June 24th, 2008


Sleep Betrayal

I consider some nightmares to be a sort of brain betrayal. This is particularly the case if there is nothing especially wrong in my life. The real betrayal is when my subconscious takes a warm and safe place, my bed, and makes me feel unsafe there.

I have had (though thankfully not often) nightmares which sent me leaping out of bed, or starting away from my pillow or covers. They are usually realistic ones which feature me sleeping, then something scary happening to me in or around my bed.

For example, I had one friday night. I'm not sure it was really a nightmare exactly, since I picture those as long-running and scarier, but it was a icky dream. I was sleeping on my futon, both in the dream and in real life, because my parents were guesting in my regular bed. Somebody (I don't know who, but I remember a hand) placed a couple of large creepy bugs right on my pillow. I jerked away, sat bolt upright in bed, looked for the bugs. I looked for the person.

Nobody was there, and nothing was amiss. There were no bugs, and it only took me a few moments to realize it had been a dream. It was only 4am, but at that point I was sitting up, adrenaline flowing. Also, there had been bugs on my pillow. Even though they weren't real, I couldn't just lie back down there and go to sleep.

I got up, had some cereal, did some reading, and eventually fell asleep again. But my occasional weird dreams like this always give me pause. Why would my brain betray me like that? It's one thing for my subconscious to exhibit its stress or concerns in some external environment, but why would it make my own bed, my warm and comfortable cocoon filled with pillows and teddy bears, a scary place to be? (Even my futon I had filled with my usual bedding and stuff, and I've had dreams like this take place in my regular bed as well.)

It annoys me. It's not a terrible thing, as dreams go, and it's not frequent... but I don't approve nevertheless. My brain should know better than to make my sleep-haven feel unsafe, especially since it is a safe place to be.


One of my first jobs involved traveling to customer sites and running data migration programs. There had to be a technical person on the tricky ones, in case something went wrong. There also generally had to be a customer on site, to keep me from getting into trouble.

The migrations would take hours -- frequently most or all of the night. Most of the time was spent sitting around, waiting for the next step of the process. As a general rule, there would be a PC or two around, but they would be standard Windows installs. (Win3.1, if I recall. It was a long time ago.) No extras, no movies, no internet. Just the old Windows games.

I had long since grown bored with standard Solitaire, and the only interesting thing I found somewhat interesting in the Windows 3.1 games folder was Minesweeper. During those long nights, I played hours and hours of Minesweeper. I also would teach the game to whatever unfortunate customer had to endure the vigil with me. That was amusing, passing on the various strategies and rules. We would take turns playing the game, having little all-night Minesweeper tournaments. By the end of the data migration, I would have created a new addict.

"Why are these mines even here?"