Archive for January, 2010

For over two weeks now I’ve been dealing with what has turned out to be an annual event in my life these last few years: the winter bout of bronchitis. And I don’t mean a little sniffle, sniffle, cough, cough bronchitis. I mean rip-roaring, hack-your-lungs-out-like-a-medieval-plague-victim, pee-your-pants-because-you’re-coughing-so-hard bronchitis. Combined with a low grade fever, sinus infection, body aches, sore muscles and all the other fun stuff that goes along with something like this, it has made for a miserable couple of weeks. I’m just now getting to where I can move around the house without feeling I’d been sucked dry by the local power station. And that’s why I haven’t done jack shit since the beginning of the month.

I had made a promise to myself that I would do a blog entry at least once a week, as an exercise to work on my writing chops (pick a topic, write a blog), as a break from the dark, cold world of my novel and partly as therapy session. (Given that, finances being what they are(n’t), I’m not having real therapy sessions right now, you may get stuck with even more of my mad ramblings, so consider yourselves warned.) But spending your days with aching ribs because you’re coughing so much, and fever turning your brain into mush isn’t really conducive to doing much of anything but sitting on the couch moaning about your terrible state. It’s amazing how weak we humans can be.

There was a time in my life when I would set a goal for myself and nothing would stop me from reaching it. When I was doing music competitions in school, I would practice up to six hours a day, sometimes just on one section of music to get it just right. Kept playing through cramped hands, aching lungs and bleeding lips (try being an oboe player with braces…). I’ve stayed up for 72 hours straight to finish a project for college, or role play at a gaming convention. Gone without food, sleep, showers, whatever it took to reach the desired goal.

But one little virus can knock me on my ass and leave me whimpering for my mommy, with no hope of accomplishing anything for the duration. Where in hell did all that will power go???

On the up side, this bout didn’t last as long as some past ones have, plus I didn’t have to sleep sitting up in the Barcalounger as I’ve had to in the past. It didn’t seem to be as bad as some of the other times, either, so I didn’t do the antibiotics in the hopes of building my immune system for the next bout. Didn’t have these sorts of problems until I moved to Southern California. (grumble, bitch, moan). Yet another reason it’s not one of my favorite places.

So in looking back over the last couple weeks, I have been trying to figure out just what the hell my problem was. During most of the years of my adult life I had to leave the house and go to an office and spend the day with a group of less-than-enthusiastic co-workers, often feeling much worse than what the last two weeks brought me. I got up, I showered, I dressed, did the hair, the make-up, put on the power suit, suffered the morning commute, sneezed a greeting to the receptionist and proceeded to do all the other things required of me by the people who claimed to be superior to me. It was miserable, but I did it. Now, when I’m supposedly getting to do exactly what I really want to do, I get sick and sit like a lump on the couch in my bath robe and slippers, sipping Gypsy Cold Care Tea and watching M*A*S*H re-runs. When I was awake, that is. Ain’t life grand?

But, at the same time, maybe all that sleeping and sitting and being a couch potato is the main reason I’m up and (relatively) coherent after just two weeks, instead of six like the last few bouts. Perhaps I really did myself a favor, and have therefore missed the Bhutan Death March and a misery of re-writes on all the drivel my feverish mind would have concocted during that lengthy struggle. There’s a reason you get sick days at work and why your body just wants to sleep when you’re running a fever. So I really did myself, and my readers, a favor. Right?

Yeah… That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

© 2010 Cheri K. Endsley. All Rights Reserved.

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For as long as I can remember, I have had dreams.  Some are normal slice-of-life watching television kind of dreams, while others are undoubtedly stress-related round-filing therapy sessions.  And then there are the really intensive, detailed extravaganzas that leave me more exhausted when I wake up than when I went to sleep.  I’m talking IMAX 3D with THX Dolby Surround Sound kind of dreams.  Dreams with a level of detail that would make James Cameron envious.  Dreams I wish I could record because I’d make a boat-load of money selling them as movies.

The problem with dreams is that I too often only remember snippets of them when I wake up.  Enough to give me the gist of what I was dreaming, with some details here and there, but never have I been able to capture the complete thing.  I’ve tried the notepad by the bed technique, jotting things down the minute I first wake up.  But since I’m slow to get started under the best of circumstances, most of whatever I was dreaming is already gone by the time I reach for the pencil.  Occasionally I’m able to hold on to the basic premise, and sometimes these have been transferred into my writing.  Too often, though, I’m left with the sense that something really extraordinary went on inside my head, and I missed it.

I have several recurring themes in my dreams.  Under the “normal” category are the “late for class,” “haven’t studied for the test,” “flying,” and “where’s the bathroom?”  While I find it particularly annoying to be firmly in my middle years yet still worried about passing the chemistry test on Friday, I do understand that it is just my mind trying to give me clues about various stressors in the most clear example it can.  We all have variations of these, and with a little thought, can probably figure out what the real issues our brain is trying to sort out are.

Also under what I consider my “normal” category are “This Old House” and “Packing 101.”  The first involves moving into a cool old house and finding things that had been left behind by previous residents.  Sounds simple enough on the surface, but the house is constantly changing, rooms moving or changing size or shape, while I slowly realize that I’m not alone in the place.  Sometimes it’s a sinister presence that I have to deal with, and others it’s some sort of puzzle I’m trying to figure out.  Neither version is particularly unusual for dreams, as I understand it.  Just the mind doing more of its aerobics.

“Packing 101” usually involves me having to get out of some place in a hurry and trying to take all the stuff I need with me, often much more than I should.  I spend the bulk of the dream trying to track down those items I deem really important, while juggling multiple bags, rummaging through thousands of books, picking up needle working supplies, and herding cats.  I guess what it really means is I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and under a deadline.  For what, I’m not really sure yet.  I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out.

The extravaganzas have recurring themes as well.  Invariably, they involve me having to fight my way out of some situation or another.  There’s the “Aliens Among Us,” where I’m part of a resistance movement to free my people from the tyranny of the aliens who have taken over our planet.  I had the first version of this one when I was about five years old.  At least, that’s the earliest one I remember.  We didn’t have a TV until I was six, so don’t ask me where it came from, but it has stayed with me to this day, growing ever more complicated and detailed.  I’m not just watching the story, I can feel things I touch or that touch me, smell the smells, and wake up with aches in those areas I injured in the dream.  Very intense and long.  Sometimes I even continue the dream after I have to wake up for the bathroom or some other reason.

Another version is the “Zombies in the Outfield.”  Everything starts out normal, and then the world is slowly destroyed by some sort of mutation or virus that kills most people, and turns a small portion of others into zombies.  Not always the classic “Night of the Living Dead” version, either.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell and I turn out to be one of the few people who can identify them and rat them out.  A variation is that they become demons instead of zombies and I have to go around with my magical powers zapping them because no one else can.  Usually I have to kill a few friends that have been turned, so it can really get to me.  This one has been with me since I was a small child as well, so I don’t have an explanation for it, either.

I suspect these dreams are the reason I write.  My brain is going a bazillion miles a minute even in my sleep, so it’s only natural that I try to dump some of that on paper when I’m awake.  I was born with a fertile imagination and whether that is just a product of genetics, or I’m living another life in an alternative universe, I’m not really sure, and at this point I don’t really care.  I have great grist for the mill, and I’m going to use it to my best advantage.

So while I’m off hunting zombies and trying to intercept communications from the Mother Ship, try to capture your own little slice of madness and see if you can figure out what’s really going on inside you.  It’s just too cool to not care.

© 2010  Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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