Residual Nightmares of the First Day of School

This time of year, I have dream after dream about school starting. I would be going back tomorrow if I were still teaching. Many students would be absent because of Burning Man and they would come back really pissed off that school didn’t start AFTER Labor Day. The air conditioner in my west-facing classroom might have gone on the fritz during summer (and no one knew) and the poor students might be sitting in 103 degree temps, their back against a passive solar panel (windows).

I always thought the first day of school was a joke anyway. Take roll, go over the syllabus (which, as time went on, got longer and more detailed) Here it is if you’re interested. It’s 9 pages long but it literally had EVERYTHING my students needed to get an A. They didn’t read it. (Note: I can’t believe I “Googled” my own syllabus or that it’s still there…) I’d deal with students hoping to add the class, (“Please professor”) always saying “No” and explaining the lottery system the college of business used at the time.

And in these dreams people from the past show up behaving very like themselves and then some, and I might be (appearing?) in one of the WORST of the numerous teaching situations throughout my career. It’s awful.

I was (for most of the 38 years) a teacher well-loved by students and despised by colleagues. Waking up yesterday from a VERY disturbing teaching dream, I decided to see what the wimmin of the American Language Institute (when I taught) were doing today. These vampiric entities had featured prominently in the nightmare of the wee hours of the morning.

As I searched, I had a few of those attacks of envy they say destroy our self-esteem if we use social media. Pout, pout. Then, out of nowhere, I thought of Desiderata, one section,

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Max Ehrmann

That’s wisdom. It made me think that rather than worrying about what THEY’VE been doing, I should think about what I had achieved in my career, my life. I mentally listed my little victories and my losses and thought, “Well, that was dumb. I’ve lived my life, they’ve lived theirs. Now if they would just stay out of my dreams! Especially since I haven’t seen them since the 90s!”


14 thoughts on “Residual Nightmares of the First Day of School

  1. I still dream about college and that ended in 1967. I dream about classes I didn’t attend, exams I took based on zero information. Garry dreams about work and subject whoever they might be, attacking him. I think we all have something that living in the unconscious and drops into dreams — whatever left us most anxious. At least I don’t dream about work! And finally, I stopped dreaming about my father. I think his death finished that.

    • I think gearing up for school for 57 years leaves a pretty big info dump in the subconscious. It means that only 9 years of my life I was not — am not — doing that in some way or other. I will not live long enough to balance out that percentage of my lifetime. It kind of freaks me out.

    • When that song came out, I was just starting the long haul… 3 years back from China (teaching), 2 years into my 13 year ESL career. It was a wonderful, fun and hopeful time. ❤ But I hope all my future classrooms are in dreams.

      • I was going to send you the Billy Ocean song, Get Out of My Dreams and Into My Car, but it nearly made me puke. I have some standards. 🙂 I thought you could re-interpret the Crowded House song as appropriate. Plus we came them as Aussies, even though they are Kiwis.

        • I really like the song and the memories it evokes. Thanks for rescuing me from the Ocean. 😀 I think I miss teaching very much combined with never, ever wanting to do it again. I think that conflicted feeling is part of what the nightmares are about, but that’s cool. It means I’m in the right place. I loved what I did and I’m glad not to be doing it any more.

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