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Friday, December 19, 2008

Another dream

I had dreams again last night. I haven't had any that I can remember in a while, but last night I had two. One was just weird, and I'm not going to talk about it. The other, though, was a standard category dream, with a twist.

I've been alive long enough to be able to categorize my dreams, and I've been able to compare notes with enough friends to know that the categories are not unique to me. (Are they cross-cultural? That's a question worth investigating.) There is, for example, the dream of falling, or slipping, often involving running up a flight of steps and missing one - accompanied by a myoclonic jerk. These come early in the sleep cycle. How the dream precedes (or seems to precede) the jerk leads to interesting questions of causality vs. retroactive memory.

Another common group of dreams involves classes in high school or college. Typically, I have a final to take but I cannot remember or cannot locate the room it is in, or I have a final coming up and I realize that I have forgotten to attend all or most of the classes that semester. I have heard an explanation that dreams like this imply that the dreamer is suffering for a lack of organization. Sure, why not?

Last night's dream was different. I had a class in college, and I had forgotten to go to the classes - but only for the first week or so. I had then remembered that I had the class and was trying to catch up with all the introductory stuff, including the fairly basic question of what books I needed for the class. Apparently this was some sort of meta-analysis sociology class where we would be studying the analyses that several people had made of other people's analyses of certain social movements, all of which seemed to be based in the early-to-mid 1970s. It seemed, even in the dream, to be the sort of absolutely ridiculous and pointless liberal arts course that I hear my right-wing friends use to make the argument that college educations are worthless. The professor even seemed like an old hippie, and the classroom was a loosely structured array of couches and loveseats and coffee tables, more reminiscent of Sybill Trelawney's Divination classroom in the Harry Potter stories than any classroom I've been in.

Truth is, I had very few general "Liberal Arts" classes in college. As a Physics/Philosophy double-major with a minor in Mathematics and a member of the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts program, my schedule was fairly packed, but mostly with specialized courses. Most of my Liberal Arts courses were in the SJLA program, which meant I was taking them with the same highly focused group of students. Through my four years in college I probably took a half-dozen or so classes that fell outside of this framework (aside from my Phys. Ed. classes, which were Judo, Racquetball, Bowling, and Bowling), and none of them were quite as woolly as the one in my dream.

Sheena McDermott's death has affected me in some strange ways, and I think it was behind this dream. It has made me re-examine my life, naturally, and my derailed career path, and my relationships (and lack thereof), and my timidity in the face of so many things where Sheena had always shown boldness, and the series of choices that have led me to this very moment. What should I have done differently? What can I do differently from this point? Some obvious suggestions run into immediate obstacles. Get a new job? Fine. Where? Who's hiring? Go back to school? OK, great idea! How do I pay for it? How do I pay for everything else I need to pay for that I'm just barely paying for already?

Am I stuck? Is there a way out? One that doesn't involve abandoning all of the people and things I have sworn not to abandon?

Yesterday was garbage day. My brother doesn't have a recycling program where he lives, so rather than toss all his plastic and glass and recyclable metal into a landfill he carts it twenty miles to my mom's house and puts it out on her recycling day. This means that whenever he does this, instead of having two recycling containers to contend with I have four, plus any extras he might bring along. Being lazy, I tend to carry all of these containers at the same time - two garbage-can sized containers in one hand, two in the other, a washtub-sized Rubbermaid container gripped with a forefinger and thumb. Sometime this works, and I get all these containers from the curb to the destination point without incident. Yesterday I dropped the Rubbermaid container, which meant I had to go though the supreme inconvenience of unlocking my arms, setting down one pair of recycling containers, re-gripping the Rubbermaid container with forefinger and thumb, and then using the three remaining fingers to pick up the two recycling containers. As I cursed and muttered under my breath the thought came unbidden: What would Sheena give to be able to do this again? I don't know. I didn't know Sheena well enough twenty-three years ago, or at all in the past twenty-one years, to be able to answer that. But I shut the hell up and did the simple task I was doing, and moved along.

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