Archive for the ‘dreams’ Category

Long weekend

Trying to reframe these last three days of break as a long weekend, which always sounds so luxurious, rather than as the last little scrapings of spring break.  My horoscope today informed me “You’re not always your own best babysitter,” and advised me to seek help in staying accountable to my goals.  Since I’m not above being advised by a newspaper horoscope, I have made a plan to work at the public library with Dr. Tea for a couple of hours this afternoon, and suddenly the rest of the day seems magically planned–I will do just as much schoolwork as necessary to set myself up for a productive couple of hours in the library, and other things I want to do (including work on a poem) will happen in the rest of the morning.  I’ll go straight from the library to pick up Sniff (aka Nephew #2, now 9 years old) from a friend’s house–he’s spending the night while his parents go out of town.  (Older brother Snufkin is looking at his college choices–like the Snork Maiden, he’s a high-school senior.)

Terrible back-to-school dream last night–I had all new students and two of them used wheelchairs and somehow the new classroom was in an inaccessible tower!  Also, as I was getting class underway despite these obstacles, I realized that a video camera had been set up and was recording everything.  I turned it off and wanted to demand an explanation for these changes, and particularly for the complete lack of advance notice about any of them, but there was no one of whom to demand.

Sleepy wave hello

The end of the year is in sight now, yet there’s so much to get through before we get there–

and, as usual, part of me doesn’t want to get there, gets anxious at the thought of the year being over.

Woke early this Sunday morning and fell back asleep to dream vividly that all my seniors were being stealthily replaced by middle-aged people.  And then it got strange.



Terrible dreams last night.  In one, Stubb had been diagnosed with leukemia, and I felt helpless and panicked and out of time.  This dream was mostly about my feelings, which is why it seems as though it might be a teaching dream–about the anxiety of not knowing what to do and feeling that whatever one does, something terrible will happen.

Well, that and the fact that it happened two nights before the first day of school.

In the other, I was on the last day of a visit to Hometown, and I realized I’d forgotten to visit my grandmother.  (In real life, she died in 2009.) I was trying to figure out how to see her and also do the other things that mattered to me, wondering if I could also stop by on the way to the airport the next day, thereby having two visits.  I was also horrified at myself for forgetting, but unwilling to give up any of the other plans I’d made.

This could easily be a dream about teaching and administration.  Or it could simply be the residue of having spent quite a lot of minutes this weekend trying to figure out how to use the weekend well.  I split yesterday among course prep (reread 1984), errands (restocking the fridge and pantry, laundry), yoga, and conferring with N. (my mom’s friend, who is extremely handy, retired, and always up for a project) about a broken faucet.  (He went to Home Depot to buy a new assembly and ended up coming back with a more plumbing-oriented handyman he’d met there, who installed it for $70.  A good use of $70–N. could certainly have done it, but he wouldn’t have done it as fast, and he’d have had to buy supplies that this man had in his truck.)

Today, Sunday, the big thing is going in to campus to finish prepping the things there that didn’t get done during the week of meetings and interruptions.  I tried to figure out how to go to yoga and to Costco before going to campus, but the hours of both put me on campus too late for my own comfort, so I’m going to school first, then my mom’s to pay N. for the faucet, then Costco, maybe to my in-laws’ for a quick visit (should also call to see if they need anything from Costco), and yoga tomorrow night.

Here’s to peaceful dreams tonight!

Vacation dreams

Cold is better.  After one restless night, woke up with a half-numb and tingly thumb. I often wind up sleeping with one hand tucked underneath me in an awkward position, so this was not entirely unprecedented, but unfortunately the semi-numbness has persisted for a couple of days and on Sunday I also made the mistake of telling that one acquaintance about it–the person who has had the most hand-related problems of anyone I have ever met: disability-leave-worthy, surgery-requiring hand problems, and of course her reaction was all Nerve Damage! Get thee to a specialist! It’s probably too late already! and you can’t call anyone on Sunday, so immediately my whole hand started aching and tingling.  (Even as I was saying, “Hey, can I ask you…” there was a little voice in my head saying No, this is not a good idea! )  I decided to restart the anti-inflammatory that my doctor gave me for the butt thing, and wear a wrist support, both at her suggestion, and actually it feels a lot better.  (I also moved the mouse to the other side of the computer.)  Will keep an eye on it for a few days and see someone if it doesn’t resolve.

Weird and remember-able dreams lately, mostly as a result of going back to sleep after waking up at the normal SA time.  My dreams have featured odd constellations of people from different parts of my life, all milling around together, mostly quite cheerfully.  I wish I could remember details, because the impression these dreams left was pleasant…

Two nights ago, I dreamed I was back at NLNRU, teaching a poetry class. Most of the students were people I’d taught before, which had me scrambling to come up with something new to them.  I hadn’t ordered books, of course, because I hadn’t known I was teaching the class. I decided to have each person choose a pop song, from any era, that was important to them, and prepare to sing it to the class. Then they would write a poem in which they tried to access, in a big, ambitious way, whatever made that song so important to them.  I wasn’t entirely comfortable being back at NLNRU, but I was glad to be earning the extra money, and I was happy to see those students again. My colleague from this post was there, too, and doing that jumping-in-with-a-followup-question just as in that post!

My Seinfeld chains are six days long, which is quite satisfying, although I am disappointed that because of a series of miscommunications with Stubb and the Snork Maiden, I didn’t get the chunk of morning work at SA that I meant to do today (had to leave abruptly and pick her up, but then ended up waiting around for the other family to bring her to the meeting place).  Oh well, I did bring home the stuff I need, so I’m thinking a session Tuesday, a session Wednesday, and then knock off early for New Year’s Eve, just like a regular working person.

In responsibilities begin dreams?

I went to bed around 11 and slept until I woke up around 6 from a lovely flying dream in which I was accompanied by one of the Spanish teachers, with whom I’d spent some time talking on Friday at school.  She had a baby in the spring and returned to work in the fall, and I flagged her down to ask her what her most immediate thoughts were about how to support Gamma when she comes back on Monday.  (Gamma and I have already had some conversations about that, of course, but I was curious about what the newly returned teacher thought.  The answer mostly had to do with how difficult it is to get to the room where new mothers pump milk, pump and hurry back in time for class.  Fortunately, Gamma’s schedule looks fairly good for that: there’s one day when she might need someone to get her students started on something if she is running late.  I can actually do that, too, because it’s one of the classes I’ve been teaching up to now.  We’ll talk.)

In the dream, flying was almost effortless, although it did require some awareness.  We were apparently flying to Las Vegas, although we flew over some desert-looking areas first–more like the planet Dune, not so much like anything I know in the U.S.  And then we were over some lush green landscapes.  I felt joyful and free, flying.


Band dater (Photo: Amazon.)

Then I woke up and went back to sleep again and had a much more complicated dream in which SA had a satellite library that reminded me, in its freestanding, summer-cottage kind of way, rather a lot of the library at a writers’ conference in Vermont, although it was blond wood rather than painted white.  This was a dream about dealing inadequately with things and having trouble with time, as I was somehow serving as a temporary morning librarian, and members of the SA community were coming in before school, not so much to browse the shelves as to look at certain books, some of them having authors with the same last names, that were laid out on the wooden floor.

I had a box of yellowed cards that didn’t match the books, and an ancient rubber stamp set to some date in the 1960’s that I kept trying to adjust, but when I adjusted one band, the other numbers would change, too.  People, including one of the SA librarians, who is one of the longest-serving staff members at SA, would ask me to check things out and then wander off while I was struggling with the cards and the stamp and realizing that the old cards, which were mostly illegible, had to have their information crossed off so that they could be used to record the loans of the books, which didn’t have cards in them.  There was a student there with whom I’ve also struggled.  He’s a football player who doesn’t like football, but seems curiously unwilling to like much else about school; he likes to read, but he resists putting forth more than minimal effort to do well in class.  Often he does well in spite of himself (he usually aces reading quizzes), but I have to work on him to get him to produce more than a trickle of writing.  He wanted to check out a book, and I really wanted to check it out for him, but I couldn’t seem to make it happen.  And yet it was also quite a pleasant morning, and no one seemed upset by my incompetence; everyone wandered around patiently, chatting and looking at books, while I messed around with the cards and the stamp.


In dreams begin responsibilities

The Snork Maiden went to a movie yesterday and saw a preview for The Call, a movie about a serial killer, that totally spooked her.  Before bed, she fretted that she was going to have nightmares, and I told her that she probably wouldn’t because she was consciously processing the disturbing images.  Well, she didn’t, but I did–a very upsetting dream in which a number of our SA students were slated to be executed, and I was there with them on a sort of grassy slope, keeping them company before they got up, one by one, and went–through the doors of what looked like a fort–to their doom.  I had the sense they were going to be beheaded, although I didn’t see the place of execution–it was behind the fort doors.

I’m guessing that this is a dream about kids growing up and entering adult life–being cut off from their old lives as children–and my sense of accompanying them to the verge of this change but being unable to really follow or help them.  The events from the weekend’s waking life that seem relevant include spending Friday evening at a student-run performance at school that I found very moving; dropping off the Snork Maiden at a couple of fairly independent activities; and a conversation about a friend’s teenage daughter, who is going through some hard things right now.

Whew.  I also went digging through a closet looking for something today and ended up reading through a bunch of old letters.  I always think I will enjoy reading old letters, but it’s really quite a complicated experience, reviving old feelings and creating new ones having to do with what it feels like to be the person I am now thinking about the person I was then.  The worst part, I guess, was reading some of my own old emails, printed out in the days when my undergraduate email account got wiped over the summer.  (Dot-matrix printer, continuous-form paper with sprocket holes along the edges–I’m old.)

There wasn’t even anything explicitly upsetting in them, really, but now I’m feeling disoriented and upset–not at all the frame of mind I need to be in right now!  It’s Sunday, after all, and I am prone to the Sunday blues.  As usual, too, I have a fair bit of work to do before Monday.  Fortunately, Monday is my light teaching day at SA, which makes it easier to face the late afternoon and evening of NLNRU meetings and class.

So here we go:  I need to complete the following tasks:

  • Write.
  • Grade 14 essays.
  • Prep a class.
  • Do the laundry.
  • Update writing-group [lack of] progress.
  • Tidy up.
  • Walk to the store (getting a wee bit of exercise thereby).

And I need to make progress on the following projects:

  • Student X.
  • Reading for contest.
  • Alumni interview reports A, B, and C.

And if I am in reasonably good shape by 8, I can watch last week’s Downton Abbey (which I never did get around to) and maybe also the new one.

I decree that in the next 100 minutes, I shall:

  • Get the first load of laundry started.
  • Walk to the store.
  • Post my update to the writing group.
  • Grade 3 essays.
  • Start drafting alumni report A.

Naked mole rat gets dressed

I just woke up from an alarmingly specific dream in which an assortment of my SA students and colleagues all earnestly explained to me something they called the “highlighter method” of annotating texts.  In the dream, this was something they taught in SA’s middle school, and it went like this: everything that’s just expository information was highlighted in yellow (like sunshine); all the concrete sensory details went in blue (like ice); and then everything else was highlighted in the remaining colors (orange, pink, purple, green–whatever the student had, and according to the student’s preference) to show “emotion.”  It was a terrific system, they all assured me!  Every single word was highlighted!  A reassuring system that anyone could use, but with room for individual choice!

I hate waking up spluttering.  Also, I woke up at five-thirty because I’m used to it.

I also had to laugh, though, because this dream was so clearly a reaction to some conversations I had with the GGE and Dr. Tea on Tuesday–not about annotating, but about taking on a new role at SA that would allow me (if salary negotiations work out) to stop working at NLNRU.  I think this is what I want…that’s a whole other post.   I thought my concerns were about what I’d be giving up at NLNRU (money, connections, prestige, and the increased opportunities that come with all three), but apparently my subconscious is aware of the flip side of that–what I’d be confined to at SA, what might frustrate me if my only institution were SA and I had no outlet for higher-level teaching and I was responsible for deciding whether we should all teach annotation in a particular way (or some such thing).

Clearly this is something I have to continue to think about.  Nothing is settled yet.

And by the way, I’m actually quite interested in how to teach annotation–or, rather, how to get high schoolers to annotate in a way that improves their reading comprehension and their ability to engage with, analyze, question the text.  I model it but I have never been able to bring myself to do “book checks” for annotation as some of my colleagues do.  This is not because I think it’s completely useless, but because I hated to annotate as a teenager (but read well) and am still a pretty minimal annotater, even when preparing to teach.  I also, generally speaking, dislike the mixed results of book checks–that is, it seems to me that for every student who actually engages significantly more with the text because of annotating with the knowledge that the book will be checked, there is one student who dutifully makes marks but doesn’t read better, one student who would have annotated anyway, and one student like me, who chafes at being asked to annotate and doesn’t read any better because of annotating.  So it seems like a small return on effort.  I probably should have done it in ninth grade, just to help those students who didn’t go to middle school at SA, and may not have learned annotation then; now that I’m teaching eleventh and twelfth, I feel better about letting them do what they want about annotating, and just modeling it occasionally during discussion with a piece of text projected onto the board.  I know they read more carefully when they know there will be a reading quiz, and they probably annotate more then, too.  I pride myself on making reading quizzes that actually test how successfully they have encountered the text, ones that can’t be done just from reading online plot summaries.  They know if they haven’t read well.  But is that enough?

Heading off to do a community service project today with a bunch of SA students and to muse further over the possibility of changes next year…

Through the ivory gate

Some weird dreams this spring break, including one about giving an exam and forgetting to print and copy the multiple choice section, then encountering a ridiculous set of obstacles in the twenty minutes remaining before the end of the test.  Yuck.  Well, what is one to do–that garbage has to work its way out somewhere, I guess.  The first few days of break, I slept a lot.  I didn’t even want to–something kept dragging me to the couch.  I don’t remember my dreams from those days.

And then the exhaustion lifted and I exercised, and read, and did some tasks around the house (not enough).  I taught my NLNRU class twice, and I noticed two things: 1) When I’m on break from SA, I wake up on the morning of NLNRU class somewhat tense and edgy about teaching that night, and I feel keyed up and anxious all day; and 2) Despite #1, it’s very nice to be able to go down to NLNRU in the late morning, have lunch there, and spend all afternoon prepping and commenting on student work and doing NLNRU email.  Both days, by the time I headed to class, I was in a pretty good frame of mind, and both those classes went very well.

I met with one SA student during break, someone I taught last year and invited to work on a small project with me.  I’m moderating a discussion at NLNRU among three writers whose work I don’t know that well, on a topic in which I’m only generally interested, but which I thought that this student would like.  She’s a voracious reader and writes a lot on her own, and I also thought she could use the affirmation of being asked to explore this topic and develop some ideas about it.  So we’ve met a few times at school, and once at a coffee shop during break, to kick around ideas.  These conversations really have been helpful to me, a fact I plan to acknowledge at the panel (which I also hope she’ll attend).

There’s more to tell about this break, but I’m getting tired again.  Who knows what kind of weird dreams are on their way tonight?

The best-laid plans

Stubb left this morning.  I was awake when he left but then drifted back to sleep and had a very vivid dream in which the electrical system in my car failed and I drove it into a drainage ditch that had suddenly mysteriously appeared on a familiar street.  Then later this morning I was baking a cake and for some reason turned off the oven about halfway through the baking and didn’t realize until the timer went off and I opened the oven to find it almost cold and the cake half-baked.  (I turned the oven back on, figuring it couldn’t hurt to try, and the cake actually looks okay.)  So clearly I am a little addled, but the Snork Maiden and I are doing fine.  We are having the cake in a little while with some of our neighbors, to celebrate C.Dad’s first year of cancer survival.  Young’un C. came over and helped us frost and decorate both the first cake and a cupcake cake that I made as a backup:

 Now I’m thinking about logistics for the week ahead.  On Tuesday and Friday, I need someone–probably my brother-in-law–to take the Snork Maiden to school.  On Thursday, I need someone to pick her up–probably Stubb’s parents, unless she goes home with a friend.  Other than that, we are in pretty good shape, I think.  Starfleet Academy is still letting me come and go, in recognition of the fact that I am still employed elsewhere, so I don’t have to be there first thing in the morning unless I have a class. 

Now to reread the novel I’m teaching on Tuesday at NCC.  I have a very strong feeling that most of the students will not have gotten very far in it even though I told them ages ago that they should start early and plan to have it finished by May 1.  It’s a little demoralizing to prepare for a class in which you’re pretty sure most students will be unprepared.  (How to get around this?  Close reading, of course!)