A New Year But the Same Mysteries

I’ve always been too much of a free spirit to really respect time beyond the changing of the seasons, when I pop my distracted head out of the clouds long enough to notice that I need a cardigan over my sundress. And so, it’s only now that I’m sharing something I read recently: that the way you spend New Year’s Day is the way you’ll spend the rest of your year. If that’s true, 2014 will be the year my husband speaks to me through the carcasses of dead animals.


To be honest, I’m hoping that I can push my 24 tone-setting hours back a bit, and base 2014 on the day-sized chunk of time beginning at 8pm on December 31st. Here’s the shakedown of what happened in that period (eat your heart out, Jack Bauer):

  • PIZZA! My two college roommates came over to stay the night, bearing homemade fig jam, and we turned it into delicious pizza. I would like to eat a lot of fig, arugula, and prosciutto pizza this year.
  • DANCING! This is the amazing thing about (Step 1) being a grown-up and (Step 2) not caring what your neighbors think: you can blast “What Does the Fox Say?” at top volume late at night, and nothing happens except a lot of gleeful flailing. (Wait, I forgot Step 3: acquire very fun/tipsy friends.)

  • REVERSE CHARADES! Have you played this? It goes like so: Get 6-10 people. Have them all write ten words on slips of paper and put them in a bowl. Make them easy words because – unlike regular charades – you’ll be seeing how many you can rapid-fire guess in a minute. Think “cowboy,” “BeyoncΓ©,” and “tentacles.” (The last one is way too much fun.) War and Peace would be a bit ambitious. Now split into teams! Each round, one person will guess while the other 2-4 people on their team simultaneously act out the word. There’s no talking or planning allowed, but they can definitely use each other as props. There’s technically a board game version of this (which you really don’t need), but the point is that this game has won over all my friends. It even got my tough, ex-military brother-in-law to lovingly cradle J in his arms as they acted out the “joey” form of a kangaroo.

Beyond the bullet points of the night, those 24 hours also revealed a mystery. At 4:15am, I woke up upon hearing the guest bedroom door creak open. Footsteps led down the stairs, and I assumed one of my friends was getting a glass of water from the kitchen. I fell back asleep.

At 4:25, I awoke again, this time to J tugging on my arm and whispering, “What’s that?!” There was a quiet but insistent knocking coming from somewhere in the house. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. I jumped out of bed and threw on my bathrobe. By the time I opened our bedroom door, the noise had stopped, and I almost ran into my friend at the top of the stairs. Her eyes were enormous, and she was shaking.

“Where am I?” she asked plaintively. And then, close to tears: “Why didn’t you come get me?

After many hugs and much hair-petting, the story came out. My friend had woken up in the pitch dark and hit a wall in front of her face. She felt all around, but there was nothing except blank plaster and she couldn’t find a way out. She started tapping on the wall, sure the party was still going on, and then she became distraught when no one was willing to let her out. Finally, finally, she became conscious enough to turn around, find the light switch, and open the door. She had been trapped in the little bathroom under the stairs.

Sleep Walking

Art by Hugh Kretschmer

“How long was I down there?” she moaned, and I reassured her: “It was only ten minutes, honey. It wasn’t long at all.”

“It felt like an eternity,” she said. And the strangest past is not that she walked in her sleep – although she’d never done it before –Β  but that she lost hours of time. She was awake when the party ended, alert when we said our good nights, and lucid when she and our third friend laughed themselves to sleep in the guest bed. What happened in her dreams to rob her of a whole evening?

I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened in the first hours of 2014, but if we live the year as we live the first day, there will be abundant mysteries in store. What reassures me, though, is knowing that mint chocolate chip pancakes eaten in the light of day are a cure for even the strangest of ailments.

Have you ever walked in your sleep, or lost time like this? Please tell me your stories, and top the one from my colleague about her sleepwalking twin cousins, who used to have unconscious fistfights in the night.


66 responses to “A New Year But the Same Mysteries

  1. I can’t top unconscious fistfights. I briefly “dated” a guy in college that liked to pee in his desk drawer (which was problematic because there is only one drawer in a college dorm room set up and that is of course where we stashed our grass.) So, aside from the opportunity to yell “Wake up, you’re peeing on my WEED!” from a sound slumber – I got nothing.

    • Ohhhhhh, no. That is unpleasant in every possible way. Side note: last night, one of our dogs peed in our bed. WTF?! None of them have ever done that in all the years we’ve had them. It was such a gross way to wake up. But then… you have rabid penguins in your house, so maybe you’re enured to the delights of dealing with other creatures’ urine.

  2. We have a similar saying here in Serbia for the Orthodox Christmas, it being that whoever and wherever you spend it doing whatever is what you will be doing whole year. Needless to say mine was always on a Counter Strike game πŸ™‚
    I am a sleepwalker as well, although past few years I collapse to bed so I don’t do it that often anymore. I remember one time, I was sleeping at my grandma’s house and she woke me up around 4 am by stuffing a plate with steak and fries under my nose. I was like “What the Hell, woman, I know you are bored these hours and love to cook, but seriously? Waking me up and making me eat this?”, only to have her tell me “What? You got up 30 minutes ago, came to kitchen and demanded that I prepare this to you!”. Up to this day she believes I was fooling around with her, while in fact I was sleepwalking. I also remember I have more recently, by my husbands claims, demanded that he purchases me a baloon quite angrily. He has his fair share too, tho msot of them are what I suspect political speaches in Turkish language, which I thank zeus, don’t quite understand yet on that level πŸ˜€

    • I’ve never played that game, but I really love that you’re a poet/celestial fairy/counter-terrorist warrior. It’s a brilliant combination.

      I love the story about your grandmother! She clearly adored you, as I could never have gotten anyone I know to make me a steak dinner at 4am. Apparently I also talk in my sleep, and the balloon story is quite familiar. My husband J once leaned over to kiss me when he came to bed later than I did, and swears I growled at him, Why am I awake right now?!” I don’t remember it at all, but I have to believe him. Poor baby.

  3. Brilliant story. If someone tries to wake me while im asleep I punch them. In college my housemates used to challenge each other and house guests into waking me when I fell asleep on the couch. Some were brave and came right up to me, others used various tools such as sweeping brushes and fire pokers. One casualty was tossed into the fireplace having secured a nice jab from me.

  4. That is very mysterious, Jennie. Sometimes, I can feel disoriented in the dark, especially if it is an unfamiliar place. I can’t say I’ve lost whole evening’s worth. That is a little spooky! Luckily she didn’t hurt herself.

    • She was OK after some cuddling. It sent shivers down my spine to hear her talk about it. It sounded like being drugged or very sick, when you try to make sense of things but the world just keeps turning upside down

      I once had someone shut the lights off on me when I was in the stall of a public restroom. It was a strangely-shaped space, and it was very unnerving to feel my way out – especially since no one wants to touch random surfaces in a bathroom! Plus, I was worried someone would walk in, flick o the lights, and catch me probing my way about, and I’d have to explain myself. =/

  5. I’m going to get my hands on some psilocybin mushrooms and look at that video again. I might look at it all afternoon.

    Prosciutto. Serious palates only need apply.

    Misread “tentacles” as “testicles.” OF COURSE I DID. Calling Dr. Freud.

    Did you have pork and black eyed peas for dinner on New Year’s Day? That’s a tradition in my house that goes way back. Sleepwalking optional.

    I lost two years right after high school. All my friends disappeared into various universities while I bounced from menial job to menial job. Factory. Gas station. Slicer of lunchmeat. Movie theater usher.

    • Yay! I knew people would either be really turned off or… well, not turned on, but amused, by that video. Did you see the other one from my Facebook page? You are correct: we did have way too much fun with that fish. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=457944510978840

      For dinner, we had that “serious” prosciutto pizza and some homemade ice cream sandwiches. J is from Chicago, and refuses to acknowledge the deliciousness that is southern comfort food, so black eyed peas and collard greens don’t really happen ’round these parts. What does the pork represent?

      As for your “lost boy” years… Man, I really want to read the story of your life. For now, I’ll just ask: Which one of those jobs you liked least?

  6. Although I don’t think I’ve ever sleepwalked, I do have vivid memories of my daughter coming all the way downstairs, opening the door of my office, and just staring at me like a grotesque horror movie. It was easily the most creeped out I’ve ever been and now 15 years later my wife and I still haven’t told her about it for fear of freaking her out. I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but it was FREAKY.

    • Argh! That’s HORRIFYING. I think not telling her is definitely the right move. Thank Jeebus it was only the one time! (…as far as you know… muahahaha.)

      In college, my first-year roommate used to sit stark upright in her bed in her sleep and kind of cackle. I was usually up late doing homework, and the position of my desk meant my back was to her. After the second time this happened, I started studying in the lounge. That moment of turning my head to find her with eyes wide open but unseeing, was just too awful to deal with. Brrrrr. Did it get cold in here?

    • What did you do?? I have to know! I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with sleepwalking now. I personally talk in my sleep, but not too obnoxiously… that seems to be the most adventurous we get in our sleep at my house. Unless we’re talking about crazy dreams…

      • I was under a tremendous amount of stress and had a lot of anxiety. My doctor prescribed an anti anxiety med. I took my regular dose and when I got up in the morning I discovered that I had gotten them out in my sleep and taken an extra one. The pill bottle was on the floor with pills coming out of it. But only one was missing. Since then I have put any meds like that away from easy access. It was doggone scary!

        • That sounds like a very hard thing. I’m glad you’re talking in the past tense! That incident with the pills must have really shaken you… how can you know what you’ll do when you’re basically unconscious? I know one person who has to be locked inside her house at night with a key her husband hides. I know it sounds like a strange relationship, but if he doesn’t do this, she sneaks out of the house in her sleep.

          My takeaways are these: the human mind is fascinating and alarming, and I am glad you got through that OK!

          • Thank you, Jennie. It was disconcerting at best. I haven’t, as far as I know, sleep-walked since that time period. And I’ve been practicing learning how to de-stress. Let go of people and situations that create a lot of stress, and that really helps.

    • Way to be creepy!! *shudder* Although you’re not as bad as my husband, who asked me to lock the door once I was back in our room. He was convince she was demon-possessed. I said, “What about K?” – she was sharing the guest room with the sleepwalker – and he said, very solemnly: “We can’t save her now.”


  7. Me: My older sister and I always shared a room growing up, since we’re Irish Twins. For awhile our room was in the very dark basement, with only one tiny window high up in the far corner of the room. Bernadette slept in that corner. I slept near the door. One night as a young teen, I woke her up by insistently repeating her name. “Bernadette. Bernadette. Bernadette!” She finally woke up with an irritable “WHAT??” (I was told later) at which point I calmly asked, “What’s that man doing in our room? He’s not supposed to be here.” She immediately froze, and couldn’t decide if she wanted to risk moving so she could see if there really was a man. Needless to say, she did not get very much sleep that night.

    My husband: Early in our relationship, Johnny used to have waking dreams. It doesn’t happen much anymore, which is kind of a bummer as they can be really entertaining. To wit: Johnny bolted upright in bed one night, waking me easily as I’m a light sleeper. He declared, “We have to help those people.” Naturally I asked, “What people?” To which he replied, “THOSE people. We have to get them to safety. We need to help them get across state lines.” Now I giggled. “Baby, I think you’re dreaming.” He turned to me and insisted, “No, YOU’RE dreaming.” At which point I cracked up. Then he got up, used the restroom, came back to bed, uttered a few more resistance fighter platitudes, and promptly fell back into a deep slumber, leaving me wide awake, terribly amused, and wondering what state-specific mortal threat humanity was running from in his dream.

    • AWESOME stories. Awesome. I love how little kids think about terrifying creatures in their rooms… you were both awake, and you had already mentioned the man out loud, so if there was a scary dude in your room, he totally knew you were onto him. But the only thing going through a young mind is “maybe if I stay totally still it’ll just go away!” I actually still think that way, which is why I would never survive in a horror movie.

      Also, I love people who say weird things in their sleep. A couple who I adore has about one night a week where the wife waxes poetic about things from spiders on the walls to “Why are those children giggling?” to “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID.” Johnny’s might be the most inspirational sleepy-talk ever, though. πŸ™‚

  8. Booze can do crazy things to time. I don’t think I’ve ever walked in my sleep, unless one counts all those trips to the bathroom, which I usually don’t remember……….scary, though, for your friend.

    • Right, and maybe it was the booze. We mutually agreed to blame it on that, as it was the least disturbing “cause.” But honestly, I don’t think she drank too much that night, especially compared to what she’s used to… she dates a bartender. I just don’t know.

  9. K, that was alternately a bit scary and a bit depressing, when I think that upon my new year’s, I was knee deep in kid vomit. Not the regular kind either. This was the good stuff. I have had some honest-to-goodness tremendous drunk-ups in my time, usually at the most inappropriate times, but it sounds like you have some fun times too.

    By the way, I dig the idea of mint chocolate chip pancakes.

    • 2014: The Year of Hurling. Good luck with that!

      I remember the first story you told me was about ass jello. None of my drinking stories can top that, not even close. But my pancakes are the shiz, which counts for something. πŸ™‚

      • Oh crap, I told you the ass jello story. I remember telling it, I don’t tell that to just anyone you know! My parties are epic, but they will be better when I serve those pancakes. I like to throw wrinkles at people in the middle of a good drink-up.

    • Normally, I’d agree with you! But this was a small house party, only myself and six of my nearest and dearest. None of them are the roofie-slipping type. I’m sticking with my hypothesis about some homemade limoncello gone bad. (Although the rest of us drank it with no ill effects…)

      By the way, I can’t remember what I did two nights ago. New Years is only memorable because I made a big deal out of it… typically, my memory is awful.

    • In my book, there’s no one better at giving quality comforting than my two college roommates. It was good all three of us were there. And although the circumstances were cray-cray, we had kind of a nice slumber party moment, playing with each others’ hair at 5am. Sadly, my friend was not up for playing Bloody Mary in the bathroom… I wonder why?

    • NOMNOMNOM. I’m sorry, it’s hard for me to type coherently when my mouth is full of saliva. Even the memory of that pizza gets me going like one of Pavlov’s puppies.

  10. I was in bed by 9:30, methinks. I hope that is a good omen – early to bed, yadda, yadda, yadda. Perhaps a harbinger of dull-ish times perhaps? A marker to more sedate and mellow offerings to come? Not sure. But it was groovy (usually I work New Year’s Eve, being in the hospitality industry).

    I can’t even come close to that sleepwalking / not sleeping when you should be sleeping story. Or the others ones in the comments. I have been known to do strange things in a booze-soaked coma, but that’s different πŸ™‚


    • Oh, I’d definitely focus on the groovy part where you didn’t have to work! I think relaxation is a stellar theme for a year. I used to work the front desk at a hotel, and remember bringing Thanksgiving dinner to a co-worker who was stuck there by himself. Holidays can be lonely in hospitality.

      P.S. If you ever want to share stories of your booze-soaked comas… I’m here. πŸ˜‰

      • Oh dear…booze-soaked comas…blackouts as we endearingly and euphemistically refer to them…ugh. The mind is asleep but the body is “party party party!” I don’t have those funny stories where a guy goes out to buy smokes and then wakes up three days later in Saskatoon with a crimson red tutu, one combat boot on and his eye brows shaved (that would be a good one, actually), but I do have some rather dull, non-salacious stuff that happened over and over again…lol.

        The only thing about blackouts is that nothing ever *good* comes from them – it’s not like I came to and said “Oh! The car got washed!” or “ooh…look, the laundry all got folded and put away!” Usually something bad, or embarassing, or just down right dumb happened. No one scores when in those comas either…ha ha. Or if they do, they don’t remember it, so it doesn’t count.

        Glad those days are over for me, at least. I have to admit, I do like hearing the stories now and then…makes me think “at least I didn’t do THAT!”…ha ha.

        • I should perhaps refer you to Trent Lewin. His most colorful party story involves Jello served out of his pants. πŸ˜‰ As for me, I’ve never blacked out and, hearing you talk about it, I’m glad. I remember a day in college when I saw flyers posted asking if anyone knew where a certain woman was – and she was someone I knew from high school! I heard the full story later.

          She’d blacked out during her 21st birthday party and walked out of the bar. By the time her friends realized she was gone, they couldn’t find her on the street. Luckily – luckily – she was picked up by another acquaintance who took her back to a dorm room to sleep it off, but didn’t know how to reach any of her other friends. She woke up to a hell of a day-after, because it was late in the afternoon, she’d missed all her classes, and her friends and the police were actively searching for her. Yikes. As Buffy would say, “Beer BAD.”

          I should have remembered before I asked why you started your blog in the first place. Thanks for sharing the sense of humor you mention there. πŸ™‚

  11. Ok, that settles it… even if I could be your mama, practically… you will have to be on my blogger visiting tour. I make fish talk all the time, it’s a sick thing. So we need to meet in person… “Yes we are.” AND, what’s worse, I had that drywall, trapped in a room experience in a hotel once… it was seriously, one of THE scariest things ever! I had no idea where I was; why I was trapped there; and where the door/light/bed was. CRAZY experience… !!

    • It’s on like Dawnie Kong! (Unless you instantly cut me from the tour list for that horrible pun.) I don’t know what it is about their little toothy mouths, but fish heads just beg to be puppets! I also get a sick kick out of animating crab claws and going after people’s noses. Really, I’m one of those people who does know which fork to use in a formal dinner setting, but day-to-day I choose to play with my food because… why NOT?

      Anyway, you’re always welcome here – if your cousins are busy, you can even stay at my place, as long as you don’t sleepwalk! I haven’t recovered from last time yet. πŸ™‚

  12. Both my sister and my husband are sleep walkers (and talkers) – so I have turned into a light sleeper as a pure self-defense mechanism. When my sweetie starts killing “spiders” in the bed, I know well enough to get out of it! πŸ™‚

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