Lost in Azeroth

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I apologize for not writing in forever. I’ve been too busy parading my badass rogue around Northrend. Jayya has completed all of her achievements for Love is in the Air and the Lunar Festival, so she’s well on her way to getting the purple protodrake at the end of the year. There have also been more than a dozen attempts to get the hawkstrider mount from Magister’s Terrace, but no luck so far.

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Sleep Paralysis

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One minute, I was sleeping peacefully. The next, I was awake and in a state of panic. I was unable to breathe. I felt this incredible pressure on my chest, like someone was sitting on me. Some force was pushing me onto the bed, and I couldn’t move any part of my body to help myself. The only thing I could hear was what sounded like a fan blowing directly in my ears. I tried to call out for help (my boyfriend was watching television in the living room), but I was unable to make a sound. This episode lasted for 15 seconds.

I was absolutely frightened and too afraid to move. I felt like I just had the worst nightmare of my life, except I knew for certain I was awake. Whatever happened, it felt demonic and paranormal. Immediately, I began to brainstorm. Who or what the hell did I disturb recently? I couldn’t think of a damn thing.

Two minutes later, it happened again. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t scream. The fans in my ears.  The choking. The incredible pressure on my chest. The only difference was this time, I could hear what sounded like someone/something running around the bedroom in the dark, rustling around in papers, clothes, the closet, etc. This lasted another 15-20 seconds, and then I was finally able to move again. I was too petrified to make a sound. I began crying, and after about 10 minutes, I braved reaching over to my night table to grab my cell phone. I had been too afraid to move, talk or yell for help. I thought that whatever held me down on the bed would come back. I texted my bf, who had been watching TV in the living room. “come to bedroom. emergency.”

He came in immediately and told me it had to have been a dream. I was convinced it wasn’t. Afterall, I woke up while this was happening. And I was completely awake while it happened a second time. Needless to say, I slept like shit all night.

I immediately did my research the next morning. Apparently, I had suffered from an episode of sleep paralysis, a phenomena that 15% of people will experience at least once in their lifetime.

Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from an REM state, but the body paralysis persists. This leaves the person fully conscious, but unable to move. The paralysis can last from several seconds to several minutes “after which the individual may experience panic symptoms and the realization that the distorted perceptions were false”. In addition, the paralysis state may be accompanied by terrifying hallucinations and an acute sense of danger. Sleep paralysis is particularly frightening to the individual because of the vividness of such hallucinations.

Possible causes:

  • Sleeping in a face upwards or supine position (check)
  • Irregular sleeping schedules; naps, sleeping in, sleep deprivation (check)
  • Increased stress (check)
  • Sudden environmental/lifestyle changes (check)
  • A lucid dream that immediately precedes the episode (check)

I wasn’t too crazy to think this was a paranormal experience, either. Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that stems back thousands of years. Such sleep paralysis was widely considered to be the work of demons and more specifically incubi, which were thought to sit on the chests of sleepers.

  • In African culture, isolated sleep paralysis is commonly referred to as “the witch riding your back”.
  • In Hmong culture, sleep paralysis describes an experience called “dab tsog” or “crushing demon.” Often the sufferer claims to be able to see a tiny figure, no larger than a child, sitting on his or her chest.
  • In Chinese culture, sleep paralysis is widely known as (pinyin: guǐ yā shēn), which literally translate into “ghost pressing on body” or “ghost pressing on bed.”
  • In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is known as the ‘Old Hag’. In island folklore, the Hag can be summoned to attack a third party, like a curse. In his 1982 book, The Terror that Comes in the Night, David J. Hufford writes that in local culture the way to call the Hag is to recite the Lord’s Prayer backwards. It is also common for believers to claim that those who are not wakened from this paralysis will die.
  • Several studies have shown that African-Americans may be predisposed to isolated sleep paralysis also known as “the witch is riding you” or “the haint is riding you”.

I’m hoping this doesn’t happen to me again. I love scary movies, the paranormal, ghosts … you name it. But this was easily the most terrifying experience of my life. Will it, or has it happened to you?

-Michelle Kamali’i Rivera

San Francisco’s Very Own Lucille Alpers

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I’m off to San Francisco tomorrow. I was a sophomore in high school the last time I visited … 11 years ago. I went with my father to visit one of his best friends, Lucille Alpers. He was 42 at the time. Lucille, 90.

Lucille was a wealthy woman and took frequent vacations to Kauai, Hawaii, where she met my dad’s incredibly large family. She grew fond of my grandfather and his six children, but she developed a special bond with my father, the eldest sibling.

Lucille and her husband Henry couldn’t have children of their own, so they flew my dad out to San Francisco to stay for an entire summer. He was eight the first time he flew out there alone. His visits continued for many years to come, up until he was 18 years old.

My father met and married my mother eight years later. Lucille continued to write and  send him a generous check for every holiday occasion, including his birthday. When my brother and I were born, Lucille included us in the tradition of sending monetary gifts and writing letters. I was young and barely knew Lucille at the time, but I knew she was a special woman. I often heard my dad describe Lucille as his second mother. He didn’t have to battle with two other brothers and three sisters to vie for Lucille’s attention.

Then Henry died.

Other than my father’s family, Henry was Lucille’s world. She wrote my dad more frequently and oftentimes paid for our family to fly to San Francisco from Boston just to visit her. I’ll never forget the light in her eyes when she saw my father … when she talked to him. She may not have had children of her own, but Lucille saw my father as her son.

Lucille passed away last year. She was nearly 100 years old. She left something for my father. He still never told me what it was.

Every time I think about San Francisco, I see Lucille’s face. She was kind-hearted, happy, generous, loving, loyal, spiritual and joyous. I remember walking the windy streets of San Francisco, trying to keep up with an amazingly-fit 90-year-old woman walking in heels … my dad and I completely out of breath. Lucille gave me my first Barbie doll when I was three years old. Lucille also made it possible for my high school soccer team to travel to Paris, France; London; and Amsterdam to play in the Youth World Cup.  I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life when Lucille won’t cross my mind when I think about San Francisco.

RIP, Lucille. You were an amazing person in my life, especially my father’s, and I will always remember you and be thankful for that.

-Michelle Kamali’i Rivera

Sunset

My Future Mothering Skills

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I’ve never been a huge fan of kids. When co-workers bring their children to the office, I’m definitely not one of those girls packed in a herd, chanting, “Awwwwww!” I don’t hate children … I just get nervous around them. I never know what to say or do. Honestly, I don’t care enough to try and put forth the effort to talk to them.

Does this make me a cruel person? No. I’ve always told myself that it will be different when I have children of my own. I definitely want my own children. The maternal instinct is there, and my two dogs have been good practice. For example:

  • I’ve mastered the art of cleaning pee and poop without vomiting. (I don’t even flinch!)
  • I’ve also mastered the art of cleaning up dog vomit. (This was definitely unheard of a few years ago.)
  • When I hear one of my dogs crying, my heart jumps into my throat and I go running toward his/her general direction. (I once found Roxy pinned under a baby gate. Accidents happen!)
  • If my dogs get injured, I turn into Nurse Betty. (They are small and DO get stepped on from time to time.)
  • There’s nothing I won’t do for my dogs should an emergency arise. (I shed $400 on Reece when I thought he swallowed DC’s diamond earring. I stayed at the emergency vet from 11 – 4:30 in the morning on a work night.)
  • I can’t get enough hugs and kisses.
  • If anyone caused any harm to my dogs, that person would be really sorry.

I think it’s safe to say that when the time comes, I’ll be a great mom.

Reece and Roxy

Reece and Roxy

-Michelle Kamali’i Rivera

A Bigger Place

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If I had a lot of money to waste, I’d hire professional packers, movers, unpackers, and organizers. DC and I are moving into a bigger place this weekend, and I’m dreading the back-and-forth trek that will be accompanied by boxes, boxes, and more boxes.

I look forward to Monday evening, when we’ll be settled in our new place. I love a new start … a clean slate … a fresh notebook page, if you will. Hopefully this feeling of “new” will inspire me to get back in the gym six days a week. My mom shipped me my soccer cleats and soccer ball, so I’m definitely excited to teach DC a few pointers.

-Michelle Kamali’i Rivera

The Fall

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I’m incredibly nostalgic today. I miss Massachusetts. I miss the fall weather. I miss hearing the crunch of the leaves when I walk through the yard. I miss the foliage. I miss the smell of cold air while looking at a glowing jack-o-lantern on someone’s front porch.

I miss the sweaters, winter coats, the smell of the heaters inside a home. I miss my rosy red cheeks when I come inside from spending some time outdoors. I miss how comforting soup can be on a crisp, cold day. I miss Fenway Park and the Red Sox, and I miss walking by the same man playing a killer drum beat on three white rain barrels at Kenmore Square. I miss the seafood restaurants and the Dunkin’ Donuts signs at seemingly every single corner.

I miss looking at my mom reading The Sun newspaper. I miss watching my brother play World of Warcraft. I miss drinking coffee with my father in the evening while cheering for the Red Sox. Most of all, I miss my closest of friends being just a drive away.

I love California, and moving here was the best decision of my life, but there are just certain days when I crave for a little dose of home. Massachusetts, I miss you.

-Michelle Kamali’i Rivera

Facebook Apps

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I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to Facebook game applications. I’m putting this out there for whoever wishes to read my blog in a selfish attempt to shame and make myself realize how absurd my addiction has become.

YoVille
I began playing this game out of sheer annoyance and curiosity. I’d taken notice for several weeks that my Facebook friends were using this application. If it weren’t for the app’s incessant Facebook updates about users’ activities, I wouldn’t have checked it out. Alas, here I am in first place amongst my friends in the YoVille community. Ironically, they’ve given up on the game a long time ago while I continue on in a vain attempt to decorate my home in this less-than-stellar Sims ripoff.

FarmVille
I truly didn’t want to play this game, but the challenge was calling me. After about a week, I’ve left this game on a sour note after the app was constantly telling me my game was out of sync with its server. I didn’t want to harvest and plant my crops for the ninth time in a row. Farewell, FarmVille. It was fun while it lasted. I’ll leave the rice planting and artichoke picking for a farmer who is far more qualified than I.

Island Paradise
This game is similar to FarmVille, but you plant your crops on an island instead of a plantation. I assumed I’d get sick of this game extremely quick, but the simplicity of it kept me hooked. It will be a little painful for me to let this game go, but I’m positive I can find something more productive to do than plant, pick and pillage crops on a Facebook app.

Roller Coaster Kingdom
I’m most ashamed to admit I am hooked on this game. It really is the worst of the worst Facebook app. The UI looks like it was designed by hoarders, and the graphics are painfully elementary (yes, worse than the other apps). I quit you today, Roller Coaster Kingdom. You’ll have to find some other sucker to feed your virtual park workers a burger every 30 minutes.

-Michelle Kamali’i Rivera