29 November 2004
Set brain to STUN
A partial list of my bodily imperfections (genetic, not "too much Wendy's"):
• slight case of scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
• red-green colorblindness*
• minor overbite, partially corrected by two years of braces and headgear and peer ridicule
• male pattern baldness (starting to kick in, alas)
• a couple of skin tags, not quite unsightly enough to justify removal
But by far the most interesting glitch is that I "suffer" (not even remotely the right word) from a weird condition called sleep paralysis. This was utterly terrifying to me as a child, when I didn't know what it was or why it was happening. Now that I do, it's just an occasional momentary annoyance, something I have to either shake off or (more often) wait out.
For those who don't want to bother with the link, sleep paralysis is basically a neural malfunction involving voluntary motor control, experienced just as you're falling asleep or waking up (almost always the latter in my case). The condition's name is misleading, since every human being is paralyzed while asleep -- the brain shuts everything down, most likely to prevent us from making dream-related movements.** But in sleep paralysis, this precautionary measure kicks in before you've actually fallen asleep, or persists even after you've awoken. You're very much conscious -- as evidence of this, you can sometimes hear conversations happening nearby -- but you cannot move. At all. When this happens to me nowadays, e.g. just a few minutes ago as I awoke from a brief couch nap, I just lie there patiently waiting for it to go away, which it reliably does within two or three minutes. Still, it's always a little discomfiting; the feeling of complete vulnerability is impossible to ignore. Some people experience hallucinations while in this state, and it's been suggested that sleep paralysis may be responsible for many reports of alien abduction à la Whitley Streiber. I've been spared that embarrassment, thankfully.
Anyway, I think it may have been learning about this phenomenon that kick-started my keen interest in neurological disorders. (It certainly wasn't Awakenings.) The more reading I do on the subject, the more convinced I become that our sense of autonomy is almost completely illusory. The brain really is just an incredibly complex computer, and it controls everything we do, think and feel. And it's riddled with potential bugs, worms and viruses. We could crash at any moment.
In other, unrelated news, Pretty Persuasion is indeed part of this year's Sundance Dramatic Competition lineup. Which I actually knew when I made the previous post, but Skander's paranoia*** knows few bounds and I was under a strict gag order. Congratulations bud.
* ...which has proved to be a major pain in the ass on the handful of occasions that I've played $10-20 at the nonexistent underground Manhattan poker club, since green $25 chips are common in that game and I literally can't see the difference between them and the red $5 chips without painstaking scrutiny. Which means every time I rake in a big pot I then have to go through my stacks chip by chip, find the green ones (identifiable because they have "$25" printed on one side), isolate them, and then try to trade them to another player for an equivalent number of red chips so that I don't keep throwing in the wrong denomination by mistake, thereby accidentally raising (a raise is binding even if mistaken).
** I assume that sleepwalking is another example of this process gone awry.
*** As evidence of this, Skander paranoidly demanded that I remove the link that used to be here demonstrating the extent of his paranoia. Apparently he is afraid of ruining forever any chance of working with Danny Leiner.
Posted by md'a at 7:38 PM