While reading the comments to the post "Sick but Not Ill," I came across Merely Academic's response that mentioned his/her literal college nightmares. I thought about my own work-related dreams, and want to know yours!
Like many of my other repeating dream themes, my teaching dreams take place on a couple of main dream “sets,” which have remained consistent and have repeated themselves over many years now, though the plot content of the dreams is pretty much the same on all sets:
Set 1) Modern campus with immense, Tiananmen-sized plaza. On one side of the plaza is an instructional building, about five stories high, which I usually never enter. On the other side is a five-story admin. building, which apparently has a nice bathroom in the basement, since I often go in there and take the elevator down to the subfloor when the need arises. The building is always very dark, with a couple of menacing security guards patrolling around, and drab gray carpet.
This infernal campus naturally has a satellite campus, which is where I eventually realize my classes are. For maximum annoyance value, this remote campus (and my waiting class) are at the far end of a 200-foot-wide, one-mile-long pedestrian mall, and I’m always running across the huge, brick-paved plaza and then down this connecting pedestrian mall (against the wind) about 15 minutes late for my class, carrying my heavy computer bag, and usually either naked, or dressed in sweatpants, flipflops, and a torn t-shirt/tank top, which commonly become irredeemably covered in feces as I dash into a filthy restroom down the hall from my class full of students, on a last-minute pit stop before class.
There’s a distinct feeling of anxiety that my students will give up on me and leave before I arrive, and of course my attire (or lack of attire) feels completely inappropriate and makes me very self-conscious. Sometimes I do finally arrive at my room, trying to arrange my clothes more neatly at the last second, and half of the students have left, and the ones still there are totally pissed at me, so I struggle to maintain classroom order as I try to salvage what's left of the class meeting.
Set 2) Old, very big, three-story red-brick schoolhouse with large, wide, wooden stairs with banisters. This is a lot like my real-life elementary school, but I teach college here in my dream, and I just cannot find my fucking classroom the first day of the semester. I run all the way up to the third floor from the first, run down the hallways, and can’t find my room number posted anywhere (which I’ve written on a piece of paper, probably incorrectly). Maybe my class is on the second floor? Maybe the first? Maybe I'm here on the wrong day? So I interrupt lots of classes (I’m already 10 minutes late for class) and ask the bored-looking students they’re my class. They aren’t. So I run back down all of the goddamn stairs to the bottom floor, and run to the records office to ask them what my room number is. They usually have some computer problem, and can’t tell me, so I look in the paper schedule, and can’t find it. I’m getting more and more late and anxious, so I run upstairs again to try to find the fucking classroom. I repeat this upstairs/downstairs procedure about five times before I move on to another dream.
I also have lots of dreams about junior high school, wherein, similar to Merely Academic’s dream, I’ve been enrolled in a class all semester without knowing it, then discover/remember this fact near the end of the term, or right before the final exam. I freak out, run to class, and everyone wonders who the hell I am. I get really anxious about the work I missed, and dearly hope that just by taking the final exam I can pass. (This sounds like some of my real-life students at the end of the semester!) Add in a bunch of anxious scenes in which I search at length for my goddamn locker among hundreds of other ones that look identical ("Is it number 432, or 452? Is it a yellow locker, or a blue locker?") then not being able to remember my padlock combo as I spin and spin the dials on suspected lockers ("Is it 32-4-22, or 22-5-31? Maybe it's 15-3-6?") and you've got a recipe for a nice, annoying dream. I've had variations of this dream probably 50 times now in the last few years.
Clearly, teachers were often fairly obsessive students, so this personality trait carries over into our dreams, and the intensive, structured, high-expectation, deadline-oriented, super-interpersonal nature of college instruction can really affect your psyche. It’s been obvious to me that I have trouble leaving my work at work…
What are your literal school dreams and nightmares?