Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mel's #16 - Write Down Every Dream I Have For A Week

 I’ve been trying for years to write down my dreams. I’m sure many people experience the same thing that I do when I dream; dreams feeling so real that sometimes they deeply effect the way I act the following day, pretty clear déjà vu type dreams, and dreams that are so ridiculous that all I can do is laugh when I try to verbalize them.
So, one of my goals was to at least record my dreams for one week, and I finally succeeded in making this happen. It was not always easy…when I wake up at 6 a.m.every morning, I lay in bed for a few minutes to try to remember what was just going through my subconscious…and by the time I hit the shower I usually forget again. But I figured out that if I just stop what I’m doing and retrace my thoughts, I could remember my dreams again. I would learn to repeat this process throughout the morning, until finally I arrived at work and immediately typed out my dreams and emailed them to myself. It was kind of a nice routine to have this in the mornings and I began to look forward to taking the time each day to write my dreams down. It felt relieving, in a way. I’m sure if I keep at it, I would begin to see patterns in my subconscious and could probably lose myself in trying to interpret my dreams.
My dreams have changed quite a bit over the years. For as long as I can remember, my dreams hardly ever involved me. It was as if I was watching a movie or observing something going on in someone else’s life. Sometimes I knew the people, sometimes not. When I was involved in my own dream, it was pretty much your run of the mill stuff…trying to run and being unable to, sometimes I would get into a fight in my dreams and would go to punch the bad guy and my arm would feel like a wet noodle by the time it hit the person. For years, as a child and as an adult, I would have a reoccurring dream about giant faces that would appear in the walls of my childhood home and try to suck people into the walls. I hardly have that dream anymore, and over the past week, I’ve found that I am now a central character in my dreams. Somehow this makes me feel better, but I’m not sure why.
Erica and I were talking the other day about the challenge of recording dreams and we thought about a theory used in paranormal investigations. Often, when folks believe they are witnessing something paranormal, such as seeing shadows in the corner of a dark room or seeing ghostly figures in old pictures, there is a phenomenon going on in the brain. When the eyes see something, a signal goes to the brain where the brain scans its catalog of known items, objects, human characteristics, faces, places, etc. to try to help you figure out what you are seeing. It’s an interesting theory and we thought of it because we wondered if maybe something similar is going on when we try to remember our dreams and maybe this is why it can be difficult to verbalize them or try to make sense of what is going on. I found that sometimes I had difficulty finding words to describe what was happening in my dreams, but I also couldn’t really explain what was going on, so I figured my conscious brain was just trying to put together it’s best description of what was going on in my subconscious. Perhaps this warrants more research someday, but for now, I’m glad that I found a way to achieve this small goal of recording my dreams. I hope to continue this discipline and learn something more from it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Erica's #72 - Carve Halloween pumpkins (10/29/2013)

This goal wasn't a stretch, as we've carved pumpkins together every year since we met.  We take a trip out to a local pumpkin patch, sometimes take the hayride out to select our own pumpkin from the field (we skipped that this year since we waited until the Sunday before Halloween to even get our pumpkins!), then come home and carve away as the dogs enjoy a delicious snack of pumpkin innards!

Yes, most years we are the only awesome people without kids riding the hayride out to pick out our own pumpkins in the fields.  We are also the mean people on the street that turn out the porch light and don't hand out candy - mostly because we have two dogs who go nuts every time there is a knock on the door or the doorbell rings.

We have tried the old leaving a bowl of candy on the porch, but that lasts 10 minutes until the greedy kid dumps it all in his bag.  So, instead we just save our money, and go pick up some of the half off candy for ourselves the next day.  Not greedy at all...

This year, trick-or-treating was postponed by one night, so all the half off candy was gone before we got to the store on November 1st.  People aren't dumb...they waited to buy their candy for trick-or-treaters until it was on sale.  My typical plan backfired, and we only scored some weird Halloween cotton candy, the last package of Halloween Oreos, Halloween Peeps, and Starburst Candy Corn.  Most of that was extremely underwhelming, with the exception of the Oreos.  We overdosed on sugar for a weekend, and I'm sure my waistline will pay for that.

Here are this year's carving photos...note the eager looks on the boys' faces!  Can I have some, please?!?

They're trying to be patient, but they failed miserably.  Surprisingly, Louie enjoyed the pumpkin treats more than Rudy this year - usually that Puggle will almost take your hand off to get a bite of pumpkin!

Here's the finished product:

A good time was had by all!  Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Erica's #73 - See a film at a film festival (10/26/2013)

Who doesn't enjoy a good movie, right?  I'll readily admit that Mel and I are those weirdos who enjoy watching documentaries on Netflix just as much as we enjoy a Saturday marathon of How I Met Your Mother.  We spent one of our evenings during our recent cross-country cycling adventure watching an episode of Ken Burns' documentary about the Dust Bowl.  Geeks, right?

Probably.  So, when we decided we would go see a film playing at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, we had 149 films to choose from, ranging from movies about Christmas starring Willie Nelson (yes, THE Willie Nelson) to a robot love story.  How can you not love the variety presented to you at a film festival?  We chose to see a film called "Forbidden Voices", about three female bloggers living under totalitarian regimes in Cuba, China, and Iran, and doing nothing more radical than sharing the truth about life in these countries with those of us in the rest of the world.

Yoani Sanchez seems to be the central figure of the story.  She's the Cuban blogger who began her blog in 2007, sharing stories about how life is in Castro's Cuba.  She lives in Havana, and through her eyes, you see how the government attempts to control every aspect of Cuban's lives - from what they can buy at the market, to how and when they are allowed to travel internationally, to what they see on the state-run television stations, and how, where, and what they can access on the Internet.  One of the things Yoani talked about really stuck with me...she said that basically, the thing that kept her relatively safe, and as free as a Cuban can be under Communism, was that her blog got over 14 million hits a month.  It's difficult to make someone "disappear" who has been mentioned by world leaders like President Obama, and made Time Magazine's list of the Top 100 Most Influential People.

Farnaz Seifi is the Iranian blogger, though she ended up fleeing Iran to Germany to avoid persecution for the truths told in her blog.  Many fellow Iranians had done the same, though the government didn't give up on harassing their families trying to find out where they were after they had fled.  She cannot even go back to Iran to visit her family, and talked about how difficult it is to miss sharing their lives.

Zeng Jinyan of China, where free speech is technically a right guaranteed in the Chinese Constitution, was on house arrest for the majority of the time she was filmed for the movie.  It started out with police following her everywhere she went, to them trying to stop her from leaving by standing in her way, to finally posting a round the clock police presence outside of their apartment building.  Her husband was also an activist, and was sent to prison for 3 years for his part in telling the truth.  The couple's daughter spent the first years of her life without a father, and confined to a small apartment while the government kept her mother on house arrest.

While we are tangentially aware of stories like those told by these women, they don't make headlines every day in the US.  We know that these regimes do not tolerate dissent, but we don't hear much of the lengths they will go to to keep their people from speaking out and learning the truth.  Yoani mentioned that most people in Cuba didn't learn about the fall of the Berlin Wall until 10 years after it had happened - the same with the events that occurred in China's Tienanmen Square.  Those of us lucky enough to have been born in free countries can't even fathom not having news at our fingertips.

What can we do to change things?  It's a tough question.  In the case of Cuba, our government still doesn't want people traveling there without a good purpose, though President Obama has relaxed the regulations in recent years.  And the Cuban government isn't too keen on letting it's people share stories of the way life really is there.  There was a great organization that helped these women out in the movie though - Reporters Without Borders - who advocate for press freedom all over the world and work to keep journalists safe.  You can donate to their cause, or just further inform yourself about what lengths journalists in other countries have to go to in order to speak the truth, whereas we American's can happily spout about whatever we want, whenever we want, on a million different social media sites on a daily basis.  Sure makes you think...