Gentle Is the Noise, Painful Is the Chaos

The messed-up dreams continue.

This morning I was shocked awake again, this time just 10 minutes before my alarms were set to go off. Dreamed I was involved in a breakup, maybe mine, maybe someone else’s. In an effort to seek comfort, I grabbed a carload of friends and we went riding around. Found ourselves at some place where there were huge screens playing video games and ads for video games, kinda like a messed-up version of Dave and Buster’s. Something seemed really odd about this place, and this girl who was riding with me also sensed it, so we went wandering from room to room. Found this one room that had curtains all around it on the walls, much like a movie theater.

Someone we knew, someone whom we met recently in one of the previous rooms, told us to look deeper inside this room, and so we did. Lifted the curtain in one spot and found a door. We went through. What was on the other side was a secret society, a secret lab, a hideout, all kinds of people there doing business, holding training, philosophizing about politics and stuff. I had a camcorder with me and started taping. As we walked room to room we ended up in this whole area that looked well-kept, was brightly lit, and looked very much like a television studio.

As we stepped out of the studio, where a show was being produced, a plainclothes cop or secret agent got the girl I was with and got me too. Found the handycam and the tape inside; asked me to please eject the tape and hand it to her, very much in the fashion that someone in airport security would ask me to do so, basically to see if my camera was real and not a weapon. She took us down to the station, walking past many of the rooms we wandered through. The station wasn’t too far, only a few rooms over. All my friends I’d gone riding with were there, and I was given the main seat at the table, where the handycam and its tape were sitting.

An officer came in and started asking me questions, questions concerning me, my affairs. I started getting curious about why they were holding us, and they gave no suitable answers, so we were stuck there while their questions to me grew more and more personal. I was answering them as truthfully as possible when they started asking me about my mother. This seemed to be going too far as they were asking me about when I had last seen her, spoke to her, called her, what she was doing with her life, etc., etc. Then they revealed to me why I had been held for questioning — they had evidence my mother was involved in a secret, hidden society, and I was involved in the case; the tape in the handycam had evidence.

All I saw was me leaving the room while mumbling something about ladies and gentlemen, cabin, and pressure.

I blindly tore off in my car, filled up the tank, pulled into the driveway of an upstairs apartment I was renting above a nice house somewhere in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and proceeded to unload my car for packing things in for a long trip. I knew I had to see my mother.

And that’s when I woke up.

I strongly believe that dreams are essentially little more than random neural patterns, experienced as memories, sounds, images, events, etc. The brain does its best to understand and make sense of the neural noise. In my case, and especially in the case of my dream this morning, every single thing my brain filled-in that was triggered by the noise was from recent memory. That seems to be the minefield that my own brain pulls from; others are from distant memories, some are completely imaginative. Why my brain pulled those memories, I cannot know or predict; I do know I was feeling stressed, anxious, tense, sad. Brains are good about controlling your emotions without your oversight. I have a feeling that because of the emotions I was sensing, a strong coloration was put on the memories recalled to fill the static gaps, and drew up tense memories amongst the completely random.

Ok. I do remember talking to a friend, online, about a local electronics retail store. Mentioned the rooms full of stuff, gadgets. Recalled the big screens, the game systems, the advertising everywhere. Wondered about being able to buy a handycam there and before I paid for it filled up a tape with video from inside the store, just so I could show my online friend what the inside of this one particular store looked like. Ok, those memories have been discovered.

Ok, what about the driving around? Ah, yes, my roomate and I spent over an hour just driving around out in the countryside last night, visiting some neighboring counties. Not exactly a carfull of people, but it’s enough for a dream. The filling of the gas tank? I did that last night on the drive.

But what about the room with the curtains, and the TV studio? Ok, yesterday while looking online for news about the New England area power blackout, where I read articles about TV studios going off the air and suffering with backup power, I came across a sponsored link at the bottom of an article that was selling “blackout curtains.” Wha? So I clicked and was sent to a business that sold really thick curtains that you put behind your normal curtains to completely black out and darken a room. Great for those with night jobs. Well, interesting; I thought they were selling them for the old WW2 usage. Context-based ad serving engines kinda flubbed on that one. Feh.

And so all my images are discovered and answered. But what about my mother? I know it’s been a few weeks since I called and chatted with her; I’ve been considering doing so for the past few days. And there that is. Somehow I think I’ll be calling her soon.

My dreams reveal nothing; they only mix and match recent memories. :sighs: Anyone out there feel the same about themselves?

Days 11 and 12

The cravings continue, but the lung crud doesn’t. I’m already starting to breathe a good deal better. I am so happy about that. The fact that my lungs are feeling good makes them crave the tightening ache of tobacco smoke again, and that’s what’s making the quitting that much harder.

So far, outside of a smoke I had friday night, I’ve been smoke free for 12 days now. Yes, I am happy for that. Not as crabby as I have been, even though my good mood has gone quite a bit farther south than usual on occasion. This weekend was no exception, and I wish to apologize to anyone I’ve put off by my abrupt and terse “standoffish” manners. So there.

Man, let me tell you about my damned dreams. Since quitting, they have been getting seriously weird and unsettling. They’re so damned vivid and omnipresent; there has not been a single time that I’ve either slept, snoozed, or catnapped and not had one of these wierd dreams. Their setting, cast, crew, plot, theme, and message varies wildly (as anything resulting from random neurological impulses would be), and for the most part they’re forgotten beyond their unsettling natures, so I can’t pinpoint any one dream or any one reason why they’re so off-putting. All I know is that since quitting, yes, they’ve gotten so damned wierd. I’d like to say it’s some sort of neurochemical rebalancing, or sinus pressure, or perhaps the flood of oxygen in my previously-struggling blood cells flooding my brain, or maybe just the fact that I have recently made a Life-Changing Decision which has been given front-and-center in my lifestyle and thought processes. I dunno.

I tend to favor the neurochemical rebalance theory; I mean, after 8 years of being subjected to funky-odd stimulants, toxins, and pollutants, they are now gone and the parts of my brain that were repressed from vivid dreaming by the nicotine or were squelching the vivid dreaming to compensate for the nicotine are now active again. It’s unsettling but amazing. I believe that the mind is very much bound to the body; my recent dreaming fits have spawned a new bout of creativity, emotive thoughts, and (most thankfully) logical resolutions to some techie problems I’ve been having. If I’m not feeling well, then I’m not thinking well. Descartes kind of had it backwards: “I am, therefore I think.”

Stick that in your pipe and nonsmoke it. (I cannot believe I just said that.)

Good night, world.

Day 10

Today has totally sucked. I’m growing really, really tired of the chest tightness. Fucking sucks. Sometimes it gets to be too much and I start to have a panic attack. Have to force myself to breathe and come down off of it. Discovered that the Xanax I’m taking for acute panic attacks is bad, bad, for people with asthma (me). Shit.

I’m so tired of all this. Of the tight chest, the irritability, the nausea, the spinning / floating head, the sinus pressure, the ear pressure, the neurological adjustments, the cravings, the phlegm, the overexcitement and the resulting energy drain, the everything associated with quitting. I want it to stop. And soon. I was reading a pulmonary forum online where a nurse was saying that the effects of smoking take a long time to subside. Double-shit. That means I might be dosing myself with guaifenessen and albuterol for a “long time” out. Damn.

It’s really funny to me how many “quit smoking” resources and websites there are out there. It’s funnier still to see the vast derth of them that, in a mission to help its members save money by no longer smoking, feature “premium services” for those who pay a membership fee. Feh. Looks to me like even the university-sponsored services are feeling the financial crunch. Feh. And it’s even more funny the number of sites that propose that living “on the patch”, or with a daily regimen of Zyban / Wellbutrin are “really the best ways to go.” I would hazard to guess that sites that recommend these paths have got to be sponsored or getting kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. Call me Doubting Shawn Thomas, but it just makes too much sense.

Two months ago I had a smoking-cessation discussion with my doctor. He gave me a rundown of national stats and actually bothered to give me some straight talk. He said that the average, nationally, for quitters is seven attempts, meaning some quit on their first, some on their fourteenth. Seven. And of those most successful quitters the most successful and prevalent method for quitting was cold turkey. Just quit, just drop it, just leave it alone. Don’t do it. Don’t take drugs to screw up your neurochemistry. Don’t wear epidermal patches to keep you addicted to nicotine. Don’t chew the gum. I will tell you first hand that cold turkey is hell, total hell, but I can see that when I’m finally adjusted and more healthy, after this ordeal I’ll be more resolute about not picking up the habit again.

Well, after recommending different paths to quitting, from accupuncture to hypnosis to homeopathy to patches to cold turkey, my doctor acted like a doctor-with-bills again and wrote me a three month long prescription for Zyban. Wasn’t that also the day I saw two drug representatives in the waiting room?

Day Nein!

Yesterday wasn’t too bad. At work I was quite physically active, and my lungs were keeping up with me. The crud has been dissappating, and for that I am very happy. Still having coughs in the mornings, but that’s to be expected after a night’s sleep. Still having bronchial spasms and chest tightness; sometimes it happens when I stretch my chest out. :shrugs: Every now and then the quitter’s flu pops up with that sick feeling, and my head’s sinus cavities are still messed up from non-exposure to smoke, but if this is my body’s way of dealing with getting rid of eight years’ worth of toxins, then I welcome it.

I do have a confession, though. Yesterday, since I worked my ass off at work, I felt like I should reward myself with a cigarette. I told my friend BC3 about my plan, and he was about to slap me silly until I sat down and decided against it. Well, last night I made the decision to borrow a cigarette and I smoked it in two shifts. Before you lynch me, listen to me: after not having a smoke in 9 days (a stupendous feat if you ask me), while smoking that cigarette I totally forgot why I started smoking. That damned thing was harsh, the smoke was really thick and choking, and the nicotine rush was really dizzying and left me with a headache. After nic-fitting for 9 days, after that smoke I really don’t want any more for a long time. The experience was rather lackluster. :sighs: Some would say that was a good thing, yes?

I woke up this morning from a long slew of really weird dreams (having those a lot lately — I blame altered neurochemistry) and had a small cough. Still have a small headache, but I’ve been having that for the past few days at the least. Having some wasabi peas to see if I can get some of my sinus stuff to drain.

I’m still looking forward to the day when my non-smoking is not a topic of conversation. Give it a few weeks or months; it’ll be fine. We’ll see what today, day ten, holds.

w.d 1.1

One thing I will admit is that I’m seriously craving a smoke lately. Something tells me I’m probably dealing with secondary physical withdrawals. Shit. Actually, right now I’m dealing with a tight chest, again. This has been an ongoing thing, every damned day for the past month or longer. Getting tired of it. Seriously.

Tonight, though, I’m going through periods alternating from nicotine craving to chest tightness, each lasting about a half hour. And it’s been like this all day. Where the hell was this chest tightness yesterday, when I was at the cardiologist’s office, huh? Shit. Well, if you take this tightness, throw in some random, lagging “flu-like” feelings, some dizziness and some stomach upsets, and mix it all up for good measure, you have what I’m feeling. Yep. Another Shawn-fueled panic attack.

And yes, as predicted, I’m starting to get irritable. Quite irritable. Not quite irritable enough to snap someone’s head off, just enough to get annoyed and pissed at little things. Yep. These are tough times.

And I really, really should stop this bitching. It’s pissing me off. Seriously. Um, yeah, fuck you too.