I had a recurrent dream last night. I was near the end of my third year of college working on my chemical engineering degree when I realized I had not attended any of my math classes, done any of the work or taken any of the tests. Apparently I just forgot that I had signed up for the class that I needed as a pre-requisite for senior-year courses. I was in a state of panic over how I was ever going to recover from this lapse of memory.
The dream didn’t just affect my head; it affected my whole body. When I woke I felt as if I had been under a lot of stress.
In real life, I did earn my ChemE degree and now that I think about it, I don’t recall that I even needed math courses by my junior year. I think I may have finished those requirements with the Calculus and Differential Equations classes I completed by the end of my second year. Dreams don’t have to be real to cause you distress.
Here’s an interesting aside about my ChemE degree. I once received a certificate, it may have been from the Engineer-in-Training exam, or one of the engineering societies I was a member of in college. The certificate contained the standard language with a blank line where my name was written in. Below my name, the certificate read, “on his achievement.” You can be sure I brought this lapse to the attention of the appropriate authority. Before the late seventies when I studied engineering, there weren’t many women in the field. The isolated individuals who charted this course before that time were true pioneers indeed. I think there were five or six women in my class of about 30 chemical engineering students. We had largest representation. Electrical, mechanical and civil engineering had one or two women per class.
When I got my second bachelor’s degree about five years ago, an English degree with a written communications minor, a female student made a derogatory comment on our online classroom discussion board. She used the term “femi-nazis.” I was in classes with primarily traditional students in their early 20s and I was shocked at how little they knew about the women’s struggles and movement over the years. Maybe they should have been better taught. Maybe it’s like calculators, you have to learn to add so you understand the principles behind the calculations.
Anyway, I digress.
I used to have a similar recurrent dream in high school where I showed up to school and found out I had a test that I hadn’t studied for.
Once in a while I even had the standard dream of showing up somewhere and realizing I was in my underwear. Why do our brains do this to us?
When I was small I used to have a dream that my sister Kathy was driving me and my siblings somewhere. It was a big, kind of bubble-top car. I think it may have been an early Chevy. In my dream it looked something like this, that I got from a Cuban taxis page on somebody’s blog, only it was black. Kathy was only 2-1/2 years older than me and could hardly see over the steering wheel, but she was driving fast and careening around corners. We didn’t know where we were or how to get where we were going. I thought I would never get home again.
I don’t know why I am occasionally harassed by dreams in my sleep. My dreams should be filled with peaceful waterfall, quiet sun-dappled forest or gently lapping waves scenes. Isn’t real life full enough of frustration, fear and sorrow?