Friday, May 22, 2009

My dreams are jerks

I have this recurring nightmare.

No, not that.

The nightmare involves my middle and high school English teachers and my gifted classmates. The premise: it's the present day, and even though we now live all over the country, we regularly come together in this sort of hybrid between a classroom, coffee shop, locker room and treehouse. It's pretty awesome.

The reason we're there is because - not to give any idiot politician any ideas - we have to keep renewing our high school diplomas. The way we do that is to undergo a semester of projects, which are outlined in a syllabus given to us at the beginning of the session in a manila folder. It's a laundry list of big assignments, including dioramas, presentations and lengthy papers on such illustrious topics as literature as a lethal weapon and blogging as a cure for world hunger and whatnot. We're then let loose for an extended period of time as we work to meet each deadline.

My course of action in each dream follows the same trajectory: I put the folder in my locker, hyped about making each presentation the best in the history of history, visit with some friends and go on my way. Life goes on.

Next thing I know, it's the end of the semester. And while I'm happy to be back again, I become enveloped in a cloak of dread as I realize I haven't done any of the work! "OK," I think in my typically delusional state, "I have a few minutes. I can wing it." But I can't even cram, because I can't remember the combination to my locker. So I run through every locker combination I know. 16-22-0. 26-12-22. 38-28-8. And so on. Fuck you, brain.

Finally, one of them works. I identify it as the combination to my football locker. I pull out my folder and stare at its long list of completely unfinished contents. Just then, the teacher arrives. Depending on the particular dream, it could one of any of several real-life teachers I had. Usually, it's one of the more prim and demanding instructors, but not always. Regardless, I generally feel like the least-prepared and dumbest person in the room. And it's not because I actually am, but because the bar is so high to begin with, and to do all of the work perfectly would require a virtual suspension of every other aspect of my life.

Whatever comfort that brings me, however, is immediately dashed by the teacher calling on me first to share my work. Stared down by so many faces with whom I grew up, as well as teachers who seemed to look down on me for not being ambitious enough, I completely wing it. I steer the presentation towards blogging and politics because, aside from awesomeness, that's what I know best. It has almost nothing to do with the actual topic, but I make enough of a tenuous connection to at least get through the thing (still a tactic of mine, come to think of it). Right when the teacher begins to roll her eyes, I wake up, more tired then when I went to bed in the first place.

Still, I always feel this enormous rush of relief when I open my eyes and realize that it was all in my head, that I am not in fact in any trouble. I think these nightmares are my mind's way of reminding me that things could always be worse. Pain before pleasure. Mental S&M.

Does anyone know the safe word?

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