used skinlighting lotion".
      or some crystal ball clairvoyants would have predicted his three generations if be had been alive :)

    3. People don't always need a very good reason to treat each other like crap.

      That's why I try and avoid people whenever I can.

  9. Sleep paralysis my uncle once shared an incident he once started to walk on tracks and a homeless pushed him away before train hit him. Sleep paralysis is more dangerous that you would think.
    For me, not exactly sleep paralysis but after continusly working for 42 hours my company was kind to offer me ride to my hostel and dropped me four blocks before to save some gas money and I started to walk in the middle of the road until the bus driver asked me to find a different way to commit suicide which wouldn't ruin his work schedule.
    Moral of the story: India and Indians aren't nice to jaywalkers.

    your experiences are getting kinda scary, instead of rape whistle and pepperspray carry a cane or something. I try tp use L board in my vehicle when i am not confident about driving , just kidding.

    seriously though this is scary.

    1. Someone got hit on the passenger METRO train that runs in front of the building where I work this morning. Still haven't heard the whole story about how it happened.

      Life is dangerous. It will kill us all...

  10. This was really well written. I'm a little jealous. I'm not too jealous of constant sleep paralysis, though I would like to experience it once in my life. Wanna trade bodies and experiences for a night? I tend to sleep well. Maybe you can get a body-switch thing from someone who also sells tree root drugs.

    1. If you come up with a way I can temporarily trade bodies with other people, HELL YES I'm up for it!

  11. Personally I would go back to the wind and benadryl. Have you considered that? Or am I missing something (that is, some reason why the whole wine and benadryl thing simply had to stop)? Maybe Belloq isn't such a Superhero after all. Maybe she's some kind of sick-o Nazi Doctor type doing experiments on you. I know its not a good idea to suggest anything so paranoid to anyone who is as sleep-deprived as you are, but if I remember correctly these posts are usually a week or two behind real-time, so hopefully things have taken a turn for the better. But if they haven't then, well, it might be time to return to the "devil you know".

    1. Good points!

      1. I kind of want to find out what the shadow tells me to write! This is sort of the way the Quran got written, and that turned out... Hmmm...

      2. Based on what I've read, sleep paralysis can be almost completely short-circuited by simply NOT sleeping on my back. I have no idea why it works like that, but everybody seems pretty much in agreement.

      3. There is no pressing reason why i need to quit the wine and Benadryl. It just seems like something I shouldn't continue to do every night long-term.

    2. Personally I cannot see you going down the road that Muhammad took. You're more the Aleister Crowley type (intended as a compliment).

      But so far (at in what you have told us about so far) you haven't actually gotten to the "good part" yet. And that might be because you are, almost literally, approaching this from the wrong direction. Are you familiar with Catastrophe Theory? This is basically a very fancy mathematical way of saying, in essence, "we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way." When it comes to Catastrophe Theory, a picture is worth a bazillion words:

      It looks like you might be doing this the hard way.

    3. I thought about the Crowley thing (I once had a cat I named Aiwass!), but Muhammad is described as having had the words "pressed out of him," so I thought sleep paralysis was more likely in his case. I think Carl Jung was dictated a book by a presence, too.

      Joseph Smith, of course, was dictated a book by two rocks.

      I do everything the hard way.

  12. i have had sleep paralysis and years of insomnia. i totally understand. it is NOT a pleasant feeling.

    a banana has tryptophan ... it might help with getting back to sleep ...

    1. I will try foods with tryptophan.

      I am willing to try about anything. I am no fun when I don't sleep.

      Been reading a lot about sleep and sleep problems and dreaming and all that jazz lately. It is amazing to me how LITTLE is really known about sleep.

  13. Lucky for you the slam-ee wasn't standing his ground at the time, we could be watching the trial on TV later this fall and arguing about inconsiderate slammers menacing our malls and grocery store aisles... with his legal defense funded by the NRA or the "Friends of Zimmerman" Association.

    "She was coming at me with this dazed and confused look, and you could just tell she was the kind of person who shoulders into strangers, looking for trouble. I felt menaced..."

    cue the movie soundtrack---

    (... she pictures the broken glass, pictures the steel,
    she pictures the soul with no leak at the seal...)

    1. That reminds me... Stereogum posted a "Peter Gabriel albums, worst to best" list the other day. Ranked "Up" too low and "So" too high, but was nice to see the list.

      I shall go up to Doctor Belloq's house with a jambox blaring "The Family and the Fishing Net" in celebration!

  14. When I was a kid, I dreamed about Scarecrow dude at the end of my bed just sitting and staring. No words. No commands. Then, I started seeing him in my dreams at school or on the bus.
    (I probably shouldn't tell anybody all that, but it freaked me the hell out, at the time.)

    1. That is so cool.

      I mean, not cool for you, but cool in general. I like learning about people's fears, I think.

      Weird sleep stuff and fear seems to be almost universal. I might have found a new area of interest!

  15. No wonder you're afraid! Sleep paralysis is terrifying. I hope you find a solution and get that sleep deprivation under control!

    1. Thanks, Lydia. It is pretty awful. I've been reading about it, which sort of takes some of the edge off of it. I also don't sleep on my back, which appears to help.

  16. Sleep paralysis is some scary shit. It happens to me too on occasion. I lie there, praying I'm not at the mercy of some sadist who wants to harvest my organs, and wait for it to stop.

    I'm vaguely impressed you slammed into an actual person. When I'm running a sleep debt I do things like slam into walls. Good times.

    1. Hi, Larks!

      I know it's getting bad when I start falling asleep while driving. At stoplights, mostly (thankfully!).

      But when I'm driving down the freeway and think, "I'll just close my eyes for a second or two!" it's time to rethink things...

  17. Your usual brilliant writing, Katy!! I do enjoy it so much. One thing I have heard to keep yourself from rolling onto your back when you sleep is to tie a knot in the sheet behind you.

    1. Thanks, Christy, and thanks for the great idea! I'm going to give it a go and see what happens. Or doesn't happen...

  18. I've had instances like this while under the influence of drugs (back in the day), but I don't think I've ever suffered this bad from sleep deprivation. Oof, that sounds rough.

    I had a problem of sleeping while I drove, though, when I was younger. One time I dinged one of those cheap, newspaper mailboxes, and I had to return to the scene to make double sure I didn't hit a person. I also ran a guy off the road one time and turned around to see if he was okay. Despite his huge size advantage, he did not stomp me into the ground. In fact he was quite thankful that I would check to see if he was okay instead of continuing down the road.

    1. I am a menace on the road even when I am wide awake... or so I'm told.

      I don't know whether I'd ever give another driver a second bite at the apple by turning around and showing them who I am.

      You are a better person than I am!

  19. Thank you for publishing this. I had no idea I was suffering from the same thing. The feeling of suffocating is really a disturbing way to wake up.

    I made 2 brilliant comments on your previous posts only to have Google eat them, again. I think the only ones that get through are less witty and have typos.

    1. At least the comment section appears now. When I was using the other template, I couldn't even manage that.

      Nevertheless, after 2 and a half years of working on this blog, I think it should be obvious to everyone that the smart and/or witty stuff doesn't make it through the filters.


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