Endlessly creative at self-torment

Not to be confused with self-abuse.

Ah, the student’s dream. (Again. And again.) You would think my subconscious had run out of ideas, but no. This time, it cast me in the role of the teacher.

This one's for you, Sis.

This one's for you, Sis.

A bit of background: my undergrad degree is in chemistry. So when I found myself in a college freshman intro chemistry class, I could be forgiven, don’t you think, for skipping the reading assignment? Oh, I had skimmed it, enough that things looked vaguely familiar. I figured I would pick up what I needed to know during the lecture.

The prof, somehow figuring out that I had a BS in chemistry, announced that I would be teaching today’s class.

“Oh, that’s okay, you go right ahead,” said I.

“No, no, I insist,” said the prof.

From my seat in the auditorium, I began working through the course reading page by page. One of the other students raised her hand and politely suggested I get up in front of the blackboard to give a more conventional lecture, since my current plan was (and I quote) boring. I obliged, and began to wipe the board clean. Except it wasn’t a blackboard at all, it was a dry-erase board, and the last lecturer had written all over it with the wrong (i.e. unerasable) pen.

The classroom was mostly filled with sympathetic and patient souls, but there were just enough unruly students to turn the whole thing into chaos. The background chatter would not stop no matter how much I begged. And to make matters worse, there was a widescreen TV next to the dry-erase board, and it was on, and it was blaring. I did not have the remote. I asked that whoever had the remote should turn it off. When that didn’t work, I tried to turn it off at the source, but every time I pushed the on/off button, the genius with the remote turned it back on again.

When finally I had their attention (and the TV was silent), I turned the page on the textbook. What, I wondered, would I be obliged to explain? Hopefully not the Nernst equation or the Henderson Hasselbalch equation. I haven’t looked at those in years. Hopefully something easy, like the concept of a mole.

But no. The next page had twelve full-color images of the monthly birth stones, and rings made from those birth stones. One of the students asked me, “Um, what is the relevance of this to our class?” and I was stumped. So I said, “These stones, see — they’re all matter!” Brilliant.

I think I woke up before the students had finished sharpening their pointed sticks.



  1. sharon schuman says:

    You have the most detailed dreams…either that or you really work at remembering detail when you wake up.

    The details of enough unruly students to ruin a whole class and students wanting to be entertained and reassured that what you’re telling them has relevance are spot on.

  2. Walnut says:

    You probably enjoyed my description much more than I enjoyed living it :)

  3. chris says:

    I had a dream last night that I was being sent up in the space shuttle to do testing for work (we sell door knobs, which you would totally want tested in 0 g. right?). I’d also been given a lovely companion dog, sort of a cross between a poodle and a saluki (pointy nose, masses of apricot curls, and FAST), and a car that drove itself to the training facility.

    I wonder what people with leaden imaginations dream about.

  4. Walnut says:

    Chris, I wouldn’t know. My dream-muse has a definite sadistic streak.