According to Wikipedia, “Sleep paralysis is a transition state between wakefulness and rest characterized by complete muscle atonia (muscle weakness). It is thought to be a result of disrupted REM sleep which is normally characterized by complete muscle atonia that prevents individuals from acting out their dreams.”
That’s what happened to me yesterday when I was napping hard and my nephews began pounding on my door. I woke momentarily, aware that I was sleeping and aware of my surroundings, but unable to move. This has happened to me before. It’s a bizarre sensation, though not frightening. It’s like that scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when Jim Carrey pries his eyes open in his dream and is able to see, just for a second, what is actually going on in his room as he sleeps.
The experience characterizes my move here – to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where I’m now living with my sister and her family, including my two nephews, ages three and five. Highland Park. It’s a nice neighborhood. There’s a bookstore conveniently close by, St. Cat’s university campus, two coffee shops and a teahouse, a grocery, pharmacy, a library, and even Planned Parenthood for all my womanly health needs. I am, however, floating through my days with the sensation that I am in a dream state. I spent the last twenty years of my life in school, and now that I don’t have academia, I feel like a vine plant trying to latch onto a support only to grab air. It feels unnatural and unreal.
Luckily, I have Coursera, which offers free courses online from accredited universities around the world. In September, I’ll be taking a class called, “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry” from the University of Pennsylvania. There are 21,000 people in my class, which is 10 weeks long and has a workload of five-to-eight hours per week. That will keep me grounded as I look for work and get to know my new city and settle into my latest digs.