Sunday, December 1, 2013

This Morning's Dreams

This morning, before my alarm clock put an end to a night's sleep foreshortened by illness, I dreamed (again) that I had gone back to high school. I have had this type of dream before, at times quite often. I have previously guessed at the reasons for this—such as a sensibility that I haven't fulfilled the career potential that I seemed to have when I was half the age I am now. Perhaps this particular rerun was scheduled, in part, because I am leaving one job and starting another within the next week—a small, cautious step up a career ladder I never planned to climb at all—and I'm on fairly low rungs yet. Or maybe it's just because I've recently looked back over earlier stages of my life and wished I could do them over.

It was an interesting version of the familiar dream. I don't remember any of that nonsense about being unable to find my way to class, or realizing near the end of term that I had completely forgotten to study one of my subjects, etc. I only remember being conscious that I had been through high school and college before (which is true), and that I was able to do some of it over again because I didn't show my age (which is not true). I don't know why I was doing this, but something in the plot and dialogue of the scene suggested that I was attending school under a false identity. This, in turn, suggests that I must have been either an undercover cop collecting evidence of a suspected crime, a "secret shopper" evaluating the school system, a journalist pulling a research stunt, or one of the vampires from Twilight.

Not that any of these possibilities crossed my mind during the dream; I thought of them after I woke up. In the dream itself, I only remember being quizzed by the school principal or superintendent—a man who looked more like my real appearance than my point-of-view avatar in the dream—and I worried that he was on to me. He asked me something like, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" I told him I had just graduated from his school, but he interrupted whatever I meant to say about being excited to go to college with, "No, I think I remember seeing you somewhere else..."

This could be the germ of a scene in a fun story. But it's probably been done before. There are already movies and TV shows about cops, writers, and vampires pretending to be high school kids. One wonders how they could possibly have gotten away with it. Whether played by Arliss Howard, Drew Barrymore, or Robert Pattinson, they all looked way too mature to be mistaken, even casually, for a high school student. In the real world, their cover would have been blown in a New York minute.

But then, when you think about it (and I did, I did), they could have no intelligent reason even to try. If anyone is going to write a story about what it is like to be a student here and now, it might as well be an actual student; the only thing an embedded journalist is going to find out about is what it feels like to stick out as an obvious phony. If the police need an undercover cop to infiltrate a high school, he's going to do it like Tom Berenger in The Substitute.

And as for a sparkly vampire frozen forever at an apparent age of somewhere between 17 and 23... what, is he stupid? Why would he even need this cover? Who is going to call a truant officer on a bunch of college-aged young adults who, after all, live so far out in the sticks that nobody ever sees them anyway? What are they really getting out of this endless, purgatorial repetition of secondary education, when they aren't even into human blood? I went back to my high school once, after a semester in college, and I was amazed at how awful it was. I had somehow forgotten the regimentation and restriction of every moment of the student's day—conditioned to jump up and run to the next task at the ringing of a bell, forced to participate in some class (even if only study hall) every hour of the day, monitored by the faculty during lunch period, needing permission to enter the library or use the bathroom... Gaaah!! If these people wanted knowledge, why didn't they just use their identity-forging superpowers to register for night classes at some university? Did their "vegetarianism" soften their brains?

Rant over.

Another part of my dream featured a really cool idea that somebody else has probably already patented. They'll make millions, no doubt. The concept: a video yearbook. I don't remember if it was an actual book, using that special computerized paper I've heard of, or an app loaded onto a notepad computer, with a graphic "page turn" effect between segments. Either way, it combined video clips with still photos, audio narration with animated titles, to tell stories about an institution—in this case, I think it was the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. One of my former colleagues in that group was featured in a video clip showing his interested reaction when a group of attractive female singers walked by. The narration/titles drew the reader's attention to his reaction and commented on the number of women in the group (which, in the dream, was greater than the total number of singers in the real Symphony Chorus). It was really in bad taste, but the concept stuck with me after I woke up.

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