Confession: I’m a GeneaFreak in My Sleep

8409353231_68d3062177_zOne morning when I was a sophomore in high school, I woke up naked. I found my pajamas across the room, on the floor, neatly folded, with a book placed on top of them.

That’s how I found out I was a sleepwalker.

Lots of people walk in their sleep as kids, but it’s somewhat less common when you’re an adult. Apparently my brain likes to be less common, because I started at 16 and I’ve been doing it ever since.

When I was 18, I got my braces off, and they gave me a retainer. I wore it to bed for two nights. On the third morning, I woke up and it was gone. Those things are expensive, and I tore everything apart looking for it. I found it two years later, in one of the credit card slots of an unused wallet, which had been placed in a small purse, which had been placed in a larger purse, which had been placed in a suitcase. Apparently my sleeping self really wanted that retainer gone.

When I was in my mid-20s, I worked for the phone company (Bell Atlantic alumni, holla!). One of the perks of working for the phone company is that we got all of the fancy features before everyone else. Our voice mail system had this option where you could press a button and hear what number the message-leaver had called you from. This was cutting edge technology in 1997.

One day I came to work and found that I had a voice mail waiting. I listened to it, and my blood ran cold. It was a female relative of mine, slurring her words…but it sounded like she was saying she’d been stabbed and was trying to name her killer. Seriously, that’s what it sounded like. It was terrifying.

My heart was pounding. My hands were shaking. I pressed the button to see where the call had come from.

The robot voice started with the area code: 703. [That’s Alexandria, Virginia.]

Well, that’s odd, I thought. I lived in area code 703. All of my relatives lived out west, but the voice was absolutely that of a family member. I recognized it immediately.

Then the robot voice gave the prefix: 931. How weird, I thought. That’s my prefix. The call came from my neighborhood. How is that possible? Was my relative trying to visit me when she was murdered?

Then the robot voice gave the rest of the phone number: 7735.


It was my phone number. The call came from Sleeping Me. The voice was familiar because my voice apparently sounds like that of my female relatives. I called myself in the middle of the night, while asleep, to tell myself that I was being murdered and to name my killer. Only a genealogist, right?

Two nights later, I started sending bizarre emails to my boss. That lasted several days. It was not awesome. He probably still tells people about this weird chick from the 90s who sent him emails in her sleep.

I’ve been doing strange stuff like this in my sleep off and on for twenty-[mumble] years now. It’s tapered off a bit as I’ve gotten older, and it tapered off more when I had kids. My theory is that working and having small children is so exhausting that even my sleepwalking self is too tired to be up doing crazy stuff.

I still sometimes wake up to find things rearranged, notes that don’t make sense, bruises (and sometimes broken toes) that weren’t there when I went to bed, etc. I seem to mostly go into my office when I’m asleep. I’m lucky that my kids are sound sleepers, because I’m guessing the site of Zombie Mama going past their bedrooms to get to the office would be unsettling.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a notice from Facebook saying that a guy had accepted my friend request. I thought that was odd, because I hadn’t sent out any friend requests in a long time. I also thought it was odd that the guy had the same name as an ancestor of mine. I figured it was an error or spam or something.

Then, the next day, I got another notice saying that my friend request had been accepted. This person was also a complete stranger who had the same name as a different ancestor.

After the third one, I went into my Facebook activity log. Apparently I spent 35 minutes one night friending people who have the same name as my ancestors. There were 22 of them.

And that, my friends, is why I am Queen of the GeneaFreak Prom.

NOTE: I’ve finally gotten around to updating my Amazon Store, particularly the section that includes the Fiction/Sit-and-Read books. If you’re looking for something to read this summer, check it out.


Photo by Elias Quezada

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