You Did What?

We’ve been talking lately about truth being stranger than fiction.  And this week, I’ve been telling you about my sister’s sleepwalking escapades.  Yesterday, I told you how my sister is not normally an aggressive person when she’s awake and that stress often triggers her sleepwalking.

Well, a couple of years after yesterday’s adventure, we were living back in Florida.  Michelle worked for an attorney that was, shall we say, the epitome of the reason they make bad attorney jokes.  Her boss was persistently a dill weed, and daily, she’d come home nearly in tears.

Personally, I’m one who, if you’re not going to do anything to help yourself out of a bad situation, I don’t care to hear you complain about it.  So I told her, “You were looking for a job when you found that one.  Either tell your boss how you feel and hope that he changes, or quit and find something else.  It’s that simple.”  She insisted that was impossible and that I didn’t understand.  And she ended up as angry with me as she was with her boss.

The next morning, I woke up late.  As I arose, I noticed my scissors were lying on the dresser by my bed, and were not where I normally kept them.  I assumed one of my kids had used them and never gave them another thought.

rosannadannaI had to be somewhere, and I was late.  So instead of my normal morning routine, I brushed my teeth and threw my hair in a ponytail without combing it.  (My hair is long and very thick and wavy, so I sometimes don’t brush it anyway, because when I do, I tend to look like Gilda Radner’s “Saturday Night Live” character, Roseanne Roseannadanna, if she had orange hair. — The point being, this was not unusual for me to forego the hairbrush.)

I left and went about my business for several hours.  Then on my way home, I was stuck in traffic.  I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a few odd pieces of short hair sticking straight up from my ponytail.  I took out the rubber band and felt the back of my head, only to discover that I was bald!  Okay, I wasn’t technically bald, but there was a section of my hair about the size of the diameter of a large orange that was cut to the scalp!  (Yes, really!)  Luckily, as I said, I have thick hair, so if I wore it down, the top part covered it.  But I was mortified!

It was at that point that I remembered the misplaced scissors, and when I got home, I rightfully accused Michelle of giving me a haircut in my sleep.  Of course she didn’t think she could ever be guilty of such an act of violence, but just one day later when we had to have our landlord out to snake the toilet in her bathroom, he found handfuls upon handfuls of my hair!  It took another year for me to even be able to go get a professional haircut and get it somewhat “fixed.”  Lesson learned: I now lock my door at night!

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What’s the worst haircut you’ve ever had?  Are you sure the barber or stylist was actually awake when they did it?


We’ve been talking this month about truth being stranger than fiction..  Yesterday, I shared with you some stories about a few of the wacky things my sister Michelle has done while she was sleepwalking.  Some of those were because she was on medication that had the side effect of “somnambulism” (or sleepwalking) which heightened her predisposition to walk around after she went to sleep.  But even without medication, stress and anxiety can cause sleepwalkers to do what they do.  There’s one more thing you should know.  Wide awake, Michelle is not a confrontational person at all.  In fact, she’s a bit of a wimp.  As a matter of fact, there have been plenty of times that she’s found herself in the middle of a disagreement with someone, and then unbeknownst to me, she’s volunteered me to step in and give her opponent a what-for.  But I digress.

We lived in New York at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks.  We weren’t in New York City, but we were roughly an hour away.  However, a lot of people we knew worked in the city, and a few actually worked in one of the Twin Towers.

On the day of the attacks, my son Jeremy was seven years old.  His class was told exactly what had happened, and his school was dismissed early.  My daughter Stefani was in middle school at the time, and her school was dismissed about an hour later, though they weren’t told why.  I worked directly for the Vice President of a hospital, and I was not allowed to leave because we had to dispatch emergency crews from all of our affiliate medical centers to the City.  My sister worked for a pest control company.

After the first tower was hit, many of the phone lines were down.  I was able to call my sister and ask her to go home and be with my kids since I couldn’t call my house.  Michelle left work, though her boss demanded that she stay.  (Because of course when our nation was under attack, people would be calling in to get their earwigs under control!)  So she had a confrontation with her boss whom she already didn’t like, and then she left.  Her boss told her to not bother returning – ever.  As she drove home, she was rerouted because there was a suspected bomb on the bridge.  She had to drive another 50 miles North to the next bridge then find her way home from there.  (We didn’t have GPS back then, and Michelle is bad with directions.)  It was late that evening before I got home, but in the meantime, Michelle was there with spotty phone reception, spotty television reception, and two scared kids that didn’t understand what was happening.  So, needless to say, Michelle was stressed.

Fast forward a few more hours.  Late that night, after a very long day at work, and of course the turmoil that our whole nation felt, I was completely minding my own business, sound asleep in my bed downstairs from Michelle and my kids.  Michelle, however, was not sleeping so soundly.

black eyeA couple of hours after I drifted off to sleep, I was jolted awake by the sound of something that can best be described by clapping one’s hands together loudly.  But then it dawned on me, the sound I heard was not that of someone clapping their own hands, but the sounds of someone slapping me in the face!  Hard.  I sat straight up, and only briefly saw a silhouette standing over me, when BAM!  Michelle punched me in the face and gave me a black eye!  Then she giggled then ran out of the room.

I chased my sister back to her room upstairs, which she apparently forgot, and I slept the rest of the night with one eye open.  The next morning as I prepared to leave for work, Michelle came downstairs, then looked at me and said, “Oh, Rachel!  You’ve got a black eye!  What happened to you?”  (She really had no clue, but such is the life of a sleepwalker.)

Now, I’ll ask you, when you’ve seen those movies or read in the headlines about sleepwalkers who’ve killed their spouse or parent-in-law, did you believe them? Have you ever been afraid to go to sleep?

Things That Go Bump In the Night

Hello, friends.  Well, here we are again to talk about how truth is stranger than fiction.  I told you when we started this that I was going to avoid talking about the negative things that have happened in my life that are just incredible as well as unbelievable.  A few of those are the things that some of my books are made of.  And for the past two weeks, we’ve talked about the various odd places I’ve lived or the strange times I’ve had moving.  But this week, I’m here to talk to you about my sister.  Don’t worry, she knows all about it, and she actually loves when I tell these stories.

Ever since she was a child, my sister has been prone to somnambulism, which is just a fancy word for sleepwalking (and talking!).  When she’s awake, she’s the tamest person you’ll ever meet, but asleep, she’s a fierce tiger and quite a formidable opponent.


When we lived in New York, my sister was taking medication that listed a side-effect of somnambulism, but we had no idea what that word meant at the time, so she never asked her doctor to switch the medication.  Because she was already prone to sleepwalking anyway, the medication amplified it greatly.

(Now, in case you don’t know it, sleepwalking is not like it is in the movies.  The sleeper does not hold their hands out in front of them, and their eyes are wide open.  When my sister slept and did the events that I’m telling you about today, her vision was so bad, she was nearly declared legally blind.  Yet when she sleepwalked, she didn’t have her glasses or contacts, yet she seemed to see everything with no problem.  If she was awake and didn’t have her contacts in or glasses on, she’d squint and clumsily feel her way along the wall and take small steps so she wouldn’t crash into something.)

At our house in New York, my bedroom was directly underneath my sister’s.  Each night when I went to bed, it sounded as if Michelle was up in her room bowling while wearing high heels.  “Stomp, stomp, stomp, slide!” was all I heard all night long.  She always said she was cleaning her room, yet it was always a mess.  I couldn’t understand why.   I later learned (by catching her in the act) that she was sleepwalking and moving furniture about in her room – every night — for weeks!


Both my kids slept upstairs across the hall from Michelle.  Jeremy was only six years old at the time, and he slept with a nightlight.  But every morning when I woke him for school, his nightlight was already turned off.  I assumed he’d already woken earlier and turned it off himself.  Then one day out of the blue, Jeremy became clingy and didn’t want to be around Aunt Michelle at all.  But he wouldn’t tell me why.  It was several weeks before I got the story out of him.  Apparently each night, Michelle, who was very kind to my kids when she was awake, went into my son’s room, woke him up and said things like, “You need to turn off this light, you big baby!  You’re nothing but a sissy!  Do you know how much money it costs to keep this nightlight on every night?”  (I guess I forgot to mention that my sister is cheap, too!)  Poor Jeremy was terrified of her, and no one had any idea why!


One evening, the kids were asleep as Michelle and I did laundry.  I usually had Stefani put her and her brother’s clothes away after I folded them, but since she was already in bed, I left them in two laundry baskets by their bedroom doors.  The next morning, we were running late, so I called upstairs for the kids to get ready for school, but Jeremy came downstairs without any pants.  I sent him back upstairs to put his jeans on, but he started whining and said he didn’t have any.  I told him to look in the laundry basket, but he said there weren’t any there.  I called up to Stefani to help her brother, but she was too busy to be bothered.

Finally, I went upstairs to help, but just as Jeremy said, his laundry basket had shirts and underwear, but no pants.  At first, I thought Stefani had put his clothes away in the wrong drawer, but when I inspected his dresser, there was only one single pair of pants to be found.  We didn’t realize until later when the handyman came over and asked why we threw away so many perfectly good clothes instead of donating them that apparently Michelle had sleepwalked outside and thrown Jeremy’s pants in the main garbage!  (By that time, the pants were long gone, and I had to replace every pair!)


A few months later for Christmas, I got some new makeup.  I was excited to use it when I went back to work following the holiday, and I left it on my bathroom counter.  (My bathroom was downstairs, and though it was not an en suite to my bedroom, I was the only person who ever used it.)  When I got ready for work the following morning, however, I was perturbed to find that my makeup was gone.  At first, I thought one of my kids had done something with it, but they both swore they hadn’t.  So, we chalked it up to Michelle having walked in her sleep again.  (Sure enough, when we moved nearly a year later, I found every bit of the brand new makeup hidden behind the hot water heater!)


My sister has done lots of other wacky things in her sleep as well.  Once, I caught her pre-buttering all our knives and putting them back in the silverware drawer.  (Eww!)  Once, she smeared toothpaste all over the bathroom sink and mirror.  Once she ripped the shower curtain rod from the wall and turned it around backward.  In her sleep, she’s very strong, but awake, it took both of us using all our might to get the rod turned back properly.  Several times she’s come out of her room and proceeded to yell at one of us or even company we’ve had, and I’m the only one who actually knows she’s really sleeping.  (When she’s asleep, she drags one leg behind her like Frankenstein and uses a deep, authoritative voice as she barks out orders… I usually have to literally tackle her to wake her up and get her to stop doing whatever she’s doing.)


One time in particular, my daughter, my birth mother, my sister, and I went to the beach.  On the way back, my birth mom wanted to stop for some ice cream.  Stefani was excited, too, and I told them of a little mom-and-pop place I knew of that was delicious.  But as we pulled into the parking lot, Michelle barked, “NO!  No ice cream!  Get back in this car, every one of you!  You said we were going to a restaurant for lunch!  This is not lunch!  Now get back in here, and let’s go get some real food, you jackasses!”

My birth mom, who is not usually penetrable, was shaken.  Stefani was afraid and got in the car, but I knew Michelle was asleep.  “No, I’m not!” she snarled when I voiced my observation.  “I’m just sick and tired of you all dictating where we go and what we get to eat!  I DON’T WANT ANY ICE CREAM!  Now, get in the car and drive!”

A very silent twenty minutes later, we pulled into a restaurant, and all four of us started to get out of the car.  I whispered to my daughter and birth mom something to the effect of perhaps there’d be ice cream in the restaurant, when Michelle piped in and excitedly said, “Oh!  Do you think so?  Some ice cream would really hit the spot right now, wouldn’t it?”  The three of us just glared at her, and she seriously had no idea why.

How about you?  Do you know anyone who sleepwalks or talks?  If you read about this in a book, would you find it plausible?