Tag Archives: dad

A Lucid Visit

Yesterday I had a lucid dream of visiting my grandparents.

That is, I had a dream of it, but I was aware that I was dreaming, so I could make the most of my time.

Lucid dreaming requires being in the hypnagogic state, where you possess consciousness without wakefulness. You can enter a hypnagogic state from wakefulness, or from dreamland. The problem in either case is maintaining consciousness, as it’s easy to lose in dreamland.

Yesterday, I entered the hypnagogic state by counting to myself while falling asleep. I first began counting sheep, but that was too cartoony, so then I imagined trying to count sheep in a pen, then cattle in a field, and that became cattle in my grandfather’s field. Soon I was counting the steps to his house. Then I was in a hypnagogic state.

I did not want to lose consciousness, so I then looked down while moving. In software terms, the human mind has a “known bug” in the graphics driver while sleeping: if you look down while you’re walking in a dream, you’re feet either will be invisible or else will look very, very strange. This is so noticeable that even in dreamland, it alerts your consciousness. So you can stay lucid dreaming even in dreamland by looking at your feet while walking.

In a lucid dream you can control your environment (instead of a normal dream, which is like watching a movie). You can also warp your environment if you want to, though this requires a noticeable act of will. Yesterday, I just controlled what I did and where I went, but I let dreamland unfold as it wanted to.

I visited the garage, saw the things inside vividly and individually. “There are things here I never asked about,” I thought. Outside the garage, saw the sod house flicker into and out of existence.

I entered the farmhouse through the front door. I saw the little entryway, and all the sounds inside, WNAX on the radio, my grandfather sitting down by the table, my grandma standing, my dad was there too. I heard them all. I felt the shadows of the living, but I only heard my grandpa, my grandma, and my dad.

The sounds and the textures were hyper-real, though visually everything was like a ‘progressive render,’ where it became noticeably clearer as I focused. I saw the little TV on the refrigerator. I walked from the kitchen to the dining room. I saw the old phone, the desk with the recorder that my idiot uncle gave my grandparents, the plants, and the cabinet with the radio. (I knew there was an Atari in there somewhere, though I did not look for it.)

I passed through the glass portico into the living room. I felt the tape on the large comfortable chairs. I felt the shadows of the living again. I saw the couch, the painting above the couch, and the chairs on each side. The old television (that I caused havoc with when I was young). The long table with the storage area underneath, I once hid in. The bull.

I saw the loveseat, the window, and walked to the back entry way. I was hopefully because there was a building set I loved, that belonged to my uncle when he was young, and I wanted to see the brand name, but I could not make it out. I could see the pieces vividly, see the army men and the home-made Parcheesi set set, but I could not make out the brand name.

Disappointed, I walked in the remaining rooms of the house. Each was vivid. The downstairs bathroom, my grandfathers room (in which I had a nightmarish flash back to reality, back after my grandfather died, going thru his things with my mom, then back to dreamland). Then the hall again, then up the stairs. I felt the texture, again hyperreal. I saw the old fire alarm / extinguisher / whatever it was — the least safe home-safety device ever created, seemingly constructed to explode glass outward during a fire. “I knew that would kill us all one day,” I thought.

Then I woke.

The Los Angeles of Dreams

My dad, my mom, my wife, and I had driven to Los Angeles. But there was a problem with the car, so we took a tour bus of the city.

We had heard that if you try to drive the bus by yourself there would be problems, but a driver was already in the seat. So we waited to start.

I sat in one seat. Across the isle and behind one row, my mom, and wife, and my dad sat. My dad was not wearing his shirt.

My mom quizzed me about the Crusades some. I was able to name the first few but not the last. We checked our answers on our laptops and laughed.

The bus took us around the famous sites of Los Angeles. It was not the real Los Angeles, but the “Los Angeles of Dreams.” The brown barren hills were so high, the half-cloudy skies were so bright and blue, the water that soaked us was so wet.

Sometime I said “I think Fei is scared,” but I heard the words in my dad’s voice. I helped Fei across the aisle and she came to sit with me.

Then I woke up.

About three minutes later I realized it was a dream of my father.

Some thoughts, minutes before sleep

When I was a kid, I was pretty sick. My body hurt a lot and I was not eating enough. On Saturday afternoons Mystery Science Theatre 3000 would come on. I would prepare for this sometimes my making cherry bars or something else high calories (and thus healthy), and lay on the couch with a blanket around me and watch the show. Sometimes, when I felt very tired I would wish that I could live in space with Mike and Servo and Crow and not be in pain. The show was such an escape.

I am so grateful for my family — my wife, my mother, my brother, my sister, &c — and so enjoy the work I do. But, like now, I am in the dark alone. I am in the dark, of course, because it is late and the lights are out, and alone except for my ipod mini. I listened to “Vito Ordination’s Song” by Sufjan Stevens and then the first track of (), by Sigur Ros. I would listen to Sigur Ros in the dark waiting room after company had gone and I waited for news on my father. Just now I only listened to one track. The rooms are too similar in the dark.

My family is a refuge and my work keeps my mind busy. Recently I took up my new favorite sport, badminton, and spend my free time either looking forward to the day’s matches or looking back at them with contented exhaustion.

But today I am traveling, so no badminton. I did chores and worked, mowed hte lawn and played PlayStation2 while on the treadmill, but no badminton wso the mind is more free.

I was listening to my ipod in the dark and saw the most recent episode of the Generally Speaking Lost podcast in the playlist. And I felt the same escape as with Mystery Science so many years ago.

Half-Year

Six months and one day ago, I talked with my dad on the phone about where we would go on spring break. I was planning on taking Fei out west that weekend, so I wanted to make sure that our spring break destination was Chicago. (This way we wouldn’t re-drive much of I-80.) Chicago it tentatively was.

Six months ago, almost to the minute I am writing this, I called home while driving to pick up soup and bread for Fei and myself. Dad seemed tired, and put mom on the phone. We talked a bit.

Six months ago and a little later, Fei and I ate our soup (she loved it, I thought it was mediocre). We watched some tv, and ate some of the birthday cake she made for me.

Six months and a little later I got a phonecall. It was my mom. Dad had a heart-attack. Fei and I threw things in the car, we called my brother, and drove north.

It was dark by the time I got to Sioux Falls. I remember images from that drive, but of everything it is the part I recall least.

I remember the next few days. Because I I had taken a class that dealt with neuroscience the previous semester I was able to understand some of what the doctor’s told us. I learned about coma scales and degrees of unresponsiveness.

I learned that dad’s odds were reduced by one treatment he did have and one he did not. The treatment he did, Avandia, is known to increase the risk of massive heart attacks. The one he did not, induced hypothermia, appears to help recovery because the damage of cardiac-induced comas come after physical revival. But that’s new, and experimental, and the hospital just did not have it.

I remember crying in the waiting room (actually a family conference room which
our family occupied), at my dad’s bedside, and just whenever.

I remember listening to Sigur Ros in the dark.

There were two good signs, two good responses, that had made us hopeful. Shortly after the coma began, my dad responded to certain jokes told by my mother. He would smile and lift his head up. Later, after that had stopped, he would arm wrassle me.

The response to the jokes may have been him fading away. The arm wrassling was dad “waking up” to a persistent vegetative state.

Ten days after my dad’s heart attack, he went into PVS without having woken up. The same day he died of an infection.

Yesterday my mom mistakenly referred to February 10th as the day that dad died, but that’s what it feels like.

Today, one year ago, my grandpa was dying. Today, six months ago, my dad was about to.

Since February 10 I have split my time between Nebraska and South Dakota. At first my dad needed me. Now my mom and sister do.

I miss my friends. I have not been able to give them the time they deserve. I have not been able to present them with the kind of happiness they should have.

I miss my dad most of all.

Since my dad’s heart attack both Fei and myself have missed dying by inches. Her car was sucked under an 18 wheeler. I was nearly hit by a bus.

I dreamed of going to Chicago without him.

I love you dad.

The End

I was the first one at my father’s burial.

I drove around the small town some. I stopped for gas, drove past the city hall where my grandfather once teased an imprisoned clown, past “Presbyterian Hill” where one of the first academy’s in the state was founded, and went back to the cemetery. I saw the funeral home’s tent and, next to my father’s grave, my grandfather’s temporary marker (misspelled) and my brother’s tombstone.

Eventually the rest of the family arrived. We waited until about the appropriate time and stepped outside.

We mingled some, and then the priest arrived (a fine Asian-Indian Father who, unlike his native born coreligionist at the funeral, kept to the liturgy). I was supposed to be a pallbearer (as at the funeral), but my uncles and a cousin relieved me of that duty.

Instead, I held my mom.

After, we gathered at my grandfather’s old house. My cousin has kept it up well — perfected it, really — and we told stories. Then, as conversations among family tend to do so, we turned to happier subjects. Lunch was tasty, and it was good to eat with so many loved ones.

I will continue to write of this as appropriate, but today is a real end. I went from worried concern, to hope, to despair, to my father’s death, to his funeral, and now his burial. I don’t know what else to say here. I suspect there is not much more. How many times can you say, “I love you, dad”?

So I expect tomorrow will see a resumption of normal blogging. A world has ended, but I am still here. So is my girlfriend, who my dad loved, in spite of being sucked under a semi. This life goes on.

A Weird Limbo

The funeral was Friday, but burial is tomorrow. This time feels weird. Sometimes I feel “normal,” sometimes I feel terrible. For the first times I am feeling guilty for not feeling sad (up until now the true feeling was pretty much continuous). It certainly don’t feel good.

Thank you, UNL Department of Political Science

On February 12, two days after my dad’s heart-attack, my colleagues at UNL’s department of political science sent me a wonderful get-well card for my dad.

The card had wonderful handwritten notes, from both the faculty and staff of the department — men and women I admire and look up to

“Very sorry to hear the news. I am thinking of you & hoping things get better”
“Hope everything turns out OK. We are thinking about you and your family.
“I am so sorry. Please know that my thoughts are both you.”
“My family will keep you & your family in our prayers. Let me know what I can do for you.

As well as from my fellow graduate students — men and women who work besides me, take the same classes as me…

“J. & I are thinking of you” – J.F.
“All my best” – A.F.
“Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” – S.S.
“All my best” – D.B.
“We are all here for you during this rough time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in any way.” T.M.
“Condolences.” – M.H.
“Take care of yourself. I’ll take you to lunch later this week” M.S.
“I am sorry to hear about your father. He is a really good guy and I hope he pulls through.” – M.T.
“Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.” – C.J.
“I am thinking of you, and your family and wishing you all the best.” – T.W.
“Just want to let you know that I’m thinking of you and your family. Please let me know if I can do anything to help.” – J.T.
“Thinking of you and your family. Hope for the best. Take care.” – C.J.

and even argue the eccentricities of Keynesian economics with..

“I am very sorry to hear about this change and I promise that I’ll let you win an argument sometime soon to maybe make you feel better… :-) ” -D.O.

My mother has spent the past two days writing her thank-yous. We have a bag that is, physically, overflowing with the kind wishes our family has received. We have four stacks of envelopes to go out already.

But I’m younger in life, I don’t have as many contacts, and, of course, I feel more natural talking to people online than through the post office. So I write these messages, and so many kind people take time out of their day to share their thoughts.

This blog is nothing without your contributions. I’ve said that before, and that is true. And many real life friends have been with me through all this through the blog. More than any event in my life, this tragedy has united me to people.

But there is still a special feel to atoms, to paper and physical things. So I want to thank everyone in the department who wrote, and everyone there who has shared kindness to me in every other way since 2005. I want to thank the department, and the professor I teach under this semester, for both sending flowers to the funeral.

Minutes before the mass started, my mother and I walked to the front of the department. She was so impressed, and proud.

My dad always loved flowers.

And I want to thank J.F. and S.S. for even planning on surprising me and driving up, before two blizzards and two closed interstates made travel both impossible and crazily dangerous.

To my friends and colleagues in the department — everyone is in both categories — thank you. I love you.